Daily Devotion for January 11, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
~ C. S. Lewis
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house.
Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
Notes on the Scripture
Having ended the epistle in Chapter 15, Paul finds he must include additional information. We see demonstrated here a shade of difference between an "epistle", which is more of an essay in the form of a letter, and an ordinary "letter" intended to be read by a friend or aquaintance. One might say that Chapter 16 is a letter written to accompany his epistle.
Today's passage begins with an introduction. Almost certainly, Phoebe is the person who carried the epistle from Corinth to Rome. She has considerable means, for Paul introduces her as a patron, that is, a person who had been providing him and many other Christians in Corinth with material support. Such a patrician Greek might have been a citizen of Rome and, in any case, would have considered a trip to Rome as normal as a wealthy American taking a trip to New York.
The rest of the passage is a list of people in Rome whom Paul knows. Prisca (also called "Priscilla", the diminuative form of Prisca) and Aquila had an importance to the early church that is practically unheralded today. As we remember from Acts 18, they were Roman Jews who had been expelled by Claudius; they were instrumental in starting two of the great churches of Paul's missions, Corinth and Ephesus. Paul had lived with them for 18 months. Although undocumented, most scholars believe that Aquila became the Bishop of Asia Minor and was martyred with his wife.
Paul accomplishes two things with his list of "shout outs". Naturally, he says hello to old friends. But also, he strengthens his own credentials and credibility with readers of the epistle, many of whom would have known one or more of the people mentioned. He is giving himself references.
Although some of the names are possibly (or clearly) Jewish, such as Mary and Herodius, most of the names are Roman or Greek. Less than a decade before, Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rome and it had only been open for their return for a couple of years. The Roman church was primarily a church of Gentiles.