First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish --hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome. The Power of the Gospel For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’
Here we have a continuation of Paul's introduction to the letter to this 'church' (ecclesia in Greek). Paul is also explaining his purpose for writing the letter and issuing an invitation to the fledgling church in Rome to look at God's purpose and posture as one of radical inclusion and built upon the rock of grace and an emphasis on God's longing for relationship rather than God's command that we 'keep the rules' of the law as a means of entering into this relationship.
In claiming to be a 'debtor to both Greeks and barbarians' Paul is making it clear that God is at work in all people and being a member of the 'chosen people' is an inclusive rather than an exclusive reality. In other words it is God's intention, in fact it is the reality, that we are all chosen by God and that our membership in the family of God depends not on our behavior but is a given state of all persons due to the operation of grace (God's unmerited favor) available and promised to everyone.
One of the early wishes of Paul in the letter is that the church will be a place where "we are mutually encouraged by each other's faith." It is in this spirit that I pray we will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this letter during the coming days as we travel through its pages.