Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Than a Name

Last night Colin and I watched, courtesy of Desiring God Ministries, John Piper's most recent sermon on Romans 16:1-7. At first glance, most of us if we were honest would skim read this passage as it seems to be just a list of names. How wrong can we be?! Piper describes this passage as "dense with theology, ecclesiology and ethics." Piper goes on to bring out 6 observations from this passage, before homing in on Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. But, a few words about what he said of them:

Phoebe (probably single as there is no mention of her husband) is a sister, a servant and a partner in ministry. As a partner this reflects that "from the very beginning of the Christian church, women have been absolutely crucial partners in ministry with men - partners in marriage and partners as single women." Piper goes on to say, "the role of women, and the courage of women, is simply breathtaking. The fact that God calls men to lead the church as the teaching and governing elders is, in the long run...a strengthening liberating, joyful thing for Christ-exalting women." Phoebe was invaluable to Paul, a minister of mercy whose life celebrated the equal, yet complementary differences in calling and roles as men and women of God.

Prisca & Aquila were married, fellow-workers, movers and risk-takers together for the sake of Christ. Both parties, as a couple, worked together, they were ready to risk together, they were ready to die for Paul and the Gospel. For those who are married: are we ready to move, work and even together put our necks on the block as these saints were? This passage certainly is more than just a list of names. Let's pray that we would be known for more than just our names.

I commend to you this sermon: singles, those who are married and those for whom this post has perhaps struck a chord of disagreement! Listen and watch here.

1 comment:

SarahJane said...

Thank you for pointing me to that sermon. I was unaware that sermons were now available for viewing - fabulous.
I loved his elaboration on the character of the women in this passage and on the concept of deaconess, the work of which seems to fit so perfectly to what we as Christian women are commanded to do and be to those around us.
As he was wrapping up the sermon, I was reminded of what all of Hebrews 12 has to say, particularly "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..."