Romans 1:13 – Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
Romans is the foundation of “the faith” (Rom. 1:5). As Paul declares in Rom. 1:11, the doctrinal design of the epistle is “to the end ye may be established” and thereby be “comforted” by “God our Father” in the provision He has made for our “mutual faith” (Rom. 1:7, 11-12). The redemption “power” associated with “the gospel of Christ” contains everything that we need for “salvation” in view of who we are naturally as ungodly and unrighteous “men”, and it also contains everything we need for “salvation” in view of who we naturally are not as “saints” (Rom. 1:7, 16, 18). It provides for both “grace” and “peace” “to everyone that believeth” and is effectual “among all nations” to produce “fruit unto God” that is both righteous and holy, ending in “everlasting life” (Rom. 1:5, 7, 16; 6:22; 7:4).
The credits of “Christ’s gospel” are matchless (2Cor. 2:12)! Every component of detail that is “evidently set forth” therein conveys a “form of doctrine” that not only “reveals” God’s “wisdom” to us, but also “freely” supplies “the power” to “quicken” our deadness in view of it (Rom. 2:16; 6:17; 1Cor. 1:24; 16:25; Gal. 3:1). No wonder the apostle was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16)! The effectual establishment and understanding of these gospel truths produced a readiness in him “to preach” it, as well as a longing to “impart” it to the saints (Rom. 1:11, 16). For this, Paul made “mention” of them “without ceasing” “always in [his] prayers.” His continual “request” to the Father was for “a prosperous journey” “to come unto [them]” that he might fulfill “the will of God” in their complete establishment in “the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:10-11; 15:29).
It is in view of the great “length” of time and space that separated them that Paul wrote so that they might not be “ignorant” of the “oftentimes” that he had “purposed to come unto [them] (but was let hitherto)” (Rom. 1:10, 13). The Romans need not be “ignorant” of the fact that there were active hindrances that opposed their establishment in “the gospel of Christ” in accordance with Pauline truth (Rom. 1:13, 16). There was an active policy in place that was directed in opposition to them and endeavored to render them unfruitful by keeping them “ignorant” of the ministry of the “apostle” who the resurrected Lord had “separated” and given “authority for edification” (Rom. 1:1; 2Cor. 10:8). They were indeed “the called of Jesus Christ” and their “faith” was most assuredly “spoken of throughout the whole world”, however, they must realize that this alone did not insulate them from the effects of the spiritual war that was raging against the “some spiritual gift” deposited with Paul for their establishment (Rom. 1:7-8, 11). They need not allow his long tarrying nor his continual hindrances to discourage them from submitting to the establishing, fruit-producing work that was effectual “among other Gentiles”, and in this Paul sought to reassure them by calling to their attention the “oftentimes” his ministry had come under attack in attempting to get the establishment truth to them (Rom. 1:13). The conflict was real, but the reward was great; and this they needed to understand!
I believe there is a truth to be learned from this text not only by practical application, but also through personal implication in how we see this manifesting itself in our own ministries today. It is true that much of Christianity remains “ignorant” of the special ministry committed to the Apostle Paul by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:13). The great “length” of time that separates us from the first century ministry of “the apostle of the Gentiles” works to the detriment of the edification of the body of Christ because many, who are nevertheless “the called of Jesus Christ”, have succumbed to the snares of hearsay doctrine steeped in tradition, and the many doctrinal and practical hindrances to learning Pauline truth have been used to set their minds against Paul’s “separated” ministry and authority (Rom. 1:1, 7-8, 10; 11:13). Though their “faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” and is effectual to the salvation of their souls, the body at large remains in a subpar status as doctrinal “babes” edification-wise (Rom. 1:8; 1Cor. 3:1). There is a general lack of perception when it comes to the unseen war that rages against their establishment and a failure to comprehend the implications of such as it relates to their “fruit” concerning “the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:13, 16). Often the ignorance that abounds meets spiritual knowledge with contempt, and no matter how “many times [we] purpose to come unto [them]” and fulfill “the will of God” toward them, the outcome seems to remain that we are “let hitherto” and wholly unsuccessful in making any spiritual headway (Rom. 1:10, 13). This can be frustrating for the “ambassador” and might easily discourage him/her from continuing to labor unto these godly ends. However, it is at these times that we must rely most upon “the power” in “the gospel of Christ” to renew our minds, to make us “ready to preach” it in spite of the hindrances and to free us from shame concerning its “hope” (Rom. 1:15-16; 5:1-5; 12:1; 2Cor. 5:20)! We must now lean hard into the provision for our faith, rely upon our “armour”, “quit [ourselves] like men and be strong” (Rom. 13:12; 1Cor. 16:13; Eph. 6:11)! Our Father is “of power” to “stablish [us]” by Paul’s gospel, and we too can stand for His “glory” as “the only wise God” in the midst of “this present evil world” (Rom. 16:25-27; Gal. 1:4)!