The great lesson this chapter shows us is that Paul was not a lone ranger in ministry. He always had a team, a large team, and if you want to look at the reason Paul was successful, look no further than the team that was around him. The Apostle Paul worked with his fellow believers to minister to the lost and unsaved.
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Get your copy of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It by Skip Heitzel today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Okay, we're in Romans chapter 15 as we join Skip Heitzel for today's study. Those who are excluded, God includes and makes them a special offering and Paul is the officiating priest that when he leads a Gentile to Christ, he's offering that Gentile as a liturgical sacrifice to God who accepts that sacrifice.
Isn't that beautiful? Think of that when you lead a person to Christ, when you witness for the Lord and you lead another person, an unbeliever, to faith in Christ and you are offering that person to God as a sacrifice, as part of the liturgy. I love that, part of worship. Therefore, I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in things which pertain to God, for I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me in word and deed to make the Gentiles obedient in mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum, sounds like a little poem here, like a little rap. He's rhyming from Jerusalem to Illyricum.
Sorry, my mind goes there when I see these things. I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Now, to me, what's interesting about that is we have no record in the book of Acts that Paul ever went to Illyricum. Illyricum is the Albanian peninsula, Yugoslavia area, those Slavic states. We have no record of him ever doing that, but he says, yeah, you know, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I fully preached the gospel. So we asked the question, well, when did he go over to Albania? And the answer is, we don't know, but we think it was at the end of his third missionary journey. He had made his way, you know, through Galatia, through Pamphylia, through Achaia, through to Macedonia, and when he was in Macedonia, in Thessalonica in particular, and he was dealing with the Corinthian problem, writing letters to the Corinthians because they're a mess, that he probably from Thessalonica then went west, because if you're in Thessalonica, you take the road back then due west called the Via Ignatia, and it takes you right over to the Albanian peninsula. Probably after dealing with Corinth, he spent time, went over, dealt with those in Illyricum, preached the gospel there, and then he was done. So from Jerusalem all the way around about to Illyricum, I fully preached the gospel of Christ. And so I made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation. He really wanted to go into uncharted territory, really wanted to establish, and his ministry was going to be where there wasn't anything like what he was doing. So he was a true missionary, taking the gospel to uncharted areas, but as it is written, to whom he was not announced they shall see, to those who have not heard shall understand.
So that's the scriptural precedent from Isaiah 52 for his ministry. For this reason, I also have been much hindered from coming to you, but now, no longer having place in these parts, and having a great desire, these many years to come to you, whenever I journeyed to Spain. See, he really wanted to go where nobody ever went. He wanted to go all the way to Spain. That was in his heart. We didn't know if he ever made it to Spain, probably did not, but he might have.
I shall come to you, I hope to see you on my journey and be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. So he'd never been to Rome, wanted to go to Rome. In fact, he said, heck, I'm going to go to Spain, and I'm just going to hang out with you on the way to Spain.
Now, when I say he might have gone to Spain, I don't know. Paul the Apostle was arrested in Caesarea, taken before, spent two years there, went to Rome where he was imprisoned. He wrote the book of Philippians, a couple other books from there. He was waiting to stand trial before Caesar Nero. He stood trial. He was released, and then later on, about a year, up to a year later, he was then re-arrested, brought back to Rome, put in the Mamertine prison, and then eventually taken out on the Appian Way, and they beheaded him.
That's how he died. But if there was a year between those two arrests, some scholars think that's when he went to Spain. Of course, he's writing this, never having gone to Rome, hoping that he's going to get to Rome, but watch this. But now, I'm going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. Now, remember what happens in Jerusalem. He gets arrested.
He will never be a free man except for that one little stint after he is released and then re-arrested. I'm going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints, for it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. If the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. Remember, Paul took an offering from Gentile congregations for the poor Christian believers in Jerusalem who had fallen on hard times. Therefore, when I have performed this, that has gone to Jerusalem, delivered the financial gift, this offering that I have collected, and have sealed them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. Remember what James says in his little book, how he cautions us.
He says, come now, you say, we're going to go do this and do that and go, you know, here and go there and buy and sell and get gain. You should rather say, if the Lord wills. Now, I'm sure that was in Paul's thinking, and he will understand God has a different plan. But I know, verse 29, that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and may be refreshed together with you. Now the God of peace be with you all.
Amen. He says, pray for me. Pray that it goes well when I give the offering. Pray that I get delivered from those people who really want to do me harm in Judea.
Pray that I can come just hang out with you in Rome. Did God answer their prayer? He sure did.
He answers every prayer. Paul did go to Rome. Paul did see the church and was refreshed by the church.
But part of this prayer was answered a little bit differently. He didn't get delivered from those in Judea. He got delivered to those in Judea. He was then delivered to the Roman government.
They arrested Paul. They put Paul on a ship, took him to Rome. Paul always wanted to go to Rome, but Paul didn't want to go to Rome as a prisoner. He wanted to go to Rome as a preacher.
That's not what he wanted. He wanted to go to Rome as a preacher. But God let him go to Rome as a preacher and a prisoner and the Roman government footed the bill.
The government paid for it. I love the economy of God. I'm going to get you to Rome, Paul, and I'm not going to even make the Gentile churches. You already kind of bled them dry so that you could give money to the folks in Jerusalem.
You can't like take an offering from those in Jerusalem because they had such a poor last few years. So I'm going to get you to Rome and I'll have Caesar pay for it. And so the way he did that is Paul was in Caesarean. He goes, you know, I've gotten the run around for a couple years from you guys so I appeal to Caesar. And he had the right to do that and they put him on a ship and took him to Rome. So he went there by the will of God, but not as he thought. Now the last chapter which we're going to breeze through tonight is a chapter most people don't really spend any time on because it's a list of names.
Greet this person, greet this person, this guy's this high, this gal says hi. 26 people are named, two are unnamed, so we have 28 people all together. And the great lesson this chapter shows us is that Paul was not a lone ranger in ministry. He always had a team, a large team, and if you want to look at the reason Paul was successful, look no further than the team that was around him. That's why he was so successful. People supported him, prayed for him, performed all sorts of other ministerial functions. He had all sorts of workers. Let's just look at a couple of them as we breeze through this.
We don't have time to really go into depth. You'll meet them all in heaven. So I commend to you Phoebe. Phoebe's a female name. Now get this, she's first on the list. A woman 2,000 years ago, written by a Jewish rabbi to a group in Rome, and first on the list is a woman. There are nine out of 26 names are women in this chapter.
First on the list is a woman. This stupidity that I've heard of Paul was chauvinistic and misogynistic betrays a real idiocy, lack of knowledge, lack of familiarity with the apostle and the writings of the New Testament. Women were subservient in antiquity. When a woman got pregnant 2,000 years ago, people prayed for a boy because at least a boy would contribute to the economy of the family.
That's how they saw it. Women were put down. Christianity is what elevated women. Jesus elevated women. And Paul puts, and the nine of the 26 are mentioned here as hard workers in the gospel. So I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the church in centria, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and assist her in whatever business she has need of you.
For indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risk their own necks for my life to whom not only I give thanks but also the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epinetus, who is of the first fruits of Achaea, to Christ.
Thumbnail sketch. Aquila and Priscilla were from Rome. He's writing to Rome. They were familiar with it. They were from Rome, but the emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from that region. They ended up in Corinth, Acts chapter 18. Paul met them in the synagogue in Corinth.
Now here's a little trivia for you. In the synagogue, it was divided in a synagogue service. And on one side sat who and who sat on the other side? Men and women. They were divided.
They were separate. Men sat on one side, women on the other. But what you may not know is that the men sat together according to their trade, according to their occupation. What was Paul by occupation? A tent maker. What was Priscilla and Aquila by occupation? Tent makers.
So they were seated probably next to each other. Hi, I'm Aquila. That's my wife over on the other side. Wave, Priscilla. And I'm Aquila. I'm a tent maker. Oh, Paul.
I'm a tent maker, too. So they hit it off. Then the husband and wife came to faith in Christ, became colleagues of Paul the Apostle, became very important to the ministry, and evidently started a church in their home. For the first 200 years of Christianity, churches met in homes.
It was very convenient. There were no public church buildings like we have today. Then the persecution hit.
They were all driven underground. And then after that emerged more formal church buildings. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus, verse 7, and Junia, my kinsmen, my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ.
And stack us, my beloved. Urbanus was a common name for slaves in those days. There were many Urbanuses as a common name. Urbanus means city bread. So it was a generic name, usually for a slave, who was raised in the city.
City slicker slave. But what's interesting is in the same verse, stack us. That's an uncommon name. And in antiquity, the only stack us we know of is somebody who is of the royal household of Caesar. What I love is that Paul puts slave and royalty in the same line. I think he does it on purpose to show the evenness that the cross provides. We're all the same at the foot of the cross. Greet Appelis, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.
Aristobulus was, at least the one we know about, the grandson of Herod Agrippa I, which made him the great-grandson of Herod the Great. Apparently, who was saved at this time. Then, verse 11, greet Herodian. Obviously, somebody related to the household of Herod, my kinsmen. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.
Narcissus was the name of a well-known, wealthy, influential, raspy, bad dude, who was the secretary to the emperor Claudius, who obviously has repented, come to faith in Christ. So, do you remember when he writes, when Paul writes to the Philippians, I'm trying to speed through this, when Paul writes to the Philippian church and he says, hey, you know, we greet you. And believers from the royal household also greet you.
Probably referring to some of these guys. Greet, verse 12, Tryphina and Tryphosa, cute name for a couple, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord and his mother and mine.
I'd love to unravel that, but time's up. So, let's just keep going. Greet Asynchronous, Phlegon, Hermas, Petrobas, Hermes, the brethren who are with them. Greet Philologus and Julia.
Nereus, his sister, Olympus, all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. Don't you miss greeting each other with a hug? The churches of Christ greet you. Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned and avoid them. This is how you handle divisive people. Just ignore them. Don't argue with them.
Don't send a personal message back, a tweet back, an Instagram message back, a text back. Just ignore them. Because here's the thing about divisive people. They love the fact that their divisiveness has got them a voice and a platform. If you don't give them a voice and a platform and just ignore them, it drives them nuts. And I love the fact that it drives them nuts. That's the fallen nature in me.
Knowing that they're bummed out makes me happy. So, pray for me. I have to work on that.
Just avoid them. For those who are such, do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, that is, their own appetites. Probably a reference to Epicureanism, very common in that era, in that time.
A philosophy from Greece, also in Rome. And by smooth words and flattering speech, deceive the hearts of the simple. 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. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet, shortly. Sooner the better. Come soon. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Amen. Timothy, my fellow worker. Lucius, Jason, Sisipator, my kinsman, greets you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.
Wait a minute. What do you mean, Tertius wrote this letter? I thought Paul wrote this letter.
Paul did. Through Tertius. Tertius, or Tertius, let's just call him Tertius, so that we don't mess that name up or think weird thoughts. Tertius was the amanuensis. Paul dictated the letter. Tertius wrote it down. So now he's just sort of given his own little, P.S., I'm the dude that wrote it. Gaius, my host, the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you.
And Quardus, a brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. So he says amen here a couple times, but he keeps going. I relate.
I can relate to that. Now to him. I love this. 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 which was kept secret since the world began. That's the mystery of Jew and Gentile in one group called and loved by God in a new covenant, but has now been made manifest and by the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all nations according to the commandment of the everlasting God for obedience to the faith to God alone be wise to God alone wise be glory through Jesus Christ forever. And now he says amen and he means it. Okay, we've ended the book. Can I just give you one closing thought?
Do you mind? One closing thought. Verse 25, now to him who is able to establish you. That word, now to him who is able is the Greek, todei dunamenu. It means now to him who has the power to establish you.
And why am I bringing that out? I want you to see this. The book ends of this book of Romans that talk all about the wrath of God, the grace of God, the plan of God, the will of God. The book ends are the power of God.
The power of God. The book begins with power. The book ends with power.
In chapter 1 verse 16 Paul says, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power, dunamen, power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Power to save you. Now he ends with power. So the book of Romans at the end, here's the encapsulated form. God has the power to save you. God has the power to sanctify you.
God has the power to stabilize you, to establish you. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from the series Expound Romans. Now we want to tell you about an opportunity you have to take your knowledge of God's word to a deeper level. Personal or small group Bible study is a great way to learn God's word. But what if you want to learn more?
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