February 23 - Romans 15:17-22

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Romans 15:17-22 - Glory in Christ Jesus

Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:  “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”  

This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

The first verse of this passage is very interesting. Note the placement of the clauses. Paul doesn't say that he won't speak of that which 'he accomplished through Christ,' but what 'Christ accomplished through him.' Paul is only a vessel for Jesus Christ's work on earth.

The signs and wonders, the things Paul has said and done … all of these things occurred because of the power of the Spirit of God. Paul did none of these things and doesn't want to be celebrated for them. All glory goes to God.

We often hear these words from charismatic preachers today and find it hard to believe the words when their actions speak of a need to receive adulation and praise for themselves. Paul had none of that. He pointed to Jesus Christ with every action he took and every word he spoke.

Paul did not preach to Gentiles in Jerusalem, but it was there that he received the call to preach (Acts 22:19-21) and it was there that "when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised" (Galatians 2:9).

Illyricum is where Yugoslavia and Albania are today. While there is no mention of this city in the book of Acts, he did get to Berea, which isn't far from that point and this may mean that the churches he preached to there extended the gospel that far. Or … we might not have all of the data regarding his missionary journeys. From Jerusalem, his ministry reached Gentiles in the eastern Mediterranean surroundings and into the western reaches of the Roman empire. He was moving as quickly as possible to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  He didn't want to follow someone else – to build on someone else's foundation because that was wasted time. The work they had done did not need to be duplicated. The time was ripe for bringing the world to Jesus Christ and Paul hurried to do as much as possible in the short time he was allotted.