Avoid Divisive Persons
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Greetings from Paul’s Friends
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith- 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Even at this time, 23 years after Christ’s ascension (56 AD), there were heresies starting to develop. Many of these false teachers were coming in and preaching that the new Christians should become circumcised and follow the Mosaic laws – these people were called the Judaisers. The book of Galatians covers Paul’s response to this adherence to legalism after they have been freed from their bondage to the law of sin and death by the grace of God. Paul’s warning stands for them that the believers in Rome will be wary of these who come in and teach a different message and that they would listen intently when they hear new preachers speak. A servant of God would never ask for money for his own benefit, nor would they seek to defraud the believers – these Judaisers would commonly ask for money to preach. Much like how the Roman Catholic Church would require money from a community before they would send a priest to them prior to (and in some areas, even well after) the reformation.
Paul’s friends and companions also send their message of love and encouragement to those believers in Rome and we learn that Tertius was the man who actually penned the letter. Paul had bad eyes and his body had been horribly injured during his ministry – speaking of what he has suffered for the sake of the Gospel, Paul said:
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.
The fact that he would dictate these letters would only make sense given the history of the persecutions he suffered.
In closing, Paul declares that all the glory for the prophesied salvation which has been present through the recorded history of the Jews has been revealed through the work of Jesus belongs to God alone. I can’t think of a better way to close this letter that contains such a well composed and succinct exploration of the major themes and doctrines of scripture pertaining to the overall nature of man, our indebtedness to God, the salvation which God provides through Jesus Christ, how to obtain that salvation, and how we should behave once we have been saved by God. That is why I love this book – it’s the doctrine of God, man, and our relationship with Him in one short 16 chapter book. To God be all the glory, and honor, and praise. Amen.