Romansby David Cook
In Romans 1:16, Paul said that the gospel is the means used powerfully by God to bring people to salvation. He now lists some of those who have been saved through this powerful gospel.
Paul sends greetings to 27 people, some of whom he names, but he mentions more: the church, the household, the brothers, a mother, a sister, and the saints.
Some of them are men, and some of them are women. Some have Jewish names like Mary, some have Greek names like Hermes, and some have Roman names like Julia. Some are people of wealth—heads of households like Aristobulus and Narcissus. Some have an obviously close bond with Paul, like the mother of Rufus, Andronicus, and Junias. We know some from elsewhere in the Bible, like Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:1–3); others we have only heard of their name, like Apollos.
All their work is elevated and reported to be significant, whether it was teaching, like Priscilla and Aquila, or the hard work of Mary (v. 6), Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis (v. 12). We don’t know exactly what their work was, but it was recognised and affirmed by the apostle.
The description that dominates this section is “in Christ” and “in the Lord”. All of these people have this in common: they were once outside of Christ, but because of the gospel, they were now in Christ and with Christ—in His presence forever, enjoying the fulfillment of their hope.
They knew they were part of God’s family: knowing God as Father, Christ as elder brother, and one another as brothers and sisters together in one family. Thus Paul urges them to greet each other as siblings “with a holy kiss” (v. 16).
Paul’s words regarding Phoebe in verses 1 to 2 are significant, as it was most likely that she was the carrier of the letter to the Romans. We can thank God for her safe arrival at Rome, her warm reception by the church, and the preservation of this first-century letter that continues to strengthen the church today.
Look at Paul’s descriptions of individual Christians in the list. If Paul were to include your name in this list of greetings, how do you think he would describe you?
What do these verses teach about our unity in Christ, the nature of ministry, Paul’s relationship with the church, and the power of the gospel?