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Friday, August 9, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 88

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

The Heartwarming Conclusion to a Great Revelation

Romans 16:1-27

"Likewise," Paul says, "greet the church in their house." For two centuries the Christian church did not build temples nor special buildings in which to hold their services. All their means and effort went to the preaching of the gospel; and they met in the homes. Naturally, this man and wife who were tent makers would have a large chamber in their house where they made the tents; and that room evidently provided a meeting place for the church. And so Paul says, "Greet the church that is in their house."

There is a beautiful story that comes down to us from the record of Justin Martyr. He was killed by the Roman government in the third century. When he was on trial before the Roman prefect the prefect said to Justin Martyr, "Where do you Christians assemble?" Justin Martyr said, "We do not, as you suppose, meet in one one place; for our God, the God of the Christians, fills heaven and earth and therefore He is present anywhere. We can meet anyplace and have communion and fellowship with Him. When I go to Rome, I have a home, where I go and remain; and those Christians who desire to hear me teach come into that home."

In the fifth verse "Salute Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the firstfruits in Achaia unto Christ" (or in Asia, as it no doubt should be). In verse 6 Paul urges them to "greet Mary" (a Jewish name) "who bestowed much labor on us." According to verse 7, Paul remembers certain "kinsmen." They were probably Jews; and he would speak of every Benjaminite as a kinsman of his. Referring to them as "my fellow prisoners" must indicate that they were in some was associated with his prison experience.

Another little personal detail appears in this verse, "Who also were in Christ before me". They were Christians before Paul became a Christian.

Verse 8 and 9 record two names, Amplia and Urbane, both very common slave names, found in the archaeological inscriptions of the city of Roma and Corinth. The church at Rome had in its company many of the slaves.

He mentions "Stachys, my beloved". Then he salutes "Apelles, the approved in Christ," and the word "approved" means tested. Evidently this man had at some time or other passed through some affliction, and having been tested, was found approved.

Verse 10 urges them to "salute them which are of Aristobulus' household." Aristobulus was not a Christian. He was probably the grandson of Herod the Great, a friend of the Roman emperor. When one of these sub-kings died, his slaves automatically became the property of the Roman emperor. Evidently these slaves, the household of this man, at his death had been transferred to Rome and were there in the household of the Roman emperor. They evidently had become Christians.

We learn from verse 11 that this man Herodian had been given his name from the fact that he was part of Herod's household. Paul singles him out as worthy of salvation with them that are "in the Lord." We know very little about Narcissus. But he had been a notoriously wicked man. He was put to death about three years before this epistle was written. While Paul is not sending greetings to the man himself, he is sending greetings to the man's household.

Verse 12 introduces Tryphene and Tryphosa who were sisters. They may have been twins. The names mean "those who live voluptuously." Though the names are pagan, Paul turns his attention to the fact that in reality these two sisters were laboring very much in the Lord.

In the next part of the verse he says, "Salute the beloved Persis," a woman, for name was feminine. This shows some of the beautiful delicacy of the apostle Paul. In the eighth verse, Ampliatus is "my beloved"; and in the ninth verse Stachys is also "my beloved." Those are men, but when Paul mentions the name of a woman, he leaves out the pronoun. He was careful in the courtesies and delicacies that a man ought to have, never stepping across the line that would bring reproach upon his name. Persis may have been an elderly woman because Paul refers to the labor of this woman as something of the past. "She labored much in the Lord."

Then, the thirteenth verse says, "Rufus, chosen in the Lord." Mark 15:21 records that Simon the Cyrenian (who carried the Cross of Christ after the Lord fell under its weight) was the father of Rufus. Up at Rome is the son of the man who bore the Cross of Christ. Evidently the father ad gone to be with the Lord, but the mother still remains. Paul refers to her as "his mother and mine." This woman has evidently treated Paul as a son, and he refers to that event in the past.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 89 - "A Warning")

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