Monday September 15th, 2014
Paul's Reasons for the Road
Note from Jesus
Paul had many reasons to be on the road. He traveled extensively all over the regions bordering the northern and eastern Mediterranean Sea sharing the gospel of the Father's grace with people who had never heard the gospel. He strengthened house churches he had helped plant on previous trips. He matured and appointed leaders in these house churches. He carried communication from one group of disciples to another. He was bringing a special financial gift to Jerusalem to bless the impoverished disciples there — he was hoping to tie together the whole brotherhood through this project.
As you read the verses below, you will find all of those reasons for Paul's travels through Asia Minor (with key cities of Troas & Ephesus), Macedonia (with key cities of Philippi, Berea, & Thessalonica), and Greece (with key cities of Corinth & Athens) on his way back to Syria and ultimately Jerusalem. After that, Paul was determined to go to Rome, the center of the Empire. Then from Rome, he planned to go to Spain to share My story and the good news of salvation.
The first set of verses below (from the book of Acts) is a very simple summary of a few years of time when Paul wrote the incredible letter of Romans while in Greece — we will be reading parts of Romans together over the next several days. As you read from some of the beginning and ending verses of Romans today, you will also find information and hints about Paul's travels... and what motivated them.
Underneath all of these travels during this stage of Paul's life, there were three key influences that predominated:
- Paul was Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — chosen emissary (apostle), especially to the non-Jewish peoples of the world.
For I am not the least bit embarrassed about the gospel. I won't shy away from it, because it is God's power to save every person who believes: first the Jew, and then the non-Jew.He was passionate about fulfilling this call. He had a special passion to take the good news to people who had never heard it:
I have dreamed of preaching the gospel in places where no one has ever heard of the Anointed so that I do not build on a foundation laid by anyone else.
- Paul wanted to bring the brotherhood of Jews and non-Jews together through the offering from the Gentile churches for their brothers and sisters in faith in Jerusalem:
But right now I must make the journey to Jerusalem to serve the saints there. Those in Macedonia and Achaia decided it was a good idea to share their funds to help the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. I must tell you that they were thrilled to be able to help. They realize that they are indebted to the believers in Jerusalem. If the nations share in the Jews' spiritual goods, then it's only right that they minister back to them in material goods.
- Since people were seeking to stop, and if necessary, kill Paul, he could and would alter his travel strategies based on their hostility, but he was determined to complete his travels:
He spent three months there [in Greece], and then he planned to set sail once again for Syria. But he learned that a group of Jewish opponents was plotting to kill him, so he decided to travel through Macedonia.While in Greece, he wrote about possible additional opposition he would face when he returned to Jerusalem:
Pray that I [Paul] will be rescued from those who deny and persecute the faith in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem will meet the approval of all the saints there.
Verses to Live
As soon as the uproar ended [in Ephesus], Paul gathered the disciples together, encouraged them once more, said farewell, and left on foot. He decided to pass through Macedonia, encouraging believers wherever he found them, and came to Greece. He spent three months there, and then he planned to set sail once again for Syria. But he learned that a group of Jewish opponents was plotting to kill him, so he decided to travel through Macedonia.
Paul, a servant of Jesus the Anointed called by God to be His emissary and appointed to tell the good news of the things promised long ago by God, spoken by prophets, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. All of this good news is about His Son: who was (from a human perspective) born of David's royal line and ultimately designated to be the true Son of God with power upon His resurrection from the dead by the Spirit of holiness. I am speaking of Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord.
And here's what He's done: He has graced us and sanctioned us as His emissaries whose mission is to spread the one true and obedient faith to all people in the name of Jesus. This includes you: you have been called by Jesus, God's Anointed.
To all those who are God's beloved saints in Rome:
May grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, surround you.
First, I thank my God through Jesus the Anointed for all of you because we are joined by faith as family, and your faith is spreading across the world. For I call God as my witness — whom I worship in my spirit and serve in making known the gospel — He alone knows how often I mention you in my prayers. I find myself constantly praying for you and hoping it's in God's will for me to be with you soon. I desperately want to see you so that I can share some gift of the Spirit to strengthen you. Plus I know that when we come together something beautiful will happen as we are encouraged by each other's faith.
If, my brothers and sisters, you did not already know, my plans were set to meet you in Rome, but time and circumstances have forced every trip to be canceled until now. I have deeply desired to see some good fruit among you just as I have seen with so many non-Jewish believers. You see, I am in tremendous debt to those of various nationalities, from non-Jews to barbarians, from the wisest of the wise to the idle wanderer. So you can imagine how eager I am to join you and to teach the good news in the mighty and diverse city of Rome.
For I am not the least bit embarrassed about the gospel. I won't shy away from it, because it is God's power to save every person who believes: first the Jew, and then the non-Jew. You see, in the good news, God's restorative justice is revealed. And as we will see, it begins with and ends in faith. As the Scripture declares, "By faith the just will obtain life."
My brothers and sisters, I am ultimately confident that you are full of goodness, knowledge, and the ability to help and instruct one another. I have written to you with unflinching honesty on many topics because I do not want you to ever lose sight of the tremendous grace God has given me. His grace makes me who I am, a minister of the Anointed One, Jesus, called to serve the nations.
The good news of God is the focus of my priestly work. In effect, these nations have become an offering to God, totally acceptable, indeed made holy by the work of the Holy Spirit. So in Jesus, the Anointed One, I have reason to celebrate the things I do for God. I don't want to be presumptuous, so I will restrict myself to what the Anointed has accomplished through my words and actions, which has culminated in the obedience of the nations. My words and actions have been rooted in Spirit-empowered signs and miracles. The upshot is this: I have been able to preach the good news of the Anointed One in city after city from Jerusalem all the way around the Mediterranean to Illyricum. I have dreamed of preaching the gospel in places where no one has ever heard of the Anointed so that I do not build on a foundation laid by anyone else. But as the Scriptures say,They will see Him even though they've never been told about Him; they will understand even though they never heard of Him.Because of many issues, I have not been able to visit you in the city of Rome. But my time to serve those here is coming to an end, there's no room left for me in this region, and I have longed to come to you for many years. So I plan to visit you on my journey to Spain. I am hoping that I will not only see you face-to-face, but that you will assist me in the journey west after I have enjoyed our time together. But right now I must make the journey to Jerusalem to serve the saints there. Those in Macedonia and Achaia decided it was a good idea to share their funds to help the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. I must tell you that they were thrilled to be able to help. They realize that they are indebted to the believers in Jerusalem. If the nations share in the Jews' spiritual goods, then it's only right that they minister back to them in material goods. When this work is complete and the funds we've collected are delivered, I will make my way to Spain through your grand city of Rome and enjoy some of your hospitality. I'm sure that when I come to you I will come as a blessing and as one fully blessed by the Anointed One.
My brothers and sisters, I urgently plead with you by the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, and by the love of the Spirit to join together with me in your prayers to God for my success in these next endeavors. Pray that I will be rescued from those who deny and persecute the faith in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem will meet the approval of all the saints there. If that happens, then my journey to you will be filled with joy; and, if God wills, I can rest and be refreshed in your presence. I pray the God of all peace will be with you all. Amen.