First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. – Romans 1:8–13
Observation: Paul has heard about the faith of the Romans, and it encourages him (Rom 1:8). He prays for the church regularly (Rom 1:9-10). But he really wants to visit them, so that he can make them strong through his ministry of the Spirit in their midst, so that he and the church can be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Rom 1:12), and so that he can have a harvest among these Gentiles (Rom 1:13). Why does he need to come to Rome in order to minister to them? His epistle to them is obviously already an encouragement and a help to the Romans to make them strong. It is Paul’s most complete explanation of the Gospel. Why could possibly be still lacking in his ministry to them? Why does he need to go to Rome when he can send this excellent, inspiring and doctrinally sound “sermon” or article to them? Paul apparently does not know much about the specific problems and needs in the church and wants to interact with the Roman Christians to get to know them, and then address their situation more specifically. He wants to enjoy their company (Rom 15:24); he wants to be refreshed in their company (Rom 15:32). In order to do so, he needs to see them.