Workers for Christ: Romans 16.1–16 (25 August 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.



Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.


Daily reflection: Romans 16

Paul concludes his letter to the Romans with warm personal greetings. He recommends Phoebe (verses 1–2), a 'servant' of the church and 'protector' or 'friend' of many. Translators have argued about how the Greek words should be rendered: 'servant' is literally 'deacon', and the word for 'friend' (GNB) technically means a patron or protector. So many scholars believe Phoebe was a wealthy woman in leadership in the church at Cenchreae, and was sent to Rome as Paul's representative, perhaps bearing the letter herself. This is a considerable challenge to those who believe he was anti-women, or opposed to their ministry.

It's surprising how often 'worker' or 'work' appears in the following list of names (Priscilla and Aquila, Mary, Urbanus, Tryphaena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus). Others are commended for what they have done, like Andronicus and Junias who were in prison with Paul (verse 7) or Apelles, for his proven loyalty to Christ (verse 10). There's a contrast here with those who 'deceive innocent people' by their 'fine words and flattering speech' (verse 18); they cause divisions' and 'upset people's faith'.

There is a lot of theology in Romans, but in the end it is a very practical book. It's important to believe the right things, not just because truth matters for itself, but because it affects how we live. If what we believe is worked out practically day by day in caring for one another and witnessing to what Christ has done for us, we'll 'stand firm in our faith' (verse 25).



God, let me not just hear your words of truth, but act on them. Transform me by the power of your Spirit, and help me live faithfully for you.

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