The Thirty-Sixth in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Epistles to the Romans
Having finished the main body of his letter to the church in Rome, and completed his discussion of a number of lofty doctrinal themes, Paul now turns to more mundane matters as he wraps up his epistle to the Romans. Paul informs his reader of his earnest desire to visit the church in Rome, but explains that thus far has been prevented from doing so. Then, there are some practical matters to which Paul must attend–the commendation of Phoebe, the woman who will deliver this letter to Rome, as well as personal greetings to be extended to a number of friends and acquaintances living in the city. Lest we forget Paul’s letter to the church in Rome is not a lecture on Christian doctrine, but a pastoral letter to church which Paul has never visited although, as we will see, he is certainly familiar with many of its members.
We now come to the final section of the Book of Romans–Paul’s concluding remarks–as the apostle wraps up his theological discussion and exhortations regarding some of the pressing pastoral problems facing this particular church. Having completed this discussion, Paul describes his personal situation and discusses his plans for the future, specifically as they relate to the church in Rome. This final section is in many ways an expansion of the remarks made back in Romans 1:8-15 when Paul opened this epistle by expressing, in part, his reasons for writing. Now Paul goes on to express his confidence in the members of this church because the maturity of the Roman Christians will enable them to capably handle some of the difficult issues he has raised. Indeed, the very nature of this discussion requires Paul to explain his role as apostle to the Gentiles as well as offer the reason as to why it is that his apostolic duties have prevented him from visiting Rome thus far, although it is certainly his earnest desire to do so if he is able to make a future visit to Spain.
But before he can go on to Spain and stop in the city of Rome on the way, the apostle must return to Jerusalem with the proceeds of an offering for the poor Jewish Christians in that city collected from among the Gentile churches in Macedonia and Achaia. In the midst of this discussion of his future plans, we find yet another Pauline prayer-wish–a prayer in which Paul exhorts the Christians in Rome by allowing them to overhear that for which he is praying. Next, in the opening verses of chapter 16, Paul goes on to mention a woman named Phoebe, who serves as the bearer of this letter to the church in Rome. Then in verses 3-15, Paul extends his greetings to a list of individuals in the Roman church with whom he is familiar before exhorting them to great one another in the Lord. Finally, in verses 17-27 (our subject the next Lord’s Day), Paul gives one final piece of pastoral advice to the church, before warning the Roman Christians to be on their guard against false teachers and exhorting them to live up to their outstanding reputation among the churches.
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