The Apostle Paul concludes the main body of his epistle to the Romans with a benediction in Romans 15:33.
In chapter 16 he concludes his epistle with:
Warm greetings to his friends in Rome 16:1-16
A final warning 16:17-20
Greeting to his friends in Corinth. 16:21
Tertius, his secretary, adds a PS in 16:22-24
Paul concludes with a doxology in 16:15-27
GREETINGS TO HIS FRIENDS IN ROME
In this message we consider his greetings to his friends in Rome. You may wonder how Paul knew these Roman Christians when he had not yet been there. We learn in Acts 18:1-2 that persecution by the Roman emperor had caused the Christians with Jewish as well as Gentile backgrounds to be scattered. Paul had met and knew some of these Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ in the churches of Greece and Asia Minor. Now some of these had returned to Rome.
Here in Romans 16 we consider some of Paul’s friends: both men and women.
Paul began by mentioning Phebe, a Christian woman from Cenchrea who had a servant heart and helped many Christians, including Paul. She is probably the one to whom Paul had entrusted the delivery of this Epistle to the Roman Christians. Basically, Paul in this closing greeting encouraged the Christians in Rome to help Phebe in whatever way they could.
The most valuable Christians in any church are those who have a servant heart to help meet needs. They may or may not be leaders in the church. Certainly every pastor, elder, deacon, as well as other worker in the church ought to have a servant heart; otherwise, they are useless and disqualify themselves from church leadership positions.
Priscilla and Aquila
Paul continues his list of friends by mentioning in Romans 16:3-4 a husband and wife team, Priscilla and Aquila, who opened their home for the church in Corinth. More information is given concerning them in Acts 18:1-3. This godly couple was used of God, we learn in verses 24-26 of that chapter, to teach and encourage a young up-and-coming preacher by the name of Apollos to have a clearer understanding of Pauline doctrine. The truths Paul had learned directly from Christ at the time of his conversion were just as much a part of the inspired Word of God as anything Jesus Himself had taught.
We learn in Romans 16:5 of Epenetus who was the first of Paul’s converts to Christ in Asia Minor. There was a special bond of love between these two as there is between every new believer and the one who led him to Christ.
Mary, of Romans 16:6, one of many Mary’s in the New Testament, was another of many Christian friends who blessed Paul and was blessed by him.
Andronicus and Junia
Andronicus and Junia was another Christian couple who were well known by the Apostles. Romans 16:7 informs us, they were fellow prisoners for the cause of Christ. They had a spiritual kinship with Paul; not only because they were both in Christ, but also because they were Christians even before Paul was converted to Christ on the Road to Damascus.
The list of names continues in Romans 16:8-15. From the comments Paul made, it is evident that these were precious, personal friends who had suffered with Paul and had shown him sacrificial love.
All of us involved in ministry for Christ could list our own personal friends who have helped us and been true friends, especially in times of great stress and persecution for Christ. In Heaven we will have eternity to get better acquainted with those who have meant so much to us in what we call time on this earth. Think of it, in eternity time will be no more. We will have eternity to deepen and strengthen those bonds of friendship. Who will be waiting for you in Heaven whose life you have touched for Christ on this earth?
I think of what Jesus said in Luke 16:9. There Jesus encourages us to use our time, energy and money to reach out to lost men, women, boys and girls, to influence and lead them to Christ, so that when we arrive in Heaven, they will be there to welcome us and thank us for sharing our lives, our resources and the Gospel with them.
In Romans 16:21, Paul sends greetings from some of the Christians in Corinth, including Timothy.
In Romans 16:22 Tertius, who was taking dictation from Paul and actually writing the letter, inserted a personal word of greeting to the Roman Christians.
Purpose of these personal words of greeting
The Holy Spirit directed Paul to include these personal words of greeting to teach us Christians the importance of being gracious, warm, kind and loving in our dealings with fellow Christians. Paul had a personal interest and concern for each one, naming them in his prayers as well as in this Epistle inspired of God.
How this should encourage each of us as Christians as we understand that God sees and knows each of us by name and loves us intimately as a Friend who “sticks closer than a brother.” Though sometimes unknown, unnoticed and unthanked by others; God never forgets what we do for Him and for His glory. I am encouraged in Hebrews 6:10 that “ God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labor of love which we have showed toward His name, in that we have ministered or served others.”
In Malachi 3:13-18 we read that Christ has a Book of Remembrance in which are written the names of those who have a reverential fear of God and as a result, have come to trust, love and serve His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Such are as precious jewels to Him.
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