As we begin Romans 15, Paul will continue his thought from Romans 14 about how we treat each other regarding matters of opinion. However, starting in verse 14, Paul will begin concluding this beautiful letter to the Romans.
†Letís begin with the first six verses.
Romans 15:1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.† 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.† 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."† 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.† 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,† 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul continues his thought about the strong, that is those who understood their liberty in Christ and knew that they could eat all meat. Of course, this included Paul because he emphatically stated that all meat can be eaten. The strong are to bear with the scruples of the weak, which would include these whoís faith had not yet reached the point of understanding about all meat being clean.
The word Ďbearí is also used of how Jesus bore His cross, bore our sins, and carried our sorrows (John 19:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:4). Paul taught the Galatians:
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The word Ďoughtí means owe. In other words, it is the responsibility of the strong Christian to bear with the weaker brother, instead of just doing what pleases the stronger brother. This idea of bearing with the weaker brother means to support them. Itís kind of like a father who holds his young childís hand while going down some stairs.
One of the strongest desires for any person is to do what he or she wants, but as Christians, our focus should be on figuring out how can we help others remain faithful and true to God. This is the mentality Paul had.
1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;† 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;† 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;† 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.† 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
The world will not understand this principle, but as
Christians, we must learn to consider more than ourselves.
Does this mean that we can never do anything that is pleasing to us that is authorized in Scripture? No, but it does mean that we are going to be mindful of the things we do. We should all do our best to not do those things that will cause one to stumble. Letís not forget that we are talking about matters of opinion and not doctrine.
Look at verses two and three again.
2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.† 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."
Though everyone is our neighbor, in this context, Paul is
referring to the weaker brother. The purpose of pleasing the weaker brother is
for edification. Our duty as the stronger Christian is to do our best to build
up our weaker brothers and sisters instead of tearing them down or pushing them
away by pursuing our own likes or by flaunting our freedom in front of them.
You can see how some might try and twist such a verse to say that we should always please man to get along with him, but Paul is in no way saying that we should compromise Godís Word to please men. For example, Paul wrote:
Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
If we were just supposed to please man and his desires, then Peter didnít get that message because when the Jewish leaders wanted Peter and John to stop preaching about Christ, he said:
Acts 5:29†† "We ought to obey God rather than men.
Under no circumstance are we to please men by compromising Godís Word. Instead, the idea about pleasing men is that you make personal sacrifices at times in order to keep the weaker brother strong. As Paul said:
1 Corinthians 10:31Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.† 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,† 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit† of many, that they may be saved.
The reason we should have this attitude is because Christ had this attitude as mentioned
in verse 3. Jesus did not come to the earth to please Himself. No, He came for
two reasons. First, He came to please the Father by doing His will.
John 8:29 "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."
Second, He came to save us, which is also associated with the first reason.
Luke 19:9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;† 10 "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Just as Jesusí focus was on the Father first and then on us second, we are to be the same. We must first be God pleasers, then we can focus on doing things for mankind that will help them see the wonderful benefits of eternal life in heaven.
The latter part of verse three is a quote from Psalm 69:9, which talks about the mistreatment David received for following the Lord, but this Psalm also looks forward to the time of Christ and how He would be mistreated even though He is the Son of God and that He came to give us eternal life. We have been given a high standard to follow, but each Christian should do his or her best to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Paul quotes the Old Testament often, and he tells why he can do this and why itís relevant in our next verse.
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.†
Paul has already taught in this letter and in other letters that we are no longer under the old covenant. However, this does not make the old covenant unimportant. There is much for us to learn about God and how He dealt with His people and the great examples that are there. When we see Godís loving care throughout the Old Testament, it brings us comfort and hope. The Old Testament helps us to better understand the New Testament.
I like what Mr. Hunter wrote:
Without the Old Testament Scriptures we would not have: (1) the vital knowledge of God's creation of the world in six days; (2) the entrance of sin and its curse; (3) God's development of a plan of redemption throughout history by the selection of the Hebrew nation; (4) all of the marvelous prophecies of Christ and the new covenant era which grace its pages; and (5) all of the rich typology which it affords for our study.† The New Testament and much of its teaching would be an impossible puzzle without a knowledge of the old covenant writings (e.g., the Book of Hebrews, references in the gospel to ancient characters like Abraham, David, Melchizedek, and others).
Sometimes, people will accuse those in the churches of Christ that they donít believe in the Old Testament, but that is far from the truth. Just because the New Testament is our authority, it doesnít take away from the importance and value of the Old Testament. In fact, many things in the New Testament wouldnít make much sense without the background of the Old Testament.
Letís look at verses 5-6 again.
5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,† 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In many of Paulís letters, he is always pushing for
Christians to be like-minded and unified. Sometimes, he is referring to being
unified in doctrine, but keeping things in context, here he is saying that he
wants Christians to be like-minded in how
they treat each other regarding matters of indifference just as Christ would.
When we have the right attitude toward each other, as Paul has been teaching,
then we glorify our Father in heaven.
Paul continues talking about this idea of being unified for the glory of God.
Romans 15:7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.† 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers,† 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name."† 10 And again he says: "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!"† 11 And again: "Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!"† 12 And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope."† 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How does Christ receive us? Does He only receive those that
look like Him? Does He only receive those that have the exact same opinions He
has? No! Christ receives everyone and anyone who is willing to come to Him. We
are told to receive one another as Christ received us. Those are humbling words
because sometimes we are not very good at doing this. Whether itís because of
prejudices or dislikes of certain people because of their opinions, we might
not be too welcoming of such, but Paul says this is wrong.
Paul is not talking about receiving anyone and everyone named a Christian because as we have already seen, we are not supposed to receive or welcome those who are living in sin or causing division. However, every Christian who is walking in the light or returning to the light must be received with open arms if unity is going to be maintained. This becomes more prevalent as we consider Paul is trying hard to get the Jews and the Gentiles to be unified despite their differences of opinions in matters of indifference.
In verses 8 Ė 11, Paul is going to use the Old Testament to prove that it had been Godís plan all along for both Jew and Gentile to be together. He will do this by quoting from the Law or I could say the Torah, from the prophets, and from the Psalms or I could say the Writings.
As pointed out by verse eight, Jesusí ministry was focused on the Jews. He came to serve and to prove those promises made to Abraham by fulfilling all the prophecies about the coming Messiah. We can also see that the Gentiles are included in verse nine because the coming Messiah and the new covenant would cause the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy. Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection that brought forth the new covenant broke down the walls dividing Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-16).
Paul begins making the case that the Gentiles were always going to be included in Godís plan. He quotes from Psalm 18:49 when he said, ďas it is written: ĎFor this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.íĒ† This is telling us how these Israelites were praising God in the midst of these Gentiles.
Next, he quotes Deuteronomy 32:43 in which Moses envisions Israel and the Gentiles rejoicing together. He wrote: ďAnd again he says: ĎRejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!íĒ
The third quote comes from Psalm 117:1. He wrote: ďAnd again: ĎPraise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!íĒ Both Jew and Gentile were being taught to praise the Lord.
His fourth quote is from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 11:10), which is referring to Jesus who is the Israelite who will rule over and bless the Gentiles. As Paul wrote: ďAnd again, Isaiah says: ĎThere shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.íĒ† The root of Jesse was David who was in the lineage of Jesus, but this ultimately points to Jesus. Obviously, this proof from the Law, prophets, and the Psalms was for the Jews benefit, but it also showed the Gentiles that they werenít some afterthought because they were a part of His overall plan.
Verse thirteen is a beautiful prayer about the God of hope and what He can do. I really like how Mr. Hunter explains verse 13:
This section concludes with a magnificent prayer that the "God of hope" would fill, "to make full, to fill to the full") the Roman brethren with joy, peace, and hope.† These are oft-mentioned blessings in Pauline correspondence which are created in regenerated hearts by redemption.† Evidently one can grow in appreciation for and knowledge of these blessings since Paul prays that his readers would be filled with them, rather than just possess them in meager quantities.† Joy and peace are found "in believing," suggesting that as one's faith becomes stronger he is able to enjoy to a greater degree these blessings.† Thus, we must give all diligence to "add to our faith" and "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:5ff; 3:18).† A deep-seated certainty about God and His Word keeps us from being "double-minded" and "unstable" because of a wavering faith (James 1:5-8).
A heart filled with faith and producing overflowing joy and peace causes the saints to "abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." In Rom. 14:17 Paul wrote, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."† Just as joy and peace are listed among the "fruits of the Spirit" in Gal. 5:22-23, so hope is also a product of a Holy Spirit-directed life (Rom. 5:5; 8:23-25). The "power of the Holy Ghost" does not speak of a miraculous filling, but of the power He exercises through the Word to create a full faith within us which produces the qualities mentioned.† The indwelling Spirit influences us, teaches us, and leads us only through the Word He revealed (Rom. 10:17; compare Eph. 5:18 with Col. 3:16).† An obedient faith saves and produces these rich rewards (James 2:17ff).† The apostle Peter spoke of faith as a possession "more precious than of gold" that causes us to "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:6ff).† A people so richly blessed cannot help being "more than conquerors" (Rom. 8:37) (Denton Lectureship on Romans).
In the remainder of chapter 15, Paul begins his conclusion of this great letter. This is the longest conclusion he wrote out of all his letters as it includes all of chapter 16 as well. The remainder of our chapter will focus on Paulís ministry to the Gentiles, which covers his past work with them and his future plans with them.
In verses 14-21, Paul speaks about his confidence in the Gentiles that he has worked with. Letís read this section and then break it down.
Romans 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.† 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God,† 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.† 17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.† 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient--† 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.† 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation,† 21 but as it is written: "To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand."
From verse 14, how do you suppose Paul could confident of these Christians? How did he know they were full of goodness, were filled with knowledge, and were able to admonish one another?† One reason is because of their reputation (Rom. 1:8; 16:19). Another reason is that he knew several of the people there (Rom. 16:3-5). What a wonderful reputation to have. Though Paul had confidence in them, he wrote:
Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God,† 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.†
Paul wants them to understand that it is his job to remind them of things they should already know, and he is the right to do so boldly. The principle is that a preacher needs to preach the whole counsel of God. Everyone needs to be reminded from time to time of the things they already know. Peter taught this same idea in:
2 Peter 1:12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.† 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,† 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.
I remember back when I first became a Christian and this man
started teaching about the sin of abortion. However, he was only allowed to
teach one lesson on the subject because the men of the congregation decided it
was not a good topic to teach on because abortion wasnít an issue for anyone in
As I think back on that decision, I think it was a poor decision based on what we learn from Peter and Paul. Just because a certain topic may not apply to a congregation right now, doesnít mean that it shouldnít be taught on because not only does it remind us of what Godís Word teaches on these matters, it will help us be prepared to teach someone else outside the church about these matters. Like any topic, one should never major on one topic over another. Instead, we need balance because the whole counsel of God is to be taught and preached.
Paul tells them that it was because of Godís grace that he was allowed to be a minister of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul did not exclude his Jewish brethren, but his main work to spread the good news was to the Gentiles. When the Gentiles obeyed the gospel it allowed Paul to present them as sanctified by the Holy Spirit because it is through the obedience of the Word that we become clean.
17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.† 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient--† 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.†
Though Paul could have bragging rights for all that he did for the kingdom of God, he did not brag. Instead, he bragged on God and what he was able to do through Jesus. He understood that the things he did were not because of him or because of his own words because it was through Jesus and Godís Word that he was able to get many Gentiles to be obedient. It was only by the power of the Holy Spirit that he could work mighty signs and wonders to prove the gospel that he preached on missionary journeys from Jerusalem to Illyricum.
This is the kind of humble attitude that all Christians must have. We need to remember whatever great things are accomplished for the kingdom are only possible because of God. Some in the first century wanted to put Paul on a pedestal, but this is what he said:
1 Corinthians 3:4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?† 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?† 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.† 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.† 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.† 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. †
Letís never forget this basic principle of Christianity.
Paul continues: 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation,† 21 but as it is written: "To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand."
Paulís goal was to teach the gospel where no one else has been. He didnít want to build on another manís foundation, but he was not excluding this practice completely because he planned on preaching at Rome, and there were already Christians there. However, his plan wasnít to stay there for a long time, but just long enough to do some preaching and gather funds for his trip to Spain. Paul was going to use the time he had left on this earth to do his part to make sure the gospel was taken to the whole world.
Verse 21 is a quote from Isaiah 52:15. This is the last quote from the Old Testament in this
letter. Regarding this quote, Mr. Roper writes:
Isaiah 52 is a Suffering Servant psalm. Verse 15 anticipates the surprise of nations and kings upon seeing the exaltation of the Suffering Servant (the Christ). The words are appropriate to describe Paulís goal of taking the good news to those ďwho had no news of HimĒ and ďthose who have not heard (Truth for Today Commentary Romans, p 398).
Paul then talks about his future plans.
Rom. 15:22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you.† 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you,† 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.† 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.† 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.† 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.† 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.† 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Keep in mind that Paul is writing this letter to the Romans from Corinth, which is about 800 miles away. Had it been in his plans, he could have delivered his letter in person, but we learn in verse 25 that he was going to go back to Jerusalem to minster to the saints, which is about 900 miles as a crow flies, but would no doubt be much longer by boat and about twice the distance on land.
Though Paul had a strong desire to visit the Christians in Rome, he would first take care of his duties in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region, which was massive. As soon as he finished this last task of ministering to the saints in Jerusalem, his plan was to head Rome and Spain. Other verses show us that Paul had a desire to go to Rome and other areas as well (2 Cor. 10:16; Acts 19:21).
Roman Christian were already known for their faith (Rom. 1:8) so Paul wasnít wanting to go to Rome to establish the church there. Instead, he was going there for the following reasons:
1. To "preach the gospel" there (Rom. 1:16)
2. To impart some spiritual gift which would contribute to their establishment in the faith (Rom. 1:11)
3. To supply mutual encouragement in Christ (Rom. 1:12) or to "be somewhat filled with your company" (Rom. 15:24)
4. To secure their financial assistance and prayers in his planned journey into Spain (Rom. 15:24) (Denton Lectureships Darwin Hunter Romans).
25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.† 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.
Paul was used to collecting money and supplies to take to those in need. Earlier in his Christian life, he took contributions from the Christians in Antioch to the elders in Judea (Acts 11:27-30; 12:25). During his third mission journey, he was taking up a collection for the poor Christians who lived in Jerusalem. See also 2 Cor. 8:1 - 9:15.
Mr. Hunter adds these great thoughts:
Paul's determination to go back through the provinces mentioned included, among other things, his plan to receive this collection which had been over a year in preparation, and to deposit it safely in Judean hands (2 Cor. 8:10; 9:2).† Timothy and Erastus went ahead of Paul to expedite the final collections among these churches (Acts 19:22).† Titus also specifically worked with the church at Corinth in the final preparations made for their contribution (2 Cor. 8:16-24).† The churches of Macedonia responded liberally to the need, and their liberality was used by the apostle as an example for the procrastinating Corinthians to emulate (2 Cor. 8:1-5, 8-12).† A specific commandment concerning giving into a common treasury had been sent to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:1-2), which served then and serves now as God's plan for giving in the church of the Lord (4:17) (Denton Lectureships Darwin Hunter Romans).
26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.† 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.†
This shows the proper attitude about giving. Itís easy to not give and to keep your money and any work you might do to yourself. Some Christians get angry if a preacher talks about the necessity of giving. Those that have this attitude might give a little of their money for the cause of God, but they do so grudgingly. Some are like the Pharisees who might give a lot, but they give out of their abundance and for bragging rights.
Letís not forget what Paul wrote in:
2 Corinthians 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.† 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.† 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Paul tells us that Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to collect up a contribution for the poor in Jerusalem. It made them happy to be able to help. Not only was it their Christian duty to do this, it was a pleasure to them. Itís kind of like parents and children. The parents have certain responsibilities in raising and taking care of their young children, but at the same time it brings them joy to do so. This is the kind of attitude we should have when it comes to giving for the work of the church.
Macedonia and Achaia considered themselves indebt to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem because it was Jewish Christians who were responsible for spreading the gospel into these Gentiles areas (Acts 8:1-4; 10:44-48; 11:1-24). The Gentiles reaped the spiritual benefits from the Gospel and now, the Gentiles could help these Jewish Christians who were suffering in their poverty. However, this love gift from the Gentiles would do more than just relieve these poor Jewish Christians, it would also help tighten the bond between Jews and Gentiles and their unified love for God.
As Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 9:12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,† 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,† 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.
Paul then writes:
28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.† 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Paul took the collection seriously and wanted the congregation to fully trust that he and the men with him would make sure the collection was used for what it was intended, which is what is meant by Paul in verse 28. One should never misuse or abuse the collection of the saints. We are to be good stewards with what God has blessed us with.
Paulís plan was to go by Rome and visit them and get help from them to go into Spain to proclaim the Gospel. However, the greatest of plans donít work out how we would hope. Though Paul would find himself in Rome it was as a prisoner instead of a free man. However, it was through Godís providence that Paul was spared and though he was under house arrest in Rome, he was able to preach and to encourage the Christians who were free to proclaim the Gospel boldly (Phil. 1:12ff).
Paul finishes this chapter by saying:
Romans 15:30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,† 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,† 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.† 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul understood the power of prayer. He would be praying and he urged the Roman Christians to pray for journey to Jerusalem. Paul knew and was warned along the way that things were going to be hard for him in Jerusalem, which is why we see him praying that he might be delivered from those in Judea who donít believe.
We know from reading the last part of Acts that Paul finds himself being falsely accused of taking a Gentile into the temple area and that many of the Jews there thought Paul was teaching that Jews should abandon anything that remotely resembled the Law of Moses. We see prayers being answered because Paul was about to be killed when he was rescued by a Roman soldier. Of course, we know that some men had taken an oath to kill Paul, but his nephew heard about the plot and told the commander, and Paul was sent to be heard by Felix. Though the Jews wanted Paul dead, he was left locked up until later when Paul appealed to Caesar when arguing his case before Festus and Herod.
In the end, God rescued Paul and made sure he would go to Rome. However, this proved to be quite the adventure as well as the slave ship was destroyed by a storm and they had to wait about three months on Malta before he could make his was to Rome, which was another answered prayer. As I mentioned earlier, even though Paul was under house arrest, he was able to encourage the Christians in Rome and was allowed to evangelize from his house arrest.
One thing you might find odd was Paulís prayer that the service he was providing for the poor in Jerusalem would be accepted by them. Well, we know Paul already had insight to how difficult is was going to be for him Jerusalem, and it could be the case that the poor Jews might refuse the help because it came from the Gentiles and from Paul who didnít have the best reputation in Jerusalem. We are not told any of the details about whether the gift he brought was accepted with open arms or if some refused it, but we do know that Paul was determined to give these Jews the alms (Acts 24:17). Hopefully, the Jewish Christians accepted the gift, and hopefully it strengthened their bond with the Gentiles.
We are not told in Scripture if Paul made it to Spain or not after his release from his house arrest in Rome, but it is possible that he made it there. One thing we know for sure, God answered these prayers that Paul made and asked others to make, but they were answered in a way they never thought of.† While it can be hard, sometimes we just have to wait to see how God will answer our prayers. Sometimes, the answer may be no, while other times it might be yes, it could also be that it will not be answered until years from now. We must learn to trust God in matters like these. ††