Lord, thank You for bestowing upon me the greatest title imaginable: “Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Read Romans 16:1–16
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon 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 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 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.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1).
This chapter reads like an accompanying note attaching to the main letter. The Gospel probably originally reached Rome through migrant or merchant Christians, like those in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9–12). These closing verses are instructive because they invalidate the great-man theory of the first church and introduce us to that “cloud of witnesses,” the foot-soldiers who constitute the nuts and bolts of the church. An impressive bunch they are, too, distributed among the house churches of the city (5,14).
Twenty-four names are mentioned. Although he was yet to visit Rome, Paul already knows a
surprising number of people there. Levels of mobility are high. We may note the number of women who are listed, from Phoebe, the deacon or minister of the church in Cenchreae (the eastern port of Corinth), who is probably the bearer of Paul’s letter to Rome (1,2), to Priscilla, who is married to Aquila and described with him as a “fellow-worker,” to Junia, the other half of Andronicus, both of whom are “in Christ” before Paul (7). This may mean that they were believers during Jesus’ lifetime, given that Paul’s conversion is dated within a few years of the crucifixion; perhaps they were even witnesses to the risen Lord. It is debated whether Junia and Andronicus are considered apostles or whether verse 7 simply means that they are esteemed among the apostles. At any rate, what emerges is a highly positive picture of the contribution of women to the early church. Paul was no misogynist.
The list ends with the call to greet with a holy kiss. Deep mutual affection runs through this section, as it must have through the whole of the community. Finally, there are hidden stories here. Is Rufus in verse 13, for example, the son of Simon of Cyrene? (Mark 15:21). Oh, that we knew more!
Pray today for your fellow church members. How are you and they servants of the Lord?
Lord, thank You for the variety on display in the church at Rome and a preview of what heaven’s population will look like.
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