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The Hall of Faith

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2024 12:00 am

The Hall of Faith

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 13, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version of this message or the other messages in this series here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/when-the-roll-is-called-up-yonder. There's a hall of fame for just about everything nowadays. There's a basketball hall of fame, a bicycling hall of fame, a nurses hall of fame, an aviation hall of fame, a quilters hall of fame; and the list goes on and on! In Romans chapter 16, however, we discover that God has a hall of fame as well. But unlike our worldly displays, the heroes in God’s hall are not praised for great feats of strength, brilliance, or artistry. They are honored for their service and humility. So let's join Stephen now as he shows us a few of the people on display.

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You might notice one phrase keeps coming up. It appeared in verse 2, the phrase, in the Lord.

You might circle that as I have in my text. In other words, their sphere of life was not Rome. It was Christ. They were absorbed within, above, underneath, around the work, the person, the reputation, the nature of Christ. That was their focus.

No matter what they did. It's interesting to me that the book of Romans begins by showing us men and women under condemnation. And it ends by showing us men and women in Christ. There's a Hall of Fame for just about everything nowadays. There's a Basketball Hall of Fame, a Bicycling Hall of Fame, a Nurses Hall of Fame, an Aviation Hall of Fame, a Quilters Hall of Fame, and the list goes on. In Romans chapter 16, we discover that God has a Hall of Fame as well. But unlike the heroes of the world, the heroes in God's Hall are not notable for strength, brilliance, or artistry. They're honored for their service and humility.

This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Today's message from God's Word is called the Hall of Faith. It strikes me that when you come to Romans 16, you discover nothing less than a microcosm of God's Hall of Fame. We could call the Hall of Faith or the Hall of Faithful Ones. Name after name are inducted into this esteemed hall for different reasons, of course, than the world would ever recognize. But the Spirit of God prompted Paul not to wrap up his letter so quickly without immortalizing the names of several dozen people, not because, by the way, they were brilliant or strong or creative or inventive or funny or talented. Frankly, it struck me that they were inducted because they sought to preserve the house of God, the possessions of God, as it were, his people, not a building, his people, the people of God, purchased by the blood of the Son of God. And so Paul names one after another.

Let's rejoin our study in this Hall of Faithful Servants. Now, you might notice one phrase keeps coming up. It appeared in verse 2, the phrase, in the Lord.

You might circle that as I have in my text. Whenever God repeats himself, it isn't because he's run out of words. He wants to emphasize something. In verse 3, it appears again, this time in Christ Jesus. The latter part of verse 7, in Christ. The middle part of verse 8, in the Lord. Again, in the middle part of verse 10, in Christ. The last part of verse 11, in the Lord. As well as the last part of verse 12, in the Lord. Middle part of verse 13, in the Lord. And the last phrase in verse 22, in the Lord.

In other words, their sphere of life was not Rome. It was Christ. They were absorbed within, above, underneath, around, the work, the person, the reputation, the nature of Christ.

That was their focus, no matter what they did. It's interesting to me that the book of Romans begins by showing us men and women under condemnation. And it ends by showing us men and women in Christ.

Now let's rejoin our study where we left it at verse 5. Paul writes, greet the church that is in their house that is Prisca and Aquila. Now he goes on and he says, greet Epinatos, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.

I think it's not irony or coincidence that his name would mean praiseworthy. Without a doubt this man would begin this signal, would sort of start the praising of people now numbering in the multiplied millions all around the world from every generation who have discovered that Christ is their Redeemer and they are praising him. They find God praiseworthy, the very first convert, what his name meant. Paul goes on in verse 6 and says, greet Mary who has worked hard for you. Now we don't know exactly which Mary this is.

There are several in the New Testament. Mary, the mother of our Lord. Mary Magdalene. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Mary, the wife of Clopas.

Mary, the mother of John Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark and now this believer in Rome. Whoever she happened to be, she was a tireless worker. In fact, she may have well been worn out for the word that Paul used could be translated to mean to grow weary, to be worn out or to work with great expenditure of effort. The same word is used by John the Apostle in chapter 4 to speak of Jesus who was wearied from his journey and thus sat down by the well.

Same word. It's the same word used by Peter when the Lord hollered out, let down your nets out in the deep and you'll catch some fish and Peter said, master, we have toiled all night and even though we have worked all night, we have not caught anything. The words worked hard are the same word or verb used by Paul in Romans 16 verse 6. So we don't know anything about Mary except that she received her induction into this hall of the faithful, not because she accomplished some great deed. In fact, we're not even told what it was she did. We're only told that she worked hard doing it. She rolled up her sleeves and she jumped in and worked extremely hard.

This verb refers to physical exertion. She came early, perhaps she left late. Maybe she set up and then cleaned up and then locked up.

We don't know. The spirit and pluck and determination of this woman is behind most of the things that happened in the church even 2,000 years later. Paul goes on in verse 7 to greet Andronikos and Junius. It's impossible with the form given to us here to determine whether or not Junius is a masculine or feminine name. The word Junia found her in the accusative singular form can either be a female name or a male name.

The contracted form could be a man's name. Some believe they are husband and wife. Others believe that they are two men who form an evangelistic team. What we do know is what Paul tells us about them. If we work backwards, go to the end of the phrase where he talks of them and he says that they were in Christ before me.

In other words, they were saved before I was saved. I think it would be wonderful and probably not too unusual that this couple would have prayed for Paul. This persecutor of the church to be saved and Paul would have been an answer to their prayer. Paul wrote also they were outstanding among the apostles. Does this mean that they were of the apostolic office?

No, I don't believe so. The word apostle is used rather generically. In fact, it's used of Barnabas. He's called an apostle in Acts 14 verse 4.

It's used to refer to someone who is commissioned or someone who is a sent messenger. The generic usage of the word occurs to refer to faithful evangelists and missionaries. We just commissioned a group of apostles in the sense of this generic word.

Just a few minutes ago, we prayed over a team of men and women who are being sent with a message to some other part of the world. The third thing Paul says about them is that they didn't have it always easy. Paul calls them fellow prisoners of his.

You could literally render this word war captives or even more woodenly prisoners of war. Since the apostle Paul spent a lot of time in jail and we don't know which term he's referring to here. Evidently though he had a special bond with some of his cellmates. A couple of men, I believe this would indicate they were men, served with him in some prison cell and Paul never forgot them. In fact, they evidently went on to serve Christ fearlessly.

They were outstanding. The text also tells us among the apostles, they excelled in their ministry as sent ones with the message. Paul finally refers to them as his kinsmen.

Probably a reference to the fact that they were Jewish, perhaps even from his own tribe of Benjamin. Paul goes on to write in verse eight, greet and pleatus, my brother, or I should say my beloved in the Lord. The word beloved is a wonderfully affectionate word. It's used and first translated in the Greek Old Testament in Genesis 22, where Abraham is told to take his beloved son, his only son and sacrifice him. This is the same word that appears, comes from heaven, heard by the Lord after he was baptized by John the prophet, where God the father said, this is my whom? My beloved son in whom I'm well pleased. Same word used by Paul here in reference to and pleatus evidently dearly loved by Paul.

Let's move on. Paul goes on in verse nine to greet Orbanas, interesting name. It means polite. It gives us our English transliterated word, urbane, which we really don't use all that much anymore. Urbane means to be smooth. It refers to being cultured. So we do think of the word urbane still.

It means literally to be polished in manners. This is every parent's fantasy that their kid's behavior would be urbane when they're having guests over their home. Or maybe about the time you arrive at somebody's home, you whisper to your kids, now behave, watch your manners, watch your manners. Hello. You say, well, I don't tell my kids that. We know.

Try it. It's possible that Urbane was a man of rank and social standing. But what Paul specifically mentions about him is not a social standing. Notice he mentions his servanthood. He is our fellow worker in Christ.

Same phrase was used of Prisca or Priscilla and Aquila earlier by Paul, my fellow workers. This lands within us in this hall of faith, not because of his rank, not because of his standing, but because he rolled up his sleeves and he came alongside and he helped. He was known for being the helper. He loved to help. Orbanas, what did you do today in the church? I helped.

What do you normally do? Well, I look for a place that needs help and I pitch in. So he goes into the hall of faith because he was a helper. Paul goes on to greet Stachos next, again, referring to him with this wonderfully tender word, my beloved. He's careful in this text again, Paul, when he refers to a man, to somebody he loves, he says, my beloved, when he refers to a woman, he simply calls her the beloved in order to be discreet and kind and respectful. Further, in verse 10, Paul writes, greed, apeles, the approved in Christ. What a condemnation. Apeles is approved in Christ.

What did he mean? Well, Paul used that word in Romans 14 to refer to the mature believer that waded his way through with insight and discretion in those gray matters and led the other younger, weaker believers along to know and discern that which was right and that which was better, that which was allowable and that which was excellent. Perhaps apeles then was one who took the lead in these difficult waters negotiating between that which was acceptable and that which was holy. Paul used the word again in 1 Corinthians 11 when he said, I hear there are divisions among you. They must be so that those who are approved will be evident. There's that word again.

Those who are approved will be revealed. There were conflicts in the church at Corinth and Paul said those are wonderful times to determine leaders in the body. Evidently, there were problems in the church at Rome with Jews and Gentiles getting along. There's conflict in any and every church. And Paul says those times of conflict are wonderful opportunities to keep your eyes open and distinguish mature men and women. They'll show up and rather than add fuel to the fire, they will handle the conflict with grace and tact and insight. There's one other use of the word that I'll mention.

There are several, but I'll just mention one more. It's where Paul said to Timothy, study to show yourself what? Approved unto God, rightly interpreting that is handling accurately the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2 15. Perhaps it was this mark of apeles that impressed the apostle Paul. He loved to study the scriptures. He loved to interpret the scriptures. Maybe he had a role of teaching in the body. This is a good model for every man, certainly every elder who would interpret the scriptures with diligence and lead the way and regard the leading immature or younger believers in the congregation who are struggling with what is right and what is wrong, those who handle conflict with grace and insight.

Now let's move on. In the last part of verse 10, Paul greets those who are of the household of Aristobulus. This is an interesting phrase. This phrase could refer not only to the family of Aristobulus, but and I believe more likely his servants. Paul could be interpreted or translated to read, greet those belonging to Aristobulus. In fact, the word household is implied. Now you need to note as well that Paul does not greet Aristobulus personally.

Look back at the text. He greets the household or literally he greets those belonging to him. This would refer to those possessions, those people, those slaves who once belonged to him, but now belong to another.

What could Paul be referring to? Well, we're helped in regards to this wealthy man's identity by historical accounts. The date of the time of Paul, this well-known Roman citizen Aristobulus was the grandson of Herod the Great. That same Herod, I should say, that ordered the death of Jewish boys to and under in and around the region of Bethlehem in order to stamp out the one who'd been born the Magi called the King of the Jews. Aristobulus was his grandson, but he lived as a private citizen in Rome.

He didn't enter the political arena or world. He was later though a personal friend of Claudius, the emperor who expelled the Jews from Rome. When Aristobulus died as it was the custom in Rome, his servants and property without an heir became the property of the emperor, but retained the name of the man's household.

So it could be called the household of Aristobulus, literally referring to the possessions and the servants of this man who now belong to the emperor. Maybe that would explain then how, in verse 11, you have a mention of this man, Herodian, whom Paul says is my kinsman. That is, he is his Jewish brother.

Well, how would a Jewish man take on the name of Herod? Well, he would have belonged to the house of Herod, perhaps then a member of Caesar's household as one of his servants, even though he was a Jew. Paul goes on to mention another household.

The same thing exists again, now belonging to the emperor's home or household. Greet those, he writes in verse 11, of the household of narcissists who are of the Lord or who are in the Lord. Literally, greet those belonging to narcissists, that is those carrying the household name who now belong to the emperor, these servants who are believers. And Paul specifically identifies his greeting for those who are believing ones.

Evidently, some of the slaves didn't believe in Christ, but some did. Once again, the name narcissist appears in Rome during the days of Paul, a famous man. He was in fact the secretary to the emperor Claudius, who amassed a private personal fortune of many millions of dollars in our current equation because of his influence over the Roman emperor. His power resided in the fact that he required that all correspondence going to the emperor would first pass through his hands. He convinced the emperor that that would be a good thing, although the problem was narcissist was corrupt and he bribed those who wanted to have their correspondence make it to the emperor. And so he made his fortune from the bribes that people paid him to ensure that their petitions made their way to the emperor.

It was a great system for this corrupt political leader. And this man built his fortune and his possessions just began to increase over time and as did his servants, but it was short lived. When Claudius was murdered and Nero ascended the throne, narcissist was exposed for his corruption and forced to take his own life, probably by drinking poison. His household then became the possession of Nero. This seems to be the answer to the question that how the gospel of Christ got to the highest echelons of power, how the gospel of Christ made it into the very home of the emperor so that Paul later in Rome would write back to the Philippians and he would say to them, all the saints greet you, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. Who were these saints in Caesar's palace? Among them would have been the converted slaves of narcissists and Aristobulus. They were royal sons and daughters of God the father through faith of Jesus Christ, though temporarily serving a temporary king and brutal kings they were. They were members of the immortal household of faith belonging ultimately to the king of kings.

Well, Paul isn't finished. Verse 12, Paul greets Truphina and Truphosa. Many language scholars believe that these are sisters given the nature of their feminine names. In fact, the poetic nature of their names, it was common in Paul's day as it is to this day to name twins using the same root word for both names. So very likely these are twin sisters. Little twist in their names adds a different nuance of meaning.

Truphina can be translated dainty and Truphosa can be translated delicate. So you have dainty and delicate born to mom and dad, but Paul used the same word for work to describe them as he did earlier of Mary. They may have been named dainty and delicate, but they could work and they did for the Lord. Most believe Perseus mentioned next was their older sister, but in her case, Paul writes in the past tense, she has worked hard in the Lord indicating perhaps that she has already died, but that her work and testimony of labor for the Lord was still worthy of commendation. After all, I think this is the hall of faith.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing inductees into this hall of faith is next. Paul writes in verse 13. He says, greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. This doesn't mean that they were brothers. This is an affectionate idiom that means that he was mothered by Rufus's mother.

We don't know when or how. Perhaps she nursed him back to health after he had been stoned or beaten. We don't know, but he loved her and considered her as it were his mother in the Lord. Now, Rufus is certainly a common name, but there is a lot of evidence that this Rufus was one of the two sons of Simon, the Cyrenian. You may remember that it was this Simon who was compelled to carry the cross beam of Christ up the hill or up Golgotha. It's interesting that when Mark wrote his gospel account a few years after Paul wrote this letter to the Roman believers, Mark's gospel, in fact, would be directed primarily to the Roman Christians. It would be Mark alone that would add this interesting little biographical comment about these boys.

He would be the only one. In fact, Matthew tells us that Simon was compelled to carry the cross. Luke mentions that Simon was forced to carry the cross. But when Mark gets to that particular point in the gospel narrative, he adds this aside, that this is the Simon who is the father of Rufus and Alexander. In fact, Mark puts it in a parenthesis.

Why? Because the believers in Rome knew about Simon and the believers in Rome knew about Alexander and Rufus, but they might not have known that Simon was the father of Rufus who was at that very moment leading in the church at Rome. We also know that Simon of Cyrene served in the early church in Antioch, so there's little doubt his sons, he and his sons, came to faith. Though we're not told about Alexander, we're told about Rufus, but Simon, compelled to carry the cross as the song is sung even in our generation, there may be more truth in it than we imagine came to faith in Christ and his son Rufus did and went on to serve the Lord in the church at Rome.

How do you like that? Isn't God's plan amazing even down to the details of these individual lives? Paul writes, tell Rufus and his mother hello for me.

He loved them both. Now Paul crams 10 more people into his hall of faith without any description of them whatsoever, and I'm glad because we're out of time. They're listed in two groups of five people. Verse 14, greet as synchronous, kritos, asunkritos, which is the Greek pronunciation, greet phlegon, hermes, petrobos, hermas, and the brethren with them. Evidently, this is a house church gathered together there in Rome. In verse 15, Paul greets another, philaligas and Julia, more than likely husband and wife, and their children, Nerus and his sister, and Olympus, many believe a member of their household, perhaps a servant, and all the saints, Paul writes, who are with them. In other words, greet all the believers who are together in your home. There's a reference then to two house churches here and Paul sends greetings to them.

He doesn't mention any specifics. It's as if they get inducted into this hall of faith simply because they show up. Obviously, they stand up for Christ and they probably all pitched in. With this, Paul closes his personal greetings of warmth and affection. He then commands them in verse 16 to show affection to one another. He says, greet one another with a holy kiss, all the churches of Christ greet you.

This was a holy kiss to be set apart from anything sensual or physically intimate, but to be warm and affectionate. Let me give you three quick truths that emerged from this text to my mind and spirit from visiting this hall of faith. Let me quickly give them to you. Number one, being inducted into the hall of faith did not require great ability, but availability, which someone once said was the greatest ability you could have. They just showed up. Secondly, being inducted into the hall of faith did not require some dramatic acts of service, but dependable acts of service. For some, they're just mentioned. Others, they rolled up their sleeves. They just served.

They were dependable. Third, being inducted into the hall of faith did not require being honored by men, but being humble before God. As we have already learned, many of these people were slaves who had accepted the Savior. I like the way Oliver Wendell Holmes put it. He said, fame usually comes to those who are thinking of something else.

It's good, isn't it? They would certainly qualify. They were thinking of someone else, something other than their own lives. In fact, they were people who thought most of the Savior who came and took on the form of a bondservant, didn't he? And served, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross. So these individuals thought most of him, just as we are to think today most of him. And then we're to think next of one another. And then we are to think last and least of ourselves. In so doing, we, in effect, join ranks with these faithful ones, not perfect ones, faithful ones, who thought much of Christ and much of one another.

How would your life be different today if you focused your thoughts on Jesus and others? This message from God's Word comes from the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. This message is called the Hall of Faith. If you'd like to listen to this message again or read Stephen's manuscript, please visit our website or launch our smartphone app. We heard from Sheila in South Africa, who wrote to tell us that she installed our smartphone app and has been enjoying the selection of studies that we installed there. She says, I've learned so much from the preaching of Stephen Davey, and I praise the Lord for pastors like him who fearlessly preach the truth of God's Word. Well, I encourage you to join Sheila and install our app on your phone. It's called Wisdom International. That's what you want to search for. Install that today, then join us next time for more wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-13 01:33:49 / 2024-02-13 01:43:47 / 10

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