Rom 15:22-25 “For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.”
There are times when we may have a desire to go somewhere or do something particular. At times, we may have even forsaken some responsibility in order to accomplish what we wanted. Maybe we skipped school or called in sick to work. Perhaps we have been conscientious enough to put off that gratification until a more appropriate time.
Paul has been expressing to the saints at Rome how that he was called to preach the gospel “from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum (see verse 19)”. He assures them that he has fully preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has done so in areas where the gospel was not being preached. He served God gladly, and yet there was something which he had a great longing to do.
Paul had obviously desired to visit with the saints at Rome face-to-face. This was something he had wanted to do for many years. He wanted them to understand that the reason he had not already come to them personally was because he had a responsibility to the will and purpose of God. Fulfilling God’s will should always take precedent over our desires.
Having “fully preached” the gospel of Jesus Christ in those areas where he was first sent, he now hoped to visit Rome. If we study Paul’s journeys in light of the scripture, we will discover that this was not just a self-serving desire on Paul’s part. It was ultimately the will of God to bring him to Rome (Act 23:11). God purposed for this same gospel that He had blessed Paul to fully preach elsewhere should also be preached at Rome.
Although there are scholarly indications that Paul did eventually go to Spain, the scripture does not clarify this. What is clear is that Paul did indeed go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints there. He was begged by other disciples not to go because they feared for his safety among the Jews. Further, a prophet came and told him that he would be sent from Jerusalem bound (as a prisoner).
Although the brethren cried and begged him not to go, Paul was determined to do the Lord’s will. He informed them that he was not only willing to be bound, but also to die for the testimony of Jesus Christ if that was what was required. Whether he went to Rome as a free Roman or whether he went as a Jewish prisoner, Paul was determined to go to Rome. The church and the gospel were more important to Paul than his own life.
He wanted to be filled with the fellowship of the saints at Rome. He did not just want to stop by for coffee. He wanted to sit down with them and preach to them and hear their testimony of how God had visited them. He expressed a hope that some of them would be moved to journey with him to Spain.
Paul’s greatest motivation in life was to serve God and His people. It pleased God to leave us a record of this truth. We do not have this record just so we can read about what Paul did. This record is left for us so that we might see how great the will and work of God is and be willing, like Paul, to give up our lives for the sake of His kingdom.
May God give us the grace to so serve Him that we would count it all joy when we find ourselves in bondage for the truth of Jesus Christ!