the weblog of Alan Knox


Posted by on Sep 27, 2010 in community, fellowship, scripture | 4 comments


Have you ever paid attention to Romans 16? Twelve times, Paul commands his readers to “Greet” someone or a group of people.

Who did Paul intend to do the “greeting”? What did it mean for them to “greet” others? Who were they “greeting”?

I think, if we examine this passage (and other similar passages) closely, and we identify who Paul was talking to, who he was talking about, and what he intended them to do, then we would recognize how far we’ve come from the interactive and interrelational attitude of those early churches.

Today, we don’t even know one another… how could we possibly greet people who do not meet with us?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 9-27-2010

    Considering this intriguing little post (and the way it ties into the one about “rightness”), a number of thoughts strike me. Do these make sense to others, or am I tilting sideways?

    1. In a given locality, there are no divisions of saints: no subdivided “just-our-flavor-that-excludes-you” saints, no “we-have-it-right-and-you-don’t” saints; not even “parachurch” and “real” church saints. There are also no “you guys are under so-and-so” divisions, so that Paul would/should talk to a bunch of saints “through pastor(s) x(,y,x)” to honor some hierarchical order (such as what we today imagine and expect–who would be so bold as to directly speak to another “pastor’s flock?” without his/her permission and filtering oversight?). (Rom 1:7)

    2. That they met in several different households (Rom 16:10,11,14,15) did not constitute a separate church division in Rome–at least, it did not strike Paul as a problem, while he was very concerned about dividers and divisions. Today, we would expect multitudes of divisions such as the “1st xyz church of Rome” vs the “2nd xyz church of Rome,” and the “abc church of Rome” or any such division of the local church in Rome. (Rom 16:10,11,14,15)

    2. Those who pursue such divisions, aren’t to become the focus of all attention and ministry to persuade them differently. Instead, we are to avoid them. (Rom 16:17-18). Rightness isn’t pursued at the theoretical level, but at the level of action (service).

    3. Particular attention, instead, is paid to those who serve. While recognition was given just for being a saint, there seems to be extra recognition given based on service, (rather than on correctness of knowledge/theology).

    4. The churches who are not in your locality are still sensing a family affinity for one another, still receiving and greeting one another, cheering distant localities of saints on (rather than jealously competing and setting up walls of divisions). (Rom 16:1,2,16 b)

  2. 9-28-2010


    Yes. Exactly. We are the church (together) whether we meet together every day, every week, every month, or never. When we do meet together (whether just the two of us, or with others) we treat one another like family not strangers, and we immediately accept one another as co-members of the body of Christ.


  3. 9-30-2010

    Very insightful post! I had never noticed how many times the word “greeting” is repeated in John 16. Quoting John Darby’s Synopsis for the chapter: “We see how touchingly his heart dwells upon all the details of service which attached him to those who had rendered it… This is love; it is the real proof of the power of the Spirit of God; it is the bond of charity.” We are very far from the close relationships they used to have in the early church!

  4. 9-30-2010


    Thanks for the comment. Typically, we don’t have the same type of “close relationships” with people that we meet with regularly, much less with people who meet in different parts of our city.



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