To see the Church grow

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And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:7

We cannot understand Paul’s preoccupation with gathering funds from the Gentile churches to bring relief to the Jewish churches unless this was somehow related to his deliberate efforts to fulfill his Lord’s desire that the churches express their essential oneness —

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. – John 17:21

When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he was midway through his great missionary career, and the outreach of his apostolic team in the Eastern Mediterranean had just been completed —

They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum. – Romans 15:19

In contrast, the Western Mediterranean represented unrelieved darkness with but one point of light — Rome.  Apparently, this believing community had been on Paul’s mind for some years as he agonized in prayer and deliberated about his future ministry.

As a task theologian, he carefully selected certain themes and developed them to prepare the Roman Christians for his missionary strategy.  Only after his extensive review of sin and guilt before God, justification and redemption grace and the Spirit’s indwelling presence and power and God’s determination to redeem the Gentile world through the church, does Paul reveal his strategy for the believers at Rome — that they were to constitute themselves a second Antioch, the new base of operations for the mission of his apostolic band to Spain and the Western Mediterranean.  As such, they would have a significant role to fill, providing Paul and his team with experienced men and, most important of all, undertaking for their financial and prayer support.  This epistle was written to give a strong cluster of house churches in a great pagan city a sense of their missionary call to the peoples beyond their borders.  Through their missionary obedience, these believers in Rome would attain a new sense of their identity —

For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.  When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.  I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.  For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike.  So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.               Romans 1:11-15

They made up the Church and Mission – the fixed congregation and the mobile team —

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14

 

 

 

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