Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. (Romans 16:13-15, NKJV)
This morning I opened my Bible to Romans 16 and enjoyed my time in the Word. What was so exciting about this final chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans? After all, a good portion of it just lists personal greetings from Paul to various people. As I read the many unfamiliar names, I wondered, Who were they? I did recognize Priscilla and Aquila, who are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament.
Romans 16 is more than just a list of hard-to-pronounce names. This chapter demonstrates how the amazing body of Christ functions together. Those unfamiliar names show us how the church crosses all social, economic, and cultural lines. We find both male and female, Romans and Greeks, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor. Some Paul mentioned had been in prison with him. It’s quite a mix but in a very good way. All worshiped and worked together for the kingdom of God.
A Who’s Who of the Faithful
Paul begins the chapter by introducing Phebe, the woman who carried his letter to Rome. She was a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Andronicus and Junia were “of note among the apostles.” Several that he mentioned were house church leaders and still others “labored much in the Lord.”
Why does this chapter excite me? Because it shows God has a place in the body for everyone. Not everyone’s calling involves pulpit ministry, but God calls everyone to minister. Paul recognized that. He didn’t just greet the church leaders; he sent greeting to many who were just “worker bees,” those faithful, hard-working people every church needs to function.
Modern Day Faithfuls
Paul’s greeting to these faithful saints in the church reminds me of some special people I’ve known through the years. None were pulpit people, but they formed the backbone of the church, faithfully giving and serving without drawing attention to themselves. Several have passed on, but the next generation has now stepped into their place of service.
I remember the sweet grandmother who faithfully worked in the Sunday school for over forty-five years. Down the hall, a husband-wife team taught preschoolers together for decades. Another lady always arrived at least an hour early and spent that time making sure everything was dusted and in order. Others cleared snow in the winter and pulled weeds in the summer. They drove Sunday school buses, cleaned the church kitchen, carried out trash, and made sure visitors felt welcome. Each contributed in their own special way. They possessed the same heart of service as those mentioned by Paul in his greetings. He would feel right at home with any of these faithful believers.
Your church no doubt has a group of worker bees as well. When you step into church this week, seek out several of these faithful workers and let them know you appreciate their dedicated, and often unrecognized, service. It’s kingdom work.
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8, ESV)
Lord, thank You for those special people I see giving diligent service to You. They inspire me to do more and be more. I pray You will bless my fellow believers as they faithfully give of their time and talents to advance Your kingdom.