Nobody preaches from Romans 16. It’s the miscellaneous chapter, a post script to an otherwise rich and theologically expansive letter. Now, as Christians we believe that all the Bible is inspired by God. That means that Romans 16 is just as inspired as other fan favorites such as Romans 6:23, 8:1, 8:38-39 (or all of Romans 9-11 for our Calvinist brethren). At first, there may not seem to be a lot of material to work with in Romans 16:
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
5 Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.
9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
10 Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.
15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. Romans 16:1-15 (NIV)
Here’s a timeless truth from these verses, an incredible principle for church growth: people matter. Paul couldn’t do what he did without people, church members and leaders that supported his ministry. So much so, Paul used the last chapter of one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written to call out 27 different people by name and thank them for their friendship and support.
It’s a reminder that a church has never been a building, an address, a service or even a denomination. It’s always been the people. It’s too easy for preachers like me to hide behind a pulpit and carefully craft exquisite sermons, thinking that’s my main responsibility in ministry. My main responsibility isn’t to preach at people, it’s to minister to people. I can’t do that without relationships, without authenticity, without intentionality. People matter.