As Paul closes out the letter to the Romans, per his usual, he adds some personal greetings. However, examine this list and note the relationship he had with all of these people—many risked their lives for his sake, they worked on his behalf for the glory of the Lord. He even refers to Rufus’ mother as a mother to him as well. All of these people had a relationship with the Apostle Paul on a significant level.
Christianity is primarily experienced in relationship with others. Although we should have time alone with our Creator, the Bible, including Paul’s example in this passage, highlights the importance of how we live in relationship with believers and non-believers alike. Paul was a man with deep relationships, but relationships centered on and grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Verses 17–20 illustrate this point as Paul again warns the Christians in Rome to watch out for those who would proclaim a false doctrine that seeks to divide—be it Jews or Gentiles.
He has spent many chapters setting the record straight; that all people are united under sin and the common salvation for those who respond in faith to the gospel. Paul shares insights into God’s plan for Israel and how they were the holders of God’s covenants and it is they who received the priority of the message of the gospel, yet in their rejection the door was open for the Gentiles. However, God will keep his promises and one day save and reclaim the Jewish people to himself through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This message, that he’s spent the last 15 chapters declaring, is the focus for his relationships. Many of these people Paul probably led to faith, such as Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. However, there are some who were believers before Paul, who probably poured into him, like Andronicus and Junia.
How has the gospel changed your relationships? Hopefully you’ve had a chance to consider this question through the teaching series at Center Point focusing on relationships. Does your marriage look like a marriage of non-believers? Does how you invest you time with friends look like that of non-believers? What about work, school, etc.?
Paul makes an amazing statement in verse 26, that the gospel has been disclosed and made known to all nations. Why? Well, because God commanded it, but also, to bring about the obedience of faith. Think about that for a minute. The good news of the gospel has been made known, it is knowable. Clearly, we don’t know everything, but we know enough. So how has or how can this knowledge of the gospel transform your relationships?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate