Monday, July 22, 2013

 By Reverend Norman Solomon Marcelle

To, the Apostle Paul, the letter of Romans is one of the better introductions, if not the best of introductions to be used. Paul in the introduction of this letter bases, his major assumption on the premise; that they are aware and have accepted the gospel of God, that had been set apart which God had promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all of God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now this is “the Apostle’s introduction” of the purpose of his visit as he continues, First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. This is the ordering of his priorities in the will of God.

“For God whom I serve with my Spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you.

When one contemplates who it is they are and for whom one speaks you could not be more forthright than Paul.

We cannot but recall with him his return to Tarshish after he had met the risen Lord and he is introduced to his Apostleship of the Gentiles on behalf of the Master. We are not aware whether or not the Lord explained his draw or their love of him.

“Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent.”

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would’ve repented long ago. But here he also says of Gentile cities,” for if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would ‘ve repented long ago in sack clothes and ashes.” Beyond any doubt the Galilean ministry of Jesus of Nazareth was in need of a follow up ministry that would explain to them “that except a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it abides alone. Then there was the ministry of the Spirit that was to follow that of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God with the gifts of the Spirit.

Paul was so motivated that he was prepared to take his ministry into the belly of Imperial Rome to expound the good news.”

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For I am debtor to both Jew and Gentile to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the Jew first, then the Gentile. “For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you- or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far I have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor to both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish- hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

Now Paul was a Roman citizen and I’m sure that his business or pleasure had taken him there in his travels. But prior trips had been limited only to the service of the Jewish faith and not to visit or strengthen the faith of Gentiles. But since his current visit to Rome had been discussed and incorporated into the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he was now the Christ of Jew and Gentile alike.

 This mission was like all others but with a subtle difference. It was also the seat and earthly throne of the dragon. Paul had been advised by the gifts of the Spirit, even prior to his sending for the Ephesian elders, to meet him at Miletus, that he may say good bye.

“We hear the Spirit testifying in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for him.  But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.

And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Keep watch over your selves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.

I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice disciples to follow them.

Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears.  And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s gold or silver or clothing. You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions.

In all of this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said,” It is more blessed to give than receive.”

When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. And there was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he said, that they would not see him again.

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