Unity & Praise

Adobe Spark-5Romans is such a powerful letter. It contains a robust theology of salvation, rich practical instruction, and even requests to help Paul carry on as a missionary of the gospel to the nations. How would one end a letter like this? What would be the final instruction? What would be the last words? Romans ends with Chapter 16.  Let’s take a look at how he ends this magnificent book.

Personal Greetings (Verses 1-16 & 21-23)

Paul isn’t writing to strangers; he’s writing to a church that he loves. In fact, he begins this book telling them how he prays for them constantly and longs to see them. As he closes the book, he addresses over a dozen people by name. Celebrating what God is doing in and through their lives. I point this out because it helps me to remember that Paul was a real person, and the people who read his letters were just like you and me.  They were people who had believed on Christ, and by his power, they were seeking to live out lives of faith.  Warts and all.

Final Instruction (Verses 17-20)

All this truth, what’s the final word of instruction?

“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. (Romans 16:17 ESV)”

Watch out for division. Division in the church is a bitter cup. Silence those who stir it up. Don’t dare be one who stirs it up. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is Paul’s final warning because he knows the first 15 chapters are irrelevant if this isn’t true. The gospel is great news, but what good does it do if the people who are to carry it to the nations are too busy fighting? Watch out for those who cause divisions. Avoid them.

Last Words (Verses 25-27)

How do you close out a book centered around the work of Jesus with anything other than praise? This is a fruit of the gospel’s work in our hearts: We celebrate the wonderful grace of God. All glory be to Christ!

“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 [26] but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—[27] to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27 ESV)

Grace & Peace.

PS Tomorrow we start 1 Thessalonians!

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