Romans 16

I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. Romans 16:22

Paul is completing his letter to the church at Rome. This letter from Paul is one of the most influential pieces of literature in the world of theology. It is second only to the gospels of Jesus. And it should be noted that it was written because of the influence of Jesus on the life of the apostle Paul. This letter to the Romans was catalytic in the life of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Karl Barth and many more. The content of this letter unpacks both the implications of and the application of the gospel of Jesus. A pastor I heard of decided to preach through the book of Romans. He preached verse by verse. It took him seven years. He spent one entire year in just chapters 7-8. It is interesting to note that most pastors, teachers of the Bible focus on the content of chapters 1-15. These chapters are very rich in biblical truth and theology. I would note those chapters deserve that kind of attention but be careful you don’t gloss over Romans 16. Romans 16 is theologically significant as well.

Romans is one of the most preached on books of the Bible, but Romans 16 is the least preached on chapter in the entire book of Romans. Andy Crouch called Romans 16 “The most sociologically stunning chapter of the entire Bible.” When you read chapter 16 you read Paul greeting people. He is connecting with a wide range of people. Greeks, Romans, men, women, people in high standing, people of low status and people in between those artificial human categories.

It is interesting to note Romans 16:22, *I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. *Tertius is Paul’s personal letter writer in the book of Romans. Paul is dictating and he is writing what he is saying. It seems to me as Paul is now dictating the closing of this letter and greeting so many others. He pauses as he remembers and tries to recall those to whom he should send greetings to. As he pauses Tertius asks if he could send a personal greeting.

This is request is significant because Tertius was probably a slave or he had been a slave. His name Tertius means, “Three.” He was the third born. In the ancient world children born into slave families were often times not given names but simply called by their birth order. Notice Romans 16:24, “Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.” Quartus is probably the fourth born in the family and possibly the brother to Tertius.

In ancient Roman and Grecian correspondence there is a rarity of scribal greeting. It just is not seen. So, in all probability Tertius asked permission to include his personal greeting. Paul invited him to do so. This is interesting to note because Roman culture was very stratified. The upper class, the elite, would look down on those perceived to be underneath them. They would barely acknowledge their existence.

When Paul gives permission to Tertius to inscribe his greeting, it is saying that Paul “saw” Tertius. He saw him as more than a lowly scribe performing his duty. In this very impersonal Roman/Greco culture Paul “sees” Tertius. He recognizes the value of his work and the value of his personhood. It is no wonder the early church grew. It would be a common practice within Christianity to recognize all people, Jew – Gentile, Slave – Free, Men – Women as having worth and value. There is no stratification in the kingdom of God. All people have importance.

It is imperative that we “see” people. Know their names. Recognize their personhood. Acknowledge their contributions, their work and their worth. See their relationship with us as a brother or sister in Christ. This is so important in this impersonal postmodern world that we live in. Because at the end of the day the heartbeat of God himself is that people matter to Him. You matter to Him! In Jesus name. Amen.

The above material was inspired by a talk given by Pastor Andy Crouch. The talk was on Twitter and it was entitled “Overcoming Our Greatest Affliction.” He addressed topics such as cultural revolutions, knowledge, personhood, power, and status.