8 March 2014Romans 16:17-27
“Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! Amen.” (vv. 25-27)
We come to the end of this great epistle with what might be termed three 'last thoughts'.
- In verses 17-20 Paul warns the Romans against those who would disrupt the harmony of the Church. Quite whom Paul had in mind we don't know but it is clear that, in spite of the positive impression of brother- and sisterhood that we saw in yesterday's passage, the apostle was worried that the young church was vulnerable to distortions of the gospel (good news of Jesus). The Romans are assured, however, that the ultimate victory over such mischief makers has already been won.
- Verses 21-24 give us another collection of names, this time of those who join with Paul in sending greetings to Rome. Timothy is a familiar figure from Acts 16 and as the addressee of the letters that bear his name. Tertius' claim to have written the letter means that he was the scribe. The image that we are given is of Paul dictating his thoughts whilst in the company of his friends. Gaius and Erastus are clearly people of substance who, given the links that we saw in yesterday's passage, may have been known to the Romans.
- The last part of the letter (verses 25-27) is a doxology. In one long and complex sentence, Paul gives glory to God who has revealed the hidden mystery of the gospel and will enable the Romans to stand firm in the faith that they have received. We are back with one of the central themes of this letter: the gospel Paul has preached is a revelation of the divine plan that all might be brought to faith and to worship. Paul's sense of wonder at what God has done is never far from the surface in Romans.
- Although Paul is celebrated as the author of this letter, it is clear from verses 21-23 that other people were involved in its production. How are you able to offer help to others in their ministry? What help do you receive from others in yours?
- The final verses witness to Paul's sense of excitement about what God has done in Christ Jesus. As you read the letter, to what extent did you find your own sense of excitement about the gospel renewed? You might want to look back at passages that have particularly spoken to you of the great things that God has done.