8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. Romans 1:8-15 ESVPaul commends the Romans for their faith. At the same time, he addresses their need for an apostolic impartation of the power of the Holy Spirit. According to Wesley's Explanatory Notes, all of the other churches where Paul and Peter had visited experienced the laying on of hands by the apostles. By known events of the history of the church, at that time the Romans had not yet experienced this blessing.
In verse 11, the words "spiritual gift" refer to a supernatural endowment according to Strong's Concordance. In Greek, pneumatikos is the word for spiritual, and is related to the word used for the Holy Spirit, pneuma. So clearly this impartation that Paul desires to give them has to do with the power of the Holy Spirit. They have faith, but they need the Holy Spirit to strengthen and establish them for the proclamation of the gospel in their region.
Paul at this time was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of ministering to other churches (verses 13-14) that he didn't have time to be there in person to strengthen and encourage the Romans. So, like we do when we call ahead to reserve seating at a fancy establishment, he had to send them a letter as sort of a precursor to his visit. Maybe it didn't take the place of the apostolic blessing, but it certainly prepared them for it.
In closing, this passage ties in with the book of Acts and of the apostles' practice of laying on of hands. Does this practice apply today? Do we need a current apostolic impartation of the power of the Holy Spirit? Or, as in Ephesians 2:20, are we living on the foundation set by the apostles and prophets of the first century? What is Paul really saying here?