I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. (Romans 16:1-15)
Everyone Has A Place In The Kingdom
The church of the New Testament was an amazing group of individuals who had different talents, functions, opportunities, and works that made them distinct yet familiar. Paul worked feverously to spread the gospel throughout the world and he did not do it alone. Luke tells the story of Paul’s journeys, listing a few of the fortunate souls who could travel with the apostle – including himself. It was not an easy life. When Paul spoke of hardships on the road, including shipwrecks and distress, there were disciples with him suffering the same things. Writing to the saints in Rome, Paul opens a door of thanksgiving for all the people that worked so hard for the kingdom. The list is not exhaustive and there can be little doubt the rollcall of the faithful was quite long. Paul shows in his exhortation how there is something for everyone to do in the kingdom of God.
Phoebe was a dear sister of Paul, a servant of the church. Paul commends her for the help she gave so many, including himself. Priscilla and Aquilla had the distinction of being fellow workers in the Lord with Paul. The exhaustive work of Paul was aided by saints like Priscilla and Aquilla, who were not passive helpers but co-workers enduring the hardships of preaching. The list of fellow workers included Urbanus, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis. To be a laborer is to be a hard worker. Joining Paul on any trip included hardship and some (like Demas) could not do the work. It is not known how Priscilla and Aquila risked their own necks for Paul but this couple was locked into a fervent dedication to the work of the Lord. Traveling with a man like Paul could be dangerous.
Epaenetus was a beloved of Paul who was an early convert when the apostle preached in Achaia. There was a woman named Mary who labored much with the group. Everyone wants to know her story. Andronicus and Junia labored with Paul and suffered imprisonment with him. It is possible these two were related to the apostle, but it is uncertain. What is certain is their dedication to the kingdom of God to suffer the hardships of prison. Among the apostles, their names were remembered. Amplias was among a list of beloved in the Lord, including Stachys. Apelles was a tried and faithful disciple of Christ. Whatever tribulation Apelles endured; it was for the love of God.
Several brethren used their homes for the brethren to worship. That would take a lot of energy and work to prepare the house and open their homes to others. Priscilla and Aquilla opened their home as Paul would later commend Nymphas (Laodicea) and Philemon for the same labor in the Lord. Paul greeted the families of Aristobulus and Narcissus who were in the Lord. He mentions Rufus and his mother and Paul commends his own mother (very interesting) along with the sister of Nereus. Families are essential to the work of the Lord.
Herodion was a countryman of Paul who was commended. Paul is thankful for Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with the apostle. Philologus and Julia are set apart for their faithfulness. As Paul concludes his letter to Rome, he commends Timothy, his fellow worker and is thankful for Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus and Quartus. It is quite a list – a list of names shows how each one did their part and helped the kingdom of God grow.
Two thousand years have not faded the exhortations given by Paul to the illustrious list of faithful saints. Most of the names are unknown but they are known to God. Everyone has a place in the kingdom of God to do what they can do. Not everyone can be an apostle like Paul, but the hard-working preacher of the gospel recognized the work of a host of saints that labored hard for the kingdom of God. Many more could be listed, but time would not allow. Paul commends the saints. God knows the saints. There is something for everyone to do. Let us all be busy and work and do all we can do for the kingdom of God.