Amplias. Urbanus. Stachys. Apelles. Herodion. Persis. Asyncritus. Phlegon. Hermas. Patrobas. Hermes. Tryphena and Tryphosa.
Unknown. Unheralded. Unrecognized. Describes the aforementioned people. Their names may be unfamiliar to you. But they are not unimportant to God.
They are included in a long list of greetings from Romans 16. They are among 26 people that Paul greets by name. Also, there are 2 unidentified saints. Churches that were meeting in homes. And then he closes with greetings from 9 Christians who were with him in Corinth when he wrote this letter.
He describes them as fellow workers and beloved in the Lord. We don’t know a lot about them. But some were notable among the apostles. Others had risked their lives for Paul and the gospel’s sake. Some were related to Paul and others were like blood relatives to him. But all were important to Paul. And to the Lord.
The text reminds us of several important spiritual lessons.
(1) People are important to God.
When you consider the brevity of Scripture on so many important topics, such as Creation, for instance, it is telling that the Holy Spirit records the names of these people.
God cares about people. He knows their names. He sees what they do. Even if no one else knows, the Lord recognized their faithfulness, fidelity and fervor to His work.
You, too, are important to the Lord. He sees your work and labor of love for him. No one else outside your community may know your name. But if you wear the name of Christ, you are known and loved by God.
(2) People were important to Paul.
To be a soul winner like Paul, you must care about the people you’re preaching to. He appreciated their efforts and praised their endeavors. He recognized their commitment and rejoiced in their wholehearted devotion to duty.
As preachers and pastors, people should be our business. My friend Dee Bowman once wrote a book, “It’s All About the People.” In it he relates stories of common folks he’s known through the years who have made a difference. Just going about their business Doing their job. Serving others. Letting their light shine.
Preaching and teaching are about people. Church work is about people. Programs are not an end within themselves. They are about people. Never underestimate the value of relationships. And the importance of people in your lives.
(3) People comprise the greatest fellowship in the world.
Paul often uses the word “fellow” in his letters to identify other Christians. “Fellow workers in Christ.” “Fellow laborers.” “Fellow soldiers.” “Fellow servants.” And “fellow heirs.”
Each one was a part of the fellowship of believers. A fellowship that was bought by the blood of Christ. Fortified by faith. Galvanized by hope. And incited by love. It’s a fellowship to which each of us who’ve committed to Christ belongs. And share in the same blessings.
This summer as Norma Jean and I live and work among the good people of Ontario, Canada, I think of these brethren, most of whom are unknown to the brotherhood at large, but who love, labor and live for the Lord.
Barry and Maria Burns. Vick and Nancy Liagna. Wayne and Terri Rubel. Craig and Robin Fairchild. John and Ronnet Meebore. Rob and Sharon Caldwell. These are representative of so many more in smaller congregations who are letting their light shine throughout the Niagara Region and the great country of Canada.
Then I think of the preachers up here who do the work of an evangelist day in and day out. Shoulder more than their share of the physical responsibilities. And sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Men like Mike Stephens. John Haines. Brian Sullivan. John Maddocks. Chris Nicholson. Jeremy Diestelkamp. Steve Rudd. And our departed brother who’s gone on to his reward, Roy Diestelkamp.
We are both proud and humbled to be fellow workers with these brethren. And those around the world who champion the cause of Christ.
Let’s always remember there are no “little people” in God’s eyes. Known or unknown by the world or the brotherhood, we are fellow workers with God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman