8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Paul’s desire is to visit the believers in Rome and beyond to reap a harvest. He says in chapter 15 that he wants to use the church in Rome as a launching point to go to Spain and take the gospel there.
What did Paul mean by harvest? The most obvious answer must come from the teaching of Christ who said to his disciples that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. The harvest that Jesus was referring to was the harvest of souls, the harvest that comes from the planting of gospel seeds from a sower that scatters them liberally.
Paul had experienced a great harvest of souls wherever he took the gospel, but there were still more to harvest in places he had not yet been. Paul’s passion should cause us to be just as concerned to spread gospel seeds. Or as Jesus went on to say that we should pray to the Lord of the harvest for more laborers. Paul was willing to be an answer to that prayer.
Another way to understand Paul’s meaning of harvest comes from 2 Corinthians 9 where he makes a connection between generous giving to a “harvest of righteousness.” So Paul could have also been referring to his hope that in their generosity they might send him on his way and help him get to Spain.
In either case there is a connection to the work of the gospel, the increase of the Kingdom of God (the harvest) and our part. We are all called to a specific roll in God’s mission to redeem a people. Some are called to go while others are called to send, but we all reap in the harvest. So find your place as a laborer and reap the promised harvest of souls and righteousness.