Paul’s salutation and description of various Christians in Romans 16 provide a flesh-and-blood glimpse into the people who are members of churches of Christ.
In addition to the identifying traits of saved, loving, hospitable, and friendly (see yesterday’s post), the following characteristics can be added:
They are people who are workers in Christ’s kingdom. Mary (v. 6), Persis (v. 12), Tryphena and Tryphosa (v. 12) were so vigorous and zealous for the cause of Christ, the inspired apostle uses a word which denotes toil which results in weariness. There is nothing casual or spasmodic in this term. It seeks to communicate the exhaustion a reaper feels after toiling in the broiling summer sun from sunrise to sunset (John 4:38).
They are men and women with diverse backgrounds. Every one of the four saints identified in verses six and twelve as “laborers” are female. Like Phoebe (vv. 1-2) and Priscilla (vv. 3-5), these Christian women found much they could do in serving their Savior.
In addition, an analysis of the twenty-six names Paul references reveals about one-third to be Jewish/Hebrew in origin, the rest are Gentile. Rufus (v. 12) appears likely to have been Paul’s blood relative in some way. The fact that the gospel is for all is wonderfully illustrated in this section of Scripture.
They are people from all stations in life. Priscilla and Aquila (v. 3) owned their own business and worked with their hands (Acts 18:3). Andronicus and Juna (v. 7) were highly regarded by the apostles but were held in prison by the Roman government. Because of the demographics of Rome in the first century, some of those named by the apostle were probably slaves. In Christ, though, rich or poor, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female does not infringe in any way upon the availability of all the spiritual blessings you receive from Him. It never will.