Wright has impressed me with the need to see the divisive nature of the threat to the Roman church, and that a passage like Romans 16:17-20 is not just a final idea to raise while Paul thinks of closing his letter. Instead …
The entire letter is shaped by the concern to form the new people of God, the Church, the “in Christ” community, which will be inclusive of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus.
So, this passage once again returns to the theme of dissension. That Paul has listed the various groups probably leads him to think once again about the problem. To think of the millions who have read and been nourshed by this letter, and to think that this letter was originally addressed to what by our standards today would be a small church. A series of house churches.
The divisive ones are noted by:
1. They opposed the gospel: the basics.
2. They serve their own appetites rather than the Lord.
3. Their rhetorical skills are notable and effective.
4. They are met with wisdom and the absence of guile.
5. They will be crushed by the God who brings peace.