Romans 1:8-17

Thursday Evening Bible Study

March 6, 2008


Paul was visiting Corinth the second time (Acts 20:3) when he writes a letter to the Christians in Rome.  This is considered Paul’s greatest work.  Last week we looked at his introduction.

:8-15 Ready for Rome

:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Paul is going to give the Romans a little peek at his prayer life.

His prayer starts with thanksgiving.

The Roman church is a thriving church. People all around the world have heard about their faith.

:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

:10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

serve with my spiritlatreuo – a word that is often used to describe the spiritual service that priests do as they offer sacrifices and offerings in the Temple.

Paul saw his prayer life as a way of performing the work of a priests, offering up prayers to God for the people. Just as a Levitical priest would put on his special garments, perform certain rituals, and bring the people’s prayers before God in the Temple, Paul was performing “spiritual” service to God in prayer.

Paul continues this peek into his prayer life.

:9 without ceasingadialeiptos – without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing


Consistent prayer

without ceasing … always – Paul had consistency in his prayer life.
It might be that Paul was actually literally always praying this specific thing about coming to Rome.
I think it’s more likely that Paul was letting them know that he prayed regularly, and each time he prayed he prayed about going to Rome one day.
I find it valuable to have a “prayer list”. There are certain things and certain people in my life that I want to be certain to remember to pray for. When I say to someone, “I’ve been praying for you”, I don’t want to mean that I have fond thoughts for them, I want to really have been praying for them and their situation.
Are there things that you find yourself getting fixated on? Things you worry constantly about? I’m finding that when I spend as much time praying for these things as I do worrying, things begin to happen:
(Phil 4:6-7 NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Specific prayer

making requestdeomai – to want, lack; to ask, beg; to pray
The word carries an emphasis on the need for the thing being prayed for.  It’s not just praying for something that pops into your head, it’s sharing your “need” with God.
find a wayeuodoo (“good” + “way”) – to grant a prosperous and expeditious journey, to lead by a direct and easy way; here’s it’s a future tense, “that I will find a good way”
in the will of God – Paul understands that prayer needs to always be about the “will of God”.  This is one of the great goals in prayer, learning to find the will of God.
(Mat 6:10 NKJV)  …Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
When we find God’s will, we will be asking for the right things and receiving answers to our prayers.

(1 John 5:14-15 NKJV)  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15} And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Paul’s prayer regarding the Romans was specific.  It was aimed at a particular need.  It was framed in the will of God.
Sometimes I wonder if God isn’t listening to our prayers and wondering what the point is.  Sometimes we just ramble on and on and on.  I imagine that sometimes God must be thinking, “And what are you here for?  What was your point?”
Sometimes we feel like it’s necessary to explain in great detail all the background to the prayer request.  Do you think that God needs to be informed of these things?  He knows more about it than you do.
Get to your point.  Lay it all out.  Know what you’re asking God to do.
(Eccl 5:2 NKJV)  Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.

Some people take this to the extreme and say that they don’t want to bother God with their needs.  That’s not what God wants.  God wants to hear from us. 

On the other hand, we need to get to the point and be specific.


Answered prayer

We’ve just finished the book of Acts where we have seen how God answered this prayer of Paul’s a few years later.
Paul had been writing the Romans from Corinth. He would travel north to Macedonia, then on around the coast of Asia Minor and on to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he would be arrested and shipped off to Caesarea where he would sit in jail for two years. Eventually Paul had to make an appeal to Caesar, then was put on a ship to Rome as a prisoner, shipwrecked along the way, but eventually made it to Rome. As a prisoner.
Prayer may not always be answered as soon as you want it to be.
Prayer may not be answered in the way you expect it to be.
But God answers prayer.
Sometimes God answers with “yes”, even though it may not look like the way you planned it.
Sometimes God simply answers with “no”.

That’s not a bad thing.  I would hate to think what my life would have been like if God had answered some of my prayers regarding marrying some of those old high school girlfriends.  I’m glad God said “no”.

Sometimes God answers with “not yet”.

This would be God’s response for over two years for Paul.  It would take Paul time before he made it to Rome.

Again – if you are using a prayer list and praying daily for things, you will find yourself recognizing more often when God answers prayer.
If I only occasionally pray for an issue, I might not realize when it is answered that God was the one doing it.

:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established;

giftcharisma – a favor with which one receives without any merit of his own; a word used to describe what we call “spiritual gifts”, things like the gift of prophecy, word of knowledge, healing, tongues, etc.

It’s a word built on the word for grace, charis with an ending that means “a work of” (“ma”), the idea is that this is a “work of grace”.

Spiritual gifts are not things that we earn or become worthy of. They are completely works of grace.

The word for gift (charisma) is used by Paul six times in Romans (1:11; 5:15; 5:16; 6:23; 11:29; 12:6) and only once is he clearly talking about what we refer to as “spiritual gifts” (12:6). In one place (6:23) Paul calls eternal life the “gift of God”. Two times it is translated “free gift” (5:15,16).

It is likely that Paul is not talking strictly about what we call “spiritual gifts” (ie. prophecy, word of knowledge, tongues, etc.). He’s not thinking, “Gee, these people could sure use the gift of tongues …” They may be a part of what he has in mind, but I think he’s talking in a broader sense here. He’s simply talking about the idea of giving a gift, but rather than a physical gift he wants to give a gift that’s spiritual in nature.

:12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Paul’s desire is not that he be the big apostle coming to bless these poor little Christians in Rome, but that he’s expecting them to encourage him with their faith as well.


Need help? Reach out.

Paul knows that when he gets together with the church to share with them, that he will receive as much building up as they will.
Don’t let yourself sit in a corner, waiting for others to minister to you. Get to know other people. Reach out. Share with others. You’ll find yourself blessed too.
This is one of the things we’re seeing happen on Sunday nights. We spend the evening in worship, prayer, and sharing.
But I find that when I come with an attitude of ministering to others, I receive more.

:13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.

Paul has seen people come to the Lord all over the world. He is anxious to see God at work in Rome as well.

:14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.

Barbariansbarbaros – one whose speech is rude, rough and harsh; used by the Greeks of any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language

Paul is referring to the whole world here, from a Greek point of view. The Greeks viewed the world in two groups: Greeks and Barbarians. The Jews also viewed the world in two groups: Jews and Gentiles.

debtoropheiletes – one who owes another; one held by some obligation, bound by some duty.


Who do you owe?

We don’t like to be in debt.

For many generations a family had raised cotton in a lush southern valley. Unfortunately, the boll weevil came to call and for three seasons their crop was wiped out. The younger members of the family urged their patriarch to leave the cursed valley which was driving them to ruin but he refused, saying, . . . “Though I live in the valley in the shadow of debt, I will fear no weevil!”

Paul sees himself as owing the whole world something. He owes them the message of Jesus Christ.
He sees the entire world dying from a horrendous disease. He has the antidote that can save them.

:15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

readyprothumos – ready, willing


Blunt common sense always characterized Mr. Moody. Once a man rose in one of his meetings to give his experience. “I have been for five years on the Mount of Transfiguration,” he said. Instantly Mr. Moody interrupted him by the sharp question, “How many souls did you lead to Christ last year?’ “Well, I don’t know,” answered the surprised man. “Have you led any?” then came sternly from the preacher. “I-ah-don’t know that I have,” said the man. “Then,” snapped Mr. Moody, still more sternly, “we don’t want that kind of mountaintop experience. When a man gets so high that he can’t reach down and save poor sinners, there is something wrong.”

Paul has a debt to pay.  He’s ready to pay his debts.  He’s ready to preach.

:16-17 Just live by Faith

:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,

I don’t think any of us like to be embarrassed.

My most embarrassing moment in high school was when I took this gal out on a date to Disneyland.  We got to the park and went in to watch her brother in the parade.  I realized I had locked my keys in my car.  She never went out with me again.  I don’t think she like being embarrassed.  Embarrassment keeps us from doing lots of things.

It’s the thing that separates teens from their parents – kids don’t want their parents to embarrass them.

What other things can you think of where embarrassment or fear of embarrassment has kept you from something?

What’s sad is when we transfer that fear of embarrassment to sharing the gospel.


On one occasion Frederick the Great invited some notable people to his royal table.  Including his top-ranking generals.  One of them by the name of Hans von Zieten declined the invitation because he wanted to partake of communion at his church. 

Some time later at another banquet Frederick and his guests mocked the general for his religious scruples and made jokes about the Lord’s supper.  In great peril of his life, the officer stood to his feet and said respectfully to the monarch, “My lord, there is a greater King than you, a King to whom I have sworn allegiance even unto death.  I am a Christian man, and I cannot sit quietly as the Lord’s name is dishonored and His character belittled.” 

The guests trembled in silence, knowing that von Zieten might be killed.  But to their surprise, Frederick grasped the hand of this courageous man, asked his forgiveness, and requested that he remain. He promised that he would never again allow such a travesty to be made of sacred things.

He was not ashamed.


In his book The Crisis in the University, Sir Walter Moberly cites the failure of evangelicals to penetrate university campuses with the gospel. To those who claim to follow Christ he says, "If one-tenth of what you believe is true, you ought to be ten times as excited as you are."

Do we really believe this?

:16  for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

This is why Paul is not embarrassed of the gospel.

powerdunamis – strength power, ability

It’s the gospel that saves people when they believe.

salvationsoteria – deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation

Salvation from what?

1) Past: From the penalties of sins I’ve committed in the past (Luke 7:50; Eph. 2:8)
2) Present: From the power of sin in my daily life (Rom. 5:10)
3) Future: From the actual presence of sin in the future, in heaven. (1 Cor. 3:15; 5:5).

Salvation comes when a person believes.

It doesn’t come when you learn to jump over some goal, when you pray fifty “hail Marys” or crawl up the steps of a big church.  It comes when you believe.

It doesn’t come when you achieve victory over a particular sin in your life. It comes when you believe.


Just share it

All we are responsible to do is to share the gospel.  It is not up to us to save anyone, but simply to share.
If the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, then we simply need to share it.
It seems to me that in Paul’s life he wasn’t worried about who would believe and who wouldn’t.  He preached many times to crowds who didn’t believe.  But he still preached.
What is the gospel?  What is it we are to share?
We have a problem – we are sinners, we all are facing God’s judgment.
God has the solution – Jesus came to die on a cross and pay for our sins.  He offers us God’s forgiveness.
We have to respond – we must turn to God and trust Him.

Jews … Gentiles… -

Paul’s ministry in a city always started by preaching to the Jews. They are God’s chosen people. Jesus was their Messiah. It was after the Jews had an opportunity to receive Jesus that Paul would turn and preach to the Gentiles.

:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed

As we believe in Christ, God does a wonderful thing and exchanges our sin for His righteousness.

(2 Cor 5:20-21 NKJV)  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. {21} For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

:17  from faith to faith;

Faith is where this thing called salvation starts, and faith is how it is shared.

Paul is talking about the process of how a person is saved, how it starts with the faith that one person has in trusting in Jesus, and how they share what they believe with another person, and that other person then starts to believe.

It’s when you see how I am trusting in Jesus, it stirs up something inside of you to want to trust in Him too.


In the 1930s in Stavropol, Russia, Stalin ordered that all Bibles be confiscated and Christian believers be sent to prison camps. Ironically, most of the Bibles were not destroyed, yet many Christians died as "enemies of the state."

With the recent dissolution of the U.S.S.R., a CoMission team arrived in Stavropol in 1994 for ministry. Their request to have Bibles shipped to Moscow was being held up. But someone told them about a warehouse outside of town where confiscated Bibles were still stored. Remarkably, the team was granted permission to distribute them. Hiring several local Russian workers, they began to load their trucks.

One young man, a hostile agnostic, came only for the day's wages. But not long after they had started, he disappeared. He was found in the corner of the warehouse, weeping, a Bible in his hands. Intending to steal it for himself, he had picked his own grandmother's off the shelf! Her signature was on the front page. Today, that young Russian is in the process of being transformed by the very Bible that his grandmother was persecuted for, but still held dear.

-- Ken Taylor, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 5.

From the faith of his grandmother to himself.

:17  as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

Paul supports supporting what he’s saying by quoting from Habakkuk:

(Hab 2:4b NKJV)  …But the just shall live by his faith.

The idea is this:

The one who is just (the one who is right before God)

will live (be saved and not die)

by faith (it’s his trust in God that gives him life).