PAUL’S COMPANIONS IN THE GOSPEL; Romans Part 79

Paul probably wrote the letter from Corinth surrounded by his Son in the Faith, some blood relations, a couple of slaves and the Financial Director of the city council, all one in Christ!

Brotherly Greetings

Romans 16:21-24

Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. 
I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. 
Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. 
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 

This section contains the second collection of believers’ names in the final chapter of this epistle. The first passage, v1-16, brings salutations to Christians in Rome with whom Paul was familiar. This study will examine people who were with Paul at the time of writing. There is a body of evidence within this epistle that Paul was Corinth at the time of writing. His intention to bring a collection from the area where Corinth was situated to the poor saints at Jerusalem (15:v25-28) certainly ties in with an ambition that he expressed elsewhere when writing to the Corinthians (2nd Cor 8-9). Also the one entrusted with the carrying of the letter was Phebe, who served the church in Corinth. Therefore in the section before us Paul brings greetings from the various believers who were with him in Rome as he penned this letter. As in the case of the previous list, this collection of names gives us an invaluable insight into the constitution of and fellowship within the Church of Christ in the early days of New Testament Christianity.

Timotheous my workfellow” – Paul’s Son in the Gospel

There were few people with whom Paul enjoyed a bond so close as that which connected him with Timothy. On his second missionary journey Paul and Silas were introduced to this young man who had a Greek Father and Jewish mother. He was well commended by the local churches and so Paul took him only after Timothy showed a willingness to be circumcised so as not to offend the Jews (Acts 16:1-3). On Paul’s third missionary journey this young man continued faithfully by the side of the man of God. Paul had many fond words to write concerning the value with which Timothy enriched the Church of Christ. Of all his fellow workers Timothy had a spirit which was closest to Paul’s (Phil 2:19) and he would write that this young man served him as a son in the Gospel (Phil 2:22). The Apostle would later entrust Timothy with the pastoral care of Ephesus and would write a letter advising him on the conduct of a godly minister. Indeed Paul’s final letter would be to Timothy, “my dearly beloved son” (2nd Timothy 1:2). What is remarkable is that Paul described Timothy as his work fellow. He saw his fellow labourers as being his equals in the Church. There was no sense of superiority or supremacy in his thinking.

Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen” – Relations who were Brothers

These three make up six people in this chapter (v7 and 11) with whom whom Paul claimed blood relations. While the former three were present at Rome it would appear the latter trio are planning to accompany Paul, along with Timothy, Luke and others, on the journey to Jerusalem. Some identify Lucius as Luke but that is highly improbable as Paul nowhere calls him by this name.

“Tertius” and “Quartus” – Slaves but Equals

We will take these two together because it would seem from their names that they were slaves. In Roman culture there was a hierarchy among slaves depending upon their duties. The first slave was known by the name Primus, the second was Secondus, the third Tertius and the fourth Quartus. Ordinarily slaves would not have been included in letters. Yet these men were brethren, equals within the Church of Christ, and received proper recognition. Tertius had a particular mention because he was Paul’s secretary. From other epistles it is clear that Paul frequently made use of a secretary, to whom he dictated, after which Paul would write a few words in his own hand affixing a signature so that the recipients would be convinced of authenticity (Galatians 6:11, 2nd Thessalonians 3:17). It seems that Paul even encouraged this slave to insert his own personal greeting into the epistle.

“Gaius mine host” – An Open Door for the Church

Gaius of Corinth was baptised by Paul indicating that he was an early convert (1st Corinthians 1:14). He opened his home to Paul and gave him lodgings. He was host to the whole church indicating that the Fellowship met in his home. His house was therefore spacious indicating a man of wealth. It is most likely that the slaves already mentioned belonged to him and he gave the services of Tertius his secretary to the man of God. He is an example of a man of means who used his wealth for the honour of the Lord.

Erastus the chamberlain of the city” – A Wealthy Church Member

The chamberlain was the oikonomonous, from which the English economist is derived. He was the city treasurer. In the ruins of Corinth there is an inscription recognising the work of a certain Erastus who was a clerk of public works and who laid down a pavement at his own expense. Whether this was the same individual or not is uncertain. What is clear, however, is that the Corinthian Church was a tapestry of slaves and very wealthy people who served God together. The commendation for Erastus would certainly indicate that it is permissible for people to hold public office in the most ungodly of Governments and maintain a Christian testimony.

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