By Revd Dr. Idowu Ibitoye
Anytime that I read or meditate on Romans 16; what always comes to mind are the names of individuals who labored for the gospel expansion in the early church. I also tagged the chapter as names of heroes and heroin of faith on the church’ historical marble. Marble is defined as “a hard crystalline metamorphic form of limestone, typically white with colored mottling, which is usually polished, and it is used in sculpture and architecture”. Marble is a costly stone. It is used as a stone of remembrance for historical purpose, it is used mostly during inauguration and dedication of church buildings. Every church and Christian organizations are writing names of individuals who had contributed to the growth of the local church or organization. This write-up simply examines your name on the costly historical church marble.
Special Recognitions Of Believers At The Church Of Rome
• About 28 names of believers were recorded on this historical church marble. They were all members of the church of Rome, who had contributed immensely to the growth and expansion of this local assembly.
• Phoebe was a deaconess in the early church, “I commend to you our sister phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchren…” Rom. 16:1. She supported Paul’s ministry with her resources. She was a pillar in her local church who helped in ministering to women, the needy and in the ministry of the word. She was the one who delivered this epistle to the church at Rome; she was trustworthy, faithful and diligent in the gospel tasks.
• Priscilla and Aquila- They were married couple who were ministry partners with Paul, and worked in the same trade of tent making with him (Paul), cf Acts 18:2-3. They were both missionaries, they helped believers to grow in faith in Ephesus (Act. 18:18-28; II Tim. 4:19). Priscilla and Aquila ministered effectively behind the scene, they were known for hospitality, friendship and person to person teaching.They were not public speakers, but private evangelists, This is the time for Christian couple to rise, for door to door witnessing. Couple like Priscilla and Aquila are needed to work behind the scene in propagating and expanding the Kingdom of God.
• Furthermore, many other people were mentioned on the marble – The poor and the rich, the low and high, relatives and friends of Paul. This signifies that everyone is important in the church setting and everybody’s roles is significant.
• Seven women were also mentioned (1) Phoebe (2) Priscilla (3) Mary, (4) Tryphena and Tryphosa (Sister or Twins), (6) Persis, and (7) Julia. Also unnamed sister of Neneus. All of them were Christian workers, deaconess and prophetess who were labourers in the ministry of the church growth.
• Another important person on this marble was Rufus who was the son of Simeon the Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus, “Greet Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me too” Rom. 16:13. “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon the father of Alexander and Rufus was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross” Mark 15:21. This is a great lesson to the contemporary youths, that Rufus’s father (Simon)assisted Christ and the son was not left out in the service of Christ. Most of our fathers who handed over this faith to us served Christ with the whole oftheir strength and capability, we must follow their footsteps in our stewardship service.
Your Name On The Church’ Historical Marble
We must know that everyone is writing his/her name on the sand of time and we must be conscious of our activities because it shall become history someday.
1. Your name will always be merged with your activities in the household of faith. For example anytime the name of Judas Iscariot is mentioned what come to mind of every Bible reader is“a traitor”“conspirator” and “betrayer”, because his name has been merged with his activities. Likewise, whenever the name like Daniel is echoed one remembershim as a man of prayer who through divine intervention was not hurt by a lion, man who refused to corrupt himself with the King’s delicacies. What are you going to be remembered for?
2. Generations coming after you will remember your name in two wayseither positive or negative – once your name is mentioned, your contributions to the body of Christ will be remembered immediately either positively or negatively. Paul in his epistle in II Timothy 2:14 stressed that “Alexander the metal worker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done”. He also wrote about Priscilla and Aquila, referring to them as “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me” Rom. 16:3. There are many other negative and positive examples in the Bible, which we continue to read about. Our daily activities are books that others will read sometime later.
3. Everyone is writing his/her own ecclesiastical history- your actions and stewardship or service in your local church will soon become history, your contributions to the growth of your church and your nefarious activities will soon become history. Your divisive actions in your church will be relayed after you might have left. Your contributions to ensuring unity and harmony of your parish is going into record, which generations after you will read. It is good to contribute positively and meaningfully to the expansion of your church because everything will soon become history.
4. Good name is always better than any costly material – No one should exchange his good name for anything else. Many today because they are looking for instant wealth, fame and elevation, have soiled their names by joining robbery gangs, going into prostitution, or occultic groups. The counsel and admonition of the preacher should be our hallmark, “A good name is better than the fine perfume…” Eccl. 7:1.Everyone must rise to protect the legacy and heritage of his/her family by running away from illicit and sinful acts.
5. Your stewardship activities in the church today shall become history tomorrow. Maybe you are a choirmaster, Sunday School Teacher, instrumentalist, even the church pastor in your assembly, all these positions shall become history, it is pertinent that everyone do well in his/her activities.
6. It must be noted that your historical records is written forever in the hearts of people. The Bible affirmed that“…God has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” Eccl. 3:11. Everyone is keeping daily records in their hearts and shall relay it later. It is of high value to have good character towards everyone around. Everyone should see him/herself as a gift from God to His church and this generation. Whatever your contributions to your church and the society, must be seen as an enablement from God and that God has sent you as a gift to meet the needs in your church and the society. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, to suit the purpose of God on earth. (Ps. 139:14).
We are all writing history on the sand of time. We must see ourselves as sent agents from God to His church and the larger society; we must always know that we shall give account of our contributions to the church and our Society.
By Revd Dr. Idowu Ibitoye