Letter to Christians in Rome: Chapter 16 (pt 8 of 15)

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In Verses 21-23 we have the greetings of those who are with Paul in Corinth:

Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s

We have final reached the last paragraph of this chapter . . . whoa, of the whole letter! In this last paragraph, as was his custom, Paul takes his pen and writes the last words himself. I better explain that. Up to this point he had been dictating this letter to a man who identifies himself in Verse 22: “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.” My guess is Paul look at him and said something like, “Hey Terry, you have written this whole thing and, holy moly, you probably have writer’s cramps by now. Just send your own greetings to some folks, and I will finish it up.” What is interesting is that his name tells us that he may have also been a slave. The reason I say that is because his name means “Third,” and in many families of slaves they did not bother to think up names; they just numbered the children, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, etc. So here we have Third and Fourth of a family of slaves. (His brother, Quartus, Fourth, is mentioned in Verse 23). Evidently they were educated slaves because they could read and write. And somewhere along the line had found Christ, and are now part of this group in Corinth.

If you use your imagination, you can almost picture them gathered in the home of Gaius, a gracious, genial, generous host of the city (who Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians). Gaius opened his house to the entire Christian community, so here we have Paul sitting there with his friends. Tertius is writing down things down, along with the others listening to Paul dictate his letter. I don’t know about you, but that would have been cool! Can you imagine that? How much could they have gained from Paul’s teaching of these great truths?

With Paul, of course, is his dear son in the faith, Timothy, who we know so well from the two letters Paul wrote to him. Paul always spoke highly of Timothy; his beloved son in the faith, who had stayed with him so long and remained faithful to the end. In fact, scholars tell us that the very last letter Paul wrote from his prison cell in Rome was to Timothy. Paul also mentions Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, his relatives.

What I find fascinating is that here, in Romans 16, are six members of Paul’s family, relatives  who are now Christians. Some were Christians before Paul, but others Paul influenced toward Christ. They came from various places. Lucius appears to be the same one who comes from Cyrene, mentioned in Chapter 13 of Acts as one of the teachers in the city of Antioch. Jason was evidently Paul’s host when he went to the city of Thessalonica, in Macedonia. Paul stayed in Jason’s home when a riot broke out in the city. Sosipater may be the man from Beroea, mentioned in Acts 20 as “Sopater.” Paul met him in Macedonia and may have accompanied him to Jerusalem with the offering to the churches there.

The final name is Erastus, “director of public works in the city of Corinth.” What I see here is how the gospel penetrated all levels of society, slaves, public officials, consuls, leaders of the empire—big shots and little shots—all of them sharing on equal ground of fellowship in the church of Jesus Christ. All of the class distinctions disappeared within the church and that is what should happen whenever the church functions as it is called to do.

I think what we should learn from this list of names is that these Christians were noted for their steady, tested commitment, their faithfulness to the gospel. Today, we have believers who are too easily lead to follow the world’s philosophy of life. They live for their own pleasure; they try to retire as early as possible so they can do as little as they can. That is a deadly philosophy. The early Christians did not believe that.

There are four things that should ring out from our lives: One, we are not our own. Paul wrote, “You are not your own; you are bought with a price,” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20). These believers bought into that, and so should we. They knew that they did not have a right to direct their lives any longer. Their God and Father had sent them into the world, and He would take them through it. Second, we should understand that life is a battle, a battle to the death. It is not a picnic. We are engaged in this warfare that never ends until we leave this life. My encouragement is that we kept on fighting.

Third, they believed that there is a need for rest and leisure at times, but only to restore them to go back into the battle. They never knew anything about retirement and enjoying themselves for the remaining years of their lives. They only received enough rest in order to come back and fight through to the end. The fourth thing is that they understood that the gifts of the Holy Spirit they experienced, opened a ministry for every single believer. No Christian was without a ministry. Some of them may have had only the gift of helps (although I should not say “only” the gift of helps, because that is a great gift.) They may not be able to teach or preach, but they could help, and they did, right to the end. That is something we need to keep in mind. I meet so many believers who think that they have nothing to offer, no special “gifts.” But that is not true. In our church one brother is a great mechanic and he fixes the cars for single moms; some else always felt she didn’t have anything to offer, but someone discovered she was an extremely talented seamstress. Today she makes winter clothing for the homeless ministry.  I could go on and on about people who discovered that their “silly and useless hobby,” is actually the tool for an extremely valuable ministry.

I think what should get out of this is that our Father has called all of us to some type of ministry, and all of us have to give an account for what we have done with those gifts. Ask the Lord what it is you can do. Ask him what ministry you can be involved in. Then, well to put a fine point to it, get to work, get involved in the battle, because our Lord has not called us to a picnic. He has created to be his soldiers and called us to a battle.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome


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