The Apostle Paul must have been a southern preacher. This is evident in the amount of time it took him to end his message in chapter 16 of Romans. He even kept going after he said ‘Amen’ (v. 24).
I speak tongue-in-cheek having grown up under the tutelage of many wonderful southern preachers.
Still, Romans 16 fascinates me. For years I skipped over passages like this because of the lists of difficult names. God has continued to impress on me, however, the importance of every word in scripture. Romans 16 is not included by mistake; He has important messages for me there.
Here are a few that stand out as I read:
- People are important. They were important to Paul because they are important to God. Look at the great care Paul took to mention numerous people by name. He does not just say, “Tell everyone in the church I love them”. No, he speaks to the service of and his affection for each one. The people Paul mentions are doing all they can to serve God in a dangerous, anti-God culture. God sees their faithfulness and impresses Paul to thank and encourage them.
- People in the Roman church were actively serving God as they took care of each other. Look at the descriptions: Phebe was a succorer, or encourager, of many (v. 1, 2). She is also the one who delivered this letter to the church. Priscilla and Aquila were helpers who protected and housed Paul. They had church in their house (v. 3 – 5). Mary, Urbane, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis helped and labored in God’s service. They did this while the emperor regularly fed Christians to the lions. Their servanthood placed them in mortal danger.
- Rather than bemoan their persecution, Paul offered them encouragement in their sacrificial service (v. 24 – 26). It is easy to spend a lot of time focused on the problems; Paul focused on the blessings.
- Paul did not warn them about the dangers in the world; he warned them of division within the fellowship (v. 17 – 19). The fellowship of believers was and is important. We must not take it lightly.
- Paul gave the glory – all the glory – to God (v. 25 – 27). All the commendations, all the service and sacrifice, and all the suffering in persecution were for one purpose – God’s glory.
As I read these messages in Romans 16, I must ask myself some questions:
- Do I see people as important? Do I focus on encouraging the individuals around me?
- Do I allow difficulties or threats to keep me from faithfully serving God and my fellow Christians?
- Is my focus on the problems or the blessings?
- Am I supporting and encouraging others in the fellowship, or do I act in ways to cause division?
- Does my life, my service, my all bring glory to my Father?
God impressed Paul to write to encourage and thank His servants. Every name was important.
So, when I come across those lists of names in scripture, I know that God placed them in His word for a purpose. I plan to take the time to read those names, because every one was important to God
and I can learn from their lives.
II Timothy 3: 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
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