We may be surprised at the way Paul speaks here. After all, he is an apostle possessing the authority of Jesus Christ. Yet he approaches this section with the attitude of imploring his readers to listen to his words. Perhaps he has this attitude because he has witnessed some churches, such as in Corinth from where he was writing this letter, who had failed to practice some of the requirements expected of them.
What does Paul’s style of language here tell us about him? First, we can see that he wanted the best for them. It was Paul’s longing that the Christians in Rome would experience as much of God’s abundant grace as possible. Elsewhere we find him saying that he wanted to see Christians receiving great rewards on the day of accounts from Jesus. Paul knew that it was possible for them not to get as much as they could have received and therefore he implores them to live well for God.
Second, his style of language reveals that he wrote from the heart. Often the impression is given that Paul was only interested in deep doctrines and that somehow he thought them up by himself. The doctrines that Paul wrote about were not invented by him. Instead Jesus gave them to him in order that, as a chosen apostle, he would pass them on. This was Paul’s burden and ambition, to convey the message of Jesus and its transforming effects to as many as possible. And he did so as a man full of emotion.
This way of speaking is very powerful and produces appropriate effects in those influenced by it. When Paul would eventually get to Rome, the believers there would already know that he was a servant dominated by love for God and his people.
Third, Paul here is obviously a mature Christian, which means that in his use of language we have an example of how mature Christian leaders speak and get things done. When spoken to in this way, believers who have grown in grace will not be sullen or resentful when such a Christian addresses them. Instead conversations between mature Christians will have this longing that the best would be produced, and their words will always express deep affection in their hearts.
Paul’s use of the language of appeal informs us that the best way to speak and to get things done is to speak gently. After all, this was the way that Jesus interacted with his disciples. Indeed in Matthew 11, when giving an invitation to the disappointed to follow him, Jesus stressed the fact that he was gentle and lowly in heart. And we can see that Paul the leader had become like his Leader.
Of course, his use of language thus becomes very encouraging because Paul would never have spoken like this before his conversion. Even in the way he addresses others, we can see the sanctifying work of the Spirit changing the angry Saul into the appealing Paul. And when we think of him in that way we are reminded that the Lord can make sinners beautiful.