An die Roemer, part 2: 1:8-15

1:8-15: Prologue
Πρῶτον μὲν εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῶ μου διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν καταγγέλλεται ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ.

μάρτυς γάρ μού ἐστιν ὁ θεός, ᾧ λατρεύω ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὡς ἀδιαλείπτως μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιοῦμαι πάντοτε ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, δεόμενος εἴπως ἤδη ποτὲ εὐοδωθήσομαι ἐν τῷ θελήματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

ἐπιποθῶ γὰρ ἰδεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἵνα τι μεταδῶ χάρισμα ὑμῖν πνευματικὸν εἰς τὸ στηριχθῆναι ὑμᾶς, τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν συνπαρακληθῆναι ἐν ὑμῖν διὰ τῆς ἐν ἀλλήλοις πίστεως ὑμῶν τε καὶ ἐμοῦ.

οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι πολλάκις προεθέμην ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ἐκωλύθην ἄχρι τοῦ δεῦρο, ἵνα τινὰ καρπὸν σχῶ καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν καθὼς καὶ ἐν τοῖς λοιποῖς ἔθνεσιν.

Ἕλλησίν τε καὶ βαρβάροις, σοφοῖς τε καὶ ἀνοήτοις ὀφειλέτης εἰμί· οὕτως τὸ κατ’ ἐμὲ πρόθυμον καὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς ἐν Ῥώμῃ εὐαγγελίσασθαι.
First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you, because your faith is 1:[proclaimed] in/throughout/by the entire world. Indeed, God -- whom I serve in my spirit by the proclamation of his son -- God is my witness, how ceaselessly I always make mention of you in my prayers, asking whether by some means I will, at some time in the near future, succeed by the will of God in coming to you. For I yearn to see you, in order that I may share a spiritual gift with you toward your strengthening/confirmation, even, that is, to be comforted together with you through our common faith, yours as well as mine. I do not wish you to be ignorant, siblings, of how often I set out to come to you (and have been prevented so far), in order that I might have some fruit among you just as among the other nations. I am indebted to Hellenes as well as foreigners, to the wise as well as the foolish; hence my eagerness to proclaim also to you who are in Rome.
1: καταγγέλλομαι - this is a bit backhanded, isn't it? The same word may be denounced as well as announced, but given the sentiment of Rome toward the Chrestoi at the time, that may be intentional. The proclamation of the faith by believers and the declamation of the faith by non-believers both ring as news of the continued faithful existence of the churches in Rome in the apostle's ears.
This is one bookend of a matching set. It speaks to the audience directly to introduce the reason for this letter, and to flesh out Paul. It sets Paul in his place: Paul wishes to let them know how he is subordinate to God's wishes in all things. This is a man pulled in different directions: pulled to Rome by his yearning, his desires, his comfort (and not without benefit to them!); but pulled also by God's service in other directions. The Roman churches don't need Paul, and the job he does in that service; they are established. Only to the extent that the job Paul does will be advanced by going to Rome does it become God's will that he succeed. They might be confirmed, strengthened in their standing, by the gifts Paul has in the Spirit. There might yet be some fruit for Paul to pick from among their gardens -- which he did not plant, but may nurture for a short time on his way to Spain. Ah, but that nurture, that desired gain, that gift -- it is all wrapped up, as are all of Paul's desires, in what? The proclamation. The act of proclaiming. Paul is a messenger, a proclaimer sent with a proclamation to announce. A gospel, as we say it, the news of the coming of the lord. To proclaim this, he may chide the Galatians for their superstition, the Corinthians for their foolish weakness, and still tune those notes to sound to God's praise. That plays in the provinces -- but not in the seat of Empire. Not in Rome, with its Hellenistic pretensions and its philo-sophia. No; but he is indebted to them as well, and what follows is the same proclamation tuned for the ears of the wise and cultured.


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