Romans 15:14-33 and 16:1-27

Updated: May 12

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles gives his practical conclusions


Paul the minister to the Gentiles

Paul now lays out his final conclusions about the practical application of the Christian faith as his epistle draws to a close. The apostle’s tone becomes very personal revealing his travel plans and even contains a personal prayer request.


Paul the Minister to the Gentiles


15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.


Having in previous chapters given his readers various points of correction Paul’s tone now becomes more warm-hearted as he expresses his high regard for the church in general terms as he assures them of his confidence in their wisdom and ability to the extent that he considers them well able to be counsellors to each in day to day Christian living. The apostle had given these prior reprimands not out any sense of unkindness but rather as his express duty as minister of the Gospel. His intention is to make the Roman believers as presentable people to God. This must be empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit if it is to be effective.


17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.21 Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” [g]


Paul joyfully thanks God as he recalls his God-given triumphs of all his missionary journeys starting in Jerusalem and ending in Illyricum. All the way the Saviour had lead him by the power of the Holy Spirit with many signs and wonders following the preaching of the Gospel. v20 Everywhere he went Paul always preached the full counsel of God holding nothing important back from his hearers. His first choice of mission was always to go and pioneer new works where the Gospel had not been preached before and to build up a local church on a sure foundation. Paul longed to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah of bringing the Good News to the elect Gentiles who would believe the message when they heard it.


15:22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you. The establishment of new churches all over the Mediterranean area was the main reason that Paul had been unable to get to the church at Rome.


Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome


23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.


v23 Paul explains that he had now reached most of the unreached areas on his mission journey and now longs at last to have fellowship with the Roman Christians. He is ready to come to Rome just as soon as he has delivered a financial gift from the Gentile Christians in Macedonia and Achaia to the needy Christians in Jerusalem. Paul hints that the Roman church may wish to give him some practical support as he then moves on from Rome headed for Spain. Paul commends the reciprocity of the Gentile believers sending a material gift to the church in Jerusalem the very church which had originally sent out the spiritual blessing of the Gospel message starting on the day of Pentecost. Paul reckons such reciprocity between groups of believers is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives and anticipates that when he finally comes to Rome that he will be bringing the full blessing of God with him to bestow on the church there.


15:30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.


Paul then asks for the prayer support of the Roman Church who have that same love of Christ pouring into their hearts as Paul. This liquid love in them will empower them to give full prayer cover for Paul’s continuing missions. More specifically Paul requests prayer for both his physical safety as there were many who would be willing to murder him to stop his message and secondly that the financial gift would be well received in Jerusalem thus uniting the churches in mutual love. Paul looks forward to coming to Rome share the joy of the Lord with his brothers and sisters. v32 Paul hopes his anticipated good reports will be refreshing to the Roman believers. The apostle then prays the peace of God on all his readers.



Footnotes:

g Romans 15:21 Isaiah 52:15 (see Septuagint)

For a full text to printout and access to other chapters of 'Pauls letter to the Romans' click

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Chapter 16


Personal Greetings


16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon [a] of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.


It was the custom in these days to send commendations with a messenger to help validate their identity and message. It could well have been Phoebe (meaning bright, radiant) who carried Paul’s letter from Corinth to Rome. It is not clear whether her role as a ‘deaconess’ means a formal ministry position or simply a female servant. Paul tells the Roman church to give Phoebe all the assistance she needed and to bear in mind that she had helped many including the apostle himself.


3 Greet Priscilla [b] and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.


Paul may well have given such a long list of greetings to establish a rapport with the church. The greetings are like a roll of honour and who would not like the praise of such a devout and Godly man. Priscilla and Aquila were old friends of Paul who shared the same secular occupation of tent makers. Paul had lodged in their house in Corinth and now publicly honours them by stating that they had even risked their lives for Paul’s sake. Priscilla and Aquila are a continual blessing to the church fellowships where they have stayed and presumably this has continued with their latest house church this time in Rome.

Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Epenetus[1] was well named for he was indeed worthy of Paul’s praise as the first Christian convert in Asia and now counted as a dear friend of the apostle.

6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. There are many Mary’s in the bible but this one is given the lovely accolade of ‘Mary the hard worker’.

7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

The balance of probability is that this was two men rather than a couple. Paul honours them as fellow Jews, fellow prisoners for the Gospel’s sake, exceptional missionaries and even as ‘older brothers’ in their faith than Paul himself.

8 Greet Ampliatus [2], my dear friend in the Lord.

Ampliatus was often given as a slave’s name however irrespective of his position in society Paul honours him as a close friend in the Lord.

9 Greet Urbanus [3], our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys [4].

Urbanus is given the high honour of being called a co-worker with Paul and Stachys is honoured as dear friend.

10 Greet Apelles [5], whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Apelles had truly proven his faith probably in the face of adversity. It is a great honour to be called ‘approved’ by no less a person than the great apostle himself.

Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. It is not clear that Aristobulus was himself a Christian however some of his servants were almost certainly believers such as was Apelles.

11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.

Paul greets Herodion as a fellow messianic Jew.

Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. We don’t know if Narcissus was a believer but at least some of his servants were Christians.

12 Greet Tryphena [6] and Tryphosa[7], those women who work hard in the Lord. Possibly sisters and possibly from an affluent background nevertheless they are praised as being hard workers in the kingdom of God.

Greet my dear friend Persis[8], another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Persis is honoured as a dear friend and also as a hard worker for the Gospel.

13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Rufus is honoured as chosen brother and whose mother is like a mother also to Paul.

14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.

We are not given any details about these brothers but we might speculate they were part of a house group of part of a church ministry.

15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.

Possibly slaves and possibly part of a larger house group.

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

A kiss usually is a token of affection. It is due to all believers whether we like them or not! Justin Martyr mentions it in his writings in the context of the kiss being exchanged within the same gender and also that the holy kiss had a formal place in the liturgy [9]

All the churches of Christ send greetings. This stresses the unity of the body of Christ.

17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.


In sharp contrast to the holy kiss signifying unity Paul goes on to warn the church against those persons who are divisive and are trying to set barriers to good doctrine and practise through their false teaching.

The false teachers had previously been identified variously as legalists, antinomians, ascetics or even worse. The stern warning is actually to completely avoid such persons. Such divisive false teachers always have their own agenda which ultimately is based on their carnal nature and self interest. They are usually smooth operators who are quite capable of deceiving the unwary. Paul expresses a joy and confidence in the church but nevertheless reminds then that they need to be constantly vigilant in avoiding false teachers with selfish and evil agendas.


20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

Paul points out that the God of peace is more powerful than any enemy intent on causing discord, division or strife amongst the brothers and sisters. He reminds his reader of three things; firstly that God will be victorious at the end of time. Secondly God will use his church to crush Satan and finally this victory will come sooner than we think.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Paul prays the unmerited favour of God Almighty on his readers/hearers. Paul now having completed his warnings resumes greetings but this time from his various colleagues.


21 Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews. Paul also sends greetings from Timothy his son in the faith but honouring Timothy as his own co-worker. He also sends greetings from his fellow messianic believers Lucius, Jason and Sosipater but no more is known about these men.


22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. Tertius was the secretary (or amanuensis [10]) who actually wrote down the epistle as Paul dictated it. Tertius obviously a brother in the Lord also sends his warm greetings to the church in Rome.


23-24 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Paul was probably staying in Gaius’ house in Corinth while he was composing this epistle. Gaius probably hosted meetings for at least part of the local church in his house. Gaius clearly had a gift of hospitality.

Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. [c] Erastus who held high public office probably a civic treasurer [11] and brother Quartus also send their greetings.


25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to faith and obedience —27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.


Paul finishes the epistle with a wonderful doxology [12] that is full of praise and giving glory to our Daddy God. Paul’s thought returns to various topics he mentioned in Romans Chapter 1:1-11 and especially v1-5 e.g. the establishing or strengthening of the saints v11, the Gospel of God v1, the mystery hidden c.f. the promised Gospel v2, prophetic/sacred scriptures v2 and also the obedience of the faith v5.


Paul shines the glory light onto our Abba Father as the one who is well able to establish each believer in the faith of the Gospel. This Gospel proclaims the truth about Jesus Christ the one true Messiah as described in the sacred prophetic scriptures but is now revealed as the Saviour for all mankind including the Gentiles.

Only our Daddy God was wise enough to conceive such a wonderful plan through His Son Jesus Christ, may the light of glory be focused on Him forever.

Amen


Chapter 16 Footnotes: 1-3 = [a] [b] [c]

  1. Romans 16:1 Or servant

  2. Romans 16:3 Greek Prisca, a variant of Priscilla

  3. Romans 16:23 Some manuscripts their greetings. 24 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.

Chapter 16 Added footnotes

[1] Latin, means ‘praise worthy’. [2] Latin, means ‘amplified’ or ‘enlarged’. [3] Latin, means ‘elegant’ or ‘polite’ [4] Greek, means an ‘ear of grain’ [5] Greek name [6] Latin means ‘delicate’ [7] Latin means ‘dainty’ [8] Lit a Persian woman. [9] W Hendriksen NT Commentary on Romans page 508 [10] Wikipedia; Amanuensis, is a person employed to write or type what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another, and also refers to a person who signs a document on behalf of another under their authority. The term derives from a Latin expression made up of a suffix, -ensis, "belonging to", and prefix, manu-, "hand". [11] Greek Oikonomos- treasurer. English derives the word economist from this root. [12] Wikipedia; A doxology (from the Greek δόξα [doxa] "glory" + -λογία [-logia], "saying" is a short hymn of praises to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns. The tradition derives from a similar practice in the Jewish synagogue.

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