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United We Stand – Building a Community of Faith (Romans 16:1-16)

Romans 16:1–16 - 1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; 2 that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; 5 also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. 


What does today’s passage say?

In today’s passage, Paul first commends Phoebe to the Roman church, calling her a devoted servant and asking the believers to welcome and help her (v. 1-2). He then greets his fellow workers Priscilla and Aquila, noting their commitment in risking their lives for him (v. 3). Paul also affirms several other believers in the church for their diligent gospel labor (vv. 4-16). We clearly see Paul's high regard for these other brothers and sisters who impacted the early church behind the scenes through courageous sacrifice and perseverance in the faith.


How can I apply Romans 16:1-16 to my life?

In his letter’s closing remarks, the apostle Paul greets and affirms the Christians in Rome like a pastor addressing his beloved home church. Though he has not yet visited these saints face-to-face, Paul already feels bonded to them, connected through their common faith and love for Jesus Christ. These early believers worked tirelessly alongside Paul to spread the life-changing gospel message across the Gentile world. Despite beatings, imprisonment, and constant threat of death, they persevered in building up the church. Even today, we all belong to the worldwide fellowship of Christian believers. Though global missions continue, you and I now carry the baton to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Like saints throughout the ages, we fix our eyes on Jesus. As we run, we uphold one another in love and remain united by the Spirit. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

1.    Welcome and Help Fellow Servants of the Lord Wholeheartedly (vv. 1-2): Verses 1 and 2 show Paul urging the saints in Rome to give a warm godly welcome to Phoebe. She has served devotedly as a deaconess and is now venturing to Rome. Paul knows she will need practical assistance and spiritual encouragement. What an example for believers today! When we meet servants of God - pastors, missionaries, or fellow church members who volunteer time to ministry - we must make every effort to tangibly support them. What matters of business or family concern might they have that we can assist with? Offer them a meal, place to stay, ride, or help with errands. Verbally uplift them too. Express how their sacrifice blesses you, thank them for persevering by faith despite hardships they face. As Phoebe blessed Paul, we can bless other believers. With open arms, receptive hearts, helping hands, and words that inspire, let's rally around modern-day Phoebes. Upholding one another in love fulfils Christ's command and advances His kingdom worldwide (1 Thessalonians 3:2; Hebrews 10:24-25; 3 John 1:5-8).

Food for Thought: Why is it important for believers to support fellow Christians who are actively serving God? What are some practical ways you can welcome and assist servants of the Lord in your spiritual community?

2.    Stay Connected with Fellow Believers Who Work Diligently for the Lord (vv. 3-15): In verses 3 through 15, Paul greets and affirms a long list of men and women in the church at Rome who have "worked hard" in the Lord - fellow laborers making sacrifices, facing dangers, persevering through adversities big and small to spread the gospel message. What an encouragement for believers in every generation to remain strongly tied to this unbroken chain of the faithful, despite geographic distance or time passed! We must hold such courageous, steadfast Christians in highest honor for their service to the Kingdom. When possible, communicate with missionaries who are serving far away, affirming their calling. Support evangelists and church planters nearby as they reach your community for Christ. Send words of gratitude to struggling pastors faithfully shepherding a small flock of believers. Uplift the single mother stretching her few dollars to tithe. Encourage the disabled man who limps painfully into church each week to worship. Seek out those who, though unseen by most, benefit the Body of Christ through diligent labor. Stay connected to them through regular prayer, contact, generosity and verbal support. As iron sharpens iron, so one believer strengthens another, making the work lighter as we fix eyes on Christ (Colossians 1:3-4; Philippians 1:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

Food for Thought: Why is it important for Christians today to honor and connect with fellow believers through the ages who have worked hard for the gospel? What are some ways you can actively support those diligently laboring for Christ?

3.    Maintain Holy Relationships with Other Believers (v. 16): In his closing verse, Paul urges the church to greet one another with a holy kiss - a symbolic gesture practiced in the early church to represent spiritual connection, affection and unity among believers. Still today, as we gather in person or digitally, we must continually nurture holy relationships within the body of Christ. Avoid gossip, bitterness or dissension which erode intimacy with other Christians. Promote harmony and selfless regard for fellow believers from all walks of life. Embrace diversity within the family of God. Show tangible care to church members facing affliction. Minister to deeper needs beneath the surface. Guide new believers and youth with wisdom and grace. Commit to integrity and sexual purity in all interactions. Approach each relationship as a precious, temporary gift allowing you to reveal God's unconditional love. When greetings are heartfelt, unified by Christ's Spirit and centered on building others up in the faith, they strengthen the church to withstand every pressure the world applies (Ephesians 4:1-3; 1 Peter 1:22; 1irst Corinthians 16:20).

Food for Thought: What are some ways you can nurture greater love and unity among believers in your church? Why is it essential for Christians to maintain integrity and holiness in every relationship?

We must strive to live out the “one another” commands so central to New Testament theology: love one another, pray for one another, serve one another. Our human tendency may pull us to isolate, judge, gossip, or prioritize worldly pursuits above eternal treasures. But Scripture compels us to live counter-culturally through the enabling grace of Christ, staying vitally connected to the faith family God gave us across all barriers that divide. Though churches today face no shortage of fault lines, still we must press on. Just as saints through the ages laid down their lives to further God’s kingdom, we too take up that charge. May the unbroken chain of faith stretching over two millennia across oceans and cultures link us arm-in-arm, heart-to-heart. Then together we will shine ever brighter for Christ until He returns.



Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that You would give me an sincere love, empathy and sense of connection with believers in my area and with Your people across the world. Root out any tendencies in my heart toward racism, cynicism, or pride that create division across man-made barriers in Your church. Give me the passion of Paul to welcome, affirm, uphold and make personal sacrifices for all who are working hard in ministry for Your glory. Make me a cheerful giver and prayer warrior supporting mission efforts in my community and among unreached people groups overseas. Prick my heart with urgency as I realize how temporary this life is. Shape me into a faithful disciple who daily takes up my cross out of gratitude, compelled to share the hope of Christ in word and action however you lead, until my last breath.

I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.


Romans 16:16 – “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”


With His Blessings,

Pastor Corby

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