Romans 15:15-24

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 8, 1999


Paul is winding up his letter to the Romans.

Last week we ended with Paul saying,

(Rom 15:14 KJV) And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

In other words, they are more than able to take care of encouraging and counseling each other. They don’t "need" Paul.

:15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,

more boldlytolmeroteron – more boldly, comes from tolmao – not to dread or shun through fear; to be bold; bear one's self boldly, deal boldly

putting you in mindepanamimnesko – to recall to mind again; reminding one

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour; a gift of grace

He’s talking about his spiritual gifting, his call from God to minister to them.

Even though they are well able to counsel and exhort each other, he’s got a calling he has to follow. He still needs to speak.


We need each other.

There are people with the mindset that they don’t need anybody. They would say to Paul, "We are able to counsel ourselves, we don’t need you telling us what to do!"

But we need each other. We are incomplete without each other.

Paul is fulfilling his calling in writing this letter to the Romans.

Aren’t you glad he did?

:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

ministerleitourgos – a public minister, a servant of the state; a minister, servant; of the temple; of one busied with holy things; of a priest

ministeringhierourgeo – (this is the only place this word is found in Scripture) to minister in the manner of a priest, minister in priestly service. Literally, "to work (ergo) in the temple (hieron)".

offeringprosphora – the act of offering, a bringing to; that which is offered, a gift, a present. In the NT a sacrifice, whether bloody or not: offering for sin, expiatory offering

It’s used to describe actual sacrifices –

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

But here, the thing that Paul is bringing before the temple of God is not an animal sacrifice, but the bringing of the Gentiles to the Lord.

acceptableeuprosdektos – well received, accepted, acceptable

sanctifiedhagiazo – to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow; to separate from profane things and dedicate to God; consecrate things to God; dedicate people to God; to purify

As we’ve seen on Sunday nights, one of the things that the Holy Spirit does in our lives is to make us "holy". He "sanctifies" us. He sets us apart for God’s special use. He is continually in the process of making us more and more pure and taking us further and further from sin.

We’ll see next Sunday night this same, exact picture, how we are "sanctified by the Spirit", but in the light of the Old Testament worship system:

(Exo 30:25-29 KJV) And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. {26} And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, {27} And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, {28} And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. {29} And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.

In the Old Testament, things were given a measure of "sanctification" by anointing them with the holy anointing oil. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Just as things were made holy by putting the oil on them, we are made holy when the Holy Spirit is put upon us.

Paul is using very specific language that ought to be used to describe a Levitical priest offering up animal sacrifices to God in the temple, but he’s using it to describe his ministry to the Gentiles.


What are you bringing to the Lord?

Paul was raised in Judaism, where you were taught to bring your offerings to the Lord each year.

They brought sacrifices to atone for their sins.

They brought the "first fruits", the first part of their crops to the Lord.

They brought their tithes, a tenth of their income, because they recognized that God gave them their income and they were returning only a portion of what really belonged to Him.

They brought peace offerings to enjoy fellowship or communion with the Lord, like having a big Thanksgiving dinner with God as the honored guest.

They brought their thanks offerings as a way to express their praise and thankfulness to the Lord.

Paul has used this same kind of language and imagery, but rather than bringing bushels of grain or a flock of lambs to the Lord, he’s bringing the Gentiles to the Lord, through his ministry of preaching and leading these people to Jesus.

What are you bringing to the Lord?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that "getting saved" is all there is to life. It’s just the beginning. We now serve Him, bringing to Him the results of our service. That’s true worship.

:17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.

may glorykauchesis – the act of glorying

(Rom 15:17 NLT) So it is right for me to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God.

:18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me,

daretolmao – not to dread or shun through fear; to bear, endure; to bring one's self to; to be bold

wroughtkatergazomai – to perform, accomplish, achieve; to work out i.e. to do that from which something results

(Rom 15:18 NIV) I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me

Paul isn’t going to boast in what he’s done, only in the things that Jesus has done through him.

:18 to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,

:19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God;

mightydunamis – strength power, ability; inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth; power for performing miracles;

signssemeion – a sign, mark, token; of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God's

wondersteras – a prodigy, portent; miracle: performed by any one

powerdunamis – strength power, ability; inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth; power for performing miracles;

Paul has done these things, but they’ve only been what Jesus has done through him, things that have been done by the power of the Spirit of God.

God used these signs and wonders to bring about the conversion of the Gentiles.

:19 so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

fullypleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim; to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking)

Jerusalem … Illyricum - see map. A distance of over 1500 miles.

If we were to place the writing of the letter to the Romans within the historical context of the book of Acts, it would fall somewhere in the beginning of Acts 20, while Paul was in Corinth.

His first missionary journey covered Acts 13-15, when he was teamed up with Barnabas. Together they went to the island of Cyprus, then up into Asian Minor (modern Turkey), and back to their home base in Antioch.

His second missionary journey covers Acts 16-18:22 , when he teamed up with Silas, and they went through Asia, then northwest to Macedonia, Greece (Corinth), crossing over to Ephesus, then back to Jerusalem, and back to Antioch.

He is currently on his third missionary journey (Acts 19-21), where he went alone to Ephesus and stayed for three years. After the riots broke out in Ephesus because of Paul’s ministry, he escaped and went to Macedonia, then down to Corinth, where he’s now writing to the Romans.

:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel,

strivedphilotimeomai – to be fond of honour; to be ambitious; to strive earnestly, make it one's aim

Paul considered the preaching of the gospel an honor he would strive for.

(Rom 1:16 KJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

:20 not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

was namedonomazo – to name; to name, to utter, to make mention of the name

There are two ways of building a ministry – you can build it by reaching people for Jesus who are lost or backslidden, or you can steal them from other churches.

Paul chose to do the first.


Don't steal another's work

The other churches are not our "competition". We are all on the same side.

Our goal ought to be to reach the lost for Jesus.

I think this has several ways we can apply it.

It would certainly apply to the idea of being careful not to build up your church by trying to take people out of other churches.

I think it also has application within the church as well.

I love to hear of people wanting to start up new ministries. I love to see our people out doing good works.

But every once in a while someone will want to start up a new ministry that is already being done by someone else.

The new person may not be particularly fond of how the other person is doing it, so they want to venture out on their own.

What is most likely the problem is actually one of pride. Rather than humbling themselves and coming alongside the other person and helping them, they want to be in charge.

David and Absalom – two paths to kingship


Saul was the first king of Israel. He started off great, but finished messy.

God called the prophet Samuel to anoint another man to be king. It turned out to be a young boy. He found him at the house of Jesse. Jesse had his sons present themselves to Samuel. The first son was big –

(1 Sam 16:7-14 KJV) But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. {8} Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this. {9} Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this. {10} Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these. {11} And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. {12} And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. {13} Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. {14} But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

As far as God was concerned, David would be the king. But it took years for it to actually happen. David would go on to kill the giant Goliath, he would then become one of King Saul’s chief army captains. Then Saul would become jealous of David and began a period where he chased David, seeking to kill him.

Twice David found himself in the position of doing something about becoming king.

Twice he found himself in a place to simply swing his sword, kill Saul, and take his place as king. But David refused. He wasn’t going to become king the wrong way.

David eventually got to the point where he was hiding from Saul with the Philistines themselves, the enemies of Israel. When the fateful day came where the Philistines went to battle against Saul and his armies, even then God kept David from the battle so he wouldn’t be the one to kill Saul. But Saul was killed by the Philistines, and when he was dead, the Israelites called David to be their king.


When David was growing older and older, one of his sons began to wonder when it was going to be time for him to take Dad’s place. Absalom wasn’t particularly fond of his dad, they had problems going back to when David didn’t do much when Absalom’s sister was raped by another of David’s sons. Absalom had taken revenge and killed his half brother and for awhile had been banished from the kingdom. But when he came back, he decided it was time to make his move.

(2 Sam 15:1-6 KJV) And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. {2} And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. {3} And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. {4} Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! {5} And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. {6} And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

This is certainly one way to get into ministry. Cut down the guy ahead of you behind his back. Tell everyone else how you can do it so much better than he can. Steal their hearts.

It worked. Absalom became king. For a few weeks. David fled for his life. But David was supposed to be king. Absalom wasn’t. David gathered an army and defeated him.

Don’t build your ministry by trying to tear others down. Don’t be trying to steal what others have worked hard at.

Let God do the building. Let God put you where you need to be.


There are plenty of lost people in America.

It used to be that we’d think of going to Africa or Asia if we wanted to follow Paul’s pattern.

But in our current America, there are plenty of people who haven’t heard of Jesus or what He offers to them.

:21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

Paul quotes from:

(Isa 52:15 KJV) So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

He has a Scriptural reason for not building on another man’s foundation.

:22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.

hinderedegkopto – to cut into, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way; hinder

Every time Paul would think of going to Rome, a new opportunity to preach to an unreached area would crop up.

:23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;

partsklima – an inclination, slope, declivity; the [supposed] sloping of the earth from the equator towards the poles, a zone; a tract of land, a region

desireepipothia – longing; from epipotheo –; to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after; to lust, harbour forbidden desire

:24 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.

Spain - see map. Paul was writing from Corinth. He was planning on first going to Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25), but then to come back to Spain.

Paul’s goal was to go to Spain, but on the way he would stop at Rome.

Why wasn’t his goal to go to Rome?

The gospel was already being preached in Rome.

He had people he wanted to see and visit with, but his ministry of preaching the gospel would be taking him to Spain.

take my journeyporeuomai – to lead over, carry over, transfer; to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one's journey

I will comeerchomai – to come. The verb is a "future indicative", meaning that Paul is expecting this to happen some time in the future. He’s not saying "I might come" or "I should come", but "I will come".

I trustelpizo – to hope; hopefully to trust in

brought on my waypropempo – to send before; to send forward, bring on the way, accompany or escort; to set one forward, fit him out with the requisites for a journey

Paul’s expecting that when it’s time to leave Rome, that the church there will help him on his journey.


Direction and making decisions.

I love to take passages like this and examine them to try to get inside of Paul’s head and see how he thought. How did Paul make his decisions in life? Do we see any clues here? Is there anything we can apply to our lives?

1. Scriptural Principles (Rom. 15:20-22)

(Rom 15:20 KJV) …lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

(Rom 15:21 KJV) But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of …

Paul had guiding principles in his life. One of them was to not preach the gospel in a place that already had a church. He wasn’t out to set up rival churches in the same city.

These principles were based on Scripture.

(Psa 119:105 KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

God’s Word can light up the way we are to walk and give us direction.

2. Desires (Rom. 15:23)

(Rom 15:23 KJV) having a great desire these many years to come unto you;

Paul had a desire to see the folks in Rome, and God used that desire.

(Psa 37:4 KJV) Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

When I find myself taking delight in the Lord, and He is the One thing that I am seeking, I will find that the Lord will be putting new desires into my heart. They will be His desires.

Have you been delighting yourself in the Lord? Do you have desires in your heart? Are they desires that you are not ashamed of before the Lord? It could be that God has put those desires in your life. It could be that some day He will do something to bring it about.

3. Plans (Rom. 15:24)

(Rom 15:24 KJV) Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you…

He was making plans to see them. He said "I will come to you". He was counting on it.

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that is we’re going to be really spiritual, then we shouldn’t make any plans and just close our eyes and we’ll somehow magically get to the place we ought to be.

It is spiritual to make plans.

(Prov 16:9 NASB) The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

(Prov 16:3 NASB) Commit your works to the LORD, And your plans will be established.

4. Trust (Rom. 15:24)

(Rom 15:24 KJV) …for I trust to see you in my journey …

He was trusting God to help him with his plans.

(Prov 3:5-6 KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

5. Be flexible

It may not turn out anything like you’re expecting.

Paul will go to Rome, but not exactly in the condition he was thinking of.

He ended up leaving Corinth (where he was writing to the Romans) and when he got to Jerusalem, he was arrested. He then spent several years in jail and then finally appealed his case to Caesar. He was sent to Rome, all expenses paid, as a prisoner. He got there, but just not quite the way he may have originally expected.


God called me to be a Senior Pastor 25 years ago. At first I really didn’t know how I’d get there, but eventually I decided that after going through seminary, I’d like to be an assistant pastor somewhere, and then become a senior pastor. Along the way, there were several things I definitely did not want to do. One was to work with Children’s Ministry. I carefully avoided taking any classes in Children’s Ministry that I absolutely didn’t have to. I also did not want to be involved in planting a church, starting from scratch. That was too scary. When I left seminary, I didn’t become an assistant pastor, I got a job as a teller-trainee. But I started getting involved, just getting involved in at Calvary Anaheim. I did eventually become an assistant pastor, but guess what my job was? Children’s Ministry. And yes, I am now a Senior Pastor, but it was only after we planted the church in Fullerton that it happened.

God wants to lead you. He may be giving you desires that will help. But be flexible. It may not happen the way you expect.