3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Romans during his third missionary trip while he was in Corinth. At this point, Paul had not yet been to Rome. Although Paul addresses several issues facing the church there, it is this letter that establishes the doctrine that salvation comes by faith in Christ alone (Sola fide).
In the first several verses of chapter 16, Paul sends his greetings and appreciation to those who were instrumental in establishing the Gospel and churches in Rome. Of all the names listed here in Romans 16, probably Priscilla and Aquila are the only really recognizable names. They were a married couple who pastored and are mentioned other places in scripture, but all those other names in the Romans 16 Crew are pretty unrecognizable. And although not known to us, they were all people who were very important to the Apostle Paul. These were co-laborers with him for the sake of the Gospel. These were people who had served, sacrificed, and suffered to bring the Good News to Rome. Paul wants them to know just how much he loves and appreciates them…so he calls them by name.
Can you imagine when this letter was read aloud in the church, just how excited each of these people must have been to hear their name mentioned? What an honor! There’s an old quote attributed to Dale Carnegie that says, “There is no sweeter sound to one’s ear than the sound of his name.” If there’s any truth to that, there’s a few people in that list that may have been disappointed. There are a few others that seem to be mentioned, but not by name. There is “the household of Aristobulus,” “the household of Narcissus,” “Nereus and his sister,” and “all the saints who are with them.” I wonder if any of these unnamed people were thinking as they heard the letter read, “Hey, Paul…you mentioned everyone else by name, but you forgot me! What’s up with that? I’ve been working hard for the Gospel, too!” What WAS up with that? Were there too many people to list? Had Paul forgotten their names? Couldn’t he at least give a shout-out to Nereus’ sister, instead of just calling her “Nereus’ sister”?
That may not be an accurate depiction of what those people were thinking, but I think that kind of mindset is more prevalent today than we might care to admit. There are men who want to be acknowledged for what they do. There are men who want to be patted on the back for their service. There are men who want to hear their name said out loud for everyone else to hear. And although we should give honor where it’s due, is that why we serve?
Some of the “unsung heroes” in our series have been mentioned by name, and others have not. But whether we know their names or not, God does. Listen to these words from the writer of Hebrews.
10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. NLT
Maybe we get a badge that says “Best Volunteer Ever,” but maybe we don’t. Guys, God is the one who sees it all, knows it all (even Nereus’ sister’s name), and He is the One who will ultimately reward us. Always remember who and what our service is about. It’s about bringing glory to Him. Learning to live in that confidence is a big step of faith and a big step towards maturity for all of us.
So let’s step up!
1 Corinthians 10:31
31 So…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
“The stamp of the Saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.”
― C.S. Lewis