February 27 - Romans 16:17-23

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Romans 16:17-24 – Final Instructions

I urge you, brothers and sisters, 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. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 

Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews. 

I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. 

Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.

Just after Paul writes to the Romans about the kiss of peace … which promotes unity, he warns them of those things which might cause division. False teachers and incorrect teaching is a threat to any church and Paul warns of this in many of his letters.

In the churches Paul had founded there were many obstacles that reared up, from those who believed that Gentiles had to be circumcised and adhere to Jewish Law to those from outside the church who taught that they could still worship God and live the lifestyles they had before becoming believers. Because Paul urges them to be on the watch for false teachers, rather than command them to ignore these teachers, it was likely the Roman church had yet to see them in their midst and he was simply giving a pre-emptory warning.

The Roman church was well known throughout the region for its obedience and there is a probability that Paul's warning came about because that reputation would be a perfect draw for those bent on corruption.

In verse twenty, we find an interesting conundrum in western culture. The God of peace is pictured with violence underfoot as he crushes Satan. The New Testament idea of peace is very unlike ours, which is the absence of war. For those in biblical times, peace … shalom … was a life that was whole and well-rounded, a life which was positive and whose spirituality was strong and could overcome evil.  Part of the reality of peace is overcoming evil … a complete triumph.

In an earlier passage, Paul listed many of the people in Rome who were to receive his greetings. At this point, he sends greetings to that church from those he knows well. Timothy is well known as a companion to Paul and there is a possibility that Lucius is a Romanized name for Luke, but that is uncertain. We meet Jason in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-9) and Sopater in Acts 20:4. Paul rarely identifies his scribe or anuensis, but it might be that Tertius had family and friends in Rome. Gaius mihgt well have been the man whom Paul baptized in 1 Corinthians 1:14 and though Erastus' name is found in Acts 19:22 and 2 Timothy 4:20, scholars are unsure as to whether or not this is the same man. And we know nothing more of Quartus.

Interestingly enough, most modern versions of the Bible have eliminated Romans 16:24. Go ahead … check it out. It is simply a repetition of verse 20 – "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."