Now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. . . .
Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen. (Romans 16:17-18, 25-27)
As Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life, Rome was the world’s political, religious, social, and economic center. There the major governmental decisions were made, and from there the gospel spread to the ends of the earth. The church in Rome was a cosmopolitan mixture of Jews, Gentiles, slaves, free people, men, women, Roman citizens, and world travelers; therefore, it had potential for both great influence and great conflict. Paul had not yet been to Rome to meet all the Christians there, but he felt a responsibility for their spiritual welfare. How wonderful, Paul proclaims, to be alive when God’s way of saving the Gentiles was becoming known throughout the world! All the Old Testament prophecies were coming true, and God used Paul as his instrument to tell this Good News.
We also live in a cosmopolitan setting with the entire world open to us, thanks to the Internet and social media. We also have the potential for both widespread influence and wrenching conflict. Therefore we’re strongly encouraged to carefully apply Paul’s teaching about unity, service, and love in order to be a good influence on others in person or as we use social media. When you read books or listen to sermons, prayerfully check the content of what is written or said to avoid being fooled by a smooth style. For an example of believers who carefully checked God’s Word, see Acts 17:10-12.