Paul closes his letter to the Roman church by greeting those he knew there (vv. 1-16), warning of false teachers (vv. 17-20), and relaying greetings from brethren in the church at Corinth where he wrote from (vv. 21-23).
Paul said that a Christian woman, Phoebe (v. 1), is “a servant of the church in Cenchrea.” As the Greek word here for “servant” is the same used for “deacon” (cf. 1 Tim 3:8), some suggest Phoebe was a female deacon. However, as she carried this letter to the Roman church she was a servant of the Lord, assisting and helping. The same word is used of the government (13:4), preachers of the gospel (Eph 6:21), even Jesus (Rom 15:8)! Similarly, though Andronicus and Junia are called “apostles” (v. 7), the word in this context has the sense of “messenger” or “missionary” (cf. Acts 14:14).
In verse 25 “mystery” means truth previously concealed but now presently revealed, which Paul’s closing statement in verses 25-26 makes clear.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Serving the Lord does not require holding an office or formal position. In fact, the office or position comes to those who have demonstrated that they are servants. One of the worst things a church can do is put someone in leadership with the hope that it will encourage them to get serious about the Lord!
- Though the world does not remember the Christians’ names in verses 3-15, the Lord does. The world glories in appearance, ability, money, and knowledge, but the Lord does not (Jer 9:23). Rather, the Lord delights in one who loves him and lives for him (Jer 9:24) as these listed in Romans 16:3-15 did.
- The church is responsible for guarding the church and the gospel against false teachers (vv. 17-19). Jesus’ commands regarding such are to examine (“be wise in what is good, simple concerning evil,” v. 19b), identify (“note,” v. 17), be separate from (“avoid them,” v. 17), and stand in hope (v. 20).