Tuesday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 16:1-16

Final Greetings

Like the “begats” or genealogies in the gospels, the list of persons whom Paul greets at the end of his letters does not make for the most exciting reading.  We tend to skim this quickly and move on to the next thing.  But there are some lessons to be learned here and as all Scripture is God-breathed we should pay attention (2 Timothy 3:16).  (Much of what I write here is taken from Moo, NICNT, 928-43.)

We first note that this list of greetings is long, even for Paul.  Indeed, none of his other letters have greetings which match this length.  We note that Paul had never visited the church in Rome and as he wanted to have their support for his mission to Spain, he may have wanted to show that he had friends and acquaintances there among them who would vouch for him.  We should not think that the apostolic band was a magisterial council that ruled the churches with an iron fist; even Paul, especially Paul, had to show his bona fides, and both the contents of this letter and his references in these greetings would aid in that endeavor.  Second, we note a number of women in Paul’s list.  Phoebe is especially commended and may have been the carrier of the letter.  Hospitality was important in the ancient world and Paul wants that to be especially afforded her.  Depending on translation, she may have been a deaconess in the church, a ministry serving the poor and in her case, especially women.  And though official ministries are accorded only to men in the New Testament, still the ministry of women is highly valued.

Third, we note that Paul mentions as many as five “house churches” among the Roman community (vss. 5, 10, 11, 14, 15).  As churches had no buildings at this early time, and as a house could only hold so many, worship in several houses throughout a city was necessary.  I have wondered myself, given the level of hostility towards the Church in America and the suggestion by some that churches (and certainly church-related institutions) should lose tax exempt status if they refuse to adopt our nation’s pagan understanding of human sexuality and family—I wonder if house churches are the future in America.  If so, viva the New Testament Church!  Fourth, Paul was no “lone ranger” but a man who worked with others in the ministry of the Church.  There is no such thing as a church of one; we are members of one another and any suggestion otherwise is unbiblical and gross arrogance.  Finally, the list includes both Jews and Gentiles; moreover, scholars indicate that it includes slaves, those freed from slavery, and perhaps a few wealthier folk, fulfilling the promise of Genesis 12:3, that ALL the nations would be blessed.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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