Romans is one of my favorite books to study in the Bible. Over the years, the Lord has used Paul’s Spirit-inspired writing to refresh and mold me into the image of Christ. I haven’t arrived. I am a work in progress. God is daily re-molding me from the inside out into the image of Christ, His character, love, purpose, and priorities. Throughout Romans, Paul calls us back to the basics of our faith while encouraging us to be radically transformed (metamorphosed) by surrendering ourselves to God and inviting the Spirit to do this radical work in our lives. Paul is genuinely a transformed Christian World Changer and calls all of us to be the same.
Paul’s closing, like his introduction of the epistle, stresses the power of the gospel. The God who rescues has called all of His followers to be Christian World Changers, sharing the gospel and love of Christ to the nations’ peoples. This call is to all followers of Christ. We impressively discover this from the names Paul list in the closing of his letter to the church in Rome.
It is apparent, in Romans 16:1-16, that women were prominent in the Roman Church, not just as attendees but also as workers and leaders. Both men and women held leadership positions and had some ecclesiastical authority in the first church. This makes sense in light of what Paul wrote to the Galatians. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). The church is made of all peoples, male and female, all socio-economic classes and the like. The gospel is to be taken into the world by such a church of Christian World Changers.
Since Christ’s church has such a mission, he challenges believers in Romans 16:17-20 to fight for unity in the church. We are encouraged to spot and deal appropriately with divisive people who would seek to destroy unity from within the church. Divisive people do not focus on the Lord but on church politics and scandalous accusations. They try to draw believers off into doctrine that is contrary to the basic message of the gospel. What are we supposed to do with the body of biblical doctrine? Identify those who violate and teach false doctrine and keep away from such people. It is virtually impossible to be a divider if you cultivate your personal walk with God and are determined to build up others. A doctrinal and ethnic litmus test can be found in asking three questions. Does the teaching agree with Scripture? Does the teaching glorify the Lord? Does the teaching promote goodness? The Believer ought to pray that division will be crushed and that grace characterizes the church.
Even Paul’s greetings from his companions, found in Romans 16:21-24, presents us with a wonderful picture of Christian fellowship that consists of vast geographical distances and cultural differences. The church is united in Christ. We are to be unified in Him while retaining our uniqueness in the body of Christ. We are to be unified, not uniform. When the church is one, working together to know God and make Him known, God’s love, power, and truth are witnessed by the world in which we live.
Paul’s benediction, Romans 16:25-27, declares that the gospel Paul received from God was all about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers to all peoples. Though this message of salvation by faith was present in the prophetic Scriptures, it is now made clear to all nations. It calls people to be obedient to the faith. Paul concludes his epistle powerfully. Paul cries out that to “God be glory forever through Jesus Christ,” and we ought to add our passionate amen.
It is not a coincidence that Paul begins and concludes his epistle referencing God’s power through the gospel. The gospel has the power to justify. The gospel has the power to sanctify. The gospel has the power to lead believers to be glorified. In Christ, we can be made right with God (justified). By the power of Christ’s Spirit, we can become like Jesus in character, love, purpose, and priorities (sanctified). When Christ returns, the work will be completed in us as He escorts us into paradise (glorified). All and all, Romans calls us to come to Christ, walk with Him, and become a Christian World Changer. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!