Rome. In 60 AD, the approximate year Paul wrote his letter to the Roman believers, the city was the world’s seat of power known for its debauchery, pagan rituals, political intrigue with Nero at the helm, and all kinds of corruption. Yet in the midst of all that darkness, here’s what Paul said about the believers in Rome:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. Romans 1:8
Their faith was Paul’s main cause of gratitude. Their reputation had preceded them and they were so renowned in their integrity that people in so many places were discussing their conduct. What an advantage they had in living out their faith through their works in the great metropolis where there were a myriad of ways for news to spread throughout Rome’s many provinces on three continents.
The fact that they would be such a bright light in such a dark place made Paul thankful to God through Jesus. Rome’s Christians of that day stood in stark contrast to the typical worldly Romans to the point where people must not have been able to help but discuss them. The more their reputation spread, the more it opened the potential for other saints to be prompted to accomplish great works for the Lord and the more the gospel would be proclaimed.
They stand as an example for us today. How excellent it is for us in our day when we hear of saints in dark corners of the world who stand firm in their faith. It gives us a spiritual charge and the desire to be the same type of example for others if we are truly in Christ. It also confirms for us what Proverbs 22:1 says–“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”