Rom 16:6-16 “Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.”
As Paul wraps up his letter to the saints at Rome, one thing is abundantly clear. He has a deep and abiding love for them and for their welfare. There is a great appreciation for their care of him and those who were with him. He harbors a great concern for them that they be well-treated.
Often, when we think of greeting someone, it is along the lines of “Hi! How are you?” While this is certainly an acceptable social greeting, Paul had something much deeper in mind than “Tell them I said hello.” The words translated as “greet” and “salute” in these verses come from the same Greek root. That word means “to enfold in the arms, that is, (by implication) to salute, (figuratively) to welcome: – embrace, greet, salute, take leave (see Strong’s).
The servants of Christ should have a great longing for each other. It is a great joy for us to greet one another with a hug and not just a handshake. The embrace is given in the Holy Ghost and not for carnal reasons. It is a recognition of the labor that each of the saints have bestowed for the cause of Christ.
Notice how often Paul refers to these as kinsmen, fellowprisoners, and laborers. Perhaps some of these people were related to Paul by natural lineage, but Paul felt a kinship to all of them by the blood of Jesus. This type of kinship transcends our natural affections. There is a great bond among fellowprisoners.
Certainly, some of these people might have been physically imprisoned with Paul at one time or another. However, they all shared a common “bondage” as servants of Jesus Christ. We are deeply blessed when we find ourselves so bound to Him that we are able to willingly and lovingly call Him Master. Being a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ is a bondage that I pray to never be loosed from.
Cultivating our relationship in Christ is not for those who wish to do nothing. We are recipients of His grace, and we are told not to receive that grace in vain. By His grace we are able to walk in His kingdom here. That same grace enables us to labor together to give God glory and honor.
Paul repeatedly recognizes that these saints are beloved in the Lord. They are approved (acceptable) in Christ. We have been made accepted in the beloved by the grace of God (Eph 1:1-6). Our very existence as kinsmen, prisoners, and laborers is grounded in Him (Acts 17:26-28).
May we be blessed by God to embrace one another with His holy kiss of love for His saints!