Romans Chapter 16
KLMX Sept 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. For the past 2 years Iíve been working thru Paulís letter to the Roman church and this week, weíre going to cover the last chapter and finish up this study. Itís been an interesting trip and Iíve learned a lot. If youíre interested in getting all of the Romans message, please call the church at 575.278.2421 or visit our website at www.fbcdesmoines.org and Iíd be most happy to send you a complete set of CDís. You can also find the text for most of the messages on the website. Once again, thatís 575.278.2421 and www.fbcdesmoines.org. Before getting started today, Iíll ask for Godís blessing on this message and I pray that it glorifies Him thru the truth and life that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Chapter 16 in Paulís letter to the Roman church is interesting. Up to this point, Paul has discussed some deep theological issues, including the sin of all people, the necessity for all those people to put on Christ, Godís sovereign election, predestination, the future of Israel, Christian liberty and charity, and much, much more. In his last section, he mostly greets people. Itís easy to blow over these greetings without paying them much attention, but that would be a mistake, as I hope weíll see by the time I get done with this study. Letís look at some text now:
Romans 16:1-16 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, (2) that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. (3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, (4) who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. (5) Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. (6) Greet Mary, who labored much for us. (7) Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (8) Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. (9) Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. (10) Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. (11) Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. (12) Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. (13) Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. (14) Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. (15) Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. (16) Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
This may look like just a long list of people, but a closer examination reveals some interesting things. First, itís important to note that Paul finds it important to take the time to greet these people. This is, after all, the Apostle Paul. The well-traveled, highly educated, last-called apostle who ended up writing a large chunk of the New Testament. I meanÖthis is Paul!!! And yet, he takes the time to greet these individuals with a personal greeting. Not only does he remember their names, but he notes specific things about them.
He says of Pricilla and Aquila that they risked their own lives for Paul, of Epaenetus that he was an early convert during trips to Achaia, Mary labored much for them, Andronicus and Junius were Christians before Paul, and so on. What this illustrates for us is the heart that a pastor should have for his flock. A pastor isnít just a remote and isolated teacher but should be keenly aware of the flock placed under his care. He should know his people by name, know their works, know their troubles and trials, and should be able to greet them.
This is one great blessing of pasturing a small church- itís so much easier and actually even possible to know the flock in this manner. In a large church, itís too easy for people to slip between the cracks and for the pastor to become just a speaker who appears on the pulpit every Sunday. I was reading about some large churches who project a video image of the preacher to the smaller satellite churches- in other words, the pastor is not physically present- and I thought to myself "how in the world can this man know his flock?" Perhaps there is a counselor or a under- pastor present who does, but I dunnoÖ the New Testament model seems to me to be a pastor who is directly involved with the flock. Anything else is almost like having a weekly "guest preacher". In any case, though, itís clear from Romans 16 that Paul knows his fellow Christians.
Itís interesting to track down some of these names. Theyíre not just isolated names which appear nowhere else, but are, instead, names which crop up throughout the New Testament. This serves at least 2 purposes- 1) it helps to get to know these people a little better and 2) it helps knit the New Testament together into a cohesive whole. Letís take a few names and see where they pop up.
Aquila and Pricilla show up in several places:
Acts 18:1-3 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. (2) And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. (3) So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
Acts 18:18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.
Acts 18:24-26 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. (25) This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. (26) So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
2 Timothy 4:19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
Aquila and Pricilla evidently were well known to the early church. In the Acts 18:1-3 passage, Paul meets them in Corinth and stays with them. From that passage we also learn that Paul was a tent-maker by trade. When Paul left Corinth in Acts 18:18, we see that Aquila and Pricilla go with him to Syria. A little later in chapter 18, we see the pair instructing Apollos at Ephesus. In Paulís letter to the Corinthians, we learn that Aquila dn Pricilla have a church thatís in their house. At that time, most, if not all, congregations met in private homes. And in the Romans 16 passage, we learn that Aquila and Pricilla risked their own necks to save Paul. We donít know the details of that, but we do know that Paul was the subject of a riot in Ephesus caused by followers of the goddess Diana. Itís possible that Aquila and Pricilla were involved in saving Paul during that mess. In any case, though, we have quite a bit of information on this couple and tracking them around the New Testament helps bring both them and it to life.
Epaenetus is mentioned next and Paul says that he was the first fruits of Achaia to Christ. Since Paul was the first to evangelize in Achaia, it follows then that Epaenetus was one of Paulís converts, that is, that Epaenetus was converted by the Holy Spirit as a result of Paulís teaching. We find some more of these early converts in:
1 Corinthians 16:15-16 I urge you, brethren- you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints- (16) that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
Immediately after this passage is when Paul also mentions Aquila and Pricilla in 1 Corinthians 16:19, which weíve previously read.
So, again, we see that the early believers seemed to have good contact with each other- certainly as good as was possible in those pre-Internet, pre-cell phone days! Epaenetus is a first fruits of Paulís mission to Achaia, as is the household of Stephanas- and Epaenetus may have been of that household. The people there evidently knew Aquila and Pricilla since Paul passes on their greetings in his letter to the Corinthians. I think these passages have some bearing on people who claim to be Christians but never go to church and never mingle with other believers. Here in the early church, we see considerable evidence of mingling and fellowship and that should be our pattern.
Furthermore, as weíll see in the next few days, fellowship occurs among all kinds of social classes. Christians donít just mingle with people like them- they should fellowship with all Christians, of all social classes and working classes and so forth. It is a body of Christ and there are many parts to that body, all necessary for a correct working of the body as a whole.
I think weíll stop here for today and tomorrow weíll resume looking at some of the other names in Paulís conclusion. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines- join us again tomorrow at 9:45 am here on KLMX radio. May the God of peace shine the light of Jesus Christ into your heart, to His glory, Amen.
Romans 16, Part 2