Timothy, my coworker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my fellow countrymen, greet you.
I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus greet you.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
I don't know about you, but I'm always fascinated to know about the names of the people who have the distinction of being mentioned in the Bible. It is by no accident that we are introduced to them, and, here at the end of the Book of Romans, Paul makes the special effort to let the Roman Christians know that he and his fellow workers (who are at the Church in Corinth) send them their thoughts and prayers. Remember, the Christians of Rome were unpopular; reputed to be "enemies of the human race" and credited with such vices as incest and cannibalism. So to be remembered by other Christians would give them strength to continue in their faith.
So, who were these men who Paul mentioned by name? We are all familiar with Timothy, his “beloved son” in the faith, but I bet you didn't know that Lucius, Jason and Sosipator were Paul’s relatives. He mentions Tertius, the man to whom Paul dictated the letter, and Gaius, in whose home the Church in Corinth met. Also meeting with them is a prominent politician, Erastus, the city treasurer, and their brother Quartus.
It is important to notice that Tertius, which means “Third”, and Quartus, which means “Fourth” were most likely slaves, who were not given names when they were born, but often given the number that corresponded to their birth order. Tertius and Quartus were likely brothers who were educated slaves and had become Christians. They can read and write, and are part of this group in Corinth.
Lucius appears to be the same one who comes from Cyrene, mentioned in Chapter 13 of Acts as one of the teachers in the city of Antioch. Jason was evidently Paul's host when the apostle went to the city of Thessalonica, in Macedonia. Paul stayed in Jason's home when a riot broke out in the city. Sosipater may be the man from Beroea, mentioned in Acts 20 as "Sopater." Paul met him in Macedonia and may have accompanied him to Jerusalem with the offering to the churches there.
I think we can agree that all these mentioned by Paul were noted for their steady, tested commitment, and their faithfulness to the gospel. Today we Christians give in so easily to the world's philosophy of life -- live for your own pleasure, focus on retiring at the end of your life and discontinuing your work. The early Christians did not believe that. They worked tirelessly their entire lives to spread the Gospel message. So what can we learn from how they lived their lives in Christ?
1) They were not their own; they belonged to Christ. God had called them out of their lives in the world and He would direct their paths. Do we think like that, or do we fit God in whenever we have a few spare minutes in our selfish lives?
2) They believed that this life in Christ was a battle to the death. They were engaged in warfare that never ended until they left this life, so they kept on fighting. Do we live our lives battling for the Lord, or are we fighting for our own comforts and security?
3) They believed in rest and leisure only as a means to restore themselves to get back in the battle. There was no thought of “retirement” or taking a vacation; this was their life’s work until their last breath. How do we view our life’s work, and could we devote every day until the end to working for the Lord?
4) Finally, they understood that the gifts of the Holy Spirit -- that they each one possessed to some degree -- opened up a ministry for every single believer. No Christian was without a ministry. Some of these dear people could not teach or preach, but they had the gift of helps, and they did that, right to the end. What excuse do we have? Do we even try to understand what gift we have and how we can use it to serve the Lord and the community of Believers? Or are we focused on how to enjoy our life in this world?
I think this passage reminds us that God has called us all to a ministry, and we all have to give an account for what we have done with both our natural gifts and our spiritual gifts. We had better find out what they are and go to work for Him, because God has not called us to a picnic or a party. He has called us to serve Him with our hearts, mind, soul, and strength.