Chapter sixteen concludes this letter with Paul’s traditional final greetings, yet it is significantly different from his other letters (Romans 16:1-16). Paul names more people (a total of 26 plus generic “sister, brother, others”) than in any of his other letters. This is interesting given the fact that he had never yet been there, yet he refers to many of them as his dear friends. One possible conclusion is that they had served with him (like Prisca and Aquila, Romans 16:3) at various times outside of Rome. If this were the case, it reminds us that Luke’s account in Acts is a broad overview of Paul’s ministry with a few specific incidents mentioned. Paul was obviously aware of the various small house groups and their leaders that made up the Roman church, so it is also likely that he had continually inquired about them during his travels, especially since he wanted to minister there. This points to Paul’s strategic mind, carefully planning and preparing for his work, even well in advance.
Because of the nature of the essential doctrines in this letter, a final warning was necessary to make sure that the believers understood how to deal with those who would push back and even reject what Paul had taught (Romans 16:17-20). After a final greeting from those with Paul (including Tertius, who actually wrote the letter for him), Paul closed with a benediction praising “the only wise God” and Jesus for the new revelation of these truths which God had “kept secret for long ages” and had only hinted at “through the prophetic scriptures.” Such a fitting conclusion to the greatest book in all the New Testament – the introduction, explanation, and application of God’s gift of righteousness to all who believe.