No Man is an Island (Romans 16:21-23)

Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” (Romans 16:21–22, KJV 1900)

The expression, “No man is an island,” comes from a poem by John Donne. Donne was a Christian and this expression communicates the idea that people need one another and are connected with others in life. After being in the pastoral ministry for many years, I realize how true this is. Scriptures tell us that we must not forsake the assembly of ourselves together (Heb 10:24-25). This is all the more vital when we consider the mission to which we have been entrusted. We need one another.

Paul here in his closing remarks to the believers in Rome, extends greetings from some who were instrumental in his ministry and likely known by the believers in Rome. In particular, he mentions Timothy as a fellow worker. Timothy was a young man that he met and joined him on his second missionary journey. Paul mentored Timothy in the ministry. He also mentions some of his fellow countrymen.

Interestingly, a man named Tertius introduces himself as one who wrote the letter. According to this, he, Tertius, took Paul’s dictation and wrote it down. We see indications that this practice of Paul dictating two other letters, 1 Corinthians and Galatians (1 Cor 16:19-21; Gal 6:11).

Paul also mentions Gaius, who hosted him during his ministry in Corinth. (There are many indications that Corinth was the place from which Paul wrote the letter.) Moreover, it seems that Gaius opened his home as a house church in the city, as Paul indicated that he hosted him and the whole church (Rom 16:23).

He also mentions Erastus who was the city manager in charge of finances, in Corinth. (Interestingly, in 1929 archeologists uncovered a stone in Corinth that was engraved, “Erastus, Commissioner of Public Works.”) He further mentioned Quartus, a brother in the Lord, and earlier in the chapter, he mentions many others who were instrumental in his ministry, such as Priscilla and Aquila and many others.

The point is that this whole idea that we can do ministry on our own is foolishness. We need one another. The Lord never designed for us to do it alone. Yes, there are times when we will have one-on-one divine appointments to proclaim the gospel. Yet, in the broader picture, we need other believers and they need us. We are in this work together.

Therefore, every believer must do their part using their specific gifts and talents. However great or small you may think they are, each one in vital to the work. Every relationship in the church, every friendship that is developed is essential. We must meet together. There is strength in numbers. We need fellowship. “No man is an island.”

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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