Personally, I've been completely satisfied with who you are and what you are doing. You seem to me to be well-motivated and well-instructed, quite capable of guiding and advising one another.
So, my dear friends, don't take my rather bold and blunt language as criticism. It's not criticism. I'm simply underlining how very much I need your help in carrying out this highly focused assignment God gave me,
this priestly and gospel work of serving the spiritual needs of the non-Jewish outsiders so they can be presented as an acceptable offering to God, made whole and holy by God's Holy Spirit.
Looking back over what has been accomplished and what I have observed, I must say I am most pleased - in the context of Jesus, I'd even say proud, but only in that context.
I have no interest in giving you a chatty account of my adventures, only the wondrously powerful and transformingly present words and deeds of Christ in me that triggered a believing response among the outsiders.
In such ways I have trailblazed a preaching of the Message of Jesus all the way from Jerusalem far into northwestern Greece.
This has all been pioneer work, bringing the Message only into those places where Jesus was not yet known and worshiped.
My text has been, Those who were never told of him - they'll see him! Those who've never heard of him - they'll get the message!
And that's why it has taken me so long to finally get around to coming to you.
But now that there is no more pioneering work to be done in these parts, and since I have looked forward to seeing you for many years,
I'm planning my visit. I'm headed for Spain, and expect to stop off on the way to enjoy a good visit with you, and eventually have you send me off with God's blessing.
First, though, I'm going to Jerusalem to deliver a relief offering to the Christians there.
The Greeks - all the way from the Macedonians in the north to the Achaians in the south - decided they wanted to take up a collection for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem.
They were happy to do this, but it was also their duty. Seeing that they got in on all the spiritual gifts that flowed out of the Jerusalem community so generously, it is only right that they do what they can to relieve their poverty.
As soon as I have done this - personally handed over this "fruit basket" - I'm off to Spain, with a stopover with you in Rome.
My hope is that my visit with you is going to be one of Christ's more extravagant blessings.
I have one request, dear friends: Pray for me. Pray strenuously with and for me - to God the Father, through the power of our Master Jesus, through the love of the Spirit -
that I will be delivered from the lions' den of unbelievers in Judea. Pray also that my relief offering to the Jerusalem Christians will be accepted in the spirit in which it is given.
Then, God willing, I'll be on my way to you with a light and eager heart, looking forward to being refreshed by your company.
God's peace be with all of you. Oh, yes!
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)