And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.
The Greek verb for admonish is “noutheteo,” which means to put into the mind, to put or place in thought. It comes to mean to instruct, to impart understanding, and in some cases in the sense of setting something right. It means to communicate doctrine. This verse emphasizes the one qualified to exercise influence over the intellect. It means to remind, to correct or to have a corrective influence. The mature believer produces the action of being the corrective influence. Remember that Paul earlier compared the weak believer to the strong believer and what their attitudes should be toward one another. Paul is convinced that the mature believers in the church at Rome are filled with good of intrinsic value, with knowledge of Bible doctrine and therefore able to be the corrective influence toward the immature believers.
But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the Gospel of God, that my offering to the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Paul was alert to the problems of the believers in Rome and therefore he was writing in terms of awareness. He had become alert on behalf of the Roman believers. He is addressing this to them as believers. It means in certain parts of this epistle Paul has written for the purpose of making them aware of something, making them alert to the fact that the Christian Way of Life is not a system of self-righteousness, of keeping the law, of giving up things and observing taboos. Throughout the epistle there are certain alert passages in which a believer is to become aware of those around him/her, where he/she is to become sensitive, thoughtful and kind; those things which are so important in relationship to others and fulfilling our role as ambassadors for Christ.
Paul recognized that God had a purpose for his life and that purpose must be related to doctrine, and that whenever a problem, crisis, disaster or difficulty comes there must be Bible doctrine resident in the soul on which to draw and to apply. When Paul said, “because of the grace” he was talking first of all about his spiritual gift of communication which was included in the gift of apostleship. But he was also talking about what he communicated to these Roman believers so that they would be ready for many difficulties which were coming historically to Rome. That meant that they had the logistical grace support; that Bible doctrine was available to them under God’s logistical grace provision.
Paul was sent by God the Holy Spirit to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul however viewed his role as one of a servant (minister). Any communicator of doctrine is a servant in the sense of providing spiritual food. Ministering as a priest (or like a priest) means to perform sacred rights as a priest. The priest places the animal on the altar, explains what it represents, then sacrifices the animal. This is used to teach Christ being judged for our sins. This lamb gives up his life as did Christ on the Cross. It means to officiate as a priest at an altar; to communicate doctrine with training aids. Paul simply saw his role as the apostle to the Gentiles as if he were a priest teaching by means of the rituals and offerings of Israel.
Paul’s offering to the Gentiles was himself and the Bible doctrine he had stored in his soul, which he was willing and able to impart to them. Paul’s desire was that this offering of himself as a teacher of that doctrine would be acceptable to the Gentile believers in Rome. Sanctified by the Holy Spirit means to be set apart and in the case of Paul he was set apart as the apostle to the Gentile world. Only through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit could Paul have fulfilled his ministry. It takes a supernatural power to execute not only the Christian Way of Life, but also the ministry which God has given you.
Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in power of signs and wonders, in the power of Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.
Paul was saying that since he had maximum doctrine resident in the soul he would not presume to tell of his great missionary experience, his great intelligence or his translation to the third Heaven, but rather he would emphasize the Bible doctrine which he has learned pertaining to Jesus Christ. Paul was not arrogant, though humanly speaking he had the credentials that could cause a person to become arrogant. His humility was learned over a period of time through the intake and application of Bible doctrine to experience.
Paul’s office in the ministry was that of an apostle, but his function was primarily that of a missionary. A missionary’s primary function is the communication of Bible doctrine: 1) the Gospel to unbelievers 2) the teaching of Bible doctrine to believers. In Paul’s case God used him to bring many Gentiles to the point of faith in Christ by means of his gift of evangelism. All accurate teaching and perception of that teaching was accomplished in the power of the Spirit. Prior to the completion of the canon of Scripture miracles were used to establish the communicator as being from God. When the canon of Scripture had been completed such miracles were unnecessary.
Paul’s starting point for his ministry was Jerusalem. His travel circuit included his first three missionary journeys and therefore it is a circuit covering Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, and the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Fully preached the Gospel means that Paul and his companion were very bold and consistent in spreading the good news of the Gospel of Christ despite the many hardships they faced along their journeys.
And thus I aspired to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation; but as it is written, “they who had no news of Him shall see, and they who have not heard shall understand.”
Here we see an honor code principle for missionaries. All missionary function must be compatible with the Royal Family of God Honor Code. Function in the Christian life is the Royal Family of God Honor Code. The honor code can only be understood by means of perception of doctrine. Knowledge of doctrine, therefore, is the key to proper missionary operation.
There is an emphasis on the fact that there is a missionary ethic. These verses establish the fact of a missionary ethic, summarized simply as the Royal Family of God Honor Code. To be a missionary means to understand the honor code and to live by it. This requires prior preparation — perception of doctrine. No one can go to the mission field without the norms and standards of Bible doctrine resulting in a full cognizance of the honor code and be truly successful.
Verse 20 states a firm missionary policy, a policy which Paul himself violated shortly after this passage was written. Paul will mention Spain as the mission field where Christ has not been named and Paul was consistent in his policy to go to Spain. However, later in this chapter Paul is not only inconsistent but he is rationalizing when he wants to go to Jerusalem first. Ministering in Jerusalem was building on the foundation of another apostle.
Paul could have sent the offerings collected for the believers in Jerusalem mentioned in verse 26 by other means than going himself. However, Paul had a special attraction to Jerusalem. Going to Jerusalem was emotional revolt, while going to Spain was rational obedience. Paul’s disobedience caused the postponement of his fourth missionary journey. Paul’s stated objective in coming to Rome on the way to Spain was fulfilled, not from his following the plan of God but through divine discipline for his emotional reversionism involving an unnecessary journey to Jerusalem.
Disobedience however does not hinder the plan of God. The plan of God continues whether you are doing the will of God or whether you are being disciplined by God for not doing the will of God. Paul could have gone to Spain via Rome; all he had to do was cross the water. Instead, Paul went to Spain via Rome the hard way: reversionism. The road to Spain was a tough one for Paul. It involved rejection by the Jews in Jerusalem, being almost killed by the mob, being delivered by the Roman Army, being imprisoned in Caesarea, taking a ship to Rome and being shipwrecked, finally getting to Rome as a prisoner for two years while Nero decided his case.
Perception and function under the honor code protects the believer from making terrible mistakes which postpone blessing, as well as production demanded by the plan of God. The honor code is a safeguard against emotional revolt. It is also a safeguard against deviation from God’s purpose and plan. When in doubt consult the honor code. Paul should have been inflexible about going to Spain and very flexible about visits to Jerusalem. In other words, missionary or ministry activity must be an assignment with honor and integrity.
Paul uses Isaiah 52:15 as an illustration of the ministry he was involved with which was a parallel situation in the time of Isaiah and in every generation. Quite frequently an Old Testament passage is cited to demonstrate a similar event, a parallel event, to establish an additional frame of reference. There will always be people who reject God at God-consciousness and therefore never hear the Gospel. However, they are still responsible for the rejection of Jesus Christ because of their negative volition.