Charlie Brown on friendship…
– Lucy: I think you try too hard Charlie Brown… Be like me, I don’t need any friends. I’m self-sufficient.” Charlie: Not me… I need all the friends I can get.”
Paul is at the end of his letter to Romans and is grateful for all friends who has crossed his path and those who are to come. Today we will review how our legacy is attached to people more than anything in life.
EXAMINE Rom 16 Lead Generations / we are leaving a legacy
– looks like a list of social media followers or a phonebook (depending on which generation).
– Names aren’t interesting, especially ones that are difficult to read and pronounce.
– But it highlights Paul’s friends…
– Friend – “you too?” C.S. Lewis… implying that friendship is formed through shared experiences and commonalities. For Christians, it is Christ. Paul notes this aspect throughout Rom 16 with his phrasing “in Christ” or “in the Lord.”
o Christ is the grand commonality
- Where fans of Ravens, Skins, Cowboys, Steelers, Dolphins, Packers, Broncos, and whatever else can worship together.
- Where people who enjoy PB & Chocolate and those who don’t can still be friends.
- Where artists, musicians, writers, sports fans, military personnel, healthcare workers, day care workers, domestic engineers, teachers, business professionals, and those unemployed and retired, can all work together.
- Where people who were born in and love MD with those undesirably transplanted to MD can share meals and mission together.
- Where race of white, black, Hispanic, Jewish, Native American, Egyptian, or any other ethnicity can bring our differences together for a common cause of the gospel.
o Paul’s friendships were the success of his ministry
- Paul traveled with friends.
- Paul visited & stayed with friends.
- Paul encouraged and challenged friends.
- Paul worked alongside friends.
- Paul got persecuted, punished, and imprisoned with friends.
- Paul sang in prison with friends.
- Paul at times disagreed with friends… and reconciled with friends.
- Paul at the end of his life was most grateful for friends.
– Me going to friends for strength and for stress… hanging, laughing, playing, eating, praying, weeping, thinking, dreaming, planning, worshiping together. That’s what Christian friends do together.
– Friends = future
– Jesus is a faithful friend… and a friend of sinners.
Romans 16 3 descriptions of a relational legacy
Paul sends greetings to friends in Rom (16:1-16). He has a word of warning and hope for his friends (Rom 16:17-20). Paul also sends personal greetings from his friends in Corinth (16:21-23). And Paul concludes with a grand doxology (Rom 16:25-27).
We leave a legacy when we recognize people as a gift (Rom 16:1-16)
– Paul’s letters are filled with teaching but also testimony of how the Christian faith is lived out.
– Paul is genuinely thankful for Christian friends and ministry partners, even ones he’s never met.
o Paul in Romans 1:11-12 “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen (same word used in 16:25) you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
o Philippians 1:3-5 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until know…”
o 1Thessalonians 2:8 “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become so very dear to us.”
o “You are my joy and crown” (Php 4:1; 1Thess 2:19-20)
o James 1:17
o Hebrews 3:12-13 / 10:24-25
o We are family and soldiers who need each other to do battle against the enemy (cf. Rom 16:20).
– In Rom 16, there are more greetings than every letter of Paul’s combined, with 27 individuals and numerous other groups recognized.
o à How is it possible for Paul to know so many people that he hasn’t met?
- Because he invested in people and sent them onward to share the gospel wherever they went.
- We need to work against the mentality that says, “I don’t know many people at church” and help facilitate relationships…
– Paul’s relationship roles to these individuals: sister, brother, servant, saints, patron (person of means and maturity – wealth used for the gospel), fellow workers who risked their necks, churches, beloved, fellow prisoners, family, kinsman, like a mother to me…
o Was Phoebe a deacon? Phoebe is described as a servant (daikon), which the word can be used generally or specifically. Since Paul identifies Phoebe with the church in Cenchrae, it probably indicates a specific position.
Regardless of views (conservative or progressive) on women in ministry, undoubtedly, women were vital for the spread of the gospel and development of churches in early Christianity, and onward through the ages including today. In this list of 27 names, 10 are women.
- Christ and the early church elevated women and didn’t endanger women with attacks and abuse with harsh words, lusting eyes, inappropriate innuendos, or unwanted physical contact. Instead, Jesus defended women from wrongful condemnation and defined them as valuable roles in His kingdom (cf. some language inspired from Ann Voskamp, Oct 12)
- Likewise, at SPBC, we are grateful for the role of women who serve throughout our ministries and leadership areas. In fact, at SPBC it is interesting that men are often the ones serving in the kitchen!
- So, while a woman’s role is to be appreciated and elevated, SPBC does hold to a complementarian interpretation of Scripture that women can serve everywhere outside of elder/pastor role in the church (cf. 1Tim 2/3; Titus 1).
- Yet, SPBC Deacon and Elder Roles need further clarification.
– Paul’s friends were diverse with those being Jews/Greek/Roman, men/women, single/married, young/old, new/seasoned in faith, servants/wealthy (cf. Galatians 3:28). When there is great diversity groups must determine what is essential and what is not for unity to exist. Unity isn’t determined by uniformity, but each diversity expressing itself for a shared purpose.
– Paul’s friends represented a network partnership of at least 5 house churches who shared a familial bond in Christ for the sake of the gospel (Rom 16:16).
o House of Pricilla & Aquila (Rom 16:5)
o House of Aristobulus (Rom 16:10)
o House of Narcissus (Rom 16:11)
o House of Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and brothers (Rom 16:14).
o House of Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. (Rom 16:15)
o à network partnerships: LCC, ABN/BCMD/NAMB/IMB; SPAN; Well; OCC, PCM
– 16:5 – “first convert to Christ in Asia” word is actually “firstfruit”, which carries the thought of a harvest to come. If you read missionary biographies or study movements of God, first converts are important for celebrating God’s work of plowing, sowing, planting, and expectation for hope and future harvest.
o Me with SPBC…
- If you came to Christ with baptism during last 8 years…
- If you joined membership with SPBC in last 8 years…
- Member longer than 15 … 20 … 25… 30… 40… 45…
o Wouldn’t it be a God-sized vision to partner with an unreached people group that SPBC is enabled to have a “firstfruit” among a people?
è People are the mission, not programs, ministries, or events.
à Hospitality: welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you” (Rom 16:1)
à Thanksgiving: “I give thanks…” (Rom 16:4) Who is helping your spiritual growth… and how can you express thanks?
à Affection: “Greet ___ ; Greet one another with a holy kiss.” This is a cultural expression implying greeting with warmth, cheer, sincerity, and love. We must be careful not to create a cultural practice into a timeless truth, or worse to encourage inappropriate behavior. But the principle is that our greetings and care for one another should be warm (cf. Rom 12:10). A kind word of affirmation or listening conversation can go a long way.
o Some people only receive a kind greeting from a pet and not a human, and this should not be.
à Mission: “servants” (Rom 16:1), “risked their necks” (Rom 16:4), “worked hard” (Rom 16:6), “fellow workers” (Rom 16:9, 12). These people are not merely members in a social club but workers and soldiers in God’s kingdom (cf. Rom 12:11 “Do not be slothful in zeal; serve the Lord”). Deep community and fellowship is accomplished through service together not sitting together.
We leave a legacy when we speak truth in love (Rom 16:17-20)
This passage may catch some off guard, with Paul transitioning notes of warm welcome to extreme warning. Yet, the tone aligns with the overall reality that relationships are so important that we must do all that is possible to guard from harm and grow in the hope of faith.
Paul warns the Roman church to stay unified in membership and urgent in mission. “Watch out” (σκοπέω) implied to take heed or examine critically. Paul warned the Roman believers to affirm teachers of sound doctrine and avoid those who are self-serving for their own comfort and cravings. Therefore, Christians are to be wise to what is good and innocent toward evil.
A church that wants to grow godly generations must have defined doctrine and be bold in truth. We must never waver and wander from the gospel. A church that wavers from biblical teaching is like a blind Uber driver for your life or worse like an army blocking the route to heaven and forcing you onto the ramp exit to hell.
The application for this principle is to place ourselves in environments where we can grow. There are many soil types in the world, but only one that will produce a harvest (cf. Mk 4).
– You will belong somewhere and be a visitor other places; which are you at church?
è When challenges or confusion arrive, where will you turn?
o Participate in Bible Groups with sound teaching.
o Participate in Worship Gatherings with sound teaching in music and message.
o Participate in body life one another conversation, spurring each other to the image of Christ.
We leave a legacy when the gospel goes deep in hearts and wide across generations & nations.
– Paul lists an additional 8 names of those who are with him in Corinth and send greetings to Rome.
o Timothy: Paul’s fellow worker and mentee pastor for Ephesus
o Lucius, Jason, Sosipater: Jason was Paul’s host in Thessalonika (Acts 17:5-9)
o Tertius: Paul’s scribe.
o Gaius: Paul’s host, probably baptized by Paul (1Cor 1:14)
o Erastus: city treasurer
– Romans (and all Bible) was written for ordinary Christians not professional theologians. The people of God must get back to taking the Bible seriously to inform our living and leading.
– Paul knew the importance of ordinary people who were faithful. The Christian church has been blessed, built, and sustained throughout history by unsung heroes: people who care about the name of Christ more than making a name for themselves; people who don’t get caught up in cultural politics and celebrity chasing, but simply put their hands to the plow and persevere day by day living for Christ and serving Him.
– Even more, Jesus knows our names and our service to Him. Don’t get discouraged if your ministry or work feels insignificant or unnoticed; God sees you (cf. 1Cor 15:58 “knowing that your labor in the Lord is never in vain.”).
Paul’s closing words to Romans
– Rom 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Jesus has won the war, but there are still battles being waged (struggles, suffering, sin, death). But there is coming a day when the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet! Until that day, let us speak the truth in love.
à Let’s renew our commitment to one another as a church.
– Rom 16:25, 27 “Now to him who is able to strengthen… to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” Jesus is our sustaining legacy. à Let’s renew our commitment to display and declare the gospel to generations and nations.
– Jesus has been revealed… do you see Him? The gospel of Christ begins and ends an astonishing and affectionate letter to the Romans. May the gospel of Jesus be present in your life too…
 Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, the mother of Rufus, Julia, the sister of Nereus.
 James Dunn, Word Biblical Commentary, Romans 16:17.