“For this reason, I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now no longer having a place in these parts and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints…Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain” (Romans 15:22-25, 28).
The apostle Paul mostly like wrote the epistle to the Romans while he was in Corinth. According to Acts 19:21, during his third missionary journey he intended to leave Ephesus after his 2 to 3-year stay there, then go to Macedonia and Achaia (where Corinth is located), and finally spearhead the transportation of the Great Collection to Jerusalem. Being in Corinth would easily put him in contact with Phoebe—a servant of the church in Cenchrea—who appears to have been the human courier of the letter to Rome (Romans 16:1-2).
Without a working knowledge of the geography involved, the audacity of Paul’s plans can easily be missed. To travel from Corinth in Achaia to Jerusalem on the path Paul took (see Acts 20:1-6, 21:1-15) would involve about 800 miles. From Jerusalem to Rome is about 1,500 miles. From Rome to Spain was another 700 miles.
Though given in four easy sentences, Paul’s plans entailed about 3,000 miles of travel. No cars. No airplanes. No engine-powered ships.
Like his preaching from Jerusalem to Illyricum, Paul’s audacious plans to preach in Spain were fueled by his audacious zeal for and love of Christ.