Romans 16:18-22

In Romans 16:18-22 Paul continues talking about those who would divide God’s people (cause divisions) and those who would deceive God’s people (offenses… contrary to the doctrine you have learned). He has two different targets that cause issues in the church that he wants to address. Unity is essential to God’s purpose for the church. Truth without unity leads to pride; unity without truth leads to a departure from the true gospel itself. “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Paul’s warning is necessary because these dividers and deceivers do not announce themselves. They use smooth words and flattering speech and always target the simple – usually those who are young in the faith.

Dividers and deceivers never want to appear selfish. Typically they perceive themselves as noble crusaders for a great cause. The church in Rome has been dealing with them, and Paul calls out their efforts and applauds them for doing the right things. “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” So Paul is grateful that they are already dealing with these situations well. Paul is glad about it. Yet  he reminds them that they must remain diligent against the attacks of the dividers and the deceivers.

Paul then delivers the ultimate good news for the church at Rome, and any church that walks in God’s truth. The day is coming when ultimate victory will be experienced. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” God does the crushing, but Satan ends up under the feet of believers. This will not ultimately happen until Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit; but every victory God wins for us right now is a preview of that event. And most importantly, we know how the story truly ends and Satan will be defeated once for all and Christ will reign victorious over all the earth!

As Paul wraps up this letter to the church in Rome, he mentions those who have helped him get it done. First comes Timothy, one of Paul’s closest and most trusted associates. Three others are listed as joining Paul in sending greetings to the Roman Christians. “Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.” Tertius is mentioned as Paul’s writer while the apostle dictated the letter. This was Paul’s normal practice in writing letters to churches, but this is the only letter where Paul’s secretary is mentioned by name. “I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.” Tertius was Paul’s writer as the apostle dictated the letter. This was Paul’s normal practice in writing letters to churches, but this is the only letter where Paul’s secretary is mentioned by name.

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