The Importance of Greetings
Paul spends the first 16 verses of this chapter asking the Roman church to greet his people. I'm not going to reproduce the text, but that's over half of this chapter, which shows how important it is to greet people in our lives.
This may be a bit harder for us to do today because we have the convenience of digital technology to instantly connect us to whoever we want. Back then, the frequency of communication was based on physical distance. So if I wanted to communicate to someone hundreds of miles away, we could only exchange letters, not more than once per month. And it would be expensive too. That's why letters were so long. Every written word would matter, and you would also need to take into account for some time lag.
Let us be mindful of this and cherish greeting the important people in our lives.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. – Romans 16:17-18
The definition of appeal is to make a serious or urgent request. So we know Paul is serious when Paul appeals. In the US court system, there are 3 levels of court, and if you don't like the ruling of one of the lower courts, you can appeal to the higher court.
Similarly, Paul appeals to his audience beyond face value to take unity seriously and watch out for anyone who stirs up disunity.
There are only 3 times in the book of Romans that Paul used the phrase "I appeal to you": Romans 12:1, Romans 15:30, and Romans 16:17. I'll reproduce those below to give you an idea of what Paul finds important enough to appeal.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. – Romans 15:30-31
Worship, prayer, and fellowship. These are what Paul considers to be the utmost of importance.
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