For mutual encouragement
In Romans 1 Paul expresses a desire to come and visit the believers in Rome. In verses eleven and twelve, he states why he longs to come to them.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you–
12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
(Rom. 1:11-12 ESV)
He longs to see them. He wants to visit. He did not start this church but as an apostle to the Gentiles he longs to visit the body of believers he knows exists in Rome, but to what end? Paul states, “that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.” Paul longs to visit the believers in Rome, in order to or for the specific purpose of imparting to them some spiritual gift. What is that gift? He wants to share some insight, gift, or ability that he himself has from the Spirit. The content of that insight, at least in part, is the gift of understanding his apostolic message that declares the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ and which would edify and strengthen them to endure in their faith, be freed from their own divisions, and be able to support him in his quest for evangelizing Spain (Schreiner). What is the purpose of this gift? Paul says it is to strengthen the Roman believers. His desire is to encourage and strengthen the believers.
In verse twelve, he goes on to say, “that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Paul qualifies his statement or clarifies what he has just said by explaining that he expects the strengthening/encouraging will be mutual. He is not saying that he expects to come and just teach and strengthen the believers, but that he would also be strengthened and encouraged by being with them. He longs to visit them so that both he and they will be built up and strengthened, and he expects that will take place through faith. The means through which they will all be strengthened is the faith of the other. The trust of God in everyday living. “The phrase suggests both the commonality of a shared faith as well as the distinctives of perspective and gifts that, when shared, result in mutual strengthening or edification” (Moo). “When believers perceive faith in others in the course of everyday life it reminds them that God is faithful, and they are inspired and strengthened in their faith and are encouraged to trust God themselves” (Schreiner). So, Paul brings to light the commonality of their faith in Christ, and yet there are some differences in how things get fleshed out that when shared with other believers serve to strengthen one another. As believers share their lives with each other and walk together to the celestial city they are encouraged as they see other believers faithfully traveling the narrow path.
Friends this desire should be shared by all of us. We should desire to be together, in order to be encouraged by the faith we hold in common. We should be strengthened by the Word of God shared and discussed and applied, as well as by seeing each other walk faithfully the narrow path of trust in God. Friends, as believers, we need each other. We are all strengthened and encouraged as we watch each other live day by day by faith. So, how are you encouraging others with your faith and how are you being encouraged by the faith of others?
By His Grace Alone,