Paul’s Role in Christianity (Romans #25)

Paul’s Role in Christianity

Paul’s Ministry

Text: Romans 16

I love reading this ending to the letter because it gives insight into early Christian culture. It also helps us understand Paul’s role in early Christianity.

Paul’s role in early Christianity (vss 1-16)

  • Paul either wrote Romans from Corinth in Acts 18 while he was there a year and a half or the other two options are Acts 19 or 24.
  • Phebe (vss 1-2) is the lady chosen to carry the letter of Romans from Corinth. Paul expects the Roman congregation to take care of Phebe in whatever she needs because she’s proven faithful in things pertaining to God’s kingdom.
  • Priscilla and Aquila (vss 3-5) were great Jewish Christians. They were a tremendous blessing to early Jewish and non-Jewish Christians. They’d found Apollos in a synagogue in Corinth and explained to him the full revelation of Christ. Let’s pick up some history in Acts 18:1-22.
  • “Paul only” ideas (vs 7)
    • A very small group of religious people say, We only get our doctrine from Paul. Paul is not the head of “church age” doctrine for a Gentile bride of Christ. 
    • There were plenty of Christians before Paul. Obviously, there were plenty of people serving God in Christ, following Christ well before Paul because he was the one persecuting them early on!
    • There are no unique doctrines that Paul preaches that are uniquely Pauline. Paul comes into something already in existence. Paul’s statements about ministering to non-Jewish people are not statements about how things are different because of his special revelation.
    • Who was Paul? He was a very public and famous teacher of the law who finally accepted the fulfillment of his own scriptures in Jesus Christ. From that, he was able to completely explain the doctrines of Christianity.
    • The apostles were also given grace to minister to non-Jewish people as Paul was. As Peter did at times. As Philip did. And all apostles were sent to all nations by the time of Matthew 28 – go ye therefore into all nations.

Paul warns about people who are destructive to Christianity (vss 17-18)

  • There are legitimate divisions and offenses, then there are created ones that people associate with their brand of Christianity.
  • Separate from people who claim different ways to eternal life than Jesus Christ. This is what the Jews were bringing in that you could have Jesus, but you also needed their laws and customs. Some non-Jewish people teach that today in forms of dispensationalism, evangelicalism, and Protestantism. As though the path to eternal life is Jesus plus “works of the law.” Or in the future, it will be Jesus plus “works of the law.” Paul says these folks minimize Jesus Christ with their ideas. In these cases, they think they’re doing God’s work while making Jesus Christ A way to life, but not THE way, forever. This blasphemous teaching isn’t to be tolerated. It’s the same thing the unbelieving Jews were doing.
  • Paul is even stronger in saying, Mark them and avoid them. If they won’t learn, cut off their influence as they’ve cut off Jesus Christ in their teaching. Paul had to do that a few times.
  • Galatians deals with this when Paul scolds Peter about his divisiveness. Paul found that Peter and Barnabas were caught up in something they weren’t aware of. They were humble and took the rebuke.

Christianity is an influence for good in this world (vss 19-20)

  • Obedience and faith are synonymous here. People heard of the Roman Christians’ faith because they showed the world how to obey God.
  • This is a reference to Genesis 3:15 where the Seed bruises the serpent’s head. And now the people that belong to God carry the Seed who is Christ. And in a spiritual way, using a figure of speech, trample the head of the serpent when contention and pride and self-will are brought into submission to the LORD Jesus Christ. The serpent who is the accusing spirit has no power there.

Final greetings from Tertius (vss 21-24)

  • Gaius is the same Gaius of John’s letter, 3 John. He’s noted here for his hospitality as he is in John’s letter.
  • Erastus is the same man left in Corinth there at the end of Paul’s ministry. He was a chamberlain in Corinth which meant he was the chief tax collector for all public utilities in the state issued municipality. So Erastus was probably a political person in Corinth.

The mystery revealed is Jesus Christ (vss 25-27)

  • He’s found in the OT in word through promises. In prophetic statements. In shadows and types. But then the Word was made flesh and revealed.
  • Made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith; that is, to show the nations what serving God looks like. American conservative, and very much dispensational, ideas have disconnected obedience from faith with the teaching on fellowship with God. Or standing versus state ideas. But obedience and faith are not disconnected by Jesus, nor are they disconnected by Paul.

Paul’s Role in Christianity