What Does Romans 15:16 Mean?

to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:16(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Paul, who was a minister of the gospel of Christ Jesus, longed to know more and more of his Saviour and Lord. Paul's passion was to carry out the responsibility to which God had called him; emphasising His deity through the title 'Christ' and His humanity through the name He was given, 'Jesus'. But Paul also had a dear desire to be a blessing to his brothers in Christ, no matter where he went. Paul was a man who was full of the Holy Spirit, but he was also a man who was filled with a caring concern for his brothers in Christ. 

Paul had been called by the risen, ascended, glorified Lord, to bear witness of His name to Jews and Gentiles alike. He was the apostle whom God uniquely called to share the message of God's amazing grace through the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. But Paul was specifically charged with being a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, to act as a priest of the gospel of God, and to die to his own desires and life-opportunities. He was to do this so that his life would become a sacrificial offering to God, in order that lost Gentiles might become acceptable to God, saved by grace through hearing the truth, and positionally sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Unlike Christ's other apostles, Paul did not accompany the Lord during His earthly ministry. He freely admitted he had cruelly persecuted the early Church and was only too ready to admit that his own salvation and his God-given apostolic ministry to the Gentiles (in which he served as a priest of the gospel of God) was wholly through God's boundless mercy and amazing grace. 

As he had journeyed to Damascus with hatred in his heart for Jesus the Nazarene and His followers, he had met the risen, ascended, and glorified Christ. This meeting had changed this proud man into a humbled person. God chose him to preach the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike, but he was particularly commissioned to minister the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to lost Gentiles who were dead in sin and at enmity with God. 

Paul was also called by God to function as a priest of the gospel of God, bringing the gospel to those that were dead in their sins and at enmity with God enabling access into the throne-room of the Father which is by grace through faith in Christ alone. He was not called into the priestly ministry of Israel, where he would have functioned with great authority as a scribe or Pharisee in Israel's Sanhedrin. His priestly role was to be a bond-slave of Christ, a sacrificial offering that was wholly acceptable, where earthly honour was set aside for the sake of the gospel. So Paul became an itinerant preacher who would suffer many things in sharing the gospel of His Saviour and Lord.

As we trace the ministry and missionary work of Paul, we see him teaching the glorious gospel of God to the unsaved and writing letters of instruction and encouragement to accomplish two things for unsaved Gentiles. First, they would be accepted and saved by grace (positionally sanctified), as this verse describes. Second, over time each believer would begin to grow in grace, develop their faith, walk in spirit and truth, and move from spiritual infancy towards spiritual maturity (progressional sanctification).

The apostle Paul set us a wonderful example of a minister of God whose dear desire was to bring many to saving and sanctifying faith in Christ Jesus. And Christ Jesus calls each of us who are saved by grace through faith in Him to become His ministers; His hands, His feet, His voice, and His witness as we point people to Christ Jesus and develop that caring concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ that is so honouring to God.

None of us are called to carry out the identical ministry to which Paul was called, but every one of us who is born of the Spirit is given all we need for life and godliness so that we will be enabled to carry out the ministry that God requires of us. May we be faithful soldiers and servants to our lives' end. May the Spirit of Christ Jesus live in us and work through us so that His name is glorified in all we say and do and think and reason. May the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, in all wisdom and teaching as we serve Him with a teachable spirit and in humility of heart. And may we one day be able to say, "I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith."

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing ministry of the apostle Paul and the example he set of a life that is wholly committed, in word and deed, to Christ Jesus our Lord. Help me to be a living sacrifice that honours Your name and may the Word of Christ dwell richly within my being in all wisdom and teaching. Keep me low at the Cross and broken before You, and fulfil in my life the work that You have prepared for me to do. This I ask in the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for Your honour and glory, AMEN.

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