Romans 15:14-33


There is a curious pattern to be found when one compares the beginning and the ending of the Epistle to the Romans.  The pattern is chiastic in nature, forming an extensive series of parallels between the opening verses and the closing verses of the epistle.


The Gospel was predicted in the Old Testament – 1:1-6



Obedience to the faith must be preached to all nations – 1:5



Grace to you – 1:7



The faith of the Roman Christians is known worldwide – 1:8



Travel Plans: from Jerusalem to Rome – 1:8-13



Paul desires to be comforted by the Roman Christians – 1:11-12


Paul's desired trip to Rome was hindered – 1:13


The Gospel must be preached to all nations – 1:13-15


The Gospel must be preached to all nations – 15:14-29 & 16:26


Paul's desired trip to Rome was hindered. – 15:22


Paul desires to be comforted by the Roman Christians – 15:24


Travel Plans: from Jerusalem to Rome – 15:22



The faith of the Roman Christians is known worldwide – 16:19



Grace to you – 16:20



Obedience to the faith must be preached to all nations – 16:26



The Gospel was predicted in the Old Testament – 16:25-27



Paul is coming to the close of his epistle and he is echoing sentiments that were set forth in the opening verses.  He has come full circle to speak of these points.  He has laid out for all to see what is the gospel that he has preached and which yet must be preached to all the nations.





Paul was a missionary.  He saw his ministry in terms of the mission of carrying out the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations.  The last four chapters of Romans are practical, but this section is also intensely personal.  Paul is giving his own reasons for his involvement in the mission of the church.


1.         We Do Mission Because it Makes a Difference:  And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14).


In verses 8-12, Paul cited four different Old Testament prophecies that told how the Gentiles would come to know God.  He closed that section with a benediction and now, as he begins to bring his epistle to a close, he moves to make these teachings more personal by showing how the prophecies of the Gentiles coming to know God have been fulfilled in the largely Gentile church at Rome.


There is an interesting turn of the phrase that suggests Paul is seeking to personalize his words.  He emphasizes both his own convictions as well as the Romans as the object of those convictions.


I myself

am convinced about...

You yourselves



There are three aspects in which Paul wishes to express his feelings about the Roman believers.

Paul’s words have been meant as a reminder.  It is not that they knew nothing of grace prior to receiving this epistle.  As we shall see in the next chapter, there was already a thriving church in Rome.  They had already heard the gospel and they had already believed the gospel.  What Paul has done in the epistle to the Romans is to further explain and detail and remind them of that into which they had entered when they came in faith to Christ Jesus.  We need such reminders because it is the weakness of men to forget.


           They are full of goodness.

           They are filled with all knowledge.

           They are able to admonish one another.


These are interesting qualities, to be sure, in the light of how Paul opened his epistle in the first three chapters where he described men as bereft of goodness and rejecting the knowledge of God and in need of the admonition of the law of God.  Paul is not denying any of these points, but these have been overcome by the gospel that has come to Rome.  That is the difference grace makes.


2.         We Do Mission Because we have Tasted the Grace of God:  But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God (Romans 15:15).


We have a message of grace.  That is what the epistle to the Romans has been about.  It has laid out that wonderful gift of God’s grace, showing how utterly undeserving we were, yet in what a glorious manner God has moved to save us.


Paul does not write to the Romans because he is so great and powerful.  He writes because he has received grace.  Steve Brown likes to say how we are beggars telling other beggars where we found bread.  That is the motivation of grace.  We have received that which we did not deserve and we are therefore eager to share this good news with others.


3.         We Do Mission Because we have a New Priesthood:  But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God,  16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, that my offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:15-16).


Paul’s charge is described as grace that was given from God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles.  Though it has been his habit to preach first to the Jew and then to the Gentile, the pattern of his ministry has been unique in that he has seen a great result of fruit among the Gentiles.


Paul’s role as a minister is further described as one who “ministers as a priest.”  This is translated from the single word ierourgounta, the present accusative participle of ierourgew.  This is a compound word made up of the joining of two Greek words:


           ieroV – A temple

           ergon – Work


This describes one who does “temple work.”  It is a designation for a priest.  Paul is not a literal priest, but he does do “temple work,” he does the work of a priest.  A priest is one who mediates between God and men.  A priest is one who represents the people to God.  A priest is one who gives up offerings to God on behalf of the people.  There is a sense in which Paul has entered into such a ministry.  His offering is himself.  He has long since offered his own body as a living sacrifice, acceptable to God as his work of service (Romans 12:1-2).  That offering has as its goal to bring men to the Lord.


Revelation 1:6 says that Christ has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.  1 Peter 2:5 tells us that we all have this same sort of spiritual priesthood.  Peter says that you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5).  We are both a temple as well as a priest and, as such, we offer up spiritual sacrifices.


Notice what it is that Paul describes as a part of those spiritual sacrifices.  He speaks of my offering of the Gentiles.  Those whom he has led to Christ are themselves an offering by Paul to the Lord.


When you gave an offering to the Lord, it had to be a holy offering.  You were not allowed to offer an offering that was blemished.  It had to be pure and undefiled.  In the same way, the Gentiles that Paul offers to the Lord constitute an offering that is acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (15:16).


Theologians sometimes argue about what is more important, evangelism or worship.  What we see here is that evangelism IS worship.  Evangelism constitutes a heavenly offering of worship to the Lord as we give to Him those who we have led to Christ.  We give to Christ that which is pure and holy—saints by calling.


4.         We Do Mission Because of what Christ has Accomplished and is Accomplishing:  Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed (Romans 15:17-18).

God had only one Son, and he was a missionary.


Evangelism isn’t telling what we have done for God.  It is telling what God has done for us and in us and through us.  Our role in our salvation is passive.  We are the recipients of God’s grace.  For us to boast in our salvation would be like a knife and fork to boast about a filet mignon.  We are merely the instruments in which the grace of God has operated.


Paul looks at his work in the gospel ministry in the same light.  We think of Paul as the great evangelist, traveling throughout the Roman world and starting churches.  He thought in terms of how Christ had done a great work through him, resulting in many coming to know God.


Christ accomplished

Through Paul

Gentiles obedient


Seeing mission as the ongoing work of Christ is a wonderful motivation.  It means that, just as I trusted in Christ for my salvation, I can also trust in Him for my service of ministry.  The One who died in my place is still at work as He spreads the gospel throughout the world.  He who rose from the dead is still in the business of bringing new life to men.

5.         We Do Mission Because there is Power in the Gospel:  For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,  19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:18-19).


The Bible tells of many signs and wonders that served as indicators of many great events.  But the greatest of all was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  The cross was a cosmic event and the ripples from that event are still moving out across history today.


Christianity is not about spiritual philosophy or men’s ideas.  It is about something that happened in space and in time.  It is about how God acted to raise a man from the dead and how He has made it clear He is going to do it again.


But notice that the power of the gospel is also seen in the way it impacts the lives of people.  Paul says that his preaching results in obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed (15:18).  The gospel changes lives and that is a part of its power.


6.         We Do Mission Because there are Places where Christ has not been Named:  And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man's foundation;  21 but as it is written, “They who had no news of Him shall see, And they who have not heard shall understand.” (Romans 15:20-21).


Paul had a desire to take the gospel to people who had never heard the gospel.  He had a desire to build a ministry from the ground up.  He saw that as a fulfillment of the Old Testament promise.


Paul cites a prophecy from Isaiah 52:15.  It is a prophecy that leads us into the wonderful chapter in Isaiah 53 that tells of the Suffering Servant of the Lord.  Isaiah says:


Thus He will sprinkle many nations,

Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;

For what had not been told them they will see,

And what they had not heard they will understand. (Isaiah 52:15).


Paul’s aspiration in life was to fulfill the words of this prophecy.  He had stood before people of various nations.  He had stood before proconsuls of Rome and, before he was done, he would stand before the Roman emperor (Acts 27:24).





Paul’s heart for mission is now seen in his plans, both past, present, and future, for him to come finally to Rome.  He relates those past plans, a present detour, and the future anticipation when he will finally come to Rome to preach the gospel.


1.         Paul’s Past Desire to come to Rome:  For this reason I have often been hindered from coming to you;  23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you  24 whenever I go to Spain‑‑ for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while‑‑  25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. (Romans 15:22-25).


Paul opened up his epistle in chapter 1 by telling how he had wanted in the past to come to Rome, but had been hindered.  He makes no mention either there or here as to what it was that hindered him, but we can surmise from the book of Acts that it was the call of other ministry commitments that kept him away.


This particular ministry commitment would involve going to Jerusalem and serving the saints.  The Greek word used here for this “service” is from the root diakonew.  It is the root from which we get out modern term “deacon.”  Paul saw his own ministry, not only in terms of teaching and establishing churches, but also as practical efforts to meet the physical needs of believers to the point where meeting such a need could take him far out of his way.


That tells me something about ministry.  It tells me that ministry is often messy.  It often includes detours to places that take me far from where I had planned to go.  On the other hand, there is often great reward for these divine detours.  It would be as a result of this detour that Paul would write all of the prison epistles.


2.         Paul’s Present Detour to Jerusalem: But now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.  26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.  27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. (Romans 15:25-27).


Throughout this section, we have been given a glimpse into Paul’s heart for people.  It was seen in his desire to come and to visit the Roman believers and it is also seen here in his plans to bring a contribution for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem.


This tells me something about Paul’s concern.  It was practical.  He did not merely say, “Let’s pray for the hungry.”  He said, “I’m going to do something about their plight and you can help me.”  He collected an offering from the churches at Macedonia and Achaia (northern and southern Greece) and he took the very long voyage to Jerusalem to transport these needed funds.


Paul was concerned about spreading the gospel, but he was also concerned with feeding the poor.  He did not see any dichotomy between a practical concern over spiritual needs versus a practical concern over physical needs.  Indeed, he saw how one gave itself to the other.


Gentile Believers in Greece

Jewish Believers in Jerusalem

They had material possessions

They had a spiritual heritage

They had benefited from the spiritual heritage of the Jews in Jerusalem

They were to benefit from the material wealth of the believers in Greece


We are to be in the business of meeting the needs of others; especially the needs of other believers.  If their needs are physical, then we are to seek to meet those physical needs.  If their needs are spiritual, then we are to seek to meet those spiritual needs.


3.         Paul’s Future Plans to come to Rome:  Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.  29 And I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ (Romans 15:28-29).


Paul has plans to eventually travel westward upon a final missionary journey that would take him through Rome and ultimately to Spain.  He would arrive in Rome, but not the way he had planned.  He would instead be arrested and detained and imprisoned.  He would ultimately be transported to Rome, not as a missionary, but as a Roman prisoner to stand before Caesar.


And yet, Paul is confident that when he comes to Rome, that he will come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ.  That confidence was not misplaced.  Though Paul will be imprisoned, the word of God will not be imprisoned.


4.         Paul’s Plea for Prayer upon his Travels:  Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,  31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;  32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.  33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen (Romans 15:30-33).


Paul asks the believers at Rome to pray for him.  Notice how strongly this is worded.  He asks them to strive in their prayers.  What kind of striving is this?  It is a spiritual strife.  Prayer is vital to spiritual warfare.


The answer to this prayer is going to be seen in the latter part of the book of Acts.  It is seen in Paul’s preservation in his arrest in Jerusalem.  It is seen in his survival of the attempts against his life.  It is seen in his endurance of his imprisonment in Caesarea.  It is seen in his safely coming through the storm and shipwreck on the Mediterranean.  It culminates in his arrival in Rome in Acts 28.


Prayer works.  You may not be able to become a missionary to a foreign country, but you can pray for missionaries who are in foreign countries and, by so doing, you can have a part in their ministry.


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