• Profiles in Missions Comments Off on TITUS: Blessed Are the Peacemakers (and Administrators)

    by Gordon Franz

    As the Lord Jesus sat on a hillside over looking the Sea of Galilee, He instructed His disciples with some of the most profound words ever uttered by human beings (Matt. 5:1-7:29). He began His discourse by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven” (5:3). He went on to say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (5:9). At the end of what has been called, the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus gave a parable of two builders. He said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise builder who built his house on the rock” (7:24). James, the son of Zebedee, an “ear-witness” to this discourse would comment on this parable with the words, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

    One who took these spoken and written words to heart was Titus, a co-worker of the Apostle Paul. The Early Church Fathers indicate that Matthew’s gospel was the first gospel written and probably in circulation by AD 40 (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.3-6; LCL 2:75). Perhaps Titus had seen a copy of this gospel and read the Sermon on the Mount and was touched by the Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers” while he was in Antioch on the Orontes. Titus was a peacemaker in the church at Corinth and the churches on the island of Crete. He has been described as being “capable, energetic, tactful, resourceful, skillful in handling men and affairs, and effective in conciliating people” (Hiebert 1992: 105). All these character traits served him well as he worked along side of the Apostle Paul, or as an emissary from the Apostle Paul, to reconcile different factions in the church and to build up the Body of Christ. Truly Titus was a blessed man because he was a peacemaker.

    In this study on the life of Titus, we will consider how God used a man with the spiritual gift of administration to be a peacemaker in the church at Corinth and the churches on the island of Crete, and to bring blessing to the saints in Jerusalem.

    Titus – A True Son in the Faith
    The Apostle Paul was Titus’s spiritual father because he led Titus to faith in the Lord Jesus. In his epistle to Titus he states: “Titus, a true son in our common faith” (1:4). Unfortunately Paul does not recount when, where, or how Titus came to faith. Timothy was another young man that Paul led to the Lord, probably on his visit to Timothy’s hometown of Lystra during Paul’s first missionary journey (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2).

    There are several possibilities as to when and where Titus came to faith. The first opportunity would have been while Paul was in the region of his hometown of Tarsus (Gal. 1:21; Acts 9:30), or while working among the Gentiles in Antioch on the Orontes between AD 35-46 (Acts 11:25-26).

    If the later is the case, Antioch on the Orontes was the third most important city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria, and was noted for its immorality. Juvenal, a Roman satirist of the 2nd century AD, in his Third Satire asks the question: “And yet what fraction of our dregs [sewerage] comes from Greece [the Greek world]? The Syrian Orontes [River] has long since poured into the Tiber, bringing with it its lingo and its manners, its flutes and its slanting harp-strings; bringing too the timbrels [tambourine] of the breed, and the trulls [prostitutes] who are bidden ply their trade at the Circus. Out upon you, all ye that delight in foreign strumpets [harlots] with painted head-dresses!” (Satire 3:61-67; LCL 37; brackets mine – GWF). Is it any wonder that Paul reminded his son in the faith what environment he had come out of? “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures …” (Tit. 3:3). But Paul goes on to say, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (3:4-7).

    Another possibility when Paul could have shared the gospel with Titus, according to a Second Century AD tradition, was during Paul’s first missionary journey (AD 47-48). This tradition hints that Titus was from Iconium in South Galatia and that was where he first met Paul. Titus had seen Paul “in the spirit” and described him to Onesiphorus as being short, bald, and bow-legged (Acts of Paul and Thecla 3:2-3; Schneemelcher 1992: 2: 239). Onesiphorus (cf. 2 Tim. 1:16; 4:19) proceeded to meet Paul on the Via Sabaste and invited him to Iconium. It is possible that Titus came to faith at this point and Paul invited him to be his disciple / student and joined Paul’s team when they returned to Antioch on the Orontes. In the Acts of Paul and Thecla, a sermon at Iconium by Paul is recorded and there are a number of quotes from Matthew’s gospel. Perhaps this is where Titus heard: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

    When Titus came to faith, we do not know, but he became a “son of God” by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior (John 1:12). Most likely Titus was included in the number of the “disciples” that Paul and Barnabas worked with after they returned from their first missionary journey (Acts 14:26-28).

    Titus – A Relative of Dr. Luke?
    Titus’s name appears eleven times in four of Paul’s epistles (Gal. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6-7,13-14; 8:6,16-17, 23; 12:17-18; Tit. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:10), but interestingly, his name does not appear in the Book of Acts. Sir William Ramsay, a British classical scholar, suggested that Titus was a relative of Dr. Luke, the author of the book of Acts (1896: 390). This may account for why Titus is not mentioned in this book because it demonstrates the humility of Luke. He does not mention his own name in either his gospel, or the Book of Acts. Luke did not want to draw undue attention to his family. Others have gone so far as to suggest that Luke and Titus were brothers (Souter 1906-1907a: 285; 1906-1907b: 285-286; Boys-Smith 1906-1907: 380-381). Souter goes so far as to suggest that “Titus, in fact, becomes the authority from whom Luke acquires most of his information about Paul’s doings prior to the period at which he himself became acquainted with him” (1906-1907b: 335). He even sees a connection between the two because their names are mentioned together in 2 Tim. 4: 10-11 (1906-1907b: 336). He also suggested “the brother” mentioned in 2 Cor. 8:18 and 12:18 could be Luke. But this is conjecture because it could also be just another unnamed brother in the Lord.

    Titus in Jerusalem – Exhibit A
    The first time we encounter Titus with the Apostle Paul is when he takes Titus to Jerusalem as “Exhibit A” concerning whether Gentile’s needed to be circumcised in order to be saved as recorded in Galatians 2. We read: “Then after fourteen years I [Paul] went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, least by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (2:1-5).

    Scholars have debated when this visit to Jerusalem took place. The two possibilities that have been suggested are the famine relief in AD 44 (Acts 11:27-30; Bruce 1995: 157-159). Or the Jerusalem Council in AD 49 (Acts 15:1-4). The chronological indicator in verse one, however, seems to point towards the second view. Assuming the Lord Jesus was crucified and resurrected in AD 30, Paul was saved on the road to Damascus in AD 32 or 33 and he is in the Arabia Desert and Damascus for three years before he goes up to Jerusalem for the first time after he is saved. Do the math: 32 + 3 + 14 = 49, the year of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.

    This Council was instigated by an issue in the church in Antioch on the Orontes: “Do Gentiles have to be circumcised in order to be saved?” There were certain people who were of the sect of Pharisees who believed (Acts 15:1, 5) who were in the church and said a Gentile person must be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas challenged this with an emphatic “No!” The decision was made to send a delegation to Jerusalem and ask the Apostles to settle the issue once and for all. Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem with “certain others” (Acts 15:2) and this group included Titus (Gal. 2:1). The Apostle Paul was responsible for taking Titus: “I … took Titus with me.” Titus was “Exhibit A” because he was an uncircumcised Greek (Gal. 2:3) who had trusted the Lord Jesus as his Savior at least two, if not four or more years prior to this trip.

    The decision of the Jerusalem Council, composed of the apostles and elders of the church, was that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15: 13-39).

    On the other hand, Paul had Timothy, another son in the faith, circumcised at Lystra (Acts 16:3). According to Jewish Halakah, Timothy was Jewish because his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were Jewish, yet his father was a Gentile (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Timothy’s circumcision, however, had nothing to do with his salvation, nor his sanctification. In fact, Paul is delivering the decrees given by the Jerusalem Counsel in Acts 15 which explicitly states that circumcision has nothing to do with salvation (Acts 16:4). Paul had Timothy circumcised for a very practical reason. They could get free lodging in the synagogue!

    Titus at Ephesus – Partner and Fellow Worker with Paul
    Four years passed since the Jerusalem Council and the next time Titus appears in Scripture. His whereabouts during this time are not recorded. Did he labor in Antioch on the Orontes, or return to Iconium? The Apostle Paul could have taken him from Antioch, or picked him up in Iconium on his way to Ephesus during his third missionary journey (AD 53-55). Paul identifies Titus as a vital “partner and fellow worker” in the work in Ephesus (2 Cor. 8:23).

    Paul and his team ministered in Ephesus for almost three years (Acts 19:10; 20:31). They began by doing evangelism among the Jewish people in the city (Acts 19:8-9; cf. Rom. 1:16), but then set up a teaching center in the School of Tyranus (Acts 19:9; cf. 2 Tim. 2:2). As a result of this discipleship program, all in Asia Minor heard the gospel (Acts 19:10). A riot ensued in Ephesus because the silversmiths were losing business because tourists were not buying the silver trinkets of Artemis in the temple to her honor, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! We are not told where Titus was when the riots in the theater of Ephesus broke out. Perhaps he was on a peacemaker mission in Corinth at the time.

    Titus at Corinth – The Peacemaker
    The Apostle Paul, along with his co-workers, Silas and Timothy, established the church at Corinth about AD 50-52. A delegation, led by Stephanas, visited Paul in Ephesus about three years later and shared some of the problems that were occurring among the saints in Corinth. These carnal believers were creating divisions among themselves and saying, “I am of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, [and the real pious ones], I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 1:10-17, especially verse 12; brackets by GWF). They were also allowing a moral scandal, one that included a man sleeping with his father’s wife, to continue in the church that was ruining the testimony of Christ in that city (1 Cor. 5:1-13). Some in the church were also abusing the Lord’s Supper by coming to the meeting with unconfessed sins and then getting drunk at the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 11:17-34). Paul addressed these issues head-on in his first epistle to the Corinthians.

    Scholars have had a field day trying to figure out the chronology of when and how often Titus went to Corinth on Paul’s behalf. I will suggest a plausible chronology based on the work of D. Edmond Hiebert (1992: 109-11).

    Titus apparently makes three trips to Corinth. I don’t know if they had “Frequent Sailing Miles” in the 1st century AD, but if they did, Titus would have racked up his “frequent sailing mileage” between Ephesus and Corinth! The purpose of the first trip was to collect money for the poor in the Jerusalem church (1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8-9; Rom. 15:25-28). I believe that he was exercising his spiritual gift of administration as he saw to it that the collection was done decently and in order. This trip apparently took place a year before Second Corinthians was written (2 Cor. 9:2) and Titus was accompanied by “our brother” (2 Cor. 12:18). Some have suggested it was Dr. Luke (Souter 1906-1907a; 1906-1907b), but that is just conjecture. When Paul had written his first epistle to the church, the collection had already been started (1 Cor. 16:1-3).

    A delegation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus reported to Paul in Ephesus about the problems in the church at Corinth. Paul wrote his first epistle to the church. More than likely this delegation took the letter back with them to the city. Apparently Titus was in Corinth working on the collection and was in the meeting when the letter was read to the congregation. Upon his return to Ephesus, he reported to Paul the reaction to the letter and opposition expressed by some in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:12-18; 11:22, 23; 13:1-3).

    Paul sends Titus back to Corinth in order to be a peacemaker (Matt. 5:9), with the intention of meeting up in Troas when the conflict was settled. When Titus does not show up in Troas, Paul had “no rest in his spirit” and moved on to Macedonia (2 Cor. 2:12-13).
    Perhaps Paul was a bit impatient and expected instantaneous results from his letter and the personal ministry by Titus. Once he was in Macedonia, he was still troubled by the situation in Corinth (2 Cor. 7:5). Eventually Titus did meet Paul in Macedonia with the good news of the repentance of the sinning saint and his reconciliation to the church and also the church in Corinth’s acceptance of Paul’s authority (7:6-11). In this, Titus was joyful (7:13, 14), and Paul greatly rejoiced (7:6-9).

    Paul wrote a follow-up epistle (2 Corinthians) to the believers in Corinth and sent this letter back with Titus and two unnamed brothers. This Titus was eager to do this (8:6, 16-18). He also went back to finish gathering the money for the saints in Jerusalem (8:18-22).

    Paul gives Titus a very strong recommendation (8:23). He writes, “If anyone enquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you.” Paul declared that Titus could be trusted with the money because he would not take advantage of them (12:18).
    Sometime after Paul wrote the letter, he arrived in Corinth for a three months stay (Acts 20:3). If Titus was with him, this would have been his third visit to the city. Fortunately for the Apostle Paul, the problems in the church at Corinth were resolved because of Titus’ ministry as a peacemaker. This freed Paul to write the most important epistle of the New Testament, the epistle to the church in Rome spelling out the great doctrinal truths of justification, sanctification and living for the Lord in a wicked world. At the end of the epistle, Paul sends greetings to the saints in Rome from the saints in Corinth, yet he does not mention Titus among those believers (Rom. 16:21-23). Perhaps Titus was on his way to Jerusalem with a token of the collection for the saints in the Holy City, with the rest to follow (Acts 20:4). Paul could thank the Lord for Titus as a peacemaker. The words of the Lord Jesus rung in his ears: “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

    Titus on Crete – The Administrator
    During Paul’s fourth missionary journey (AD 63-66) he left Titus on the island of Crete to take care of some problems that existed in the churches on that island. This was an island with an unsavory reputation of being made up of people who were always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (Tit. 1:12). The church itself had a divisive element that was leading people astray. After more than 20 years in the faith, Titus was Paul’s “go to guy” to take care of the problems at hand. Paul left him on the island to “set in order the things that are lacking” (1:5). The Greek word “set in order” (epidiorthoo) is only used here in the New Testament. Before the First Century AD, the word is used only once and ironically, it was on a Second Century BC inscription that was found at Hierapytna on the island of Crete! The word was used to refer “to the activity of a regional administrator. Evidently this rare term had some currency in Crete in the context of political organization” (Wieland 2009: 351).

    The purpose of the ministry of Timothy and Titus was to establish stable leadership within the churches that they ministered, rather than to serve as pastors themselves among the flock on a long-term basis. Thus Titus was functioning as an administrator among the churches on the island of Crete.

    What was lacking in the church was suitable leadership so Paul instructed him to ordain elders in every city. These elders should be grounded in the Word of God so they can overcome opposition and teach sound doctrine to the people in the churches. After he completed this task, Paul instructed Titus to meet him in Nikopolis (Tit. 3:15). Titus apparently goes to Nikopolis and Paul is arrested there and taken to Rome and imprisoned again. Titus followed the arresting party, probably at a distance, to Rome.

    Titus in Dalmatia – Apostolic Mission
    During the Apostle Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome (AD 67), Demas abandoned him and departed for Thessaloniki (2 Tim. 1:16, 17; 4:10). In the same passage, Paul mentions that Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. The text does not seem to indicate that the latter two abandoned him like Demas did.

    The borders of Dalmatia in the First Century AD were not clearly defined. At times it was considered the southwestern part of Illyricum, in the area of present-day Albania / Croatia, along the coast of the Adriatic Sea (Pattengale 1992:2:4, 5).

    More than likely, the Apostle Paul sent Titus on an apostolic mission of some sort, but what the nature of this mission was, we are not told. There are two possibilities to consider. First, it is plausible, but not probable, that Paul sent Titus to follow up on the church that Paul and Dr. Luke would have planted during the three months they were shipwrecked on Malta (Acts 28:1-10). I mention this possibility because in the First Century AD there were two Malta’s in the Roman world: Melite Africana, the traditional landing site of Paul in the book of Acts, and Melite Illyrica, the island of Mljet off the Dalmatian coast (Meinardus 1976:145-147). Personally, I do not share Meinardus’ view. I believe that Melite Africana was the island Paul was shipwrecked on, thus ruling out this possibility as to why Paul sent Titus to Dalmatia.

    The second possibility, and this is more likely, is that he was sent to follow up on the churches Paul planted on his third missionary journey. Paul departed from Ephesus after the uproar had subsided and went through Macedonia and Greece (Acts 20:1-2). A plausible reconstruction of this part of the journey might be that he went through Macedonia encouraging the churches along the entire length of the Via Egnatia through Illyricum (Rom. 15:19) to the Adriatic Coast and then took a ship down to Corinth. Titus would have visited the churches that were planted during the Illyricum phase of this journey.

    Titus in Church Tradition
    The brochure from the church of Titus in Heraklion on the island of Crete summarizes the Greek Orthodox tradition of Titus on the island. It states: “Titus’ activity in Crete is not sufficiently known because there are no ancient official and verified records about the first period of the Cretan Church. In later times, there was founded in Crete a very rich biographical tradition about the first bishop and patron of the local Church. According to that tradition, Titus was Cretan of a noble family descending directly from Minos, the mythical King of Knossos. Titus was a relative of Rustillus (or Rustulus), the Roman proconsul in Crete. He was well-educated and spent some time in Jerusalem where he became an eye-witness of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Later, as a bishop in Crete, he founded nine bishoprics in Knossus, Ierapytna, Kydonia, Chersonissus, Eleftherna, Lambe, Kissamus, Kandanus, and Gortys. According to the same tradition, Titus died 94 years old in about 105 AD” (Detorakis 1990:2). There is no way to independently confirm any of these traditions so they should be taken with caution.

    Tradition also states that Titus died and was buried at Gortyn on the island of Crete. There was a sixth century AD basilica built over the burial place of Titus. The bones were removed to Venice when the Ottoman Turks invaded the island (824 AD). His skull was later returned to a new church of Titus in Heraklion on May 15, 1966. One can still see his skull today!

    Why did Paul value Titus and the Lord used him in the His work?
    The Apostle Paul describes Titus as his “partner and fellow worker” in the Lord’s work. There are at least four reasons Paul valued Titus and he was useful in the work of the Lord. The first reason was that Titus was exercising his spiritual gift of administration (1 Cor. 12:28). This was manifested in his organizing the collection for the saints in Jerusalem and well as appointing elders on the island of Crete.

    William McRae in his book, The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, defines the gift of administration as: “a God-given capacity to organize and administer with such efficiency and spirituality that not only is the project brought to a satisfactory conclusion but it is done harmoniously and with evident blessing” (1976: 52). He goes on to say that the person with this gift: “is able to give vision and direction, … is able to organize and direct toward a specific goal, … sees that everything is done decently and in order. Projects are done in a way that promotes the work of God and the growth of those involved” (1976: 52).

    A number of years ago when I was working with the Youth Group at my home church, we had a number of young people that were heading to college the next year and they were not sure what to do, where to go, and how to discern God’s will for their life. At one leaders meeting, the adults were discussing this situation and what could be done to help the teen-agers make an informed, spiritual decision about this important junction in their life.

    I suggested that we have a mini seminar about how to choose a college, what to look for in a college, and discerning God’s will for ones life. Everyone thought it was a great idea, but who would organize it? They looked at me as if I should organize this event. The expression on my face read, “Don’t look at me, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just had the idea.” One man at the meeting caught the “deer in the headlight” look right away and said that he would organize the event. It was obvious, this man had the gift of administration and did a wonderful job organizing and carrying out the event. This man relished the opportunity to exercise his spiritual gift. I believe that Titus had the gift of administration and he exercised that gift well to build up the Body of Christ in a practical, as well as a spiritual way.

    The second reason I believe Paul used Titus was that Titus showed maturity when dealing with carnal Christians at Corinth. More than likely, Titus was in the meeting in Corinth when Paul’s first letter arrived admonishing them to deal with the sins in the church, even a gross sin (1 Cor. 5:1). These words upset some people in the church and some even questioned Paul’s authority to say what he said! Yet Titus, lovingly and patiently, worked with these people, using the Scriptures that Paul had written, so they responded positively to the message (2 Cor. 7:5-15). The main goal of church discipline should always be restoration, not ex-communication (Matt. 18:15-17; cf. Gal. 6:1).

    The third reason Paul used Titus was that he was open and above board in his dealings with the Corinthians. He had pure motives (2 Cor. 12:17-18). While he was among the Corinthians, he worked for their edification, to build them up in their faith, and not for his own gain (12:19).

    The final reason Paul used Titus was that he was a “people person.” He had a concern for the spiritual well being of the believers in Corinth (2 Cor. 8:16), so he volunteered to help them. He saw a job that needed to get done and he did it.

    Life Lessons to be Learned
    The reasons Paul valued Titus in the work of the Lord are the same lessons for us to learn so the Lord can use us in His work today.

    • First, we should discern what our spiritual gift is and exercise it to build up the Body of Christ, both numerically, as well as spiritually.
    • Second, spiritual believers in the Lord Jesus need to have patience and gentleness when dealing with carnal, or sinning, Christians in the church. Paul instructed the believers in Galatia: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (6:1).
    • Third, in dealing with Christians, especially carnal Christians or new believers, we should have pure motives, not taking advantage of people, and be open and above board in our dealings with them.
    • Finally, we need to be “people persons.” We need to be involved in people’s lives to help them in time of spiritual, and/or, physical need. If we see a need in the assembly, or the Body of Christ, we should seek to meet that need, quietly and seeking no rewards or glory for ourselves.

    Paul admonished the believers in Corinth: You follow me, as I follow the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Titus heard the truth of the Word of God, believed it, applied it, and is in himself evidence of that truth. Titus was blessed for his work as a peacemaker and administrator and was a vital part of the historic spread of the early church. He heard the truth, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Applied it to his life, and he was blessed as a result. Might we do the same in our lives.


    Barrett, C. K.
    1969 Titus. Pp. 1-14 in Neotestamentica et Semitica. Edited by E. E. Ellis and M. Wilcox. Edinburgh: T & T Clark.

    Bowman, John
    1963 A Guide to Crete. London: Pantheon.

    Boys-Smith, E. P.
    1906-1907 Titus and Luke. Expository Times 18: 380-381.

    Bruce, F. F.
    1985 The Pauline Circle. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

    1995 Paul. Apostle of the Heart Set Free. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

    Detorakis, Theocharis
    1990 Holy Archdiocese of Crete, Parish of Saint Titus. Holy Church of Titus, the Apostle. Bulletin 6.

    1980 Ecclesiastical History. Vol. 2. Trans. by J. Oulton. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 265.

    Evans, Harold
    1979 An Apostolic Partner. Expository Times 90: 207-209.

    Hiebert, D. Edmond
    1992 In Paul’s Shadow. Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University.

    1993 Juvenal and Persius. Trans by G. G. Ramsay. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 91.

    Lees, Harrington C.
    1917 St. Paul’s Friends. London: Religious Tract Society.

    McRae, William
    1976 The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

    Meinardus, Otto
    1976 St. Paul Shipwrecked in Dalmatia. Biblical Archaeologist 39/4: 145-147.

    Mitchell, Margeret M.
    1992 New Testament Envoys in the Context of Greco-Roman Diplomatic and Epistolary Conventions: The Example of Timothy and Titus. Journal of Biblical Literature 111/4: 641-682.

    Munn, James
    1956-1957 The Man Who Was Left Behind. Expository Times 68: 377-378.

    Pattengale, Jerry
    1992 Dalmatia. Pp. 4, 5 in Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 2. Edited by D. N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.

    Quinn, James
    1978a Paul’s Last Captivity. Studia Biblica 3: 289-299.

    1978b “Seven Times He Wore Chains” (1 Clem. 5:6). Journal of Biblical Literature 97/4: 574-576.

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    1896 St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

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    1954 Personalities Around Paul. Richmond, VA: John Knox.

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    1992 New Testament Apocrypha. Vol. 2. Cambridge: James Clarke; Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox.

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    1914 The Men of the Pauline Circle. London: Charles H. Kelly.

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    1906-1907a A Suggested Relationship between Titus and Luke. Expository Times 18: 285.

    1906-1907b The Relationship between Titus and Luke. Expository Times 18: 335-336.

    Stenstrup, Ken
    2010 Titus. Honoring the Gospel of God. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical.

    Thomas, W. D.
    1985 Titus, the Good All-rounder. Expository Times 96: 180-181.

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    2009 Roman Crete and the Letter to Titus. New Testament Studies 55: 338-354.

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on AQUILA and PRISCILLA: A Godly Marriage for Ministry

    by Gordon Franz


    When the apostle Paul penned the epistle to the Ephesians in AD 62, Aquila and Priscilla were back in Rome after living and serving the church in Ephesus for several years. I am sure; however, they were not forgotten by the saints there. Perhaps the Apostle Paul had Aquila and Priscilla in mind as an example of a Spirit-filled husband and wife when he penned Eph. 5:18-33.

    A Spirit-filled couple will have a godly marriage that will result in a powerful ministry for the Lord. Their marriage would exemplify, or picture, the love of Christ for the Church. Paul mentioned to the church in Rome that Aquila and Priscilla put their necks on the line for the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16:4). Since this couple risked their lives for Paul, I am certain Aquila would have laid down his life for his wife. Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25).

    The Lord Jesus in the Upper Room discourse states: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:12-14).

    In this essay we will follow this couple as they travel for the Lord after they had come to faith in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. We will observe how they were determined to serve Him together with a godly marriage for ministry. They labored in the gospel with the Apostle Paul, opened their home for the meeting of the local church and showed hospitality to traveling preachers.

    Aquila and Priscilla Traveling for the Lord

    Aquila in Pontus – Acts 18:2
    Dr. Luke records the first meeting of the Apostle Paul with this couple in Corinth thus: “And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them” (Acts 18:2). Aquila was originally from the Roman province of Pontus on the south shore of the Black Sea, called the Euxine Sea during the Roman period. His Latin name, Aquila, means “eagle.” Most likely he was a freedman living in Rome because most of the Jews living in Rome at this time were such.

    We are not told where Priscilla is from, her ethnicity, or her religious heritage. Her name is a common Roman name among the aristocratic families. Luke hints at the fact that she is not of Jewish heritage because he states Aquila is Jewish, but does not refer to her as such. Whether she was a convert to Judaism, and thus a proselyte, or a convert to Christianity, we are not told. She could have been originally from Rome and Aquila met and married her in the Eternal City.

    There are at least four possibilities as to how and when this couple came to faith in the Lord Jesus. First, Aquila could have heard the preaching of Peter in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost in AD 30. Dr. Luke records that there were Diaspora Jews from Pontus in Jerusalem for this festival (Acts 2:9). If Aquila heard Peter, he might have been touched by the words of the apostle and convicted by the Holy Spirit of his sin of unbelief. He realized he was a sinner, as we all are, and could not merit salvation or work for it. He realized the Lord Jesus was the Messiah of Israel who fulfilled the prophecies of His first coming to the earth. Aquila might have put his trust in the Lord Jesus as his Savior and Messiah at that time. When the festival was over, he returned to his Diaspora home in Pontus.

    The second possibility is that he and his wife could have been part of the Jewish and proselyte delegation from Rome that made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pentecost in AD 30 (Acts 2:10). This would have been another opportunity for them to come to faith. The third possibility could have been if Aquila heard the preaching of Peter on the apostle’s missionary trip through Pontus in AD 40-42 (I Peter 1:1; cf. Acts 12:17). Jerome, one of the early church fathers, states in his Lives of Illustrious Men: “Simon Peter … after having been bishop of the church in Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion – the believers in circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia – pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius” (1994:3:361). The final possibility might have been if they were in Rome in AD 42 when Peter arrived in the second year of Claudius. Peter could have led them to the Lord at that time.

    These possible scenarios also raise some interesting questions. Was Peter invited by Aquila to minister in Pontus on his first missionary journey in AD 40-42? This would have been a follow-up ministry visit to those who had come to faith in the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost ten years earlier. Did Peter take Aquila with him as a disciple when he ventured to the city of Rome after his first missionary journey? If this is the case, it would account for how Aquila got to Rome. Does a “nice Jewish boy” from Pontus marry a proselyte or Christian girl from Rome after Peter introduced them to each other? Was Aquila one of the leaders in the “pro-Cephas” faction in the church at Corinth (cf. 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22)? If so, he was being loyal to the one who led him to the Lord and mentored him. These are questions that can be asked, but Scripture is silent as to the answers.

    I am looking forward to that day in Heaven when I can sit down with Priscilla and Aquila and hear their life story. I am also curious to know how they risked their neck for the Apostle Paul. It should be easy to find the mansion that the Lord Jesus prepared for them (John 14:3) because it will have beautiful Corinthian columns in front of it!

    Aquila and Priscilla’s name appears together six times (Acts 18:2,18,26; Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 4:19), in the Textus Receptus, half the time she is mentioned before her husband (Acts 18:18; Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19 where she is called Prisca). The name “Priscilla” is the diminutive of “Prisca.” I suspect her name was put first because she had a more active spiritual role in the church, but that is only speculation on my part.

    Aquila and Priscilla in Rome – Acts 18:2
    Scripture does state that Aquila and Priscilla were expelled from Rome by a decree during the days of Emperor Claudius (Acts 18:2). Most scholars date this decree to AD 49. There are some scholars, however, who have suggested AD 41 as the possible date for the expulsion (Murphy-O’Connor 1983:130-140; 1992:47-49). The Roman historian, Suetonius, wrote that “since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome” (Claudius 25:4; LCL 2:53). Whether Chrestus is another name for Christ, or the name of a Jewish rabble rouser in Rome, is debated. Dr. Luke records that Aquila and Priscilla “recently” arrived in Corinth from Rome. This would rule out the earlier expulsion in AD 41. But the record is clear; Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome.

    Apparently Claudius’s decree did not discriminate between Jews and Messianic Jews, those Jews who had put their trust in the Lord Jesus as Messiah. Aquila, a Messianic Jew, and his wife Priscilla were included in the expulsion from Rome.

    Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth – Acts 18:2-18
    Aquila and Priscilla decided to relocate to the Roman colony of Corinth and practiced their trade of tentmaking in that cosmopolitan and Latin speaking city. They would have arrived several years before the Apostle Paul and most likely would have started evangelistic work in the city, or continued what the Apostle Peter may have started if he came through Corinth in AD 42.

    In AD 52, Paul arrived in Corinth to begin his evangelistic endeavors. Silas and Timothy soon joined Paul in the work. Perhaps they had heard of the work in Corinth and came along to help. One other thing that may have attracted these three apostles to Corinth was the Isthmian Games that were held near Corinth (Acts 18:2-5).
    The Apostle Paul was attracted to this couple, not only because of their common faith in the Lord Jesus, but also because of their common occupation. Dr. Luke records: “for by occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:3). Both were involved in this trade which indicates that this was a family business.

    There have been several suggestions as to what the “tentmaking” profession involved. Some have suggested, because Paul was from Tarsus in Cilicia, his father had taught him the trade of weaving tent cloth from goat’s hair (cilicium). Others have suggested, because the tents were made of leather, that the tentmaking involved leather working. Hiebert points out that “Paul’s father was a strict Pharisee (Acts 23:6) and thus regarded contact with the skins of dead animals as defiling, it seems improbable that he would have permitted his son to learn such a trade” (1992:29).

    Aquila and Priscilla were from Rome and in the Eternal City there was a Tentmakers Associations, called in Latin collegium tabernaclariorum (Murphy-O’Conner 1992:44). Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) describes what was made of linen cloths: awnings used to cover theaters, the Roman Forum, the Sacred Way, and Nero’s amphitheaters. It was also used for awnings in houses and sails for ships (Natural History 19:23-25; LCL 5:435-437).

    Aquila and Priscilla would have had no problem finding employment when they arrived in Corinth or establishing their own business. Shades were needed for the construction work going on in Corinth at this time, sails for ships were in need of mending as ships crossed the Isthmus of Corinth, and tents were in need of mending during the Isthmian Games. Their workshop afforded them the opportunity for evangelism (Hock 1978, 1979).

    Where the shop was located in Corinth is an open question. Murphy-O’Conner suggested it might have been in the newly built North Market located just to the north of the Archaic Temple to Apollo (1983:169). However, a careful reading of the preliminary excavation report suggests this market had not been built at this time and was built by the initiative of Emperor Vespasian after the earthquake of AD 77-78 (de Waele 1930:453).

    Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus – Acts 18:19,24-28; 1 Cor. 16:19
    After 18 months of ministering in Corinth, Paul decided to move his base of operation to Ephesus. He took Aquila and Priscilla to this major trading center on the west coast of Asia Minor, the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire; Rome, Alexandria and Antioch on the Orontes being larger (Acts 18:18,19). Paul left them there in order to establish the work in the city. He also promised that he would return to Ephesus after his visit to Jerusalem.

    In Ephesus they established a church that met in their house (1 Cor. 16:19). This afforded them the opportunity to show hospitality to sinners and saints. One day, while attending the synagogue in Ephesus, they heard Apollos, a Jewish preacher from Alexandria (Egypt) who was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, but he only knew of the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-25). After the meeting, they took him aside, apparently to their home, and explained to him the finer points of the Word of God and his salvation (Acts 18:26).

    Aquila and Priscilla did not have roast preacher for lunch that day, instead they had home-made apple pie on a silver platter. The Book of Proverbs says: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (25:11). I realize I am allegorizing this passage, but you get the point. They did not take him home and say, “That was a stupid sermon, don’t you know your Bible? Don’t you know what happened after John the Baptizer? Don’t you know about Jesus?” No, they brought him home, showed him hospitality by feeding him a good meal and then gently and lovingly “explained to him the way of God more accurately” (18:26).

    When Paul arrived in Ephesus during his third missionary journey, he ministered in the city for nearly three years (Acts 20:31). While there, he and Timothy had a discipleship program in the School of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9; 20:31). Paul did not want to be a burden on the church in Ephesus, so he stayed and worked with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 20:34). Some manuscripts in 1 Cor. 16:19 say, “Aquila and Prisca with whom I lodge” (Hiebert 1992:31).

    In the quietness of the home, after the business of the day, the three of them discussed missionary strategy. While in Ephesus, Paul saw the importance of going to Rome. Most likely it was Aquila and Priscilla that planted the thought in his mind that the Spirit of God used to direct Paul’s ways (Acts 19:21). Several years later, Paul wrote to the Roman church from Corinth and he conveyed a more detailed and refined plan. He would stop by Rome on his way to Spain (1:10-13; 15:22-28).

    Aquila and Priscilla in Rome Again – Rom. 16:3-4
    The next time Aquila and Priscilla are recorded in Scripture is when they are back in Rome when the epistle to the Romans arrives in AD 58 (Rom. 16:3-5). Rome, not Corinth or Ephesus, was home for them, so they returned to the Eternal City sometime after the death of Claudius on October 13, AD 54 and Nero’s reversal of the Jewish expulsion decree. Murphy-O’Conner suggests they returned to Rome during the summer of AD 55 (1992:51).

    Paul would have sent them on their way with his blessings because they would be preparing the church in Rome for his visit. Most likely they returned home via Corinth in order to visit the saints in that city. Possibly they persuaded Epaenetus to join them in the work in Rome as well (cf. Rom. 16:5b).

    Paul indicates that there is a church meeting in their home (Rom. 16:5a).  A 6th century AD tradition has it that their house church was on the Aventine Hill, on todays Via Prisca (Platner 1929:65-67). This site was excavated by the Augustinian monks of St. Prisca between 1934 and 1958. Underneath the church they found a Mithraeum with an altar dating to the 2nd century AD with statues of Oceanus Saturnus and Mithras killing the bull. This is called today the Mithraeum Domus Sanctae Priscae (Richardson 1992:257-258).

    When Paul instructs the church at Rome to greet Priscilla and Aquila on his behalf, he describes them as his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also, all the churches of the Gentiles” (16:3b,4). Paul had labored with them in Corinth and the beginning of the work at Ephesus. Paul mentions an event that is unrecorded in the book of Acts: they put their life on the line for the Apostle Paul. What they did, we do not know, but it must have been heroic because the Gentile church gave thanks. We have a hint from Paul’s writings as to the nature of this event.  He writes: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivers us from so great a death, and does deliver us, in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:8-10; cf. Acts 20:19). Paul also mentioned fighting the beasts in Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:32). Exactly what the “sentence of death in ourselves” or the circumstances leading up to fighting the beasts, we are not told. Perhaps the letter carrier told the Corinthian believers when he delivered the letter to them.

    Whatever they did to risk their necks for Paul’s sake might have been in the back of the apostle’s mind when he wrote earlier in the epistle to the Romans: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:7-8).

    Why does Paul mention this event in his letter to the Romans? Some Gentile believers in the church in Rome may have wanted to marginalize this Messianic Jewish couple and the church that was in their home. Paul says to greet them (the Greek word has the idea of giving them a big bear hug) and thank them for risking their lives for his sake. Paul says that even their fellow Gentiles in churches in the east have been thankful for their testimony. In essence, Paul was trying to unify the church in Rome that was divided along economic, gender and ethnic lines.

    The church had been meeting in the home of Aquila and Priscilla for nearly 10 years when a catastrophe struck. The Great Fire of July 19, AD 64, completely destroyed or seriously damaged 10 of the 14 districts of Rome, including the homes on the Aventine Hill. Aquila and Priscilla may have been homeless in Rome (again), along with tens of thousands of other Romans.

    Perhaps they saw the handwriting on the wall. There were rumors that Nero had started this fire, thus making it a government induced crisis, so he could build his Domus Aurea (“Golden House/Palace”) and engage in extensive urban renewal (Suetonius, Nero 38; LCL 2:155,157; Tacitus, Annals 15:38-44; LCL 5:271-285). He quickly blamed the Christians for starting the fire and they were soon persecuted.

    Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus Again – 2 Tim. 4:19
    Aquila and Priscilla, perhaps being homeless and fearing the persecution that followed the fire, presumably escaped to Ephesus. When Paul wrote his son in the faith, Timothy, who was in Ephesus in AD 67, he instructed him to “greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 4:19).

    It may be instructive to note that Paul does not mention a church meeting in their house. This couple may have lost everything, and maybe in the Great Fire of Rome – their home, their business. They may have escaped with their lives, the shirt on their back, and any money they could carry. It could also be an indication that the church in Ephesus was well established and meeting in other places, thus there was no need for them to open their home.

    Lessons from the Lives of Aquila and Priscilla
    There are at least three lessons we can learn from the life of this godly couple who wanted their lives to be used in the service of the Lord. First, they understood the providential workings of God in their lives. Second, they experienced togetherness, some have suggested it should be “two-getherness” in their marriage. And finally, they put God first in their lives.

    God’s Providence in the lives of Aquila and Priscilla
    Let’s look at how the big picture may have taken shape. Perhaps we have a nice Jewish boy from Pontus who goes to Rome. He meets a nice aristocratic Gentile or Christian woman and they get married and begin to establish their lives together in Rome. Along comes Emperor Claudius and expels them from Rome so they lost their home and their business. In events like this, most people would have gotten bent out of shape by these events, but our couple may have considered that they still had each other, and that God, in His providence, may have moved them to Corinth where they met, ministered to, and eventually worked closely with the Apostle Paul in strategic missionary endeavors. Can anybody see the Hand of God here?

    Nothing happens in our life by chance. We want to understand the “big picture” of our lives because God has put eternity in our hearts. We want to know the end from the beginning (Eccl. 3:11). But we don’t understand the “big picture” because we are frail, sinful, finite human beings, thus Solomon said to enjoy life, for it is a gift from God (Eccl. 2:24; 3:12-13,22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-9). So as believers in the Lord Jesus, we must trust the Lord that He is sovereign and in control of every detail of our life. He is leading us by His Word and His providence in order that we might be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:18-30).

    As I look back on my life, there are several pivotal events that set, or adjusted, the course of my life. One such event was in January 1988. I was team teaching a program for the Christian College Coalition at the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies in Jerusalem. On our field trip to Bethany and the Mount of Olives, I was the last one on a completely full bus with only one seat left. The empty seat was next to Dr. Mike Wilkins from Talbot School of Theology in California. As we were chatting, he invited me to teach a class the next January at Talbot on the background to the life of Christ. God, in His providence, used that encounter in two ways. First, it got me to study the life of the Lord Jesus. Up until that time, all my studies, Biblically and archaeologically, had been in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Iron Age history and archaeology of Judah and Jerusalem. Second, while I was teaching the class in California the next January, I met Dr. Richard Rigsby. We began the Talbot Bible Lands program. So for most Januarys in the last 20 years, I have been running around Israel, Turkey, Greece or Rome with students from that school. Sometimes I wonder: “What if somebody else had sat next to Mike on that trip?” God in His providence had that seat empty. Nothing happens in our lives by chance. God had a purpose in the expulsion from Rome for Aquila and Pricilla.

    The Two-getherness of Aquila and Priscilla
    When Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned in scripture, they are always mentioned together, never separately. They appeared to be inseparable. Someone once said that “togetherness is a multifaceted thing that involves every dimension of our lives. There is emotional intimacy (the depth sharing of significant feelings), intellectual intimacy (the sharing in the world of ideas), aesthetic intimacy (the depth sharing of experiences of beauty), creative intimacy (the sharing of acts of creativity), recreational intimacy (sharing activities and fun times), work intimacy (sharing in common tasks), crisis intimacy (standing together against the buffeting of life), spiritual intimacy (the sharing of ultimate concerns), and sexual intimacy. True togetherness comes as we experience intimacy in each of these areas” (cited in Harbour 1979:121).

    As we examine these nine aspects of intimacy, it can be observed from the limited information recorded in the Scriptures that Aquila and Priscilla experienced at least four of them. The first, spiritual intimacy is seen in the fact that their lives centered on the Lord and His Church. They opened their home up to the local church and they entertained traveling preachers. Second, work intimacy is seen in their tent-making together. Apparently this was a family business that they were both involved in. Third, instructing Apollos shows their intellectual intimacy. They both knew the Scriptures well and they wanted to share them with others. Finally, putting their life on the line for Paul’s sake and moving for the sake of the gospel showed their crisis intimacy. I am sure if Scripture had recorded more of the lives of these two saints, we would have seen more intimacy in their two-getherness.

    Aquila and Priscilla put the Lord first in their lives
    When the Lord Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, He said “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things [food, clothing and drink] shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). The Apostle Paul describes Aquila and Priscilla as “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 16:3). We have seen that this couple was missions minded, they opened their home so that the believers could gather to remember the Lord, pray, and have fellowship as they were instructed in the Word of God (cf. Acts 2:42). They also were engaged in “secular” employment so that they were not a financial burden on the churches. Yet God blessed them with a very successful business so they could show hospitality to the saints by inviting the church in their home. For a detailed discussion of hospitality in the church, see Strauch 1993.

    May there be an increase in the church of couples like Aquila and Priscilla who have a godly marriage for ministry.


    Bruce, F. F.
    1985    The Pauline Circle. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

    De Waele, F. J.
    1930    The Roman Market North of the Temple at Corinth. American Journal of Archaeology 34:432-454.

    Dio Cassius
    1924    Roman History.  Books 56-60.  Vol. 7. Translated by E. Cary.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library. Reprinted 2000.

    Harbour, Brian
    1979   Famous Couples of the Bible. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

    Hiebert, D. Edmond
    1992    In Paul’s Shadow. Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University.

    Hock, Roland
    1978    Paul’s Tentmaking and the Problem and the Problem of His Social Class. Journal of Biblical Literature 97:555-564.

    1979    The Workshop as a Social Setting for Paul’s Missionary Preaching. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41:438-450.

    Howson, John
    1872    The Metaphors of St. Paul and Companions of St. Paul. Boston: American Tract Society.

    1994    Lives of Illustrious Men. Pp. 353-402 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Second series. Vol. 3. Edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

    Jewett, Robert
    1993    Tenement Churches and Communal Meals in the Early Church: The Implications of a Form-Critical Analysis of 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Biblical Research 38:23-43.

    1918    Satire. Translated by G. G. Ramsay. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library. Reprinted 1993.

    Murphy-O’Conner, Jerome
    1983    St. Paul’s Corinth. Text and Archaeology. Wilmington, DL: Michael Glazier.

    1992    Prisca and Aquila. Bible Review 8/6: 40-51,62.

    Platner, Samuel
    1929    A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. London: Oxford University Press.

    1983    Natural History. Books 8-11. Vol. 3. Second Edition. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 353.

    1992    Natural History. Books 17-19. Vol. 5. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 371.

    Richardson, L. Jr.
    1992    A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University.

    Rolston, Holmes
    1954    Personalities Around Paul. Richmond, VA: John Knox.

    Strauch, Alexander
    1993   The Hospitality Commands. Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth.

    1992   Lives of the Caesars. Claudius. Nero. Vol. 2. Trans. by J. C. Rolfe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 38.

    1994    Annals 13-16. Vol. 5. Trans. by J. Jackson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 322.

    Vagi, David
    1999    Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. 2 vols. Sidney, OH: Coin World.

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on TYCHICUS: On the Road Again

    by Gordon Franz

    In 1980, the country singer Willie Nelson released an album entitled Honeysuckle Rose.  On it was one of Nelson’s most memorable tunes, “On the Road Again.”  You know the words:

    On the road again
    Just can’t wait to get on the road again
    The life I love is makin’ music with my friends
    And I can’t wait to get on the road again
    On the road again
    Goin’ places that I’ve never been
    Seein’ things that I may never see again,
    And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

    I have adopted this song and modified it slightly (with all due respect to Willie Nelson) for the Tablot Bible Lands study tour of Turkey – Greece – and Rome because we are never two nights in the same place, except Athens and Rome.  We are always “on the road again”!

    On the road again
    Just can’t wait to get on the road again
    The life I love is seein’ (Biblical) places with my friends
    And I can’t wait to get on the road again

    Tychicus, a fellow worker with the Apostle Paul, whose Greek name means “Fortunate,” is mentioned five times in the New Testament.  Each time he is mentioned, he is either traveling “on the road again” with, or for, the Apostle Paul.

    Willie Nelson characterized his group as a “band of gypsies.”  Tychicus sometimes traveled with a band of men, but they were students or co-workers of the Apostle Paul.  And like Nelson, Tychicus got to see places in the Roman Empire that he never dreamed of seeing while he was growing up in Ephesus.

    Willie Nelson liked to be on the road singing and traveling like a “band of gypsies” with his friends.  Tychicus, on the other hand, traveled not so much to sing, but to share the greatest news in the world, the gospel of Jesus Christ and also to comfort, encourage and edify the saints.

    The Apostle Paul defined what the gospel was in his first epistle to the Corinthians.  He stated: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

    The reason the Lord Jesus died for our sins was because we are all sinners and sin cannot enter the presence of a Holy God (Rom. 3:23); even one little lie would keep a person out of a perfect, sinless Heaven (Rev. 21:27).  Sin was the problem; but the Savior, the Lord Jesus, was the solution to that problem.  When the Lord Jesus, God manifest in human flesh, was suspended between Heaven and earth on the cross of Calvary, He took the wrath of the Father upon Himself, and paid for all the sins of all humanity (1 John 2:2).  In grace, mercy, and love, He offers each and every individual the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness of God, reconciliation with a Holy God, and a home in Heaven if that individual puts his or her trust in the Lord Jesus and Him alone for their salvation (Phil. 3:9; 2 Cor. 5:17-21).  Because Jesus paid for all sins, there can be no merits, good deeds, rituals, or works that we can do to earn our salvation and eternal life (Rom. 4:5; Eph. 2:8-9).  One can rejoice in the free gift of eternal life; the fact that all sins have been paid for; and one can know for certain that he is eternally secure in Christ and have the forgiveness of sins (John 10:28-30; 1 John 5:13).

    In this study on the life of Tychicus, we will learn that being faithful in exercising ones spiritual gift, even using it for mundane things like being “on the road again,” could have great spiritual benefits for the Church and eternal rewards.

    On the Road with the Collection for the Saints in Jerusalem – Acts 20:4
    The first time Tychicus appears in Scripture is in Acts 20:4.  At the end of the Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey (AD 57), he is getting ready to go Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) in order to take money to the needy saints in the Holy City (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-9:5).  Dr. Luke recounts the makeup of the team taking the collection: “And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia – also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.  These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas” (Acts 20:4).

    This group of proven and trusted men were from churches in three different Roman provinces that Paul had ministered in: three were from Macedonia (Sopater, Aristarchus, and Secundus), two from Galatia (Gaius and Timothy; cf. 1 Cor. 16:1), and two from Asia Minor (Tychicus and Trophimus).  Trophimus was from Ephesus (Acts 21:29), and it has been suggested that Tychicus was also.  Codex D has a deliberate emendation of the text to read Ephesus, thus this might reflect a local tradition that Tychicus was from this city (Ramsay 1893:154).

    As a young boy growing up in Ephesus, he would have heard of different places in the Roman world from the sailors and travelers who came through this major seaport while traveling to or from Asia Minor.  He probably dreamed of seeing far off exotic lands and wondered if he would ever get to see such places.  He must have heard the quote from the rabbis: “He who has not seen the Temple that Herod has built, has not seen a beautiful building” (BT Baba Bat. 4a). Now he was traveling to Jerusalem, the city of the Great King, and would see this most beautiful building!

    The seven men selected by the churches to join the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke were to take the money collected by the churches in Achaia, Macedonia, Asia, and Galatia to the church in Jerusalem.  How much money was involved is unknown.  But these men must have been of high moral character and men who could be trusted with the gold aurei and silver denarii.

    This was in stark contrast with what was going on in the religious scene in Ephesus.  The Temple of Artemis / Diana was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Pilgrims and tourists flocked to see this magnificent structure.  The temple was also the regional bank where people deposited their money for safe keeping.  Ironically, the temple was an asylum for criminals as well.  If they made it into the temple before the long arm of the law caught them, they were safe.  Now what is wrong with this picture?  Here you have thieves, extortionists, and murderers residing in the regional bank!  That is like inviting the fox to hang out in the hen house!  In contrast, the churches sent seven men of proven character who could be trusted to guard the money they were sending to the needy saints in Jerusalem.
    Some have suggested that the unnamed brother “whose praise is in the gospel throughout the churches” and that accompanied Titus with the second letter to the Corinthians was Tychicus (2 Cor. 8:18-21, 23-24); and the other unnamed brother was Trophimus (2 Cor. 8:22-24); but this is conjecture (Boyd 1918:2:623).  If it is true, however, Paul already knew Tychicus was a man of proven character and could be trusted.  This would also account for why he was selected by the Asian churches to help take the collection to the saints in Jerusalem.

    On the Road Again with Four Letters to Asia Minor – Col. 4:7-9; Eph. 6:21-22
    Perhaps four or five years later, during the Apostle Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (AD 60-62); two events transpired in Paul’s life that had connections with the city of Colosse in the Lycus Valley.  One was meeting a runaway slave named Onesimus from Colosse; and the other was a visit from Epaphras who told Paul of the doctrinal problems in the churches in the Lycus Valley.  Paul had never visited this valley (Col. 2:1), yet he was deeply concerned about the spiritual condition of the churches in the valley that were possibly established by some of the students that he and others had trained in the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus (cf. Acts 19:9).
    When exactly, and what the circumstances behind the meeting with Onesimus were, Scripture does not say.  But when the Apostle Paul did meet him, he shared the gospel with Onesimus and led him to faith in the Lord Jesus.  Afterward the apostle mentored Onesimus and he proved to be a faithful and beloved brother.  He also ministered to the apostle while he was in prison (Col. 4:9; Philemon 10-13).  Paul, however, wanted to set things right between Onesimus and his master, Philemon, so he thought it best to send him back to Colosse.

    Epaphras, on the other hand, brought distressing news of some strange heresies that were creeping into the Colossian church and probably the other churches in the Lycus Valley as well.  As their representative, he wanted advice from the apostle as to how to deal with the heresies.  Paul counseled Epaphras, and they had a major prayer meeting about this situation (Col. 1:9-12).  Paul saw this as an opportunity to “kill four birds with one stone.”

    Paul had four purposes in sending Tychicus to Asia Minor.  First and foremost, he was to return the runaway slave, turned Christian, Onesimus to his owner, Philemon, in Colosse.  Second, he was to deliver at least four letters to three churches and one individual.  Third, he was to ascertain the situation in Colosse and report back to Paul.  Finally, he was to give a verbal update to the churches and individuals that he visited on his journey of Paul’s condition and activities while under house arrest in Rome.  They knew in was under house arrest, but Paul did not want them to worry about him, but rather, be encouraged by how the Lord was using this situation in Paul’s life and ministry (cf. Gen. 50:19-20).

    Proverbs 25:25 was probably the theme verse for this journey: “As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  Tychicus and Onesimus were to report to the churches in Asia Minor how the Apostle Paul was faring under house arrest and to comfort their hearts.

    Tychicus and Onesimus would have walked the 360 Roman miles on the Appian Way from Rome to the port city of Brundusium and then boarded a ship to Corinth.  The ship would have to cross the 353 miles (565 km) of the Adriatic Sea and Gulf of Corinth to Lechaeum, the harbor of Corinth that was north of the city.  They would have walked the 8 miles across the Isthmus of Corinth as their ship was being dragged across on the Diolkos and then re-embarked the ship at Cenchrea on the northwest corner of the Saronic Gulf.  If they had to change ships, perhaps they would have enjoyed the hospitality of Sister Phoebe in Cenchrea (cf. Rom. 16:1-2) as they waited for another ship heading across the Aegean Sea for the port city of Miletus in Asia Minor 250 miles (400 km) away (cf. Acts 20:15).  From Miletus they would have taken a six-mile ferry ride across the Gulf of Latmos to Priene; and there, picked up the Roman road through the Meanders Valley to the Lycus Valley and the tri-polis: Laodicea, Hierapolis and Colosse.  The final leg of their journey was 132 miles.

    This trip was not an easy one.  The scenery along the Appian Way and the road through the Meanders Valley was boring and monotonous.  (Trust me; I’ve been on these roads)!  In the 1st century AD, one did not have the luxury of a taxi or an air-conditioned bus.  The mode of transportation for the travelers was limited to three choices: walk, ride a donkey, or take a cart.  The Appian Way had large cobblestones and the carts had no shock absorbers!  If you rode a donkey you had to feed it and that cost money, so you walked!

    The ships that crossed the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas were not the luxurious Caribbean cruise liners with open buffets and entertainment 24-7.  You brought your own food with you; you cooked it on deck; and you rolled out your mattress at night wherever you could find space on the ship.  If you wanted fresh food, you threw a fishing line over the edge and hoped to catch a fish or two.  There was always the concern for a shipwreck on the seas and robbers on the roads (cf. 2 Cor. 11:23-28).
    Yet Tychicus and Onesimus were faithful to their assigned task.  They walked nearly 500 miles of Roman roads and sailed 600 miles on two seas in order to fulfill their mission.  The total mileage for their journey from Rome to the Lycus Valley was about 1,100 miles, all to carry four letters and return a runaway slave!

    Let’s put this in a contemporary American perspective.  This trip would be like getting on a sailboat at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sailing down to New York Harbor, and then walking from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio.  In other words, go to the George Washington Bridge; get on Route 80 and head west on foot!  (It would probably take about a month to do the hike.)  For those on the Left Coast, it would be like getting on a sailboat at Eureka, California, and sailing to Long Beach Harbor and then walking to Tucson, Arizona.

    When they arrived in the Lycus Valley, the first city they would have come to was Laodicea.  They would have dropped the first letter off to the church there (Col. 4:16).  After a short visit, they proceeded to Colosse.  At Colosse, they would have gone directly to the house of Philemon.  Tychicus would have handed him the letter from Paul and would have begun the mediation to reconcile and restore Onesimus to his master.  News would have spread quickly among the believers in the Lord Jesus in that city, and they would have gathered together, possibly in Philemon’s house, in order to hear the letter that Paul sent to the church.

    As this letter was read, Paul reveals the reason Tychicus was sent to the church at Colosse:  “Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.  I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.  They will make known to you all things which are happening here” (Col. 4:7-9).

    Notice first of all, Onesimus is mentioned as “one of you” (i.e., he is from Colosse).  This implies that Tychicus is not from this city, nor the Lycus Valley.

    Paul gives three-fold qualities and characteristics of Tychicus.  The first is his spiritual relationship: he is a “beloved brother” (Col. 4:7; cf. Eph. 6:21).  When a person comes to faith in the Lord Jesus, he or she is “born again,” or born from above by the Spirit of God (John 3:1-8).  Before they came to faith, they were in Satan’s family, but after they trusted Christ, they are forever in God’s family.  Earlier in the epistle that was being read a Colosse, Paul wrote: “He [the Lord Jesus] has delivered us from the power of darkness [Satan’s domain] and conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).  The Bible describes believers as brothers and sisters in the family of God and God as their Heavenly Father (John 1:12-13).  Paul does not call Tychicus “my son” like he does Onesimus (Philemon 10).  This suggests that Tychicus was not his convert.  Scripture is silent as to when and how Tychicus came to faith in the Lord Jesus.  Not only was he a brother, but he had the quality of a “beloved” brother.

    The second description recounts his faithfulness in exercising his spiritual gift of ministry / service (cf. Rom. 12:7).  He was a “faithful minister.”  William McRae suggests the characteristics of this gift in these terms: “The person with the gift of service has an unusual capacity to serve faithfully behind the scenes, in practical ways, to assist in the work of the Lord and encourage and strengthen others spiritually” (1976: 47).  Not only was Tychicus a minister, exercising his gift of ministry, but he had the quality of being faithful in that ministry.  As Paul stated to the Corinthian believers: “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

    The final description is that Tychicus is a “fellow servant / slave” (sundoulos).  On several occasions Paul calls himself a servant or slave of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:1, doulos).  In this epistle, Paul characterizes Epaphras, also from Colosse, as a fellow servant (Col. 1:7, sundoulos), and also a bondservant (4:12, doulos).  Paul is trying to identify Onesimus with himself and put him on the same level as himself, Epaphras, and Tychicus when he entreats Philemon to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave but more than a slave – a beloved brother” (Philemon 16, doulos).  In one sense Paul is laying a guilt trip on Philemon – Accept him back as a brother in Christ, be reconciled to him, and also “Free Onesimus”! (Philemon 15-21).

    Paul wanted the Colossian believers to know how Paul was surviving his house arrest in Rome.  Most likely Tychicus and Onesimus would have begun with the greetings from Epaphras and recounted his imprisonment and burden to pray for the work in Colosse (Philemon 23; Col. 4:12).  They would have then told of the boldness of the Apostle Paul in sharing the gospel with the Praetorian guards that he was chained to.  Everyone thought Paul was a captive of Rome, but in fact, the guards were his captives because they could not leave their post for eight hours.  Paul took advantage of this captive audience to share the gospel with these hardened and elite soldiers, and some came to faith (Phil. 1:12-14).  Onesimus would have shared his testimony as to how he came to faith in the Lord Jesus after meeting Paul (Philemon 10).  One of the miracles they would have shared would have been how God intervened in Epaphroditus’ near-death experience and brought him back to good health (Phil. 2:26-30).  There must have been much rejoicing at the news of salvation of souls and God’s miraculous intervention in people’s lives.  All these things were shared to comfort the believers.  They would have realized that the Lord was the “God of all Comfort” who comforts the downcast (2 Cor. 1:3-4; 7:6) and His word would comfort them as well (Ps. 94:19; 119:50; Rom. 15:4).

    Another reason Paul sent Tychicus to Colosse was to get an update as to what was going on in the Lycus Valley: “that he [Tychicus] may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts” (Col. 4:8 NKJV).  The Westcott – Hort tradition says: “you may know our circumstances” (as in the RSV, NIV, and NASB).  It would seem redundant for Paul to say three times in these verses that he is sending Tychicus to tell them about the situation in Rome.  I think the better reading in the context is that Tychicus was also sent to assess the spiritual situation in Colosse.  Paul had heard the report from Epaphras, and they had prayed about the situation (Col. 1:3-8; 4:12).  The report back from Tychicus would tell them in Rome how God was answering their prayers in Colosse!

    After discharging his duties in the Lycus Valley, Tychicus proceeded to his hometown of Ephesus.  When the believers gathered at the school of Tyrannus, the letter that Tychicus brought from the Apostle Paul was read.  In this epistle, Paul stated why he sent Tychicus: “But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts” (Eph. 6:21-22).

    These instructions are similar to what Paul wrote in the letter to the Colossians.  There are some differences that are very instructive.  First, Tychicus and Onesimus are mentioned together in Colossians; but only Tychicus is mentioned in Ephesians.  Paul wrote both epistles at the same time based on a prearranged travel plan to Asia Minor.  Paul had instructed them: “First, go to the Lycus Valley and drop off these three letters that I am giving you and see to it that Onesimus and Philemon are reconciled.  Then proceed to Ephesus and drop off the fourth letter at your home assembly while you visit with your family and friends.  Finally, return to Rome with word of the Colossian situation.”  Thus, there is no mention of Onesimus in the Ephesians’ epistle because he was not with Tychicus at the time.  Second, Paul does not ask Tychicus to assess what is going on in Ephesus like he did for the Colossian situation.  The Ephesians’ assembly was a strong and healthy meeting with no doctrinal problems.  Third, Tychicus is not called a “fellow servant” in Ephesians.  This description was given in the Colossian letter because of the Onesimus situation.

    On the Road Again with Paul and Luke and Possibly to Replace Titus on Crete – Tit. 3:12
    The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians that he sent Tychicus so that “he may know your circumstances” (4:8 NKJV).  This implies that Tychicus would return to Rome with the information about the condition of the Colossian church after he dropped off the letter to the Ephesians.  Apparently he returned to Rome and soon after the apostle was acquitted and released from his first imprisonment by Emperor Nero (AD 62).  Nero does not burn Rome until July AD 64, so Paul is long gone from the city when that happens.

    After his release from prison, the Apostle Paul went on a fourth missionary journey.  Dr. Luke does not record this journey because the book of Acts ends abruptly in chapter 28 with Paul still under house arrest in Rome.  However, one can trace a plausible itinerary of the fourth missionary journey from Paul’s Prison and Pastoral Epistles (Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).

    It had long been the Apostle Paul’s desire to take the gospel to Spain (Rom. 15:24), and church history suggests that he got there.  Most likely he went there first and then on to the island of Crete where he left Titus.  Paul’s team continued to Macedonia, and then on to Asia Minor.  He apparently was heading back to Rome and planned to spend the winter in Nicopolis in the region of Epirus on the west coast of Greece by the Adriatic Sea.  Most likely he went through Corinth on his way to Nicopolis.

    Apparently in Corinth (AD 66?), Paul penned a letter to Titus on the island of Crete and took advantage of two itinerant preachers, Zenas and Apollos, to take the letter to Titus on their way through the island of Crete to parts unknown.  Among other things, Paul instructs Titus: “When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there” (Tit. 3:12).  It seems that Artemas (of whom we know nothing more than his name in this verse) and Tychicus were traveling with the Apostle Paul, Dr. Luke, and Trophimus on this missionary trip and Paul was trying to decide who to send to Crete to replace Titus in the work that he was doing.

    The Apostle Paul had judged Tychicus faithful in his ministry and wanted to give him greater responsibilities.  Yet Paul eventually chose Artemas instead of Tychicus.  I suspect the reason Tychicus was not chosen to replace Titus was because Titus had the spiritual gift of administration (1 Cor. 12:28) and that was not one of Tychicus’ gift.  Perhaps Paul had discerned that it was Artemas’ gift and he would be better suited to set in order the things that were lacking in the churches on the island of Crete and finish the job of appointing elders in the churches in every city (cf. Tit. 1:5).

    On the Road Again, Back Home to Ephesus with another Letter – 2 Tim. 4:12
    Paul was a prisoner again in Rome, and knew he was about to be executed, when he penned his “last will and testament” to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy (2 Tim. 1:12, 16-18; 2:9; AD 66 or 67).  In it, Paul requests that Timothy come to Rome before winter; but not before stopping at Troas and picking up his cloak and books (4:9, 13, 21).

    Tychicus apparently was not sent to Crete to replace Titus because he is with Paul in Rome during his second imprisonment, which took place soon after Paul wrote to Titus.  All of Paul’s co-workers had left Paul for one reason or another during this time of danger for Christians in Rome, except Dr. Luke and Tychicus (2 Tim. 4:10-11).  Paul wrote: “And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus” (4:12).

    The verb “sent” is in the aorist tense.  Scholars have debated whether it should be understood as a historical aorist or an epistolary aorist.  If it’s a historical aorist, that would mean that Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus before he wrote the letter to Timothy.  If it’s an epistolary aorist, then Paul, by using this common Greek idiom, would place Tychicus in Ephesus at the time of the readers reading the letter.  I suspect it is the latter use.  This would mean that Paul sent Tychicus to deliver the letter to Timothy in Ephesus (Hiebert 1992:218).  Thus making it the fourth, or fifth, inspired epistle that Tychicus carried from Paul to its intended recipient.

    The Apostle Paul wrote thirteen epistles totaling 87 chapters in the New Testament (assuming he did not write the epistle to the Hebrews).  Tychicus carried at least four letters (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy), and possibly a fifth letter (2 Corinthians) that were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The total number of chapters that Tychicus would have carried of Paul’s inspired books would be 15 or 28 chapters.  Thus, Tychicus would have been responsible for 17 – 24% of the content of Paul’s writings getting to their intended destination!  What some might consider a mundane task of carrying letters for the apostle, Tychicus took as an important task because these epistles were used to build up the Body of Christ, the Church.  Tychicus will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ for his faithfulness in exercising his spiritual gift that was used to accomplish an important mission.

    Loyal and faithful Tychicus was sent home by the Apostle Paul, apparently with thanks for a job well done, but also to replace Timothy in the work in Ephesus.  Timothy’s spiritual gift was evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5; cf. Eph. 4:11).  It would be very fitting for Tychicus to replace him if Tychicus were the unnamed brother “whose praise is in the gospel throughout the churches” (2 Cor. 8:18).

    Later Activities
    Scripture is silent as to where Tychicus went “on the road again” and what Tychicus did after he returned to Ephesus.  There are, however, at least three ancient church traditions as to what Tychicus did and where he went.  One, tradition says he became a bishop (or elder) in Chalcedon in Bithynia, a church probably started by Peter, Silas, and John Mark in AD 42 (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1).  Another tradition says he was a bishop (or elder) at Colophon, 24 km (15 miles) northwest of Ephesus, replacing Sosthenes, who was originally from Corinth (cf. Acts 18:17; 1 Cor. 1:1).  In Colophon Tychicus was martyred for his faith in the Lord Jesus (Boyd 1918:2:623).  Finally, there is another tradition that says he ministered at Paphos on the island of Cyprus (Hogarth, et. al. 1888: 189).  Which of these three traditions, if any, are true?  I do not know, but when I get to Heaven, I will ask Tychicus.

    How Does “On the Road Again” Apply to My Life?
    There are at least three things we can learn about being “on the road again.”  The first thing we notice about Tychicus was that he was a beloved brother.  He was born into the family of God by faith alone in the Lord Jesus.  Have you trusted the Lord Jesus as your Savior and know the joy of sins forgiven and the promise of a home in heaven?  Or, are you still in Satan’s family?

    The second thing we notice is that he was faithful in exercising his spiritual gift of ministry / service (Rom. 12:7).  The Holy Spirit sovereignly gives at least one spiritual gift, if not more, to every individual in the church as He sees fit (1 Cor. 12:11).  Spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of building up the local assembly and the Universal Church, both numerically, as well as spiritually. (Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Cor. 14:12).  Each believer must discern what his or her spiritual gift is and develop it so he or she can faithfully use it to build up the local assembly.  Those with the spiritual oversight of the church need to instruct the church on what the spiritual gifts are, how to discern them, and what is the practical outworking of these gifts in the local church.  They should also be able to discern these gifts in the individual believers and develop them so that these gifts can be maximized in the building up of the local church.  The apostle Paul sent Tychicus “on the road again” exercising his spiritual gift of ministry / serving in order to build up the Body of Christ, the Church universal.  Have you discerned what your spiritual gift is and are you faithfully exercising it to build up the local church?  Or, are you sitting around, warming the pew, and letting others exercise their spiritual gifts?

    The third thing we notice is that he was a fellow servant.  Paul calls himself a servant / slave / bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As a slave, he was completely devoted to one Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and was determined to serve him all the days of his life.  This attitude he instilled in Tychicus as well because he was a fellow-servant (1 Cor. 11:1).  If you are a Christian, have you determined to follow the Lord Jesus, whatever the cost?  Or, have you said: “I’ll be Jesus’ slave on Sunday, but Monday to Saturday, I will be the master of my own destiny and do as I please!”

    Tychicus is no longer “on the road again” seeing places he may never see again, or sharing the gospel of the Lord Jesus to a lost and dying world.  He is in Heaven enjoying the mansion the Lord Jesus prepared for him (John 14:6).  Perhaps he is on the front steps of his mansion strumming his guitar, tapping his toes and singing a more spiritual version of “On the Road Again.”  When I get to Heaven, I’m going to look him up and we’re going to sit down and sip some ice tea or lemonade because I want to hear all his stories about his travel adventures “on the road again.”


    Boyd, W. F.
    1918    Tychicus.  P. 623 in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church.  J. Hastings, ed.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    Bruce, F. F.; and Simpson, E. K.
    1984    Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

    Gillman, John
    1992    Tychius.  P. 682 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 6.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    Hiebert, D. Edmond
    1992    In Paul’s Shadow.  Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle.  Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University.

    Hogarth, D. G.; James, M. R.; Elsey Smith, R.; and Gardner, E. A.
    1888    Excavations in Cyprus, 1887-88.  Paphos, Leontari, Amargetti.  Journal of Hellenic Studies 9: 147-271.

    Lees, Harrington C.
    1917    St. Paul’s Friends.  London: Religious Tract Society.

    Lightfoot, Joseph
    1976   Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.  Reprint of 1879 edition.

    MacLaren, Alexander
    1887   The Epistle to the Colossians.  Tychicus and Onesimus, the Letter-Bearers.  Expositor, 3rd series.  5: 60-73.

    McRae, William
    1976   The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Ramsay, William
    1893    The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

    Rolston, Holmes
    1954   Personalities Around Paul.  Richmond, VA: John Knox.

    Seekings, Herbert
    1914    The Men of the Pauline Circle. London: Charles H. Kelly.

    Revised: June 2, 2010

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on THE HOUSEHOLD OF STEPHANAS: Firstfruits of Achaia

    by Gordon Franz

    Sometimes I will see this little ditty on the marquee of a church: “The family that prays together – stays together.”  There is a lot of truth to that statement.  I suspect that it was true of the household of Stephanas.  Not only did they pray together, but they also poured their lives into serving the church at Corinth together.

    Stephanas and his household are mentioned in only two passages in Paul’s first epistle to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:16; 16:15-18), and a member of the family is hinted at in one verse in the book of Romans (16:5b).  Yet these passages tell us quite a bit about this active family in the city of Corinth.  Probably no family in the Early Church did more for the Apostle Paul and their local church than this family, yet they were not fully appreciated for the work that they were doing among the saints at Corinth.  The lack of appreciation, I would like to suggest, was due to the Corinthians’ prejudice against non-Corinthians within the church.  Paul appealed to the believers in the church at Corinth to give them due recognition.

    In the local church, have you ever observed that there are two kinds of people: those who are living only for themselves and their ambitions and agendas and those who are selflessly serving others, expecting nothing in return?  Have you observed those who are always suspicious of “outsiders” and those people who are not quite like them; versus those who wholeheartedly welcome anybody and everybody who walks through the front door?  If so, you are not the first and you won’t be the last.  Because we all have a sin nature, people have not changed over the millennia.  Our sin nature creates the same problems in churches today that the Apostle Paul saw and addressed in his day.  By examining the way the Apostle Paul understood, addressed, and resolved similar problems in the Church’s earliest days, we can bring timeless Biblical wisdom and truths to our own church problems.

    In this study, the self-centeredness of the Corinthian believers will be examined (Paul calls it carnality), and we will ask why it was difficult for the Corinthian church to accept the selflessness of the household of Stephanas, who were not originally from Corinth, and what the solution is to this problem.

    Textual, Geographical, and Chronological Problems
    At the outset of this study, there is a textual problem that must be addressed.  This textual problem has led to a misunderstanding of the geography of the narratives.  First Corinthians 16:15 states: “I urge you, brethren – you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia” (NKJV, NASB, NIV).  In Romans 16:5 it states: “Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ” (KJV, NKJV).  The Westcott–Hort tradition states that Epaenetus was the firstfruits of Asia (RSV, NASB, NIV).

    It can be suggested that an early copyist saw an apparent conflict between these two texts and wondered how Epaenetus and the household of Stephanas could both be the firstfruits of Achaia.  This “problem” was resolved by emending the text in Romans 16 to read that Epaenetus was from “Asia” [Asia Minor is western Turkey today], because 1 Corinthians is clear that the household of Stephanas was from Corinth, the capital of the Roman province of Achaia.

    The statement that the household of Stephanas was the firstfruits of Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15) also raises a potential geographical and chronological problem.  The household of Stephanas was ministering in Corinth, yet Paul had already led some people to the Lord in Athens (Acts 17:34), which was also part of Achaia.  How could the household of Stephanas be the firstfruits of Achaia if Paul has already led people to the Lord in Athens?

    I would like to suggest that Epaenetus was a slave, a freedman, or a son within the household of Stephanas.  This family originally lived in Athens where Paul first led Epaenetus to the Lord and then eventually the rest of the family.  The entire household was baptized in Athens and later moved to Corinth to be involved in the work of the Lord in that city.  This view is consistent with all the Biblical, geographical, and chronological data and there would be no need to emend the text in Romans 16 (Lenski 1963:47-48; Hiebert 1992:203).

    Achaia in the First Century AD
    Epaenetus and the household of Stephanas are both called the “firstfruits of Achaia.”  It would be helpful to discuss the historical geographical background to Achaia in order to understand this phrase.

    During the Classical period, Achaia was restricted to the northern part of the Peloponnesus, along the southern coast of the Gulf of Corinth (Pausanias, 1995:5:Plate 7).  When the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke wrote about Achaia in the first century AD, they were referring to the Roman senatorial province of Achaia, which was a much larger area than the Achaia of the Classical period (Acts 18:12,27; 19:21; Rom. 15:26; 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:1; 7:5; 9:2; 11:10; 1 Thess. 1:7,8).

    In 46 BC, Julius Caesar began to rebuild the ruined city of Corinth into a Roman colony.  In 27 BC, his successor, Octavian (known as Caesar Augustus in the Gospel of Luke), separated Macedonia (Northern Greece) from Achaia and made Corinth the capital of the Roman province of Achaia.  The province of Achaia consisted of the Peloponnese, Central Greece (including Athens), and possibly Thessaly and Epirus.  In AD 15, Emperor Tiberius took Macedonia and Achaia away from the Roman Senate and joined it with Moesia (today, northeastern Bulgaria) under the rule of a legate.  Emperor Claudius restored both of these provinces back to the Roman Senate in either AD 41 or 44 (Suetonius, Deified Claudius 25:3; LCL 2:51).  “By AD 65 the provinces of Thessaly and Epirus were clearly defined and constituted Achaia’s northern border; Actium and the coastal territory to its immediate south, became part of Epirus” (Pattengale 1992:1:53).  Thus, the area of modern Greece was known as “Macedonia and Achaia” in part of the first century AD (Acts 19:21; Rom. 15:26; 1 Thess. 1:8).

    During Paul’s second missionary journey in AD 50, he visited the Roman senatorial province of Macedonia.  When he left Berea by ship, he was departing from the province of Macedonia.  When he disembarked from that ship in Athens, he was in the province of Achaia.

    The Household of Stephanas – the Firstfruits of Achaia – 1 Cor. 16:15
    When Paul visited a new city, his practice was always to seek out the synagogue of the Jewish community in order to share the gospel with them.  He would then proclaim the gospel to the pagans in the agora, or marketplace (Acts 17:17; cf. Rom. 1:16).  Based on hints in the Scriptures, I suspect, but cannot conclusively prove, that Epaenetus was part of the household of Stephanas, either as a son, freedman, or a servant, and the family was of Jewish heritage.  This suggestion is consistent with the passages in 1 Cor. 1 and 16, as well as Romans 16.

    If my suspicion is correct, more than likely Paul met Epaenetus in the synagogue of Athens and shared with him the good news of the gospel.  Paul would have showed Epaenetus from the Hebrew Scriptures that the Lord Jesus was the fulfillment of the Messianic passages in his Bible (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 16:8-11; 22; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; 52:13-53:12; Dan. 9:24-27; Micah 5:2).  Once this fact was established, Paul would have gone on to share the reason why the Lord Jesus came to earth.  As God manifest in human flesh, the Lord Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to pay for all of Epaenetus’ sins and three days later He was raised from the dead.

    As Epaenetus listened to the apostle, the Spirit of God convicted him of his sin of unbelief (John 16:7-11).  He realized that his righteousness in the sight of a Holy God was like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).  He also knew that he was a sinner because Isaiah said, “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6).

    Paul carefully pointed out that a sinner is justified (the act of God whereby He declares a sinner righteous) by faith alone in the Lord Jesus and not by any works or merits of his own.  He invoked Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, who believed that God would send a Sin-bearer to take away his sins and trusted Him to do just that.  God declared him righteous because of his faith alone (Gen. 15:6; cf. Rom. 4:1-3).  King David, after the Law was given, was declared righteous the same way: by grace through faith in a coming Messiah (Ps. 32:1-2; cf. Rom. 4:4-8).

    Paul led Epaenetus to faith in the Lord Jesus as his Messiah and Savior.  The joy of sins forgiven, a home in heaven and the righteousness of God freely given to him by grace through faith alone in the Lord Jesus (Phil. 3:9) was more that he could contain.  He in turn shared this wonderful gospel, along with his new found mentor, the Apostle Paul, with the rest of those in his household, and they too came to faith.  These were Paul’s first converts in the Province of Achaia, and they were subsequently baptized, probably in Athens.

    After the Apostle Paul’s defense before the Areopagus, he departed Athens for Corinth.  In this city, he met Aquila and Priscilla, exiles from Rome, who apparently had an assembly, possibly started by Peter, meeting in their home in Corinth.  Paul joined forces with them in the work of the gospel, but also worked with them in their mutual occupation: tentmakers.  Silas and Timothy later joined them in the work of the gospel.  Paul, Timothy, and Silas ministered in the city for a year and a half (AD 50-52; cf. Acts 18:11).  Sometime after this, Stephanas and his household moved to Corinth and got involved in the work of the Lord in that city.  The timing and circumstances of this move are unclear because the Scriptures are silent on this issue.

    The Baptism of the Household of Stephanas – 1 Cor. 1:14-17
    In the winter of AD 55-56, during Paul’s third missionary journey and six years after Paul began his Corinthian ministry, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth from Ephesus.  Some visitors from Corinth, mainly those of the household of Chloe, had told him that there were contentions and divisions within the church of Corinth (1 Cor. 1:10-11).  This division was now confirmed by a letter from the church at Corinth that was carried by Stephanas and two other delegates from the church (1 Cor. 16:17).  It should not be surprising that the Apostle Paul heard from different believers in Corinth; the maritime lines of communication between the two cities were direct and regular.

    The division in the church was over personalities who had ministered in the church within the last six to fifteen years.  Some believers were followers of the Apostle Paul, others of the eloquent Alexandrian Apollos, others of the Apostle Peter, and the really pious ones were followers of Jesus (1:12).

    Paul wrote to the divided church at Corinth: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptize in my own name.  Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas.  Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.  For Christ did not send me to baptized, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (1:14-17).

    Paul stated that he “baptized none of you [Corinthians] except Crispus and Gaius.”  Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue who came to faith in the Lord Jesus (Acts 18:8).  Gaius was an individual who later would be Paul’s host and a patron of the church at Corinth (Rom. 16:23).  The implication of this verse is that these two believers were the only ones he baptized in Corinth.  Once the local church was established in Corinth, Paul moved out of the way and let the local leadership take over the ordinance of baptism, which is a function of the elders in the local church.

    Paul then adds, almost as an afterthought, that he “also baptized the household of Stephanas.”  Paul does not include the household among the Corinthians.  Thus it could be assumed that they were baptized elsewhere, most likely in Athens.  I can just imagine Stephanas looking over Paul’s shoulders as he penned these words: “Don’t forget us!  We were your firstfruits in Achaia.” (1 Cor. 1:16).

    The ordinance of baptism has nothing to do with one’s salvation.  The salvation of an individual is determined when a person puts his or her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone as his or her Savior.  Baptism is an outward testimony before the local church to the changed life of the new believer (1:17).  It is also a testimony to the unsaved in the local community and provides an opportunity for both courage and accountability of the one being baptized.

    The Ministry of the Household of Stephanas in Corinth – 1 Cor. 16:15-18
    The Apostle Paul concludes this epistle with the usual salutations, greetings and exhortations.  He writes of the household of Stephanas: “I urge you, brethren – you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints – that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.  I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.  For they refreshed my spirit and yours.  Therefore acknowledge such men” (1 Cor. 16:15-18).

    Paul reminds the believers in Corinth about two things that were unique to the family of Stephanas.  First, they were the firstfruits of Achaia.  This was an honor that could never be taken away from this family.  Others would follow, but they would always be known as the first.

    The second thing Paul reminds the Corinthian believers about is that the household of Stephanas devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.  In verse 14, Paul had mentioned: “Let all that you do be done with love” (cf. 1 Cor. 13).  He then mentions the household of Stephanas, which exemplified the principle of doing all things in love because they devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints (16:15).  Lenski suggests that this family rendered their service of their “own accord with an eye only to the benefit resulting for others” (1963:777).  That was Biblical love, seeking the best for the one being ministered to.  This love was a self-imposed obsession of this Athenian family that apparently had the financial means to minister to the needs of others, and they voluntarily jumped right into the Lord’s work when they arrived in Corinth.

    We are not told what the ministry of the saints was.  There are several possibilities.  It could be hospitality to the saints, possibly a food kitchen to help the poor and needy believers.  They could have opened their home for the church to meet in or hosted traveling preachers and apostles.  It could also be a spiritual ministry such as teaching the Word of God.  It is interesting to note that, unlike the household of Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16), Paul does not say he was the beneficiary of the household of Stephanas’ ministry to the saints.  This lack of personal ministry might suggest that the family arrived in Corinth after Paul left for Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19).  Perhaps Paul did not specifically state what their ministry was so that future believers could draw broad applications to their own work.

    The household of Stephanas, being filled with the Spirit of God, was submitting to the leadership in the church of Corinth (Eph. 5:18-21).  Paul had to admonish the church of their reciprocal duty: “you also submit to such” (1 Cor. 16:16) who work and labor for the Lord.  The household of Stephanas worked together and took the difficult tasks in their ministry for the Lord in Corinth.

    Apparently the Corinthian believers were suspicious of this family and their motives for coming to Corinth to work because they were Athenians and not Corinthians.  The apostle Paul had to admonish the Corinthian believers to submit to those who labor in the Lord’s work (16:16).  By implication, he is commanding them to submit to those in the household of Stephanas who are in leadership positions because of their works and appointments.  Paul had also admonished the Thessalonian believers: “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

    Clement of Rome, a bishop (or elder) in Rome at the end of the first century AD, penned an epistle to the church in Corinth.  Whereas this epistle is not inspired of the Holy Spirit, it is instructive to the saints.  He wrote: “They [the apostles] preached from district to district, and from city to city. And they appointed their first converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be bishops [episkopos] and deacons of the future believers.  And this was no new method, for many years before had bishops and deacons been written of; for the scripture says thus in one place ‘I will establish their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith’” (Clement of Rome, 1 Clement 42:4, 5; LCL 1:81).  The word that is translated “bishop” in this passage is the same word for the office of elder in the New Testament (Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:7).  Apparently it was the practice in the early church for the apostles to appoint the firstfruits of their converts as elders and deacons in the churches after they were tested by the Holy Spirit.  This would suggest that Paul appointed at least Stephanas as one of the elders in the church of Corinth soon after he arrived in the city even though he was originally from Athens.  The Corinthians would be suspicious of him and perhaps wonder what his motive was for coming to Corinth.

    The Apostle Paul rejoiced in the delegation that came from Corinth to visit him in Ephesus.  It included Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (16:17; most likely the “brethren” in 16:12).  Stephanas was the head of the household and he apparently brought two of his slaves or freedmen, Fortunatus and Achaicus, with him.  Fortunatus’ name, commonly given to a Roman slave, has at its Latin root, “blessed,” “fortune,” or “good luck.”  His nickname today would be Lucky, a name you would give to a dog, but not to your child!  Achaicus was named after the province of Achaia.

    The delegation from Corinth supplied to Paul what was lacking in this situation: the Corinthian believers themselves (16:17).  Paul’s desire was to be able to talk with the church directly, rather than have to write a letter to them, but the delegation was the next best thing.  “They supplied” has the idea of filling a cup full of liquid.  Paul was able to talk with the delegation, ask questions, and find out exactly what the problems were so he could address these issues in a letter and give the delegation verbal counsel to take back to the church.  This visit refreshed Paul’s spirit as well as the Corinthian believers because they would be the beneficiary of Paul’s counsel (16:18, cf. 2 Cor. 7:13; Philemon 7 and 20).

    Paul commands the church to acknowledge, or recognize, this delegation made up of the household of Stephanas because they served the saints (16:16) and also refreshed the saints at Corinth (16:18).  Their suspicions about the household’s motives for serving them should be put aside and credit should be given where credit was due.

    The Training of a Member of the Household of Stephanas – Romans 16:5b
    Paul described Epaenetus as “beloved” and the “firstfruits of Achaia” (Rom. 16:5).  Apparently he was a son, servant, or freedman in the Jewish household of Stephanas that Paul led to the Lord in Athens and described him as part of the “first fruits of Achaia” (1 Cor. 16:15).  For the next eighteen months in Corinth, Paul, Silas, and Timothy committed the Word of God to Epaenetus as a “faithful man” so that he could teach others the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:2).

    Nine years later Epaenetus is greeted by Paul when he writes to the church in Rome (AD 58).  How did Epaenetus get to Rome?  One possible conjecture as to how he got to the Eternal City is that when Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome from Ephesus after the death of Emperor Claudius, they went via Corinth and invited Epaenetus to join them in the work in Rome.  If Epaenetus were a son or a freedman in the household of Stephanas, then he would have had no problem leaving Corinth.  But if he were a servant in the household of Stephanas, he would have had to have been freed by his master before he went to Rome as a freedman.

    In Romans 16, Epaenetus is greeted right after Aquila and Priscilla which suggests that they might be ministering together in the same assembly in Rome that met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, which, according to tradition, is located on the Aventine Hill (16:3-5).

    The word greet in Romans 16 has the idea of giving a big bear hug to the one being greeted.  In the epistle to the Romans, the apostle addresses the division that was in the churches of Rome.  The division was along ethnic (Jews vs. Gentiles), gender (male vs. female) and economic (slave vs. free) lines.  This issue was addressed by the apostle in an earlier epistle (cf. Gal. 3:26-29).

    It is very telling that, nine years later, Paul was still in contact with his convert and disciple.

    Lessons from the Lives of the Household of Stephanas
    There are at least four lessons that can be drawn from the lives and ministry of the household of Stephanas.

    First, it does not make any difference what our economic status is; we should all be involved in the work of the Lord in our local assembly.  Paul writes that not many noble are called to the service of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:26-29), but there are some exceptions and they were greatly used of the Lord (Meeks 1983: 57-58).  In the Corinthian church there was Crispus, the former ruler of the synagogue; Gaius, apparently a well-to-do individual who became the patron of one of the churches in the city; and Erastus, who was the treasurer of the city (Rom. 16:23).  The household of Stephanas could be added to this list of the mighty as well.

    Second, the household of Stephanas were obsessed with getting involved in the work of the Lord and poured themselves into the ministry.  They took to heart the words of the Lord Jesus in His parable about the servants (Luke 12:41-48).  Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (12:48).  The Lord apparently had blessed this family in a material way, and they were good stewards of the wealth that they had.  Stephanas, as the head of the household, had a concern for the spiritual oversight of his family and saw to it that they were all involved in the work of ministering to the saints.

    The third lesson we can learn from this family applies to the church.  The church should be willing to accept outsiders and make them welcome in the assembly, even if they are “different” than most in the meeting, especially those who want to be involved in the work of the Lord and who are doctrinally sound and walking with the Lord.  The household of Stephanas was apparently Athenian Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus.  They were different than the Corinthians.  Paul said to acknowledge them and the work they are doing.  A practical suggestion would be to have an “appreciation day” for those who labor in the church.  Perhaps an appreciation dinner for the Sunday School teachers or others who are involved in various ministries.

    The final lesson to be learned is the importance of follow-up and discipleship in the lives of new believers.  The Apostle Paul demonstrated the importance of follow-up in the life of Epaenetus.    I am sure he prayed for him on a regular basis and had personal contact with him over the years.

    The household of Stephanas may not have been appreciated by their adopted church, but Paul appreciated their labor for the Lord and wanted others to do so as well.


    Allworthy, T. B.
    1916    Epaenetus.  Pp. 341-342 in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church.  Vol. 1.  Edited by J. Hastings.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    Clement of Rome
    1985   I Clement in Apostolic Fathers.  Vol. 1.  Trans. by K. Lake.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 24.

    Gillman, John
    1992a    Achaicus.  Pp. 53-44 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 1.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992b    Fortunatus.  Pp. 852-853 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 2.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992c    Stephanas.  Pp. 206-207 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 6.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    Hiebert, D. Edmond
    1992    In Paul’s Shadow.  Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle.  Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University.

    Lampe, Peter
    1992    Epaenetus.  P. 532 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 2.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    Lenski, R. C. H.
    1961    The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.

    1963    The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.

    Meeks, Wayne
    1983   The First Urban Christians.  The Social World of the Apostle Paul.  New Haven, CT: Uale University.

    Pattengale, Jerry
    1992    Achaia.  P. 53 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 1.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1988   Description of Greece.  Books 6-8.  Vol. 3.  Trans. by W. H. S. Jones.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 272.

    1995    Description of Greece.  Illustrations and Index.  Vol. 5.  Edited by R. E. Wycherley.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 298.

    Roberts, J. E.
    1916    Fortunatus.  P. 418 in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church.  Vol. 1.  Edited by J. Hastings.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    1918    Stephanas.  P. 525 in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church.  Vol. 2.  Edited by J. Hastings.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    1992    Lives of the Caesars.  Deified Claudius.  Vol. 2.  Trans. by J. C. Rolfe.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 11.

    Revised: June 6, 2010

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on “HE BEGAN TO SEND THEM OUT TWO-BY-TWO …” Part 2

    by Gordon Franz (continued)

    The Reasons for Two-by-Two
    As we have seen, there are no “Lone Ranger” missionaries in the New Testament; the pattern is always disciples going forth two-by-two with the gospel in order to plant churches.  I believe that there are at least four reasons why Jesus and the Holy Spirit set this pattern.

    The first reason is accountability to one another.  When a person comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, all their sins are forgiven – past, present and future.  Believers have been saved from the penalty of sin (justification), are being saved from the power of sin (sanctification), and, one day, will be saved from the presence of sin (glorification).  But until that day, believers still have a sin nature and sin.  James the son of Zebedee admonishes believers to “confess your trespasses (or sins) to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (5:16).  If a believer is by himself, he is accountable to no one.  Yet if there is a co-worker, the spiritual one can help with the restoration process.  Paul writes: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such as one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1; cf. James 5:19, 20 and Eccl. 4:9, 10).

    The second reason is for mutual encouragement.  People, when they are alone and things start going the wrong way, become discouraged.  They have no one to turn to for mutual support and encouragement.

    The Church was fortunate to have a lesser know apostle named Yosef ha-Levi.  We would say in English, Joseph the Levite.  The apostles gave this man from the island of Cyprus the nickname, Barnabas, which in Aramaic means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4: 36).  The nickname was well deserved because he had a solid reputation of encouraging people in the things of the Lord.  The Lord used Barnabas to encourage Saul (later known as Paul) and John Mark at crucial points in their spiritual lives and to see potential in them for the work of the Lord.

    The third reason to go out two-by-two is so that younger men can be taught with the help of a co-worker.  Paul admonishes Timothy: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2).  The pattern of discipleship seen in the New Testament is not “one-on-one” discipleship, but rather, “two with a group of men.”  For Jesus, it was twelve.  At one point, Paul and Timothy had six men they were training in sort of a “seminary on the road” with practical “on the job training” (Acts 20:4).

    The fourth reason is to maximize spiritual gifts.  When Paul went on his second missionary journey he chose Silas, also known as Silvanus, to join him (Acts 15:40).  Paul’s spiritual gift was that of apostle and teacher (Eph. 4:11), while Silas gift was that of prophet (Acts 15:32).  While they were in Lystra, they invited a young man that Paul had led to the Lord to join them.  Timothy had the gift of evangelist (Acts 16:1-3; II Tim. 4:5).  Between the three men, they could effectively reach people with the gospel, establish and teach local churches, and train other men in the doctrinal truths of the Word of God, as well as ministry.

    Applications for Today
    The trend in missionary endeavors today is toward a team concept where several couples go to one place and work together.  Recently I was teaching several classes on archaeology at two Christian schools in Bulgaria.  A friend of mine was the regional director for SEND International in the Balkans.  He was sharing how their mission board encourages a team effort in church planting.

    There are several notable examples of team efforts in assembly mission work.  One such example of a team effort was the “Auca Five” who were martyred in 1956.  Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, and Edward McCully were friends from the assemblies and two of them had attended the same college.  They planned and prayed together to reach the unreached Auca Indians in Ecuador.  They were later joined by Nate Saint and Roger Youderian who were also laboring in that area with other missionary organizations.

    This is not to depreciate the great work done by some pioneering missionaries who went to labor on the mission field all by themselves.  Yet one wonders how much more effective they could have been if they labored together with other workers?

    Some of the early gospel pioneers in the assemblies followed this pattern as well.  For example, Richard Varder and John Rae labored from 1882-1886 in western Canada (Anonymous 2007: 13, 14).  Another example is George D. Campbell and his fellow worker Gaius Goff who labored in Newfoundland and Labrador for three decades (Nicholson 2007: 18).

    Practical Objections

    I was talking with an elder in an assembly about this issue and he mentioned that the assembly he fellowshipped at had sent out two missionaries to different countries, but commented they could never have sent the two out together because both had domineering personalities and would clash with each other!  I thought to myself, “That’s no excuse.  Yes, Paul and Barnabas both had strong personalities that could not be reconciled, but they still followed the Biblical pattern and went out two-by-two with one other individual.”

    Also, Paul gave a command to the believers in Ephesus when he said: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, … submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:18, 21; cf. I Pet. 5:5; Gal. 5:13).  One of the fruits of being filled with the Spirit of God, and every missionary should be filled with the Spirit, is submitting to one another!  What a testimony it would have been if two strong-willed brothers went out two-by-two, submitting to one another for the purpose of reaching people with the gospel.

    W. E. Vine in his booklet, The Divine Plan of Missions states: “Where two are working together they are able to render help one to another by way of comfort in sorrow, counsel in perplexity, and sympathetic advice and warning in times of temptation.  An ear ready to receive wise counsel may mean deliverance from succumbing to temptation” (nd: 36).  He goes on to say: “How happy, how effective, how sure of Divine blessing, is co-work carried on in the absence of selfish individualism in the spirit of mutual esteem, and in a constant recognition of what is involved in being ‘God’s fellow-worker’!” (nd: 38, 39).

    The Lord Jesus set the pattern for apostles / missionaries going out two-by-two in the Gospels.  The Holy Spirit reconfirmed this pattern in the Book of Acts.  Will we continue to follow the pattern set forth by the Triune Godhead in our missionary endeavors?  If we do, we might not see a high attrition rate!


    2007    Richard Varder, Prairie Pioneer.  Uplook 74/5 (Aug.-Sept.): 13, 14.

    Bruce, A. B.
    1971    The Training of the Twelve.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Reprint Library.  (This book is the classic on how Jesus trained the Twelve disciples to reach the world with the Gospel after His earthly ministry.  It is highly recommended).

    1926    Ecclesiastical History.  Vol. 1.  Trans. by K. Lake.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 153.  Reprinted 1980.

    1994    Lives of Illustrious Men.  Pp. 353-402 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.  Second series.  Vol. 3.  Edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

    Nicholson, Jabe
    2007    Review of Take the Challenge: The Life of George D. Campbell, by George Campbell and Gaius Goff.  Uplook 74/5 (Aug.-Sept.): 18.

    Thompson, Robert Ellis
    1890    The Sending of the Apostles, Two by Two.  A sermon preached in the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church.  West Philadelphia, PA.

    Vine, W. E.
    nd    The Divine Plan of Missions.  London: Pickering & Ingles.

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on “HE BEGAN TO SEND THEM OUT TWO-BY-TWO …” Part 1

    by Gordon Franz

    Several reasons for a high attrition rate among missionaries are discouragement and loneliness on the mission field.  An individual or couple may go out for a few years and when they return home for furlough, decide not to go back to the field again for these reasons.  One wonders if following a Biblical pattern of mission might avoid some of these problems on the field.  This paper will examine one aspect of Jesus’s instruction for mission.  It is: He sent them out two-by-two in order to preach the gospel.

    Jesus and His Disciples (Students)
    The first disciples that the Lord Jesus called were two sets of brothers:  Simon and Andrew, the sons of Jonas, who were using their cast net in the Sea of Galilee when Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-18; Matt. 4:18-20).  He went a little further and found another set of brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, in their boat mending nets and Jesus called them to become fishers of men as well (Mark 1:19, 20; Matt. 4:21, 22).

    This was not the first time they had met Jesus.  In fact, more than a year and a half before, Andrew and most likely, John the son of Zebedee, were disciples of John the Baptizer [Remember, John was a Jew, he was not a Baptist!!!].  It was the Baptizer that introduced them to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).  When Andrew realized who Jesus was, he went and found his brother Simon and said, “We have found the Messiah!” (1:41).

    Andrew, Simon, John the son of Zebedee, Philip, and Nathanael literally followed Jesus from Bethany beyond the Jordan (also known as Batanaea) to Cana of Galilee to a wedding where Jesus turns water into wine (John 1:43-2:10).  As a result of this sign, Jesus’s new found disciples (or students) believed on Him (John 2:11).  This was the point in time when these disciples put their trust in the Lord Jesus as their Savior (cf. John 20:30, 31).  After this event, Jesus found and called seven other individuals to be His students.  For the call of Matthew the tax-collector, see Mark 2:13, 14; Matt. 9:9; Luke 5:27-29.  A short while later, He called together twelve men that He wanted to train in order to send them out to preach (Mark 3:13-19).

    After a few months of training them to become fishers of men, Jesus gives His students a “mid-term exam.”  John Mark records: “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. … So they went out and preached that people should repent [change their minds].  And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (6:7, 12, 13; cf. Luke 9:1-6).

    Interestingly, in the parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel the make up of the “two-by-two” teams are given: Peter and Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; James and Lebbaeus / Thaddaeus; and finally Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot (10:2-4; cf. Luke 6:13-16).

    Later, Jesus sends another group of seventy individuals out, most likely to Perea, in order to prepare that area for the next stage in His ministry.  As with the Twelve, He sent these disciples out two-by-two as well (Luke 10:1).

    Jesus set forth the Biblical pattern, two-by-two, for future missionary endeavors by the example of the Twelve and the Seventy.  The Holy Spirit, in the Book of Acts, confirmed this pattern by example as well (Acts 13:2).

    The Examples in the Book of Acts
    The Book of Acts has been called by some, The Acts of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is working in the Church and fulfilling the mission that was set forth by the Lord Jesus (John 14:15-18, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-11; 17:18-21; Acts 1:8).

    The book ends abruptly with Paul still under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28), yet we know from Paul’s later epistles, he has a fourth missionary journey to Macedonia, Asia Minor, Crete and possibly Spain before he is martyred in Rome in AD 67.  The implications seem to be that the Church, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, continues its work even to the present, following the pattern set forth in the book of Acts.

    Just before the Lord Jesus ascended into Heaven, He gave this command to His disciples: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

    Ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the Twelve (Judas being replaced by Matthias) were together in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon them and gave them utterances in known languages of the Jewish people from the Diaspora visiting Jerusalem for the festival (Acts 2:1-13).  At that time, the Apostle Peter preached a powerful message that demonstrated from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus is the Son of God who died for the sins of humanity and was bodily resurrected from the dead.  As a result of this preaching, 3,000 people came to faith in the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:41).  A short time later, Peter and John are together in the Temple and healed a lame man and ended up in trouble with the religious authorities (Acts 3:1-4:31).

    Interestingly, Peter and John are working together at this point.  Scripture is silent as to where their brothers, Andrew and James, are.  Church tradition says that Andrew went to Scythia (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3:1; LCL 1:181).  Who he went with, we are not told.  James, the son of Zebedee, remains around Jerusalem until he becomes the first apostolic martyr of the Christian faith (Acts 12:2).

    More than ten years later, Peter and Silvanus, also known as Silas, took a missionary journey to “those of the circumcision” in the regions of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.  Apparently John Mark was with them as a disciple (I Pet. 1:1; 5:12, 13).  According to Jerome, one of the early church historians, this trip ended in Rome in the second year of Claudius (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, 3: 361).  The second year of Claudius was AD 42.  Peter wrote his first epistle as a “follow-up” letter to the churches they had just planted in these regions.
    Later, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about his apostleship.  He raises the question about wives.  He asked: “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” (I Cor. 9:5).  Here he acknowledges that Cephas, another name for Peter, was married and his believing wife was with him.  [You didn’t know the first “pope” was married, did you?!  Cf. Mark 1:30].  According to church tradition, they were crucified together in Rome.

    It should be pointed out that the wife is not the other person in the two-by-two equation.  She is “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) with her husband.  The two-by-two equation would be the husband and wife as “one flesh” along with another man, or another couple, thus fulfilling the pattern set forth by Jesus (Vine nd: 36).

    The first team recorded in the Book of Acts that went out was Barnabas and Paul, and John Mark along with them, apparently as a disciple again (Acts 13:2).  They evangelized and planted churches on the island of Cyprus, as well as Pamphylia and South Galatia.

    After this first missionary journey, Barnabas suggests to Paul that they revisit the churches from the first journey.  He also suggested they take John Mark with them.  Paul like the idea of revisiting the churches, but was adamant against John Mark going along.  As a result of this heated dispute, Barnabas ended up going to Cyprus with John Mark (Acts 15:39) and Paul selected Silas as his co-worker on what became his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40).  They later had Timothy join them as a disciple (Acts 16:1-3).  At the end of the second missionary journey, Paul and Aquila, along with his wife Priscilla, depart Corinth for Ephesus (Acts 18:18).

    On Paul’s third missionary journey his co-worker is apparently Timothy (cf. Acts 19:22).  They spent two years in Ephesus teaching disciples in the School of Tyrannus.  So effective was this work that “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (19:10).  During this time Paul sent two of his fellow workers, Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia to minister the Word of God (Acts 19:22).  At the end of the third missionary journey, Paul returns to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) and Dr. Luke rejoins them at Philippi (Acts 20:6, note the “we”).

    Paul’s preaching caused such a ruckus in the Temple that the Roman soldiers had to extract him from the crowd in the Temple courtyard to the Antonio’s Fortress.  Later that night, they removed him to Caesarea-by-the-Sea where he was imprisoned for about two years.  When Paul had a hearing before King Agrippa II, he appealed to Caesar.  He also almost persuaded the king to become a Christian (Acts 25:11, 12; 26: 24-32).  Paul was turned over to the centurion Julius in order to take him to Rome (Acts 27:1).  Dr. Luke and Aristarchus also book passage on the same ship in order to travel with Paul (27:2; cf. 20:4).

    On Paul’s fourth missionary journey, he decides to spend the winter in Nicopolis in western Greece.  He wrote Titus and instructed him to come to the city.  He also added a note to “send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing” (Tit. 3:13).  Apparently Zenas and Apollos were itinerant preachers and co-workers that Titus had shown hospitality to while they were on the island of Crete.


  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on Romans 16: A “Grocery List” of Names Or the Heart and Focus of the Apostle Paul’s Ministry? Part 6 – Application and Bibliography

    by Gordon Franz (continued)

    We have conjectured on the ethnicity and social status of some of these saints in the church in Rome.  When we get to Heaven, we will be able to sit down and talk with them, hear their own testimonies as to how they came to faith in the Lord Jesus, when and where they met the Apostle Paul, and what they did in the Lord’s work in Rome and elsewhere.

    The first thing we note in this chapter is that Paul calls Phoebe, “our sister.”  One of the metaphors used for the Church is that of a family.  A person is born into God’s family by being “born-again” (John 3:3).  The Apostle John writes, “But as many as receive Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God [brothers and sisters], to those who believe [trust in] in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13).  Have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and been born into God’s family?

    We should also notice the role of women in the church in Rome.  The description of their activities is impressive.  Of Phoebe, it is written that she was a helper of many.  Of Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis, it is written that they “labored much.”  While the roles of women may be different than men in the church, the zeal in which it is carried out by these women was noted by Paul.  Women were active participants in the work of the Lord in the church at Rome.

    Phoebe also set an example of seeking out fellowship with the Lord’s people when she traveled to Rome.  When we travel for vacation or business, do you seek out the saints?  A “letter of commendation” is always helpful when traveling to places where other believers may not know you.  It smooths the welcoming process.

    The Apostle Paul highlights three married couples that are serving the Lord together, Priscilla and Aquila, Andronicus and Junia, and Philologus and Julia.  Couples with strong marriages working together in the church are important for several reasons.  First, to set an example of a godly marriage for others to follow, and second, to illustrate the love the Lord Jesus had for His Church and the Headship of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33).

    This list of names gives us a hint at Paul’s missionary strategy.  He would lead a person to the Lord and then disciple them.  From this chapter we see that Paul kept in contact with those he had led to the Lord.  Epaenetus was Paul’s first convert in Achaia and Paul knew where he was and what he was doing for the Lord.  Paul also mentions his “kinsmen,” so he had as his priority, reaching his family and friends with the gospel.

    Paul says just enough tantalizing facts about some individual so that it should whet the interest of those in the church in Rome to get to know these people better.  For examples: What did Phoebe do to help others?  What did Aquila and Pricilla do to risk their necks for Paul’s sake?   Andronicus and Junia had seen and heard the Lord Jesus.  What was that like?  Apparently this humble couple did not draw attention to themselves, but pointed people to the Lord Jesus and talked about Him.  Paul gives a subtle hint to the Christians in Rome to ask Andronicus and Junia what it was like to have walked (literally and figuratively) with the Lord for close to 30 years.  The principle we can learn from this is that everyone has a story to tell.  We should get to know the people in our assembly.

    Paul mentions the Jewish believers that are living in Rome for two reasons.  First, he is reinforcing the truths that he has set forth in Romans 9-11 that God has not given up on the Jewish people.  He was still calling out a remnant for his Name, and one day the nation will return to the Lord Jesus (Rom. 11: 26, 27).  Second, the Gentiles believers in the church at Rome should not marginalize the Jewish believers (or women or slaves, for that matter), but “greet” them, give them a big bear hug and a holy kiss, and welcome them back into the fellowship of the saints in Rome.  Do not marginalize them (cf. Eph. 3).

    The title of this paper asks a question.  Is this chapter a “grocery list” of names or the focus of the Apostle Paul’s ministry?  I think we can see that these names reflect the heart of the Apostle Paul and his missionary practices.  His focus was on people: seeing that they come to faith in the Lord Jesus, and then go on to serve Him.

    When we see lists of names in the Bible, we should not pass over them lightly.  They are real people and the Spirit of God included the names for our benefit.  It should be a challenge for the diligent student of the Bible to dig out the gems that are in these lists of names.  This exercise would be profitable for our spiritual lives!  The lists in the Bible are part of the “all Scripture” of II Tim. 3:16 that are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness!  We ignore this chapter to our own spiritual peril.


    Allworthy, T. B.
    1918    Narcissus.  P. 76 in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church.  Vol. 2.  Edited by James Hastings.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    Avigad, Nahman
    1962    A Depository of Inscribed Ossuaries in the Kidron Valley.  Israel Exploration Journal 12/1: 1-12.

    Carroll, Scott
    1992    Aristobulis.  Pp 382-383 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 1.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    Cervin, Richard
    1994    A Note Regarding the Name ‘Junia(s)’ in Romans 16:7.  New Testament Studies 40: 464-470.

    Clarke, A.
    2002    Jew and Greek, Slave and Free, Male and Female: Paul’s Theology of Ethic, Social and Gender Inclusiveness in Romans 16.  Pp. 103-125 in Rome in the Bible and the Early Church.  Grand Rapids: Baker.

    Cotter, Wendy
    1994    Women’s Authority Roles in Paul’s Churches: Countercultural or Conventional?  Novum Testamentum 36: 350-372.

    Dio Cassius
    2000    Roman History.  Books 56-60.  Vol. 7.  Trans. by E. Cary.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 175.

    Diogenes Laertius
    2000    Lives of Eminent Philosophers.  Vol. 2.  Translated by R. D. Hicks.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 185.

    Donfried, Karl
    1991    A Short Note on Romans 16.  Pp. 44-52 in The Romans Debate.  Revised and Expanded Edition.  Edited by K. P. Donfried.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

    Donfried, Karl, and Richardson, Peter, eds.
    1998    Judaism and Christianity in First-Century Rome.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

    Grainger, Sally
    2006    Cooking Apicius.  Devon, Great Britian: Prospect Books.

    Grocock, Christopher; and Grainger, Sally
    2006    Apicius.  Devon, Great Britian: Prospect Books.

    Hiebert, D. E.
    1992    In Paul’s Shadow.  Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle.  Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University.

    1994    Lives of Illustrious Men.  Pp. 353-402 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.  Second series.  Vol. 3.  Edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

    Jewett, Robert
    1988    Paul, Phoebe, and the Spanish Mission.  Pp. 142-161 in The Social World of Formative Christianity and Judaism.  Edited by J. Neusner, et. al.  Philadelphia: Fortress.

    1993    Tenement Churches and Communal Meals in the Early Church: The Implications of a Form-Critical Analysis of 2 Thessalonians 3:10.  Biblical Research 38: 23-43.

    1976    Jewish Wars.  Books 1-3.  Vol. 2.  Trans. by H. Thackeray.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 203.

    1981    Jewish Antiquities.  Books 18-19.  Vol. 9.  Trans. by L. Feldman.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 433.

    Justin Martyr
    1994    The First Apology of Justin.  Pp. 163-187 in Ante-Nicene Fathers.  Vol. 1.  Edited by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

    1993    Juvenal and Persius.  Trans. by G. Ramsay.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 091.

    Kearsley, R. A.
    1999    Women in Public Life in the Roman East: Iunia Theodora, Claudia Metrodora and Phoebe, Benefactress of Paul.  Tyndale Bulletin 50/2: 189-211.

    Keyes, Clinton W.
    1935    The Greek Letter of Introduction.  American Journal of Philology 56/1: 28-44.

    Lampe, Peter
    1991    The Roman Christians of Romans 16.  Pp. 216-230 in The Romans Debate.  Revised and Expanded Edition.  Edited by K. P. Donfried.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

    1992a    Asyncritus.  P. 508 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 1.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992b    Epaenetus.  P. 532 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 2.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992c    Hermas.  Pp. 147, 148 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 3.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992d    Hermes.  P. 156 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 3.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992e    Mary.  Pp. 582-583 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 4.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992f    Nereus.  P. 1074 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 4.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992g    Olympas.  P. 15 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 5.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992h    Patrobus.  P. 186 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 5.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992i    Philologus.  P. 345 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 5.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992j    Phlegon.  P. 347 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 5.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992k    Stachys.  P. 183 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 6.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    1992l    Tryphaena and Tryphosa.  Pp. 669 in Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Vol. 6.  Edited by D. N. Freedman.  New York: Doubleday.

    2003    From Paul to Valentinus.  Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries.  Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

    Lightfoot, J. B.
    1976    St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan.  Reprint of 1913 edition, 15th printing.

    Lleweltn, S. R.
    1998    Christian Letters of Recommendation.  Pp. 169-172 in New Documents Illustration Early Christianity.  Vol. 8.  S. R. Llewelyn, ed.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

    O’Conner, Jerome Murphy
    1992    Prisca and Aquila.  Bible Review 8/6: 40-51, 62.

    Packer, James E.
    1967    Housing and Population in Imperial Ostia and Rome.  Journal of Roman Studies 57/ 1-2: 80-95.

    Peterson, Joan
    1969    House-Churches in Rome.  Vigiliae Christianae 23/4: 264-272.

    Platner, Samuel
    1929    A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.  London: Oxford University Press.

    1987    Apocolocyntosis.  Translated by W. H. D. Rouse.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 015.

    Slingerland, Dixon
    1989    Suetonius “Claudius” 25.4 and the Account in Cassius Dio.  Jewish Quarterly Review 79/4: 305-322.

    Strauch, A.
    1992    The New Testament Deacon.  The Church’s Ministry of Mercy.
    Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth.

    1992    Lives of the Caesars.  Vol. 2.  Translated by J. C. Rolfe.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 038.

    1992    Histories.  Books 4-5.  Annals.  Books 1-3.  Vol. 3.  Trans. by C. Moore and J. Jackson.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 249.

    1986    Annals.  Books 4-6, 11-12.  Vol. 4.  Trans. by J. Jackson.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 312.

    1994    Annals.  Books 13-16.  Vol. 5.  Trans. by J. Jackson.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.  Loeb Classical Library 322.

    Thorley, John
    1996    Junia, a Woman Apostle.  Novum Testamentum 38: 18-29.

    Vagi, David
    1999    Coinage and History of the Roman Empire.  Vol. 1: History.  Sidney, OH: Coin World.

    Whelan, Caroline
    1993    Amica Pauli: The Role of Phoebe in the Early Church.  Journal for the Study of the New Testament 49: 67-85.

    Witherington, Ben III
    2004    Paul’s Letter to the Romans.  A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on Romans 16: A “Grocery List” of Names Or the Heart and Focus of the Apostle Paul’s Ministry? Part 5

    by Gordon Franz (continued)

    Greetings to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobus, Hermes, and the brethren – 16:14
    This group of five names seems to be greetings to the leadership in one of the local assemblies within the city of Rome.  Paul addresses these individuals as well as those that meet with them as “brethren”.  Interestingly, the next group of names in verse 15 is called “saints.”

    The first name is Asyncritus which means “incomparable” (Jewett 1993: 29).  This name appears only two times in the corpus of inscriptions from Rome.  As Lampe observed, “Since the name was not common there, it probably indicates that Asyncritus immigrated to Rome from the East of the Roman Empire” (1992a: 1: 508).  According to Jewett, the name points to slave status (Jewett 1993: 29).

    The second person to be greeted is Phlegon.  In classical literature this is a Greek name for a dog!  (Jewett 1993: 29).  I want to know what parent would give his or her child a dog’s name and why.  (But parents have done stranger things.  One rock star named his kid Jezebel!)  It would be like having somebody in the church with the name Bowser or Fido!  I guess the closest one comes to that name today would be Mutt like in the Mutt and Jeff cartoon strip.  I am tempted to go off on a sermonette about nicknames and making fun of people’s names, but I will refrain.  In the corpus of inscriptions from Rome, this name occurs only nine times which probably indicates he immigrated from the East as well (Lampe 1992j: 5: 347).  The name is used of both slaves and freedman, so his social status can not be determined with certainty.

    The third individual Paul instructs the church to greet is Hermas.  The name Hermas is probably the shortened form of the name Hermagoras, Hermodorus, or Hermogenes.This name appears only six times in the corpus of Roman inscriptions and may indicate that this individual immigrated from the Eastern Roman Empire as well.  Lampe suggests that Hermas was a Gentile believer in the Lord Jesus (1992c: 3: 147).

    The fourth person to be greeted is Patrobus.  This is the Greek form of the Latin name Patrobius.  The Greek form of the name has never been discovered in any inscriptions (Lampe 1992h: 5:186).  However, the Latin name has appeared eight times.  Of the eight times, three are of prominent freedmen connected with the imperial administration, one which was in Nero’s court (Suetonius, Galba 20).

    The final person Paul instructs them to greet is Hermes.  This name is the same as the Greek god of good luck, whom Paul was identified with at Lystra on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:12).  In Rome, this was a name given to slaves.  Perhaps the owner was hoping that this slave would bring them good fortune (Lampe 1992d: 3:156).

    Jewett has observed that “the names of the participants in this group indicate immigrant status and ethos, with a mix of slaves, freedmen, and Greek-speaking immigrants evident.  … Persons with Greek names in Rome reflect a social background that was almost exclusively slave or former slave.  Since all five names are Greek, it is likely that this church consisted entirely of persons with a low social status associated with slavery.  This status gives it a high likelihood of being located in one of the tenements of Trastevere or Porta Capena.  Since none of the five names appears to be playing the role of patron for the group, the social structure probably differed from what we have assumed was a normal house church.  The selection of the title ‘brothers’ for this group may indicate an egalitarian ethos, which would be appropriate for a group without a patron” (Jewett 1993: 30).

    Paul instructs the believers in Rome to greet this meeting of believers made up mostly of slaves.  This act would demonstrate the truth that Paul wrote about in Galatians 3.

    Greetings to Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them – 16:15
    This next group of Greek names appears to be the leaders or prominent people of another assembly in Rome.  Philologus and Julia are mentioned together which may indicate that they are husband and wife.  The name Philologus appears on 23 inscriptions in Rome.  Eighteen of these names are from the 1st century AD.  “Half of the references are explicitly to slaves or freedmen.  Several persons with this name are mentioned as lower officials in the Roman bureaucracy” (Jewett 1993:30).  The name was not common in Rome which may indicate that he was an immigrant (Lampe 1992i: 5:345).

    His wife, Julia, on the other hand, has the most frequently used name of any of the individuals listed in Romans 16.  This Latin name appears over 1,400 times in the corpus of names found in Rome.  This was a name given to slaves, especially of the Julian household, whether Jewish or Gentile.

    The third name, Nereus, was “coined for slaves, [and] named after the Roman god of the ocean” (Jewett 1993: 31; Lampe 1992f: 4:1074).  There is a 4th century AD tradition that Nereus and his sister were associated with Flavia Domitilla, and could have been buried in her catacomb.  This raises the possibility that they were related to Amplias (16:8).  Paul does not give the name of Nereus’s sister, but she must have had a good reputation and been very active in the church for her to be mentioned.

    The final person to be greeted is Olympas.  This might be a shortened form of the name Olympiodorus, Olympianus, or Olympicus (Lampe 1992g: 5:15).  Most likely he was of slave origin like the others in this group because the name only appears twice in the corpus of inscriptions in Rome and none from the 1st century AD.  He may also have been an immigrant from the East.

    The picture that seems to immerge from this greeting is another church gathering in a tenement building of people with slave origins.  Yet Paul calls them “saints” which seems to indicate a Jewish origin for this meeting.

    Paul’s Missionary Strategy
    Was there a strategy by Paul that these people would meet him in Rome after he left Corinth for Jerusalem?  We don’t know.  This was the “ideal” time for Paul and his co-workers to go to Rome because it was the “Golden Age.”  They would also be available as Paul makes preparation to push on to Spain.

    He is also trying to bring about the “Oneness of Christ.”  John 17, so the world will believe.  You can have a garbage man, excuse me, a sanitation engineer, as an elder in a meeting and he should be shown the respect and honor due that position.

    The Holy Kiss
    Paul’s final admonition to the believers in Rome was to “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (16:16a).  Paul had admonished other churches to do the same thing (I Cor. 16:20; II Cor. 13:12; I Thess. 5:26, cf. I Pet. 5:14).  Justin Martyr (died ca. AD 165) wrote in his First Apology 65, “When we have ceased from our prayers, we greet one another with a kiss” (1994: 1:185). This apparently was a common practice in the early church.
    How should this be practiced today?  What is the cultural equivalent?  There was an elderly gentleman in a class I taught at the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem.  He claimed to have had an “anointed kiss.”  He said that if he kissed you, the Lord would bless you.  Needless to say all the young ladies in the class were afraid of him!

    I was talking with a Bible teacher who described the assembly that I attend as the “most kissingest assembly in NJ.”  What a reputation to have!  This created a problem at one time.  A man who was not “playing with a full deck upstairs” visited the meeting for several Sundays because he saw all the kissing.  He was thinking to himself, “Hey, I want to get in on the action!”

    Perhaps the solution should be what a friend of mine, Bob Inot, once said, “Let’s greet one another with a holy handshake!”

    The churches of Christ greet you – 16:16b
    A number of people that Paul instructs the church in Rome to greet were originally from Greece or Asia Minor and had immigrated to the Eternal City (cf. Acts 20:4).  The churches where they were originally from, in the east, sent their greetings as well.  The churches in Christ in the east were concerned about those who had fellowshipped with them at one time and how they were treated by the believers in Rome.  Paul is saying, “We are sending our greeting to you, and this is what we want you to do to each other in Rome.  Please, do not show partiality among those believers who are different from you.  Embrace one another!”

    Peter in Rome?
    It is interesting to note that there is no mention of Peter in this chapter.  He was absent from Rome at this point in time.  One would think if he was the first pope or even the bishop of Rome he would be mentioned.  At an early point in Peter’s ministry (AD 42) he calls himself a “fellow elder” (I Peter 5:1).  Peter and his wife were, most likely, off ministering somewhere else.

    Romans 16: A “Grocery List” of Names Or the Heart and Focus of the Apostle Paul’s Ministry? Part 6 – Application and Bibliography

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    by Gordon Franz (continued)

    Greetings to Amplias – 16:8
    This name was derived from the Latin name Ampliatus, a name which was common in the Roman imperial household.  The name has been found at least eighty times on inscriptions in Rome.  This cognomen was used by one of the branches of the gens Aurelia.  One interesting inscription from this family was found in the Catacomb of Domitilla on the Via Ardeatina where the Jews and Christians from this family were buried.  This inscription bears the name AMPLIAT and dates to the end of the 1st century AD.  Is this the same person mentioned by Paul in this chapter?  We have no way of knowing.

    The normal burial practice in Rome was cremation.  However, because of their concept of the resurrection of the body, the Jews and Christians buried their dead in catacombs.

    Paul described Amplias as “my beloved in the Lord.”  Paul apparently worked with Amplias somewhere in the East.  Where?  We are not told.  His name indicates that he was a slave or a freedman and most likely of Jewish heritage.  We are not told what brought him to Rome.

    Greetings to Urbanus – 16:9a
    The Latin name Urbanus means “belonging to the urbs, or city.”  This seems to indicate that he was born and raised in Rome, thus a city slicker.  Yet, Paul identified him as “our fellow worker in Christ.”  How we are to understand the word “our” is a matter of debate.  Some have taken the word in a figurative sense and suggested that Paul was already identifying with the believers in Rome and that Urbanus served the Lord in Rome while Paul served the Lord elsewhere.  On the other hand, Urbanus could have labored for the Lord with Paul in the East in one of the Roman colonies, perhaps Corinth or Philippi.  In this case, Urbanus would have been a Roman official, sent to one of the colonies as an administrator, and came to faith in the Lord Jesus and began working with Paul while in the city that he had been posted to.  When he finished his “tour of duty” he returned to Rome.  Now he was laboring among the believers in that city.

    Greetings to Stachys – 16:9b

    Stachys was another individual that Paul knew from his ministry in the Eastern Roman Empire because he identifies him as “my beloved.”  His name means “ears (of grain).”  Today his nickname might be Wheaties!

    Most likely he immigrated to Rome for one reason or another.  As Peter Lampe points out: “This … is confirmed by the inscriptions of the city of Rome; that only thirteen epigraphical matches of ‘Stachys’ exist shows that the Romans seldom used the name.  Stachys was probably a gentile Christian.  It has been proposed that Stachys was a (freed) slave, but the inscriptions do not reveal a significant occurrence of the name for slaves; only three out of eleven possible 1st century “Stachys” inscriptions refer to slaves of freedmen” (1992k: 6: 183).

    Greetings to Apelles – 16:10a
    The name Apelles was common among the Jewish people of Rome, so we can assume that he was a Jewish believer in the Lord Jesus.  Paul characterizes him as “approved in Christ.”  The word “approve” has the idea of tried by a test, or tests.  The same word is used in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  Apelles apparently has been “through the mill” in his service for the Lord Jesus.  What he experienced, we are not told.  Paul mentions it, in hopes that the gentiles in the church in Rome would greet him and ask about his life story.

    Greetings to the household of Aristobulus – 16:10b

    Paul admonishes the church to greet those of the household of Aristobulus.  This seems to indicate that Aristobulus was not a believer in the Lord Jesus.  There are only two inscriptions that have been excavated in Rome with the name Aristobulus.

    There was a man living in Rome during the First Century AD, that some have conjectured is the Aristobulus of this household.  He was the grandson of Herod the Great and the brother of Herod Agrippa I (Josephus, Wars 2:221, 222; LCL 2: 209-211).  His parents’ names were Aristobulus and Berenice “the younger.”  Aristobulus received a Roman education in the city along with his two brothers and a fellow who would become Emperor Claudius!  When he came from the east, most likely he brought his slaves / servants with him (Lampe 2003: 165).

    Unfortunately he did not get along with one of his brothers, Agrippa I.  In fact, he accused his brother of taking bribes, which did not sit too well with the Roman proconsul of Syria, Flaccus.

    Aristobulus was one of the Jewish leaders that led a protest against the decision of Emperor Gaius Caligula to place a statue of himself in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Fortunately, Caligula would die before he could carry out this abomination (Josephus, Antiquities 18:273-276; LCL 9:161-163; Wars 2:10; Tacitus, Histories 5:9).

    Aristobulus had a wife named Jotapa, a princess from Emessa.  This union produced only one daughter and her name was Jotapa as well.  His brother, Agrippa I, died in AD 44.  Aristobulus died sometime after that.

    There is a church tradition that he was “the brother of Barnabas, one of the 70 disciples, ordained a bishop, and was eventually a missionary in Britian” (Carroll 1992: I: 383).  If that is the case, most likely he came to faith after Paul wrote this epistle to the Romans.  Perhaps he saw the changed lives of the believers within his household and their testimony left an impact on him, causing him to trust the Lord Jesus as his Savior.

    Greetings to Herodion – 16:11a
    Herodion might have been a prominent freedman in the household of Aristobulus.  Usually when a slave is set free, the individual would take the name of his master, or the family name.  It is quite possible that Herodion was somehow connected with the Herodian dynasty.  Paul identifies him as “my countryman,” indicating that he was a relative of Paul and of Jewish heritage.

    Greetings to the household of Narcissus – 16:11b
    This is the second household Paul instructs the Gentile believers to greet.  Narcissus, apparently was not a Christian, but there were believers in the household.  We know of at least one individual in Rome, about this time, with the name Narcissus.  His full name was Tiberius Claudius Narcissus (Lightfoot 1976: 175).  He was a wealthy freedman of Emperor Tiberius (Juvenal, Satire 14:329-331; LCL 289), who came to prominence and was very influential during the reign of Claudius (Suetonius, Claudius 28: LCL 2: 59).  Unfortunately for Nacissus, he crossed paths with Nero’s mother, Agrippina, who had him executed in AD 54 (Tacitus, Annals 12:57,65; LCL 4:399, 411; Annals 13:1; LCL 5:3; Dio Cassius, History 60:14-16,19; LCL 7:403-407, 415; CIL 15: 7500).  “It was customary in such cases for the household to become the property of the Emperor while it retains the name of its old master” (Allworthy 1918: 2: 76).  When this letter was written, three years had gone by since the household reverted to the property of Nero.  Perhaps these are some of the believers that Paul is referring to when he wrote to the church at Philippi a few years later, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household” (4:22).

    The fact that there were different religions in Rome at the time and that sometimes masters and slaves did not worship the same God or gods, is reflected in an interesting statement by Cassius in AD 61.  “But now that our households comprise nations – with customs the reverse of our own, with foreign cults or with none, you will never coerce such a medley of humanity except by terror” (Tacitus, Annals 14:44; LCL 5: 179).
    Paul instructs the slaves to “obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Col. 3:22-25).  He also gives similar instructions to the church at Ephesus (6: 5-8).  Cf also I Peter 2:18-21.

    There is another example of a household coming to faith.  Cf. Acts 16:30-32.  The Philippian jailer trusted the Lord Jesus as his Savior and each person of his household trusted Christ on an individual basis.

    Greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa – 16:12a
    The next two individuals that Paul instructs the church in Rome to greet, are apparently two sisters who might even be twins.  The first is Tryphena, whose name means dainty.  The mother of Polemon II, king of Pontus and Cilicia, had this name as well.  The second is Tryphosa, whose name means delicate.  Both names are found on Roman inscriptions that are connected with imperial households (Lampe 1992l: 6:669).  Like Mary and Persis, they “labored in the Lord” (cf. 16:6).  The fact that they had time to work for the Lord in the church at Rome seems to indicate that they were freedwomen and, if they were married, had very supportive husbands.

    Greetings to Persis – 16:12b

    The next person Paul instructs the church to greet is a woman named Persis.  Her name means “Persian woman.”  The name is used of a slave or free born person, but not the imperial household.  Like the two woman before, she labored (much) for the Lord.

    Greetings to Rufus – 16:13
    If the Rufus Paul instructs the church in Rome to greet is the same Rufus mentioned in Mark 15:21, then he was of Jewish heritage.  He would have been the son of Simon of Cyrene, from the Jewish colony in Cyrene, North Africa.  Rufus’ brother’s name was Alexander.  Simon was the person that carried the cross of the Lord Jesus to a hill called Golgotha where He was crucified.  John Mark wrote the gospel that bears his name from Rome about AD 43.  He would have mentioned Rufus because, most likely, he and his mother had moved to Rome and they were in fellowship with the saints in the city at the time.

    Some have objected to Rufus being the son of Simon because Simon is not greeted in this passage, or his brother Alexander.  Perhaps one, or both, had already died in the intervening 28 years.  In 1941, during a systematic survey of burial caves in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem, an intact burial cave was discovered containing eleven ossuaries, or bone boxes.  One of them, ossuary no. 9, had the name “Alexander (son of) Simon” on it twice.  On the lid, it had a bilingual inscription with the name Alexander written in Greek and Hebrew.  The Hebrew inscription added the word QRNYT, which has been taken by some to mean “from Cyrene” (Avigad 1962: 9-11).  The epigrapher who published these ossuaries mused: “The perplexing similarity of these names with those on our ossuary may of course be a sheer coincidence, but it led Milik … to consider the possibility, without pressing the matter ‘that the tomb in question belongs to the family of him who helped Jesus to carry the cross’” (Avigad 1962: 12).  The date of his death, unfortunately, was not recorded on the ossuary.

    Paul also instructs the church to greet Rufus’ mother as well.  He identifies her as “Rufus’ mother and mine.”  More than likely Paul is speaking of her as his mother in a figurative sense.  Most likely she cared for the physical needs of Paul when he was visiting Jerusalem on various occasions before she and Rufus moved to Rome.

    Romans 16: A “Grocery List” of Names Or the Heart and Focus of the Apostle Paul’s Ministry? Part 5

  • Profiles in Missions Comments Off on Romans 16: A “Grocery List” of Names Or the Heart and Focus of the Apostle Paul’s Ministry? Part 3

    by Gordon Franz (continued)

    Greetings to Epaenetus – 16:5b
    The next person to be greeted is Epaenetus.  Paul described him as “beloved” and the “first fruit of Achaia.”   The city of Corinth was the capital of Achaia so we can assume that he was the first person Paul led to the Lord upon his arrival in Corinth during his second missionary journey in AD 52.  Apparently he was a servant in the household of Stephanas, which Paul describes as the “first fruits of Achaia” (I Cor. 16:15).  The Apostle Paul followed the pattern that he followed elsewhere by seeking out the Jewish community in Corinth first (Acts 18: 2, 4; Rom. 1:16).  The household of Stephanas was most likely Jewish.

    This was the only household that Paul baptized (I Cor. 1:16).  It is interesting to note that the Apostle Paul baptized only Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue who came to faith in Yeshua (Acts 18:8); Gaius, later to be Paul’s host and a patron of the church at Corinth (Rom. 16:23); and the household of Stephanus (I Cor. 1:14-16).  Once the local church was established in Corinth, he moved out of the way and let the local leadership take over the ordinance of baptism, a function of the elders in the local church.

    For the next eighteen months, Paul and Silas committed the Word of God to Ephaenetus as a “faithful man” so that he could teach others the Scriptures (II Tim. 2:2).  Six years later we see Epaenetus in Rome.  How did he get there?  One possible conjecture as to how he got to Rome is that when Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome from Ephesus, they went via Corinth and invited Ephaenetus to join them in Rome.  He had been a servant in the household of Stephanus, but apparently was freed by his master and went to Rome as a freedman and ministered in the assembly that met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla on the Aventine Hill.
    It is very telling that, six years later, Paul was still in contact with his convert and disciple.

    Greetings to Mary – 16:6
    Paul instructs the church to greet Mary, or as she was known by her Semitic name Miriam (Mariam).  Most likely she was of Jewish heritage and named after Aaron’s sister (Ex. 15:20, 21; Micah 6:4).  Nineteen Jewish inscriptions have been found in Rome bearing the name of the famous Old Testament person (Lampe 1992e: 4: 582).

    Peter Lampe, on the other hand, suggests that “Mary was a freedwoman of the gens Maria or a descendant of a freed slave of this gens.  Either way, she probably had Roman citizenship: slave masters with famous gens names like ‘Marius/is’ possessed Roman citizenship and in most cases passed it on to their slaves on the occasion of their emancipation; the freed slave then bequeathed the citizenship and the gens name to their freeborn children.  Mary was probably a Gentile Christian” (1992e: 4: 583).  Personally, I would disagree with Lampe.  I think she was of Jewish heritage.

    Paul describes her as one who has “labored much for us.”  The word “labored” (ekopiasen) means to work hard and is used of four people in this chapter, all women (Miriam, 16: 6; Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis, 16:12).  Paul uses the word “labor” to describe his activities as well.  He was a workaholic and worked on the philosophy, “I would rather burn out than rust out.”

    “Golden Mouth” Chrysostom, writing in the second half of the 4th century AD says: “The women of those days were more spirited than lions, sharing with the Apostles their labors for the Gospel’s sake.  In this way, they were traveling with them and also performed all other ministries”.
    A number of years ago, when we had a college and career group at Valley Bible Chapel called “Eklampo” (it means “to shine forth” from Matt. 13:43), we had a young lady named Ruth Hsu from the Brighton Ave. assembly in Orange, NJ attend our meetings.  One afternoon the issue of the role of women in the assembly came up.  Ruth said, “All my life I have been told what I can not do.  Can somebody tell me what I can do?!”  She was thankful when I gave her a copy of a chapter from the book, Life in His Body, by Gary Inrig.  Even though Paul says a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man (I Tim. 2:12), there are plenty of other things women can do in the meeting and Inrig gave a very positive presentation of what women can do in the assembly.  Women play a key roll in the Sunday School ministry, Vacation Bible School, Awana, and women’s outreach.  I dare say that if women stopped doing what they are doing, most assemblies would have to close their doors!  Like Mary in Rome, women have a vital function in the local assembly.

    Greetings to Andronicus and Junia – 16:7
    This is a problematic greeting because we do not know if the name Junia is masculine or feminine.  The name is in the accusative case which means it is the same for the male and female.  If the name is masculine, then he would be named Junias, which is the shortened form of the name Junianus.  If that is the case, then the two were probably brothers.  If it is feminine, then the name would be Junia as in the KJV and NKJV.  That being the case, then Andronicus and Junia were probably husband and wife.  The early church fathers took it as female, and I will follow their lead.

    Paul identifies them as “my countrymen.”  This could mean one of two things.  First, is that they were of Jewish heritage.  Paul uses the word in the same way earlier in this epistle (Rom. 9:3, 4).  “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises.”

    The word could also be used of close relative.  Notice in this list that Paul does not call Aquila a “countryman” (16:10), even though he was of Jewish heritage.  Apellas and Rufus were also Jewish (16:13), but they are not called “countrymen.”  The context suggests that Paul is using the word for close relatives.  If that is the case, we see the fruit of Paul’s labors while he was in Tarsus for 8-12 years reaching family and friends with the gospel (16:8-12).

    Jerome, a prolific commentator in the 4th century AD, records that Paul was born in Gush Halav in Upper Galilee.  His family later moved to Tarsus.  As a teen-ager, he goes to Jerusalem to study under Rabbi Gamaliel.  There is a hint in the book of Acts that Paul had relatives in Jerusalem.  It was Paul’s sister’s son that alerted him to a conspiracy to kill him (Acts 23:16).  The question arises, did the family live there or were they up in Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festival of Succoth?  Be that as it may, we see that Paul was reaching his family and friends with the gospel and then discipling them.

    Paul also identified this couple as “fellow prisoners.”  When this occurred, we are not told.  The Apostle Paul was, by his own admission, a jailbird with a rap sheet a mile long!  He proclaims that he was beaten a number of times and frequently in prison (II Cor. 11:23).  Paul points out to the believers in Rome that this couple had been in prison for the cause of Christ.  He wanted them to know that they had paid the price for following the Lord Jesus.

    Paul goes on to say that they were of “note among the apostles.”  Two different interpretations have been given for this phrase.  First, they were noted “in the eyes of the apostles.”  Second, they were noted “among the apostles.”  (Witherington 2004: 390).  The early church Fathers favor the second, indicating that they were apostles and noteworthy among the apostles.  The word apostle means one sent forth with a message (cf. Phil. 2:25; II Cor. 8:23), but it could also mean, those who had seen the Risen Lord Jesus and been sent forth by Him with the gospel.  Paul gives a list of those who had seen the Risen Lord Jesus in I Cor. 15.  The list included “the twelve” (vs. 5), which is distinct from “James [most likely Jesus’ half-brother], then by all the apostles” (vs. 7).  What Andronicus and Junia did to deserve this commendation, we are not told.  Their life and work for the Lord was such that it caught the attention of the other apostles in Jerusalem.

    Paul goes on to say that they were “in Christ” before he was.  The phrase “in Christ” is used of people who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus as Savior and have been places in the Body of Christ.  In the case of Andronicus and Junia, this happened (chronologically) before Paul trusted the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Most likely they were part of the Hellenist faction of the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1).  Their names are not Hebrew names, but rather, Greek and Latin names.

    The fact that Paul has to tell the believers in Rome that this couple was related to him, spent time in prison for the cause of Christ, did noted things, seen the Risen Lord Jesus, and had been saved longer than himself, speaks volumes about their humility.  It could be suggested that they were a humble couple that did not want to draw attention to their own lives and accomplishments.  The focus of their ministry was to uplift and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by the manner in which they lived.

    Romans 16: A “Grocery List” of Names Or the Heart and Focus of the Apostle Paul’s Ministry? Part 4

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