In any good story, the ending is the capstone. Sometimes it’s climactic. Other times, it’s the final sense of peace in a thrilling and uneasy storyline. In any case, the ending is most often the lasting impression of the work.
Paul’s letter to the Romans is indeed a letter—it’s written as instruction and encouragement to its recipients. It has a greeting and a conclusion, and the meat of the letter is Paul’s teaching on various related subjects that the church in Rome was struggling with. Nonetheless, Paul is still telling a story with his letter.
As we have traced through this letter, we’ve seen the argument Paul has built: we’re all sinners deserving of death, but we are saved by grace through faith and God calls us to live in light of this fact. The death that sin brings is just as real as the life Jesus brings—but that life has swallowed up death. We can place our hope in this. This is our peace.
As Paul concludes the letter, he seems to tie a bow on the whole story. He’s not just saying goodbye to some friends; he’s leaving them with an ending to the story. He’s putting a final touch on the picture of God’s glory that he’s just painted.
Paul thanks the church for their kindness, but he makes a greater point: the mission is bigger than just them (Romans 15:26-28). The blessings of Christ—this gospel Paul and all of us have been called to preach—is a worldwide mission. Paul needs to take the encouragement and support of the gospel to both the Jews and the Gentiles. The good news of the gospel, the blessing of Christ, is meant to reach every corner of the world (Matthew 28:18-20). So Paul concludes his letter by asking the Romans to pray for him, and to pray for the Spirit’s work in the world.
Don’t overlook this conclusion. It is not an add-on to an otherwise majestic theological book. It is a theological statement about how the gospel is meant to move and work. The gospel is meant to come to us, and flow through us to others. This is what Paul wants for himself and for all believers.
Let’s heed Paul’s request to the Romans and pray for the blessing of Christ to infiltrate the hearts of people all over the world.
Written by Brandon D. Smith