Paul a Debtor
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 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. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established — 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
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. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. NKJV
As is Paul’s natural course he give thanks for them even though he has never seen them.
Their faith was great and was spoken about throughout the world.
They lived in the very center of persecution. For although the other pagan gods did not persecute those who worshiped other, yet here in Rome, worship of the emperor was required on pain of death.
Paul then tells them that he spends much time in prayer for them. He also prays that God might be pleased to allow him to come to them. This great gentile church would without doubt benefit my the ministry of the Apostle to the gentiles.
But Paul also longed to be strengthen by their faith as he hoped to strengthen them. There is a mutual support that we owe each other and should be a natural product of our fellowship together.
Paul wanted very much to be with them and had often planned a journey to them but he had not yet been able to bring it to pass. But he had a great desire to exercise among those at Rome the gifts God had given to Paul.
Then Paul makes a remarkable statement. He says that he is a debtor. He is a debtor to the Greeks and the barbarians, to the wise and the unwise. And he is ready to preach the gospel also in Rome.
I. Paul a Debtor
A. Paul’s primary obligation that governed all else in is life was to God.
1. 1 Co 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
B. A debtor to who?
1. To the Greeks and barbarians
a. In the Jewish mind, there were but Jews and heathen; in the Greek mind there were Greeks and barbarians; but in God’s mind there are but the saved and the lost (I Jn 5:12). KJV Bible commentary. 1997, c1994 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
b. Debtor signifies one who is morally obligated. Because of his call and gift of apostleship (1:1, 5), Paul was obligated culturally to the Greeks. These people were cultured and refined. To the Barbarians: These were strangers to the Greek language and culture. Educationally, he was indebted to the wise, whether they were wise in handicraft, the affairs of life, the sciences, or learning. He was also indebted to the unwise, or unlearned. This was Paul’s way of expressing his burden to get the gospel to everyone. King James Version study Bible. 1997, c1988 (electronic ed.) (Ro 1:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
c. Paul does not say here that he is a debtor to other Christians or to the churches, although we see in other places that he was.
d. Paul was a debtor to those who had not yet heard the gospel, to those not yet saved.
2. To the wise and the unwise
C. Why a debtor?
1. Because when God got Paul, He got all of him.
a. Remember that Paul is a servant, a bond servant who owes all he has, even his life to his Lord.
b. (1.) His receivings made him a debtor; for they were talents he was entrusted with to trade for his Master’s honour. We should think of this when we covet great things, that all our receivings put us in debt; we are but stewards of our Lord’s goods.
c. (2.) His office made him a debtor. He was a debtor as he was an apostle; he was called and sent to work, and had engaged to mind it. Paul had improved his talent, and laboured in his work, and done as much good as ever any man did, and yet, in reflection upon it, he still writes himself debtor; for, when we have done all, we are but unprofitable servants. Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry's commentary : On the whole Bible (electronic ed. of the complete and unabridged edition.) (Ro 1:8). Peabody: Hendrickson.
d. He was a debtor because his life was not his own for he was bought with a price.
e. 2 Co 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. NKJV.
f. The Pauline concept of Christian service is that each believer is deeply in debt. It is probably this same concept that inspired Isaac Watts to pen the words of the hymn “At the Cross” when he said, “But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe. Here, Lord, I give myself away, ’tis all that I can do.” Paul felt he had a responsibility to give nothing less than himself to the propagation of the gospel by which he was saved. KJV Bible commentary.
g. For Paul it was all about Jesus
h. If your life is all about you, I need to warn you that God is a jealous God.
2. I have become all things to all men, that I by some means might save some.
3. 1 Cor 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
4. I have suffered the loss of all things for Christ. Phil 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
5. For me to live is Christ; Phil 1:21
6. 2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
II. Ready to preach the Gospel
A. This is what he owed them.
1. He did not owe them gold or silver.
2. He owed them only what God had placed within his power.
B. Herein we also see the focus of Paul’s ministry.
1. Paul’s ministry was all about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Telling other what they needed to be delivered from sin.
3. Giving them the message that could deliver them from the penalty of sin.
4. Remember the gospel is concisely defined in 1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
C. Is that the focus of your life.
1. What does that mean to you?
2. Is it just so much information to be subscribed to.
3. Or is it for you the power of God unto salvation. Rom. 1:16
1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
It is either foolishness or the most powerful thing you have ever heard.