“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of through the whole world.”

“First, I thank my God”–
Literally:  "Firstly, I thank my God"–From this to the end of Ro 1:17 belongs to the
preface, in which the apostle endeavours to conciliate the good opinion of the Christians at Rome, and to prepare their minds for his reproofs

        FIRST: (Grk.–prōton)—In the first place, not first in point of importance, but before going on to other things, or before getting to the main purpose for his writing.  Paul now begins the preface, or preamble, to his letter, and will continue doing so through verse 17. 

“I thank my God”– This is a common Pauline expression (see. I Cor. 1:4; 14:18; Phil. 1:3; Philemon 4.  Paul opens most of his epistles with giving thanks to God for the faith of his readers, but in II Corinthians and Galatians he seems obligated to find decided fault, and this thanksgiving is not stated.       

“through Jesus Christ”–The duty of presenting our thanks to God is through Christ (compare Heb. 13:15; Eph. 5:20 with John 14:14).  Never forget, Christ is THE (i.e., only) Mediator between God and man, or the medium by which we are to present our prayers and thanksgivings.  Christ has made the way accessible to us.

Though I have already said that Christ is the Mediator between God and man, let me reemphasize that Christ is the ONLY Mediator between God and man.  Not Mary, nor the so-called “saints,” or the Pope, or a priest, or ANY person, other than the God-man, the Lord Jesus is THE one-and-only Mediator between God and man–“For {there is} one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ” (I Tim. 2:5).  This verse certainly rules out the woman Mary or the saints, or anyone else.

“for you all”
Literally:  “On account of you all”–Meaning the entire church in Rome.  This would seem to point up that the church in Rome was a pure church.  “For” is the Greek word (peri which literally means, “of; concerning; in respect; on account of.” 

“that your faith”–This verse could also be rendered, “concerning your Christianity;  or  piety.”  Faith is put here for the whole of religion, and means the same as your piety.

Faith is one of the principal things of religion; one of its first requirements; and hence it signifies the religion itself. The readiness with which the Romans had embraced the gospel, the firmness with which they adhered to it, was so remarkable, that it was known and celebrated everywhere. The same thing is affirmed of them in 16:19, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men.”

“is spoken of”
Literally: “Is being announced; is being proclaimed.”--Rome was the very capital of the Roman Empire itself, a city known for its evil and wickedness, but still its influence touched every one.  Because of the nature of the city, and because of the piety of the Roman Christians, it was natural that they would be talked about all over.         

“throughout the whole world”
Literally:  “in all the world”–This would mean the Roman Empire.  Christians all over the Roman Empire were talking about the Church of Rome.  This is only natural, since Rome was the hub of the world, and people were constantly journeying to-and-fro there.  Evidently word had spread throughout the empire that many in Rome were turning to Christ.

Next to Alexandria, in Egypt, there were more Jews living in Rome than any other place outside of Judea itself.  Many Romans had adopted the Jewish religion and became proselytes of that religion. The word proselytes comes from a Greek word that means, “one who comes over.”  In the N.T. this word was applied to Gentiles who had been converted from paganism to Judaism.  Cornelius, the Roman centurion (Acts chapter 10) was probably such a proselyte—for it is said that he “feared” God, but he did not know Him personally.  He needed to be born-again.

VERSE 9:  Paul’s Oath
“For God is my Witness, Whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”

“For God is my witness”–This is a common Pauline expression (II Cor. 1:23; Phil. 1:8; I Thess. 2:5, 10). Paul is calling upon God as support to show the Romans the deep interest which he (Paul) felt about this church. 

The reason of this strong appeal to God is to show to the Romans the deep interest which he felt in their welfare. This interest was manifested in his prayers, and in his earnest desires to see them. A deep interest shown in this way was well-fitted to prepare them to receive what he had to say to them.

“Whom I serve”–Literally: “whom I worship with the profoundest religious reverence.”

        SERVE:  (Grk.–latreuō)–Meaning, “to serve for hire,” or to serve in general, gods or men, whether sacred services (Heb. 9:9; 10:2) or spiritual service as here, (cf. 12:1; Phil 3:3). 

         This word is also many times rendered as “worship.”  This expression shows that he was devoted to God in this manner, as a hireling, that he obeyed Him and had given himself to do His will in making known His Gospel.     

“with my spirit”Literally: in my spirit”–Or, as we would say in our vernacular, “with all my heart.” 
Paul is saying that his service is not just an external service, but is internal, real, sincere, or “from my innermost soul.”  
He was totally devoted to the service of God.

“in the Gospel of His Son”–By preaching it, to which Paul's whole life and official activity were consecrated.  In verse 1 he called it, “the gospel of God,” and later on he will call it “his” gospel.

            “that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers”
            Literally:  “How without ceasing I make mention of you.”–Paul had been making   unceasing prayer for these believers;
            and He calls on God to witness this fact.

         WITHOUT CEASING:   (Grk.–adialeiptōs)–Literally: “constantly, always, without intermission.”  It was not just once, but repeatedly. Unceasingly (adialeiptôs).   Used in the N.T. only here and I Thess. 1:2; 2:13; 5:17. It shows the burden of Paul’s prayers.

“Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.”

“Making request"
Literally: “beseeching.”It was Paul’s earnest desire to come to see the Roman believers, and he repeatedly put this request before God.  Years later he would make the journey to Rome, but NOT as he had planned.  Then, he would make the journey in chains.  By this we see how earnestly Paul longed to see Rome.

“if by any means”
 Literally:  “If at all.”  This shows Paul’s
earnest desire to see the Roman believers, and may imply that he had made plans to make the trip, but had been somehow hindered.

“now at length”–This shows that Paul had desired for a long time, perhaps for years, to come to Rome.  The Greek phrasing seems to imply his wish that this might be accomplished soon.

“a prosperous journey”
Literally:  “I may be prospered.”  There seems to be a problem with the correct way to word this in English.

            The Greek word (euodophesomai), here rendered as “that I might have a prosperous journey,”  literally means, “that I might prosper.”  Is Paul really saying that if he had the money, or prosperity, that he would make the trip?  It had long been a subject of continual prayer of his to God that he might have a prosperous (Grk.–euodothesomai) journey to, or rather meeting with them, but that he had a disastrous journey to them the 27th of the Acts fully proves.
         Barnes Notes reads this as, “a safe, pleasant journey.”  He goes on to say it is right to regard all success in travelling as depending on God and His blessings.  Another commentator reads it as “I shall be permitted,” or “be so prospered as to make the joruney.”

“by the will of God”
Literally:  “In the will of God.”–If God will allow it.  This is another way of saying what Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane—“Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42).

“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established.”

         “For I long to see you”-Paul’s passion to come to see them is so strong that he here restates it..  He does this again in 15:23, 32.

“that I may impart”
Literally:  “that I might impart”–That I may impart to you, face-to-face, by laying on of hands, prayer, preaching the gospel, private conversation.  This word rendered “impart” is the Greek word metadw~ (metado), from a word that means, “to share with one.”  See also Luke 3:11; 1Thess. 2:8 where this same word is used.

“some spiritual gift to you”--With such gifts, the Corinthians, who had enjoyed the presence of Paul, possessed (I Cor. 1:7; 12:1; 14:1), as also do did the Galatians (Gal. 3:5).  In fact, all those churches which had had the presence of an apostle did have some advantage bestowed upon them from the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 19:6; 8:17, II Tim. 1:6).

         This could also mean some of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, which, being given to them, might tend greatly to establish or form up their faith in the Gospel of Christ; and it is very likely that such gifts back then were only conferred by an apostles; and as an apostle had not yet been at Rome, consequently the Roman Christians had not yet received any of these miraculous gifts, and thus they differed widely from all the other Churches which had been raised by the apostles’ ministries.
         Keep in mind, that though this was an old established church (having begun from converts from Peter’s Pentecost preaching), and their pastors had never had an apostle in their midst to give them the laying on of hands and apostolic blessings.  They may have been long on salvation, but short on theology.

         We today have the canon; New Testament, and the Holy Spirit to teach us, but this church was lacking of such.  They had not yet been taught the great mysteries of the Church that Paul had learned directly from Christ.  The burden of Paul’s heart was that he might teach them these great truths that had been hidden until Paul had been told them.
         Primarily, this was a church still under the Dispensation of the Law, or rather at the very end of it and the very beginning of the Church Age, or, Dispensation of Grace, as it is also known.  When Peter preached his sermon that they should, “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38) he was still preaching a Mosaic Law economy sermon, for under the Law (Torah), baptism was a Jewish purification rite.  This is primarily the same sermon, and baptism, that John the Baptizer preached (Matt. 3:11).   This shows the importance of a man of God having a strong dispensational stance.  When you do not place a part of the Word of God in its proper dispensational setting you will miss much of what the Holy Spirit wants you to know.  To help you understand, here are four rules I have developed for proper hermeneutics (Bible interpretation):
1.      Who is doing the speaking?
2.      To whom is he speaking (who are his listeners)?
3.      About what is he speaking (what is his basic topic)?
4.      When is he speaking (what is the dispensational setting of his action)?

The believers in Ephesus, who had been converted, and baptized, by Apollos were in the same predicament, having received only the baptism of as John the Baptist would have given. (Acts 18:25).  Although Apollos was a true believer, and an eloquent preacher, he was still of the old Mosaic Law economy.  It took Paul to lay hands on them and give them “believer’s baptism,” (Acts 19:2-6) for them to receive the Holy Spirit and be brought into the Church Age or Dispensation of Grace.  Paul believed that these Roman believers needed him to do the same for them.

“you may be established”
Literally:  “For the establishing of you.”–That they might be firmed up; given a firmer foundation of the truths which they did not yet have.   

         Paul wanted to come to Rome and teach the Word of God, a ministry of which he wrote to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:12)—“For the perfecting (maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for edifying (feeding; establishing) of the body of Christ.”
         Primarily, this was a church established still under the
Age (Dispensation) of the Law.  When Peter preached his sermon that they should, “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38) he was still preaching a Mosaic Law economy sermon.  This is primarily the same sermon (and baptism) that John the Baptizer was preaching (Matt. 3:11). 

          The believers in Ephesus, who had been converted, and baptized, by Apollos were in this same predicament (Acts 18:25).  Although Apollos was a true believer, and an eloquent preacher, he was still of the old economy.  It took Paul to lay hands on them and give them “believer’s baptism,” for them to receive the Holy Spirit and be brought into the Church Age.
          The burden of Paul’s was to show these Roman believers the mysteries (hidden things) of the faith, that they were now connected with the earthly, the Jewish calling; but were in the Risen, Heavenly Christ