Friday, January 16, 2009
Romans 1.8-12: Paul’s Longing
I just realized that I barely commented on verse 7 in my previous post. What is interesting there is that Paul refers to the Christians as ‘beloved of God’. This was a way of referring to God’s chosen people, Israel. In light of the Christ event Paul feels quite free to speak of God’s new covenant people in the same way. I think that’s pretty interesting!
Well I’m a pretty indecisive person so I have changed my mind on the whole NET bible thing. Instead I will be using the ESV. However, later on I might go a little King James on you. I don’t know; we’ll just have to see. If you’re reading this just remember that these are my personal ‘devos’ so I won’t be dealing with everything in the text.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you- that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine (Rom. 1.8-12)
Paul is always thanking God for other Christians because of the fact…well, that they are Christians. God’s is doing his work through his gospel. As we will see in v.16, the gospel is God’s power. Through this gospel God had saved, and was saving, people from Rome and people were talking about it. Paul doesn’t just thank God for their faith when he prays but he asks God for an opportunity to see these Christians.
He wants his reader’s, for whatever reason, to know that he is very serious about this so he calls God as his witness (the God whom he serves in spreading the good news of Jesus’ reign). Paul was a missionary and he was passionate about those who had come under the lordship of Jesus. Christianity isn’t about ‘I’; it’s about Jesus and the ‘us’ that he is creating. We ought to long for the fellowship of other believer’s just as the apostle does himself. Why did Paul long to see these Christians? His desire is that he may impart to them some spiritual gift so that they might be strengthened. How would they be strengthened? By being mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Paul probably didn’t know what sort of spiritual gift he would impart to them; he would have to wait to see what their needs were. But what we can learn from the apostle is that we ought to constantly be seeking to bless other Christians. Perhaps we can practice this exercise by choosing a particular member from our congregation, praying for them, and then telling them how you’ve been praying for them. In this way we can bless others and encourage them, just like Paul.
Last night I was reading Doug Moo on Romans; in reference to the spiritual gift in this passage he comments, "...we should think...of an insight or ability, given Paul by the Spirit, that Paul hopes to 'share' with the Romans. What gift Paul may want to share with the Romans cannot be specified until he sees what their needs may be." In light of that, Tim Challies has a helpful post on spiritual gifts.