Paul charged the brethren at Corinth to “imitate him” (1 Cor. 11:1-GK. Mimatai...ginesthe-imperative of ginomai), and he commanded the bretheren at Phillippi (relative to what they had learned, received, heard and saw in him), “these things do” (GK. Prassete, imperative of prasso). Those verses seem to form a pattern that charges us to follow Paul’s pattern of behavior. Therefore, it is sobering that Paul wrote to brethren at Rome, “I am a debtor” (GK. Opheilo-… “...be bound...to be under obligation, bound by duty and or necessity. To do something...denoting obligation in its special and personal aspects” (J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p.469). Are You and I likewise a “debtor”? Notice to whom Paul was a debtor (Rom. 1:14-16):
1. Paul was a debtor to the Greeks (Gk. hellen—”...a Greek...in a wider sense the name embraces all nations not Jews that made the language, customs and the learning of the Greeks their own” (J.H. Thayer, p.205). Since Paul was a Hebrew (Phil.3:5), this would be to you and me anyone who is not a an English speaking Caucasian. It would relate to all races we may contact who have adopted the English language and customs. Multiple nations and races like that have settled all around us in this country.
2. Paul was a debtor to the “Barbarians” (Gk. Barabaros—”...one whose speech is rude, harsh...one who speaks a foreign or strange language which is not understood by another...rudeness and brutality (J.H. Thayer; p.95). Note 1 Corinthians 14:11. This would include not only foreign languages , but also the people we would describe as using words, affirming “we don’t talk like that!” Note Acts 28:1,2
3. Paul was a debtor to the “wise” (Gk. Sophos—”...skilled, expert...Rom. 1:22...1 Corinthians...cultivated, learned...Matt. 11:25...23:34...Eph.5:15” (Thayer, p.582). This would include both the wise (Some we might think “they know too much for me to talk to them”), or the ones who think they are wise, when they are otherwise!
4. Paul was a debtor to the “foolish” (Gk. Amoetos—”...unintelligible...unwise” (Thayer, p.48). Edward Robinson in his Lexicon adds, “sensual” (p. 60). Here would be that long list of immoral, rebellious souls, who selfishly seek satisfaction in sordid, shameful deeds (cf. Gal. 5:16-21; Col. 3:5-9, etc.).
5. Behold how many to whom Paul was a “debtor!” Have you considered yourself a “debtor” to all types of people like Paul did? Paul’s list to whom he felt indebted seems to parallel with Christ’s commission to “disciple all nations” (Matt.28:18-20) and present the Good News to “every creature” (Mk. 16:15f). Do we, like Paul, need to pray for “open doors” to reach more people (Col. 4:2-6)??
Are You a Debtor?