Godly Ambition

Notes for Nov. 5, 2017
Romans 15:14-22

Biblical Background

  • You are full of goodness, knowledge and able: Paul expresses his confidence in his readers – a common rhetorical device in Greek writing to gain the listeners' attention and favor.

  • Reminders: A reminder is a gentle way of instructing others and was used often in Greek rhetoric.

  • Gentiles & Jews: Jewish prophets spoke of a time when the Gentiles would come to know the one true God (Isaiah 60:11-14). Paul's outreach to the Gentiles may have signaled that this time had come.

  • Racial Reconciliation: The Gospel tore down the barriers between Jew and Gentile and thus was the most effective means of racial reconciliation in the world. This is true today as well as all believers become part of God's family and are thus no longer thought of as being from different ethnic groups, tribes or races.

  • Word and Deed: Paul points to both his words and his actions which reflect the idea that he practices what he preaches. This was expected of philosophers in the Graeco-Roman world. A teacher/philosopher who didn't do what he preached would by a "hypocrite" - someone wearing a false mask.

  • Power of signs and wonders: Paul was using what some have called today, "Power evangelism" as the Holy Spirit did signs and wonders, healings and miracles through Paul and the disciples which pointed people to the power of God and to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

  • Illyricum: This part of Macedonia (today's Serbia-Croatia) was on the outer edges of Paul's ministry.

  • 21: Paul is quoting from Isaiah 52:15 – a fulfillment of prophecy in his day.

  • Paul's plans to visit Rome: Paul's plans often didn't work as he expected, but instead the Lord used him to share the good news of Christ, even with his persecutors or those who might be delaying his planned trips.

  • Paul's ambition: Paul had a desire to preach the Gospel where none had heard – in other words he was an adventurer for Christ who sought to reach all those who had never heard.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why would Paul tell his readers in Rome that they are full of goodness, knowledge and able to instruct one another?

  2. What can we learn in our dealings with people from Paul's example of complimenting the character of others while at the same time instructing them?

  3. Give examples where you have been encouraged and instructed at the same time.

  4. How does Paul describe his ministry? Where does his motivation come from?

  5. What things inspire Paul? What inspires you to share your faith with others?

  6. How far away is Illyricum (modern-day Serbia/Croatia) from Jerusalem? How far away is Spain from Jerusalem? What do these distances in the ancient world say about Paul's vision for the spread of the Gospel?

  7. Where do you think Paul picked up the idea of taking the Gospel to the far reaches of the Roman world? Where are the distant places God may be encouraging you to dream about spreading the Gospel?

  8. What did Paul use to help him in his Gospel proclamation?

  9. When have you witnessed signs and wonders, healing and miracles from God that have led to people coming to saving faith in Christ? Share examples.

  10. Why is it that in the United States, the sharing of the Gospel is sometimes separated from the prayer for signs and wonders? What are your thoughts on this?

  11. What unreached peoples might God be calling you to pray for and find ways to reach with the Gospel? (Review the attached 10/40 Window Graphic: Consider praying for people living in these unreached areas of the world).

  12. Why do you think Paul was hindered from doing all that he wanted to do?

  13. What can we learn about planning and flexibility from Paul's example?

  14. Take some time to pray as a group and ask the Lord to place His desires, motivations, and passion for sharing the Gospel with others? Then pray and ask Him where He would like you to go and spread the Gospel.