A DAILY DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 29TH
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 16:21-24
Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you his greetings.
Here in the final paragraph Paul takes his pen and writes the last words himself. Up to this point he has been dictating this letter to a man named Tertius. The name indicates that he, too, was a slave. His brother, Quartus, is mentioned in Verse 23. They are educated slaves who have become Christians. They can read and write, and are part of this group in Corinth.
You can picture them gathered in the home of Gaius, this gracious host of the city, mentioned in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Gaius opened his house to the entire Christian community, so here is Paul, sitting there with his friends. Tertius is writing down the letter, and the others are gathered around listening to Paul as he dictates, and profiting much from the writing of these great truths. With Paul is his dear son in the faith, Timothy. Paul spoke of him always in the highest terms; his beloved son in the faith, who had stayed with him so long and remained faithful to the end. The very last letter Paul wrote from his prison cell in Rome was to Timothy. Paul also mentions Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, his relatives.
Here in Romans 16 are six members of Paul’s family, kinsmen who are now Christians. Some were Christians before him, but some Paul influenced toward Christ. Lucius appears to be the same one who comes from Cyrene, mentioned in Chapter 13 of Acts as one of the teachers in the city of Antioch. Jason was evidently Paul’s host when the apostle went to the city of Thessalonica. Paul stayed in Jason’s home when a riot broke out in the city. Sosipater may be the man from Beroea, mentioned in Acts 20 as Sopater. Paul met him in Macedonia and may have accompanied him to Jerusalem with the offering to the churches there. The final name is Erastus, director of public works in the city of Corinth. You can see how the gospel penetrated all levels of society, with slaves, public officials, consuls, leaders of the empire, all sharing an equal ground of fellowship in the church of Jesus Christ. All class distinctions disappeared within the church and that is what happens whenever the church works.
These Christians were noted for four things: First, they were not their own. They did not have a right to direct their lives any longer. Second, they believed that life is a battle. It is not a picnic. They were engaged in warfare that never ended until they left this life, so they kept on fighting. Third, they believed that there is need for rest and leisure at times, but only to restore them to go back into the battle. They never envisaged retiring for the remaining years of their lives. They only envisaged getting adequate rest to come back and fight through to the end. Finally, they understood that the gifts of the Holy Spirit among them opened up a ministry for every believer. No Christian was without a ministry. Some of these dear people had only the gift of helps, and that is a great gift. They could not teach or preach but they could help, and they did, right to the end. This passage reminds us that God has called us all to a ministry, and we all have to give an account for what we have done with our gifts. We had better find out what they are and get to work, get involved in the battle, because God has not called us to a picnic ground. He has called us to a battleground.
I pray that you will grant to me, Lord, similar faith that I too may share with you in a time of testing, a time of rebuke and pressure and persecution and trouble, and stand steadfast to the end, for your name’s sake.
What four commitments were commonly shared among these early Christians? Do we share with them liberation from class distinctions, honoring our mutual members of the family of Christ?