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Personal Greetings May 28, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Romans 16:1-27.

Summary: Paul begins this passage by introducing Phoebe, a deaconess in the church at Cenchrea, to the Roman Christians. He asks the Roman believers to receive her as a Christian – as saints ought to be received – and to render her any assistance that she required, as she had been a benefactor to others. He also asks them to greet Priscilla and Aquila, who have partnered with him in spreading the Gospel. At one point Priscilla and Aquila had exposed themselves to danger in order to save him, and all of the Gentile churches were grateful to them for this selfless act. In addition, he asks them to greet Priscilla and Aquila’s “house church,” and he asks them to greet Epenetus – who was the first Christian in Asia. He also asks them to greet Mary, who had worked very hard to help Paul and his companions. In addition, he asks them to greet Andronicus and Junia, who had been imprisoned with him; they were highly regarded by the apostles and had accepted Christ before he did. He also asks them to greet the following people:

  • Ampliatus, who he loved as a brother in Christ
  • Urbanus, who labored as a servant of Christ, and Stachys
  • Apelles, who was an approved Christian, and the household of Aristobulus
  • Herodion and the believers in the household of Narcissus
  • Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis, who labored intensely for the Lord
  • Rufus, who was a distinguished believer, and his mother
  • Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the other believers who spent time with them
  • Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, Olympas, and the other believers who spent time with them.

He then encourages them to greet one another in a way that would express mutual affection and equality in God’s sight. Now Paul instructs them to 1) pay close attention to false teachers – i.e. by opposing their actions – who would cause dissensions in their church and 2) avoid these false teachers. Indeed, the false teachers did not want to please the Lord; instead, they used plausible arguments and flattering words to influence the unwary. The obedience of the Roman church to their religious teachers was widely known – which pleased Paul – yet he wanted them to be 1) wise, yielding good and 2) innocent, preventing the occurrence of evil. To encourage the Roman believers in their struggle against the false teachers, Paul declares that God, who is the author of peace, will cause Satan to be trodden underfoot; he then prays that Jesus Christ will show His favor to them and help them. Now the following people sent their greetings to the Roman church:

  • Timothy, Lucius, Jason and Sosipater
  • Tertius, to whom Paul actually dictated this epistle
  • Gaius, who hosted Paul and other Christians at his home
  • Erastus and Quartus.

Paul concludes the epistle with a long doxology that actually contains a brief description of the Gospel and a burst of praise of its awesomeness; in particular, God keeps the Roman believers firm and constant through the Gospel, which was originally preached by Jesus Christ – divinely revealing the mystery that has been hidden for ages. While the Gospel has been hinted at in several instances in the Old Testament, it is now fully revealed by God’s command in order that all nations might know it. In fact, the Gospel displays the wisdom of God, compelling Paul to praise Him as the only One who is wise and – through Jesus Christ – gives Him the glory that He deserves.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see a plethora of personal greetings from Paul to several members of the Roman church – along with some greetings from Paul’s companions. Some of these personal greetings include a brief description of the church member in question, which provides the reader some insight into how they lived their lives. This then raised the following questions in my mind:

  • How did Epenetus come to his saving faith in Christ? Was he a willing convert to Christianity, or was he a hardened skeptic? How did his family and friends respond to his conversion?
  • How was Apelles tested and confirmed in his faith? What sorts of difficulties and trials did he experience? Did others come to faith as a result of hearing his testimony?
  • How did Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis labor for the Lord? What sorts of ministries were they involved in? Did they face opposition over the course of their ministry work?

Indeed, this chapter serves as a reminder of the refreshing fact that every Christian has a unique testimony. I, for one, am very interested in meeting other Christians in the next life and hearing their stories.

Verses 25-27 contain a concluding burst of praise to God for His Gospel message, which has brought salvation to the Gentiles. These three verses are an apt conclusion to this beautiful epistle, which can be essentially summarized as follows:

  • Paul describes the Gospel message that has spurred him to labor so diligently and faithfully for God in the wide region between Jerusalem and Illyricum (chapters 1-11)
  • In light of the Gospel that Paul has just presented, his readers should honor God in their relations with Him and with each other (chapters 12-16).

It really is quite neat how the Gospel is the driving force behind the entire letter. From reading this epistle, it is evident that Paul’s passionate arguments – and well-reasoned rebuttals to the objections of his opponents – stem from his all-consuming desire to glorify God by advancing the Gospel. As a believer, I must confess that I don’t have the same passion for glorifying God in my life that Paul displayed – yet I am confident that God will continue His good work within me until the day of Christ Jesus. Along the way I hope to make the same impact on others that Paul produced during his difficult – yet ultimately fulfilling – Christian walk.

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1. Paul Boasts About His Sufferings « Ringing In - February 16, 2012

[…] encourage him in his ministry. Now some believers fell into this category; for example, perusing Romans 16:1-27 shows that Paul was not entirely alone in his Christian walk. Yet the fact that some […]


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