Here’s the outline for my sermon Romans 16:1-23 preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. You can listen to it here.
Romans 16:1-23 “Life with Others”
INTRO: Is living as a Christian more similar to being a soloist or playing in a band w/others?
-There is individual aspect: saved individually for a personal relationship with God.
-But also vital element of ministry and life together with other Christians. Not isolated, but deeply connected.
-Christians are called to live out their faith while in deep and real community with other Christians.
M.S.: The gospel that makes us right with God also brings us into community with other Christians.
The Christian faith is meant to be lived with other Christians!
CONTEXT: End of the Letter
Theme of Romans: Gospel.
-Gospel has been stated, unpacked, clarified, and shown how it changes our lives.
-Now, Paul is wrapping up the letter with some closing words.
Last Week: We were given a glimpse into Paul’s ministry. Our priorities were challenged as we saw his!
Priorities: Helping other Christians grow in maturity; sharing our faith; serving those in need; prayer
TODAY: We given a window into the relational nature of authentic, biblical Christianity.
-Our passage is a “Greetings” section, where greetings are sent and passed along.
-There are 40 different individuals and groups mentioned!
-We are led forward more by example than explicit instructions (though there are some)
-This model shows us mature Christianity in practice
The gospel that makes us right with God also brings us into community with other Christians.
1. Commendation of PHOEBE (1-2)
Our passage begins with a “commendation” of Phoebe. (I commend to you our sister Phoebe)
-Paul wanted Roman Christians to receive her and welcome her in (in a way worthy of the saints).
-He also wanted them to “help her in whatever she may need from you.”
-Christians (and local church) are meant to be active in serving each other in loving ways
-Phoebe was a help to Paul and many other Christians (has been a patron of many and of myself as well.)
-Scholars believe she likely was the one who carried the Romans letter.INSIGHT: Much Christian ministry is carried out by women.
-Original context: Christianity had a counter-culture view of women: respected and honored them.
-Gospel accounts: the first eye-witnesses are women!
-Today: Christianity has a high view of women.
-Women are not to objectified as mere objects of lust; men cannot become women; we look after women.
-Women have a valuable and important role in gospel ministry. (Amy Carmichael, Ten Boom, Elizabeth Eliot)
Objection: But isn’t it a denigration to not allow women to be pastors?
Answer: No. Paul had a high view of women and limited the office of elder to qualified men. (1 Tim 2:12)2. Greetings to Other Christians in Rome (3-16a) 30 separate people—individuals and groups—are mentioned.
-Men, women, some mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, others not.
*Some important highlights:
-Prisca & Aquila: husband and wife duo mentioned in Acts. Here they are in Rome.
-They have a wide-spread ministry (all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks)
-They had a church in their home (v 5)
-Good reminder of the ministry that married couples can have in other people’s lives.
-FAMILY LANGUAGE: “sister, brother, mother, brothers”
-As Christians we are brought into the family of God (John 1:12-13)
-Part of growing as a Christians is seeing other Christians as God seeing them: children of God.
–Sweetness of familial love: v 13: Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well
-You can be a brother, sister, father, mother to other Christians!*The gospel that makes us right with God also brings us into community with other Christians (spiritual family)!
-WORKER LANGUAGE: “fellow worker, workers, worked hard”
-As Christians we have gospel work to do! Sharing our faith, praying, serving, hospitality.
-We are saved to carry on this work with other Christian in community
-Challenges our ‘consumeristic’ approach to church and community
-We are called to love each other genuinely, and from the heart. (John 13:35)
-Part of growing as Christians is growing in love of other Christians.
*GOSPEL CONNECTION: We all long for deep and real relationships with others where we are known and loved.
-We search for in other places (work, hobbies, friends).
-Our sin (and sin of others) makes this deep connection challenging or impossible.
-Jesus makes us right with God and brings us into a real community with others, where we are loved and can love
-Edwards: “Heaven is a world of love!”
-Gospel applied now helps us to lay aside selfishness and self-focus, to loving serve others.
-Struggles w/social anxiety or insecurity? Redirect your thoughts with this question, ‘How I can love my brother or sister?’
-Jesus died for our sins and calls us to genuine love of others.
-CALL TO GREET EACH OTHER: 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
-In Paul’s day this was the equivalent of our hug, side-hug, our hand-shake.
-Church was to be characterized by love and affection shown visibly!
-Let’s press on in doing for each other.
APPLICATION: Let us pursue relationships with each other in the church.
-How might you grow in this area? (Come to CG regularly, disciple another, see each other outside Sunday)
*The gospel that makes us right with God also brings us into community with other Christians!
3. A Pause in the Greetings for Final Warning and Word of Hope (17-20)
Paul breaks his section on greetings to give some final warnings, but also a word of hope.
-Warning stated (READ 17):There are those who “cause divisions” and “create obstacles contrary” to gospel doctrine.
–Examples: Single-issue Christians; Hyper-Calvinists; Hyper-Charismatics; Political exalters; Cultural warriors-Avoid them (17b): avoid them.
(Turn off their teaching; don’t go to their small group Bible study)-Understand their true nature (18): 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,
-Their ministry is not sincere, but only for their own glory and gain.-Understand their tactics (18b): and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
-They are subtle and deceptive (Not openly stating their position, but slowly introducing)
-Situation from Vegas (‘be the church instead of going to church’)-Be Wise and Innocent (READ 19)
-Wise to what is good: knowing what is good, avoiding what is evil.
-Innocent as to what is evil: turning from it.
-Jesus’ words: Matt 10:16
-A Word of hope (20): The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
-Reference to Gen 3:15
-Hope for the Christian in face of tribulations, false teachings, challenges.
-This will happen with Christ returns.-Paul’s prayer (20b) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
-We need His grace today to follow him and He is generous to give it!
*CHILDREN: Did you know there are false teachers out there? What’s a good test to see if some a false or true teacher? (Bible!)
-Read your Bibles. Make it the book you know best, because here we hear from God and learn about God and truth!
4. Greetings to the Romans from Other Churches & Christians (16b, 21-23)
Here we have another window into the relational nature of Christianity.
-Partnership between Churches (16b): All the churches of Christ greet you…
-Churches caring for and sending greetings to other churches.
-Our temptation today: View other churches as competition; look down on other churches; puff ourselves up
-GOOD EXAMPLE of LOVE: Elders of New Covenant coming to pray over me and my family.
-Way forward: posture of love toward other Christians and churches.
-Other Christians Sending Greetings to Church at Rome (21-23)
-Timothy (21): One of Paul’s closest workers
-Others (21b-23): Mostly from Corinth most likely.APPLICATION: Let us put aside any spirit of competition. Other churches & ministries are not our competition!
CONCLUSION: The gospel that makes us right with God also brings us into community with other Christians. May God grant us the grace to grow in love and community with each other.