Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 15

A church leader's work in places where there are no Christians

Romans 15:20-21

Most church leaders work in churches that other people established many years before. That arrangement has many advantages. The church already has members who can support the leader's work; the church may have a building and it may be able to pay the leader (1 Corinthians 9:7-11). In 1 Corinthians 3:5-10, Paul approved of that arrangement.

However, it was not the special work that God had given to Paul. Paul's special work was to establish churches in towns and cities where, previously, there were no Christians. Some Christian leaders still do that work today.

Paul compared his work to a builder who lays a foundation. The foundation of any building must be good, otherwise the building will fall (Matthew 7:24-27). In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, Paul compared that foundation to Christ; in other words, his work was to introduce Christ to the people. Then other church leaders could follow him, even as another builder can work on the first builder's foundation. However, the church must always depend on Christ - without Christ, the church fails completely in its purposes.

It was hard work. Paul usually had companions who helped him, for example Barnabas and Silas. However, Paul usually did physical work to earn his money (1 Thessalonians 2:9). Often, people opposed his message and they dealt cruelly with him.

In such situations, Paul could remind himself of Isaiah 52:15. By means of Paul and leaders like him, God is carrying out a promise that he made long ago. People who have heard nothing about Christ previously, can know him for themselves. People who previously have not heard God's message, can understand it.

Next part: Paul's plans to visit Rome and Spain (Romans 15:22-24)


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