Romans 16:17-27

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 29, 1999


Paul winds up the letter with some personal stuff.

:17-18 A warning

:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

markskopeo – to look at, observe, contemplate; to mark; to fix one's eyes upon, direct one's attention to. It comes from the word skopos, the goal or end one has in view. Even if you don’t physically have a "goal" in view, your mind is set on the goal.

The idea is to pay close attention to someone who fits this description.

Don’t ignore them. Mark them.

divisionsdichostasia – dissension, division. Literally, "twice standing". These people are causing people to divide into groups.

offencesskandalon – the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick; any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling; any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin

We saw Paul use this word when he was talking about handling the "gray" issues –

Ro 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother's way.

Whereas Paul was trying to show the people how to operate in love and not cause another person to stumble, these people were forcing certain issues and causing others to stumble.

"If he stumbles, what is that to me?" they might say.


doctrinedidache – teaching; that which is taught; doctrin; from didasko – to teach; the thing taught or enjoined; to explain or expound a thing

This is a pretty broad word. Don’t just think of it describing only things like who God is or how we are saved. It can carry some pretty practical things as well.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about things like not being angry at others, learning to forgive, not lusting in your heart, loving your enemies, praying, not being anxious about the future, not judging others, and practicing what you preach. At the end of it all …

Mt 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

We have an example in Revelation of the word –

Re 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Balaam’s doctrine involved causing others to stumble in areas like food or sex, just like Paul is warning about here in Romans.

The writer to the Hebrews wrote,

Heb 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

have learnedmanthano – to learn, be appraised; to learn by use and practice; to be in the habit of, accustomed to

avoidekklino – to turn aside, deviate (from the right way and course); to turn (one's self) away, to turn away from, keep aloof from one's society; to shun one


Watch out for those who would lead you away from God’s Word.

The "doctrine" we’ve learned is what is in the Word. When people start trying to get us to do things contrary to God’s Word, we’re in dangerous waters.

I think we need to be kind of careful with this verse. If we’re not careful, then we can use this verse to cut off anyone we don’t get along with.


I remember coming across a website a few months ago put up by a guy who felt it was his call in life to point out the false prophets of the world. That’s not a bad thing, until you get to reading his stuff. You find out that every Christian leader who has ever said anything is a false prophet. He doesn’t agree with anyone. When you get down to it, he claims that he’s the only guy with all the right answers.

Instead, we need to be careful to limit this verse to those who would try to divide the church by either a false teaching about God, or who is teaching an incorrect practice to the church.

I think that bad theological groups would include things like Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and even people in some of the mainline denominations who would deny that Jesus is God, or that the Bible is the Word of God.

I think that some of the bad "practice" groups might include the churches that teach that homosexuality is okay.

Pastor Chuck writes,

"There are always those that have some weird trip to lay on the body of Christ. They feel that it is their God given duty to lay this weird understanding on the body. Now I feel that if God has given you a special understanding of the scripture, some insight which is sort of unique and different, but God has given it to you and it is important that the entire church receive the same understanding that you have. I think it would be well for you to first of all allow us to observe how this understanding has brought you into a closer deeper relationship with God. How it has benefited your own walk and made you more in the image of Christ, walking in love. When we have the opportunity to see how this truth has transformed you into the image of Christ then we will becoming and saying tell me, share with me what is it that makes you different. But to just go laying your trip on people, when it hasn't had any fruit in your own life causes me to wonder do I need to have that same understanding that you have. What has it done for you? I think that that is only fair."

:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly;

servedouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service

bellykoilia – the whole belly, the entire cavity; the gullet; to be given up to the pleasures of the palate, to gluttony; the innermost part of a man, the soul, heart as the seat of thought, feeling, choice


A divisive person is only thinking of themselves.

If you’re ever going to learn to get along with others in this life, you’re going to have to learn somewhere along the line that you can’t always have it your way. There comes a time when you have to sacrifice your rights and your appetites for the sake of others.

Paul wrote,

(Phil 2:1-11 NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? {2} Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. {3} Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. {4} Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. {5} Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. {6} Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. {7} He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. {8} And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross. {9} Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, {10} so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, {11} and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Unity comes when you are willing to sacrifice your own comfort for the sake of others. Unity only can come when you are willing to humble yourself and to serve others.

Too often we can fall into a trap of thinking that true happiness comes when we finally get all of our needs met.

But the truth is that God’s desire for us finding true fulfillment is in learning to meet the needs of others and helping them out.

:18 and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

good wordschrestologia – fair speaking, the smooth and plausible address which simulates goodness

fair speecheseulogia – praise; fine discourse, polished language; an invocation of blessing, benediction

deceiveexapatao – to deceive; from apatao – to cheat, beguile, deceive

simpleakakos – without guile or fraud, harmless, free from guilt. Literally, "not evil". NIV has "naïve", NAS has "unsuspecting".


Be careful of the person who always flatters you.

(Prov 26:28 NLT) A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin.


Men seldom flatter without a purpose; and they who listen to such music may expect to pay the piper.

Aesop (Fl. C. 550 B.C.)


Flattery is like chewing gum--enjoy it briefly, but don't swallow it!

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 207.


In ancient Greece, the politically crafty philosopher Aristippus had learned to get along in court by flattering the tyrant King Denys. Aristippus looked down his nose at some of his less prosperous fellow philosophers and wise men who would not stoop that low. One day he saw his colleague Diogenes washing some vegetables and he said to him disdainfully: "If you would only learn to flatter King Denys you would not have to be washing lentils."

Diogenes looked up slowly and in the same tone replied, "And you, if you had only learned to live on lentils, would not have to flatter King Denys."

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 206.

:19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

obediencehupakoe – obedience, compliance, submission; obedience rendered to anyone's counsels, an obedience shown in observing the requirements of Christianity

is come abroadaphikneomai – to come from a place; to come to, arrive

I am gladchairo – to rejoice, be glad

wisesophos – wise; wise, skilled in letters, cultivated, learned

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy

simpleakeraios – unmixed, pure as in wines or metals; of the mind, without a mixture of evil, free from guile, innocent, simple

evilkakos – of a bad nature; base, wrong, wicked; troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful


Be untouched with wickedness.

I don’t think we need to be so naïve that we don’t know what is evil, but we certainly don’t need to be playing with fire.

I know that some pastors listen to some of the garbage radio talk shows, supposedly so they can know what their people are listening to. That’s a dangerous approach. God says,

(Deu 12:29-31 KJV) When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; {30} Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. {31} Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

You don’t need to be experienced in evil things. You need to stay away from them.

I grew up as a pretty good kid. I received the Lord in eighth grade. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t smoke. I didn’t drink. I have to admit that there were times when people would be sharing their testimony about the hard life they had before Jesus, that I’d kind of wish I had experienced some of those things. That’s a dangerous thing to wish for. Stay far away from evil.


Be smart with the good things.

We don’t need to be ignorant of everything. Know what’s good. Get a doctorate in what is good. There’s too many good things to do that you don’t need to waste time with the bad stuff.

:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

bruisesuntribo – break, to break in pieces, shiver; to tread down; to put Satan under foot and (as a conqueror) trample on him; to break down, crush; to tear one's body and shatter one's strength


Victory comes in obedience.

If we keep ourselves inexperienced in evil things, and experts in good things, we’ll see victory over Satan.

Sometimes we can’t help it when we’re tempted.

(Gen 39:7-10 KJV) And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. {8} But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; {9} There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? {10} And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

Joseph worked for this household. He was going to be near this woman every day. He could do nothing about that aspect.

(Gen 39:11-13 KJV) And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. {12} And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. {13} And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,

But when the temptation came too close, he ran.

It cost him. He ended up in prison for a false accusation. But he still stayed close to the Lord.

And God rewarded him for his obedience.

:21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Timotheus – Timothy, Paul’s younger disciple. During Paul’s second and third journeys, Timothy would often be sent on short assignments to check up on the churches.

Timothy had been with Paul earlier in Macedonia, when he had written to the Corinthians –

2Co 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy [our] brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Now Timothy is in Corinth with Paul when he writes to the Romans.

workfellowsunergos – a companion in work, fellow worker

:22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Tertius was the scribe who wrote while Paul dictated.

:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.

Gaius – there was a man named Gaius in the Corinthian church:

1Co 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

chamberlain – Erastus was the city treasurer in Corinth, a prominent man.

:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel

is of powerdunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

to stablishsterizo ("steroids") – to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant, confirm, one's mind


God is able to keep you stable.

Sometimes we wonder how we can ever keep going. We want to quit and run away. God is strong enough to keep us steady.

Jude writes,

(Jude 1:24 KJV) Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

We read on Sunday,

(Isa 40:28-31 KJV) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. {29} He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. {30} Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: {31} But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Are you waiting eagerly and expectantly for the Lord? Are you looking for Him to show up?

He’ll renew your strength, whether it’s enough for you to mount up with eagles’ wings, or just enough to keep walking.

:25 and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

was kept secretsigao – to keep silence, hold one's peace; to be kept in silence, be concealed

:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

made manifestphaneroo – to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way

:27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.