“Wrestling With Romans”
The Lord’s Servant – (Chapter 15 Verses 14-22)
The condition of these Christians, their full-orbed goodness and knowledge enables Paul to speak with boldness (v15), a Church in any other condition would most likely take offense. When a congregation are as they should be and have a minister who loves them, he can be frank and daring even. Because in their goodness they will not take offence, and with their knowledge they will understand. The Apostle even goes over some points to remind them yet again, now again you see their condition allows for this. There will be an understanding amongst them that that indeed is often what a Biblical ministry is about, going over certain truths again and again. There are times when what we need, is not a new message, but to be reminded of the basic gospel factors over and over again, Peter commits himself to this as long as God gives him life and breath to minister (2Peter 1.12-18). But then, of course, we need to keep in mind that Paul doesn’t do this from some high fallooting position, no, he was ministering through the grace God had given him. He himself understood and they understood, that he was an Apostle, not because of any cleverness or superiority, but simply by God’s grace (1Corinthians 15.9), and by God’s appointment (1Corinthians 9.2; Galatians 1.1; 1Timothy 1.1; 2Timothy 1.11).
Paul’s main ministry was to the Gentiles (v16), which of course never excluded him from ministering to Jews also. He was a minister, a servant (Mark 10.45), to others, he was in the apostolic ministry not for his own benefit, not for reward, not for position, but to serve others in the gospel, he saw it as a priestly, a sacred work. Now if you call to mind what he has already said about the mixture of a Gentile and Jewish Church, all one, harmoniously, together celebrating God’s salvation (vv7-12), which was a confirmation of the promise God made to the Patriarchs (v8). Well it was Paul’s calling to commence that work, to begin the work of actually bringing this about, and as he accomplishes the addition of Gentiles to the Christian Church, it is as an offering most acceptable to God (v16b), why? Because it was the very thing God promised (v8). Paul is merely the instrument through which God brings about his purpose. But that can be, and ought to be said of any true minister of the gospel. If any person is in Christian ministry for any other reason than that of Paul’s here (v17), then it is high time they were out of it. The glory of Christ must be first and last.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)