Shepherd God, where would I be without your presence and promises? I praise you and look for a word from you today.
Read ROMANS 16:17-27
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, 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. 18 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. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
21 Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.
Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.  [a]
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from[b] faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you’ (v 20). Receive his grace into your life now.
There is a change of tone following the warmth of Paul’s greetings to friends. Phoebe is waiting to take the letter, Tertius is thinking about packing up his writing tools (v 22), Gaius and his family perhaps wait to share one more meal (v 23). What is it that Paul really wants to emphasize to the young Roman church as he signs off his letter to them?
Yes – he seems to have acknowledged that there will be disputes that are not important in the scope of gospel truth,1 but here (vs 17–20) Paul seems to be warning them about a different level of division and evil. Rather than the ‘holy kiss’ (v 16), Paul unequivocally tells them to ‘keep away from’ evil behavior (see v 17). He is intentionally mysterious about knowing exactly what is evil; it’s enough to say that if you suspect that which is not good, then ‘flee’.2 Paul’s words echo Jesus’ teaching about wisdom and innocence (v 19).3 How then can we know how to make decisions about right and wrong? John Stott draws out three tests which are helpful here. Is it biblical (v 17)? Does it serve and glorify Jesus (v 18)? Does it promote what is good (v 19)?4 We may not always get things right, but in the end God’s victory is sure. Paul’s reference to God’s eternal story (v 26), draws him back to his main theme in Romans.
‘My dear friends’, we can hear him saying. All that I have written to you is about Jesus, whose story is writ large through all time, all history, all Scriptures (vs 25,26). The good news is that through Jesus, God has made it possible – and it always was the plan – that we all, including Gentiles, are able through faith to become one in Christ Jesus.
‘… to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ!’ (v 27). Praise God for the unspeakable truths in this letter.
Lord God, I want to be salt and light in my world. Help me to act so as to reflect your good purposes for the world around me.
1 Rom 14:1 2 1 Tim 6:11 3 Matt 10:16 4 John Stott, The Message of Romans, IVP, 1994, p400
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