Through the letter to the Romans – Part 21. The final conclusion

Finally, the final conclusion. A good Conclusion should remind the reader of the most important points discussed. This is what Paul does now.

Paul begins by reminding them: Everything I have told you, I have told you according to Scripture. You know it. And you know it has been given to us to strengthen us and to give us hope. Why? So that we can fulfill our mission: to glorify God:

Romans 15:4-6 For as many things as have been written before have been written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of endurance and of encouragement give to you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one accord, with one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul will always point us towards Jesus. How did Jesus glorify the Father? By carrying out the work assigned to Him. In the gospel of John, at critical turning points, when Jesus makes the decision to do the Father’s will regardless of the cost, that word “glorify” is used. It specially points toward the cross.

In John, chapter 12, when some Greeks come to Philip asking him to introduce them to Jesus, Jesus knows that this is a sign that the time for the completion of His mission has come. And, as Paul has pointed out over and over in Romans, that mission was to fulfill the Father’s Promise of Salvation, a Promise that encompassed the whole world. The fact that those Greeks were seeking Jesus was the proof that the Gentiles, the nations, were now clearly hearing the voice of the Father: Because all who hear Him and learn from Him, come to Jesus.

John 12:20-28 And there were certain Greeks among those who came up that they might worship in the feast; these therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and they asked him saying, Sir, we desire to see Jesus.

     Philip comes and tells Andrew, [and again] Andrew comes and Philip, and they tell Jesus. But Jesus answered them saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If any one serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall be *my* servant. [And] if any one serve me, him shall the Father honour.

     Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But on account of this have I come to this hour. Father, glorify thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, I both have glorified and will glorify [it] again.

Similarly, when Judas decides to betray Jesus and leaves the Last Supper…

John 13:31-32 When therefore he was gone out Jesus says, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also shall glorify him in himself, and shall glorify him immediately.

Glorifying God with our lives always comes at a cost. (See John 21:19) Why? Because as Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount, if we choose to follow Him and do the work of His children, this world will be against us. We saw this reality echoed in Jesus’ words above: “Now my soul is troubled”. But He didn’t give up. Why? Because He always leaned on the Father for strength.

In the same way, we need strength to carry out this mission. And that strength, for us, has been ordained to come to us through the Body of Christ. The Church is how Jesus chose to continue His work. The Church is why He said,

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all know that ye are disciples of mine, if ye have love amongst yourselves.

The work of the Church takes the whole Church

Therefore, let’s read again how Paul starts his conclusion:

Romans 15:4-6 For as many things as have been written before have been written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of endurance and of encouragement give to you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one accord, with one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

photo of a little girl helping another little girl read

We can only carry out this mission together: all of us, working together, like-minded, not in strife. Which means that any tension that may have arisen from our differences in background, Jew vs. Gentile, cannot be allowed to draw us apart. Remember, none of this caught God by surprise. He had this in mind all along …

Romans 15:7-12 Wherefore receive ye one another, according as the Christ also has received you to [the] glory of God. For I say that Jesus Christ became a minister of [the] circumcision for [the] truth of God, to confirm the promises of the fathers; and that the nations should glorify God for mercy; according as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among [the] nations, and will sing to thy name. And again he says, Rejoice, nations, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all [ye] nations, and let all the peoples laud him. And again, Esaias says, There shall be the root of Jesse, and one that arises, to rule over [the] nations: in him shall [the] nations hope.

And we can succeed together because this life of Faith is empowered by the Holy Spirit. He gives us joy, He gives us peace, He gives us hope:

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that ye should abound in hope by [the] power of [the] Holy Spirit.

Are we doing our job?

This is the big picture, the grand plan of the work of the Church. So, now Paul brings back the focus to the Church in Rome. He tells them: ‘Like I told you at the beginning, I know of your Faith. And I know that we can strengthen each other by each other’s faith. Therefore, strengthen yourselves each other in the Faith (rather than arguing with each other).’

Romans 15:14 But I am persuaded, my brethren, I myself also, concerning you, that yourselves also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

And he goes on: ‘Yes, I know I was not the founder of your Church but I know whose I am, I know whom it is I serve. And I serve Him for your sake:’

Romans 15:15-16 But I have written to you the more boldly, [brethren,] in part, as putting you in mind, because of the grace given to me by God, for me to be minister of Christ Jesus to the nations, carrying on as a sacrificial service the [message of] glad tidings of God, in order that the offering up of the nations might be acceptable, sanctified by [the] Holy Spirit.

‘So, remember, if you want to boast on anything boast on God’s work. That is why you have been given your measure of faith. Use it… Like I have:’

Romans 15:17-21 I have therefore [whereof to] boast in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak anything of the things which Christ has not wrought by me, for [the] obedience of [the] nations, by word and deed, in [the] power of signs and wonders, in [the] power of [the] Spirit of God; so that I, from Jerusalem, and in a circuit round to Illyricum, have fully preached the glad tidings of the Christ; and so aiming to announce the glad tidings, not where Christ has been named, that I might not build upon another’s foundation; but according as it is written, To whom there was nothing told concerning him, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand.

Why is Paul talking about himself, and his work? Because as he has said elsewhere, he has always striven to be a worthy example of how Jesus has called us to live. It is like he is saying. ‘Look, at all I have done. If I can do this, so can you!’ But more than that, to me it is like he is saying: ‘If you dedicate yourselves to do the work of the Kingdom, you won’t have time to waste in petty in-fighting, or time to argue about debatable things.’

(Sometimes I think there is an echo of this idea in Jesus’ conclusion in the passage about seeking first the Kingdom of God. He ends by telling us ‘just worry about today, depend on God for today; for tomorrow has enough evil of its own’. In other words, I won’t have time to fret about what could go wrong tomorrow if I am busy doing what He has called me to do today.)

Paul was always busy. It was because he was doing the work God called him to do that it took him so long to get to see them… And then he says ‘but now I can’.

map of the travels of Paul
Public domain Map of the travels of Paul by Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot), 1805-1877

Romans 15:22-28 Wherefore also I have been often hindered from coming to you. But now, having no longer place in these regions, and having great desire to come to you these many years, whenever I should go to Spain; (for I hope to see you as I go through, and by you to be set forward thither, if first I shall have been in part filled with your company;) but now I go to Jerusalem, ministering to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been well pleased to make a certain contribution for the poor of the saints who [are] in Jerusalem.

     They have been well pleased indeed, and they are their debtors; for if the nations have participated in their spiritual things, they ought also in fleshly to minister to them. Having finished this therefore, and having sealed to them this fruit, I will set off by you into Spain.

Notice how Paul doesn’t miss a chance to hammer this point home: That Gentiles and Jews working together are the plan. AND that they are working, even sacrificially to help each other, as the Roman Church ought to be doing. (A fact he implies in passing when he tells them that they will send him on to Spain.)

And there is more work the Church is called to do: Pray:

Romans 15:29-33 But I know that, coming to you, I shall come in [the] fulness of [the] blessing of Christ.  But I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in prayers for me to God; that I may be saved from those that do not believe in Judaea; and that my ministry which [I have] for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; in order that I may come to you in joy by God’s will, and that I may be refreshed with you. And the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

If you know the story from Acts, you know Paul’s words about needing to be saved from those in Judea that do not believe were prophetic. They nearly killed him at the Temple riot.

The rest of the letter contains the personal farewells. I will let you read those on your own. I recommend that as you do, you follow through and research the names you recognize.

The final conclusion

And so, my final comment is Pauls’ final comment. The final conclusion of the conclusion. If this is what he ends with, this must have been the key points he wanted to make, the reasons he had to write this letter:

(1) Romans 15:17-20 But I beseech you, brethren, to consider those who create divisions and occasions of falling, contrary to the doctrine which *ye* have learnt, and turn away from them. For such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For your obedience has reached to all. I rejoice therefore as it regards you; but I wish you to be wise [as] to that which is good, and simple [as] to evil. But the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you.

And

(2) Romans 15:25-27 Now to him that is able to establish you, according to my glad tidings and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to [the] revelation of [the] mystery, as to which silence has been kept in [the] times of the ages, but [which] has now been made manifest, and by prophetic scriptures, according to commandment of the eternal God, made known for obedience of faith to all the nations— [the] only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Remember always: We have been saved for the obedience of Faith, to carry out the work of Jesus, and snatch as many as we can – from the whole world – away from the death-traps of the devil. Division is his hallmark, don’t let him sabotage your mission. This you can do because of the power of the Gospel, the power of this Salvation, which God planned before the beginning of time and proclaimed all along in prophecy. But was only finally understood by the revelation of the Gospel. This is His plan.

God cannot be defeated, neither can we because we do this through Christ.

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