Digging Deeper: The Fullness of the Blessing

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank
| Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 7 min.

Did you know that, when Paul announced he planned to visit Christians in Rome, he was confident God would impart to them a blessing in its fullness?

Paul had never met most of the brethren of the capital of the Roman Empire, except perhaps those who had met him in other locations of his ministry. Nevertheless, through the years a Church of God had developed in the capital. For some time, Paul desired to visit these outlying Christians but obstacles prevented him from doing so. This Digging Deeper considers the background to Paul’s joyful announcement to understand the spiritual interaction between brethren and ministry that imparts a full blessing. Readers will discover an anticipated blessing through Paul’s ministry to the Church of God at Rome.

Several countries have a day of national thanksgiving for the year’s blessings, usually in the autumn. Americans observed their Thanksgiving Day not long ago. Traditionally at the Thanksgiving meal family and friends recount what they are grateful for. People enjoy so many blessings that it is often difficult to choose just one. They may sense a “fullness of the blessing.”

Our focus verses are: “When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:28-29 KJV throughout). Paul wrote this epistle around AD 57 or 58, probably from Corinth. He explained he had been much hindered in coming to visit them for some years (Rom 1:13; 15:22-23). He planned to visit them on his way to Spain; however, first, he planned to travel to Jerusalem to deliver a gift from the Macedonian and Achaian brethren to the suffering Judeans (Romans 15:24-27).

A roundabout way to Rome

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides historical context for traveling by ship in that time: “I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. Friends often announced travel plans in letters. Ships from the east would normally stop in Rome; voyagers to Spain would travel on from there to Tarraco, some 900 miles (nearly 1,500 kilometers). (By road one could also travel from Italy to southern Gaul then across the Pyrenees mountain range.) Travel to Cordoba would be even farther” (Tecarta Bible App).

As it later turned out, Paul was delayed in coming to Rome because he was arrested in Jerusalem. Through various unexpected events, he finally arrived in Rome—but as a prisoner. His intentions were right but he could not anticipate all that would happen to change his circumstances for his visit to Rome. The Pulpit Commentary by Spence and Exell teaches us an important lesson here: “How different from his anticipations were the circumstances of his first visit to Rome we know from the Acts. So man proposes, but God disposes, and all for final good (cf. Philippians 1:12, seq.)” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Explanatory Notes by Rhoderick D. Ice explains how Paul’s plans changed: “He certainly did not expect to reach Rome as a prisoner (see note on Acts 28:16). Yet his coming was with this blessing (Romans 1:11; Acts 28:30-31)(e-Sword 13.0.0).  Even though he did not arrive in Rome in freedom, his visit did provide these brethren a fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. The Roman authorities permitted him to have visitors since he was under house arrest (Acts 28:30-31). Without question, his presence in this great city turned out to be the fullness of the blessing of Christ’s good news but in a way he did not experience.

Spiritual fullness in the Gospel

It is important to understand more fully the phrase “in the fullness of the blessing.” Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains: “This is a Hebrew mode of expression, where one noun performs the purpose of an adjective, and means with a full or abundant blessing'” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers clarifies how Paul would offer such a blessing: “By ‘the fulness of the blessing of Christ’ the Apostle means the full or abundant measure of those spiritual blessings which he, as the Minister and Apostle of Christ, was commissioned to impart to them” (Ibid.).  

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible details some of what that blessing involved: “There is a fulness in the Gospel; it is full of the deep things of God, which the Spirit searches and reveals, 1 Corinthians 2:10; it is full of the doctrines of grace and truth, which Christ himself is said to be full of, John 1:14, it is full of exceeding great and precious promises transcribed from Christ, and out of the covenant of grace; and it is full of a variety of food, of milk for babes, Hebrews 5:13, and meat for strong persons, Hebrews 5:14” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Paul’s time in Rome, even as a prisoner, turned out to be such a blessing, as explained by the Commentary on the Whole Bible by Ger de Koning: “Paul knew something else too, that if he were to come, he would ‘come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ’. Well, that full blessing came. It was from the prison in Rome where he wrote letters about the highest blessings of the church. We have these letters in our Bible. You can read about the ‘fullness of the blessing’ in these letters to the believers in Ephesus, Colossae and Philippi. These letters provide you with a view of Christ’s full blessing” (BP Bible These letters, along with Philemon, are today called the Prison Epistles. All of them are rich in spiritual blessings for Christians of all ages and have reached every nation on earth by the distribution of the Bible.

The blessing today

Ministers and brethren today may enjoy the same rich blessing of Christ, as noted by Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: “There is then a happy meeting between people and ministers, when they are both under the fulness of the blessing. The blessing of the gospel is the treasure which we have in earthen vessels. When ministers are fully prepared to give out, and people fully prepared to receive, this blessing, both are happy. Many have the gospel who have not the blessing of the gospel, and so they have it in vain. The gospel will not profit, unless God bless it to us; and it is our duty to wait upon him for that blessing, and for the fulness of it” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Handfuls on Purpose, Vol 1. by Smith and Lee teaches an important lesson from this story: “It is a great blessing to be assured that when we go in God’s Name we go in God’s power, and in the fulness of the Gospel of Christ. Although Paul went to Rome in chains, he nevertheless went in the fulness of the blessing. Nothing can hinder our usefulness is [sic ‘as’] Christians but sin. This blessed assurance ought to characterise every preacher of the Gospel” (Bible Analyzer In the end, brethren in Rome, as well as those in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), were blessed by Paul’s visit and his prison epistles. Today Christians enjoy the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ when they read and study these foundational books. Additionally, they are blessed by their ministers who preach these books with the spiritual gifts given them to edify God’s church (1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Corinthians 10:8).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: Synagogue and Sabbath

The detailed description of Jesus’ visit to the Nazareth synagogue found in Luke 4:16-21 provides substantial information about synagogue life and customs in the early first century C.E. An examination of this passage will help us understand Jesus more clearly and accurately.


Assembly Summary: “The Privileged Planet”

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min. 30 sec.

In his recent lecture, Mr. Richard Ames referred to the forum lecture he gave about the mystery of life.

He briefly reminded us that life is complex and reiterated some of the designs that are present in life. Mr. Ames then referenced Mr. Dexter Wakefield’s recent split sermon about God working with little things as well as big things. God can work with the smallest of cells, giving it all the machinery it needs to function. He also made big things like the universe, which has trillions of galaxies. Mr. Ames presented the documentary The Privileged Planet, along with his recommendation of the book of the same name by Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez.

Privileged or not?

Mr. Ames contrasted the documentary with atheist Carl Sagan’s belief that we are not privileged. Mr. Sagan is under the impression that our planet is just one blue dot in the vast trillions of galaxies and there is nothing special about the earth or about mankind. Yet The Privileged Planet shows that while we are a small blue dot in the vastness of the universe, there are many things that make the earth special. The earth is the perfect distance away from the sun to facilitate liquid water. If the earth was five percent closer to the sun, it would suffer the same fate as Venus, with high temperatures rising to nearly 900°F. If the earth was 20 percent farther away from the sun, carbon dioxide would form in the atmosphere, initiating the same type of ice and cold that is found on Mars.

Amazing features of our planet

The earth’s crust varies in thickness from 30–40 miles. This helps to regulate the planet’s interior temperature and shape the continents, among other things. This is one of the features needed for life to exist on earth. Human life requires a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere (78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and 1 percent carbon dioxide). The atmosphere ensures a temperate climate, protection from the sun’s radiation, and the correct combination of gasses necessary for liquid water and life.

The blessing of Earth

There are many more intricacies that make the earth a habitable place—no other planet has the specific and essential attributes that ours has. For this reason, we see that Earth is indeed a privileged planet. God created the earth specifically for life to dwell on it. He has not created other planets with this type of specification—perhaps because He is waiting for His sons to take care of that. Whatever His plan is for the universe, we are truly blessed and must be grateful to live on the privileged planet.

Course Spotlight: Lectures by Dr. Douglas Winnail

Take note of some additional resources you may have not realized were available! Dr. Douglas Winnail has recorded a number of lectures on 1st and 2nd Peter. These lectures give more insight and are a great tool if you are looking to go more in depth in your Bible study. To access these lectures, click on the links provided.

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 1) The Letters of James and Peter

Forum Summary: The Witness of Miracles

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min. 30 sec.

“What is a miracle? How would you describe it?”

Mr. Dan Hall asked this question to start this week’s forum. A miracle is an act of intervention by God Himself. He performs these miracles to direct His purposes, show His mighty power, and show that He is with us. They provide a powerful witness that can strengthen our faith; however, we must be careful to not forget the witness these miracles provide.

Remember Miracles

Let’s look back at the example of Israel when they first arrived at the Promised Land. After all the things they’d seen—the plagues, the manna, the events at Mount Sinai—why did they not enter the land in faith that God would take care of them? Because they only focused on the challenge ahead, forgetting about the miracles that had come before. 

As one of the many parallels between the journey of Israel and our own spiritual journey, this serves to show that we, too, can make it all the way to the finish line, but still be unable to cross because of a lack of faith. However, we can guard against this mistake by remembering the miracles God has performed in our lives. We are even instructed in Deuteronomy 4:9 to teach our children and grandchildren about these amazing interventions.

A Cloud of Witnesses, Ancient and Modern

The Bible is filled with witnesses to God’s power and care for His people. Daniel, David, Moses, Abraham, and many others experienced miracle after miracle in accordance with God’s plan. Israel’s development as a nation is a miracle in and of itself. However, these stories from millennia ago are not the only witnesses we have to God’s power. 

Mr. Armstrong records many miraculous occurrences in his autobiography, but even more recently, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have experienced miracles in their own lives. Mr. Hall recounted several instances in which he had seen these interventions take place: a severely crippled man made able to walk again, a woman completely healed from a terrible cancer, and even a baby brought back from the brink of death, to name a few. God is with us—but with all that life throws at us, it can be difficult to stay focused on that. Yet God will help us see His hand in our lives if we only ask.

The Bible contains many stories of miraculous blessings, healings, and protection. And in God’s Church, there are many miracles still taking place. Despite the challenges we face in this life, we need to remember God’s promises and the miracles we have both seen in others’ lives and experienced in our own. They affirm God’s love for us, provide a powerful testament to His power, and can greatly help us as we strive to keep the faith, so long as we never forget!

Assembly Summary: Instant vs. Delayed Gratification

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

“We live in a world of instant gratification,” said Dr. Scott Winnail in his recent Assembly lecture.

He mentioned that we are conditioned to expect that things will get done instantly in our world today. How often do we use the credit card? How much pressure do we feel to make big decisions on the spur of the moment? 

Dr. Winnail went on to examine what the Scriptures say about acting on a whim instead of planning ahead and weighing our decisions. Proverbs 4:26 challenges us to think deeply about the course we are taking, and thinking deeply about something takes time. Luke 14:27–28 shows that wise people consider whether they have the resources to finish what they might start. In Proverbs 6:6–8, the message from the ants is that we must consider our future and plan ahead.

God generally favors delayed gratification, wanting us to lay solid foundations to get us where we need to be in the future. However, instant gratification is not always a bad thing; it can be positive, such as when we suddenly decide to invite a friend out for lunch. Spontaneity can be fun from time to time; the trouble comes when we live life spontaneously.

Taking Time to Grow

With God’s help, we can develop habits of delayed gratification and break habits of instant gratification. Delayed gratification requires time to grow. We even see this in our Christian walk—when we get baptized, we don’t change into spirit beings right away. We are given time to develop and to show God whether we want to live His way of life. 

Delayed gratification teaches the principle of endurance. We practice one example of this when we save our second tithe diligently. The Feast of Tabernacles is still eleven months away, yet we’re already saving our second tithe, because we understand the joys of keeping the Feast and knowing that we have kept God’s commands.

Putting It into Practice

As we practice delayed gratification, we can ask ourselves questions like,Do I really need this? Do I need this now? If I do this, what will it prevent me from having in the future?” One practical way we can practice delayed gratification is not answering the phone immediately or responding to texts right away. Always immediately answering our phones places more stress on us and causes people to expect an immediate answer all the time. It’s also helpful to refrain from making big purchases until we have taken 24–48 hours to think over the decision; time can change our perspective.

We live in a world of instant gratification, where we are pressured to react quickly, without much thought and consideration. While snap decisions can be fun in the short term, they can cost us money and future opportunities. The students were admonished to take the time to teach their future children and grandchildren the wisdom of delayed gratification. Those who possess the character to delay gratification are often happier and more successful in life. They are more likely to hold fast to God’s truth—which means they are more likely to enter the Kingdom of God.

Student Life: A day at the “Ren Fair”

Author: Caanin Fausone | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 1 min. 30 sec.

One recent weekend, the students of Living Education-Charlotte spent a beautiful autumn evening enjoying the classic revelries of the North Carolina Renaissance Festival in the quaint town of Huntersville.

This event was especially significant because it added a framework for one of the different eras they are learning about in several different LE classes this year. Many of the students dressed up as knights, ladies, and squires from this long forgotten age, blending right into the joyous atmosphere as they feasted on turkey legs, a popular delicacy of the time. 

The events offered at the festival this year were quite expansive as well. Some of the more popular activities included; knife throwing, dungeon exploration, throwing tomatoes at a rather rude court jester, and the main event of the festival, jousting. As if this was not enough, the grounds also had many merchants that boasted every manner of wares. There were beautiful courtly dresses for the ladies and shiny ironclad suits of steel for the men. And for those who were especially interested, the displays of swords, scimitars, and daggers were tantalizing artifacts to be purchased at just-so-outrageous-a-price. 

Thanks must go out to Ryan Price (a student at LE this year) who faithfully coordinated this event and whose idea it was to attend the festival in the first place. I think I speak for all those who attended in stating that it was a worthwhile experience and that despite some trepidation at the idea of trying something a little outside of their comfort zone, it was more than a little rewarding. Maybe just maybe, the next time the festival comes into town you might catch LivingEd students walking amongst their midst.  

Course Spotlight: God’s Statutes and Business Relationships

In an excerpt from “One Way to Know God Better” we learn more about the statutes applied today. “We saw earlier that the Apostle Paul gave the gentile Church in Corinth the example of not muzzling an ox as the application of a statute. Here are two additional examples of statutes that show the character of God.”

Course Spotlight From Christian Business and Finance: Business Relationships in the Church

Forum Summary: Reviewing Tomorrow’s World “Whiteboard”

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

This week, in a Forum that took on a different form from that of the lecture-type sessions we normally have,

the Living Ed students had the opportunity to visit the Tomorrow’s World studio, where we started our tour in the control room. The students were given a brief overview of the different pieces of equipment and were introduced to the staff members who work with all of these devices. At that point, the students were given a chance to become part of the creative process by providing feedback about a Tomorrow’s World Whiteboard video currently in the development stage.

The Whiteboard video the students were shown was titled “How Jesus Taught His Disciples to Pray.” Once it concluded, the students were encouraged to make suggestions about how to improve it. Our comments addressed topics ranging from where in the video the Tomorrow’s World logo should appear to how often throughout the video the graphic of the hand should be shown writing what is being said. We also spent quite a bit of time discussing the various major platforms that the Church could utilize, in order to preach the Gospel to a wider variety of demographics. The students were quite eager to offer their opinions, and Mr. Michael DeSimone, Manager of the Television Department, and Mr. Jake Hall, Lead Editor for Tomorrow’s World, were just as happy to hear them.

In the end, the opportunity to review one of the Whiteboard videos provided a very interesting experience for the students. It was much appreciated by Mr. DeSimone and Mr. Hall, as they were able to receive feedback from the student body on how to improve these videos, as well as engage in some discussion regarding which platforms would be most effective for continuing to preach the Gospel. Even reviewing a video helps the Work, and it was a great opportunity for all of us.

To access all published Tomorrow’s World Whiteboard videos, check them out here on the Tomorrow’s World YouTube channel.