Now I urge you brethren by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints, so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul’s encouragement to the Roman believers was based on the fact that it was only through the Lord Jesus Christ that they had access to God in prayer. Faith in Christ sets up many potentials for believers, and one of those is access to God. Paul also encouraged the Roman believers by the love of the Spirit, which actually means from the Spirit. It is a reference to impersonal love for all mankind produced under the guidance and filling of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s request for prayer was fourfold: 1) that he would be delivered from his enemies 2) that his service in Jerusalem would be accepted 3) that he would come to Rome with joy and 4) that he would find rest in the company of the church while in Rome. These prayers were not all answered. The reason they were not all answered was that Paul was temporarily out of the will of God by going to Jerusalem. Acts 20-28 gives the account of what happened to Paul in Jerusalem.
Paul was rejected in Jerusalem by his fellow countrymen and even by many of the believers. He was ultimately arrested and taken to Caesarea and put in prison until he could be transported to Rome under house arrest in order to stand trial before Nero, Emperor of the Roman Empire. Obviously, somewhere along the way Paul realized his mistake and got back in the will of God. In spite of his failure, God continued to use Paul in a great way. God’s Word never returns void even when being proclaimed by out-of-fellowship believers or unbelievers.
Paul attempted to use the offering of the Gentile believers as an opportunity to go to Jerusalem. He had an intense desire to minister to these people. Paul had much to offer the Jerusalem believers by way of doctrinal teaching, but they had never forgotten the persecution by Paul when he was an unbeliever. In fact, it’s possible that many of their relatives were killed or impoverished by the zealous young Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus. Because of this, there was much controversy over Paul in Jerusalem, and even antagonism toward Paul from the Jerusalem Church. The church at Jerusalem was still having issues regarding keeping the Mosaic Law.
Paul’s prayer request was incompatible with the geographical will of God for him. He should have been on his way to Rome. Therefore, Paul’s erroneous prayer request resulted in ineffective intercessory prayer. Paul’s journey to Jerusalem was part of his emotional revolt, and any request for his blessing was null and void; it was cancelled by being out of God’s will. The most difficult prayer a believer can pray is for a believer who is out of fellowship with God. There is very little that can be done except to pray they will wake up and get back on track (and God has ways of influencing us to do just that). Paul came under divine discipline in Jerusalem, and because he was under divine discipline this nullified the petition from being answered through their intercession.
Paul’s desire to be delivered from his enemies was not answered. Paul’s petition that he might have an effective ministry was not answered because Paul was out of fellowship. The prayer to get Paul to Rome would be answered. Even erroneous petitions cannot hinder the plan of God. Paul arrived in Rome as a believer in fellowship with God and with joy in his soul. Doing the will of God and happiness seem to always go together. Doing the will of God involves three things: right thought, right function and right place.
No one had more doctrinal teaching to offer than Paul, no one was greater or more helpful for the advance of any believer. When Paul taught the believers in Rome they were going to be refreshed by the doctrine he taught, and he was going to be refreshed by their hospitality. When Paul left Rome he had taught them Bible doctrine and they had exercised hospitality to him under difficult circumstances (he was under house arrest). Where the Word of God is taught the outcome is inevitable. Those who respond have a relaxed and loving attitude toward the one who teaches. However, the greatest ministry in the world is totally ineffective in the face of negative volition, as in Jerusalem.
“Now the peace of God be with you all” refers to the peace or spiritual prosperity that is a result of having peace with God and the execution of the Christian Way of Life. The theological word for having peace with God is reconciliation. There are two words for reconciliation in Greek. One word “diallasso” means to reconcile two parties who are mutually hostile toward one another. The second word “katallasso” means to reconcile two parties where only one party is hostile toward the other. “Katallasso” is the word used for reconciliation to God. This means that it is man who is “hostile” towards God and has become rebellious by means of his inherent sin nature. It means that mankind is the enemy of God and it is man who needs to be reconciled to God.
Literally, “katallasso” means to change or to exchange (originally referring to money). It came to mean a change from being one’s enemy to being one’s friend. This is the meaning throughout the New Testament. At salvation, the believer is reconciled to God. This means that the believer is no longer God’s enemy but that peace has been made as a result of the person’s change of mind towards Christ (the true meaning of repentance). (Romans 5:10)
Reconciliation is accomplished by the removal of a barrier that exists between God and man. Once this barrier is removed, the possibility exists for peace between God and man. The barrier that separates God from man is sin. Every person is born with a sin nature, which is passed down genetically from their father. Man also possesses Adam’s original sin, which is imputed to him at birth by God. It is Adam’s original sin that condemns man. Personal sins are committed because man possesses a sin nature.
Since God can have nothing to do with sin, the “sin barrier” must be removed so that mankind can have a relationship with God. Jesus Christ is the Sin-bearer, which means that He was judged for our sin (Adam’s original sin and our personal sins). The judgment of sin satisfied the righteousness and justice of God. The person who accepts Jesus Christ as his “Sin-bearer” is immediately reconciled to God, having been placed in union with Christ. This means that the believer is no longer God’s enemy, but peace now exists between this individual and God. Since God is not a “respecter of persons,” (He is impartial and unprejudiced) anyone (both Jew and Gentile) who believes in Christ as Savior (the Sin-bearer) will be reconciled to God. (Ephesians 2:14-18)
Reconciliation takes place instantaneously at salvation. The results cannot be felt or seen; it takes place spiritually. Colossians 1:21 says as unbelievers we were “aliens and enemies in our minds.” The Greek word for enemy is “echthros” and primarily denotes hatred or hostility. The word also means adversary and is used of Satan. The Greek word for aliens is “apallotrioo” and means to be estranged from. This means that prior to salvation we were estranged from and the enemies of God. Since this hatred is in the mind, it is our thinking that needs to be transformed before and after salvation. When a person responds to the message of the Gospel, they automatically change their mind (the true meaning of repentance) from lack of faith in Christ to faith in Christ. For the believer in Christ, peace now exists between him and God and he is no longer estranged from God.
The context of Colossians 1:23, “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel” tells us that this verse is not talking about positional truth, but experiential truth. The “if” clause in verse 23 tells us that what was stated in verse 22 is potential only; “maybe you will be presented blameless and maybe you won’t.” The other result of reconciliation is that the believer is now qualified for a resurrection body. Even though reconciliation takes place while we are in this body, we will be presented to Christ in our resurrection body. The believer now has the potential of being presented blameless and beyond reproach before Jesus Christ. The word for blameless and beyond reproach in Greek is “anenkletos” and means “with nothing laid to one’s charge after public investigation.” It depends on whether or not you continue in doctrine (the faith), being grounded and settled in the full confidence of the Gospel.
The Greek word for established in Colossians 1:23 is “themelioo” and would be better translated foundation or founded. The Greek word for steadfast is “hedraios” and means seated, as in your mind. The word for continue in Greek is “epimeno” and means to remain. In other words, you will be presented with “nothing laid to your account” if you remain on track by building a foundation of accurate doctrinal truth in your mind and not sliding into reversionism. If you do this, the God of peace will be with you.