Paul has completed his teaching for the Roman church with the encouragement to love one another, to continue to obey the moral law and don’t think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. The end notes for this letter includes Paul’s travel plans, a request for prayer, his praises and greeting to specific people in Rome with a concluding grace and benediction.
He begins with a bold confident statement that he is fully convinced that the Roman church was “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another”. Remember Paul has not visited this church but as we will see he knows them, their character and their faithfulness. Paul states that he has written boldly to them, there are many hard truths and tough lessons in the previous chapters, he is assured that they are mature in their faith and able to discern between good and evil.
Paul states clearly that the purpose of his ministry is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. He carries out his ministry comparable to an Old Testament priest, preaching truth even when they don’t want to hear it; interceding for them before God; sanctifying them by his sacrifices and presenting them as an offering to God. Sanctification is the process by which the righteousness we have received from God begins to gradually change our attitudes, habits, speech, and conduct.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, “the righteous will live by faith”. Romans 1:16
Paul accomplishments are many, for about twenty years he has preached the gospel, planted churches and trained disciples “from Jerusalem to Illyricum”, that is all of Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Albania, Croatia and Slovenia. He has traveled many hard miles in dangerous and hostile environments, which has kept him from visiting Rome, but now he considers his work in those areas as complete. After his upcoming trip to Jerusalem, Paul plans to visit Rome then travel to Spain and the western edges of the Roman Empire to preach the gospel in places where the gospel of Jesus Christ has not been heard.
Paul is bringing the offerings collected from the churches in Asia to the saints in Jerusalem, this will be another dangerous trip for Paul the tensions between the Jews and Rome are growing with rebellion and the Jewish Christians are suffering in the process. Paul will get to Rome, but not when or in the manner he anticipated. He will arrive there in three years after being arrested and imprisoned by the Roman government in Palestine; he will survive a shipwreck and other travel perils. Paul and his companions will be met by the Roman brothers, “And so we came to Rome. The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:14-15).
Paul encourages the Roman church to pray for his safety, then begins his greetings to the believers he knows in Rome. First he introduces Phoebe; she is his messenger, serving as his emissary and a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Priscilla and Aquila are his fellow workers in Christ Jesus, they are Jewish Christians that Paul met in Corinth, they traveled and ministered with Paul in Ephesus, they trained Apollo and went back to Rome to establish the church in their house. Paul states they have risked their lives for him and that all the churches should be grateful to them.
Paul next mentions all those he knows, they are many, Jews and Gentiles, slave and freemen, some connected to the Roman and Jewish royal households. Paul praises both men and women as serving equally and earnestly as co-workers with Paul.
He issues a final warning to watch out for people who create dissensions and obstacles contrary to the gospel. “For these are the kind who do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites by their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the naïve”. Avoid them! In contrast to those who stir up dissension, the Roman church is known for their obedience. Paul’s assurance is that “The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.”
Paul sends greetings and final blessing from his fellow workers, Timothy, Erastus, Gaius, Aristarchus and Tertius, Paul’s scribe.
“All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes!
This is my last post for Romans; we will begin a new study in September 2018 of 1 & 2 Kings. Have a wonderful summer. 🙂