Romans 12-16 Butterfly Believers

Romans 12-16 Butterfly Believers

Psalm 133:1-3 Unity is Good
Ps 133:1 Song of The Steps* “See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, that ran down on the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that came down on the edge of his robes; 3 like the dew of Hermon, that comes down on the hills of Zion: for there Yahweh gives the blessing, even life forevermore."

Observations: (*See note on Ps 120) 133:1-3 Living together in daliy unity is great for roommates, marriages, families, and Bodies of Believers and other institutions. However, a group of self-centered people who only seek to further their own agendas are odious and stinky. In a dry climate, oil was refreshing, and dew essential for growth. The references to the anointing oil and blessing from Yahweh on Mount Zion, allude to the unity of a unified nation in unified worship. Both David and Hezekiah experienced the blessing of peace when Israel had one heart to do what God wanted (2Samuel 19:14 and 2Chronicles 19:12). Unity is not found in agreeing to disagree, or a union of likes/dislikes, but in all being of one mind and heart united in doing God's will, God's way. Note in the following verse, believers are perfectly united in the same judgment, which means there is not blind acceptance or group-think, but a discussion, debate and determination of what God wants.
1Corinthians 1:10 Now I beg you...that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
See: Study guides and seven outlines on Biblical Unity on
Application: Unity is developed by everyone forsaking their agenda to embrace God's agenda.
Prayer: God, I know You value and bless unity among Your children; may I never be a selfish or wayward sheep that disrupts the unity and peace of Your flock. Amen.

TMS Romans 12:1-2 Caterpillar to Butterfly
Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God,
that you present/yield your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God,
which is your reasonable/spiritual service of worship.
2 And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove/demonstrate what is that
good and acceptable and perfect will of God“

Observations: 12:1 In light of all that God has done for us (His mercies in 11:32, justification and planned blessings) believers need to do something to experience His perfect will. The thing we have to do is yield or present ourselves to God as an ongoing, living sacrifice (as in every day, all day). If we do this, we will fulfill our “of the word” (only used in 1Pt 2:2) “spiritual service.” This word is used of the service of priests in the OT (Heb 9:1,6). So if we do this sacrifice thing, we are fulfilling our service of God, just like the priests did when they offered sacrifices correctly in the OT. But how to do it?
12:2 That's what verse 2 tell us. Don't be conformed to this world (don't let the world press you into its mold), but be transformed/metamorphosed. Both in English and Greek this world means a change of form, as in a caterpillar becoming a butterfly: same basic essence, but totally different activity and behavior. The caterpillar is an grubby earthbound worm, crawling around plants eating weeds. The butterfly is beautiful creature that soars through the air, sipping the nectar of beautiful flowers. The contrast is the carnal Christian, or the spiritual Christian. Which are you? The trick to becoming a butterfly is “renewing the mind.” We need to stop thinking like worldlings, and start thinking like Christ. It's only as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to produce in us the mind of Christ, that we will experience (demonstrate, prove in our experience) the perfect will of God. Good, acceptable/pleasing (to us and God) and perfect, means that anything else is second-rate.
See a more detailed study of this passage under 7PASSAGES in the Sidebar.
Application: Transform your mind by the word of God, and you will not only transform your life, but you will please the God who loves you.
Prayer: Lord, I present myself to You today, and every day as a living sacrifice; help me say “No” to the world, and “Yes” to the transforming work of the Spirit of Truth, so that I may experience Your perfect will for my life. Thanks. Amen.

Romans 12-16 This is considered to be the “practical” part of Romans, as if the “doctrinal” part isn't practical. In practice, one can't do the what's required in these chapters unless one has first mastered the “reckoning and presenting” of chapter 6. The section opens with necessity of being metamorphosed in order to experience the perfect will of God, building on Romans 6. The transformed and renewed mind, being other centered rather than self-centred, is necessary for thinking and interacting Biblically as part of the Body of Christ, which is the first subject Paul addresses in chapter 12. He then looks at the relationship of Christians to government in chapter 13, and then their interpersonal relationships in chapters 14-16. Loving one another according to Christ's command (John 13:34-35) is the key to not only doing well at Christ's judgment seat, but developing the God-glorifying unity He desires. 
Since the argument of this section is easier to follow, I've provided the Reading Guide and layout under Digging Deeper (not in the emails because of the size).

Romans 12 Renew for Success
12:1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith. 4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don’t have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
  • 6 Having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us,
  • if prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith;
  • 7 or service, let us give ourselves to service;
  • or he who teaches, to his teaching;
  • 8 or he who exhorts, to his exhorting:
  • he who gives, let him do it with liberality;
  • he who rules, with diligence;
  • he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good.
10 In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another; 11 not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; enduring in troubles; continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 contributing to the needs of the saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don’t be wise in your own conceits. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. 19 Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord." 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Observations: 12:1-21 See above for the first two verses. This passage has a lot of “one another” verses in it (the Greek reflexive pronoun allelon describes things people do with each other and is used in a number of commands that are given to NT believers). In fact these constitute the marching orders for Biblical Bodies of believers. We are members of “one another” just like a human body, thus our present and future are interconnected. Random body parts don't constitute a human body, nor does that happen in the spiritual realm. The early church had 3,000 converts on the day of Pentecost, and a total of 5,000 a week later. With just twelve apostles, and no New Testament, how were they to function? The Holy Spirit gave gifts and gifted people (Eph 4) to help the Church get established and function so as to please God, the Heavenly Father of the family of believers. The faith necessary for the proper functioning of the Body, has been divided up (that's what the word “apportioned” means) among the Body, so all the members are necessary. This is not about believing that Jesus died for our sins, that was back in chapter 3. Note the number of times in verse 3 that Paul uses “think”. To think soberly, is to have a proper estimation of reality. Anything else is delusional. In Greek thought, being sound-minded, was having your life governed by objectives, rather than passions or delusions. Note also the use of mind in verse 16, forming an inclusio about thinking correctly about relationships in the Body. See 1Corinthians 12-14 for more about the use of “gifts in the body.” The persecution in verse 14 is not from without, but about that within the Body of believers (just look at verses 15-16), as is the desire for vengeance,
See outline under Digging Deeper for the details. Here are the summary points, note the flow:
A. 1-2 The Result of sacrificing themselves to God in sacred metamorphosis is that believers experience God's perfect will in their lives
B. 3 The Reason believers need a sacred mental metamorphosis is because prideful thinking prevents proper functioning and service of others in the Body.
C. 4-5 The Reason prideful thinking prevents proper functioning and service of others in the Body is because it fails to recognize that we are all interdependent members in union with Christ.
D. 6-11 The Result of recognizing that we are all interdependent members in union with Christ is that believers should use their gifts and love in accord with the grace given to them, as they serve each other and the Lord.
Application: The first place to test out your renewed mind, is in relation to other members of the Body of believers. It it doesn't work there, get back on the altar, and start over.
Prayer: Father, You are infinitely wise, and your will is not only good but perfect; help me see whatever would keep me from experiencing it, and guide me in changing my thinking to align with Your truth, so my worship will be acceptable to You. Thanks. Amen.

Romans 13 Dress for Submission
13:1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, 4 for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn’t bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil. 5 Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are servants of God’s service, attending continually on this very thing. 7 Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love doesn’t harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let’s therefore throw off the works of darkness, and let’s put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in rebelling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts.

Observations: 13:1-7 In the OT, especially in Daniel, Jeremiah, and the other prophets, it was clear that God used human government, even evil government (like Assyria, and at times Egypt and Babylon) to accomplish His purposes, which sometimes involved the protection of His people, and at other times, the judgment of His people. In the NT, the Roman government put Christ and James to death, but preserved Paul. This passage (and others) indicate that God has set the boundaries of nations and government for His sovereign will, so fighting against government is frequently fighting against God. When a government's rules conflict with God's commands, one must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), and be prepared to suffer the consequences or run. The role of government in this passage is to reward the good and punish the evil. But what does one do when a government does the opposite? What does a Christian do if a Hitler rises to power? Or a military coup ousts the former government? Should Christians “fight” for good government? Should the colonists have declared independence from England? Maybe I'll address these questions in a commentary in the future, but here's a thought to mull. There is a difference between OT and NT models, but the principle of love (which is in both testaments, and discussed in the last half of this chapter) gives some insight. Love is doing what is in another's best interest, often at the expense of oneself. It's usually in the best interest of others to have good government, and thus believers should work to secure that (without neglecting the higher priorities God has specified in His word). On the other hand, God told the pre-exilic Judahites that was better to go to Babylon, or flee, rather than stay in Jerusalem under a Davidic king, so there are times to abandon the “fight” and take flight.

13:8-13 We should not fail to give (owe) taxes, customs, respect, honor, etc., to anyone, except the ongoing obligation to love each other. Since love does not harm another, it fulfills the law. So it's time to get rid of the self-centered self-protective prideful mentality of darkness, and put on the Spirit armor of light. The reason for walking in obedience under sound-minded objectives, rather than self-indulgent lusts is that judgment day is coming. Our salvation (not justification, but glorification, the redemption of our Bodies, and the donning of glory-suits -2Cor 5:3) is nearer now than when we first believed. When we first believed (exercised faith), we were forgiven (justified), it's a present possession. But there is something yet future, which is coming closer, also called our salvation, when Christ finishes reversing the effects of the Fall and shares His glory with the faithful.
13:14 Paul sums up the actions that should follow a renewed mind with verse 14. We have to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (embrace Him as Lord and do His will, and imitate His actions, obeying His commands. We can't put Him on over our old works of darkness, nor our old thinking (don't be conformed -12:2), so we need to not only put those off, but make no provision, plan, scheme, nor maneuvering to fulfill our desires for illegitimate temporal gratification (lusts of the flesh).
Application: How have you put on Christ, and killed your old desires (before they kill your spiritual life)?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for loving me, even though it cost You dearly; please guide me in loving others as You have loved me. Amen.

Romans 14 Living in Faith and Love for Hope
14:1 Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions. 2 One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Don’t let him who eats despise him who doesn’t eat. Don’t let him who doesn’t eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you who judge another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand. 5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who doesn’t eat, to the Lord he doesn’t eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to the Lord. If therefore we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
9 For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, "’As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to God.’" 12 So then each one of us will give account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let’s not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother’s way, or an occasion for falling. 14 I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself; except that to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if because of food your brother is grieved, you walk no longer in love. Don’t destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Then don’t let your good be slandered,
17 for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then, let us follow after things which make for peace, and things by which we may build one another up. 20 Don’t overthrow God’s work for food’s sake. All things indeed are clean, however it is evil for that man who creates a stumbling block by eating. 21 It is good to not eat meat, drink wine, nor do anything by which your brother stumbles, is offended, or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who doesn’t judge himself in that which he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because it isn’t of faith; and whatever is not of faith is sin.

Observations: 14:1 This chapter establishes a couple of key principles: a believer's freedom of conscience (where God hasn't spoken we're free to develop our own convictions); our lack of freedom to use our convictions to judge one of the Lord's servants (another believer seeking to serve God); and, the BIGGIE, whether we've lived in faith and love, which will determine if we will realize our hope (of reward) in the coming Kingdom of God.
Believers will be judged, on a number of issues (not just on whether they've accepted Christ or not), namely,
  • on how our behavior or freedom has affected others;
  • on the motives for our actions (Christ pleasing or self pleasing);
  • on our judgment of others;
  • on whether or not we've lived in love;
  • on whether or not we've built up or edified others;
  • on how we've limited ourselves for the benefit of others;
  • on whether what we do is a response of faith to God's revelation, or our desires and ambitions.
The Kingdom of God, which is where our judgment has its consequences, is not about eating and drinking in the here and now, but living for righteousness (doing what is right in Christ's sight), and having resultant peace and joy from the Holy Spirit. Those are two of His fruits (Gal 5:22) that we can experience partially now (15:13) and more fully in the future (Isa 55:12).
The last verse is worth thinking a little more about: if we can't demonstrate that what we do is a response to God's revelation, then how can we say it is of faith? Paul says it's of sin (independence, which reaps judgment).
Application: Be careful to think about how your choices and actions will look at the judgment seat of Christ, and make sure they are in obedient and faithful response to God's revelation.
Prayer: Lord, may I acknowledge You as Lord every day so I will have no regrets on Judgment Day; may Amen.

Romans 15 God-glorifying Unity
15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up. 3 For even Christ didn’t please himself. But, as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and of encouragement grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus, 6 that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore accept one another, even as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Christ has been made a servant of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name." 10 Again he says, "Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people." 11 Again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Let all the peoples praise him." 12 Again, Isaiah says, "There will be the root of Jesse, he who arises to rule over the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles will hope."
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.14 I myself am also persuaded about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you, because of the grace that was given to me by God, 16 that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest the Good News of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 I have therefore my boasting in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God’s Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Good News of Christ; 20 yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another’s foundation. 21 But, as it is written, "They will see, to whom no news of him came. They who haven’t heard will understand."
22 Therefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you, 23 but now, no longer having any place in these regions, and having these many years a longing to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I will come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints. 26 For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. 27 Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things. 28 When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by way of you to Spain. 29 I know that, when I come to you, I will come in the fulness of the blessing of the Good News of Christ.
30 Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; 32 that I may come to you in joy through the will of God, and together with you, find rest. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Observations: 15:1-4 Paul encourages those who are stronger and more mature in the faith to build up those who are weaker, seeking to please them, not themselves. This is Christlike, as Psalm 69:9 indicates. Whatever was recorded in the OT was to instruct us so we would endure and persevere to achieve our hope (of reward).
15:5-12 Continuing on the theme of interaction between Body members, he stresses the importance of unity (one mind and one voice -cf 1Cor 1:10) which results in harmonious glory being given to God. Therefore believers should accept one another as Christ did us (when we admitted we were wrong, confessed our sin, and stopped fighting Him). We can't have a “more Christ-like” standard of acceptance than Christ did (please leave your sin at the door, and forget about it). The other element of unity is service, and as we serve others for the truth of God, a basis of unity is established, so that diverse groups (like Jews and Gentiles) can together praise and glorify God as the OT indicates. In verse 12, Paul ends the OT proof on Isaiah 11:10 which indicates that the Gentiles will seek the offspring of the root of Jesse/David who will arise to rule of the Gentiles, who will hope in Him. The hope is not justifying faith, but the persevering expectation of reward in the Messianic Kingdom, as they live for Him in this age.
15:13-21 Paul prays that the God who is the source of hope will fill the Gentiles with joy and peace (Messianic blessings) as they believe, so they will have an abundant hope, through the sanctifying and empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is persuaded that common everyday believers are able to warn and instruct each other when they are full of goodness (proper motive), filled/controlled by knowledge (proper method). This is another of those “one-another” passages which specify the interactions believers should have with each other in a Body. Paul writes boldly so he can fulfill his commission to serve as a priest in the preparing the offering of the Gentiles, who are made acceptable and holy by the Holy Spirit. Paul's job is to cause the Gentiles to obey. He doesn't want to build on someone else's foundation, which as a miracle working apostle sent to the Gentiles was appropriate. The usual model is what he's been instructing the Romans to do: build up each other where they are, and through the witness of the Body, the truth would spread as they live in obedient, God-glorifying unity.
15:22-33 Paul closes the chapter with his desire to see them, and his trip to Jerusalem to take a contribution from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia to the poor and oppressed saints in Jerusalem (hint, hint). Actually he goes beyond hinting to state that the Greeks are debtors to the Jews for the spiritual blessings they've received, and therefore ought to “serve them in fleshly things,” which is described as “fruit.” He puts in a prayer request from being delivered from disobedient Jews, and being able to see them with joy (and there's that peace again).
Application: Unity is not formed by agreeing on the lowest common denominator (that's uniformity), but by everyone serving and teaching each other so we all agree on God's truth; that's the unity that glorifies God.
Prayer: God, thanks that Your Spirit and truth provide all that's necessary to enable believers to be pleasing in Your sight; thanks for giving motivation and encouragement through the Scriptures and other believers so that I can persevere to reap the hope You hold out for me. Amen.

Romans 16 Mystery Explained at the End
16:1 I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the assembly that is at Cenchreae, 2 that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self. 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who for my life, laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the assemblies of the Gentiles. 5 Greet the assembly that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet them of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Greet Persis, the beloved, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The assemblies of Christ greet you.
17 Now I beg you, brothers, mark/look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For those who are such don’t serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. I rejoice therefore over you. But I desire to have you wise in that which is good, but innocent in that which is evil. 20 And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I, Tertius, who write the letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, my host and host of the whole assembly, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, as does Quartus, the brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith ---
27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Observations: 16:1-16 Paul concludes the letter with a commendation of those who have demonstrated the obedience to (that accompanies) the faith he's been trying to develop, and for which he was an apostle (1:5; 16:26). He names a number of women and men who are fellow-workers, and fellow-prisoners in Christ, and gives some insight into the network of relationships and love essential to Biblical ministry. Phoebe was probably the letter carrier. Priscilla and Aquila apparently moved to Rome and started a house church. A couple of women are singled out for working/laboring particularly hard, and a few people are specially beloved by Paul. It's worth noting that in verse 13 Rufus is the only one called “elect” (in fact the word in only used elsewhere in Romans in 8:33), an indication of his “choice” or “select” status because of his service, not his “salvation/justification.” The “holy kiss” in verse 16 (another of those one-another passages) indicates the level of fondness and affection that existed among those in the family of God (holy, as in not like the Gentiles; and kiss-“philema” from phileo -brotherly love).
16:17-24 The Body of Christ is a group of believers focused on following Christ with each other. Those who don't serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own passions and desires are to be noted and avoided (as in turn away from them). These self-centered, disobedient believers will face judgment and saints don't want share in their judgment. If we're wise in what's good, and innocent in what's evil, we can look forward to the peace and grace of God. Shortly (from His perspective) God will crush Satan (Gen 3:15) under their feet (Kingdom time!). Tertius the guy who took down Paul's dictation slips in a line (was verse 22 inspired?).
16:25-27 Paul's benediction is worth examining. He wants glory to be given to God, the only wise (11:33) through Jesus the Messiah, to (eis) the Age (of the Messiah). That glory will be given as the believers live in obedient response to the revelation Paul has declared to them. This is the revelation of the mystery (hitherto unrevealed information) which existed as part of God's plan before He made the world. This mystery is brought to light by Paul's preaching of the prophetic Scriptures (OT prophets) according to the command of God. The mystery (11:25-27) is that Israel, because of their unbelief, experienced a partial blindness until the fullness of the Gentiles could believe, and become participants in the Messiah's Kingdom. Then the Messiah would turn away ungodliness form Jacob and take away their sins. Paul proclaimed this to the Jews and Gentiles to bring about obedience sourced in faith, among all, so all could together give glory to God.
Application: As the Body strives to maintain unity and purity in their commitments to truth, Jesus and each other, they will glorify God through their obedience.
Prayer: God, You alone are wise, and holy, just, and good; thanks for your plan to bless all people in Christ; may I glorify You with my words and life. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God is the only wise One, working out His plan to bless Jews and Gentiles who believe and obey, through the Holy Spirit, in the Messiah's Kingdom.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is not only our Savior, but the coming Judge, and King. We will all appear before Him to be judged for our love, service and obedience.

Us in a nutshell: We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in the truth in order to put on the Lord Jesus and not fulfill the lusts of our old lives. Only then can we experience God's perfect will, living in unity and love with like-minded believers. Anything else is vanity.

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