ONE IN CHRIST
Father, today I am reminded of your patience and grace with me. Your love never lets me go, never lets me down, always lifts me up.
Read ROMANS 16:1–16
16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon[a][b] of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
3 Greet Priscilla[c] and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among[d] the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.
9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
10 Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test.
Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.
Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.
15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the churches of Christ send greetings.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you’.1 Pray for Christian friends now.
What an astonishing list! Diverse in race, gender, religious tradition, and social status; united in Christ, they are dear friends and fellow workers of Paul. The ‘holy kiss’ greeting (v 16) lifts the relationship of these people and distinguishes it – there is a new kind of familial bond between them – Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, and female.2 Despite their differences, we detect a heart-unity of those who have worked and suffered together.
First, he commends Phoebe. This impressive woman has carried Paul’s letter all the way from Cenchreae (a port near Corinth) to Rome (v 1) – she probably would have also had the responsibility of reading it to the church.3 She is a leader and a supporter of many, including Paul. Next, personal greetings, featuring a household church (v 5). Priscilla and Aquila4 had risked their lives for him. Andronicus and Junia, fellow Jews, had been in prison with him. Others may have had distinguished, imperial connections (e.g. Aristobulus, v 10; Narcissus, v 11). Some may have been slaves (e.g. Ampliatus, v 8; Julia, v 15). We imagine each ‘dear friend’ as Paul holds them briefly in his memories: their ‘fidelity’ (v 10), their hard work (v 12), their mothering of him (v 13).
Names in this triumphant procession pique our interest and shift our perspective. ‘Rufus, chosen in the Lord’ (v 13), is possibly the son of Simon of Cyrene, ‘chosen’ to carry the cross of Jesus.5 Then, if there had been any doubt, here is testimony of Paul’s honoring of the role of women in church: they are dear friends (v 12), fellow workers (v 3), ‘outstanding among the apostles’ (v 7). However, beyond their personal distinctions, this roll-call embodies the message of Paul’s magisterial epistle: ‘in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith … all one in Christ Jesus.’6
What characterizes your church most? Its diversity, its homogeneity, or its unity in Christ?
Heavenly Father, you are the creator of the world in which I live and founder of the church in which I serve. Use your church to extend your kingdom around the world.
1 Col 1:3 2 Gal 3:28 3 Scot McKnight, Reading Romans Backwards, SCM, 2019, p5 4 See Acts 18 5 Mark 15:21 6 Gal 3:26,28, italics added
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