We come to the last written words of the apostle Paul. There is no fanfare, but the simple expression of his love for the Lord and His people. It is all the more moving for its sincerity and depth.
In Paul’s extensive travels and widespread ministry, he had met and worked with numerous people, and had come to love them deeply. It was customary to end letters with some form of greetings and a benediction. Here, Paul not only sent general greetings, but also named specific individuals. This demonstrates that Paul’s love for his fellow believers was not just some general sentiment that did not mean much—he truly loved and prayed for specific people.
Paul ended his epistle to the Romans by naming more than 19 people. Here, in three short verses, he mentions 10 individuals and “all the brothers”. Priscilla and Aquila were Paul’s close friends and co-workers, whom he had first met in Corinth (Acts 18:1–2). They served the Lord faithfully and were also mentioned in the final greetings in Romans 16 and 1 Corinthians 16. Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16–18) had been greatly helpful to Paul during his imprisonment. Paul sends greetings to his family with much appreciation and love. Erastus, Corinth’s director of public works (Romans 16:23), became an assistant to Paul and was well known to Timothy (Acts 19:22).
Trophimus, from Ephesus, was another of Paul’s associates (Acts 20:4; 21:29). It must have been difficult for Paul to leave him sick in Miletus; no doubt Paul prayed often for his healing. The others mentioned were Roman believers who, together with Luke, must have provided comfort and help to Paul. Paul urges Timothy to come to him quickly (v.21); such was his longing to see him one last time.
Finally, Paul ends with a benediction that the Lord would be with Timothy’s spirit and that His grace would be evident in his life (v.22). The Lord’s presence and His providential grace and power would help Timothy to be like Paul—faithful to the end.
And so concludes this great apostle, who left behind many churches he had founded, many friends and Christian communities, and a body of literature that forms half of the New Testament books. Paul’s life and ministry were remarkable because he trusted, loved, and served his remarkable Lord.
Some writers portray Paul as a task-driven missionary. What does this passage reveal about the real Paul? What evidence can you find to show that Paul cared for people and that he took relationships seriously? What implications are there for you?
What do you think is Paul’s greatest legacy? What did he leave behind? What legacy do you think you will leave behind when your earthly journey is over? What are you doing about it today?