Monday, July 08, 2024

2024.07.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 16:3–16

Read Romans 16:3–16

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the apostle say to greet in Romans 16:3? What does he call them? In Whom? What had they done (Romans 16:4)? For what? What does he give to them? Who else gives them this? Whom else does he say to greet (Romans 16:5)? And whom? What else does he call Epaenetus? Whom else does he say to greet (Romans 16:6)? Whom else (Romans 16:7)? What two things does he call them? To whom else are they well-known? What else does he note about them? Whom does he say to greet in Romans 16:8? What does he call him? Whom in Romans 16:9a? What does he call him? Whom in verse 9b? What does he call him? Whom in Romans 16:10a? What does he call him? Whom in verse 10b? What does he call him? Whom in Romans 16:11a? What does he call him? Whom in verse 11b? Whom in Romans 16:12a? What have they done? Whom in verse 12b? What has he done? Whom in Romans 16:13a? What does he call him? And whom does he say to greet in addition (verse 13b)? What five men does he say to greet in Romans 16:14? And whom with them? What four people to greet in Romans 16:15? And whom with them? How does he tell them to greet whom in Romans 16:16a? Whom does he say greets them (verse 16b)?

Why and how do Christians greet one another? Romans 16:3–16 prepares us for the midweek sermon in the prayer meeting. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Christians delight in one another and honor one another, glorifying the Christ Who has brought them together and used them in one another’s lives. 

Greet the brethren. The command to greet ties this section together. It is an instruction to express pleasure at encountering someone. Christians ought to delight in one another, and the apostle wishes for the whole church to express to these people his pleasure about them. 

Recognize their labors. The apostle mentions the labors of Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3), Mary (Romans 16:6), Urbanus (Romans 16:9), Tryphena and Tryphosa (Romans 16:12), and Persis (verse 12). Those in whom the Lord has worked, and through whom the Lord has worked, are deserving of our delight and recognition. The One Who has worked in and through them is glorified in this. Prisca and Aquila, in particular, had risked their own lives for Paul in such a way that all the churches of the Gentiles felt indebted to them (Romans 16:4).

Recognize their honors. In addition to working through various believers, the Lord has bestowed honors of various kinds upon them. The apostle here shows us that such honors are worth repeating. Epaenetus is first in Achaia to Christ (Romans 16:5). This is apparently that Stephanas (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:15), whose household baptism Paul himself had administered (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:16). Now, he has traveled to Rome. Andronicus and Junia are mentioned as “well-known” (Romans 16:7); the grammar supports either his referring to their “being sent” using the word that is also used for the office of apostle, or that he is saying that even the other apostles have taken note of them. But their higher honors are that they have been “fellow prisoners” with the apostle himself and “were in Christ before” him.

Apelles is “approved” (Romans 16:10), and Rufus is “chosen” (Romans 16:13). All believers are “brethren,” like Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and those with them (Romans 16:14). All believers are “saints,” like Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, Olympas, and those with them (Romans 16:15). These, too, are honors that believers recognize and repeat about one another.

Express affection. It is appropriate for believers to recognize the added connections that the Lord has given to them. Paul calls Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7), and then Herodion (Romans 16:11), “my countrymen,” recognizing their common ethnicity (cf. Romans 9:3). He calls Amplias (Romans 16:8) and Stachys (Romans 16:9) “my beloved,” indicating some special or closer connection between them. And he gives them the instruction to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16a). Less common among the Romans, the Jews customarily greeted one another with a kiss, although with a woman it was limited to immediate family. But the whole church are closer than unbeliever’s immediate family (though immediate family who are believers are closer still!). And this is not to be in name only, but in social relation and in practical care. 

Greet them covenantally. At least four households are mentioned here. “The church that is in their house” (Romans 16:5) is not a “house church” as modern commentators suddenly decided in the last century or so. It is a recognition that Prisca and Aquila’s household in verse 5 is a little church. So also those of Aristobulus (Romans 16:10) and Narcissus (Romans 16:11) are greeted together. A special household greeting goes to Rufus and his mother (Romans 16:13), whom Paul addresses with the affection of a brother and a son. The biblical theme of the covenant household is not just abstract theology; it ought to take practical expression in our churches. There is also the “corporate” greeting of church to church, one covenant community greeting the other as corporate entities, that closes Romans 16:16.

Sometimes we hear about a church that it “has a real sense of community.” May the Lord give members of your church, and of various churches, delight in one another’s acquaintance, recognition of one another’s labors and honors, and affection in Christ that corresponds to the degree of closeness into which His providence has brought you. And may He give you a covenantal frame of mind in all of it.

Through whose labors has the Lord worked in your life? What is your habit for honoring and giving thanks for others in your church? Other believers with whom you communicate? To whom has He brought you into a special closeness, and how do you recognize it? How do you give/receive affection in the church?

Sample prayer:  Lord, Who have fellowship in Yourself, thank You for bringing us into that fellowship, and into fellowship with one another. Grant that we would honor one another and give and receive the affection that belongs to the connections into which You have brought us in Christ. Thus glorify Him in His church, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH534 “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God”  

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