Paul sends his greetings and final instructions to the church of Rome.
Some important things to note about Paul’s extensive greetings are that they are very personal and are addressed to many different kinds of people that he knows in the church of Rome. From verse 3-16, Paul mentions both women and men who have served the church and we also know that this is a diverse group of people.
Phoebe, mentioned in verse 1, is likely the one delivering Paul’s message and is called a “servant of the church”, also meaning deaconess. Paul greatly commends her, a woman, and goes on to recognize many other faithful women who served in the church as well. Also mentioned are Prisca (also known as Priscilla) and Aquila, who we know from Acts 18 as a Jewish couple who came from Italy and accompanied Paul to Ephesus. Additionally, there are others mentioned who are Gentiles.
So, rather than just reading a bunch of names, we can learn that the church of Rome consisted of different genders, origins, and races and that Paul’s greetings encourage the development of strong, personal connections between people in the church — which ultimately promote a unified community in Christ.
In verse 17, Paul’s final instruction is to avoid people “who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine”. These are people who preach heresy to others. It is important that we remain alert so that we can recognize when someone is doing or saying something contrary to what we know is the truth. This is because in verse 18, we see that these people don’t serve Christ, but are trying to serve themselves “and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve”.
There are many who preach things that people want to hear while targeting a specific, simple-minded audience: “believe in God and you’ll go to heaven, you’ll become rich, you’ll never go to Hell, etc…” Just the same, there are many people who are naïve and easily deceived by those flattering lies. That’s why Paul sends this reminder to the church of Rome, so that they can be “wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (verse 19).
Paul wraps up his letter by proclaiming God’s power through the truth of the gospel, which was made to known to all, not just the Jews, “to bring about the obedience of faith”. This ties in directly to the opening of Romans in Chapter 1:1-5 and nicely brings the letter to a close as he finally concludes with the praise of the only wise God. —- Cecilia Yip