Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apostle's Impartation

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 ESV
Paul 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?


  1. I've always wondered about the "laying on of hands." Does the Holy Spirit require a physical act such as this before He can move in a person? I say no. So why then is this practice so powerful? Is it in the mind of the "receiver"? Why does it take something physical for us to believe that something Spiritual has occurred?

  2. First of all, I must state the I prefer the KJV. It is more clear and concise. Secondly, prayer with the laying on of hands is still in effect today. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance, He didn't take this gift back. Yet. If you ask for the Holy Spirit to come to you, and by the laying on of hands have two or more people asking, the Holy Spirit comes. It brings gifts of the Spirit, plus strength and peace.

  3. Maybe we need physical reminders because we're in a flesh and blood state. I agree it isn't a requirement, though.

  4. David says that either you believe in a predetermined step-by-step formula, for manifestation of the holy spirit, or you believe that God chooses different ways in which to work, but it does not seem to be related to salvation, as to whether it will get you to heaven or not.

    We both question the assumption that there was a need for apostolic impartation for the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe there are many times that the Holy Spirit has moved without human intervention or impartation. We're also wondering why "spiritual gift" could only be "baptism of the Holy Spirit." It appears that the next verse 12, qualifies verse 11, by stating that it is some mutual encouragement.

    As far as laying on of hands, that is not tied to pentecost, and baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it is tied to praying for healing.

    Lastly, I would disagree that Paul was so overwhelmed by his responsibilities that he was unable to be there in person. He was busy, but it was with things like shipwreck, being imprisoned, things like that. He was doing God's work, and was exactly where he needed to be, which is why this book is included in the bible. It was not God's timing, at that point, for him to be there with them, and when you're in the perfect will of God, you have to abide by that.