Romans 15–16: Paul’s Closing Comments to the Romans


Key Verses:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Romans 15:5–6
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
— Romans 15:7
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
— Romans 15:14
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
— Romans 16:1–2

Daily Message:

Paul closes his letter to the Romans emphasizing once again the importance of unity and harmony among followers of Christ so that God may be glorified. He also conveys confidence that the Romans are well equipped to carry out that mission.

The numerous individuals mentioned in the farewells of chapter 16 are often glossed over or overlooked, but I find them fascinating. We can learn a lot about the early church from greetings and farewells if we read them carefully and thoughtfully consider them in context for what they say about relationships and inclusion.

Paul had not yet visited Rome at the time of this letter, and he knew many of the individuals mentioned in chapter 16 because they were with him on his prior journeys. He obviously knew those whom he identifies as relatives or dear friends; however, he speaks of many others with warmth and love, and even with some details relating to their roles in the early church in Rome. These must have been people he either met elsewhere on his journeys or had knowledge of through mutual acquaintances.

But what strikes me the most is the mention of a large number of women in chapter 16, some of whom (like Phoebe) are mentioned as servants of the church. I count no fewer than eight women mentioned in chapter 16. I find this remarkable, especially because many centuries later, churches have seriously questioned or restricted the roles of women as clergy, and in some cases even as lay leaders. Paul’s message is relevant today.

A Moment to Reflect:

Make a list of the 10 people who have influenced you the most on your spiritual journey, either as a role model or as someone who has taught, guided or encouraged you in a significant way. They can be members of the clergy, lay leaders, relatives, friends or even strangers. I have done this, and more than half of them are women. I suspect that is true for you as well. I think this is one of those nonessential matters that Paul refers to in Romans 14.