Greetings From Paul’s Associates
“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.”- Romans 16:21-24
Most of Paul’s letters end with a series of greetings from those who were with the Apostle at the time of writing or whom he had recently seen. Romans is no exception, and in today’s passage, we read greetings from Paul’s associates to the Roman Christians.
Let us look first at Romans 16:22, where we read, “I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.” In the ancient world, letter writers commonly used an amanuensis— a secretary—to do the actual writing. An author would either dictate the epistle in its entirety and the amanuensis would write it down, or the author would give the amanuensis a freer hand, perhaps letting him write significant portions of an epistle on his own and then checking over his work. In the case of Romans, it is likely that Paul dictated the letter, but either way, the Apostle would not have sent the epistle to the church at Rome until after he had verified its content.
Timothy (v. 21) is well known to us as one of Paul’s closest associates. Paul trusted him so much that Timothy coauthored many of the Apostle’s epistles (for example, see Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1). We first read about Timothy in Acts 16:1-5, where we learn that he was a Christian from the city of Lystra in South Galatia. Paul eventually appointed Timothy as a pastor in Ephesus. Apparently, Timothy was quite mature for his age, as Paul references his youth in his first epistle to him (1 Tim. 4:12).
We are unsure whether Lucius (Rom. 16:21) is the same Lucius of Acts 13:1, but Jason is likely the same Jason mentioned in Luke’s description of Paul’s ministry at Thessalonica (17:5-9), and Sosipater is probably the Sopater mentioned in the same book at 20:4. All three of them were Paul’s “kinsmen” (Rom. 16:21), which means that they were Jews. It seems these men were Jewish delegates from the churches where Paul ministered, men commissioned to help Paul bring the financial assistance for the Jerusalem church that he had collected among the Gentiles (15:22-33).
Finally, Paul mentions Quartus, about whom we know nothing, as well as Gaius and Erastus (Rom. 16:23). Gaius is probably the same Gaius of Corinth about whom we read in 1 Corinthians 1:14, and he seems to be the one who provided for Paul’s physical needs while he was in that city. Erastus may be the Erastus described in Acts 19:21-22, and if so, he held a high position as the treasurer of the city of Corinth (Rom. 16:23).
Today’s passage shows us yet again that even the Apostles had valued coworkers in ministry and depended on others for their efforts. Indeed, this is how the Lord has made us—to rely on each other for fellowship and for assistance in ministry and in pleasing Him. There is no such thing as a healthy “lone ranger” Christian. We need each other, and as we share in the family of the saints, we all benefit.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 16:19-20
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
1 Peter 5:12-14