That Ye May Be Established

Romans 1:8–12 — “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

Before beginning to discuss the Apostle Paul’s words in this chapter, I want to point out something that may make you scratch your head:

If we turn one page back in our Bible to Acts chapter 28, we read of how Paul reached Rome, being escorted there by the government of Rome, and after three days he did something:

Acts 28:17 — “And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together…”

Reading the five verses that we are exploring in Romans now, if we think this through, we have to wonder about something.  We will ask a few questions:

  1. Who was Paul thankful for in Rome?
  2. Who was Paul praying for in Rome?
  3. Who did Paul long to see in Rome?
  4. Who did Paul want to impart a spiritual gift to in Rome?
  5. Who did Paul seek to establish in Rome?
  6. Who would comfort (strengthen) Paul with mutual faith in Rome?
  7. In the verse cited in Acts, who did Paul call shortly after reaching Rome?

Does the answer to the last question above make you scratch your head a little?

The longing that the apostle has to see the beloved saints at Rome would make us expect that he would call for one of them to visit him.  But the Acts record says nothing about this.  He called for the “chief of the Jews”!

The history recorded in Acts is not about the establishment of “the Church”.  It ends on this note:

Acts 28:28 — “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

It is interesting that this is not the first place, neither is it the only place that the apostle makes this or a similar statement.  See Acts 13:46 & 18:6 for example.  It is, however, the way that the Holy Spirit ends the record.  Why was it never continued?  The very next page in our Bibles:

Romans 1:1, 7, 11 — “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, … To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. … For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established…”

This is about the “establishment of the Church”, which is characteristically Gentile, although to be certain, the church which is His Body is neither Jew nor Gentile, but it is a joint-body, “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

1 Corinthians 12:13 — “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

It is not that God has left off speaking to the Jews.  He gave them every opportunity, and still as we will see later in Romans 1:16, the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to “every one that believeth”, and this is to the Jew first.

In the book of Acts, the ministry was to the Jew first.  While very many things did happen between chapters 1 and 28, let us look at two verses together to summarize the story of that book:

Acts 1:6 — “When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

Acts 28:28 — “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

This is a broad view of the story captured for us by the Holy Spirit through Luke.  Forgiveness of sins and a genuine offer of the kingdom were given, and the leaders of the nation refused both.  The favored Nation did not repent at the teaching of Peter and the Twelve, and even as Paul was sent out as Apostle of the Gentiles, much of the “Acts record” involves Paul’s preaching in the synagogues — to Jews.  This should help us to understand what the book of Acts is all about.  It is the record of the refusal of the covenant nation to believe the ministry that the Lord continued by His apostles through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:21 — “But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”

The Jews, or more correctly, the Nation of Israel, is not the special recipient of His benefits in this dispensation.  It should not be understood that the Gentile is lifted up to the level of the Jew as a member of the covenant people.  It is better to understand that the Jew and Gentile are on equal ground, all under sin (Romans 3:9).  At risk of going too far ahead, let us follow this thought through the book of Romans:

Romans 3:9 — “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin…”

Romans 3:22–23 — “…for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”

Romans 10:12–13 — “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Romans 11:32 — “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.”

Getting back to the passage that we are studying, these Roman saints are the “talk of the town”.  Actually, they are the talk of the whole world.  What better group of saints could there be to write to about how and with what doctrines the entire Body of Christ will be established than with the saints whose faith is the talk of the world!  Paul wanted to see them to impart some spiritual gift that they might be established.  The God that Paul served in the spirit, “in the gospel of His Son”, saw fit that he would impart to them the spiritual gift (a gift given by the Spirit) that would not only establish them, but would be the fundamental textbook to establish all in the Body of Christ throughout the last 2000 years and counting in the grace of God.

Romans 16:25–27 — “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”

Here we come to understand that the unsaved, natural born sinner, stands condemned under the judgment of the righteous and holy God.  Yet God can justify and make the sinner holy (sanctify him) by His grace while maintaining His own righteousness and holiness.  Jesus Christ our Lord, God’s only Son, Who is the concern of God’s good news, died for our sins, as us, that God’s justice and wrath against sin might be satisfied, and that He might freely justify all who believe His gospel, by His grace!

What a wonderful God we serve!

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