Topic: Greetings, Honour and Final Benediction
Text: Romans 16:1 – 27
Memory Verse: Romans 16:17
Today’s lesson brings us to the final session of our studies in the book of Romans. Three major issues that Paul talks about in this concluding study include some saints to greet, some sinners to avoid and servants to honour. As we read this list of names, we cannot help but be impressed with the fact that Paul loved people and was interested in them. Probably Paul had led many of these to know the Lord. Remember that Paul had never visited Rome. Thus, he probably met these saints in other cities. Just like the Messiah, he knew the sheep by name and had a personal concern for each one.
Greeting the Saints (16:1 – 16)
It seems that the believers in Rome did not meet in one general assembly but were members of various household groups [Note verses 5, 10 and 11]. There was no “church at Rome” in the organized sense (compare Philippians 1:1). Rome was a very large city, and it is possible that some of the assemblies were composed mainly of Jewish believers.
Phoebe was evidently a deaconess on her way to Rome, and hence the carrier of the letter. “Receive her…give her any help she may need” (verse 2) are good instructions for believers today. Paul was simply asking the saints to help her.
Priscilla and Aquila were very dear friends to Paul. You can read about them in Acts 18, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19. The incident where these two saints risked their lives for Paul (verse 4) is not recorded in the New Testament. Priscilla and Aquila had earlier left Rome because of persecution. They had met Paul in Corinth, and now were building a church in their house back in Rome.
Nine women are mentioned in this chapter (verses 1,3,6,12,13 and 15). Some critics have accused Paul of being “against women,” but no man ever did more to free women from heathen slavery and dignify them in the manner God intended from the beginning. Paul teaches that women have a special and important place in the ministry of the local church.
In three verses, Paul mentions his “relatives” (verses 7, 11 and 21). This does not necessarily mean a blood relative, but more likely fellow Jews, possibly of the tribe of Benjamin. Verse 7 mentions two men who were saved before Paul was, and were also noted by the apostles. They were not apostles themselves, but were held in honor among the apostles.
Rufus (verse 13) is an interesting man. Mark 15:21 states that the man Simon who carried the cross was the father of Alexander and Rufus. These two men were probably well known among the churches at the time Mark wrote his Gospel. It is possible that Simon was actually the father of this Rufus mentioned here.
Some Sinners to avoid (16:17 – 20)
This warning sounds strange in a chapter filled with warm greetings, but Paul knew the dangers in the churches and wanted to warn the saints. Certainly, we as believers are to love and forgive one another. However, sins against the church body must be dealt with according to scriptural discipline.
Believers who cause trouble because of their selfish desires (usually pride) are not to be received into the local fellowship. “Keep away from them (verse 17).” The church must keep an eye on people who go from one church to another, causing trouble and division. These people may know how to fool the simple. However, the discerning saint will see through their disguises. Conquer the evil one — do not let him conquer you.
Some Servants to honour (16:21 – 24)
In these four verses we first find Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith and a servant of the Lord (Philippians 2:19 – 23). Lucius was associated with Paul in his early ministry at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Jason traveled with Paul from Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-9). Sosipater was a Berean (Acts 20:4 – “Sopater”). Paul loved these companions and could not have ministered without them. Tertius (verse 22) was the secretary to whom Paul dictated the letter, as the Spirit directed. Probably he was Roman, known by the believers to whom the letter was sent.
Gaius (verse 23) may be the same person mentioned in Acts 19:29. Or, he may be the “Gaius” of Derbe (Acts 20:4). He is surely the Gaius of 1 Corinthians 1:14, one whom Paul baptized during his ministry at Corinth. Paul was at Corinth when he wrote to the Romans, so this would mean he was probably staying at the home of Gaius. Notice how many different people the Lord used to give us His Word.
Erastus was the “city’s director of public works,” thus showing that the Gospel had reached into the official families of the city (see above). He may be the same man mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:20. Finally, Paul mentions “our brother Quartus.” No believer is too insignificant for Paul to mention.
Paul signed his letters personally (verse 24). Lastly, in verses 25 – 27, he went on to add this great doxology that emphasizes the mystery of the church. The prophets mentioned in verse 26 are the New Testament prophets through whom God revealed the truths of the church and His Gospel of grace. Thus, the letter to the Romans is completed. If we understand it and apply it, verse 27 will be true: “To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
As we conclude our studies of Romans, it is important to remind ourselves that we have looked at the themes of Romans which are doctrinal (Romans 1-8), national (Romans 9-11) and practical (Romans 12-16). In today’s lesson that serves as final aspect of the letter, it is important to emphasize that, Paul focusses on building relationship in the Church. He does that by greeting the saints, encouraging the members to avoid some sinners and honouring the servants.
1. What does Paul suggest as appropriate way of dealing with those whose sins affect the entire Church body?
2. What was the role of Tertius in the letter of Romans?
3. To what extent are you prepared to honour some faithful servants in the Church?
4. In which ways does Romans 16 suggest that in the Gospel ministry, one’s gender is not be a barrier for involvement?