Wednesday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Romans 16:1-27 (NKJV)
16:1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Today, Paul teaches us how to view others and how to relate to them. It is by means of honest evaluation and by loving one for the sake of another. Thus, when he commends Phoebe as the helper of many, speaks of others as beloved, as fellow workers, as being of good repute among the company of the apostles, and so on, someone might say, “So, what is that to me? How have they helped me?” Yet, God could say the same of us, except that the blood of Jesus commends us to Him. We are loved—and that directly (St. John 16:26-27)—because the beloved status of the Christ has been given to us through faith in Him (St. Luke 9:35, 20:13, Rom. 9:25, Eph. 1:6, Col. 3:12).
On the other hand, no matter their other works, those who cause division and stumbling by teaching contrary to sound doctrine are to be avoided and taken note of so that others do not stumble. As Luther says in the Large Catechism, publicly noting the false teaching of the Pope was no violation of the Eighth Commandment (Ten Commandments, section 284), but was his duty as an occupant of the Office of the Ministry (sections 274-275).
This avoidance involves no trifling, no seeking to ‘Lutheranize’ their false teaching, much less to ignore it in our midst. Instead, we must end it or separate from it, lest we become guilty of bringing others to fall away from Christ, just as Paul warns Timothy about ordaining pastors (or being in fellowship with them) without sufficient examination (1 Tim. 5:21-22).
Prayer: Teach us, O Father, to view others for the sake of Your Son and of the Gospel, that none may stumble, but rejoice in Your pure Word. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.