Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Romans, Chapter 16

We've reached the end of our journey in Romans, and while Paul has his typical greetings and prayers for his cronies of the day as he prepared to go to Rome there is still plenty of good news to take from this chapter. The first 16 verses of chapter 16 are nothing more than greetings and encouragement sent to other believers of the day that may go down as footnotes to history, but they were probably doing incredible work at the time for the kingdom of God. What we see is that though Paul received much of the glory of the New Testament through his writing, there were literally hundreds if not thousands of others who were encouraged by his preaching and took up their own crosses to serve. Paul himself reminds us in Romans 1:12 to mutually encourage others in our faith and he achieves that here.

So what benefit does this have? Well, much like working out at the gym, we often cannot do this alone. Think of the encouragement that we give other believers as kind of a spiritual spotting during a particularly strenuous workout. There is nothing harder in this world than the feeling that you are going at something totally alone. When we gather and encourage each other our spirits are lifted and we can be refreshed to go out and continue the work God has placed upon us. Paul shows this by encouraging many of the early believers that he ran into here at the end of Romans, and this carries over to the present day. On Tuesday nights my wife and I attend a Bible study sponsored by our church here in Indianapolis. Each week we walk away encouraged and refreshed by spending some midweek time in fellowship with our friends and with Christ. Though our group is small, we encourage each other to go out and live as we have been called to live. Because of this encouragement it makes things like this blog I have been called to do much easier.

"17I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people." – Romans 16:17-18

This is another area in which encouragement between believers comes through as a form of assistance. This can sometimes be an act of spiritual warfare as we have talked about earlier, or it can simply be people who have their own agenda contrary to what we believe. In either case we are confronted with something that can trip us up and cause us to lose our way. It's hard to keep away from them too because sometimes this division comes from friends and family that we love and want to reach for the benefit of the kingdom. It is important to remember we don't want to avoid the person though, but the obstacles put forth by that person that may trip us up. Unity will always triumph over division, as years and years of playing sports for fragmented teams have taught me that much. We must be unified in Christ through encouragement to win the day.

"25Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— 27to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen." – Romans 16:25-27

Paul ends Romans by giving the glory to Christ, as we should do in everything. Many scholars view Romans as one of the most important books in the Bible because of the way it outlines the plan for salvation. Though Paul could take credit for this and glorify himself he chose instead to glorify God for His work. We can apply this lesson simply by glorifying God each day for the work we have done since He is the one who provides for that strength.


  1. How does encouragement between you and fellow believers help you serve?
  2. What types of divisions and obstacles do you face in your spiritual walk?
  3. How do you give glory to God each day?

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