HOME PAGE   |   CONTACT PAGE   |   OUR CALENDAR 

OUR SITE MAP ... DOZENS OF BIBLE STUDY PAGES

RECENT MEETINGS

 STANDING WITH THE BAGWELLS 

 
 

To e-mail, call or write the Bagwells, just visit our "Contact" Page.

 
 

THOSE LITTLE "HOUSE" CHURCHES!

 

ROMANS 16

"Likewise greet the church that is in their house." Romans 16:5

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

ROMANS 16:3-16

"Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you."

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

It's really plain in Paul's opening paragraph.

Whereas in his other Epistles, those written to Churches as opposed to individuals, he often mentions "the church" ... in Romans 1:7 he addresses "all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints."

No one single church is mentioned!

Truth be told, it appears that Paul has not even been to Rome yet! He has not met many of the saints there, not personally. "If by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles." Romans 1:10-13

The absence of a single local church being mentioned at least "hints" that the city of Rome may have more than one local Bible-believing church! After all, even back then, it was a big place!

Such a fact finally surfaces near the end of the Book, in Romans chapter sixteen.

And this Preacher needs to study these saints to whom Paul is writing. Never elsewhere does he compile such a list, person after person, by name! Not to this extent.

Paul even seems to group them into "units" or "fellowships" or "assemblies" of Believers too!

Let me show you what I mean.

For now, skipping the many saints associated with each "group," watch carefully: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house." Romans 1:3-5

There's one church!

Here's an indication of another, very small, just a little group of saints, meeting in the Name of Jesus. A few folks are linked to this unit as well. "Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household." Here's another household! This is not that of Aquila and Priscilla either! Romans 1:10 likely introduces us to another "house church!" A small church meeting regularly in someone's home! We have no evidence of big church buildings in early Christianity. They all met in neutral places; schools and houses and outside, down by the river for example!

And a third, still in Romans 16, this time verse 11. "Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord." These "households" include a master, all his family, his slaves, and any other "employees" and "guests" he may have at a given time!

But, though still less distinct, there is in the Text a fourth little congregation! "Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them." Wow, Romans 1:14 only lists five men! Could they be a church? Or at least the beginnings of a local assembly? What until you hear the meanings of these names, including the background information they supply!

And then, finally, "Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them." Romans 1:15 caps the whole paragraph with what we think is yet another little cell group, a house church in the making!

No wonder Paul did not single out just one church at Rome! There were many! And he wanted to minister to them all!

Whereas at Corinth, Paul initially writes: "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints ...." See, "the," that's singular, church at Corinth! 1st Corinthians 1:1-2

Or at Thessalonica, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." 1st Thessalonians 1:1

But not at Rome!

Five, at least five little churches, meeting all over that vast metropolis, capital city to the whole world!

Acts 1:8 is beginning to be fulfilled! "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Rome, to the ancient Jewish mind, was "the end of the earth!"

And the Gospel has arrived!

Lord willing, for a few lessons we shall study these little cell groups, these little house churches!

There's a lot to learn about "little" places that want to serve Almighty God!

They are important, too!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, THE CHURCH IN AQUILA'S AND PRISCILLA'S HOUSE:

Paul has the "churches" on his mind.

Churches, plural.

At the beginning of our great Text, Romans 16:3-16, Paul uses the term "the churches of the Gentiles." See Verse 4.

At the end of the same Paragraph, Paul talks about "the churches of Christ." See verse 16.

Paul is using a literary pattern called "inclusio" here, one way of more-than-hinting that several local churches are in view!

In 2nd Corinthians 11:28, tired and exhausted, Paul again mentions "the care of all the churches," what a load!

Paul certainly could be keenly aware of the needs of numerous churches at once! And so he is in Romans 16, five little incipient churches it seems!

Today we shall examine the first church. That's first ... as opposed to second or third.

"Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house." Romans 16:3-5

This assembly of believers meets in the home of Priscilla and Aquila. It's truly a "house" church!

Priscilla, the wife in this duo, has a name that means "ancient." But her name in antiquity has been traced to the Greek aristocracy! There's wealth in her background!

Then Aquila, his name, means "eagle." These two are married. They were tent-makers, the same craft Paul had learned years ago!

Prisca's money might have provided Paul a great base, a large home, from which to work for the Lord.

An atrium or courtyard or balcony, any spacious location, could provide sufficient meeting room for up to fifty saints of God, no doubt!

And soon we are going to get to meet some of them!

By the way Aquila and Priscilla were Roman citizens it seems. When Paul tells us they "laid down their own necks" for him, capital charges were about to be lodged against these two.

Had they been arrested and tried and convicted and sentenced to execution for their faith, however, they could not have legally been stoned to death, or crucified, or slain in the coliseum, or burned alive! No! Real Roman citizens were not subjected to such demeaning treatment! Even when being slain by the state, citizens were allowed the more humane choice of decapitation! Much less painful than crucifixion! This couple was willing to die for Paul's sake, and the Gospel's! They literally were willing to "laid down their own necks" for the Apostle!

But regularly worshipping with them, Aquila and Priscilla, others are clearly mentioned. "Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles approved in Christ." Here in Romans 16:5-10 Paul gives us 8 more names, all associated with the house-church at Aquila's and Priscilla's villa. Herein are five men and three women. Two of the ladies are married and one is not.

Epaenetus means "praiseworthy." He's a brother in Christ, the first convert from Achaia, just south of Corinth. Any Pastor would take all of his kind God might sent! Praise would be the opposite of grumbling!

Mary, a Jewish name, means "rebellious." So say the dictionaries, anyway. But after meeting Jesus and being saved, she's a tamed ex-rebel! The verb in verse 6, "bestowed labour," means toil and sweat and exhaustion, that kind of intense work!

Next we meet a couple, married and related to Paul spiritually or physically. Either way, the Apostle loves them! Andronicus, the man, has a name meaning "man of victory!" He'd be welcome in any Church, too! Well, most any! And his wife's name, Junia, means "youthful!" At some point in the past Paul has shared a jail cell with these two, "fellow-prisoners!" These two were "of note" among the apostles! The compound word is "episemos," meaning "marked as special" in some way! A good testimony! They've been saved longer than Paul, too!

Amplias, a Gentile name, means large! A big body? A big heart? We just don't know. Still Paul uses a form of the word "agape" in calling Amplias "beloved!"

This is indeed a gracious fellowship of Believers!

Urbane is Paul's "helper," one of them anyway. The name means "of the city," masculine in gender too. A "helper" or "sunergos," our word "synergy, sure helps build a sweet church family! No one person, even the pastor, can do everything!

Stachys, another man, means "a head of grain!" In Greek "stachus" is a bundle of growing wheat, likely ripe! Could this be a picture, however faintly, of winning souls to Jesus?

Lastly, Apelles means "called one!" The name has a Latin background, he probably being a Gentile. Paul also says this brother is "approved" in Christ! "Dokimos" means "having been tested, and having passed!"

Every saint of God in every real church, anywhere, should be able to testify that God has saved him or her from Hell! Called by the Holy Ghost ... unto salvation! Unto Jesus! To the shed Blood on Golgotha's Hill!

Ten people mentioned, total!

Yet it's a church, Paul says!

Different backgrounds!

Different cultures!

Many different beliefs!

Until Jesus came to Rome, and slowly yet miraculously blended these ten wildly different Christians ... into a body of local believers!

Priscilla and Aquila ... and the church in their house!

Praise the Lord!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

This "house" church likely would have been located in an affluent part of the city of Rome. Far away from the slums and trash of the common people. Even their household slaves would have lived in the home, just in smaller cubicles upstairs. It's also possible that the tent-making business was associated with the home.

Priscilla, an upper class citizen, who loves the Lord! And her husband Aquila, a common laborer, who apparently worked every day but Sunday!

Both, clearly overcoming any "strains" their different backgrounds might have brought to the marriage, helped Paul preach God's Word as much as any co-laborers he ever had!

I would have loved to attend a Sunday service in that church, the church in their house! Especially sometime when Paul was preaching! Of course, had we gone then, we would have needed to be prepared for a long sermon! Paul was known for such, and nobody complained. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." This scene, Acts 20:7, was typical it appears.

House churches! That's where Christianity started ... and well may be where it's headed again! Do not despise small congregations who love Jesus!

 

 

LESSON 3, THE HOUSEHOLD OF ARISTOBULUS:

If anyone disagrees that Paul might have written the Epistle of Romans to more than one local church, all that's necessary is a glimpse at the Apostle's great introduction, Romans 1:1-7. Here it is, in part: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God ... to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." That little pronoun "all," in Greek "pasin," is plural!

Not just one local assembly, but all the saints, citywide!

Whereas in Thessalonians we read: "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." 1st Thessalonians 1:1, "unto the church," only one, singular!

Then, conversely, notice Galatians, too. "Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead; and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world." Galatians 1:1-4, "ekklesia," but plural, "churches!" Several are in view!

Paul loved the Churches!

He "cared" for them diligently! "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." 2nd Corinthians 11:18 uses "merimna" for "care," that is, "things which draw and pull and tear you in different directions!" Wow!

"All the churches!"

In Romans 16, our "Text" for a few days, we've found at least five little groups, small congregations, nuclei of local churches, "house churches," Paul called them. Saints to whom Paul addressed the great book of Romans!

No doubt these "five," the Bible number for Grace, represent all true Bible-believing churches today as well!

Here is group number one: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house." Romans 16:3-5, whereupon follows eight more names, saints of God already! In sum, seven brothers and three sisters!

Group two is even smaller! "Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. Salute Herodion my kinsman." Romans 16:10-11

The name "Aristobulus" is interesting. Several historians say he was the Grandson of Herod the Great! The king who killed all those babies after Jesus was born, in Bethlehem! If so, Aristobulus may be dead by the time Paul wrote. But whole "households" continued to carry the name of their founder. The man himself might not have ever been saved, but some of his slaves, maybe even relatives, sure were!  Enough Believers to meet in what we'd call a "mansion" Lord's Day after Lord's Day!

Like I say, not as many as the Jerusalem church, 3120 people strong after the miraculous Day of Pentecost, but still a small incipient local church! At least the beginnings of one! And Paul recognizes them, too!

Several sources say "Aristobulus" means "best counselor." Ironically, that may be so! His "employees" and "progenitors" are following Jesus! In spite of what he, the Roman bureaucrat, might have believed! Paul apparently loved "raiding" heathen strongholds, claiming souls for Jesus! He wrote from Rome, in jail, to the Philippians, "All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." Wow, some of the Emperor's own slaves or soldiers (perhaps even bodyguards) had been saved!

The "them" of our Text today, "Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household," in Greek "tous," is plural in number, at least two or more! And Jesus did say, in fact He promised ... "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

The verb "salute" is "aspazomai," really meaning "to draw close and hug someone!" In Greek "spao" means "to draw unto oneself." Twice in our short Text Paul uses this verb, both times as a command, an imperative, a literal mandate!

Then Paul, amazingly, names one member of this "household of Believers," a man called "Herodion." Read it again: "Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. Salute Herodion my kinsman." Romans 16:10-11

The term "kinsman," if taken exactly as written, is a blood relative! "Suggenes" means "born along with" or "kindred." If one "stretches" the meaning a bit, Paul could have meant a "Jew," national kinship, racially synonymous.

And even with that, a name change would likely have been involved. This Brother in Christ, perhaps a mere slave, is clearly now named after his owner! "Herodion" just means "hero."

Special greetings to this one who Paul knows personally!

Without him, this one Believer, we might have never heard of the "household of Aristobulus" either! That's amazing! One member of a little church knowing some great Man of God, introducing the whole church to him in due time!

This little group, much like the household of Priscilla and Aquila, would have lived in a "good" part of town! Yes, Rome had ghettos and slums too, like every other large city I guess, even ancient ones. It also had an "embassy row!" The slaves would have lived in small cubicles, rooms, on the upper floors of the "mansion." They would have met to worship the Lord Jesus and study the Scriptures they had during "off" hours, at times maybe even "secretly" too!

Thank God, little churches matter too!

I can hear some of you grumbling now.

That's not a church, no deacons!

No pastor!

Right?

But the saints of God were there!

And Jesus!

The organization will come later ... but let's right now ... "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, exhorting one another," for Jesus' sake! Hebrews 10:25

Amen!

The next time I'm preaching to a handful of people, and I do mean a handful, three or four come to mind, less than three dozen more often, I'm just going to act like I'm in church!

Hope you don't mind!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

By the way, what makes us think that Paul's churches were so large anyway? History and archaeology say otherwise. I never read of Paul, as is recorded of Peter, that thousands at a time were saved under his Ministry!

Paul brought folks to Jesus one by one!

His churches were likely very small congregations of Believers.

The organizational aspects, deacons and elders or pastors and evangelists, did not come until later.

Much later, some say.

That's why the liberals believe that Paul did not write 2nd Timothy and Titus, the books where church organization appears most clearly. They say it took too long for such things to occur ... for Paul to have still been alive!

The liberals and modernists are wrong, though!

God's Word says that Paul wrote those little Pastoral Epistles!

So, he did!

Just read the first few Verses of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus.

But still, for quite a while, years maybe, full church organization as we know it, just did not exist!

But "church" did!

Worship did!

Preaching did!

Souls being saved did!

And Jesus "coming by to visit" did, too!

Hallelujah!

 

 

LESSON 4, THE HOUSEHOLD OF NARCISSUS:

In Romans 16 Paul lists names, many names!

These are for the most part Believers in Jesus, Christians residing in Rome, back then the capital city of the world!

Careful investigation shows that there are groups of saints Paul has in mind. Little "house" churches likely.

For example ... "Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine." Romans 16:11-13

A "household" would include a whole family, of course, but also servants and slaves and any other "employees" too.

The name "Narcissus," in Greek "narkissos," really means "stupid!" It is built upon a stem which indicates a certain kind of flower, one that stupefies an individual. This is the root of our word "narcotic!" Roman history from this era knows a Narcissus, too! He was fabulously wealthy! Chief secretary to the Emperor! He fell into disfavor with Nero however, and committed suicide. Though dead, his "household" would have continued to function, but as the Caesar's property instead.

Out of that chaos God has saved a few souls!

Paul names them too!

Both "Tryphena" and "Tryphosa" are ladies' names. Many teachers believe they were related, given the similarity of their names. Perhaps even twins! Both are built upon the word "truphe," meaning "softness, effeminate, luxurious." One Text says Tryphena means "dainty," and Tryphosa means "delicate."

But they're part of the local group of believers who live and work and meet in the house of Narcissus! A little "cell" of saints! A "house" church!

Then "Persis" is mentioned. She, this being a feminine gender noun, has a name that means "a Persian woman," a foreigner. Rome of course had many within its city limits.

These three ladies are "graded" by Paul. Using "kopaio," the most strenuous word available for "work," the Apostle says the twins "laboured" in the Lord while the foreign lady "laboured much" in the Lord!

Sounds like the Judgment Seat of Christ!

Next comes "Rufus," a Roman name meaning "red." This is the only man mentioned in this household, the only saved man that Paul knows and greets anyway. The adjective "chosen" can mean "choice, select, premium," in this context. Rufus' honor may have been due to the fact that Mark 15:21 has already mentioned him. "And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross." Romans 16:21

The faith of our Fathers!

But, Rufus' Mother is mentioned too. Not by name. "Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine."

The noun "mother" is common, "meter." No doubt a Believer herself, this kind lady had at some time taken Paul under her care also! So much so that the Preacher calls her his mother as well!

How sweet!

Five people!

That's all!

This does not necessarily mean that these five folks constituted the whole membership of that little household church, others Paul did not know may have attended there, and probably did.

But it is a small fellowship!

And notice this, four ladies and only one man!

Paul makes absolutely no claim that all these little groups are perfect! Or even mature! Or, for that matter, even growing as they should!

He's just greeting them!

I don't mean this to be hurtful, but a church with a 80% women to 20% men ratio is out of balance. So would a church be that's 80% men and 20% women! God likes mixtures! Men and women! Slaves and free! Wealthy and poor! Citizens and strangers! Young and old!

The "whosoever" crowd!

Sometimes you just need to LOVE God's children ... even before you can build them into what God longs for them to be!

That's what Paul is doing here.

Does anyone know a church that is imperfect?

Even in a household now belonging to the Emperor, Nero by the time of Paul's later years, wicked Nero, ungodly and fierce, God can save souls!

God can raise up a church!

God can perform His work!

Thank God today for your Church!

Your Pastor!

Your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Yes, every church is different!

With different sorts of people, different backgrounds!

But they are all, all those truly saved, part of the Bride of Jesus Christ!

In that we can rejoice!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, THE BRETHREN:

Paul, writing at the command of the Holy Spirit of God, greets five men. Unknown men apart from Romans 16:14.

"Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them."

It is thought that these five, perhaps with a few others whom Paul did not know personally, met together regularly for worship, being believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Based on the names themselves, all of which are Greek, these folks are either slaves or former slaves who have been set free.

Earlier in Romans 16 Paul listed some "groups" who worshipped Jesus, some well-to-do groups! Members of the Roman establishment, intelligentsia, aristocrats, even government officials! Or semi-wealthy business people!

However, verse 14 is different!

These fellows hold very low social standing, a bunch of "nobodies" in the world's eyes!

Yet, Jesus died for nobodies, too!

He loved them as much as He loved anyone else!

One little sentence in Mark 12:37 comes to mind. "And the common people heard Him gladly." Amen!

Here's proof that Jesus was, still is, the Son of God. "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." Matthew 11:5, notice that last clause!

Slaves being saved!

And organizing to worship Jesus!

And knowing the great Apostle Paul!

Let's meet these virtually forgotten men.

"Asyncritus," his name, blends "a" and "sun" and "krino," three Greek terms. "Krino" means "to judge, to discern, to distinguish," something close to that. And "sun" merely means "with." The prefix however, "a," negates the whole name. Therefore, we have a name that means "not collectively judged." Something that "can't be evaluated." In one word, "incomparable!" And that's just what the lexicons say mostly, "incomparable!"

Asyncritus, there's no one like him!

That really can be said about every creature God ever made! Every saint of God you know is unique! Special! One-of-a-kind! Delightful in the eyes of God, too!

Next we meet "Phlegon," which means "burning." Really "phlox" means a "flame," thus its etymology. For some reason I heard that this was a common name for a "dog" in the ancient world! No doubt this man was a slave.

But, wait a minute. Any name can be turned into a motivation to live for God! Every one of us Christians is to be a shining light, a burning lamp, vibrantly hot for Almighty God! Listen to Jesus in Revelation 3:11, "I would (wish) thou wert cold or hot." Our Lord abhors lukewarmness, spiritually. Oh, to be "on fire" for God!

And all of us regular old Gentiles, in the eyes of the world's "elite," are low-down "dogs." Useless, good-for-nothing, a-dime-a-dozen, worthy of no special attention!

But God ...!

But God thought otherwise!

"But God ... commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Then we find "Hermas." He is named after Mercury, the Roman god often pictured with wings, speeding through the heavens! Point being, this man has a heathen background. His parents very likely were not saved! Christians, dedicated ones, do not name their children after the things of the world.

Yet thank God for the saints who are "speedy" in their Christian service! Who, when asked, don't take all day to finish a task! Who are faithful and diligent! Who give God their "best" in all they do!

May their ranks grow and grow!

Then comes "Patrobas," another compound name. "Pater" means "father" in Latin. And "bios" means "life." Life from one's Father! In a word, "paternal." A "fatherly" figure, helping others to mature, loving and encouraging them along the way! Someone you can lean upon, talk to, unload your burdens and cares!

Listen to John, "I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning." 1st John 2:13, descendents of "Patrobas," spiritually speaking.

Most every church has one or two.

Then, lastly, "Hermes," another servant and another name linked to the gods of the Greek-Roman pantheon. "Hermes" is the god of communication. He knew, they sadly thought, how to express himself well! He could relay facts clearly and faithfully!

Of course, all those gods and goddesses were fakes. But the meaning of the name can be redeemed! Our very word "hermeneutics" is derived from "hermes!" It means "the science of interpretation, especially of the Bible!" Your Preacher has studied, to some degree, hermeneutics. He practices and applies such every time he proclaims God's Word! The Holy Spirit is the Master Teacher in hermeneutics!

"Rightly dividing the Word of Truth," Paul taught Timothy!

Thank God for those saints who can express themselves well! Your Sunday School Teacher! The Wednesday night services when your Pastor teaches God's Word! That new book on Bible Study!

Wow!

Five men, all with "representative" names!

A small body of believes!

The beginnings of a New Testament church!

A "cell" group, a "house" church, of Paul's day!

And important enough to be named in God's Word!

Again I say it. Do not demean little churches!

God is there, among them, too!

Listen to Jesus in Luke 12:32. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

See that word "little?"

It's important!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, THE SAINTS:

Our Verse today is Romans 16:15. It's an example of one of Jesus' sayings, written in human flesh.

Jesus: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

Paul: "Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them." Romans 16:15

Just a handful of Believers!

But enough to get mentioned in the greatest Book ever written!

Enough to elicit the Presence of our Lord!

Let's meet this little group.

This little "assembly" of saints.

When Paul says "salute" he is issuing a command! The verb is "aspazomai" and means "to greet, to embrace," especially with politeness and respect. This little band of saints is not to be ignored! They're important, both to the Lord and to Paul.

The name "Philologus" means "lover of the word!" Yes, literally! It's masculine in gender, in this case describing a man. But, ladies can be lovers of God's Word too, and many are! Oh, that our churches would be full of such people, folks who really "love" the Bible! The Psalmist promised: "Great peace have they which love God's law." Psalm 119:65, the "law" just being an expression for all of God's Word.

Immediately next is named a lady, "Julia," who might be the wife of Philologus, or sister. This name means "soft-haired." In the ancient Roman documents that have survived, all the names in this list, this little church, would likely have been slaves' names! Not a really wealthy one in the bunch, the named bunch anyway! Poor folks! Including Julia.

It's a fact. Some churches are more wealthy than others. Financially so, I mean. Other churches are constituted by regular people, born-again, hard-working, barely-keeping-the-bills-paid, children of God! Some even fall behind in their obligations, requiring help.

God saves souls from all strata of society!

"Nereus" is a strange name. It means a "lump." Its base is thought to be the noun "naus," meaning a ship or boat! "Neo" means "to float" in Greek. Just a "lump," sounds like today's feminist terminology for an unborn baby, "fetus, tissue, substance," anything but a little living human being! A "lump," unimportant, in other words. Insignificant!

But important to God! Significant enough for Jesus to come and die on the Cross! No saint of God is trivial! Yes, "Nereus" is a slave, a so-called "cheap" human being, sadly, one who could have been bought and sold! But to the Lord he was precious!

History says he lived a godly life, persuading all around him to purity and holiness. It also adds that he endured a martyr's death, testifying to his genuine faith by shedding his own life's blood!

You can't tell a book by its cover! You can't tell a saint by his or her name! Each Believer is full of surprises, via the Holy Spirit of God!

Nereus also has a sister, unnamed in this account. "Salute ... Nereus, and his sister." She represents countless unknown workers in churches through the ages! Whose names we'll never hear on earth, but in Heaven we shall! That unknown name is, after all, written in Glory! "Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven," Jesus in Luke 10:20.

Speaking of Heaven, "Olympas" means just that! "Heavenly," the textbooks say. It's likely a contraction of Olympiodorus, "a gift from heaven." Some Christian brothers and sisters are just that, heaven sent! What a blessing they are! My wife and I know some, too. If you think about it, you do too.

Five named Christians, two ladies and three men. But some in this church clearly remain unnamed, "... and all the saints which are with them."

The noun "saints" is "hagios," meaning "holy, set apart, separated, consecrated, special," that kind of idea.

As to how many, Paul is indistinct.

"With," the preposition, is "sun," a particle of union. "In the company" of each other! Acts 2:42 style, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

Another "house" church, no doubt!

A little group of Believers!

Typical in many ways, of many churches today!

Every church is not a mega-church!

Every church does not have 500 people in attendance, either!

Or 200, for that matter!

I've been in some pretty good services and seen God save souls in churches of 35 or so! Even smaller!

In these last days, our numbers may dwindle yet more. That's not a defeatist attitude either. Its a fact. Look around!

Watch the way, numerically, the fruitfulness quota goes in Jesus' great Matthew 13 Parable, the Story of the sower and the seed. "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." That's not an increasing harvest, but a dwindling one, Matthew 13:23. The closer to the end, Matthew being the dispensational Gospel, the more we'll be gleaning, rather than massively reaping.

I must close.

Maybe too much today.

Goodbye for now, saints of God!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, CONCLUSION:

Paul, in Romans 16, greets a number of people, by name. More than in any other Text the great Apostle ever wrote!

But these folks, at least those mentioned between verses 3 and 16, all belonged to one of five little churches. Well, many today would not call them churches, small as they were, but Paul did.

The five included; the church that met in Aquila's house, the household of Aristobulus, the household of Narcissus, an assembly known as the Brethren, and lastly, the Saints!

If we've correctly analyzed the names of those associated with each church, some were wealthier than others, lived in better parts of the city, had better jobs, better levels of education, and lots of other differences too!

Only this was held in common, they knew Jesus! Each had been saved by the Grace of God! Washed in the Blood of the Lamb!

Still, such small bodies of Believers!

Five apparently insignificant little "house" churches, called that because they owned no buildings in which to meet, opting rather for living rooms or atriums or oak trees down by the river somewhere!

Yet to these ... such as they were ... Paul wrote the greatest theological letter ever penned!

Perhaps, arguably, the most pivotal Book in all the Bible!

He did his best preaching and teaching to ... astounding ... these little motley crews of saints!

The greatest Sermon ever preached on the downward slide of sin, its digression and fruit, Romans 1:18-32, was preached to these nondescript little churches!

The greatest Sermon ever preached on the depravity of man, Romans 1-4, shared with these small assemblies!

On the results of justification, Romans 5, to these few!

On the power of our Union with Christ, Romans 6, still to this little crowd!

On the two natures, the flesh versus the spirit, residing in every saint of God, a groundbreaking Sermon, Romans 7, preached not to some distinguished conclave at Jerusalem, but to a few bands of slaves, basically!

On the power of the Holy Spirit, the key to Victory in the Christian life, a Message worthy of Ephesians or Philippians or Hebrews ... but preached to these little-known Christians at Rome!

The greatest dispensational, prophetic Lecture ever taught on God's plan for Israel, Romans 9-11, was first heard by a few pairs of ears, a very few, in some upper room or slaves' quarters in the world's most wicked city to date! That is, Rome.

The best Sermon Paul ever preached on dedicated Christian living, Romans 12, to a small congregation!

How to live the Christian life, in detail, nearly every aspect of it, Romans 13-15, proclaimed so eloquently, to such a common audience!

Get this, especially you Preachers!

Paul did his best for Jesus, every Sermon he preached, no matter whom the congregation!

No matter how rich!

No matter how large!

No matter where they lived, Embassy Row or the slums of Rome!

No matter how long they'd been saved!

If they were saints, if they regularly gathered in Jesus' Name, if they wanted to grow in the Lord, if they were willing to serve Jesus, if they could help support the spread of God's Word, they "counted!"

Preacher Bagwell, next time you stand and preach God's Word to a small church, to just a handful of Believers, PREACH IT fervently!

Do your best!

Don't slack!

Follow Paul's example!

After all, God truly has no "little" churches!

At least we shall not think so "when we all get to Heaven!"

Not in that great throng of Believers, from every tribe and nation on earth, praising the Lord together! "Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." Revelation 7:12

Jesus often did some of His best Preaching to just one, a single individual! Nicodemus in John 3, the woman at the well in John 4, being two quick examples.

Small numbers indeed!

Like the old song says; "Little is much, when God is in it!"

Let's love God's people, regardless!

Jesus once said in Matthew 7:6, "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine." In reverse fashion, let's not withhold the precious pearls of God's Truth, just because the hearers are few or poor or common!

A saint is a saint!

One of God's Jewels! "And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them." Malachi 3:17

Amen!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

What spiritual lessons we can learn, even from small congregations of Believers! Praise the Lord! We trust this exposition of Romans 3:2-16 has been a blessing to you. Our goal, spiritual growth in the lives of God's children!

 

 

Thank YOU for visiting our Website!

You are visitor number ...

Hit Counter

 

 

Copyright 2008 DrMikeBagwell.org  All Rights Reserved.
 

The Fundamental Top 500