“Without Paul there might have been no ministry to the Gentiles and without these people Paul’s call to go and tell the story for the risen Christ would have been even more difficult to achieve.” 

Who will go, who will tell the story? I chose this chapter and these verses because it tells us how important the Family of God is and the immense value of the Faith Community. Now more than ever those of the faith need to tell the story. To cover all those mentioned here in these 16 or so verses would be a bit much for a blog but stay here in the Pew a bit as we look into some of these saints of the faith in Paul’s day. 

The first name on our list will be one that we don’t hear about but this once. That would be Rufus. The New Testament makes the connection between Him, his mother and her knowing Paul. Rufus was a saintly man well respected in the Roman church. Don’t want to go down to many rabbit holes here and confuse readers. 

Mark 15:21

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. The story of this man Simon is an interesting one also but for now we will just concentrate on Rufus and his Mother.

I have chosen this Excerpt from the Christian Courier, “Paul’s Mother” written by Wayne Jackson:

“It is widely believed, due to certain circumstantial evidence, that this “Rufus” was one of the sons of Simon of Cyrene, who assisted in carrying the Lord’s cross en route to Golgotha. In the Gospel account recorded by Mark, we find these words: “And they compel one passing by, Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross” (15:21). While each of the synoptic writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention this incident regarding Simon, only Mark names his sons, one of whom was Rufus.”

If we take a bit of liberty here it would not be too far out of reason to think that Paul’s relationship with the church in Rome brought him into contact with Rufus and his mother because they were the first to welcome Paul to Rome.

Philippians 4:22

All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.

Of the twenty-four names, thirteen occur in inscriptions or documents which have to do with the emperor’s palace in Rome. Consider that this would infer that there were saints in Caesar’s household. They would mostly be slaves but the possibility of such is amazing that at this early a stage of the development of Christianity they have penetrated into the imperial palace. It is important that I make note of the fact some of the information I share with you today has been found in old records of that time by biblical archeologists and scholars. It is through their study and interpretation of the things that we have this extraordinary window into those early days of the church. So…is it fair to say in some things we may be dealing with speculation and possibilities? My answer would be yes but with a warning…over and over through the years such research has proven to be right. Now with that said let’s move on to Andronicus and Junias. Scholars believe that Junias is a female name. Was it possible that in the early church a woman could be classed as an apostle? At that time apostles were considered to be those who went out to tell the story of Jesus. Paul also said that they were Christians before he was. This suggestive time clue could mean that they were a direct link to the earliest church at Jerusalem. They would go back as far as Stephen who was martyred because of his faith by the Jews. In Rome a household would include not only family and relatives but also servants and slaves. So I hope you do read these verses and in some way see the power of the word and pick up on the family thing. There are a lot of if’s to some of these stories but they do allow us to see the tremendous growth of the church at all levels of life. 

I could continue on with the names we have in these verses but that would overwhelm the point I wish to make. It seems that there were very few if any social barriers in the early church. Faith and a desire to tell the story were the measures of value. Chapter 16 leaves me with these thoughts. We are family, we are a community, we are children of God. Our history is one of hope,  perseverance  of faith and salvation through our savior Jesus Christ. 

Life is Good