We recently concluded our series on Romans at Hope Church Tacoma. To spend time walking verse-by-verse through Paul’s letter to the church in Rome was a blessing for me in every possible way. And the final chapter of the Book, Romans 16, was no exception. For some, Romans 16 can be a bit anticlimactic. After all, it seems like it’s just a long “thank you” from Paul. Kind of like the “acknowledgements” section of most books. And if you get frustrated with hard to pronounce Biblical names, well Romans 16 has 26 of them for you, seemingly one right after the other.
But I’d like to talk about what I see as a really hidden treasure in the resumption of the naming the folks that Paul loves near the end of the chapter. And it really was a blessing to me when I saw it.
In Romans 16:22 we read: “I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.”
I’m fascinated by names, and the meaning of names. A friend of mine, Dallas Thom, talks about the importance of names, and how a name speaks into the future life of a child, and I could not agree more.
What Tertius is saying is that he wrote down the letter as Paul dictated it to him, and he is slipping in a special “hello”. Paul was the author of the letter to the church in Rome, but Tertius wrote it out for him.
Think about Tertius’ name and it’s meaning. It means “third”. Think of the pharase “primary, secondary and tertiary” – his name literally translates as “third”.
In Acts 20:4, Another list of those significantly involved is given, and one of the prominent names mentioned is that of a fellow named Secundus. The literal translation for Secundus is “second”
Why would somebody have a name like “second” or “third”?
When you look at the history of the time, the only reason numerical names were given was when they were given to slaves. These men were slaves who were known by no other name than 2 or 3 – but now they were part of the body of Christ – they had become part of God’s family. To most people of their time, they didn’t matter all that much. They were just property. But that’s not the way God saw them.
They were loved by God – and God took the time to make sure their names were in the Bible – because to God, everybody truly matters. And God can use anybody to accomplish truly spectacular things.
People accepted Christ as their Lord, and as a result, they were saved, it was of absolutely no moment what position they were in when they got saved. We can tend to get kind of arrogant when it come to our view of the church and who we will minister to. But to God, none of that matters. And shame on us if we ever presume that it does.
Imagine this – you are a guy who’s only name is “third” and you get to write down the Book of Romans – what an honor for a man who was, and probably still is, a slave at the time he transcribed the Book of Romans, Paul’s Magnum Opus.
And what’s the lesson?
You may be thinking, as I have from time-to-time, “what could I possibly do for the body of Christ? How could God possibly use me? After all, I’m damaged goods.”
The reality is that there is no limitation on what God can do through you. Everybody is part of God’s plan. We just have to realize that, accept Him as our Lord, surrendering our lives to Him in the process, and walk out in faith in the plan He has for us. And then watch what happens!