Days of Praise

Personal Greetings

“Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.” (Romans 16:14)

An interesting phenomenon occurs in the closing chapter of many of Paul’s epistles, which may at first seem incongruous with the biblical doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration. This phenomenon is the recital of various names of individuals—people in the churches from which, or to which, he was writing. Most of them are people about whom we know nothing except their names, as listed by Paul. There are 11 people mentioned by name in Colossians 4:7-17. In Paul’s final epistle to Timothy, right after he had written the great passage on the inspiration of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), he mentioned no less than 18 names. In the last chapter of Romans is listed 35 names, five of which are included in the one short verse of our text!

The question is, why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to include so many personal names of people who were of only local interest, in epistles which God intended to be used by Christians everywhere? And, of course, these lists of names are dwarfed in comparison to the very extensive lists in the Old Testament (e.g., Numbers 7 and 26).

Perhaps the main reason for their permanent inscripturation in this fashion is simply to illustrate the great truth that God knows and cares about every one of His children. We do know that each of our names is written in “the book of life of the Lamb” and in God’s “book of remembrance . . . for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name” (Revelation 13:8; Malachi 3:16). Perhaps, as a small token and assurance of these great lists in heaven, God has listed a few of these names in His Book here on Earth. They were ordinary people just like us, and it will be our privilege, as Paul instructs in our text, to “salute Asyncritus” when we can, and all the other believers who have gone before us! HMM

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