Romans 15:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 15:20, NIV: It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.

Romans 15:20, ESV: and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,

Romans 15:20, KJV: Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

Romans 15:20, NASB: And in this way I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already known by name, so that I would not build on another person’s foundation;

Romans 15:20, NLT: My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.

Romans 15:20, CSB: My aim is to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else's foundation,

What does Romans 15:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

There's nothing wrong with preaching the gospel of Christ in an area where it has already been preached. In fact, that preaching must continue. It's not feasible to put that message in front of every living person in a region all at once. People are born and move into and out of those areas all the time. Others need to hear the message more than once to fully understand it. Paul, though, grasped that staying to re-preach the good news was not his mission. God had given him a more specific work to do.

Ambition is a good thing when it is bent toward a good purpose. Paul's ambition was to preach the gospel only to what we call today "unreached peoples." His work was not to build on the work done by other preachers before him. His work was to break new ground, to bring the truth of God's grace to new ears.

This fits with what he wrote in the previous verse that he has fulfilled his ministry in a large number of places, introducing the gospel for the first time in many cities and regions. What an honor Paul was given: to introduce to so many people the news of the amazing opportunity to be made right with God through faith in Christ.