Wednesday, 22 January 2014
…in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.Romans 15:19
This verse is the second half of what Paul stated yesterday. In context and in its entirety, it says, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
Paul’s boasting was in what Christ accomplished through him, not in his own deeds. Christ’s work was manifest “in mighty signs and wonders.” A good example of this type of deed is found in Acts 19:11, 12 –
“Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.”
Unlike so many charlatans who fill the halls of Christianity today with false workings which have nothing to do with the Spirit but are often acts engaged in for the profit of those employed in the tricks, these were truly manifestations of the work of Christ “by the power of the Spirit of God.” They are attested to in God’s word and they were given and confirmed in order to establish the apostolic work of Paul.
Endowed with this power in which Christ worked through Paul, he made a circuit “from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum.” Although his ministry didn’t actually begin in Jerusalem, he uses Jerusalem as the center of his discourse because it is the center of the gospel message from which Christ’s word has gone out. Paul, like the other apostles, carried this message from Jerusalem outward. Paul’s ministry was in a circular route and he uses Illyricum as a destination because it was in the outward part of the arc of the circle, being in the area of modern day Croatia.
Whether he actually went into Illyricum or not isn’t known, but he travelled at least to its borders. In his travels, he covered an immense amount of land and came into contact with many cultures and people. He was a tireless servant of the Lord and in all that he did, he “fully preached the gospel of Christ.” This gospel message and those endowed with its witness are noted in his first letter to the Corinthians –
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
Life application: Paul’s ministry was one bearing apostolic authority. The apostolic age ended with the completion of the Bible. The foundation of the “prophets and apostles” which proclaim Christ has been laid. The Bible bears witness to the work of God in Christ and through the apostles. Now it is our job to use this witness, the Holy Bible, for the building up and edification of the church.
O God, when I’m tired and feeling used up, all I need to do is think of Jesus. His ministry was a continuous stream of looking to the needs of others. He endured sleepless nights, long days of ministry, and so many trials and difficulties. And above all, He endured Gethsemane and then the cross. How can I not pick myself up and follow suit? Give me strength, O God, to endure the race set before me – to the glory of Christ my Lord. Amen.