Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 15

The unusual way that the Book of Romans ends

Romans 15:33

The Book of Romans ends in an unusual matter. Normally, Paul blesses his readers simply, and then the letter ends. However, Paul blesses the Christians in Rome four times (15:5-6; 15:13; 15:33; 16:20), but still the letter does not end.

That reminds us of a letter from a loving friend. Our friend does not want to say 'goodbye'. So, he continues to write while space remains on the page.

Perhaps Paul did write like that. God had given him a great love, even for Christians whom he had never met (Romans 1:8-10; Colossians 2:1). It is right and good for a church leader to have an attitude of love towards the people whom he serves (1 Corinthians chapter 13; 2 Corinthians 11:11). However, perhaps there were more practical reasons why Paul wrote like that.

It seems that a Christian lady called Phoebe took Paul's letter from Corinth to Rome (16:1). She sailed from the port of Cenchrea, near Corinth. Her sailing boat could not leave the port until the wind was in the right direction. So, while the sailors waited for the wind, Paul would have more time to complete his letter.

However, perhaps Paul always intended to finish his letter in this way. He was familiar with poems in the Hebrew language, which sometimes express the same idea in four different ways (Deuteronomy 28:3-6; Psalm 91:5-6; Romans 15:9-12). So, Paul would have considered it very beautiful to bless Rome's Christians not just once, but four times. It is also very beautiful that he ends the letter not with a friendly greeting, but with words to praise God (16:25-27). So, he turns his readers' attention away from himself, and instead to God.

Next part: Phoebe, a lady with responsibility in the church (Romans 16:1)

 

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© 2018, Keith Simons.