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Romans 13-16 Listen
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Paul makes an appeal for Believers to "be subject unto the higher powers." The word "powers" there is translated from the Greek noun "exousia," meaning "authorities." Notice how carefully worded that sentence is. He did not say, "obey every law." He does seem to indicate, however, that Christians should respect the law and comply whenever possible. Of course Paul was aware of Old Testament examples like Daniel who found it impossible, with a good conscience, to comply with every detail of the new law decreed by Darius in Daniel 6 (see notes). Notice the last part of verse 1, "the powers that be are ordained of God." When tempting Jesus, Satan makes a noteworthy statement in Luke 4:6 (see notes), "And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it." According to the implications of Satan's statement, even Satan's power was given to him by God. It's a bad testimony for Believers to flaunt the law. However, when scriptural principles are clearly violated by the law itself, actions like those of Daniel are completely appropriate.
Incidentally, the consequences for resisting the ordinances of verse 2 is "judgment" (Greek: krima). Sometimes "condemnation" aka "damnation" may be gleaned from the context when "krima" is used, but strictly speaking, "krima" means simply "judgment." When the prefix for "against" (Greek: kata) is added, making the Greek word "katakrima," that is always clearly to be understood as "condemnation." It is not clear in the wording of the text here from whom the judgment comes, God or the ruling authorities. You make the call.
Paul extends his comments on civil obedience by pointing out that this obedience goes for paying taxes as well - seen in verses 6-7. There are three different Greek words used in these verses to fully project the Believer's obligations regarding taxes.
Romans 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute [Greek: phoros] also: for they are Gods ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues [Greek: opheile]: tribute to whom tribute [Greek: phoros] is due; custom [Greek: telos] to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
The Greek words used in this passage are to be distinguished as follows:
It would appear that Paul's goal in these verses is to be as comprehensive in describing the Believer's obligations to the government as possible. In other words, he did not want to provide an excuse for Christians to resist the government short of that government simply making laws that blatantly conflict with our Christian walk.
In that context, we have several examples in scripture as follows:
Finally, Paul wrote to Timothy these words in I Timothy 2:1-3 (see notes), "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;" As Believers, our scriptural mandate is quite clear: Pray for our leaders and understand that God allows them to be where they are. Give them their due. At the same time, follow the lead of Daniel, Peter, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when it comes to laws that infringe upon our relationship with God.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Let's not go extreme here. Verse 8 is not to put a stop to borrowing. It is an admonition to pay your debts in a timely fashion as agreed upon. These verses encourage a positive Christian testimony. Matthew 5:42 (see notes) says, "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." So you can see that the very acts of borrowing and lending were not condemned by Jesus. Paul emphasizes that Christian conduct governed by love for his neighbor is our standard. He makes reference to the summary Jesus gave to the law in Matthew 22:34-40 (see notes). Both Paul and Jesus emphasize that the second half (last five) of the Ten Commandments, which outline man's relationship to man, are embodied in one rule of thumb: Love your neighbor as yourself. In verse 9, Paul names these five and emphasizes that they deal with neighbors' relationships with their neighbors. Click here for a summary of the Ten Commandments. In other words, verse 10 makes the point that brotherly love embodies the last five commandments of the Mosaic Law.
Put down that flesh (Romans 13:11-14)
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Paul concludes this chapter with a pep talk about priorities in light of the urgency of the hour. His terminology references the appearance of Jesus Christ (aka the rapture). As saved people, let's live like saved people. Put away the old ways and follow after righteousness. Verse 14 is accomplished as we are led by the Holy Spirit. When we read our Bibles, pray, fellowship with other Christians and share our faith with others in some aspect of ministry, the Holy Spirit's power is strengthened in our lives, giving us the ability to overcome the tendencies of our flesh. Click here to read the article entitled, "How To Develop Good Spiritual Health." Paul speaks in this verse of not even making provision for the flesh. I'm reminded of Philippians 4:8 (see notes), "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." When you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, your thought life will be godly. When your thought life is godly, your actions will follow. The Holy Spirit-led Believer steers clear of those actions which would compromise his testimony.
1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Paul gets into the discussion of what many today refer to as "legalism." This word is terribly misused in today's society among Christians. Often "legalism" is used to describe the set of values any Christian observes that is more structured than those of the name caller. That's not legalism! A legalist is actually someone who has a set of specific extra-scriptural values that he imposes on others as a universal standard for pleasing God. James 4:17 (see notes) says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." James is talking to Believers in this verse, and he gives the definition of "sin" for the Believer. A legalist is not content with the confines of this verse; he would broaden it to include his own standard list of "sinful" items as an addendum. Such is the case with the illustrations Paul gives in the first 12 verses of Romans 14.
Before we look specifically at the verses themselves, a little context might be helpful here. This discussion continues on into chapter 15 where it transitions into the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Gentiles within the Body of Christ. That would lead us to believe that the issues of "legalism" mentioned in this chapter might have been along those lines - those who were raised as Jews and those who were not (Gentiles).
The anchor for this discussion is verse 1, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." Who is this "weak in the faith" person Paul is referencing here? While the Greek verb for "weak" used here ("astheneo") often speaks of physical ailments, here context tells us that we're looking at spiritual weakness. Moreover, this verb is used as a Greek present active participle indicating a continual practice of exercising weakness in the faith. For further insight into Paul's terminology of being "weak in the faith," let's observe his reference in Romans 4:19 (see notes) where he speaks of Abraham's strong stand on God's promise and identifies Abraham as, "being not weak in faith." Paul uses this term "weak" to describe immature Believers repeatedly in I Corinthians 8 (see notes). Specifically, a weak Believer is one who does not rely on the internal leadership of the Holy Spirit for his decisions, but is more comfortable having his conduct legislated by other people. Not only so, whether they would admit it or not, those who legislate godliness are categorized by Paul in this passage and in I Corinthians 8 as "weak" as well. In this verse 1, Paul says that these Believers should be received into fellowship, but not to "doubtful disputations" (disputes over opinions). Let's face it: a legalist can wear you out with his list of artificial standards. He often has a way of making everyone around him feel inferior if they don't comply. Ironically, these weak-in-the-faith people often display themselves as strong Believers, when in fact the opposite is the case.
The first issue of legalism (verses 1-4) that Paul deals with is that of a vegetarian diet (for which there is no scriptural precedent). The one who observes the vegetarian diet exercises his own personal Christian liberty until he begins to use his practice as a test for spirituality in others; then he has become a "legalist" (aka "weak in the faith"). However, for those who prefer a vegetarian diet for themselves, but do not seek to use it as a test of spirituality in others, they are not guilty of legalism. Here's another common problem. When the meat eater becomes critical of the vegetarian's choice of diet even though the vegetarian doesn't make it a test of spirituality in others, the meat eater is trampling on the vegetarian's Christian liberty. So, you see, we have both extremes in our world. Vegetarianism is a choice. If you try to insist others practice it as a test of spirituality, you are a legalist. If you accuse every vegetarian of legalism even though they don't impose it on others, you are...well...just shallow in your understanding of the Christian life with your own set of unscriptural issues.
Paul then deals in the same context (verse 5) with special days of observance; probably the Sabbath day is in view here. There was likely a minority of Jewish Believers in the church located in Rome who, it appears, still observed the Sabbath day (sundown Friday to nightfall Saturday) as a matter of Christian practice. Naturally (in Rome), you would have had people on both sides of the fence. The Gentile Believers, having never observed such, probably proclaimed, "You don't have to do that anymore!" Many of the Jewish Believer's probably proclaimed, "You can't be a good Christian without observing the Sabbath!" However, since this issue probably contended along Jewish/Gentile lines, perhaps some of the new Greek/Roman converts observed a few of their own special days as well. Paul indicates that it's a matter of Christian liberty. Whether you choose to observe special holidays or not is simply not a test of spirituality.
Paul then minimizes the importance of these kinds of disputes in verse 6. Can't we all just get along? In verse 7 Paul says, "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." In other words, the way I live my life has an impact on others. People are watching me. Christ told us we would be lights to the world in Matthew 5 (see notes). My life is all of Christ many will ever see. That's why it is extremely important that I conduct my life in such a way that others will respect the God I serve.
In verse 8-12 Paul explains that this level of judging among Believers does not glorify God. God will do the judging, a point he makes in verse 10 when he says, "for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Some Bible teachers refer to the "judgment seat of Christ" in this verse as the "bema seat" instead. The actual Greek word for "judgment seat" in this verse is "bema" and is defined as being a raised platform mounted by steps and usually furnished with a seat, used by officials in addressing an assembly, often on judicial matters. "Bema" is only used 12 times in the New Testament; 10 of those occur within this scenario. Only here and II Corinthians 5:10 (see notes) does "bema" actually refer to the judgment by Christ of Believers. In other words, Paul fully intends to describe this judgment of Believers as a future event patterned after a court appearance like we see in I Corinthians 3:10-15 (see notes). It is on this basis that verse 12 is written, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23 (see notes) in verse 11, "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Isaiah is writing about the world-wide compliance that will be expressed toward the Messiah during the millennium.
Don't injure the faith of another! (Romans 14:13-23)
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
"If you don't like the way I live my life - tough!" I've heard that from a number of very immature Christians over the years of my ministry. They abuse the concept of Christian liberty. When you choose to ignore the negative impact of a permissive lifestyle for yourself, aren't you also in violation of James 4:17 (see notes)? Perhaps the key words to that question are "choose to ignore." Please understand what verse 14 is saying, "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean." It is very immature of me to flaunt my "rights" in front of a legalist. The legalist lacks clear scriptural understanding and is referred to in verse 1 as "him that is weak in the faith." However, the mature Believer with perspective on scriptural godliness will practice restraint in his Christian life so as not to be offensive to the legalist. Those Believers who disregard the feelings of the legalists are just as short sighted in their Christian walk as the legalists themselves. Yeah, yeah - I know you have rights. That's why Paul wrote verse 17 where he even included drinking alcoholic beverage, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." When you care enough about your testimony, you'll limit your conduct. Paul writes on this issue in I Corinthians 8 (see notes) and I Corinthians 10 (see notes) where he says in 10:33, "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." When you can say that with Paul, then you have a mature perspective of Christian living.
Finally, Paul sums up the argument in verses 21-23. You see, it's a matter of surrendering your rights for the glory of God. Awhile back, I spent a few days in a forum with some missionaries who went back into the jungles of Africa and South America, leaving everything of value behind, to minister to previously-unreached tribes for Christ. They built huts among the tribal folks, learned their language by listening and living among them; over a period of 20-30 years they were able to reach them for the first time ever with the Gospel. When I see that willingness to sacrifice one's life for Christ, how can I possibly consider it too much for God to ask me to limit my Christian liberty a little bit so as not to cause others to stumble? Verse 21 says it is not acceptable to make weaker brothers stumble. Verses 22-23 elaborate - going so far as to say that when one doubts his impact on the weak brothers, he should restrain his conduct. Not doing so becomes a violation of James 4:17 (see notes). That thought continues into chapter 15.
A final word on the weak brothers (Romans 15:1-7)
1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Paul finishes up the discussion of chapter 14 on the weaker brethren here in chapter 15. You will notice that Paul uses the word "strong" for the first time in this discussion. Having clearly established that people who abide by external lists as mandates are "weak" in chapter 14, here we find that those who understand that real godliness is based upon spirit-led principles are referred to as "strong." In these verses Paul places the burden upon Christians with spiritual understanding (the "strong") to set an example before the weak Believers so they wont stumble. Thats not fair! you might cry out. Heres the deal; they need maturity in the scriptures, but you have no ability to help them with that if you are offensive to them. Then the example of Christ in verse 3: He gave his life for the spiritually needy; how much are you willing to give? Paul quotes from Psalm 69:9 (see notes) here when he adds, "...as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." As Paul uses this Messianic Psalm of David to reference Christ, he then fortifies this example of Christ's submission in verse 4 by saying, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." In other words, could one's consideration in his lifestyle for the weaker brethren be greater than the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross? This Old Testament reference serves "for our learning." We are therefore (verses 6-7) to modify our lifestyle accordingly and not struggle with the weaker brethren.
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
What's all this sudden talk of Gentiles here? It would appear that perhaps the contention of Romans 14 and 15 was along Jewish/Gentile lines. Now Paul seeks to legitimize the presence of Gentiles among Jewish Believers.
In verses 9-12, Paul uses the Old Testament to demonstrate that it was always intended that the Gospel should spread to the Gentiles.
So, Paul invokes the writings of Moses, David and Isaiah to make his point; the Gentiles are a legitimate target of the Gospel. So, you might ask, How do these verses relate to the "weaker brother" discussion of the preceding verses. It's simple: The born-again Jews had a tough time turning loose of their legalistic lifestyles, while newly-saved Gentiles had no such baggage as they came into their new life with Christ. The admonition here is for both categories of Christians to coexist together without agitating one another.
There's a word that needs differentiation in verse 13 - "hope." The Greek word for "hope" is "elpis." Unlike our English word which expresses some doubt, the Greek word literally means "confident expectation." The connotation of the word expresses no doubt whatsoever. Our God is a God of "confident expectation." As such, Believers should abound in "confident expectation" by the indwelling influence of the Holy Spirit.
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.
18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:
21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
Finally Paul explains that his ministry is to the unreached Gentiles. In verse 20 he says, Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another mans foundation: In other words, he set his sites on taking the Gospel to new people, and thats why we have the Gospel today - because Paul went to the Gentiles. Paul justifies this taking of the Gospel to the Gentiles at the expense of time with the Jews when he quotes Isaiah 52:15 (see notes) in verse 21. He indicates that this ministry to the Gentiles has delayed his appearance to them in Rome in verse 22.
Paul plans his itinerary (Romans 15:23-33)
23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.
25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.
29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
In this passage Paul talks about going to Rome and Spain, but to Jerusalem first. Well, if Paul made it to Spain, we don't know about it. However, we do know that he made it to Jerusalem; that trip didn't turn out so well (Acts 21, see notes); Paul is arrested. Then, of course, from Acts 21 to 28 we know that he made it to Rome - with Roman-soldier assistance.
Incidentally, we see that Paul was apparently carrying some funds for the Jerusalem church provided by the Believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Notice what he says in that regard in verse 27, "It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things."
Say howdy to some folks for me (Romans 16:1-16)
1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household.
11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
Paul sends greetings to some Romans he knows.
The following identifications are provided by Easton's Bible Dictionary:
Finally, Ryrie has this note regarding verse 16, "The 'holy kiss' (Pauls term, Rom. 16:16) was an expression of Christian love and was apparently restricted to ones own sex."
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
Verses 17-18 make it clear that the New Testament local church thrives on unity, not division. Paul's doctrine was one of love; division is contrary to love. Avoid people who cause division. Too many times local churches think it improper to eliminate those who are divisive, but here we see that Paul insists that it should be done. While all division is injurious to the local assembly, Paul speaks specifically of doctrinal division here. In II John (see notes) we see his treatment of those who promote doctrinal error. Read the notes on that passage for a differentiation of what kind of doctrinal errors should be adamantly rejected.
Verse 20 can be understood in two different ways when Paul says, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." The Greek verb for "bruise" here is "suntribo" which implies "crushing" or "breaking." So, is Paul referring to the breaking of the hold the false teachers of verses 17-18 have - that the hold shall be broken as represented metaphorically as the bruising of Satan? Perhaps so, but he may also be referring to the revelation of Jesus Christ at the rapture and subsequent second coming. It is impossible to know for certain which of the two possibilities is intended to be understood here.
In verse 21, we know who Timothy is (Paul's ministry companion); Lucius, Jason and Sosipater are identified as "kinsman" (aka relatives). Tertius is Paul's stenographer for this letter to the Romans. Paul's host in Corinth, Gaius, is mentioned in verse 23 along with Erastus and Quartus, about whom not much is known.
The time has come to say goodbye (Romans 16:24-27)
24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
These last 4 verses fully describe the ministry of Paul. He gave us the Gospel that had been hidden in ages past, but was now manifested through the work God had appointed to him. Paul's writings tie together the mysteries of the ages with regard to the Messiah.
What exactly is that "revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" about which Paul is speaking? Paul writes in I Timothy 3:16 (see notes), "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." Well...it's not a mystery anymore; through Paul (verse 26), it has been "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."