Final Exhortations – Romans 16

 

The final chapter of the book of Romans should not be overlooked. They are Paul’s final words to the church at Rome. The chapter consists of five basic parts. It begins with greetings to the church at Rome in verses 1-16. Paul then encourages the church to avoid divisions as he warns the church concerning false teachers in verses 17-18. After the warning concerning false teachers, the church is encouraged to continue in obedience in verses 19-20. As we come to verses 21-24, we find more greetings. These greetings are from Paul’s companions to the church at Rome. The final three verses, 25-27, is a simple doxology as all glory is given to God.

Greetings. The first set of greetings is found in verses 1-16. I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. 7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. 9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household. 11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. 12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. 13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. 15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. 16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.”[1] There are several principles in these verses that apply to the local church. (1) Treat all believers with honor and respect. In verses 1-2, there is the mentioning of a particular sister in Christ. Phebe was the deliverer of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. She was a servant in the church. In other words, she was a very well respected and loved member of the church. Paul encouraged the church at Rome to receive her and to assist her in whatever she needs. She was to be received in a worthy manner because she was a saint of God. There is a lesson here that applies to all of us. As believers, we are to recognize who we are in Christ and treat each other accordingly. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ; therefore, all believers should be treated with respect and honor simply for who are in Christ. (2) Church growth occurs through small groups. In verses 3-5, Paul greets Priscilla and Aquila. The New American Commentary says, “Aquila was a Jewish tentmaker, a native of the Roman province of Pontus. He and his wife Priscilla were driven out of Rome by the edict of Claudius in a.d. 49. Paul met them in Corinth, where he stayed and worked with them (Acts 18:2–3). When he set sail for Ephesus, they went with him (Acts 18:18–19). So close was the friendship that they risked their lives for Paul. For that both he and all the churches of the Gentiles were deeply grateful. Paul sent his greetings to the congregation that met in their house as well (cf. 1 Cor 16:19). In the early days of the church believers met in homes for instruction and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42–47; Col 4:15).”[2] It is amazing to think about how quickly and large the early church grew. The early church did not grow because they built a large building. Yes, they would meet at times in larger complexes; however, the church really grew because of the Bible study and prayer that was occurring in homes. I believe that the local church today should move more toward small group home meetings. This should not take the place of the entire body meeting in one location at least once a week. Instead, such home meetings should supplement what is taking place at the larger gatherings. Ideally, the church should be organized in such a way that home meetings are taking place throughout the week in strategic locations. These meetings should be led by leaders in the church such as pastoral staff, elders, or deacons. (3) Church members should be hard workers. In verse 6 & 11 there is the mention of three women who ‘labored much in the Lord.’ It is interesting that Paul singled out women as those who labored much; however, we should not read too much into that. The principle here is that all believers should be hard workers, especially when it comes to the work of the ministry. There is no other work that is worth our sacrificial effort like the ministry of the church. The work of edifying one another and reaching the lost is of far greater significance than any other job that we may have. When it comes to the work of the church, we should put all of our passion and energy into the work. We should all be involved through the use of our spiritual gifts to build up the local church that we are a part of. (4) Recognition should be given to the universal body of Christ. In verse 16, Paul mentions that the ‘churches of Christ salute you.’ Notice how that Paul mentions the church in plural form. He is referring to multiple local churches. The body of Christ is made up of many different local church bodies. However, together, we are one body. I am certainly not promoting ecumenicalism here. There are some who identify themselves as ‘Christian’ that may not be Christian at all. The point here is that local churches of like faith should work together for the common goal of reaching its community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a sad thing to see local churches who share the same doctrine, yet they refuse to work together.

Avoid Divisions. In verses 17-18, Paul encourages the church to avoid divisions as he warns them concerning false teachers. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”[3] Paul is employing his office as a pastor. It is the role of the pastor/shepherd to teach the sheep the truth and to protect them from those who will mix truth with error and suggest things that are contrary to the doctrine that the church holds to. “Part of the job of the shepherd is to protect the sheep from “ferocious wolves” (Matt. 7:15) and thieves who come to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). In the realm of truth, physical barriers such as hedges, gates, and corrals do not deter the enemy, those who prey upon the minds of the sheep. Paul has two weapons at his disposal in his role as apostolic shepherd: declaring the truth and warning against intruders. He has taught the Roman church the truth in his letter, and now he warns them against those who would seek to lead them astray.”[4] There is a modern application here. There are those today in evangelical circles that teach doctrines that are contrary to truth that we see in the scripture, particularly in the book of Romans. I am personally convinced that God is a God of order and truth. He says in His Word what He means. The best and only way to interpret scripture is through a literal, historical, grammatical, and cultural lens. Sadly, there are those who attempt to ‘spiritualize’ the scripture in order to make it fit with their particular school of theology rather than simply taking the scripture at face value. As a church, we must make a note of those who will introduce doctrines that are opposed to a clear and literal view of scripture. We must keep a close eye on such individuals and if they do not humbly adhere to the doctrine of the church and they cause strife and confusion, then separation may be in order.

Continue in obedience. In order to avoid divisions in the church and to protect ourselves from false doctrine, there must be a focus on obedience of true doctrine. Notice what Paul says in verses 19-20. “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”[5] The church of Rome was known for their obedience to the truth. Are we known for our obedience? Think about it. Can it be said of us, they we are obedient believers? It was Paul’s desire that the church be pure. He wanted them to be wise concerning good things, but ignorant of evil things. In other words, he wanted them to be innocent. Sadly, many believers have lost their innocence. There is too much of the world in the church and we are no longer innocent. The false teachers are under the influence of Satan. Christ will crush all false doctrine as Satan will be crushed. In the meantime, we must be faithful to be obedient to the truth.

More Greetings. The final greetings that Paul gives comes from his fellow companions. Notice what it says in verses 21-24. “Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. 22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. 23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” [6] The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, These few verses contain personal greetings from some of Paul’s associates: first, Timothy, my fellow worker, and then Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives.” [7] The term ‘relative’ or ‘kinsmen’ does not refer to Paul’s immediate family; however, it refers to his countrymen, the Jewish people.  “Then Tertius, who was Paul’s stenographer for this epistle, sent his greetings. So did Gaius, Paul’s host in Corinth, who apparently had a church meeting in his home. This Gaius was probably not the same Gaius who was from Macedonia and traveled with Paul (Acts 19:29) nor the Gaius who was from Derbe (Acts 20:4). The Gaius mentioned here in Romans was probably Paul’s convert whom he baptized (1 Cor. 1:14). Erastus sent greetings. He was the city’s director of public works (lit., “the city’s steward,” a high position in Corinth). Paul called Quartus our brother, undoubtedly meaning a spiritual brother, not a physical one.”[8]

The Doxology. In the final verses of the book of Romans, Paul gives a doxology. Verses 25-27 says, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” [9] I like what the New American Commentary says concerning these verses. “Paul closed his letter with a magnificent doxology. In it are found many of the major themes of the Epistle to the Romans. God is described as the one who is able to establish and strengthen the believer. This was promised in the gospel that Paul so faithfully had proclaimed. It was a gospel not taught by men but received by direct revelation from Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12). It centered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the focal point of the gospel. Apart from him there could be no “good news” in the ultimate sense of that term. In times past it existed as a sacred secret in the eternal counsels of God. With Christ that mystery has been made known (Eph 1:9; 3:5, 9; Col 1:26). Now it has been revealed through the prophetic writings according to the command of the eternal God. The purpose of the mystery now revealed was to promote obedience to the faith among all nations (cf. Rom 1:5). The gospel is universal in its purpose. It reaches out to all and promises deliverance to all who respond in faith.”[10] In verse 27 Paul gives all the glory to God who is all wise. Such glory is given through Jesus Christ. This conclusion brings to conclusion the ultimate purpose of the Gospel and that is the glory of God. The Gospel is doxological in that it is given in order that God may be glorified.

As we have studied the book of Romans we have learned great doctrinal and practical truth. We have learned what we are to believe and how we are to live in response to what we believe. What you believe determines how you will live. Do you believe the truth? Do you believe the Gospel? Does it show in how you live?

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 16:1–16). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, pp. 274–275). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 16:17–18). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, p. 461). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 16:19–20). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 16:21–24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 501). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 501–502). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[9] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 16:25–27). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[10] Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, pp. 282–283). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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