ROMANS STUDY – SESSION 22

Romans 15:14-16:27

 

Romans has a much longer conclusion than Paul’s other letters.  If this letter were being delivered as a sermon, you would think when you heard the words at the end of chapter 15, “Now the God of peace be with you all.  Amen” the speaker would be finished.  But then, an entire other chapter is added.  This has led some people to speculate that chapter 16 was not originally a part of Romans.  Some say it is a letter written by Paul commending Phoebe to the church at Ephesus.  However, I see no reason to conclude that Romans 16 was not a part of Romans from the beginning.  This long conclusion can be outlined as follows:

·         A summary of Paul’s ministry (15:14-21)

·         A preview of Paul’s future plans (15:22-29)

·         A request for prayer (15:30-33)

·         Commendation of Phoebe (16:1-2)

·         Greetings to those in Rome (16:3-16)

·         Warning about troublemakers (16:17-20)

·         Greetings from those with Paul (16:21-24)

·         Final benediction (16:25-27)

 

A summary of Paul’s ministry (15:14-21)

Verse 14 – An expression of confidence in the Christians in Rome

Verse 15 – An explanation of Paul’s boldness toward them

Verses 16-21 – A statement about Paul’s call to preach the gospel to Gentiles

 

A preview of Paul’s future plans (15:22-29)

Verses 22-23 – Paul mentions again (see Romans 1:10-15) his longtime desire to visit Rome.

Verse 24 – Paul mentions for the first time his desire to evangelize Spain.  One of Paul’s purposes in writing this letter was to gain support from the Christians in Rome for this work.

Verses 25-29 – For the time being Paul’s visit to Rome and then Spain must be postponed until he delivered to Jerusalem the offering the Christians in Macedonia and Achaia had provided for the suffering Christians in the area of Judea.  We read of this journey, which began from Corinth, in the book of Acts.

 

A request for prayer (15:30-33)

Essentially in this paragraph are three prayer requests:

  • That Paul would be protected from his enemies in Judea
  • That his ministry to the believers in Judea would be acceptable
  • That God would grant his desire to visit Rome (Paul was allowed to visit Rome, but as a prisoner of the Roman government!)

 

Commendation of Phoebe (16:1-2)

Phoebe may have been the bearer of this letter from Paul to the Romans.  Paul describes her with three words:

  • “sister” (verse 1) – She was a member of the family of God by virtue of her relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • “servant” (verse 1) – The word is diakonos or deacon.  She was a person who served, who put others before herself.  She served the church at Cenchrea, a seaport about six miles east of Corinth.
  • “helper” (verse 2) – This word was used to described wealthy patrons in the Jewish community and this is the only place it is used in the New Testament.  She was a woman of some wealth who used her wealth to help others.

 

Greetings to those in Rome (16:3-16)

Twenty-six people are named in these verses.  Many of those named had been Paul’s converts and/or friends in other places and had subsequently moved to Rome.  One of the interesting things about this list is the diversity of the people.  On this list you will find:

·         Jewish Christians such as the famous husband and wife team Priscilla and Aquila who risked lives for Paul and Andronicus and Junias whom Paul described as "my kinsmen or fellow countrymen"...

·         Gentile Christians such as Epaenetus, the first convert from Asia or Urbanus, a common Roman name…

·         Women have are prominently mentioned throughout list...Priscalla, Mary, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Julia are all feminine names...also included are an     unnamed mother and sister...

·         Some of the names are common slave names such as Ampliatus, Rufus, and Hermes...

·         Other of the names, such as Narcissus and Asyncritus and Patrobas, were reserved for freedmen…

·         Many of the names appear in the Imperial household in Rome including Andronicus, Apelles, and Nereus…

·         Some belonged to Jewish nobility such as Aristobulus and Herodian...

·         Name Persis (v.12) means Persian woman...

·         Some of those mentioned obviously married, others apparently single...

 

Warning about troublemakers (16:17-20)

Notice this paragraph begins with the phrase, "Now I urge you..."  The word translated "urge" is a strong word carrying idea of appealing or pleading.  It is used 14 times in writings of Paul and each time it is followed by an important command.  It is important to understand that Paul is not talking here brothers/sisters in Christ who have honest differences opinion and who express those differences in a loving, Christlike way.  It is not necessary for Christians to agree on everything.  Even such great Christians as Paul and Peter had their differences.  What he is talking about is unscrupulous, self-centered people who deliberately undermine the work and fellowship of God’s people for selfish purposes.  In verse 17 Paul tells the Romans to do two things in relation to such troublemakers:

·         “keep your eye”  on them.  That is, identify who they are and watch-out for them because they are dangerous.


·         “turn away from them” or don’t participate or cooperate in their ungodly activities.

 

Greetings from those with Paul (16:21-24)

Notice that according to his usual custom, Paul used a secretary to put take down his words.  Verse 24 is not in many of the earliest and best manuscripts.

 

Final benediction (16:25-27)

There are several things about this benediction that make it particularly interesting:

·         It is called "the floating doxology" by bible scholars because in various ancient manuscripts of NT it is found in different places.  Some have it at the end of chapters 14, others chapter 15, and others chapter 16. 

·         It has an interesting grammatical structure.  In the Greek it is one long. rambling sentence and it is translated that way in NASB from which I will read in moment.  It is also the longest of all of Paul's benedictions. 

·         The content is also unusually interesting.  It is a compilation of phrases found in other writings of Paul.  Scholars have identified twelve phrases in these 3 verses that appear in Paul's other NT letters.  This has led some to speculate that these verses should not be viewed merely as the benediction to Romans but summary of all Paul wrote.

 

I want to conclude with that quote by Warren Wiersbe: IF YOU UNDERSTAND ROMANS, YOU WILL HAVE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE REST OF THE BIBLE. BETTER STILL, YOU WILL HAVE THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN LIVING.

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