September is here once again and with it many new Bible Studies are beginning. One of the details of being a leader in this arena is getting people to know one another and what better way than to give them a nametag. We might think of Romans 16 as Paul’s collection of nametags.
Some trivia to get us started: “This sixteenth chapter is neglected by many to their own loss. It is by far the most extensive, intimate and particular of all the words of loving greeting in Paul’s marvelous letters. No one can afford to miss this wonderful outpouring of the heart of our apostle toward the saints whom he so loved—which means all the real Church of God!”[Newell] In other words; don’t skip this chapter!
Paul’s requests: Ten times Paul uses the phrase “in the Lord” or “in Christ.” One time he uses the phrase “commend and receive” regarding Phoebe. Fifteen times he uses the word greet in regards to the many he has met on his journeys throughout Asia.
Paul’s purpose: Paul wants this church to know who these people are and we are the recipients of this information as well. [Imagine heaven here!] Paul wants each one recognized for who they are and their contribution to the kingdom work. Secondly, that the Roman Church may praise and pray for how the Lord has used each one. Although we do not know these people personally, they are imprinted upon our memory as we ponder the descriptions of each. Take note of the descriptions he uses for them and struggle to pronounce their names for they were real people, thus honor them in this way. They are “in the Lord,” or they are “in Christ.” They are fellow workers or laborers, hard workers, compatriots (fellow countrymen), dear friends, good friends, approved in Christ, and one is the first convert in Asia! Two were fellow prisoners with him and well known among the apostles.
As Paul closes this precious letter to the Romans he thinks he is coming soon but we know from the book of Acts that God will change that timetable. As Paul began so he ends: Rom 1: 7 “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom 16:25 “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,…” [Rom 1:16 “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”]… through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.”
Three questions: Are you ready to greet, commend and receive new people into your fellowship? Are you ready to proclaim the truths of Romans to those who will visit this week? What is one truth you carry away from this study in Romans? Are you ready to dive into 1Corinthians? Follow me as we journey to the most heathen city in Asia at the time of Paul. Come and learn how to live in a society much like our own. It will be relevant! Are you ready?