The People of God, in the Unity of Christ-Feb. 15, 2012

Romans 15:14-16:27 completes our study in the book of Romans.  In verses 14-22 of chapter 15 Paul acknowledges that he spoke boldly to them on some points and reaffirms his calling in Christ to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles that they might offer themselves as an offering to God (Romans 12:1-2) and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  Paul doesn’t want to speak of what God has accomplished through him, because the glory is God’s alone.  Paul says that it has always been his desire to preach where Christ was not known.  This is truly the heart of missionary zeal that moves the gospel of Christ forward in every generation.

Romans 15:23-33 Paul speaks of his desire to see them and stay for a while and continue on to Spain (an unreached area).  Before making the trip to Spain Paul is returning to Jerusalem with the offerings collected from the Gentile churches that he has been a part of.  Paul asks for prayer for his safety and that the offering be acceptable to the saints there.  It would be too easy to read over this quickly.  Paul is bringing the offering to the temple in Jerusalem for acceptance.  The question may be why would they not accept it?  In accepting it they church leadership is acknowledging the Gentiles as equals in the life of the church.  Although as previously stated they offer up themselves to God, it doesn’t mean that the people of God will accept them.  This truly is the entirety of Paul’s life ministry and the fullness of this letter is the unity of God’s people not out of privilege, position, or heritage, but the people of God are joined under the blood of Christ and must move forward together in Christ as the people of God.

Romans 16 Paul makes a list of several people he knows and wishes to be received favorably.  Paul wraps up his letter by conferring blessings on those who have been faithful in service and recommends that as they return to Rome.  Paul begins with Phoebe, a deaconess, and asks that she be received as such.  Perhaps the thing to look at here is what each of these did as examples rather than studying every name directly.  He speaks of these as ones who have worked hard for the faith, people he refers to as family or like family, and he could mean Jewish converts here. This is really about those who are severing faithfully in the Lord and as they return Paul recommends that they be allowed to continue their service alongside those who are already at work for Christ in that place.

The idea is although we may not know every person God is using or has called, we can recognize the work of Christ in their lives and pray for and support them as the follow and serve Christ the church is to be building one another up.  That is how as Paul said earlier in Romans we attain full maturity in Christ.  It is not in our knowledge of him, but in our seeking unity among brethren.  It is most often the bickering of believers that robs their message of power.  When the actions of believers betray the message they portray, the world will grow deaf to the message or distracted by their actions.

Paul urges the brethren to watch out for those causing division or putting obstacles in the way, because they are serving themselves and not Christ.  Paul gives advice like a proverb, be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  He acknowledges that the God of peace will crush Satan.  He also sends greeting from others who are currently serving and will remain in other places.  Paul ends his letter with a benediction prayer.  In that it is God who is able to establish them as a people and a church by the gospel revealed among them.  It was hidden in ages past but is revealed so that all nations might believe and obey, and that God would receive glory through Christ Jesus

Seek unity as it honors God, bonds us together as his people, moves forward his gospel, and brings glory to God through our faithfulness.  God Bless.

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