Paul usually closed his letters with greetings and commendations (recommendations), which were well known in the ancient world. He wanted Roman believers to welcome and help Phoebe, a deaconess of the Cenchreae church. She had faithfully helped Paul and many others in the gospel work (vs. 1-2). She may well have been Paul’s letter carrier to the Roman church.
Paul’s Greetings (vs. 3-16, 21-23)
Beyond a challenging tongue twister, or finding a unique baby name, this section also reflects Paul’s lengthy list of close relationships within a broad church base. From Andronicus to Philologus, Paul listed a whopping twenty-six people in his greetings to the Roman church. These were people with various backgrounds—men, women, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans—whom Paul had met in his travels. Paul knew much about these people: their family relationships and ministries.
Paul also sent greetings from his companions, including Timothy, who traveled with Paul on his second missionary trip. Timothy held a special place in Paul’s ministry.
Paul’s Warning (vs. 17-19)
“I urge you, brothers, 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.”
- Although Paul was singular in his commitment to God’s call, he also sought ministry partnership and fellowship with the believers that God placed in his path. Likewise, we should extend our fellowship and hospitality to believers outside our circle of church small groups and denominations.
- By studying God’s Word we can keep from being duped by smooth talkers and/or literature that strays from God’s truth (Acts 17:10-12).