September 26, 2021
Despite our best planning, our sincere desires, and our extensive efforts not everything always goes according to our plans. That’s true at work, in our homes, in our relationships, with our leisure activities, with our retirements, and even in our churches.
When churches are loving, hard-working, enduring, truth-teaching, and grace-giving things still sometimes go awry. Because of that reality, the apostle Paul lays out some theological and ministerial caution tape for the Roman church (and us). This is one large problem to watch out for and guard against so that the faithfulness to Christ in the church will be preserved.
We can summarize what Paul says this way:
Always be vigilantly attentive against false teaching.
Some have suggested that Paul’s words in Romans actually ended at verse 16, because it seems odd that he would give such a solemn warning after such affectionate greetings. Yet if you think about it, the section actually flows very naturally from the preceding: the Romans are unified and Paul has deep affection for many in that church body, so he adds this addendum to protect the unity and love they have in the church by guarding against one of the primary destroyers of unity — false teaching.
This kind of admonition late in the letter is not unusual for Paul. While his benedictions are typically warm and friendly, it is not unusual for him to give final warnings in his final words about false teaching (and it’s not uncommon for us either — “drive carefully,” “don’t pick up any strangers…” “come straight home…”). Cf. 1 Tim. 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 4:14-15; Tt. 3:9-11; Gal. 6:12-13; 1 Th. 5:21-22; 2 Th. 3:11-12; Eph. 6:10-12.
In these verses Paul provides three principles for protecting the unity of the body of Christ:
- A Problem to Prevent (vv. 17-18)
- A Provision that Protects (v. 19)
- A Preview of a Promise (v. 20)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 16:17-20.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.
Photo by Jessica Tan on Unsplash.