You Belong

Read: Romans 16:1-27

Greet one another . . . (v. 16)

Again and again in this passage, Paul invites his readers to “greet” people. Paul’s letters often end with personal greetings, but the list in Romans 16 is stunning for its quantity and diversity. Twenty-seven people are named! Throughout Romans, Paul wrote how God’s grace and mercy through Jesus is available to all people. Now he offers a list of specific people.

They come from all walks of life. Men and women, Jews and Greeks, aristocrats and slaves. Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia were among the women Paul singled out for their unique contributions to service and leadership. Names like Hermes and Julia were common slave names. Aristobulus was likely the grandson of Herod and friend of the Emperor Claudius. Andronicus and Junia were in prison. Rufus may have been the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross of Jesus.

Why go through the effort to write each of these names? For his Roman readers, the names demonstrate that they and Paul know the same people even if they have never met. As if to say, “We’re on the same team.” For you and me, the names offer proof that people like us belong in God’s family. Our readers include pastors and laypeople, people in prison and politicians, old and young, new believers and lifelong Christians. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This list proves it. You belong! —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, thank God for including you.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.