ROMANS CHAPTER 16.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS REVEALED IN PAUL'S SALUTATIONS AND BENEDICTIONS. Romans 16:1-27.
GREET ONE ANO0THER WITH A HOLY KISS. Romans 16:1-16.
"(1) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; (2) that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. (3) Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, (4) who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; (5) also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert in Christ from Asia. (6) Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. (7) Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (8) Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. (9) Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. (10) Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. (11) Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. (12) Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. (13) Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. (14) Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. (15) Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints who are with them. (16) Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you." Romans 16:1-16.
In this last chapter, Paul, who had never been to Rome, nevertheless greeted 27 Christians by name and many more by inference. Rome was the capital of the Mediterranean world. It drew people to it for many reasons. Estimating the size of the congregation at Rome from the 27 Christians named and the "households" and the "brethren with them," the church at Rome was not small by comparison to our modern congregations. Paul wrote the Roman letter to them reminding them how they could be sanctified by the Holy Spirit and become acceptable for use by the Holy Spirit of Christ. Just think what Paul must have thought of the possibilities for that congregation's use for preaching the gospel in all the world.
Something of the righteousness of God must have been revealed as these Roman Christians shared Paul's greetings among themselves with "holy kisses".
GOD WILL SOON CRUSH SATAN. Romans 16:17-20.
"(17) Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. (18) For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (19) For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. (20) And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." Romans 16:17-20.
The Romans to whom Paul wrote had become Christians through the reception of "teaching (doctrine) which (they) learned," This "teaching" or "doctrine" was taught to them by special emissaries from the Holy Spirit of Christ. That is, the Roman Christians "learned" their "teaching" from Christ's emissaries who taught as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4). The people of Paul's time did not have the inspired teachings of the New Testament consolidated into a readily available book as we do today. The inspired writings of the Old Testament may have been available to some people, but their meaning for the people of Paul's time was shrouded in mystery which could be dispelled only by Holy Spirit inspired emissaries. The personal teaching of Jesus Christ were available to people only through the speech and the writings of the Apostles designated by Jesus Himself or through other special emissaries inspired directly by the Holy Spirit of Christ. Of course, Paul was such an Apostle and special emissary and he delivered in his Roman letter a message from the Holy Spirit of Christ.
It should be noted that Godly beings from the spiritual realm are always involved in the conversion of human beings to Christianity as well as the ensuing life that they live as Christians. Without the involvement of heavenly beings no human being could be saved or be able to live as an earthly vessel of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God as well as the new Son of Man, our second Adam, dwells now in the spiritual realm with God the Father. He and the Father are intimately involved in every conversion and every Christian life. The Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son, the third Personality of the Godhead, has delivered once for all the inerrant message of eternal life, the word of God, to mankind. He has done it through miraculous inspiration of specially chosen human beings such as the Apostle Paul and others chosen to write the books of the New Testament. Thus God has spoken to all mankind the necessary "teaching" for them to "learn" and obey God's message of salvation. In addition, the heavenly angels of the spiritual realm are also highly interested in the salvation of every human individual for the Scripture says that they render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14), and that such heavenly beings rejoice at the salvation of even one sinner (Luke 15:7).
It should also be remembered that human beings also dwell, at least partially, within the spiritual realm. The personal spirits of Christians are intimately involved with the Holy Spirit within the spiritual realm even as Christians live in the flesh. (Romans 8:14-16; I Corinthians 6:17). And the souls of Christians live on in the spiritual realm after fleshly bodies have fallen asleep in death. (Matthew 10:28). The hope of the sanctified Christian is to enter fully and completely, spirit and soul and body, into the spiritual realm with God at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23). Thus, we see that Christians are always deeply involved with God's "good" spiritual beings.
Within this spiritual context Paul mentioned in Romans 16:20 a spiritual being, an inhabitant of the spiritual realm, who is not one of God's "good" spiritual beings. He is Satan, one who is diametrically opposed to every purpose of God. Satan has limited access to the people of the earth and is always trying to become involved spiritually with human beings, even Christians, so that he may oppose the purposes of God through them. Just as the spiritual personalities of the Godhead use Christian people to preach their message and influence mankind, the spiritual being, Satan, also tries to use people to carry his message and influence mankind against God. It seems that Satan inevitably finds those who will carry his message against the purposes of God. He gains his access through the fleshly "appetites" of people, even of Christians, and influences them to use "smooth and flattering speech " to deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting Christians.
In view of the warfare being waged by Satan against God within the spiritual realm, warfare which "spills over" even into the realm of fleshly beings, we understand why Paul concluded his Romans letter with a warning. "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites, and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." (Romans 16:17-18).
The telltale mark mentioned by Paul to "catch the eye" of Christians and prompt them to "turn away" from individuals under the influence of Satan was something "contrary to the teaching which you learned, " which "cause dissensions and hindrances" to the purposes of God. Paul termed those Christians who might become deceived by Satan's emissaries as "unsuspecting". They would be Christians who might not recognize something "contrary" to the "teaching" of the Holy Spirit because they had not fully "learned" it. Such Christians are easily "deceived."
Paul accentuated the positive when he said in Romans 16:19, "The report of your obedience has reached to all, therefore I am rejoicing over you." But Paul followed by saying, "I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil." In other words, the only way to be safe from the influence of Satan's human emissaries is "to be wise in what is good." The necessary wisdom comes from "learning" the once and for all "teaching" that came through inspired men from the Holy Spirit. To be "innocent in what is evil" also requires Christians to fully "learn" and to be wise in the "teaching."
The emissaries of Satan who cause dissensions and hindrances to God's purposes are very often Christians who have not sufficiently "learned" the "teaching" of the Holy Spirit. Satan tries and apparently succeeds sometimes in influencing the hearts of Christians to accept the opinions and traditions of men as "teaching" of the Holy Spirit. If the "teaching" of the Holy Spirit is polluted in the mind of a Christian by traditions of men, the Christian cannot remain "innocent in what is evil." This is not to say that all traditions of men are evil. Only when the traditions are imposed as "teaching" of the Holy Spirit are they necessarily evil.
We are reminded that Jesus said to some of Satan's emissaries, "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:79). Paul wrote also to the Colossian Christians, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8).
Paul's reference to becoming "wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil," reminds us of the Biblical account of the fall of man and his subsequent rise again in Christ. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God for a time as those "wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil." But Satan deceived them into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which, for their own good, God had forbidden them to eat. Adam and Eve were no longer "innocent of what is evil." In their new found false "freedom" they could no longer walk with God. They and all their progeny were cast out of the Garden.
But the unique righteousness of God demanded that man's walk with God be restored. The incarnation and subsequent death of God's own Son has provided a substitutionary "death" for all the progeny of Adam. The resurrection from actual death of God's own Son has provided a new Adam and made available to every one a resurrection into a new life in that Son, a life in which one can be led by God's Holy Spirit to again be "wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil."
In the context of this Roman letter, in which the righteousness of God has been revealed in the completed work of Jesus Christ to provide everything needful and good in eternity for all those who love God and are called according to His purpose, Paul concluded in Romans 16:20, "And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Praise God! God not only uses Christians as vessels of His mercy to mankind, God somehow uses that service to "crush Satan," the great deceiver! The "feet" which are called to "walk" according to the Holy Spirit, in that same "walk" those "feet" will "crush Satan."
MY FELLOW WORKERS GREET YOU. Romans 16:21-24.
"(21) Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsman. (22) I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. (23) Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother. (24) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Romans 16:21-24.
Paul mentioned eight of his fellow workers by name as those who sent greetings to the the Roman Christians via the closing salutation of the Roman letter. One named Tertius identified himself as the scribe who actually penned the letter which was dictated by Paul.
A man by the name of Gaius was baptized by Paul in Corinth. (I Corinthians 1:14). This leads us to speculate that Paul wrote this Roman letter from Corinth for he mentioned a Gaius as his host during the writing. If indeed, the letter was written from Corinth, then we note that Erastus, a fellow Christian worker, was the city treasurer of Corinth.
Another clue to the place where Paul abode while he wrote the Roman letter is given by Paul's statement in Romans 15:25, "But now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints." It was from Greece, after a three months stay (Acts 20:3) during his third missionary journey, that Paul departed for Jerusalem. We speculate that Paul's three month stay in Greece was in the city of Corinth where he had lived and worked for more than a year and a half on his second missionary journey. It is not certain but Corinth may have been the place where Paul wrote the Roman letter.
TO THE ONLY WISE GOD BE THE GLORY FOREVER. Romans 16:25-27.
"(25) Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, (26) but now is manifested and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith, (27) to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen." Romans 16:25-27.
Paul pointed out again in closing his letter the great eternal truth that has been stressed throughout the letter. It is God who does it all! It is God alone who establishes us. As Paul said in Romans 11:36, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things." God does everything necessary for us through the gospel of Jesus Christ according to His eternal purpose, kept secret for long ages past, but now revealed by the gospel, leading to "obedience of faith." God does it all!
But we have freedom of choice in the exercise of "obedience of faith." We are called upon to accept God's gift of faith and to render the obedience to God that grows out of that faith. It is no great thing that we are called upon to do. It is God who does the great and necessary things which we could never do. He establishes us. Throughout our Christian lives on earth all we have to do is to have faith in the gospel and follow the steps of obedience that expanding faith in God leads us to take.
The closing verses of the letter remind us of the great statement of the thesis in chapter one: "The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes ... for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith."
(This has been taken from the book "God's Righteousness Revealed," a commentary on Romans by F. M. Perry.)
© 2002, F. M. Perry