World English Bible translation
15:22Therefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you, 15:23 but now, no longer having any place in these regions, and having these many years a longing to come to you, 15:24 whenever I journey to Spain, I will come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 15:25 But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints. 15:26 For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. 15:27 Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things. 15:28 When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by you to Spain. 15:29 I know that, when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. 15:30 Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 15:31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; 15:32 that I may come to you in joy through the will of God, and together with you, find rest. 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
In today's final verses in the main body of the epistle, Paul gives the Roman Christians an understanding of his immediate plans. He tells them that he has collected funds in Macedonia and Achaia in order to give this money to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. After Paul takes the contribution to Jerusalem, he plans to travel to Rome and from Rome even further to Spain. Spain represented to Paul the ends of the earth. It was the goal of his life to take the gospel of Christ as far west as he could reach and to Paul that meant taking the gospel to Spain.
We do not know if Paul ever went to Spain. He was arrested in Jerusalem and appealed his case to Rome, which was the right of a Roman citizen. Paul was placed in house arrest in Rome and we know that he stayed at least a year in that city before his case was heard. Some traditions teach that Paul was released from this period of confinement and did make it to Spain. Other traditions hold that Paul's confinement in Rome was continuous. We do know that Paul was eventually executed in Rome in either the year 67 or 68 AD.
Whether Paul ever reached his goal of bringing the gospel to Spain is not as important as that he had plans to do so. There is no inspired text that tells us whether or not he accomplished his goal, but we know through this epistle and other writings that this was what he planned to do. These passages help us to see Paul as a real human being with goals and aspirations. Paul made plans and sometimes God allowed him to accomplish his plans and sometimes God prevented him from accomplishing them. Just like you and I. There were some things that Paul was given great insight into so that he might write his epistles and reveal them to us. There were many other things that Paul was as much in the dark on as you or I.
We have a tendency to think that God worked differently with people during the time of Paul and during the life of Jesus. But God still works with people in the same way that he worked with Paul. Perhaps the miracles that God worked during the lives of the apostles were more dramatic and obvious. Or, perhaps the apostles were allowed greater insight into the miracles that God works in the world all the time. In any case, the kingdom of God is not a matter of miracles but of righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. Paul himself has written this. God still deals with you and I in the same ways that he dealt with Paul and Peter.
Paul closes this portion of his letter by asking the Romans to pray for him. Pray that he may be delivered from those that are disobedient in Judea (which did not happen) and to pray that he might come to Rome through the will of God (which definitely did happen). Whether we pray for that which God brings about or for that which never occurs, prayer is never wasted. We don't pray to get what we want. We pray because communication with God is part of who we are. God speaks to us all the time: through scripture, through the world, through other Christians and directly through the work of the Spirit on our hearts. When we pray, we speak back to God. We tell Him how we feel and what we believe. God knows everything we tell Him already, but when you have an important relationship, it's always based on good communication. We pray because God is real and He is listening and we are the people of God.
Have you spoken to God lately about your plans and your dreams? He's ready to listen. Are you ready to speak?
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