Why Go To Rome Paul?

Why are preachers and other Christians always traveling to Europe, Asia, the West Indies, Africa, Australia, etc.? “Why go to these foreign places?” “Aren’t there enough souls to save here in the United States?” What motivates a preacher to leave home and family to travel in unfamiliar territory? I suggest it is for the same reasons Paul wanted to go to Rome, as outlined in Romans 1:9-18. Most likely, some in the first century questioned Paul’s desire to go to Rome. “Why go to Rome?” may have been the question of some brethren who meant well, but who may have discouraged Paul by reminding him that Rome was the seat of paganism and infidelity. Others may have questioned his desire to go to such a beautiful and opulent city where so many wonderful things awaited a traveler. For whatever reason, Paul made known his rationale for going to Rome to preach in Romans chapter one.

First, Paul was in debt (1:4). He saw himself as a debtor to God. God had shown him the cure for his own sins and for the sins which beset society. Spiritually, Paul had been sick and diseased without any hope of living, until he met Jesus. He saw himself as the “chief of sinners”, yet he had obtained mercy and salvation (I Tim. 1:4). Paul wanted others to learn what he had learned. He could not rest until all men knew of this free gift available only in Christ. Rome was the seat of the pagan Empire and no city needed healing from sin more than they. He desired to go where there were lost souls in need of the Gospel.

Secondly, Paul went to Rome because he wasn’t ashamed of the gospel (1:15). He knew it could save all classes of people. He knew the gospel was the only thing that could save them. He wrote that men come to know the righteousness of God only through the gospel (1:17). If Paul did not preach the gospel to the Romans, who could he expect to go in his place? The wrath of God awaited the impenitent and unsaved Romans (1:17). Paul knew how to spare them by sharing with them the love, mercy, kindness and grace of God. No wonder Paul wrote, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (I Cor. 9:16, NASB). 

Thirdly, Paul longed to travel to Rome because there was a church there needing to be strengthened (1:11). Paul’s love for the church of Christ is obvious. He felt daily concerns for the church in every place (2 Cor. 11:28). The Roman church was not all that old and needed an apostle’s monitoring and encouragement. An apostolically-imparted spiritual gift needed to be bestowed on them (1:11).The church at Rome needed what other New Testament churches had received—an exhortation to continue in the faith and information concerning what persecution might lie ahead for faithful children of God (Acts 14:22). Paul knew of the essential task of edifying saints. If the church was to be strong in the Lord and the truth, then members needed to be taught, over and over again.

Fourthly, Paul wanted to receive fellowship from Rome to continue his work of going elsewhere to preach the gospel. In fact, he told them of his plans to preach the gospel even as far as Spain (15:23-24). The same motives which would bring him to Rome would carry him all the way across the Mediterranean Sea to do similar work in those places also. 

What motivates the faithful preacher today as he travels about preaching the Word? Why go to China, or England, or Russia? Why go to Maine, or Missouri or Alabama or Arizona? Why go anywhere? Our motives must be like Paul’s as he went to Rome. 

—Mark White