Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary

From Jerusalem to Illyricum
Romans 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 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-- 19 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. 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation, 21 but as it is written: "To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand." (NKJV)




The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome while on a three month visit to the church in Corinth, Greece in late 56 and early 57 A.D. during his third missionary journey. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.

The major doctrinal portion of the letter ends with chapter 11. The next section (chapters 12-15:13) takes this doctrine and applies it through practical Christian living.

This passage begins this third section of the letter. The remainder of this letter is concerned with Paul’s plans for the future.

The Apostle Paul begins this passage by complimenting and encouraging the Christians in the house churches of Rome. He writes “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” (v. 14).

Paul expresses his confidence in them as believers. He cites three areas where they have proven themselves, referring to them as “full of goodness”, “filled with all knowledge” and having the love to “admonish one another” when needed. All of these attributes are proof of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.

Paul continues by writing “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God. (v. 15). In saying that he has “written”, it is understood that he dictated his letters and the words were actually written by an amanuensis.

Here, he points out that he has “written more boldly to you on some points” in this letter. This boldness was meant to remind them of the points he was making.

Paul is doing so through his authority as given to him by the “grace” of God. God had anointed Paul “to be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God.” He was to take the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, to the Gentiles.

He writes “that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (v. 16). So the purpose of his ministry was to present the Gentiles to God as being “acceptable” in the eyes of God and “sanctified by the Holy Spirit”.

To be sanctified is to be set apart for God. It is the lifelong Christian process of being made holy.

Next, Paul writes “Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.” (v. 17). Because he is able to present the Gentiles as acceptable and sanctified, Paul is able “to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.” Paul always gives the glory to God and not to himself for the successes of his ministry.

Paul writes “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” (v. 18). He does not presume to speak of what others have done to minister to the Gentiles, to make them obedient. He is only speaking here of his own efforts in planting churches.

He writes “in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” (v. 19a). Here, Paul is acknowledging that God has done the work of his ministry through the miracles He performed through Paul and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul continues by writing “so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (v. 19b). Paul’s ministry began in Jerusalem and formed a circle around the Mediterranean area from Israel, up to Syria, over to Asia Minor and Macedonia and Illyricum and back to Jerusalem. Illyricum was that Roman province to the north of Macedonia, bordering the Adriatic Sea to the east, with Italy forming the western border.

The Bible does not mention any ministry occurring in Illyricum itself. The literal Greek for this verse states “as far as Illyricum”, so perhaps Paul meant to the southern border of Illyricum, which was the northern border of Macedonia.

Even though there were house churches in Rome, Paul did not include Italy in his circle of influence. He had not yet visited Italy but that was next on his agenda.

Paul writes “And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation” (v. 20). It has been his goal to establish new churches and not to build on the work of others. He has gone to areas that were previously unreached during his three missionary journeys and brought the Gospel to unbelievers.

In doing so, Paul fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah who wrote "To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand." (v. 21, Isaiah 52:15). Paul’s ministry brought the Gospel to those who had not heard and made them to understand.

Paul’s circle of influence at this time was from Jerusalem to Illyricum and back to Jerusalem. He would expand this circle when he visited Rome, as a prisoner. His reach was unprecedented in first century Christianity. Wherever he went he preached the Gospel. He was the Apostle to the Gentiles.