We have come to the end of this theologically rich book, what I will do today is start with the last verses of the chapter and work my way back to the beginning from the end.
Doxology - verses 25-27
The book of Romans if you have been following and reading the bible reading plan and the notes is a book of the doctrine of salvation and how salvation impacts a person on the way that they live. In chapters 1-11 Paul lays the doctrine of salvation out for us in a detailed way and chapters 12-16 are chapters that Paul exhorts how Christians should live when that salvation has flourished in the life of a person. The interesting thing is that Paul says the mystery of this gospel was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed to all nations according to the command of the eternal God. Brother and sisters this is something that should grip our hearts, that God has revealed himself to us through the person of Jesus Christ. Even though the mystery of the gospel was kept secret for long ages it has been revealed to us now! And he has done so, so that we can be obedient to him by faith. Who can know the mind of God? Who can counsel him? But glory be to the only wise God forevermore who revealed himself to creation through his son Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose from the grave. It is through this precious gospel that one day the God of peace will crush Satan under the feet of his church! Which means victory over evil, victory over sin, victory over suffering, victory over this fallen world through the person of Christ. And this gospel is the only way to be saved which is why Paul warns the Roman church to watch out for those who cause divisions and who create obstacles to the doctrine of salvation through Christ. That is because the true message of the gospel unites and does not divide.
Personal Greetings - Verses 1-16
The reason why I started with the ending verses is because if God had not revealed himself through the person of Jesus Christ and his gospel then Paul would not have anyone to greet because there would be no existing church. Even more, Paul would not have been Paul, he would have still been that miserable Pharisee Saul. There is something very beautiful about these 16 verses which is seeing how the church of Rome truly loved Paul and one another fervently taking to heart Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Look at the ways Paul talks about the people here…
- Phoebe - she has been a patron of many and of myself
- Aquila and Prisca - my fellow workers in Christ, who risked their necks for my life
- Mary - who has worked hard for you
- Andronicus and Junia - my fellow prisoners
- Urbanus - fellow worker in the Lord
- Tryphaena and Tryphosa - workers in the Lord
- Persis - who has worked hard in the Lord
- Mother of Rufus - who was also like a mother to Paul
When Paul makes a mention of someone in his letters, it is not a small deal. Paul is always intentional in naming those who work fervently, faithfully, and lovingly for the sake of Christ. These people he greets are pouring out their lives in serving God through serving his people. The reason why they are fervent in serving and working for the Lord is because of the gospel. These people mentioned have not heard a message that is dead, they have heard the message of the gospel that is alive and mighty which is what causes them to serve mightily. These people have been made alive which shows through the way that they serve because that is what the gospel works in us, it causes us to regard the interest of others far more than our own. Brothers and sisters, if you have heard the message of the gospel and you have been transformed by it, then that should cause us to be fervent and faithful in our service to the church. Are people able to say of you fellow worker? Are people able to say that you have worked hard to serve the church? Are people able to say you have been a patron of many? Are you fervently and faithfully serving the local church? Are you outdoing one another in showing honor? The gospel should be the fuel that drives our service to each other knowing that Christ did it for us first. I am guilty of not putting in all my effort, but I pray that by God revealing himself to us through the person of Christ will help us to serve him by serving his people fervently.