Romans 15:23-33

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Text: Romans 15:23-33

Aim: To show believers that they are to recognize that the plans they make are subject to revision by God.

PAUL'S FUTURE PLANS

INTRODUCTION:

In Romans 15:12 Paul completes the body of his epistle to the Romans, and in Romans 15:13 he begins his conclusion.

In this conclusion Paul does several things: he wishes God's best upon the Roman believers (15:13); he shares his heartbeat and the principles of action in his ministry (15:14-22); he shares his future plans with them (15:23-29); and he requests prayer from them as he goes to Jerusalem to minister to the impoverished saints (15:30-33).

In Romans 15:23-33 we not only see Paul's plans for his future, but we also note that his plans were subject to God's revision. We likewise must realize that all of our plans are only contingent and are always subject to God's revision.

Paul's practice of preaching the gospel thoroughly where Christ had never been proclaimed had previously kept him from getting to Rome.

Romans 15:20 - Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

Romans 15:22 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you.

But now indicates that a change has taken place.

There are two reasons for this change.

1. Having no more place in these parts, i.e. no longer having a place in these regions (or districts).

Place is used here in the sense of possibility, opportunity, or chance. The problem is that Paul was running out of places where he could go to preach the gospel where he or no one else had been because he and others had so thoroughly proclaimed the gospel throughout the regions from Jerusalem to Illyricum. He, therefore, needed to go farther than others had yet gone.

2. Having a great desire these many years to come unto you. Paul has had a great desire for a long time to see the Romans.

Thus, Paul lays out some plans of what he would like to do. Now, of course, we understand that it is not wrong to plan as long as we take God's will into account. And, as we will see, Paul took God's will into account, but God had something else in mind.

I. PAUL INTENDS TO GO TO SPAIN WITH THE GOSPEL - 15:24A

Romans 15:24 a - Whensoever I take my journey into Spain. . . .

When (or as soon as) I travel (or I proceed) unto Spain.

II. PAUL INTENDS TO STOP BY ROME ON HIS WAY TO SPAIN - 15:24B

Romans 15:24 b - . . . I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey. . . .

I will come to you; for I am hoping to come to see you or to visit you.

III. PAUL WISHES HELP FROM THE ROMAN BELIEVERS TO ASSIST HIM IN GETTING TO SPAIN - 15:24C

Romans 15:24 c - . . . And to be brought on my way thitherward by you. . . .

And to be brought on my journey thitherward by you indicates that he intends that they help him get to Spain.

To be brought on my journey thitherward by you means to be helped on my journey to Spain by you and suggests with food, money, supplies, traveling companions, means of travel, etc. It also means to send on one's way. It might also imply providing a place for rest as well. After all, travel in Paul's day was not like getting on an airplane and flying nonstop from Jerusalem to Spain.

IV. PAUL INTENDS TO ENJOY SPENDING SOME TIME WITH THE ROMAN BELIEVERS ON HIS WAY TO SPAIN - 15:24D

Romans 15:24 d - . . . If first I be somewhat filled with your company.

If first I be somewhat filled with your company suggests, If, before I go to Spain I may enjoy you for a while.

V. PAUL INTENDS TO GO TO ROME BEFORE HE BEGINS HIS TRIP TO SPAIN - 15:25-28

Romans 15:25-28 - (25) But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. (26) For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. (27) It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. (28) When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Romans 15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

But introduces a contrast which indicates that he cannot come right away. He must do something else before he comes to Rome.

Now suggests at the present time.

I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints suggests I am going (i.e. I am proceeding or I am traveling) to Jerusalem to help the saved people in Jerusalem.

He did not yet know that when he arrived in Jerusalem, he would be imprisoned and would in about two years be sent to Rome as a prisoner but not as a free man. His plans would indeed be changed within the will of God.

Romans 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

In verse 26 Paul dates the writing of the book of Romans historically. It is written at the same time he had been receiving the collection from the saints in places in Macedonia and Achaia which was to be taken to Jerusalem.

For it is because it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem is For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased (i.e. determined or resolved) to take up a collection had been taken from the churches which had been established; and the money was being sent to assist those believers in Jerusalem who had nothing and who were in great need.

The poor saints is the poor among the saints. Not all the saints were poor. He was intending to help those who were poor and who were also in Jerusalem.

Romans 15:27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

The saints at Jerusalem had originally sacrificed much in order to see to it that those in other places would be saved. Now they were in need.

It hath pleased them verily is for they were well pleased.

And their debtors they are indicates that the believers in Macedonia and Achaia were really spiritually indebted to the saints in Jerusalem who were now poor.

Paul explains the reason for their indebtedness in the last half of verse 27.

For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things is a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. The Gentiles had indeed been made partakers of their spiritual things.

If, therefore, should be understood in the sense of since or inasmuch as.

The Gentiles stands in contrast to the Jews which made up the basic content of the church at Jerusalem.

Have been made partakers of their spiritual things is shared (or had a share in) their spiritual matters, i.e. in the things that pertain to their spiritual salvation and development or growth as believers.

The conclusion of the condition is their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. Inasmuch as the condition is true, the conclusion follows. They are indebted also to serve them in material things. Inasmuch as the saints in Jerusalem had looked after the spiritual needs of these Gentiles, these Gentiles now had an obligation to look after the financial needs of these impoverished saints in Jerusalem.

Romans 15:28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Verse 28 indicates that Paul intends to come to Rome on his way to Spain as soon as he has completed the responsibility of getting the collection to the poor saints in Jerusalem.

When . . . I have performed this is when I have finished this, i.e. this task of delivering the collection to them.

And have sealed to them this fruit indicates have provided them with a seal of this fruit where fruit is the specific fruit or result of their spiritual efforts. This fruit refers to the collection intended for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Paul is referring to the proceeds of the collection. The poor saints in Jerusalem had invested much in sending forth the gospel. Now they were going to reap something from their investment.

I will come by you into Spain is I will come by means of you into Spain. It indicates that Paul intends for them to help him on his way to Spain.

VI. PAUL EXPECTS TO COME TO ROME WITHIN THE WILL OF GOD - 15:29

Romans 15:29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Verse 29 expresses Paul's confidence that his coming to Rome will be within the will of God.

And I am sure that is and I know that.

When I come unto you has been translated as indicating time. It might instead have been translated as indicating a condition, i.e. if I come.

I shall come is predictive of something Paul was absolutely certain was going to take place.

In the fulness describes how he will come. Fulness indicates in the sum total or in the abundance.

Of the blessing is used in the sense of of a blessing as a benefit bestowed by God. Here it is a benefit bestowed by the gospel. Men may give up many worldly things in order to preach the gospel, but they gain benefits even in this life that they would not otherwise have had in forms of blessings from the Lord.

VII. PAUL REQUESTS PRAYER THAT HE BE DELIVERED FROM UNBELIEVING JEWS - 15:30-31A

Romans 15:30-31 a - (30) Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; (31a) That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.

In verses 30-32 Paul indicates that he was concerned about his safety as he went to Jerusalem. He knew that there were some who might like to do him harm and perhaps kill him. He, therefore, asks the Roman believers to pray for him that he might be delivered and enabled to come to them in accordance with his plan.

Now I beseech you brethren is Now I am urging (or encouraging) you, brothers, you fellow-believers.

For the Lord Jesus Christ's sake is by means of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And for the love of the Spirit means And by means of the love which the Holy Spirit produces.

That ye strive together with (or contend along with) me in your prayers to God for me or by means of your prayers to God on behalf of me. These prayers would be directed to God for Paul. This was the best means that they had to assist him at this particular time because they were nowhere near where he was going to be.

In verses 31-32 Paul gives three reasons why he urges the believers in Rome to pray for him. They are each introduced by that, and all are purpose clauses so that in each case that is to be understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that.

The first reason is -

Romans 15:31 a - That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea. . . ., i.e. in order that I may be saved (i.e. rescued (or preserved) from the ones who disobey (or from the ones who are disobedient). Inasmuch as the supreme act of disobedience was rejecting the gospel, this word came to mean from the ones who disbelieve the gospel or from the ones who are unbelievers.

In Judaea indicates where these unbelievers were located, and Jerusalem was in Judea. They were very hostile toward Paul and would be looking to kill him.

VIII. PAUL REQUESTS PRAYER THAT THE SAINTS IN JERUSALEM MAY ACCEPT HIS SERVICE FOR THEM - 15:31B

Thus, the second reason Paul urges the believers in Rome to pray for him is -

Romans 15:31 b - And that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.

It is in order that (or for the purpose that) my distribution, by which Paul is referring to the collection he has received for the poor saints in Jerusalem, may be acceptable to the saints (or may be welcomed by the saints). Paul had no guarantee that the believing saints would even accept any assistance from Gentiles. It was possible that in their pride these Jews, though saved, might reject this assistance because it was being given by Gentiles.

IX. PAUL REQUESTS PRAYER THAT HE MAY COME TO ROME WITH JOY WITHIN THE WILL OF GOD AND BE REFRESHED WITH THE ROMAN BELIEVERS - 15:32

The third reason Paul urges the believers in Rome to pray for him is -

Romans 15:32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.

It is in order that (or for the purpose that) I may come to you with joy rather than with grief (or sadness) through (or by means of) the will of God.

And I may be refreshed. Paul not only wants to come unto the Romans with joy, but also, when he gets there, wants to rest with them in their company (or find rest with them in their company). People understand that a minister of the gospel may be a real blessing to them; but they sometimes fail to realize that he, too, needs people to be a blessing to him; and those who determine to live for the Lord and subsequently do live for the Lord are a blessing indeed.

Romans 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Now continues Paul's thought.

The God of peace be with you all is may the God Who gives peace or (may the God Who provides peace) be with you all. Paul desires that God be near and dear to these readers.

Amen concludes the chapter. It means truly or so be it.

CONCLUSION:

In verses 13-33 Paul continues to conclude his epistle by sharing his plans with the Roman believers. He has already proclaimed the gospel from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum; and it is his desire to come to Rome and to have Roman believers help him on his proposed missionary venture to Spain. First, however, he needs to go to Jerusalem to deliver the collection for the poor saints given by the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. After that, he hopes to come to Rome. Meanwhile, the Christians at Rome are urged to pray for him. Little did Paul realize that his plans were soon to be changed.

He would indeed arrive in Jerusalem with the collection for the poor saints there. Then, however, he would find himself being arrested and imprisoned. He would be transported to Caesarea where he would spend nearly two years in prison before being transferred to Rome where he would spend an additional four or five years in prison. All of this would happen because he was doing what God wanted him to do. He would eventually get to Spain and, perhaps, even as far as Great Britain with the gospel. However, it would not work out exactly the way he expected. At the same time, while in prison, Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. God knew what He was doing and made no mistakes.

As believers we need to be flexible in our plans. It is right that we plan. It is right that we submit these plans to the will of God. It is right that we find God's revising our plans within his will. It is right that we submit to God's revisions of our plans and that we not fuss and fret. We must have such confidence in God that we trust Him even in changing our plans, plans which would seemingly thwart His program of proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth, but plans which are clear indicators of His will for our lives. We remind ourselves that He knows best and that He is still on the throne. Thus, a passage such as Romans 8:28 is a blessing.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Now, why did Paul want to go to Spain? It was so that he might proclaim the gospel there, that Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again from the dead the third day. You need this message also. Christ died to pay for your sins. If you will place your trust in Him, He will save you from sin and its consequences just like he would save the Spanish people.