Romans (27): Parting Words (Rom. 16)
THE CHURCH'S ONE FOUNDATION
Paul concludes with a litany of fulfillment texts. These are all precisely what he began with: the promises to the fathers are being fulfilled in the new covenant church. “Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy” (15:8-9). The promise of God is for Jews and Gentiles, all humanity, to come into Christ as a New Man (Eph. 2:15), a new Adam or humanity. The ending of chapter 15 makes clear the “missionary purpose.” Paul is arguing that he should come to Rome to establish the base of a new mission into Spain. This tremendous letter is Paul’s apologetic to bring together the church in Rome so as to establish a stable foundation to reach the rest of the world.
Romans 15:8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, Romans 15:9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO THEE AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO THY NAME.” Romans 15:10 And again he says, “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” Romans 15:11 And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” Romans 15:12 And again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.” Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
The message of unity in Christ over differences of status, ethnic identity and cultural differences, when accepted, becomes the foundational message for church planting. A church that sees the promises of God coming to bear can reach out and establish more churches in different contexts. Remember that Romans 1 reads right through to chapter 15. 1:15 Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome. . . 15:20 I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, 15:22 This is the reason I was often hindered coming to you. 15:23 But now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions, and I have for many years desired to come to you...”
The ending of chapter 15 makes clear the “missionary purpose.” Paul is arguing that he should come to Rome to establish the base of a new mission into Spain. This tremendous letter is Paul’s apologetic to bring together the church in Rome so as to establish a stable foundation to reach the rest of the world. The message of unity in Christ over differences of status, ethnic identity and cultural differences, when accepted, becomes the foundational message for church planting.
BLESSED BE THE TIE THAT BINDS
The last chapter (16) is another kind of litany. It is a list of encouragements. It is as if I said to you, “I commend Meredith Siegenthaler for her work on the Twelve days of Christmas, encourage her. Greet my dear friends Russ and Raquel Harless who have been long time ambassadors for Christ, even in the United Arab Emerates. Russ has helped me grow in Christ. Greet Jon Northup’s parents and Benjamin and Christy Long, and the returning students, Travis, Brandon, and Jameson Detweiler.
In this he mentions Gentiles Jew and dignitaries and servants to provide a personal display of unity in Christ.
RISE UP O MEN OF GOD
Finally, there is the tremendous promise of dominion. “The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (16:20). And there is a benediction.
16:19 Your obedience is known to all and thus I rejoice over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 16:20 The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more