Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you. Romans 16:21
In the first portion of Romans 16, Paul greeted many in Rome. After this came his thoughts concerning the need to avoid divisions and strife by avoiding those who would otherwise tear apart the harmony within the church. With that thought complete, he now extends greetings from those with him. First noted is the famous Timothy who is seen throughout the New Testament and to whom two epistles were written.
Timothy is first introduced into the Bible in Acts 16 –
“Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 16:1-5
After this, Timothy seemed to never be far from Paul. He is noted in the introduction of five of Paul’s letters as being there with him. In Philippians 2:19-23 he is mentioned in a most honorable way when Paul calls him “a son with his father” –
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.”
In Hebrews 13, we learn that Timothy had even been imprisoned for his faith at one time. He was eventually ordained as the first bishop of the church at Ephesus and is a person never noted as anything but firm and resolute in his friendship with Paul and his integrity and endurance in his work for the Lord.
After mentioning “Timothy my fellow worker” Paul goes on to note Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater. Some teach that Lucius is actually Luke who wrote Luke and Acts, but Jamieson-Faucett-Brown disagree. They say that “the fuller form of ‘Lucas’ is not ‘Lucius’ but ‘Lucanus.'” He is probably the same person noted again as Lucius of Cyrene in Acts 13:1 among a list of “prophets and teachers.”
Jason is mentioned in Acts 17:5-9 in connection with a disturbance at his home where they met to share the gospel. This occurred in Thessalonica. And Sosipater is most likely known as “Sopater of Berea” in Acts 20:4. Collectively, these three are called “my countrymen” by Paul. They were of Jewish descent and therefore of the same stock as Paul. They each had extended their greetings to those in Rome and at the same time added both note and credibility to the letter Paul penned to them.
Life application: Consider how faithless many people are. When trials or troubles come along, they fly off like a bird. But Timothy held to Paul like a son to his father. If your church goes through a bumpy patch which isn’t involving wrong doctrine, will you just get up and leave or will you stick with it through the trial? And what about those you are close to as friends and associates? How willing are you to stand with them in their own times of need? Be faithful like Timothy who stayed with Paul through the most amazing trials and difficulties.
Lord Jesus, from time to time we find out how faithless many friends and colleagues are. When difficult times come, they are gone like birds out an open window. I would pray for that not to be how I am remembered by others. Instead, help me to be there for them in their time of need and to be remembered as a faithful friend. But Lord, be with me and remind me of this. With You, I know I will remain faithful to those around me. Amen.