Romans 16:12-17

In Romans 16:12-17 Paul continues greeting folks through his letter. Next he calls out two ‘workers in the Lord – Tryphaena and Tryphosa. These are two Christian women in the church in Rome that were believed to be twin sisters or very close relatives. Next comes Persis, who is identified as a hard worker. She was also a female Christian at Rome whom Paul salutes. Rufus and his mother come next. He evidently had some eminence among the Christians of Rome and she cared for Paul’s needs. “Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.”

He follows with a list of folks and others who were with them. John Gill writes about these men as guys ‘who died in the Roman martyrology, as disciples of the apostle Paul. Asyncritus is said to be bishop of Hyrcania, and Phlegon of Marathon. Hermas is said to be bishop of Philippi, or Aquileia. All of them are likely members of the seventy disciples. “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them.” These men, along with others, seem to have lived together as part of a spiritually related band of brothers whom the apostle Paul loved as such.

Then comes another group. Philologus and Julia were likely husband and wife and he was probably part of the seventy disciples. Nereus and his sister are next on the list. There is no real clarity about who they were other than family.  Olympas along with Nereus and his sister and others who lived with them are all thought to be part of the seventy disciples. This group of followers were extremely important to Paul, and he obviously knew them intimately and had strong love for them. “Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.” He was focused on unity and oneness of the body. “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”

Paul has given us a long list of important people in his ministry and patch. He did this intentionally to demonstrate that the work of the ministry was not his alone, but there were many who played a part. Now he shifts gears as he wraps up the chapter and exhorts the church to stay focused on unity. “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” There are some who make it their cause to create dissention and drive a wedge between the body of believers. Paul reminds them to go back to the truth and stay focused on what is right and true and to stay away from those who want to destroy!

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