One of the characteristics of Paul was that he often gave thanks for specific individuals who were a part of his ministry and opened doors for them as a result. He begins a list of those to whom appreciation and thanks were given. The first was for a woman Phoebe, a deaconess in the church. Paul encouraged the Church at Rome to minister to this lady in a practical, financial manner; as she had ministered to multitudes of others.
He expresses appreciation to Priscilla and Aquila, who had risked their lives for Paul. Their unselfish act not only saved Paul, but became an incredible encouragement to “the churches of the Gentiles”, having served as models. Since there weren’t any “church buildings” in that day as we have today, this couple hosted and led a congregation in their home.
Epaenetus was likely a member of Stephanas’ household that came to faith when Paul was in Achaia. There was fruit that remained! Who this “Mary” was is unknown. Even though she was unknown to men, she was known to Paul and more importantly to God.
Andronicus and Junia had been imprisoned with Paul at some point in the past. Their lives were of such high caliber, they were recognized among the early apostles. Even though they were believers before Paul, there is no record of their having become numbered among the apostles; YET they were faithful and endured in their faith, even in the face of persecution.
Those listed in verses 8 – 12 remind us that there were those in strategic positions within the culture; they didn’t compromise their faith and had made a great impression on and had served Paul.
Two women, Tryphena and Tryphosa were ministers of the Gospel, having “labored in the Lord.” There is a place for women in ministry and it isn’t limited to the kitchen or nursery!
Rufus’s mother must have ministered to Paul as her own son, as it’s unlikely they had the same “natural” mother. Asyncritus, Phlegon, Mermas, Patrobas, Hermes, Philologus, Julia, Nereus and Olympas along with others unnamed were special to Paul as he didn’t fail to mention them.
Who would the Lord put on your heart to “remember”, expressing your appreciation for their role in your life? Some continue to play strategic roles, others may have opened a door for you in the past; perhaps they ministered or served you in a critical time in your life. It’s always appropriate to say “Thank you” for those special and strategic people.
The greeting and that with a “holy kiss” is still practiced in many other nations, particularly in Eastern Europe. I’ve received those from ministers in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. That first kiss was a bit of a shock, as no one gave me a heads up; yet it was given from genuine love and appreciation.
Before closing out this letter Paul dictates to Tertius to pen a word of caution and warning; specifically dealing with those who were divisive, offensive, self-serving, smooth talkers that had less than honorable intentions. He reminds them “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly”; in context, referring to those who were culprits of his warning.
When Paul dictated this letter to Tertius, there were others who may have input to the church at Rome as well; Timothy, Luke, Jason and Sosipater.
There is speculation that Gaius who was referenced in Acts 19:29 as having been the target of enraged Jews in Ephesus, was the host Paul references in this P.S.; as well as “Erastus” who either was serving as the treasurer or had served as the treasurer for Corinth.
There are those who interpret Paul’s encouragement that God was “able to establish” them “according to my gospel” as being contrary to the Gospel of Christ. That is faulty reasoning, as Paul writes “my gospel AND THE PREACHING OF JESUS CHRIST.” Clearly the Gospel of Christ was the gospel of good news, the Jew first and then to the Greeks (Gentile); repentance to God, faith in Christ and circumcision of heart.
We echo the closing words of Paul to the Church of Rome, “to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”