Paul informs his readers of his God-given role. He had no doubts about what his role was, and that is a mark of a leader. We know that in a company or a firm the person in charge cannot doubt his strategy if it is based on sound reasoning. Paul knew that God had called him to the specific task of getting as many Gentiles as possible to praise God. That is what he says in verses 15 and 16. He devoted his life to it, and he gives his impressive CV in verses 18 and 19. Yet since he was such a leader with a vision that propelled him forward, he wanted to spread the influence of the firm for which he worked. He did not see the point of duplication, even of imitation or even discussing, the methods of others.
We may be surprised that Paul calls himself a priest in this self-description. A priest had three functions in Israel: he offered sacrifices, he instructed the people regarding God’s will and he pronounced blessings upon his listeners. Paul transforms those functions and gives them a gospel meaning. He wanted to teach the gospel to Gentiles, he delighted in pronouncing God’s blessing on them, and he wanted to present them to God as an acceptable offering. What made them acceptable was that through the gospel they had become new people through the cleansing of the blood of Jesus and through the other benefits connected to sanctification.
Paul wanted more and more Gentiles to be converted, to have their lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. And he was prepared to go to any lengths in order to achieve it because he tells us in verse 24 that he intended to go to Spain in order to have converts. I know many Christians who go to Spain regularly, but they don’t go for the reason Paul wanted to go. He looked out on those people living in pagan darkness and believed that God could turn them into saints once they had heard the gospel.
Of course, Paul would say that we don’t have to go to Rome or to Spain to bring this about. The passion that marked Paul as a leader marked him because it was there in him as a Christian. He longed for converts, and he wanted everyone to aim for converts wherever they were. There are some companies in which persons other people would least want to be like are its leaders. It was different with Paul; he was a good example for other believers.
One of the core doctrines of our church is the priesthood of all believers, which basically means that every believer can speak to God about anyone or anything and we all can speak for God to anyone about anything as long as our comments are in line with what the Bible would say about it. Paul would encourage us to fulfil this privileged role.