Daily Devotion 1 September 2023

Friday, 1 September 2023 
 
Romans 16:1 – 16
 
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.

Reflection
 
When one reads Romans 16.1-16 one is struck by the twenty-five names of Christians in Rome about whom next to nothing is known.  Among those named are Aristobulus and Narcissus (of likely Roman noble birth) and others such as Priscilla, Aquila, and Mary whose names occur elsewhere in the New Testament but about whom little more can be derived.  Every name, bathed in shadows and unreality is testament to the love and affection which bound Paul to Christians from various backgrounds in Rome and with whom he longed to work but inclusive of representatives of the house church fellowships within the capital.

As with Luke, Paul’s emphasis on the importance of women in Christian outreach ministry is paramount.  In verses 1 and 2 affectionate mention is made of “Deacon” Phoebe, one of many good women who had helped Paul in his ministry but whose Christian associations lay with the Church of Cenchrea, the port of Corinth; renowned for its disreputation and immorality and to whom was given Paul’s salutations in her journey to Rome as the Gospel spread throughout the Mediterranean.

It is sometimes said that real change starts at the grassroots, and not only in Scripture as was seen with Greta Thurnberg’s stance outside the Swedish Parliament with concerns about global climate consciousness.

The growth in our common Christian heritage owes as much to figures such as Florence Nightingale, Mary Sumner, and Octavia Hill and to the generations of women, men and children – who have set out on the same path of prayer and action and faith in championing the Gospel.  
The might of Rome which served to crush the world in which Paul lived failed to prevent Paul the Jew, Phoebe the Greek and the Roman readers of the epistle from being fused together by the power of the divine love that transformed their hearts and the common faith that unified their lives. 

Prayer

Dear Father, our strength, we bless you for the multitudes of believing people who have gone before us, for those named in the Bible whose examples of love and loyalty to you we would love to imitate. Help us to be  helpers, to work hard and to be approved like they were. Amen

 

 

 

Today’s writer

The Revd Ian Gow, Minister, Eltham United Reformed Church. 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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