Romans - Lesson 53

Romans 15:14–16:27

Lesson 53
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Romans 15:14–16:27

VI. The Letter Closing (15:14-16:27)

A. Paul's Ministry and Travel Plans (15:14-33)

1. Looking Back: Paul's Ministry in the East (15:14-21)

2. Looking Ahead: Jerusalem, Rome, and Spain (15:22-29)

3. A Request for Prayer (15:30-33)

B. Greetings (16:1-23)

1. Commendation of Phoebe (16:1-2)

2. Greetings to Roman Christians (16:3-16)

3. A Warning, a Promise, and a Prayer for Grace (16:17-20)

4. Greetings from Paul's Companions (16:21-23)

C. Concluding Doxology (16:25-27)

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

This transcript follows the main points of the speaker but is not always word-for-word.

Romans 15:14-16:27

A. Conclusion of the Letter: We are now in the conclusion of the letter in 15:14 to 16:27. There is no need to go carefully in detail through the section. We have looked at some of it earlier in the course when we were trying to understand the occasion of the Letter to the Romans. Paul does a lot of the things he usually does at the conclusion of a letter. He talks about his own situation along with his fellow workers. He tells us where he is going and asks for prayers and sends greetings from people. It does it here at much greater length than he does anywhere else. It is a very long and extended section; partly because he is writing to a church which he isn’t personally familiar with. So, he wants to go into more detail about who he is and about what his plans are. He wants to greet all the people he can think of in the church because he doesn’t know everybody there. So, let’s look at some points along the way. He begins looking at his calling and past ministry reminding us that Paul’s calling is particularly focused on the Gentiles in verse 16. It is interesting how Paul brings in the language of priesthood. I am a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God. We see this New Testament spiritualization of the sacrifices. Instead of animal sacrifices, he moves from that to humans who are sanctified by God which is acceptable before the Lord.



B. Paul Asks for Prayer: We saw in verse 19 with Paul reflecting back on this ministry that he has had up until now as he faces this new stage of ministry. Those plans involved going to Jerusalem with the collection of offerings to the Christians there. Paul asks prayer for that in verses 30-33. He is worried about two things; he says to pray that he be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea. He wonders how his fellow Jews are going to react to this. You will remember as we know in the Book of Acts, this prayer was needed because when he went into the temple to bring the offering, he was arrested. The Jews revolted and so he did receive a lot of persecution. He also says to pray that the contribution that he takes to Jerusalem; that it may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there. Paul is worried about how he is going to be received by the Jewish Christians. Again, we are in an era where the distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians has begun to widen. Paul is well known as the one who is bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles, but he is also concerned for his own people Israel as we have discussed several times in previous lectures. He views the collection as bringing the two groups together; getting the Gentile Christians to give the money and then getting the Jewish Christians to accept it. Sometimes the way in which we bring unity to people is in very practical ways. Paul views the collection in those terms but he is worried. When he goes to Jerusalem with the money, how are the Jewish Christians going to react? Will they throw it back into his face, considering it tainted Gentile money and not wanting anything to do with it or will they receive it as it is intended to be, a genuine offering for them, out of concern for them?


C. Phoebe of Cenchrea: One student, Bill, raises a question in regards to some of the details in Romans 16. There are a couple of texts that are figured fairly important in this wide ranging debate about place of women in ministry. This is in my circles, along with other denominations being a big matter of debate. It has separated a lot of believers over the last twenty or thirty years. What kind of ministry and roles should women have in ministry? There are a couple of passages in Romans 16 that have been included in this debate. The first are verses 1 and 2; Paul talks about a deaconess in the church in Cenchrea by the name of Phoebe. I ask you to receive her in the Lord, in the way worthy of his people and to give her any help that she may need; she has been the benefactor of many people including me. Phoebe is probable the person who is carrying the letter to Rome. She is probably a wealthy business woman of Corinth who is travelling to Rome. So Paul has probably asked her to take the letter to Rome since he is going there. This is the way you communicated in these times. The NIV decided that the word in verse 1, the Greek diakonos should best be translated deacon rather than servant as the Net Bible translates it. We put a footnote showing the word servant. The issue is whether Phoebe is a servant or is she a deaconess in the church there. Does she hold some kind of official position such as deacon?  The NIV committee thought that it was likely that she was a deacon because it was qualified by the word church. If it was servant, I think Paul would have addressed it differently. This is a problem that translations face. Translation, like any communication, has to take into account the audience. The word deacon is used by Christians in North America in a lot of different ways. In certain circles, especially in the Southern Baptist churches, the deacons are mostly in charge of the church. They are the men who rule the church. As if you call Phoebe a deacon, a lot of Southern Baptist hear that verse and say no because a woman can’t be a full fledge leader in the church.


The way that the New Testament uses of the word deacon isn’t the same as an elder. Deacons do not rule; they do not govern the church as such, but instead they serve the church in various other capacities which almost everyone would agree that women can be part of. It is likely in my view that in 1st Timothy 3:8 you also have a reference to female deacons. Verse 11 is the famous passage where Paul talks about the deacons and also let the women…. So with the women, was he referring to female deacons or is he talking about the wives of the deacons. I think the reference is to female deacons. Phoebe is also in verse 2; there is a Greek word that is used here with whom some people have argued to mean leader or ruler. But there is fairly general agreement that the NIV has got the right translation, benefactor. Phoebe is called a benefactor or a patriot. The Greco-Roman society was built on patriots, wealthy people who used their money and influence to support various clauses. We sometimes use that language in talking about someone who is a patriot of the arts. You will hear this phrase used occasionally. A wealthy person in a town that gives money to the arts museum or to the opera; this was who Phoebe apparently was in the 1st century church in Corinth. She was one who was using her money and influence in the town to support Christians, Paul included. So what verses 1-2 is saying; here is a person who holds a significant place of ministry in an early Christian church. She is using her wealth to help the church; it isn’t a text that in any clear way says she was a full-fledged qualified leader of the church. This is not the language that Paul is using here of Phoebe.


D. Romans 16:7 – Andronicus and Junia: In 16:7, you have a word in the Greek that has a form which could refer to either a masculine or feminine name. That could be a form of the name Junia or a form of the name Junianas. The female version is Junia and the masculine is Junias. The form in the Greek could be either one. So, it is a legitimate question to ask, whether Junia is a male or female. Older versions tend to translate it as Junias. Anyone has this in their Bible’s, Andronicus and Junias? That has been a view widely held having the masculine name. There is, however, a very strong argument in favor of a feminine name here. Most of the recent commentators in Romans have agreed that Junia is the name and a reference to a female. In the ancient world of Paul’s day, this name is found in many places where as Junias is very rare. There is also a pattern in which Paul addresses Christian married couples in this passage. It seems natural to think that Andronicus and Junia are husband and wife. So, I think it is fairly clear that this is a woman but no one can say that it is absolutely certain. If this is a woman, what becomes interesting; Paul says that they were in prison with him. They are outstanding among the apostles. So that would mean that Junia is being called an Apostle, the highest and authoritative title the New Testament recognizes. So if Junia can be an apostle, clearly a woman can hold any position or ministry situation in the church. This argument has been used by a lot of people. However, two issues make this uncertain. In the NIV footnote on this text says ‘or are esteemed by.’ So, it could be that they are outstanding among the apostles or they are esteemed by the apostles. There have been several articles written on this in regards to which way it would go. On the one case, Junia is said to be outstanding among the apostles and on the other case, she is simply recognized by the apostles but obviously not an apostle. The other issue is in regards to what the word apostle means here. When we hear the word apostle, we think of the eleven apostles and also of Paul, the twelve, the men who were given positions of authority, who were the founders of the Christian church. The word apostolos in Greek is also used of a messenger or someone who is sent out on a missionary journey of various kinds. Even if the translation is outstanding among the apostles, that still might mean outstanding among the missionaries who have been sent out, rather than outstanding among the authoritative group of apostles. In my view, verse 7 is not clear in either direction as to who or what Junia is.


There isn’t any clear evidence as to allow women to take any ministry position in the church because it isn’t clear that Junia is a woman or an apostle or an authoritative apostle and esteemed by, may indicate that the person doesn’t belong to the group whereas outstanding among, suggest that they are part of the group. Really good Greek grammarian has argued it both ways here. For the NIV, we had to put something in the text and then something in the footnote. This is why we think that people should pay attention to the footnotes as they can indicate really important information which could be the correct reading of the text.


So, you have this long list in the conclusion and the greetings. You have a lot of diversity in the text. In the ancient world, people were given names that were significant. In our names, they are a sort of convenient handles; they sound good. Some are given Biblical names to indicate a relationship to a belief in the Bible. I have no idea why my parents called me Douglas; who knows! My daughter in-law having her first boy, there was strong lobbying from myself and her father whether the boy’s name should be Douglas Junior while her father-in-law wanted Frank Junior. At a certain point my daughter-in-law got tired of it all and told us that these names were ‘so over!’ She gave me a URL of the most common male names of babies. But in the ancient world, name generally meant something; they would indicate status or nationality. So Paul mentions men and women, Jews and Gentiles and free men which meant slaves who had been given their freedom. There are also aristocrats. When I preach Romans 16, what do I do with all the greetings? How does that preach? This is an indication of a diverse Christian church that may be a model for what God wants his church to be like. People from all kinds of different social levels and nationalities, Greeks and Jews, all working together in the church; whatever we think in regards of any restrictions of women in the church, Paul includes a lot of women in the list who are working hard for the Lord. Women as well as the men are contributing significantly to the life of the church.