Profiles of Grace.

In the first century, names were given with significant thought. In the longest list of names found in Paul's epistles, however, it is not the names themselves that are the most important. It is the fact that these people are "in Christ" and "in the Lord," which is repeated 11 times in 23 verses. Some of the people in this list were slaves with no formal names aside from the household they served. Slave or free, when they were saved, these believers were given a greater identity in their Savior.

The social distinctions within this list of people are wide, varied, and purposeful. Jesus came to give salvation to all people (1 John 2:2). One third of the list of names belong to women. They played important roles in ministry even though they did not have significant roles in their culture. Though Paul mentions two or three house churches and their leaders, but even the organizational structure of the church is not emphasized more than their common status "in Christ."

Priscilla and Aquila

In Romans 16:3-5, Paul greets Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila and "the church that is in their house." This couple was originally from Rome but had been evicted under Emperor Claudius' orders. They ministered with Paul in Corinth and Ephesus (Acts 18) but were now back in their original hometown.

This couple is always mentioned together. Their lives were wedded together as spiritual teammates. Priscilla is usually mentioned first, indicating that she may have had a greater gift in teaching than her husband. Men often struggle if their wives are more well-known than they, but Aquila and Priscilla were all about Christ.

These were probably people of means, since they were able to host a church in their home. Most believers at the time were slaves or members of the lower class, but all were equal in Christ. No doubt Priscilla and Aquila demonstrated humility with the fellow Christians who came to their house to worship.

When Paul calls them "fellow workers in Christ Jesus," he uses a word similar to the English "synergy." They worked so closely with Paul that they "risked their own necks" for him. They were comprehensive helpers to Gospel ministers, and without their help, much training and Gospel advancement would not have happened.


The next name we find in Romans 16:5 means "praiseworthy." Paul calls him "beloved." Epaenetus was the first Asian convert and a strong influence in the early church of the area. Paul praises God's work in this man as he loves to encourage faithfulness in his other letters (Philippians 1:5-6).

Application Points

  • Are you known more for your own name or your Savior's name?
  • Interestingly, not one name in Romans 16 is a full-time minister of the Gospel. Yet each person helped advance the Gospel in irreplaceable ways. How can you do the same?
A Hymn to Encourage: "Come, All Christians, Be Committed"

Come, all Christians, be committed
To the service of the Lord;
Make your lives for Him more fitted,
Tune your hearts with one accord.
Come into His courts with gladness,
Each his sacred vows renew,
Turn away from sin and sadness,
Be transformed with life anew.

Of your time and talents give ye,
They are gifts from God above;
To be used by Christians freely
To proclaim His wondrous love.
Come again to serve the Savior,
Tithes and off’rings with you bring.
In your work, with Him find favor,
And with joy His praises sing.

God’s command to love each other
Is required of every one;
Showing mercy to one another
Mirrors His redemptive plan.
In compassion He has given
Of His love that is divine;
On the cross sins were forgiven;
Joy and peace are fully thine.

Come in praise and adoration,
All who in Christ’s name believe;
Worship Him with consecration,
Grace and love you will receive.
For His grace give Him the glory,
For the Spirit and the Word,
And repeat the gospel story
Till all men His name has heard.