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Grace Greeting

Romans: God's Righteousness and Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  54:25
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We've come a long way from the first-century church. Technology and culture have drastically defined the modern-day American church. People communicate via email, video calls, messenger, Facebook, or Instagram. Some people like to only connect in this way. They don't want personal interaction with other people. We can even Google ourselves and find out more info than we want. For example, type in my name and you'll find I've been busy. Michael C. Cacoilo is a pastor and a medical doctor. Yes, I can tend to you spiritually and physically. I'm kidding. You don't want me doing any kind of medical treatments on you, ever. I have a distant cousin with the same name who is a doctor here in New Jersey. And I found that out from googling my name. When it comes to knowing about someone you just met you could find out a bit about them on the internet. Not everyone, mind you, but most young people. So tech has changed the landscape of churches because you can communicate with one another instantly, and you don't have to leave the comfort of your home. It's caused distance between people, even in the church.
Not to mention the way the modern Christian or even atheist for that fact thinks of the church building. Some say you need a building they think it should be big. Others think the bigger the church the better because then they can hide, they can come in hear an encouraging message and then go home. There is no fellowship and no ministering to one another’s needs. There's no community. It wasn't this way in the first-century church and as Paul starts here in Chapter 16 we see that the first-century church was much more connected and had a higher sense of community and demonstrated a greater attitude of love and service than the modern church. It's funny I think most pastors when they hit this passage they take it as a dry list of names and skip right over it. We aren't going to go in-depth in these 16 verses but we are not skipping it either. We can learn a lot from Paul's words here, and we can see that the way to have a true community is to lovingly welcome those who serve Jesus.

True Christian Community is Personally Welcoming Partners in Ministry

Romans 16:1–13 (NASB95): 1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; 2 that 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. 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; 5 also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.


Christian Community is Welcoming

Pheobe is on her way to Rome so Paul gives her this letter and in it is a commendation. His word means a lot and it would go well for Pheobe if she had this or something like this as a reference. This would be the equivalent of a Christian moving from one city or state to another. The church they are members of when they leave, go with a letter they can hand to the pastor of the church they are going to attend, to say, hey this person is a genuine believer and they are incredibly godly servants and they would be a great addition to your congregation and ministry and they would benefit greatly from your service to them.
So the Roman church would know three truths about Pheobe. First, she is the real deal, she is a genuine Christian and not a charlatan. She is not coming to take advantage of the church or to pull a fast one. There were and there are people who take advantage of the Christian's goodwill. People come in just to take, they might not even be genuine believers they are only out for money, and to take up your time. Pheobe is not one of these types of people. She is a genuine Christ follower.
Second, don't just let her into your services but welcome her in. Give her what she needs and take excellent care of her. That is what it means to welcome someone in. You tend to their needs as best as possible. You care for their spiritual needs as well as their physical needs. We don't know why Pheobe is going to Rome. Maybe she is moving there, maybe she is going there on a business trip. Maybe it's a destination wedding. Whatever the reason, it's not easy moving somewhere new and it is nice to have people who can come alongside you and help you find a place to live, where is the best place to buy your groceries, and what areas of town to watch out for. The church community can help her with these things.
Third, Paul emphasizes her character. She is a helper and a servant to many. Paul has seen her prove herself as a servant of Christ as she has partnered with him and many others in the church at Cenechrea. He values her and sees her as an asset to the Kingdom of God and to the local church. They would be foolish not to care for her and partner with her in ministry and to shun her from the community of believers. Paul cares about her and he expects them to have the same kind of love for her he has and the same kind of love she can provide them.
Paul provides a recommendation for the church to welcome Pheobe into the community of believers, to partner with her as she has partnered with many. Now Paul shifts and wants to give a greeting to a couple of people he knows in Rome.


Christian Community is Ministry Partnership


In verses 3-15, Paul greets some 25 people by name who are in Rome. This is the lengthiest list of greetings Paul has provided. Not much is known about most of this list. For the most part, what commentators have provided is all speculation, so I don't want to delve too much into who these people are, because, for the most part, we don't know. But we know that the Christian community stretches a lot further than just the seat next to you.
If you look at verses 3-15, you will see what I mean.
Now Paul has never set foot in Rome and he has never visited the church in Rome but as we can see from this list he knows a lot of people there. One exciting element about this list of greetings is the diversity of the people named. There are men and women and people from different social classes, some with money some are slaves but all serve Christ. The Church is made up of all kinds of people and no one should be excluded.
In verse 3 Paul greets Prisca and Aquila. They are the only ones we have a definite knowledge of. We can find them in Acts 18, and they are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:19 and again in 2 Timothy 4:19. This couple along with quite a few others were ministry partners with Paul. Notice they are a couple, man and woman. Aquila also is a tent maker, probably not a poor man. It is believed that some of those names such as Herodion and Narcissus were slaves. So there are different social classes here along with the list comprising women. There is no getting around the fact that women hold a high value in God’s Kingdom, and in the church community and should be partners in ministry.
Another element here is the church community is made up of different races, Gentiles and Jews make up the church. Aquila, we know from Acts 18, is a Jew. Then there is Andronicus and Junias, Herodion Paul calls my kinsmen. This was a common designation Paul used for fellow Jews. Some of these other names like Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who are women and possibly slaves or freedwomen, are sisters and more than likely twins whose names mean dainty and delicate. They are more than likely Gentile women along with Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, and Hermas.
Fourth, the church meets in houses. The church building didn’t come into play until the third century. Although it is nice to have a central location to worship, house churches were the thing. And it didn't hurt community. It's believed houses at that time could hold anywhere from ten to eighty people.

Christian Community is Personable


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