I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-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 relative 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; and greet his mother—a mother to me also. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters 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.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offences, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good, and guileless in what is evil. The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Timothy, my co-worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my relatives.
I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord.
Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! Amen.
Too many people these words may appear to be just a list of names, like a genealogy which some of us may well have grappled with in other places within Scripture. Perhaps even like a Christmas card list, with little seen or heard from people other than this annual remembrance. However, to Paul these were genuine people who had featured in his life and whom he knew, loved, cared about, and prayed for. These really meant something to him and held particular spiritual depth and significance.
The study of names and the meaning which each one possesses is fascinating. They speak of actual people, rather than just empty words on a page, written centuries ago. People and their individual personality DO matter so much, leaving their imprint upon our hearts. Who still remembers their first Teacher at School, or Sunday School? Their first “best friend” or even first boyfriend or girlfriend?
These names meant something to Paul who wrote fondly about them. They are people he loved, illustrating importantly that people are of the greatest value to us, as they are to God. Later on we read of Paul’s concern for these known and loved people to be vigilant concerning those who would cause a break in the beauty of such relationships, through causing disharmony and opposition. However, this is nipped in the bud as the reassuring ability of the God of peace is given pre-eminence.
Oh that we too valued our friends in the faith as much as Paul did. Sadly all too easily there can be negativity rather than love and a sad lack of acknowledgement of the true value of our friends. Those who stand by us in times of adversity and pray for us should be the ones for whom we should earnestly be seeking God’s rich blessings.
Jesus, the Name higher than any other, which means so much to us who believe. Emmanuel, God with us, Pearl beyond all price.
Thank you for our friends who have a special place in our hearts, and have been given to us by yourself. May we love, treasure, respect them and faithfully uphold them remembering them as your special gifts to us, Praying for their good as you have shown us by example. Amen.
Verena Walder Lay Preacher and Elder Tabernacle URC, Mumbles.