Romans 15:20-22

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 15:20
  • Romans 15:21
  • Romans 15:22

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

As believers, we ought to encourage other believers in their faith. Christ is our perfect example of how to encourage and show love to other believers; He accepted the Gentiles into His family and this is a reason for rejoicing. Paul has been longing to visit the believers in Rome and he explains his plans to see them on his way to Spain.

Paul prioritized his travel so that he could preach the gospel to those who did not know Christ. He again explains that he had not visited the believers in Rome because he had been preaching the gospel to those who had not heard the gospel.


In all of his travels and throughout his ministry Paul aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;  his focus was on preaching the gospel where it had not yet been heard. Paul quotes the Old Testament prophet Isaiah to reaffirm his ministry to the Gentiles, preaching his gospel message to everyone who had not yet heard it. As mentioned in verse 16, this was Paul’s job, he was a minister to the Gentiles, sent to proclaim the gospel of Christ wherever it had not been received.


Paul emphasizes his ministry strategy by quoting Isaiah 52:15: he was going to areas where people have not heard the good news of Christ and who do not understand the gospel. Because Paul had found many areas where Christ was not known, he had been prevented from visiting the believers in Rome that he is writing to (Romans 1:8).


Many Gentiles had not heard of the Messiah. The Jews grew up learning about the promised Messiah and reading what we call the Old Testament, this was not true of the Gentiles. Up to this point, God had given his word and promises to the Jews. Here, Paul references back to Isaiah where it was prophesied that those who did not know anything of Christ would one day see and understand.

As it is written,

They who had no news of Him shall see,
And they who have not heard shall understand.”

Paul’s calling from Jesus was to take the gospel to those who had no news of Christ so that they could have faith and be saved, thus fulfilling Isaiah’s prophetic word. For this reason I [Paul] have often been prevented from coming to you. 

Biblical Text

20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but as it is written,

“They who had no news of Him shall see,

And they who have not heard shall understand.”

22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you;

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