Day 141: Greetings from Others Here

Romans 16:21-24

Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives. I, Tertius, who write the letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, my host and host of the whole assembly, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, as does Quartus, the brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.

Before the letter was to take its long journey to Rome, a few more people wanted to make sure and send their greetings. Timothy was with Paul at that time. There are two other letters in the Bible written from Paul directly to Timothy. Paul also had relatives with him. When relatives believe in what you say, it is a good witness to others that you are telling the truth. Relatives usually know more about you than others.

Notice that Paul wasn’t the one writing the letter. Tertius takes the freedom of telling the Romans that he was writing the letter and that he wanted to greet them too. I am so thankful for eye-glasses. From the evidence we have, Paul’s vision wasn’t very good. He says in another letter that he had to use big letters when writing. So, Paul would dictate his letters to someone else who would write them down. Notice that the treasurer of the city where Paul was writing was also a believer.

Once again Paul reminds us about God’s grace has he says goodbye.

Day 140: Wisdom and Innocence

Romans 16:19-20

For your obedience has become known to all. I rejoice therefore over you. But I desire to have you wise in that which is good, but innocent in that which is evil. And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Paul tells us that the obedience of the Roman Christians was well known. Even though Paul was very happy about this, he wanted their wisdom about what is good to increase. It is difficult to be innocent if you aren’t quite sure about what is right and what is wrong. Since evil men were deceiving the hearts of the innocent, wisdom was desperately needed. God, through Paul, provided the wise words of this letter to preserve our innocence when they are used by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Notice that this combination is the way that God crushes Satan under our feet. The Bible is very important for us because we still need to overcome Satan in our world today. In a few years from this time, the Romans were to have a new emperor named Nero who would end up making it a sport to kill Christians, but God was later to crush this persecution and allow Christianity to exist throughout the empire.

Finally, Paul again reminds us that Jesus’ grace, or unmerited favor, is with us. This is what we start with, and this is what we must continue to remember as we enjoy our relationship with God.

Day 139: Look Out

Romans 16:17-18

Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. For those who are such don’t serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent.

As Christians, we shouldn’t sweep scandal under the rug, but we are told to “look out for those who are causing divisions and occasions of stumbling.” It is
very important to also recognize that this is referring to things that are “contrary to the doctrine which you learned.” These words don’t fit in with the world’s way of doing things. The world would have us just try to get along while they tear down Christianity. Instead, we should be looking for and turning away from those who preach stuff that is against what Paul teaches in this letter. This is our responsibility.

This passage isn’t saying that it is bad to ever have a division in the church. In fact, it’s saying the opposite. If someone preaches a contrary doctrine, you must split from them and it is their fault, not yours. Remember how important it is to maintain a clear conscience before the Lord. If something goes against your conscience, you should depart from it. That includes the things that I say. If they are not in line with what God says you must be responsible to turn away. I hope that you pray with me that I would speak only the truth as I teach about God so that people don’t have to turn away.

Notice that these people are really only serving their own physical needs and not Jesus. Notice that they use “smooth and flattering speech.” We must look out for them because “they deceive the hearts of the innocent.” We may find ourselves in a bad situation unless we guard what God has given to us.

Day 138: Special Greetings

Romans 16:3-16

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life, laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the assemblies of the Gentiles. Greet the assembly that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet them of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Greet Persis, the beloved, who labored much in the Lord. Greet Rufus, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The assemblies of Christ greet you.

They didn’t have Facebook or email back then. Not only could they not “tweet” what was currently happening, they were not able to communicate at all for long periods between visits unless someone was willing or paid to deliver a message.

Paul took the opportunity in his greetings to give honor to his work-friends, Prisca and Aquila. It appears that they literally risked their necks for Paul and hosted a house church. He mentions many others who were working hard for the Lord and a few who also went to jail for being Christians. This gives us a real picture of the cost of being a Christian. Some believe that Christianity is a road to prosperity, but, as we read here, Christianity more often comes with a cost in this life. This cost, however, isn’t worth comparing to all that God has already given us through Christ Jesus.

Greeting with kisses is not a Christian requirement. Greeting in the way that families do in the culture you find yourself in is a wonderful thing to do as believers.

Day 137: Worthy of the Saints

Romans 16:1-2

I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the assembly that is at Cenchreae, that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self.

Evidently, the letter that Paul was sending was coming with a person named Phoebe. They didn’t have a mail system like we take for granted today so someone had to travel with it in order for it to be delivered. It appears that Phoebe also needed someone to tend to her needs. Paul wasn’t asking for a handout that wasn’t well deserved, though. Notice that Phoebe had already been “a helper of many” including Paul.

The Bible isn’t advocating a welfare system. Paul is always very careful to say that work and food go together. When you work then you can get fed. If you don’t work, then you shouldn’t be fed. Phoebe was clearly a worker; she deserved to be fed!

Notice that Paul asks for the people to act “in a way worthy of the saints.” Paul says this kind of thing in many of his letters. We are all saints when we are saved and we should act like it. This has been preached backwards, causing people to think that in order to be a saint you have to put on an act. It is actually the other way around. Because we are saints already, we should be doing the things that God expects of someone in our position. Jesus has purified us already by His blood. To disagree with this is to put Jesus down. It reveals ignorance concerning the amount of love that God has shown us. His salvation made us complete saints and this should be a motivation for our behavior.

Day 136: Striving Together in Prayer

Romans 15:30-33

Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; that I may come to you in joy through the will of God, and together with you, find rest. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

This passage says quite a bit in a very small space. It may seem strange that God wants us to pray when He already knows everything. I believe that this passage tells us that one reason for prayer is to share in the suffering and deliverance of other Christians.

I believe that Paul was already aware of the will of God in this situation, and that he wanted the Roman Christians to have an opportunity to go through his experiences with him. Even though they couldn’t be together, they could still show their love for Paul and experience God’s deliverance through Paul. I think that the point is that we can’t experience God’s deliverance for our fellow Christians unless we participate in their struggle. Remember the body analogy earlier in Romans? We are all one body and through prayer, we can share in the sufferings of another by praying with them for their ultimate deliverance.

We read in the book of Acts what actually happened after this letter was written. When Paul got to Jerusalem he was accepted by the believers there (see Acts 21:19-20), but the non-Christian Jews started a riot in which he was beat by the crowd and then arrested (see Acts 21:26 – 22:22). Then, the Romans ended up protecting Paul after they were embarrassed about the fact that they almost punished a Roman citizen without trial (which was evidently illegal, see Acts 22:23-29). Paul ended up sitting in prison, but during one night, God came to him and told him that he would go to Rome for sure! (See Acts 23:11) There was even a plot against his life that the Guards found out about in Jerusalem and eventually ended up giving him an all expenses-paid trip to Rome with the protection of the guards! (See Acts 23:11 – 28:14)

To make it even more interesting, when Paul got to Rome, the believers there were extremely happy to see him, so much so that they traveled his direction when they heard that he was coming! (See Acts 28:14-16) Amazingly enough, however, the Romans didn’t even know the problems that Paul had in Jerusalem. In fact, unlike those in Jerusalem, the Roman Jews listened Paul’s message! (Acts 28:17 to the end) I think it is safe to say that the Roman Christians were praying along with Paul the whole time. They were so excited to see him that they went way out of their way to do it without knowing what had happened. I believe it is possible that prayer held them together and all of them were able to experience the joy of God’s deliverance together! This is a great example of how we can all share in the sufferings of those Christians who are being persecuted today. May God bless them and deliver them to us.

Day 135: Thanks to the Jewish Christians

Romans 15:26-29

For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things. When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by way of you to Spain. I know that, when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of the Good News of Christ.

It’s easy for some to forget that it was because of the Jewish Christians that the Gentiles learned about salvation in Christ Jesus. The early Gentile Christians knew this and put together a financial gift. Evidently, the persecution from non-Christian Jews had robbed the church members in Jerusalem of much of their wealth. Since many of the Gentile Christians were doing well, they willingly offered to help.

We read in Acts that some of the Gentile Christians tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem because they were told by the Holy Spirit that Paul was to be arrested there, but Paul would not change his mind. I am pretty sure that someone else could have taken the gift to them, but I believe he wanted to bring the offering to the church himself because he loved the Jews so much as we read about earlier. I think he wanted to represent the Gentile believers because that was his ministry.

All of us, as Gentile believers, should recognize our roots. We follow a Jewish Messiah that brought a message of hope from the Jews to us. This is the way that God wanted to do it and it is not strange for us to be thankful. In fact, it makes a lot of sense.