Romans, Lesson 30: Greetings and Conclusion

 

RomansAfter asking the congregation in Rome to welcome Phoebe, a deaconess, and likely the courier for his letter, Paul now mentions many names in the congregation at Rome.

 

Read Romans 16:3-15

 

 

Jewish Male (5) Jewish Female (2) Gentile Male (13) Gentile Female (7)
Acquila Prisca (Priscilla)
Epaenetus (Greek)
Mary (common Jewish name)
Adronicus and Junia (Latin form of Jewish name, Yehunni; relatives of Paul)
Ampliatus (Latin, common name in imperial households)
Urbanus (Latin)
Stachys(Latin)
Apelles (common Jewish name)
Aritsobalus (“household of,” denoting he is either dead or not a Christian)
Herodian (relative of Paul)
Narcissus (Latin; “household of,” denoting he is either dead or not a Christian)
Tryphena and Tryphosa (Latin, names belonging to imperial households)
Persis (means “Persian woman”)
Rufus Rufus’ mother
Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobus, and Hermas (all Greek names)
Philologus (Greek) Julia (common slave name, probably wife of Philologus)
Nereus (servant of Roman, Flavia Domitila?) Nereus’ sister
Olympas (Greek)

 

  • What do we learn about the congregation at Rome based on the names mentioned?

 

Greet”: Greek, aspazomai, to greet, welcome, which can also denote honoring someone.  Throughout Romans 16, Paul uses the imperative form, commanding those in the congregation to do this.

  • Discuss: From a practical standpoint, why would Paul command the congregation to “greet” one another in this way instead of passing on his personal greetings?

 

  • What does Paul’s use of the imperative reveal theologically?

 

Read Romans 16:6

“holy”: hagios, someone or something set apart for or by God.

  • 1 Corinthians 16:20: Greet [imperative verb] one another with a holy kiss.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:12: Greet [imperative verb] one another with a holy kiss.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:26: Greet [imperative verb] all the brothers with a holy kiss.
  • 1 Peter 5:14: Greet [imperative verb] one another with a kiss of love [agape].

 

  • What does Paul’s use of the imperative, greet, and the attached how, “the holy kiss,” reveal about this practice in the Church?

 

From Justin Martyr’s First Apology, paragraph 65 (150 AD):

After finishing the prayers, we greet one another with a kiss.  Then bread and a cup of wine mixed with water is brought to the Presider of the congregation.  He takes them and gives praise and glory to the Father of all, through the name of the Son in the Holy Spirit, and offers thanks [Eucharist] at considerable length for being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.

When the prayers and thanksgivings are completed, all the people present express their assent by saying “Amen” from the Hebrew, which means “so be it.”

When the Presider has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those whom we call deacons distribute to everyone present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the words of thanks have been spoken.  They also take a portion to those who are absent.

 

Do not Greet but Avoid

Whether a Jewish or Gentile Christian, male or female, does not keep one from fellowship with another.  All are to “greet one another with a holy kiss.”  But Paul brings up those who are not to be included.

  • Review the Jewish and the Gentile problems and errors in the congregation at Rome.

 

Read Romans 16:17

I appeal to you, brothers,

  • parakaleo: to pull one aside, present active, an ongoing action

 

to watch out for

  • skopeo: to keep one’s eyes on, infinitive

 

those who cause divisions and create obstacles

  • dichostasia, dissensions (plural) and skandalon, causers of stumbling (plural nouns)

 

contrary to

  • para, alongside (genitive), not “contrary to” but something which claims to have as much credence

 

the doctrine

  • tan didache, the teaching, note the definite article, “the.” Paul considers Christian doctrine as a single teaching with may subparts, none of which may be amended.

 

that you have been taught;

  • manthanao, a verb form of “disciple”

 

avoid them.

  • ekklinao, turn away.

 

  • In the context of Romans, who are those who cause dissensions and cause Christians to stumble in the faith?

 

  • What are we to make of Paul’s use of the plural, “dissensions” and “causers of stumbling”?

 

Read Romans 16:18

  • Whom do these causers of dissensions and stumbling serve?

 

  • How do they deceive?

 

  • If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17), and these stumbling-causers use words to deceive, how can someone separate legitimate words from false words?

 

Read Romans 16:19

good: hagathos, you can see the root for “holy” in this word, which means that which is compete, beneficial, and upright.

naïve: akeraois, unmixed.

  • Discuss what Paul is getting at?

 

Read Romans 16:20

  • What will God do and when?

 

Other greetings from those with Paul

Read Romans 16:21-23

 

Conclusion

Read Romans 16:25

  • Who is the “him” in verse 25?

 

  • What does the “him” do with the preached Word?

 

  • Who are what is the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages?

 

“obedience of faith”: Paul used this exact phrase in Romans 1:5, meaning “obedience that consists of faith.”  So, he comes full circle in his conclusion.  See excursus in Lesson 2.

  • How does Paul affirm the Trinitarian nature of God?

 

Excursus: The Obedience of Faith (reprint from Lesson 2)

Based only on the Greek grammar, Paul could be saying:

  • The obedience to faith that someone has.
    • Believing in Christ is submission to Him.
  • The obedience that faith works in someone.
    • Faith brings about the obedience that God demands.
  • The obedience that consists of faith.
    • God calls us to trust in Him and obey, that is, follow Him.

The immediate context of the Christians in Rome lets us know the point Paul was making.  Faith is trust in God, which results in following Him.

  1. Dealing with the Jewish mind: The obedience to faith that someone has. Paul does NOT mean this, that believing in Christ is submission to Him.  That was the Jewish-Christian mindset.  Obeying comes first, which then establishes one’s standing before God.
    1. The Gospel then is only an offer, dependent on what you first do. In Paul’s day, the Jewish Christian thought was through following Old-Covenant rituals.
    2. Instead, faith is trust, which results in following Christ; following Him does not result in faith.
  1. Dealing with the Gentile mind: The obedience that faith works in someone. It’s true: faith does bring about obedience to Christ—but we still have a sinful nature, which gets in the way.  The Gentiles did not recognize the full force of our sinful nature.  Paul does NOT mean this, for he is also dealing with the Gentile error: The Gospel gives the Christian freedom to
    1. Instead, faith is trust in God, which results in following Him, not in not following Him.
  1. The Christian mind: The obedience that consists of God calls us to trust in Him and obey, that is, follow Him.  This refutes both the Jewish-Christian error that obedience is required first; it also refutes the Gentile-Christian error that God’s grace frees us from obeying, since that (as they thought) would nullify grace.

How do we know that Paul meant the obedience that consists of faith?  Here’s why.  Earlier in verse 5, Paul had just mentioned “grace,” which is something no can deserve by what he does.  That countered the Jewish-Christian mindset.  Paul also mentioned “obedience,” countering Gentile mind that being required to obey God nullified His grace.

But there’s more: part of Paul’s use of “obedience that consists of faith” was to focus on the Jewish Christian’s fixation on following Old-Covenant rituals.  Through irony, by using “obedience,” Paul was saying this: Jewish Christians, if you are going to fixate on obedience, fixate on obeying the Gospel, not on obeying the Old-Covenant Law!

 

 

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