Romans 16:25-27 may not be a song, but these are glorious words spoken about God. They encapsulate our focus as we end our study of this book. While we live out the Gospel, our singular goal is to bring glory to God.
Setting goals and achieving them is a reflection of God's image in humans. Focusing on one thing has proven to produce great success for many entrepreneurs, although their achievements are only temporal. The ultimate goal of the Gospel is to spiritually and positionally restore us in Jesus Christ back to our original spiritual condition and purpose in the eyes of our Creator. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." How is this done?
Paul includes two unusual elements at the end of his letter to the Roman Christians. He gives a final instruction about protecting the health of a good church and closes with a 3-verse doxology. (He normally ends his letters with a prayer of benediction.) Though danger was not present in the Roman church yet, spiritual danger is always imminent. He warned the church in Rome so they would be ready.
As we finish Paul's list of greetings for those who are "in Christ," consider which description you identify with. What is your role in the pursuit of Gospel progress?
In the first century, names were given with significant thought. In the longest list of names found in Paul's epistles, however, it is not the names themselves that are the most important. It is the fact that these people are "in Christ" and "in the Lord," which is repeated 11 times in 23 verses. Some of the people in this list were slaves with no formal names aside from the household they served. Slave or free, when they were saved, these believers were given a greater identity in their Savior.
We can learn a lot from Paul's list of greetings in Romans 16. In this longest list of names in Paul's letters, he repeats the phrases "in Christ" or "in the Lord." All 26 people named had been redeemed and transformed by Jesus Christ.
How do we know the Gospel is real? It evokes more than an emotional response. It changes the whole person. Many know the facts of the Gospel and are emotionally moved, but they still feel empty. They can't break their bad habits, because they are still governed by their old selves. Jesus gave His life to redeem us. The appropriate response is to give all of ourselves to be completely His.
At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul names many individuals who were an encouragement to him in the Lord. Paul had not been to visit the churches in Rome, but he knew many believers who had evidently moved there. The list begins with a woman named Phoebe who likely delivered Paul's letter about AD 57 (Romans 16:1-2). Her inclusion, along with Priscilla and her husband Aquila in the next few verses, reminds us that women are very important to the essential ministry of disciple-making in the church.
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