July 15th Romans, 16
1: I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3: Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5: Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. 6: Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. 7: Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8: Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. 9: Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10: Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. 11: Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. 12: Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. 13: Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14: Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. 15: Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. 16: Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
This passage is one that many people would overlook, but it is in fact a very interesting insight into Pauls circle of friends and co-workers. It’s like peeping into his address book or better still his prayer list. The first person he mentions is Phebe. Phebe is introduced to the Roman Christians because it appears that she is travelling to Rome on business for the first time. And so the letter to the Romans is a letter of commendation. Paul is delighted to commend her to them because she has been a great help to Paul in providing real hospitality to him and to many other believers. She lived in the sister port to Corinth which was situated on the eastern side of the Corinthian isthmus. No doubt her home was a place of hospitality and much needed rest for weary travellers. Paul says that they are give her a welcome in the name of the Lord and they are to assist her in whatever way they are able to do so, in the business that she has in Rome. Her name is Greek and it means ‘to be bright and radiant’. If she was anything like her name, she was a very welcome sight on long journeys and a delightful host in her home.
What follows is a long list of greetings. (The word Salute is the same as Greet.)
Paul sends greetings to Priscilla and Aquila who are now in the church at Rome. Priscilla is a Roman name and it means ‘venerable’. Aquila is Priscilla’s husband and his name is also Roman and means ‘Eagle’. They are mentioned in Acts 18v2 were they are described as tent makers like Paul and they had recently been expelled from Rome by Claudius in one of his Jewish purges. Although they had Roman names they were Jewish. They heard the preaching Paul in Corinth and became believers there. They were responsible for the conversion of the Jew Apollos who they met at Ephesus and to whom they explained the word more clearly. Apollos then continued in his own ‘missionary journey’ right through Macedonia and Greece preaching powerfully the word of the Lord and convincing the Jews of Christ’s death and resurrection. The ministry of Aquila and Pricilla had had wonderful repercussions. This couple is greatly loved and respected by Paul who says that they risked their lives for him and that he gives thanks to God for them and so do all the Gentiles churches and the church that uses their house. What a great couple they were.
Next Paul sends greetings to Epaenetus who he describes as well beloved. Clearly the warmth of christian fellowship is very strong among the believers. He was one of the first Christians of Asia or turkey. (The KJV has it wrong here to use the word Achaia) First converts always have a special place in the heart of evangelists.
Paul then sends greeting to Mary who he describes as having ‘bestowed much labour on us’. Paul never forgets what people have done for him.
The next greeting is interesting he says greet Andronicus and Junia. The name Andronicus means to be ‘in authority over men’. It is a Greek name yet the man is Jewish because he is a kinsman of Paul. They are related in some way. He was converted before Paul and is reckoned as an apostle along with Barnabas and Timothy and others although not one of the twelve. Then we have a surprise greeting go also to Junia. Her name is Roman and it means ‘to be young’ from which we get the word Junior. She is also a relative of Paul probably the husband of Andronicus and its very interesting that Paul includes her as an apostle. Both of them have had time in prison for their faith and both have an apostolic ministry.
Next Paul greets Amplias, another female name and Roman meaning ‘enlarged’. Paul describes her as beloved in the Lord.
Greeting go to Urbane whose name is a Greek form of the Roman Urbanus, meaning courteous in manners; polite, refined, elegant, Paul calls him ‘our helper in Christ’, and he includes Stachys in the same greeting who he calls ‘my beloved’. He has a Greek name taken from a type of plant - like mint.
Greetings go to Apelles, This roman name belongs to a christian who has probably gone through some trial and has proven himself faithful.
Paul sends greeting to those who live in the household of Aristobulus, (both family and servants). Tradition says that he had Royal connections and that he was wealthy and that he preached the Gospel in Britain. (He was probably a grandson of Herod and brother of Herod Agrippa, a man of great wealth, and intimate with the emperor Claudius. MO Evans.)
Greeting go to Herodion who was probably a Jewish believer who may have been one of King Herod’s distant family. Paul calls him ‘my kinsman’ which might mean that he was a Jew but probably more that he was a relative.
Next Paul sends greeting to the household of Narcissus, This name is taken from the stupefying flower ‘as in narcotic’ Paul greets the whole household who are all believers.
Greetings go to two women Tryphena and Tryphosa both of whose names mean luxurious. They might have been sisters in the flesh as well as sisters in spirit and they might even have been twins. Paul says of them that they labour in the Lord. Labour is more intense than work and has the idea of working to exhaustion.
Paul says send greetings to a woman called Persis. Her name means ‘the Persian one’ Paul says of her that she also has worked very, very hard for the Lord.
Paul greets a man called Rufus a Roman whose name means red. (Maybe he had red hair) He calls him chosen in the Lord, This man indicate a particular calling that Rufus had which was quite unique. Then Paul says something interesting - his mother and mine. Now this can mean that his mother acted the mother to Paul or it may just mean that Paul is saying that Rufus was his brother in the flesh as they have the same mother.
Paul not wanting to leave anyone out, lists two other groups of believers, that he wants to mention. Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. And Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. And so Paul completes his greetings saying ‘Salute one another with a holy kiss’. And ‘The churches of Christ salute you’.