The Brotherhood

Romans 16:1-16

1I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;

2that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.

3Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,

4who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;

5also greet the church that is in their house Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.

6Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.

7Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

8Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.

9Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

10Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.

11Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.

12Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.

13Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.

14Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them.

15Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

16Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Paul writes out here what has been described as “personal greetings”. A few points have been made about this passage.

It was customary in that time, especially for Christians, to send forth recommendations and accolades about colleagues who are also Christians. The supplemental book I am reading for Romans suggests this activity for current day churches. the discuss how when one person or family moves to another town, they should be sent ahead with recommendations of churches as well as messages from their current pastor to the prospective pastor. This helps prevent “falling away”. I feel like churches are like doctors to us. Once we find a place we enjoy, full of friends, with a message we respect and appreciate, it is hard to leave. Even more difficult is finding another church that measures up. I think this would be a great way to transition when it is necessary. Having said that, I think it is our responsibility to seek these things from our church and pastors. I’ve actually thought of this a lot with the current path God has me in, I foresee having to leave my current church eventually. As much as that saddens me, it also worries me that I will not be able to find a church similar to this one. As much as I avoided the church during a period of time in my life, I can’t imagine ever doing so again.

I appreciate how Paul explains each person, at least with a couple words. It would be as if he is there personally introducing these people to the Roman church. Isn’t that how we introduce people? We don’t just say, “hey, this is Billy.” and leave it at that. I enjoy how he introduces them based on their strengths. Certainly we wouldn’t expect Paul to talk about these people according to the things they have done wrong or their weaknesses, but this is a way of validating and appreciating these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It gives them a quality that the Romans can use to look at them.

Finally, the last verse. this is how we should all greet each other. No, I’m not saying we all have to walk around kissing each other. Rather, the “holy kiss” is a way of thinking that involves brotherly love. I heartfelt warm embrace that signifies utter respect and closeness with each other. All the churches of Christ greet you. Should we not always greet fellow Christians with open arms? Absolutely. However, we do not. Its a refreshing reminder of what our brotherhood looks like. It’s what sets us apart.

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