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©John Yerkes

Chapter 16:1-16 (ESV)

Posted on January 23, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 16:1-16 (ESV) - I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 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. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Question to consider: When we go to be with the Lord, what do you think we’ll remember about our life in this world?

There are those who try to paint the apostle Paul as misogynistic because he gave instructions related to specific areas of church leadership which limit the role of women. However, from the greetings Paul has included at the end of this letter to the Roman church, it looks like he not only held women in high regard, but shared many aspects of ministry with them and considered them as beloved family members.

It appears that Phoebe was a deaconess at Cenchreae, a seaport in Corinth, and she was given the task of traveling to Rome and delivering this important message. As a patroness, she would have been someone of means who took care of the financial needs of many, including Paul. She probably was being sent with the letter in order to organize a collection for the missionary trip they were planning to Spain. Paul also listed Priscilla’s name before that of her husband which suggests that she was the one who was instrumental in church planting throughout the region. 

People debate over whether Junia was a woman, and if so, whether Paul was saying she was known by the apostles or as an apostle. Given Paul’s other letters, I would tend to think that she wasn’t an apostle, but Paul could be commending Andronicus and Junia as another couple of faithful saints who endured imprisonment with him and were known by the apostles. The fact that they were in Christ before him could mean that they were part of the original church which was scattered at the stoning of Stephen. If so, it’s amazing to think they went from being persecuted by Paul to being imprisoned with him.

The only other one I’ll note is that Rufus is thought to be the same Rufus mentioned in the Gospel of Mark as the son of Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus. I have to wonder how a man whose only encounter with Jesus was as a scourged and weakened prisoner on His way to be executed would result in him and his whole family coming to faith. Did Jesus appear to Simon after His resurrection? 

I’m sure there are traditions and debates about each of the people Paul greeted in this letter, but it makes me think of all of the Christians I’ve known over the decades with whom I look forward to reuniting in glory. I’ve heard people say that they think we won’t remember our time in this life because of the sin and suffering associated with it. I hope that’s not the case. I hope we remember everything with fondness, knowing that what the world may have intended for evil, God brought about for good, and I hope we get to share these stories of God’s goodness with each other when we do.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for working out all things for Your good purposes. Help us to take this truth to heart so that when we experience difficulties in this world, we can praise You in the midst of them. Amen.