Romans 16 - Signing off but not checking out!
Some were mature missionaries who risked it all...
Priscilla and Aquilla (v3-4), Andronicus and Junia (v7), Urbanus (v9).
Some were steadfast servants who worked incredibly hard...
Phoebe (v1-2), Mary (v6), Apelles (v10), Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis (v12).
Some were faithful friends who were near and dear...
Epentus (v5), Ampliatus (v8), Stachys (v9), Rufus and his mother (v13) and to a lesser extent - the household of Aristobulus (v10), Herodion and the household of Narcissus (v11), Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas (v14), Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas (v15).
In verses 16-20 Paul reminds the church in Rome once more that they're part of a massive family that God has saved through Jesus. They should be wary of anyone who calls themselves a Christian and tries to divide God's family. Paul says one day Satan will be crushed by God once and for all but until then he recommends three things that will help them stay united as God's people:
1. Continued obedience to Jesus... above anyone else who has different ideas.
2. Wisdom about what is good... so they're always learning to serve and share Jesus more.
3. Innocence about what is evil... so they're not learning new ways to sin and be distracted.
Paul finishes by sending greetings from the people he's serving with right now and then gives all the glory to Jesus. It's all about Jesus, only about Jesus and always about Jesus from start to finish. Jesus is the 'mystery hidden from long ages past' (v25), 'now revealed and made known'... 'so that all Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith' (v26). God is doing it and he's the only one who's truly wise.
Paul wants everyone who's not yet a Christian to trust and follow Jesus, receive forgiveness and friendship with God, life to the full and life forever.
Paul wants Christians everywhere to be missionaries who risk it all, steadfast servants who work incredibly hard and faithful friends who are near and dear.
I think Romans challenges us if we're Christians to have a plan for massive church growth! The church is not a cosy club for Christians to enjoy themselves. The church exists for its non-members and Christians should always be praying, planning, loving and living for more and more and more people to know Jesus. We should ask ourselves questions like: 'How many friends would I like to see become Christians this year?' and 'What plans do we have for our local church to double in number and keep doubling?' Jesus is still alive! Lost people are still lost! The life-saving good news is still life-saving good news! What are we doing about it?