As we have seen, most of Romans 15 deals with Paul’s plan to visit Rome after his church-planting mission in the eastern part of the Roman Empire was finished (vv. 14–32). This announcement of his plan, of course, follows Paul’s exposition of the gospel and its consequences for the life of the believer in 1:1–15:13. Having communicated all the doctrine and personal information he wanted to communicate to the Roman Christians, Paul writes a concluding wish for peace to finish his epistle (15:33).
This concluding wish is not actually the end of his letter. He adds an entire chapter of greetings and a doxology that we will study in the days ahead. But today’s passage does mark a significant break. Paul has explained all that he has needed to explain with respect to doctrine, ethics, and his plans, so it is fitting to conclude his message with a hearty “amen.”
We would miss much, however, if we were simply to move on immediately from Paul’s statement. In light of what the Apostle has said elsewhere in Romans and what the rest of the Bible teaches us, the little phrase “God of peace” carries great significance. In context, Paul likely intends his statement to mean, primarily, “the God who gives peace.” Almost everything the Apostle says in the section of his letter leading up to Romans 15:33 involves Jew-Gentile relations, and elsewhere in his writings he speaks of Jesus—who is God Himself—as our peace, the one who unites Jew and Gentile together in harmony (Eph. 2:11–12). He is the God of peace because He makes peace between Jews and Gentiles in the church.
Let us not forget that peace between Jews and Gentiles is meaningless if Jews and Gentiles are not at peace with God. When mankind fell and the relationship between Creator and creature became characterized by war, men and women were set not only against the Lord but also against each other. Thus, in early human history, Adam attempted to blame Eve for his sin and Cain murdered Abel (Gen. 3–4). Relationships between people that are fully characterized by the biblical notion of peace—wholeness, harmony, and the other blessings of the world to come—are impossible until such peace is established between God and His people. Only when we are at peace with God can we truly make peace with others. In Christ, we are at peace with the Lord, and this is the peace that God Himself provided by sparing not His Son in order to save us (Rom. 5:1; 8:31–39). He is the God of peace because in Christ He makes peace between Himself and us.