Romans Chapter 16

Part 2

KLMX Sept 2010

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

Good morning and welcome back to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iíve been going thru Paulís letter to the Roman church for the past 2 years and this week, Iím finishing up with a look at chapter 16. Chapter 16 is a series of greetings to various church members and yesterday we stopped in the process of tracking some of those names. The Bible has a lot of lists of names and there are usually a lot of names in those lists. Our tendency is often to blow over them, thinking "oh well!", but there actually is a lot of information in those names. The Bible doesnít contain a lot of extraneous information but rather everything is there for a reason. So it is with the list of names. If weíll take the time to study them, we can always find interesting things. And thatís what weíll do today. As always, I pray that this message glorifies God Almighty and reflects the truth and light that is Jesus Christ.

Hereís our passage for today:

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.

Yesterday we looked at Aquila, Pricilla, and Epaenetus, and traced them around in the New Testament. Today weíll look at some other names and let me mention right now that I owe a great debt to James Montgomery Boice for this study. Iím relying heavily on his excellent commentary on Romans in tracking these names.

Paul greets Andronicus and Junias and mentions that they are Paulís countrymen, meaning that they are also Jewish, and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy among the apostles and were also Christians before Paul. Boice thinks that Paul is using the term "apostles" in a broader sense here, not referring to them as actual witnesses of the pre-crucified Christ but as pioneers in the gospel. What I notice is that Godís gifts are such that a person younger in the faith, such as Paul, might receive a greater gift or maybe I should say a greater responsibility than one who is older in the faith. Paul himself says something of this sort earlier in Romans:

Romans 12:3-8 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (4) For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; (7) or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; (8) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

And so, even though Andronicus and Junias were Christians before Paul, it was Paul who was tasked with the responsibility of taking the gospel to the Gentiles.

The next name, Ampliatus, is- according to Boice- a common slave name. Boice points out that in the cemetery of Domatillia, one of the earliest Christian catacombs, there is a tomb with the single name of Ampliatus on it. Slaves typically went by single names, but the elaborateness of the tomb suggests a person of importance in the church. Whether or not the Ampliatus mentioned in Romans is the same Ampliatus in the tomb, we donít know, but we do know that the person in the tomb- because of the single name- was a slave and we know that- because of the kind of tomb- they were an important person in the church. Whatís significant about this knowledge is the fact that in Christ a slave can have just as important of a role as a freeman. Recognition in the church is not dependant upon social ranking.

Skipping a little bit in Romans 16, we see further evidence of this.

Romans 16:22-24 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord. (23) Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. (24) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The names "Teritus" and "Quartus" are again the names of slaves and they actually mean "Number 3" and "Number 4". These men, therefore, were not only slaves but under-slaves. Yet, here is one of them writing Paulís letter for him and the other one being called a "brother". In fact, Quartus is spoken of in the same sentence as Gaius, Paulís host. As host, Gaius is probably a home-owner and thus a man of wealth. He is, after all, "the host of the whole church". Erastus, as treasurer of the city, is an elected official. In Rome, a person was often elected after they performed some civic duty involving a financial contribution. A person could, for instance, pay for a street or some other improvement and thus be elected. Since Erastus is such an official, he probably was also a man of some means. And yet, right along with these men is the "Number 4 slave", Quartus, showing the application of a statement Paul makes in:

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This is not to say that Quartus was no longer a slave. In fact, another passage of Paulís says this:

1 Corinthians 7:20-24 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. (21) Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. (22) For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. (23) You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. (24) Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

What Paul is saying in Galatians is that in Christ, there are no slaves, no Jews, no Greeks, no male, and no female, but all are equal in stature. There are roles and jobs, yes, but not rankings or under- rankings. This is a great truth of Christianity that is not found in religions. In many religions, there are clear rankings where a person reaches a certain level of heaven or a level of enlightenment based on their social ranking. But in Biblical Christianity, this isnít true. All are in Christ to an equal amount.

Unfortunately, what the Bible teaches and what people practice are often two different things and discrimination based on social standing, intelligence, skin color, or whatever is all too common. Those practicing such things would do well to study Paulís conclusion to Romans and to apply the message therein.

Likewise, Paul is sometimes criticized for belittling or putting down women, but even a casual examination of his actual teaching fails to support that criticism. He started this section of his letter with a greeting to Phoebe whom he calls a "servant" of the church. Being called a servant by Paul is high praise, indeed. And then Paul commends Pricilla, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Julia- all women- as well as including women in his Galatians passage. Letís read that again:

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Paulís time, women were certainly seen and treated as 2nd class people, but Paul himself holds them in high regard.

The last name weíll look at today is that of Rufus. In Mark we see:

Mark 15:21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.

In Acts 11:20 we see that:

Acts 11:20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

Simon was from Cyrene and some of the earliest evangelists were also from there. In the riot at Ephesus that we mentioned yesterday, a man named Alexander stands out. Hereís the description of that riot:

Acts 19:32-33 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. (33) And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people.

As Boice points out, we canít go much further than this without resorting to speculation, but the links are interesting. Simon was a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Cyrenians were among the first to preach the gospel at Antioch, and both an Alexander and Rufus are further mentioned in the New Testament. It makes one wonder why Mark takes note of the fact that Simon was the father of one Alexander and Rufus.

I think weíll wind up here today. Keep in mind that todayís lesson focused on names and people. These people are not, however, random historical events but are rather drawn together by their roles in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ. If youíre a Christian, youíre going to meet these people in Heaven. They were in Christ and if youíre in Christ, they are your brothers and sisters. That should make their life stories interesting. And perhaps youíll be able to add your own life story to the great story of Jesus Christ.

Join us again tomorrow at 9:45 here on KLMX.

 

Romans 16, Part 1

Romans 16, Part 3