Note: to start at the beginning of this series, go here.
Introduction: In these final two chapters, Paul offers some parting words of encouragement, reveals his travel plans for the immediate future, and offers some final greetings to special individuals in Rome.
I. Chapter 15
A. Jesus, the servant (15:1-13)
1. The first seven verses of this chapter actually serve as a summary of what Paul taught in the previous chapter about dealing with each other over matters of opinion.
2. The strong are to be compassionate toward the weak and not be guided by a selfish desire to only please self (15:1-2). In so doing, we will be walking in the footsteps of Jesus (15:3-4).
3. Paul’s prayer for them is that God would help them to live in harmony with each other to the glory of God (15:5-7).
4. Drawing on the example of Jesus, Paul reminds them that Jesus became a servant in order to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and open the door of salvation to Gentiles (15:8-13).
B. Paul’s past work among the Gentiles (15:14-21)
1. As Paul begins to wrap up the letter, he makes some personal observations.
2. He commends the church in Rome for their goodness and their knowledge (15:14), even though he recognizes that he wrote some things that might have been considered bold (15:15-16).
3. Paul is proud of the work that God has accomplished through him among the Gentiles (15:17-19), and he has a strong desire to take the gospel to places that have not yet heard it (15:20-21).
C. Paul’s future plans (15:22-33)
1. Paul’s desire is to pass through Rome on his way to Spain (15:22-24). But before he goes their direction, he must go to Jerusalem to deliver money to the poor saints there (15:25-26).
2. The churches in Macedonia and Achaia were happy to make contributions for their brothers and sisters (15:27). When Paul has completed that visit, he will make his way to Rome (15:28-29).
3. He concludes this chapter by asking the saints in Rome to pray that God would make his plans a reality (15:30-33).
II. Chapter 16
A. Much of chapter 16 involves personal greetings to individuals who were members of the church in Rome (16:1-16).
B. In verses 1-2 Paul commends Phoebe to the church in Rome. She is probably the one who carried this letter from Corinth to Rome. What Paul says about her has caused some degree of controversy in recent years.
1. Paul’s use of the word “servant” in verse one is the source of debate. The word he used is the same Greek word from which we get the English word “deacon.” This has led some to conclude that there was an “office” of deaconess in the church.
2. But the evidence does not support this conclusion. The word in question simply means “servant” and can be applied generally to anyone, male or female, who serves. This is how Paul uses the word here.
C. Paul’s final exhortations involve the importance of watching and avoiding those who would cause divisions among them (16:17). He identifies them as serving their own lusts and using deceptive speech to gain a following (16:18).
D. Paul’s final words of praise are for the good news of Jesus that has been made known to the world and for God who made it all possible (16:25-27).
Conclusion: In this great letter Paul discussed the sinful condition of all mankind, the consequences of that sinful condition, the lengths God has gone to justify us in spite of our sin, the faith response required of us to obtain that justification, and how the justified should live in view of that justification. In the gospel, God has revealed his plan for making sinful people righteous, and how that good news should lead to “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).