As Paul draws his letter to a close he shifts from theology and instruction to some personal words regarding his future travel plans. He intends to visit the church at Rome and then travel on to Spain, but first he has to take care of the needy churches in Jerusalem. He does ask the brethren to pray for him because his visit will be possible as long as his mission to Jerusalem succeeds. He realizes that all his plans will succeed only as they are in accord with God’s will not his own. Although he did finally get to Rome (and possibly to Spain) it was not in the way or within the time he had intended. Thus if we want all our prayers to succeed we should always be aware that we must ask according to God’s will. The prayer “Thy will be done” is the only prayer that never fails.
Paul lastly sends greetings to many of the brethren at the church in Rome, including some of his own relatives. The list is noted for its diversity for it includes both Jews and Romans, both slaves and free people and people of diverse ethnicities and cultures. Prominent among the workers he commends are 9 women. This shows us how diverse the early church was. Sure they had difficulties relating to one another, but the Roman Christians were humble enough to realize this and were working to live in harmony.
The contemporary local church should reflect this same unity in diversity without sacrificing either love or orthodoxy. Those churches and church members that do compromise on either love or the truth of God’s word are unhealthy, introverted, immature and possibly apostate. The kingdom of God is composed of men and women drawn from every tribe and nation united as one to sing God’s praises. This is the church: the mystery now revealed in Christ Jesus.