Missionaries often refer to those who support their work as “ministry partners.” They aren’t trying to flatter donors so they will send more money. They know that their ministry depends on the prayers and finances of others. The book of Romans is both an explanation of Christian doctrine and a prayer letter soliciting support for Paul’s ministry.
In the second half of chapter 15, Paul reminds the church why he has written “quite boldly on some points” (v. 15). It was not because he had a low view of the church’s understanding or its level of spiritual maturity. Paul elaborated on things they already knew, speaking frankly with these brothers and sisters in Christ because he cared for them. He also wanted the church to recognize his credentials so they would understand his calling as a minister of Jesus Christ. The apostle viewed his ministry as the “priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (v. 16).
In verses 17–22 Paul shared his vision for his future ministry but also explained his failure to visit Rome thus far. The church was established in Rome, and Paul’s strategy was to concentrate on those areas “where Christ was not known” (v. 20). He planned to go to Spain and stop off at Rome along the way. But before this, he intended to travel to Jerusalem to carry a financial contribution from the Gentile churches for the poor believers there (vv. 26–27). Paul did eventually come to Rome, but in chains (Acts 28:14–31). In 2 Timothy 4:6, the apostle seemed to anticipate his approaching martyrdom when he wrote of his “departure” and of being “poured out like a drink offering.”
>> How do you support the ministry of others? Spend a few minutes praying for your church’s leaders and the missionaries you support. Ask God to grant them the courage of Paul.
Lord, thank you for granting each of us opportunities to participate in ministry. Strengthen and encourage those who go on the mission field and bless those who provide prayer and financial support.