The concluding chapter of Romans bears the brunt of some criticism — especially the fact that Paul seems to consume an inordinate amount of space doing nothing more than sending “greetings” to various Christians in Rome.
Some claim that this is an example of the Scriptures containing irrelevant data, i.e., material too trivial to justify its inclusion into a body of literature that purports to be inspired of God.
The truth of the matter is, this chapter contains dozens of nuggets of divine truth — if one only has the scholastic perseverance to dig them out.
Consider Romans 16, for example, in view of a recent accusation leveled at the New Testament. Peter Gomes, a professor at Harvard, in his volume: The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (New York: Morrow, 1996), alleges that few women are fond of Paul because the “Pauline letters” are so anti-feminine (p. 221). This accusation is totally without foundation. Consider, for instance, the number of women that are mentioned in Romans 16.
- There was Phoebe, who had faithfully served the church in Cenchrea and who was commended to the saints in Rome (1-2).
- Prisca (Pricilla) was a fellow-worker in the Lord (3-5).
- Mary had been a great benefit to the brethren in the imperial city (6).
- Tryphaena and Tryphosa were tireless laborers for the cause, as indeed was Persis — a “beloved” friend of Paul’s (12).
- The mother of Rufus had also “mothered” the apostle, and he was obviously thankful for that (13).
- Julia and the sister of Nereus were also worthy of mention (15).
This is a significant list of Christian ladies in such an abbreviated space. Underscore these references and make a marginal note to this effect.
It is certainly true that woman is assigned a role that is subordinate to man in terms of leadership (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22ff), but there is no humiliation in role-submission. Rather, the act of being in submission to those in divinely appointed roles of authority is honorable in the sight of God. Note that even our Lord is submissive to the Father.
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3).
“And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
In the margin of these two verses, make a note: divine submission is honorable.
In the matters of salvation and blessings, women occupy equal status before God (Gal. 3:28). Many serve the Creator with grace and dignity — and with no ill-will for Paul!