“Greeting to all my fellow Christians. Those who are with me also send their salutations. God’s people salute you, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits. Amen” ( paraphrased)
Paul gives a fourfold greeting as he closes his letter. He expresses his love for them, as well as love from his companions, from Roman Christians and those connected with Nero’s palace. “Greet each one” Paul writes. The Christians at Rome feel a kindred spirit for the Christians at Philippi, although it is doubtful these two church families ever met. Mutual love causes Believers to view themselves as branches connected to the same Vine. Christianity can flourish in any soil and in any household—even Caesar’s.
Paul has made reference earlier to the imperial Praetorian Guards who have come under his teachings and influence (1:13). “Caesar’s household” includes slaves and servants who come into contact with Paul in the dungeon under Nero’s palace. He is a well-known prisoner for the cause of Christ. Paul’s salutation and benediction prove the Gospel can penetrate even the darkest domain in Rome: the emperor’s castle.
History depicts Nero’s reign as abominable, cruel and licentious. It is under his notorious dictatorship Christians are first persecuted in the Roman Empire. Many believe the names in Romans 16 include jailers and servants led to Christ by Paul during his dungeon imprisonment. In the Rome of Paul’s era, there are only two persons people can worship: Caesar or Christ. That Believers are found in the same building in which Nero resides is one of the great ironies of Christianity. In effect, Christ has challenged Caesar in his own home.
In order to appreciate the contrast between emperor-worship and Christianity, examine the major events in Nero’s life.
<> Nero is born December 15, 37 AD.
<> He reigns as Roman Emperor (Caesar) from 54–68 AD.
<> He banishes his own mother in 55 AD and has her killed in 59 AD.
<> During his reign, Paul, Peter and James the Lord’s brother are martyred.
<> In 64 AD, a great fire devastates 10 of the 14 districts of the city of Rome. Nero starts the fire in order to clear land for a “New Rome” he intends to build. He becomes desperate to find a scapegoat for the fire. In order to divert attention from himself, he accuses the Christians of arson. As a result, hundreds are killed by wild beasts or covered with tar, crucified and burned to light up Nero’s gardens at night.
<> After discovering a plot upon his life in 65 AD, he panics and murders many suspects.
<> In 68 AD, Nero attempts suicide, but lacks the courage to go through with it.
<> The next day, he commands his slave to stab him to death.
While Nero is still in power, Paul is released in 63 AD and is free for four or five years. He probably visits the Philippians two or three times during this period. Ultimately, he is arrested again and decapitated on the Ostian Way near Rome in 67 AD.
Paul writings are indelibly stamped with his unique personality. His letters give us insight into the Church in its infancy. The life of this pro-active disciple proves that any Spirit-led Believer can rise above the worst of circumstances.
This letter begins with grace and ends with grace (1:2; 4:23). Almost all of Paul’s epistles end with this concept, which encompasses all the blessings originating in Christ. Throughout his ministry, he is extremely conscious of the dynamic, unmerited favor of God.
Consider the following acrostic:
SALUTATION – STUDY QUESTIONS
1. In this final chapter, Paul sends greetings from people in Caesar’s household.
In 1:13, he makes reference to:
A. Roman guards
B. Roman roads
C. Roman laws
D. Roman philosophy
E. none of the above
2. What does Paul wish for the Philippians in the very last verse that he also wishes in the last verse of Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and I & II Thessalonians?
B. good health
SALUTATION – REFLECTION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR COUPLES
1. In his closing verses, Paul sends greetings to his friends. Discuss how you would like your mate to greet you each morning.
2. Paul ends most of his epistles by wishing grace upon his readers. Discuss ways in which the grace of God has impacted your marital happiness.
ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS
1. In his closing verses, Paul sends greetings to his friends. How you would like others to greet you? What expressions of friendship are the most meaningful to you? Write a paragraph concerning why expressing honest appreciation for others is important.
2. Paul ends most of his epistles by wishing grace to his readers. Write a paragraph explaining how the grace of God has impacted your life.