Summary: Which are you - one who is dedicated to the work of building up the body of Christ and spreading the gospel, or worrying about getting your way? You might be surprised as we loook at these two types in Romans 16
In Chapter 16 we see how chapters 12-15 are worked out practically – real people doing real work – and warnings that not everyone is out for the good of the church.
Paul had never been to Rome – here is greets 26 people. Some scholars argue that Paul did not even send this chapter to Rome but somewhere else. But probably Paul knew these individuals through association in other areas – he knew so few in fact that he could send personal greetings to everyone he did know!
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.
Cenchrea was a city 9 miles from Corinth. It was the Corinthian port city on the east. Small ships were carried across the isthmus to the west to Corinth, where they could put back into sea and sail around Greece. Large ships were unloaded and their cargo hauled over land. So Cenchrea was a busy port town with lots of commerce.
Phoebe was probably a deacon in the church there – the word “servant” is the word diakonos – the word used for deacon. She was most probably a wealthy businesswoman who benefited and served the church. She is about to travel to Rome, so Paul wants the Roman church to help her. That’s the way it was done back then – you didn’t have travel agents or Motel 6, you went to a place and found lodging, etc from people you knew or by references from others.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Priscilla and Aquila are the famous couple found in Acts 18 (quickview) . They fled Rome to Corinth during the persecution there from Emperor Cluadius. They were, like Paul, tentmakers. They also took Apollos aside and gave him some better instruction in the Lord Jesus. Apollos became one of the early churche’s best apologists. Notice too, that they had a church in their house. In the early church, many if not most churches met in homes. There is evidence in fact of remodeling when a church took over a home and they broke out walls, etc, to make it into a church. Notice too the courage – Paul says this couple risked their lives for him.
We’ll read through this list – not a lot is known about the folks on it.
Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
Epenetus is unknown apart from this reference.
6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Mary was a common Jewish name – unlikely one of the Mary’s we know from the gospels.
7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
A lot of controversy swirls around these two. Most likely they were husband and wife – related to Paul somehow. Notice they became believers before Paul. It also says they were “outstanding among the apostles.” Probably doesn’t mean THE Apostles – but Paul uses the term elsewhere to suggest “missionary”.