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4. Paul’s list of the names of the saints known to him in the church of Rome
(Romans 16:1-9)
1I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea,2that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.3Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,4who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.5Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.6Greet Mary, who labored much for us.7Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.8Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord.9Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved.

In his epistle, Paul explained the following subjects:
First: The fundamental principles of faith in Christ.
Second: The choice by God.
Third: The behavior of the believers.
At the end of his epistle, Paul not only speaks about the principles, but also presents the persons known to him from the church. He demonstrates that they are the practical evidence to prove the truth of his teaching, considering them as those who embody his message, and prepare for his teaching and his coming. The apostle of the Gentiles was not a stranger in Rome, but he presented a choice of the saints who were known to the other brothers. They were all established in Christ, and living stones in the temple of the Holy Spirit, in the capital of the Roman state as it was then.
The strange thing is that Paul begins the list of saints with a woman named Phoebe, whom he describes as “our sister in Christ”. Phoebe was a virtuous Christian who devoted herself to the service of the church, the poor, the sick, and the travelers. She was a servant by office of the church in Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth in Greece. It appears that she was an expert in judicial affairs, and in the settlement of customs claims, as well as in the interests of clients and persons without civic rights. She helped Paul and his companions in their travels, and was probably prepared to help him in Rome too, if he had met any problems because of his arrival. Paul asks the Roman Christians to assist her in whatever matter she may have need of them, and requests them to welcome her in their church in a manner worthy of the saints. It is generally assumed that Phoebe delivered the present epistle of Paul to the church in Rome. Phoebe had personality, and was one of the then known Christians in the Middle East.
After the bearer of this letter in the list of saints in Rome, Paul mentions Priscilla and her husband Aquila. They had sheltered Paul and offered him work to provide for his sustenance in Ephesus (Acts 18:2-26), where he more accurately explained the gospel to Apelles, the eloquent preacher. It is to be mentioned that Paul mentioned the woman’s name before her husband’s, knowing that both of them had exposed themselves to secure Paul, hazarded their own lives for the preservation of his; and all the believers in Asia Minor thanked this couple for their self-sacrificing and kind service. It seems that they had then traveled to Rome, where they received the church that was accustomed to assemble for worship in their hospitable mansion. Paul likewise sends greeting to the church in their house, regarding them all as witnesses of his teaching about the grace of God.
Epaenetus is greeted as Paul’s beloved. He was one of the first that was converted to the faith in Christ in Asia, and the believers considered him as the connecting link between them and Christ. Then he traveled to Rome to continue following in the steps of Jesus there.
After Epaenetus, Paul mentions Mary, who overexerted herself in the church of Rome with faithfulness and perseverance, and had probably helped Paul and his fellow-laborers in Greece and Anatolia. Paul testifies of her pure, continuous service for the followers of Christ.
Then, Paul mentions Andronicus and Junia, who were believers of Jewish origin, of the tribe of Benjamin, like Paul, who lived in Rome, and were witnesses to the truth that Paul was one of the children of Jacob. They were Paul’s fellow prisoners and his partners in suffering for Christ. They had been converted before Paul was, and were distinguished among the early Christians in the church of Jerusalem, and honored with the friendship of the other apostles.
Now, Paul mentions three strange names in the list of saints: Amplias, Urbanus, and Stachys. Amplias and Stachys were still slaves. Paul described the first as his beloved in the Lord, indicating that he who was despised and tormented was most honored when he was spiritually grafted into the spiritual body of Christ. The other one whom Paul describes as his beloved was a commendable servant in the church. Urbanus was a respected gentleman of Roman origin, who worked together with Paul for such a long time that Paul considered him his partner in the ministry, and his helper in Christ. Urbanus was known in all the churches of Rome.
It is necessary to recognize that the church in Rome included, from the beginning, free people and slaves, who formed altogether a spiritual union in Christ. This makes us realize that the Holy Spirit does not attach importance to racial or social differences. He does not distinguish between a man and a woman, a free man and a slave, a rich man and a poor man, a Jew and a Gentile, for they are all equal in a spiritual union in Christ.

Our Father in heaven, we praise you because you established, in Jesus Christ, and under the guidance of his Holy Spirit, household churches in Rome. We particularly rejoice because these churches of your Son included free men and slaves, men and women, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, and they all became a blessed, spiritual union.
What can we learn from the names of the church members in Rome?