Studying the Bible. Making a Tremendous Discovery. Romans 1:1-6 and 16:25-26: How the book of Romans begins and ends.
Paul’s use of a phrase at the beginning and end of his letter to the Romans, should help the reader understand the main topic of Paul’s entire letter. (You can read Paul’s opening and closing of his letter to the Romans here.) Nowhere else in his writings does Paul use the phrase “bring about the obedience of faith among the unreached peoples,” but he writes it at the beginning and the end of his letter to the Romans:
Through Christ we have received grace and apostleship in order to bring about the obedience of faith among the unreached peoples (Romans 1:5)
[Christ is proclaimed] so that all the unreached peoples might come to the obedience of faith (Romans 16:25-26).
At the beginning of Romans and at the end, then, Paul bookends his theology with references to Jesus Christ’s great commission. The careful reader should ask whether “the coincidence” of writing the same phrase at the start and end informs us of a theme that Paul intends the reader to find through his letter. If we ask, “What is Paul trying to say to the readers?,” we will be driven to consider the entire letter as mission theology. Most theologians read Romans and find the theological truth that we are justified by faith (5:1). They find the praiseworthy truth that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1). These great truths are like finding silver in the stream. (This is where the reader may wonder whether Blincoe is slighting these great truths in some way). But is Paul actually writing about the gold? Romans is not only Paul’s greatest theological treatise; it is his greatest explanation of the Great Commission.. In preaching Paul’s theology, the preacher makes much of the silver in the book of Romans. Don’t settle for the silver. Don’t miss the gold. Don’t miss the bookends. The careful reader will ask, “What is Paul saying in Romans 1, and 2, and 3, and 4, and 5, and 6, and 7, and 8? What is Paul continuing to say in Romans 9, and 10, and 11? What is he still saying in Romans 12, and 13, and 14, and 15, and 16?” I believe that beginning to end, Paul is laying out the unity of the Bible to bring the reader to understand this one great golden truth: Jesus Christ has “confirmed the promises made to the patriarchs so that the unreached peoples will glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9). More glory is still to come, as more unreached peoples glorify God for his mercy. And if you can think of anything better than that you will have to tell me, because I cannot. What if this is the big one! What if this is the gold in the book of Romans? I think it is. No wonder Paul begins and ends the book of Romans with his main theme of the entire book, “Christ is proclaimed so that the unreached peoples may come to the obedience of faith.”