13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,)that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
1901 ASV Translation:
13 And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (and was hindered hitherto), that I might have some fruit in you also, even as in the rest of the Gentiles.
The only textual variation between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 consists of a transposition of the words translated "some fruit". The Textus Receptus has "fruit" in a semi-emphatic position before "some" and the Nestle/Aland 26 has the less emphatic "some fruit".
I. Why did Paul deem it important that the Romans be informed of his frustrated plans?
A. There are two issues involved...
1. That he wanted, and planned, to go to Rome multiple times.
a. There is an echo of this very theme in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 in context.
b. There is the same issue of "I would be with you if I could be" because of the dangers to the spiritual development that exist [this is the "gentle nurse" idea].
2. That his plans were frustrated each time he made them.
B. The greater of the two was his desire to go to Rome.
II. Paul's purpose for wanting, and planning, to go to Rome was "to have some fruit".
A. Paul, obviously, had a significant interest in "bearing fruit".
B. He, just as obviously, did not think that his "motive" would be a stumbling block to the Romans, but, rather, an encouragement.
III. At stake here is the Romans' willingness to permit Paul's efforts to significantly influence their perceptions of what is valuable and what is true.
A. There are many who "suspect" motives and significantly "doubt" altruism and it is more than likely that some among the Romans were of this kind of mindset.
1. Paul's words, to this group, would be "suspicious".
2. There is some question as to whether any words would put these "suspicions" to rest.
B. But, among those who believe, there are many who accept words at face value until there is good evidence that they are untrustworthy.
1. It is for these that Paul addresses his long-time desire for "fruit".
2. It is also for these that Paul explains why his real desire has not yet been fulfilled.
a. There is this: "Paul, if you really wanted to do this for so long, why haven't you?"
b. Paul's words lay a foundation for understanding that there is always such a thing as "tiered" desires.
IV. The "hindering" of Paul's plans...
A. This is a fairly clear admission by Paul that, even for apostles, God simply does not make it a habit of letting people know what is going to happen, or when it might happen.
1. On a day to day basis, it is atypical for God to tell anyone what is going to happen. Plans can be made and pursued, but, even with prayer, there will be as many occasions of frustration as there will be of satisfaction.
2. Paul's concept of the spiritual life did not, apparently, include any significant sense of revelation from God regarding the day to day details of what was going to happen.
a. There is always "instruction" from Scripture regarding the way we are to handle the events that come, but this does not include "revelation" as to what is going to actually transpire even as a consequence of our obedience to the "instruction"...or even as a consequence of our disobedience to the "instruction".
b. The desire of man to "know" the events of life ahead of time is a desire that is going to be frustrated far more often than not.
1) Paul did have occasional detailed instruction about something that was about to happen.
2) But, in terms of the number of things that are going to happen and the number of times God is going to reveal those things ahead of time, there is hardly a comparison. Perhaps one time in a million will God reveal what is coming before it comes.
c. One of the reasons God calls upon us for "faith" is that He has no intention of explaining Himself to us over and over about this and that. The words of "faith" are sufficiently large umbrellas to cover every contingency of life without being explanations of the ways God is going to supervise His creation. The very idea that God could explain Himself to us as He handles the reality of more than 6 billion chooser-producers whose actions are seeds in a reap-what-is-sown universe is rather ludicrous.
B. In Acts 16:6 we are told that the Holy Spirit "hindered" Paul from speaking the Word in Asia (using the same word as is in this text).
C. In 1 Thessalonians 2:18 we are told that Paul was hindered "once and again" by Satan in his attempts to "come" to the Thessalonians (using a different word than is in this text, but the same word that is used in Romans 15:22 where the "hindrance" apparently was the need to "fully preach Christ" in the current geographical area).
1. In this reality of Satanic success, there is always the question: how can Satan be successful unless he has divine permission? And the answer is always the same: he simply cannot be.
2. Thus, the question arises: why blame Satan?
a. Blaming Satan has its good side: it creates the awareness of who is behind the things that are going on in terms of motives and actions taken. There is a legitimate issue involved in the direction of anger: it keeps us from being angry at the wrong persons and that directs our own actions.
b. Recognizing that Satan is on a leash has its down side: people want to blame the holder of the leash rather than the mad dog on the end of it.
c. The entire issue rests upon these facts...
1) The "blame" issue has to do with the "attitude" one takes toward the responsible party because the "attitude" is developing around the issue of "the frustration of the objective" the one assigning blame has experienced.
2) It is biblically acceptable to be angry by reason of frustration with someone's choices and actions as long as those choices and actions are deemed evil.
3) It is biblical reality that God has created real persons and has deliberately set boundaries upon Himself in the oversight He exercises over creation.
a) Resistance to this reality is only logical if one prefers a creation of perfect justice among machines. This is the "peace at any cost" mindset of slaves who will put up with anything as long as that "anything" is more tolerable than the final "evil".
b) God has a plan to bring about a kingdom of righteousness among persons, and a part of the plan is the present experience of His refusal to restrain all evil. Until all evil is rooted out of the persons, there can be no kingdom of righteousness; and, the current process is the divine process of rooting all evil out of the persons.
c) To object to the current process is to complain against omni-wisdom and to decry the love of God. God prefers a creation of perfect justice among persons.