ROMANS - CHAPER 16 - "THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST SALUTE YOU"
“THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST SALUTE YOU”
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
October 17, 2023, the Year of Our Lord
Rom. 16: 1-2: I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that you assist her in whatsoever business she has need of you; for she has been a succorer of many, and myself also.
Paul’s gracious introduction to the believers in Rome establish Phoebe’s high standing in Cenchrea. The introduction assures a ready welcome among like-minded followers of Jesus. A study of these two verses reveals an amazing woman, one Paul treats as a fellow minister, one he forthrightly, and with honor acknowledges as having money. She also has business to be attended to. Paul describes Phoebe via three accolade nouns as “sister,” “servant,” and “succorer.” The word “servant” comes from the Greek word diaconos, from which our word “deacon” is derived. Most believe, as do I, that Phoebe was a deaconess. In the early Church much was made of service, little of office. It is believed that Phoebe was a minister, even as were Paul, Timothy, and others.
The polite phrase, “succorer of many,” means a great deal. It suggests one who has been the patroness of the unprotected and despised, one who has come to the aid of converts in need, one who has fought the battles of those who were oppressed.
Fourth, Paul adds the phrase that she was a “succorer of myself also.”
Phoebe is given a place of everlasting fame. She is the one who carried this mighty epistle to the capitol of the empire. Fascinating, isn’t it, to think that a woman had the honor of bearing this document---which bears an immeasurable wealth of Christian doctrine.
Phebe, we can easily imagine, presided over a hospitable place, where Paul felt at home, as he did at the home of Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth, and as he did at the home of Lydia, while at Philippi. No doubt Phebe's Cenchrea home was the meeting place for the early church.
Paul’s silence about the affairs of the church at Cenchrea reinforces his esteem for Phoebe. There is no letter to the church Cenchrea. There is no evidence that lawsuits, immoral and sexual practices, or disorderly worship happened in Cenchrea. Phoebe received no pastoral letter of advice.
As a first-century woman, Phoebe breaks the mold. She leads the Cenchrean congregation, has money, and generously shares it. She follows the tradition of Miriam, Deborah, the queen of Sheba, and Hulda, all leaders who earlier crossed the biblical stage.
The apostle Paul commended her as a minister of sound doctrine; an acknowledged minister/leader who oversaw a church with few apparent problems; a skilled businesswoman, and a generous carrying friend and patron.
16:3-5b: Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Also would you greet the church that is in their house?
Priscilla and Aquila are a husband-and-wife soul-winning team who had come out of Italy and met Paul when he first came to Corinth. He was alone and dejected when he arrived in Corinth, but soon he met these “on fire” Christians who took him to their home and hearts. They were Jews who had been expelled from Rome under the edict of Claudius Caesar and had set up shop as tent-makers in the city of Corinth. When Paul departed from Corinth and embarked for Syria, they were with him. they came to Ephesus, and he left them there (Acts 18: 18,19). When Paul returned a year or more later, he found they and established a well-organized congregation in Ephesus. There Priscilla and Aquila ranked next to Paul and Timothy in the work of the congregation. Like Paul, they were tent-makers. They played a most important part in the early Christian Church. After the death of Claudius, they returned to Rome.
They were probably the first to recognize that Apollos had only a superficial knowledge of the new Christian faith, and so they “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts. 18:26).
16: 5b-7: “Salute my well beloved Epaen’e-tus, who is the first-fruitss of Achaia to Christ. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us. Salute Andronieus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Beginning with Epanetus, he lists a list of 29 people whom we do not know. Yet to him they were cherished friends. Some are Jewish Christians, others Gentile Christians. Like his Master, the apostle doesn’t care whether they are male or female, slave or free---he is no respecter of persons.
Adronicus and Junias are “kinsmen”, relatives, of Paul. They would belong to the tribe of Benjamin and therefore be Jews. They were saved before Paul. Apparently they had been imprisoned a number of times for their faith and thus had earned a reputation among the apostles at Judea. On one occasion they had been imprisoned along with the apostle himself (1 Cor. 11:23).
16: 8-11: Greet Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that are of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
No other chapter of the New Testament shows Paul’s affection and love for his friends as does this one. One of the precious things about this list of people is that even though they are unknown to us, they have been immortalized because of Paul’s love for them. It makes us think of the Lamb’s book of life, where the “nobodies” of this world are listed because of Jesus’ love for us.
16: 12-16: “Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which labored much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermans, Patrobas, Hermes and the brethren which are with them. Salute Philolo-gus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Lympas, and all the saints which are with them. Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.”
The saintly kiss of the early church was not as we think of kissing today. It was like a French general bestowing honor on a distinguished soldier. The Christian kiss was a Jewish custom. Recall how Judas greeted the Lord the night of His betrayal. It was a seal of pure affection between brothers, a precious thing. Today our custom is to give one another hugs. That is nice too.
16:17: Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.
It is easy to spot a troublemaker. These will try to stir trouble and cause division in churches. Observe Paul’s instructions for handling these deceivers. He does not say argue (debate) with them, nor to kick them out of the fellowship, neither were they to be punished in any way. The believers were to run away from them. False teachers can do no harm if no one pays any attention to them. False teachers thrive on contention.
Many today follow every wind of doctrine. The Christian’s only security against false teachers is learning and knowing the Word. A knowledgeable Christian easily recognizes a deceiver by his message and mode of living. Those who teach us should have peace, joy, and righteousness evident in their lives.
As we are coming into the last days, this warning is more urgent than ever. We are told precisely that false teachers will arise and deceive many (1 Tim. 4:1). Their words will be backed by supernatural signs.
16:18: These people are serving Christ; Their master is their own appetite (lusts). What they really want is to advance their own interests, not those of the Lord. They are clever with flattering words and know how to put forth their ideas in spiritual phrases that sound good to gullible and unsuspecting Christians.
We learn that the false teachers not only taught doctrines contrary to those of the apostle Paul, but they were motivated out of self-interest and selfish ambition. They were indifferent to the Lordship of Christ, seeing in the gospel a chance to build a reputation for themselves and make money. These people were not thinking of the day when they would stand before the Lord to give an account of their stewardship on earth. They viewed religion simply as a way of getting ahead in this world or gaining influence and reputation.
16: 19-20: Everybody in the world has heard of your loyalty to the gospel, and you can’t imagine how this thrills me. At the same time though, I want you to become shrewd in goodness, and totally unsophisticated when it comes to doing evil. Do this and the God of peace will bruise Satan under your feet directly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
16: 21-24: Timothy my coworker sends you his greetings; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, fellow Jews of mine. I, Tertius, the one who has written this letter for Paul, send you my greetings in the Lord. Greetings also from Gaius, my host, and the congregation which meets here in his house. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings too. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
16: 25-27: Now to Him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began. But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known, to all nations for the obedience of the faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever, Amen.
God had long kept to Himself His plan of salvation, but now He has acted and disclosed it in the work of Jesus Christ. Paul was commissioned with this gospel by God Himself and instructed to make the divine plan known throughout the world, commanding men to trust and obey the one and only God.
Supporting him in this work were the Old Testament scriptures now unlocked by the key of Jesus Christ and seen to be the manifesto of the wise God’s plan for the Church the present is the point upon which all eternity impinges. The planning of eternal ages past has burst out into time, the present time. The eternal God reveals Himself to men through the living Christ. It is the Church’s privilege to share in God’s eternal praise.
These truths were taught to Paul by revelation (Eph. 3:3, 4). Just as God raised up Moses to reveal the Law to Israel, He raised up Paul to explain the mystery of the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ to the world. These startling truths are that God takes from among sinful men, those who love Him, and by a miracle transforms them into His sons. No one dared think that God would do this by imparting His own level; and on top of that, to spend eternity with them and then raising them to His own level.
Until Paul stated these truths in plain language, the best that men could understand was that they could secure forgiveness for their sins based on Jesus’ sacrifice. Beyond that, no one dreamed that son-ship meant inheriting God’s own life—even though Jesus Himself spoke of it often (John 5:21). In this letter, Paul used the term “in Christ,” 59 times. It is one thing for us to have Christ in us the Hope of Glory. It is quite another for us to be “in Christ” living, moving and having our being in the Glory of God.
The LORD gave us the book of the Law of Moses through His servant Moses (Josh. 8:31). In this epistle alone, through the Spirit of God in Paul, the Lord revealed to us glorious laws of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
1. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ.
2. The law of Righteousness in Christ.
3. The law of Faith righteousness.
4. Chosen by God to be His forever.
5. Justified by faith and made the righteousness of God in Christ.
6. Removed from the Adam family (death) and placed into the Christ family (life).
7. Received the Holy Spirit Who not only makes it possible to have direct fellowship with God but enables us to live Godly lives.
8. Removed from under the Law to live as led by the Spirit.
9. Guaranteed to appear with Christ in glory which reduces any earthly suffering to a trifle by comparison.
10. So secure is our salvation that nothing can separate us from Christ.
11. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX
The first time I taught Romans and wrote it out by hand was 1987. Over the years, I have studied and entered into the labors of many men and women of God. I settled in my own Spirit the truths I have written and that I preach. There is no intent to plagiarize, but to present the glorious gospel of Christ which I have internalized. I salute all Christians to settle for yourself your own truth based only on the Word of God.