When Paul gives his final words we see the interconnectedness of the early church. Paul’s ministry has brought him into contact with lots of people, and many of them ended up in Rome. We sometimes underestimate the ancient world. Yes, we are more connected than ever before, but the ease of travel in the Roman empire and the ability to send letters allowed them to connect and remain in contact. Paul’s greetings remind us of the importance of Christian community and fellowship.
Paul also uses his last words to remind the church to be on the lookout for false teachers and avoid them. They are to be obedient, wise in good, and innocent in evil (16:19). They don’t need to fear, because God will crush Satan under their feet (16:20)!
He concludes his letter by reiterating many of his prior themes (16:25-27). Our strength comes from the gospel – the proclamation of Jesus Christ! This is the mystery that has now been revealed, and it includes the proclamation of the gospel to all people (“all the nations“) to bring about the “obedience of faith.“
So, Paul’s final words remind us of the importance of Christian community, the need to watch out for false teachers, and the need to keep the gospel in the forefront of our ministries. What better way to conclude than to praise “the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.“