Greetings to the Saints in Rome
1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are 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. The churches of Christ greet you.
A list of names. Not really the best passage to preach on.
Amplias Beloved in the Lord
Stachys My beloved
Firstfruits of Achaia to Christ
as was the household of Stephanas
15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
Greet Mary, who labored much for us.
Also Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ
Tryphena and Tryphosa Women probably twins Names mean soft and delicate. But they labored in the Lord
Persis a women who labored much in the Lord
Greet Andronicus and Junia,
Paul’s kinsman (countrymen in NKJV but is believed by many to be kinsman) Some believe that these are husband and wife and that they were Paul’s cousins as was Herodion.
They were fellow prisoners. Although we don’t know when exactly. We do know that Paul was frequently in prison and not every time was recorded. But if these were in prison with him then they were probably there for the same reason that Paul was there which would have been for preaching the gospel. They shared a prison cell together and would have had a special bond.
Next it says who are of note among the apostles. Some have taken this to mean that they were noteworthy apostles others believe that they were known and of note to the apostles. I think that they were of noteworthy to the apostles rather than being apostles.
They were in Christ before Paul.
That is they were converted before Paul. While he was still persecuting the church these had already given their lives to Christ.
Apelles - Approved in Christ
Why Paul said certain things of some and not others
I wouldn’t read too much into it. For instance, I don’t believe that Paul only loved those who he called my beloved. And surely Apelles is not only approved in Christ because all who are in Christ are approved before God. I think that as Paul mentions each person his mind is filled with thoughts of that person
Epaenetus my beloved Mary who laboured much for us etc. and as he comes to Apelles, having intimate knowledge of him he say approved in Christ. Maybe he knew that Apelles had struggled with feeling accepted and approved before God. So many Christians struggle with this idea that they could ever be acceptable or approved before God. So Paul says “Greet Apelles approved in Christ” to encourage him and remind him and us that if you doubt that you are approved before God remember that you are approved not in and of yourself but you are approved in Christ.
Paul then greets the households of Aristobulus and the Narcissus who he says are in the Lord. In this passage 1-16 Paul says in the Lord or in Christ 10 times. I find it interesting that even when Paul is greeting his friends and family that his focus is always Christ. All of these and all of us who are accepted or labour or love or are chosen we are all of these because we are first in Christ Jesus. It is in Christ that we love and labour and are chosen and accepted.
Greet Rufus chosen in the Lord and his mother and mine.
Who is Rufus?
He is mentioned in one other place in the Bible
20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.
Is this the same Rufus?
Probably. See it is believed that Mark wrote his gospel while in Rome. Therefore he would have referred to the names of people known in Rome. The Roman Christians may not have known Simon but they knew Alexander and Rufus. So it would appear that after Simon was forced to carry the cross of Christ that he and his family eventually became believers in Christ.
Can you imagine? Simon is force to carry the Cross of Christ. God intervened in this man’s life and he was chosen to carry the cross of Jesus not by accident but by divine appointment. Just before Christ dies on the cross this man has the opportunity to carry the cross of Jesus. Did Jesus say something to him? Was he and his family there on the day of Pentecost who converted after Peter’s famous message? We can only imagine but we can certianty say that this is most likely the same Rufus who is Simon’s son and he and his mother were believers in the church at Rome. And maybe Paul says that Rufus is chosen in the Lord as a reference to the fact that salvation came to him and his home through the sovereign act of God in choosing Simon that day to carry the cross of Jesus.
He also greets his mother who was clearly very close to Paul as he says that she is also a mother to him.
Paul then mentions Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobus, Hermes, and the bretheren who are with them.
And Philologus and Julia,Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints who are with them.
They are with them in relationship and Christian communion and fellowship. Some are not named here. Even though Paul may not have know all their names he acknowledges them and greets them.
Paul’s great love for his brothers and sisters in Christ is clearly displayed in these verses. We may just see this passage as a list of names but for Paul they were people, relationships, kinsmen, fellow labourers, they were beloved and chosen by God and accepted in Christ Jesus.
He finishes his greetings with this instruction
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
Kissing each other on the cheek was the custom during these times and in these regions as a way to greet someone. Paul’s here encourages the practice of this custom and in using this custom in the church with the saints the custom itself because sanctified. It becomes a holy kiss.
This doesn’t mean that we must kiss one another per se. but what we can take from this is that we should show affection for one another. Shake hands with one another, Hug one another, and yes you can kiss one another on the cheek. Do so in the name of the Lord and it is holy. For some reason in our culture we have become very standoffish and even more so since covid. It’s sad that we struggle to show our love for one another. It’s sad that we fear it will be misinterpreted or that we might offend or invade someone’s 2 meter bubble. I think we should be challenged by Paul’s instruction here. I’m not saying you have to kiss each other if that makes you uncomfortable but we should be more affectionate and greet one another in love.