Introduction Every church is made up of people – and every one of those people is vital and needed in the church.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…
I’m not ashamed of Grace, because we are all sinners.
I’m not ashamed of Assurance, because Jesus cleanses us.
I’m not ashamed of Transformation, conforming to the Jesus life
I’m not ashamed of Family, God has called us all together
In the closing chapter of Romans Paul names and appreciates several people. Some familiar, some unknown to us, all important to the Roman church. I visualize this chapter as walking in through the open door at the church at Rome, wandering down the aisle and meeting the various members … people whose lives have been totally transformed by the Gospel of Christ. People who were serving the Lord with all their heart. People with real struggles and hurting hearts.
There are thirty-six people referred to specifically in this chapter and many others referred to indirectly. They all had something to do with the expanding of the Kingdom of God. They were important to Paul because they were important to God. As he ends his letter, Paul celebrates the diverse Family of God at Rome and by doing so he expresses a Divine Truth: every person is incredibly important to God and so should be important to us.
Every Church Needs Servants.
Phoebe – a servant of the church. (1-2 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. 2 Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.).
Phoebe was likely a businesswoman from Cenchrea, a port city about 9 miles east of the city. She was the bearer of the letter to the Roman church and a worker in the church; a “servant” in the church, which is the same word translated “deacon” elsewhere in NT. Whether she held a title or not, we do not know. She served many, including Paul. She was highly regarded for her work. Others were named as being hard workers in the church such as Mary (vs 6), Urbanus (vs 9), and Persus (vs 12).
No church can survive without the spirit of a servant. Every Christian should be watching for ways to serve. Every Christian can serve in some way or another.
Matthew 20:28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
EVERY CHURCH NEEDS TEACHERS
Priscilla and Aquila, fellow workers in Christ Jesus. (3-5 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. 4 In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. 5 Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home. Greet my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first person from the province of Asia to become a follower of Christ. )
They risked their lives for Paul. The church meets at their house. The first we hear of Priscilla and Aquila is in Acts 18:2. Luke tells us that they were tentmakers by trade. They once lived in Rome and had been driven out by the decree of Emperor Claudius in 52 AD. They moved to Corinth and there met Paul. When Paul moved on to Ephesus they went with him. There they met the great preacher Apollos who was preaching incomplete gospel – “One was coming.” P & A shared with him the full gospel of Jesus Christ the Messiah, Who had come.
One of the greatest joys we can experience is sharing the gospel with someone. Also sharing what we have learned from Scripture with another person. God bless our teachers! I believe they are shaping the future of the Kingdom! To be a teacher we need to study, to be committed, and to have a message to share. Whether to the saved who need to know more, or the lost who need to know Jesus … every church needs teachers.
EVERY CHURCH NEEDS PEOPLE
Paul names a number of people here that are unknown to us – but not unknown to God! (8-12 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.10 Greet Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. And give my greetings to the believers from the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet the Lord’s people from the household of Narcissus. 12 Give my greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and to dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord.)
Some of these listed remind us that among the Roman church were slaves, some who had been freed. Ampliatus’ name is carved on a tombstone in the earliest of the Christian catacombs. A single name indicates he was a slave. Apelles’ name means “called.” “A good man whom Christ approves” Wouldn’t you like to be known by that name? Aristobulus could have been a grandson of Herod the Great. Narcissus may be the former slave who became personal secretary to Emperor Claudius. Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis (12). Tryphena and Tryphosa = “dainty” and “delicate.” But in the text Paul says that they “work hard in the Lord.” The word used here means “to toil to the point of exhaustion.”
We should rejoice to find these names of unknown Christians – it should remind us that every Christian is KNOWN by God. He sees us all. None are more important.
EVERY CHURCH NEEDS FAMILY
Rufus and his mother who was also like a mother to Paul. (13 Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.)
1 Timothy 5:1-2 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
The church served the Lord together as families, even meeting as house-churches, since they are listed as they are (14-15). Paul sums up this section with a final greeting: Greet each other with a sacred kiss. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings. (v.16)
Conclusion: EVERY CHURCH NEEDS Servants, Teachers, People, and a feeling of Family. EVERYBODY BELONGS. Every Church Needs Every Body.
There are thirty-six people referred to specifically in this chapter and many others referred to indirectly. They all had something to do with the expanding of the Kingdom of God. They were important to Paul and they were important to God. Those who are sitting around you are a part of that same family. We need one another. We are in this together, because Jesus Christ called us together by the Gospel.
This truth brings great joy and glory to God.
ROMANS 16:25-27 Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. 26 But now as the prophets[h] foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. 27 All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.
*In our text Paul names several associates and co-workers in the Kingdom. Who is another Christian with whom you’ve worked closely and had a rich fellowship? If you were writing Romans 16, who would have to be in your list?
*The diversity of people in the Roman church is pretty broad. What is the biggest challenge of being in one church family with diverse backgrounds and experiences?
*As you look through the list of names in Romans 16, who stands out to you? What is it about them that catches your eye?
*Rufus is possibly the son of Simon of Cyrene. In Mark 15:21 we read of Simon of Cyrene being compelled to carry the cross of Jesus and that he was “the father of Alexander and Rufus.” Rufus and Alexander were servants of God. Their mother was also like a mother to Paul. Here was a family that was in the faith because of an encounter with Jesus. *What must it have been like to carry the cross for Jesus? Do you think he wanted to carry the cross for Jesus?
-Who in your family had a faith that encouraged you to be the Christian you are today?
-How do you see your role in influencing the faith of younger people around you today?
*Paul says encouraging and uplifting things about many of the people here. Examples:
-Priscilla and Aquilla were “fellow workers in Christ Jesus”
-Andronicus and Junias “were in Christ before me”
-Ampliatus “my beloved in the Lord”
-Apelles is “the approved in Christ”
-Persis “has worked hard in the Lord”
-Who has encouraged you with words in such a way that it comes to mind right now?
-What are some ways we can be encouraging to others?
-How can we get in the habit of encouraging others?
*What do you think about Paul’s admonition to “greet one another with a holy kiss”?
*Is there anything else in chapter 16 you wanted to talk about?