The last chapter.
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. (Romans 16:1-2 ESV)
Phoebe was the deliverer of the letter that Paul has written to the Romans. However, Paul points out here that Phoebe is not just delivering the letter she is a servant of the Lord as well. She has apparently served Paul and others well and is now going to Rome and Paul wants to give her the recommendation so that she will be received well by the Romans.
In verses 3-15 Paul is sending his greetings to people he knows are serving the Lord in Rome. He mentions them by name and gives an accolade to many of them. One of the things to notice here is that Paul is calling out women and men here as servants to the church. Nowadays in most churches women are considered in the work of the church. However, you do still find some circles where that is not the case. All of us have a place of service in the local church and in God’s kingdom. But back in Paul’s day that was pretty significant.
Verses 17 – 20 are warnings to the Romans.
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)
Every church is going to have those who cause division and create obstacles. We have the doctrine in front of us, and we are to avoid such people. Be careful who you give a place of service to in your church. Servants of the church should not be causing division, nor should they only be considering their own agendas in their service. People who are stirring division in the church are doing the work of Satan not of Christ. However, if we keep bringing it back to Jesus and get His direction on the matter and be obedient and wise to what is good and innocent to evil, then:
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)
Now we know that Satan will always slither back out from under our feet and continue to wreak havoc wherever He can at least until Jesus returns and takes us all home. However, with God’s help we can crush Satan and have these small victories over him.
Paul ends this section with sending the greetings of the people around him.
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made down to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:25 -27)
Paul’s final well wishes. He is in essence saying in this final word to the Romans don’t forget who gives you strength, don’t forget where it comes from, don’t forget the history of where it came from, be obedient to your faith and only to God!
Sweet Lord, we thank you for these words of Paul’s to the Romans. We thank you that these words are still as relevant to us today as they were back in Paul’s day. May we never forget where our strength comes from, may we never forget our history and may we always be obedient to our faith in the only wise God!