Wednesday, November 19. Romans 14 – 16

Romans 16 contains the largest list of names in any of Paul’s letters.

There is Phoebe, a special “servant” of the church in Cenchrea whom Paul is recommending.  Might she have carried this letter to the Roman church from Paul?  Might she have been his emissary?  Paul says she has been a “great help” to him, a translation of a word that occurs only here in the New Testament.  Outside the New Testament, it refers to one who acts as a guardian or protector or benefactor.  She was certainly an important figure yet, she took the Christ-like call seriously, content to be, like Paul, a “servant.”

There are Priscilla and Aquila, whom Paul met on his second missionary journey.  Always mentioned together (and usually Priscilla first), they had been residents of Rome, but moved to Corinth by the time Paul met them.  Here they are back in Rome.  There is, in Rome, an ancient cemetery called the Cemetery of Priscilla, the traditional burial place of the couple.  It is also the burial place of Manus Acilius Glabrio, who was one of two consuls of Rome in 91 AD.  He was killed by emperor Domitian in 95 AD because he was a Christian, having been forced to fight a lion and two bears in the amphitheatre adjoining the emperor’s villa at Albanum.  Acilius is sometimes written Aquilius and his family was one of the most powerful and wealthiest of Rome.  Might it have been that this couple played a cricual role in bringing this powerful family to Christ?

There is Nereus in verse 15.  During the reign of Nero, the city prefect of Rome was a man named Titus Flavius Sabinus.  He was the brother of Vespasian, who became emperor in 69 A.D.  He was also  the grandfather of Titus Flavius Clemens, who married Vespasian’s grand-daughter, Domitilla..  The both of them became Christians.  They had a servant named Nereus.  Might it be the same man?  Did he lead his master and mistress to Christ?

And then there is Ampliatus. The largest of the catacomb burial places in Rome is the cemetery of Domatilla., where Flavia Domitilla (mentioned above) was buried. In that cemetery, most of the inscriptions are of Roman citizens., You can tell that because they have 3 names. But one of the largest of the grave markers has only one name on it – likely the name of a slave.  That name is Ampliatus. That this is a Christian burial place, the fact that the name appears singly and so prominently, is a sign of great tribute to this one who may have been a slave, known by Paul and addressed here.