FELLOWSHIP IN THE LORD BINDS BELIEVERS TOGETHER IN PRECIOUS RELATIONSHIPS AND SACRIFICIAL SERVICE
R. Kent Hughes: Think of the energy such “keeping in touch” involved! Imagine Paul on ship and in port beseeching travelers for information: “What about Patrobas? Where is Hermes now? Is he still walking in faith? What can I pray for?” We know from the testimony of other Scriptures that this is the way Paul was. He routed his journeys and scheduled his disciples’ travels so as to obtain as much information as possible. Paul, one of the greatest of intellects, a true master of theology, was also a caring man who loved people.
John Witmer: The capital city of Rome was a magnet that drew people from all over the empire. In addition Paul’s travels to many of the major population centers – Jerusalem, Syrian Antioch, Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus – brought him into contact with the mobile segment of Roman society. These factors help explain the presence of Paul’s many friends in Rome, but his knowledge of their whereabouts remains a tribute to his deep concern for people.
Grant Osborne: Rome was the capital of the empire. As Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life, Rome was the world’s political, religious, social, and economic center. There the major governmental decisions were made, and from there the gospel spread to the ends of the earth. The church in Rome was a dynamic mixture of Jews, Gentiles, slaves, free people, men, women, Roman citizens, and world travelers; therefore, it had potential for both great influence and great conflict.
The Romans had built a tremendous system of roads between the various major cities of its vast empire, so movement by people from place to place was not unusual. As Paul preached in the eastern part of the empire, he went first to the key cities—Jerusalem, Antioch in Syria, Philippi, Corinth, Athens, Ephesus. Along the way he met many believers who eventually ended up in Rome. The fact that Paul knew the whereabouts of so many of his friends and co-workers gives us a glimpse into the interest this great missionary had in the people to whom he ministered and who ministered to him. This final chapter reveals a treasury of friends Paul expected to see in Rome.
I. (:3-5A) GREETING OF PRISCA AND AQUILA – BRAVE FELLOW WORKERS
A. (:3) Identification
- By Name
“Greet Prisca and Aquila,”
John Toews: Prisca is usually mentioned first (Acts 18:18, 26; Rom. 16:3) which suggests that she is a person of higher social status than Aquila.
Grant Osborne: Behind the Scenes
Priscilla and Aquila were a couple who accomplished effective ministry behind the scenes. Their tools were hospitality, friendship, and person-to-person teaching. They were not public speakers, but private evangelists. For at least some of the Romans, their home was used for church meetings (16:5). Priscilla and Aquila give us a challenging model of what a couple can do together in the service of Christ. How often do we see our families and homes as gifts through which God can accomplish his work? How does God want to use your home and family to serve him?
- By Church Role
“my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,”
Steven Cole: As we’ve seen in Romans, being “in Christ” through faith is the most important designation that can be true of anyone. Paul begins Romans 8 by stating (8:1), “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He ends that chapter by saying (8:39) that there is nothing that “will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Whether you are wealthy or poor, ordinary or important, male or female, no matter what your background, those eternal blessings are offered to you in Christ Jesus if you will trust in Him as your Savior. What a tribute to the glorious gospel that saves ordinary, diverse people from every walk of life and places them “in Christ”!
A. Berkeley Mickelsen: Paul starts with two of his dearest friends – Priscilla and Aquila. Ever since Paul had met them in Corinth on his second missionary journey, they had been hard at work in the service of God (see Acts 18:2, 18, 26).
B. (:4) Mark of Distinction
“who for my life risked their own necks,
to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;”
John Murray: When Prisca and Aquila placed their lives in jeopardy on Paul’s account we do not know. It may have been at Corinth or at Ephesus or elsewhere. Neither are the circumstances known. Laying down their own necks could be even literally interpreted. But this may also be figurative to express the extreme peril at the hands of persecutors to which they subjected themselves to save Paul’s life. It may well be that so notable was this incident that it had been reported to all the churches of the Gentiles and that the gratitude of the churches for this act of self-sacrifice is alluded to in the latter part of verse 4.
D. (:5) Ongoing Service to the Saints
“also greet the church that is in their house.”
David Thompson: One of the main features which continually shows up with this couple is that they always had a church in their home. The early Church often met in homes because they did not have any buildings (Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2). They had one in Ephesus (I Corinthians 16:19) and they had one in Rome (16:5a). This couple loved God and they loved God’s Church.
II. (:3B-16) GREETING OF A LIST OF OTHER CLOSE MINISTRY PARTNERS
“Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”
A. Spiritual Postcards — Expressing Love and Affection —
Fellowship in the Lord Binds Believers Together in Precious Relationships
B. Wartime Medals of Honor — Expressing Praise for a Job Well Done —
Fellowship in the Lord Binds Believers Together in Sacrificial Service