V14. Although Paul had never met the believers in Rome, he was convinced they were full of goodness. He had heard enough about them to be able to say this. He also knew they were filled with all knowledge. By their goodness and knowledge they were enabled to admonish one another. Goodness and knowledge are things you shouldn’t keep for yourself. You can serve others with these things. To admonish means to bring back someone who in one way or another is going in a wrong direction. It is a proof of goodness if we take care of one another in this way.
V15. Paul almost apologizes for writing this. But he wanted to remind them of things that might have been forgotten. This is one thing you also will always need. If you’re constantly reminded of a certain thing, you won’t forget it. It will establish you, as Peter calls it (2Pet 1:12-1512Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you [already] know [them], and have been established in the truth which is present with [you].13I consider it right, as long as I am in this [earthly] dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,14knowing that the laying aside of my [earthly] dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.15And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.; 3:11This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,) when just before his death he reminded the believers of the truth of God.
V16-17. Paul had a special relationship with the nations, including the believers in Rome because they belonged to the nations. Here he calls himself a “priest”. This is a remarkable expression, but also a wonderful expression. When you look at the ministry of the gospel in this way, the preaching of the gospel is a wonderful ministry. After all, a priest is someone who sacrifices to God. When someone is converted and comes to faith by the preaching of the gospel the minister is allowed offer such a person as an offering to God.
It is the Holy Spirit who works conversion and faith in someone. This faith sanctifies (sets apart) the person: he is loosed from the world and now belongs to God. This is made possible by Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection. He has done everything necessary for a person to be saved. Therefore there is glory only in Him in the things that count for God.
V18. Paul’s whole life was aimed at doing Christ’s will. At his conversion, he asked at once: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:1010And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’). In everything he said, he had Christ in mind. This is an important example for us. If Christ wasn’t working through him, Paul kept his mouth shut. He subjected everything to the Object of his life. That was very clear before his eyes in bringing the nations to obedience.
V19. Everything he said, everything he did and every gift he had received was directed at this. He didn’t have the power in himself to do this. He was aware he could only do so by the power of God’s Spirit. Everywhere he went, he preached the gospel.
V20. In doing so, he respected what had been entrusted to another. When he became aware that someone else was preaching the gospel in a certain region, he went to another region. To him, the preaching was more important than the preacher. He liked to be in places where the gospel hadn’t as yet been preached. In such a way, you too have received a part of this world from the Lord, in which you may witness of Him. This part may become ever larger, but be careful you don’t seek the portion the Lord has given to someone else. This will only result in trouble. We all may serve the Lord in the gospel, but everyone has his task and his place to do so.
Paul experienced much trouble through people who saw him in an unfavorable light. They told things of him that weren’t true. When Paul was in one place, others came to say he was only seeking his own advantage. This wasn’t the way Paul wanted to work. He had an eye for what the Lord had given to others. When he saw how others were used by the Lord, it made him glad rather than envious.
V21. For this attitude in preaching the gospel, Paul had a Bible verse in Isaiah 52 (Isa 52:1515Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.). To him, this was a clear indication to go to places where Christ hadn’t been preached yet.
This offers you an important warning when you want to do something for the Lord (and who doesn’t want to if he loves the Lord?). Let yourself be guided by the Word of God. By feeding daily on the Word of God, you will receive answers to the questions you have. You will certainly have questions about many things. You won’t easily find the answers. You must read prayerfully. In the situation Paul was in, he didn’t get a note from heaven with the names of the places he was to visit.
With many questions in our lives, we experience the same thing. There are questions like: Which person does the Lord intend for me to marry? What education should I have? Which job should I choose? You won’t find the literal answers to these questions in the Bible, but you can find the examples of God-fearing men and women, and principles of God’s Word that should be maintained. You can pay attention to this in your decisions. In the same way, your choice for a job may depend on the question: ‘Can I serve the Lord in it or will I be pushed into doing things contrary to God’s will?’ Believe God in His Word. He who believes on Him and trusts in Him will not be ashamed.
Now read Romans 15:14-21 again.
Reflection: What questions do you have? Where do you look for the answers?