As we understand this, Paul had never been to Rome at the time of him writing this letter. Yet his love and relational connectedness, is obvious, especially as one reflects through chapter 16. We can also speculate, that this fledgling early urban plant seeks Paul out to empower them with foundational theology as they endeavor to find theological sanity in a cosmopolitan world of ideas. Rome, as the prevailing civilization, gathered all religions, faiths and philosophies so planting this urban church is not dissimilar to planting in any one of the major capitals of the world today.
Chapter 1 is loaded with Paul's self disclosed credentials from which he feels the privilege to write to them:
- a servant of Christ Jesus,
- called to be an apostle,
- set apart for the gospel,
- Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship to bring about obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations.
Then he lets them know what he does, that as an apostle he cannot help himself:
- I thank my God, through Jesus Christ, for all of you because your faith is proclaimed in all the world,
- God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel,
- 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,
- I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,
- I want you to know that I have often intended to come to you [but thus far have been prevented],
- I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles,
- I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,
- So I am eager to preach that gospel to you also who are in Rome,
- For I am not ashamed of the gospel...
Doesn't this heart move you? His passion for His God, his understanding of his gift and what it is there for and his love for this church he has never visited, is so profoundly stirring. This is a very extraordinary man. He in NOT committed to establishing an international franchise. His love for the gospel and his commitment to bring all to the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations, seeps through every pore of his being. Every church is important, unique and special. His prayers are personal and intimate. His credentials are not how many churches he has planted nor how many miracles he has accomplished. It is that he is called to be an apostle... that his responsibility is to bring all to the obedience of faith... that he is there to speak the fullness of the gospel and that he prays for this community, seeking to get to be with them.