I read Romans 16 recently, which I have read many times. What stands out to me in the conclusion of the book is the incredible importance of the people who partnered with Paul in the mission of God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, thought it was important to include not only the importance of partnership, but the specific names of the people who took part.
Phoebe evidently was on her way to Rome and Paul sent an a recommendation of her in advance so the believers would receive and support her. She helped many in the practical work of the Gospel. Priscilla and Aquila were associates of Paul and helpers to Apollos and were back in the city of Rome. Epaenetus was among the first believers in Achaia where Corinth was and he was beloved to Paul. Mary labored much for the mission.
Amplias was described as beloved in the Lord, Urbanus as a fellow worker, and Stachys as beloved. Apelles was approved in Christ. The household of Aristobulus was mentioned as was Herodion, and those in the household of Narcissus. Tryphena and Tryphoas labored in the Lord, and Persis labored much in the Lord. Rufus was chosen in the Lord and Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, and Hermes were referenced as brothers. Philologus, Julia, Nereus and Olympia his sister were all saints. Paul noted the labor of all of these people and his regard and respect for them in love. Tertius the scribe for Paul who recorded Romans brought a greeting and also referenced Gaius the host of the church, Erastus the treasurer of the city, and Quartus a brother.
What do the names of all of these people symbolize? They represent ordinary people who had been redeemed, and surrendered their lives to the work of God. Although they were ordinary, they were also essential. The pattern of how God works in his church, is through ordinary people who have been redeemed and are surrendered to him.
Each person who partners together in the mission is essential in their own way. Credit often goes to the people who are out front and noticed by others. Yet the backbone of the work is made up of the people who work in the trenches. There are several takeaways from Romans 16. Teams are essential to the mission. Every team member in the mission has a role, and is therefore important. We need to be intentional about bringing other people along with us as God raises up laborers to serve in the harvest field. Finally this thought comes to mind, am I serving faithfully to the point that someone would count it important to mention my name as one who has worked hard, and even very hard, in the mission of God?
Romans 16:25-27 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.