GREETINGS Romans 16:1 – 27   1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. 7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. 9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household. 11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. 12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. 13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. 15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. 16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. 17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. 21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. 22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. 23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.     Paul’s Postscript (Romans 16)   In many ways Paul has concluded his argument in chapter 15. Chapter 16 is primarily Paul’s closing of this letter with personal words of greeting and with final words of exhortation. While Paul may not yet have reached Rome, he knew of many of the saints there by name. His concern for the saints in this city was far from minimal.       Conclusion   As we conclude this survey of the Book of Romans, I want to return to a question which we raised at the beginning: What is it about the Book of Romans which helps us understand its great impact on the lives of men and women throughout the past two thousand years? Let me suggest several factors for your consideration.   Romans focuses on the great themes of the Bible   Jesus cautioned the Pharisees about “straining gnats and swallowing camels.” How often we find ourselves preoccupied with the minutia of life, and even of Scriptures, rather than with the most important matters. Romans is a book that deals with the major themes and doctrines of the Word of God and which does not focus on others. Perhaps no other book of the Bible is so all-encompassing in its outlook and approach:   James I. Packer of England states:   there is one book in the New Testament which links up with almost everything that the Bible contains: that is the Epistle to the Romans, … In Romans, Paul brings together and sets out in systematic relation all the great themes of the Bible—sin, law, judgment, faith, works, grace, justification, sanctification, election, the plan of salvation, the work of Christ, the work of the Spirit, the Christian hope, the nature and life of the Church, the place of Jew and Gentile in the purpose of God, the philosophy of the Church and of world history, the meaning and message of the Old Testament, the duties of Christian citizenship, the principles of personal piety and ethics. From the vantage-point given by Romans, the whole landscape of the Bible is open to view, and the broad relation of the parts to the whole becomes plain. The study of Romans is the fittest starting-point for biblical interpretation and theology.’8   In other epistles, the message is often more problem-centered. The author will address his readers in the light of current events. This is both necessary and important. But when we study the texts which take this approach, we may have to go through several steps to uncover the basic underlying principle. Only then can we begin to make application to ourselves. In Romans, Paul deals with the principles, and he does not begin with the particulars.   This may take you by surprise, but there is a sense in which the most “practical” texts of Scripture may be those which seem less practical and less edifying than those more “applicationally oriented.” In the light of Romans and Paul’s teaching on the Law, let us beware of wanting some kind of “rule book” approach to the Christian walk. Too often we want God’s Word (or preachers) to tell us precisely what to do and how to do it. Romans is not that kind of book, and it is because of this, in part, that it has had such an impact on men and women down through the ages.   Under the Law, men were told what to do, and then were encouraged to meditate on the Law to discern the underlying principles. In the New Testament, we are given the principles as guidelines, and then called upon to meditate upon them in order to determine what it is we are to do. This means, for one thing, that while all Christians should avoid immorality, some Christians might conclude that they should conduct themselves differently than others. This is especially applicable in the areas of spiritual gifts (for example, Paul and Barnabas, Acts 15:36-41) and of personal convictions (see Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10).   Christians can become so entangled in the particulars of Christianity that they lose sight of the great principles. So it was, for example, just before the Reformation. When the principles of “sola scriptura” (the Scriptures alone are our source of authority) and “justification by faith” were once again discovered in the Book of Romans, men’s lives and Christianity as a whole were radically impacted.   Not only do we find in Romans the exposition of the great doctrines of the faith, but we find the eternal purposes of God. We tend to become locked in on our own times, our own problems, our own sense of needs, and we lose sight of the big picture. It is the “big picture” which Romans constantly expounds and explains. Thus, in Romans we are told of God’s eternal purposes (Romans 9-11), of Adam’s fall (Romans 5), and of the restoration of the earth (Romans 8). It is not our task and calling to seek to persuade God to adjust His program and purposes to suit our needs, but our calling is to conform our attitudes and actions to His revealed will (see Romans 12:1-2ff.).   Thus, Romans is a “great” book, because it deals with “great” matters. Two of these “great matters” will follow.   Romans is gospel-centered   One of the “great themes” which the Book of Romans expounds and emphasizes is that of the gospel. Paul’s introduction and conclusion are dominated by the theme of the gospel. Everything in between them is an exposition of the gospel. There is no other book of the Bible which so fully expounds the gospel as Romans. If you would understand the gospel, go to Romans.   Have you believed this gospel? Do you recognize that you are among the “all” who are judged to be sinners, and who are destined for God’s wrath? Do you know that Jesus Christ died so that your punishment would be His, and so that His righteousness could be yours? Have you ceased trying to earn your own righteousness and received His righteousness by faith? That is the offer of the gospel, but it is an offer that you must receive.   Surely the gospel is the most vitally important message a non-Christian can ever hear. But why (in Romans 1:15) does Paul say he desires to preach the gospel to his audience in Rome, when they are already believers? I think there are a number of reasons.   (1) The gospel is never understood as fully by the Christian as it could and should be. We can never hear the gospel too often. We can never understand it too well.   (2) The gospel is constantly being distorted. In our own sin, we are inclined to distort it, both in its application to ourselves, and in our representation of it to others. The gospel as defined in Romans is a standard, against which we must constantly measure our own concept of the gospel. Romans is the perfect standard; ours is the imperfect.   (3) The gospel is not only that truth by which we are saved and that truth by which others are saved as we bear witness, it is also that truth which is the standard for our daily lives. Paul said to the Colossians, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6).   Why is the gospel so important? Paul has already told us, at the beginning of his epistle. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation,” and it “reveals the righteousness of God” (Romans 1:16-17). No wonder the gospel is so prominent in the Book of Romans.   Romans is God-centered   How often we make man the center of our “universe,” wanting to put God into orbit around us, waiting for Him to meet our needs and to make us happy and comfortable. It is God who is to be central and preeminent, not men. It is we who are to orient our lives to Him. When you read through the Book of Romans, you will be constantly reminded that it is God who is most prominently displayed here.   The character of God, in many of its facets, is displayed in Romans, such that Paul will pause to praise and adore Him for who He is (see Romans 8:31-39 and especially 11:33-36). There are many of the attributes of God described in this great Epistle, but none greater or more prominent than that of God’s righteousness. I would like to suggest that the righteousness of God is that attribute of God’s character which makes His other attributes all the more glorious. Think of a God who is all-powerful, but who is not righteous and just. It is a horrifying thought. Power without righteousness is terrifying. Think of a God who is “loving” but who is not also righteous. This would be mere sentimentalism, something like the favoritism of Jacob toward Rachel and her two sons. A love rooted in justice is a marvelous thing. Think too of a merciful God, who was not also righteous …   The righteousness of God. What a marvelous truth. What comfort! What discomfort! May we see more and more of God’s righteousness in Romans, in the church, and in our own lives, to the praise of the glory of His grace.   1 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, [photolithoprinted] 1969), p. 58.   2 Cited from Luther’s Works, Weimar edition, Vol. 54, pp. 179ff., by Bruce, p. 59.   3 Cited from Works, Vol. I, p. 103, by Bruce, p. 59.   4 The words of Roman Catholic theologian Dr. Karl Adam, as cited by Bruce, p. 60.   5 Cited by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, Romans: An Interpretive Outline (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), p. 1.   6 “… four Jews of Rome, led by one who professed to teach the Jewish faith to interested Gentiles, persuaded a noble Roman lady, a convert to Judaism, to make a munificent contribution to the temple at Jerusalem, but appropriated it for their own uses. When the matter came to light, the Emperor Tiberius expelled all resident Jews from Rome.” Bruce, p. 93.   “In AD 57, the year in which Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, Pomponia Graecina, the wife of Aulus Plautius (who added the province of Britain to the Roman Empire in AD 43), was tried and acquitted by a domestic court on a charge of embracing a ‘foreign superstition’, which could have been Christianity. But in the eyes of the majority of Romans who knew anything about it, Christianity was simply another disgusting Oriental superstition, the sort of thing that the satirist Juvenal had in mind sixty years later when he complained of the way in which the sewage of the Orontes was discharging itself into the Tiber.” Bruce, p. 16.   7 Bruce, pp. 18-19.   8 James I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God, p. 106f., as cited by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, Romans: An Interpretive Outline (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), p. 1.        



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