JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…she has been a great help to many people, including me.”
November 2, 2009, 1:22 am
Filed under: L Letter to Romans

In chapter 16 Paul provides a list of brothers and sisters in Christ whom he is grateful for. They are those who have learned to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” and those who have “clothed themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”! These are men and women who have made “every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

The first is “our sister Phoebe” who is the person carrying Paul’s letter from the church in Cenchrea which is close to Corinth in Greece to the church in Rome. Because the Christians in Rome do not know her, Paul wants them “to receive her in the Lord” just like any sister of Christ, but because of her service to the church, Paul goes further and asks them also “give her any help she may need” because “she has been a great help to many people, including” Paul.

The next list of names is an interesting list of brothers and sisters. Paul does not address so many in any other letter except for this letter to the Romans. But this list of names are for people Paul knows and perhaps have just recently arrived or have only been in Rome for a short time because Paul asks the church in Rome to “greet” them. Others suspect that they may have been sent to Rome to help establish the church in Rome and lay a greater foundation for expressing Jesus Christ in this the imperial city of the Roman Empire.

Would you know that at the top of Paul’s list to help lay a foundation in Rome would be “Priscilla and Aquila,” Paul’s “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” who “risked their lives for” Paul. Both Paul and “all the church of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” But not just them but also “the church that meets at their house.” Is it possible that the church that met in Priscilla and Aquila’s home in Ephesus all together left to go to Rome to express Jesus together? Amazing! Perhaps the rest of the list of names are some of those who make up “the church that meets at their house.” They have been found by Paul as ones whom God has given “endurance and encouragement” and who has also given this transplanted church such “a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus” that they left all, forsook all “so that with one heart and mouth (they) may glorify God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” by expressing Jesus’ love to those in Rome so that others may know “the God of hope” who can “fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that (others) may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”! Is it possible that what Paul has been writing about in his letter has been a reflection of this church that left all to go to Rome?

As we look at these names and descriptions of members of this body of Christ, Paul names many of his relatives. His relatives include “Andronicus and Junias” who not only were his relatives but also “have been in prison with” Paul and whom Paul considered as church planters or “apostles” before he even became a Christian. I assume then that they were in Jerusalem “on the day of Pentecost” when the church was birthed by the Holy Spirit. The other relative of Paul that is mentioned being a part of this church is Herodion. Later in the letter Paul mentions also “Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives” but they are still with Paul along with Timothy in Greece. As I reflect on this, how I desire to see my own father and siblings to be “in Christ” and involved in expressing Jesus Christ through His body the church. How I praise God for my wife and daughter whom God has touched with salvation and who desire to express Jesus to others! My boys are not to far off from belonging to Jesus and look forward to that wonderful day! Paul never does mention his parents, wife or siblings specifically and perhaps these relatives are not his closest kin.

Paul also mentions two “dear friend(s)” of his who also make up the church that planted itself in Rome. These are Epenetus “who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia” and “Stachys.” Paul also specifically mentions “Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord” and “Persis.” How wonderful to have “dear friends” in Christ! Those whom you can be so close to.

Paul also mentions those in this church who “work very hard in the Lord” such as “Tryphena and Tryphosa” and “Persis” who are all women, Persis, Paul’s “dear friend,” specifically who “has worked very hard in the Lord.” Praise God for women in the body of Christ who “work hard in the Lord”!

Paul mentions some entire households who went with this church to go to Rome, those of “Aristobulus” and “Narcissus.” Paul specifically mentions “Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” How the body of Christ, the people of God, are such genuinely a family of God!

Other than Priscilla and Aqila and Timothy, Paul also asks the church in Rome to “Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ.” He also asks them to “Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ.” Perhaps Urbanus and Apelles has been part of Paul’s church planting companions in Ephesus and have been sent by Paul now as part of this church plant in Rome. Paul also mentions “Mary, who worked very hard for you.” It seems Mary is from Rome, and was the one who provided Paul some information about what God has been doing in the life of the early church plant, that had resulted from Christians from Jerusalem returning back to Rome to live Jesus’ life together.

Then Paul lists a few more brothers and sisters in Christ. All important who together make up the body of Christ who express Jesus love from house to house “so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.” In this list of names of faithful followers of Jesus who made up such a devoted body of believers, I am reminded of what Paul was saying in chapter 12, and perhaps Paul was thinking of them, how “just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” and who are “devoted to one another in brotherly love” who are “never lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” who are “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” How they must have loved one another! Each of these followers of Jesus gave up their lives, they died to themselves, they offered their bodies as living sacrifices, so that others might hear and see the good news of Jesus Christ lived out in their daily lives. May we, God’s people, truly be about living “by faith in the Son of God, who (loves us) and gave himself for (us)” because we “have been crucified with Christ,” no longer living according to the flesh, but letting Christ live in and through us!

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