the weblog of Alan Knox

That I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you

Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in edification, scripture | 5 comments

As I’ve mentioned a few times – most recently in my post yesterday “” – we’re currently studying through the book of Romans together with the church. A few weeks ago, we read through the entire book together – which was extremely rewarding, by the way. Then, last Sunday, we read, studied, and discussed the first few verses of the first chapter.

Of course, as we talked about Sunday, it’s difficult to break apart a book like this into little chunks. The book is a whole entity and should be considered as a whole. When we break it up, we often miss what the author is saying. But, it took us over an hour to read through the letter, and it would take several hours – perhaps several days – to talk about meaning and application and to discuss how God would have us respond to this letter.

So, for better or for worse, we have to break it up into chunks that we can read and discuss in 1 – 1 1/2 hours. (Yes, that’s usually how long we spend working through various parts of Scripture. Of course, it’s not one person talking for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, but that’s for a different post.) And, we try to keep the whole letter in mind while discussing various parts of it.

Last Sunday, we ran across this passage that is quickly becoming one of my favorites:

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:11-12 ESV)

Now, there is so much that could be said about this short passage. But, consider this…

Paul had never been to Rome. In fact, in the very next sentence, he says that he had tried to visit them before but had been “prevented.” He knew a few Christians in Rome – obvious from chapter 16. But, for the most part, he did not know the Roman believers.

So, while he was looking forward to coming to Rome for many reasons – for example, as a base to continue to proclaim the gospel in Spain (Romans 15:24,28) – he was also looking forward to strengthening the faith of the Roman believers. He knew that God would use him to build them up and encourage them as they follow Jesus.

But, that’s no all. And, to me, this is the extremely exciting part. Even though Paul did not know many of the Romans, he knew that they would be able to strengthen and encourage him as well!

How did Paul know that his Roman brothers and sisters in Christ would be able to strengthen his faith?

1) He knew that God dwelled in them through his Holy Spirit.

2) He knew that those Roman believers would have opportunities to build him up.

Those two things must go together in order for the Romans to be able to strengthen Paul and for Paul to be able to encourage them.

I wonder what would happen if we expected God to work through us whenever we gathered with others in order to strengthen them in the faith? I wonder what would happen if (at the same time) we also expected God to work through our brothers and sisters in order to strengthen us in the faith whenever we were with them?

For me, I think this should be our attitude whenever we are with our brothers and sisters in Christ.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-27-2013

    that’s AWESOME!!

  2. 2-27-2013


    Yeah, Paul was pretty awesome. But, of course, he wasn’t too awesome to realize that he could still learn from and be strengthened by others. 🙂


  3. 2-28-2013

    While I agree with the heart of this post (Paul could receive from those he didn’t even know) – I don’t agree with much of the history about the “Church at Rome”.

    The “Church at Rome” in unique in the sense that a bunch of believers from different geographic areas agreed to move to another area (Rome) in order to promote the gospel (by gathering as the church in that area). We’ll call this a ‘church plant’ I think in the true sense of that phrase.

    Prisca and Aquila were among those who had been ordered by Claudius to leave Rome – so Paul met them somewhere else – and took them to Corinth with him. They would have no doubt been instrumental in the church plant – they knew the city of Rome well. They may have been risking their lives to go back there – but they were pioneers and got a house and hosted the church.

    Romans 16 is filled with people that Paul knew and knew well – they were ones that he no doubt had persuaded to move to Rome in order to be a part of this ‘church plant’. All of these people who had gone to Rome – Paul had worked with over the years – but Paul hadn’t been able to get there yet to be with them.

    Pricilla, Aquila, and Phoebe are mentioned as from Cenchreae. Epenetus was the first convert in Asia – most certainly he wasn’t from Rome if that was the case – this was a new adventure into Rome. Andronicus and Junias were Paul’s relatives …. The idea that there were a bunch of believers there that Paul didn’t know is not indicated anywhere in the letter – it may have been that way – but we really don’t know that. We have no idea if the plant had taken root yet and if their were any converts from Rome.

    This would be like you Alan – doing a post and saying – “We’re starting a church plant in “New York City” – anyone who wants to help us – move out there and send me an email. I’ll write the letter of recommendation for you to the other believers who have decided to be a part of this. I hope to come out later to join you.” Paul was very much thinking he would be receiving something from these people who had gone before him. This was unchartered territory – but not unchartered personnel.

  4. 2-28-2013


    There were literally hundreds of faith filled stories to tell in this adventure of the saints pilgrimage to Rome.

    How’d you know it was God telling you to go? How’d you get to Rome? How’d you finance the trip? How’d you decide which neighborhood to move into? How’d the Lord confirm the neighborhood? Who rented you the house? How’d you meet up with the other saints? Have you heard from Urbanus? Has anybody heard from Urbanus? Have you found a job yet? How are all the saints being fed? Who has jobs? Where are you looking? Have you talked to the neighbors about Jesus? Are there any new people coming over?

    And all of this dialog is times 20 or so – or however many saints pulled up their roots and journeyed to the new church plant. This wasn’t like logging on to Expedia and all meeting at LaGuardia with your little sign – this was a massive adventure that required a whole lot of faith and a whole lot of following an inner witness. These people were really out there – but they believed in Jesus and they believed in the Ecclesia. They weren’t behind Paul on this one – they were ahead of him. They weren’t operating on his faith – they were operating on their own – fueled by his prayers. This was like dad handing the car keys to his son and saying – you’re flying solo on this one son – you can do this – we’ve been preparing for this for a long time!!!!

    This wasn’t Paul talking to a stranger – this was Paul talking to a group of people he loved dearly and was quite concerned for. They weren’t little kids anymore – they were now his equal – fellow church planters – on the same level with him – the bitter/sweet reality of a child moving away from home and starting out on their own. An awesome thing that you can’t leave without tears.

    For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:11-12 ESV)

  5. 2-28-2013


    Thank you for the comment. When I said that Paul didn’t not know many of the believers in Rome, I was not basing that statement on any history of the church in Rome. I was basing it on Romans 16. While Paul mentions many people who he knew by name, he also mentions several groups of believers: “the church in their house” (Romans 16:5), “those who belong to the family of Aristobulus” (Romans 16:10), “those who belong to the family of Narcissus” (Romans 16:11), “the brothers and sisters who are with them” (Romans 16:14), and “all the saints who are with them” (Romans 16:15).