First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. (ESV)
Imagine your church getting a letter from the great Apostle Paul. If he were alive today and sent your church a letter what do you think it would say? Maybe he would critique how well you had followed the other letters he wrote. Perhaps you would rather not receive a letter from Paul. He was known to be rather firm when necessary.
Paul writes this letter to the church at Rome. He had never met these people, but he had heard of them and wanted to be a blessing to them. In this verse today he tells them how thankful he is for them. That's a great encouragement. Just as Paul had heard of them, I am sure that they had heard of him. Was his letter going to be a positive one? Yes!
Why is Paul thankful for these believers in Jesus Christ at Rome? Paul is thankful for the genuineness of their faith. In a place where believers were not always treated with respect the church at Rome had a faith that was real. What Paul will do in this letter is inform their faith. He will help them to know the great doctrines of the church that they did not yet know.
The faith of these believers at Rome was proclaimed in all the world. Rome was the hub of everything at that time. The church was formed by those Jews who believed the message of Christ at the Day of Pentecost. They took that message back to Rome, and because they genuinely lived out their faith they were known all around the world.
If Paul were to write a letter to you would he have heard of your faith? Would he be thankful for how well you were living out your faith? Or would he say, "Did you read any of my other letters?"