A Commentary by John Stott
Romans. 15:14-16:27. Conclusion: The providence of God in the ministry of Paul.
The great exposition (chapters 1-11) and the great exhortation (12:1-15:13) are over. Paul’s readers may well be thinking that his two benedictions (15:5, 13) are the conclusion of his letter. But he has not finished yet. He intends to return to the question of his relations with the Roman church, which he began to open up earlier (1:8-13). He wants to take them into his confidence about the salient characteristics of his ministry, which will throw light for them on why he has not yet visited them and on his plan to do so soon.
But first he wonders whether they may have been offended by the fact, contents and tone of his letter. Has he been presumptuous to address a church he did not found and has never visited? Has he given the impression that he regards their Christianity as defective and immature? Has he been too outspoken? The apostle seems to be experiencing a twinge of apprehension about how his letter will be received. If so, the rest of it will disarm and reassure them. He writes very personally (maintaining an ‘I-you’ directness throughout), affectionately (‘my brothers’, 15:14) and candidly. He opens his heart to them about the past, present and future of his ministry, he asks humbly for their prayers, and he sends them many greetings. In these ways he gives us insight into the outworking of God’s providence in his life and work.