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Romans 1:8-15 (NIV)
Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
Paul had never met the Christians of Rome before he wrote this letter. Yet he has heard about their faith and wants to be with them, face to face, to encourage them, but also to be encouraged by them! Paul, the greatest Christian missionary and writer of most of the New Testament, is encouraged by other Christians! But that encouragement is not just for them, but for the “harvest” of the Kingdom of God. When we grow in deep relationships with one another, when we comfort and strengthen one another, and when we forgive one another, God is preparing us for His Kingdom work. Through fellowship with other Christians God is leading us away from self-centeredness and into love and unity.