25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)
Through the Bible: Romans 14-16
Paul ends where he began, with a call to all believers to bring about the obedience of faith. Compare the second-to-last verse of Romans to Romans 1:5-6
5 through [Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
We can’t leave Romans for the theologians. We have ALL received grace and apostleship (go back to Day 341) in order to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations. So Paul reminds of that charge in Romans 16. God has made His will known to all the nations through His perfect word.
If you’re a woman, “all” means you, too. It makes me sad to even have to say that, but in many circles the assumption is that the gifts of preaching and evangelism, of serving and apostleship, are to be exercised only by men. But consider some highlights from Paul’s closing greetings in Romans 16:
- More women are named in Paul’s closing to the Romans than in any of Paul’s other letters.
- Romans, in contrast to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:12, does not contain any prohibitions against women in leadership. Phoebe is described as a deaconess in the church at Cenchreae. She was probably the one to deliver Paul’s letter to the Romans in the first place. Furthermore, if you are using the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, or the good old King James, Andronicus and Junia (a woman) are described as “outstanding among the apostles” in 16:7, implying that both of them had received “grace and apostleship.” Four women— Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa (whose names mean “dainty” and “delicate”) and Persis are all described as “working very hard in the Lord.” The word translated hard work indicates backbreaking, physical labor. For what it’s worth, this word is only applied to women in this passage.
Simply put, the job of bringing about the obedience of faith is too big for us to exclude women from fulfilling it. We spend a disproportionate amount of time in the church arguing from Scripture about what women can’t do. All the while, the nations are waiting for all of us who are “called to belong to Jesus Christ” to step up, step out, and preach the gospel where Christ has not yet been named (Romans 15:19).