cherry blossoms on tree

I’m absolutely horrid at remembering names! Absolutely incredibly terrible! But I’m gifted at remembering faces. So I often know a face but don’t have a name for it! And it’s very embarrassing! Today I have a story about names I’ll remember not because of their faces but because of their faith!

The book of Romans has had a profound effect on my life! If I had to pick a favorite book of the bible Romans might be it, at least for today.

I’ve taught this sweeping doctrinal treatise several times and every time God impresses new things upon my mind and heart!

Chapter 16 for example…

As Roman’s closes Paul mentions a long list of people, 23 I think. Most from home churches in Rome and some he as not even met.

Here’s just a sample…

I commend to you our sister Phoebe who is a servant of the church which is in bla-bla-bla that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you

Greet blah-blah and Junias my kinsmen my fellow prisoners, (SKIP… SKIP… SKIP…)

Greet blah-blah-blah, my beloved in the Lord

Greet blah-blah-blah, our fellow worker in Christ, and blah-blah-blah my beloved. Greet blah-blah-bla, the approved in Christ. Greet those from the household of blah-blah-blah


Greet blah- blah-blah, my kinsman. Greet those from the household of blah-blah-blah, who are in the Lord.

Greet blah-blah-blah and blah-blah-blah workers in the Lord. Greet Persis SKIP…SKIP…SKIP…


Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.

Greet blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah brethren with them.

Greet blah and blah, blah-blah-blah and his sister, and O-blah-blah-blah and all the saints who are with them.

If you read names in the Bible like this raise your hand! Yup! I thought so. I’m not alone!

Many names in the Bible are hard to pronounce and there is little to no other information in the Word of God to make them noteworthy in my mind.

BUT when I studied Roman’s Chapter 16 this time and came to the list of so many odd names I decided to see if I could find out more about the real people behind the names. They must be of worth if God had Paul pen them in his letter.

Oh, a whole ancient word was laid out for me! So interesting!

First I was so impressed that during an age of difficult travel and no modern conveniences like internet and phones Paul was able to know and keep up with the lives of so many people. He knew them. And many he never met face to face.

His letter writing skills really put me to shame! But not only that, Paul in other books of the Bible he was privileged to write, often says how he was praying for the saints. These very people.

I can just imagine him rehearsing these names over and over again as he brought them to the Throne Of Grace. A beautiful example for you and me!

On further ferreting out these names I found many had real and interesting people behind them. Many of them beloved and all noteworthy.

Take Phoebe for example (v1 and 2). First of all, I was impressed she was mentioned. The Bible gives not only mention but accolades to females in a very male-dominated society. Phoebe was a deaconess or servant of the church in Cenchrea, an eastern port in Corinth in Greece.

She was a businesswoman and a devout follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. I call her a covert Christian and love this idea. Yes, she was a businesswoman, probably in textiles, but she was a businesswoman while she was a servant of the Lord. Her primary goal was to serve and glorify God. That is what I want to be!

She knew Paul and it was Paul who commended her to take the letter, that makes up the book of Romans, to the churches in Rome.

Phoebe means bright or pure. How fitting! What a bright spot she must have been in the life of Paul and the Roman churches!

Epaenetus (v 5) may have been Paul’s jailer when Paul was in
Turkey and might have been actually chained to him. He was thought to be one of the early Christians. And Paul mentions that Epaenetus was the first convert to Christ from Asia! His name means trustworthy.

Ampliatus (verse 8) was a known slave. Why is this important? Because the small house churches in Rome were made up of people, Jew and Gentile, and men and women from every station in life. Christ is the level playing field! Who you are or what you have done or where you make no difference. There is no partiality with God, Romans 2:11.

And this is a miracle in itself in so many ways! But let’s move on…

Aristabulus (v10) is thought to be the grandson of Herod the Great, who was ruler of Judea during the life of Christ. And had part in Christ’s passion.

Aristobulus was not a Christian but “Greet those who are in the household of Aristobulus” means many from his family and those serving him in his home were and were involved in the home churches in Rome.

These precious names of people long ago go on and on. And because I dug a little deeper I found out so many things about them and about the Lord I serve!

I know I’m horrid at remembering names. And I have no faces to put to these people mentioned in Roman’s. But their names have spoken throughout the centuries to give me a glimpse of who they are and why their mention was so important! No longer will I blah-blah-blah their names. I want to know them too!

God’s plan of salvation reached out into the Gentile world at that time without internet or television or iPhones. It was ordained to be carried by letter and word of mouth. It was miraculously spread to all the known world!

God’s grace was and still is spread for everyone. No matter who you are! No matter your station in life! No matter your past!

Jesus’ last words were..

Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this age. Mathew 28:19-20

I think the last words of someone ready to depart from this earth are of the upmost importance, don’t you?

Do you know Jesus? Do you believe in Him as your Lord and Savior? If not please read WHAT IS SAVING FAITH. He wants you to be part of His family!

And in this world that will blame you and shame you and cancel you Jesus opens His nail-pierced hands to welcome you! No matter what you have done you are blameless! He is happy to take on your shame and set you free. And the only thing canceled is your sin!

If you have the ultimate joy of knowing Jesus then I also ask you to be a covert Christian like Phoebe the businesswoman, and a slave like Ampliatus, and a worker for the Lord like Trphnena (dainty) and Tryphosa (delicate).

Be like Appeles who was known for his honesty in the very dishonest profession of money exchanging who was approved of the Lord! Or like Narcissus who was a slave and who was raised up through the ranks to be the personal secretary of Emperor Claudius. All covert Christians!

Our goal, no matter what we do, is to spread the gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world. To offer hope that spans eternity!

Always with grace and truth and in all gentleness. “Always ready to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15)

The names of Roman 16 will be precious to me as long as I live on this earth and one day I will be able to meet them face to face when we are all with the Lord!

Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this age. Mathew 28:19-20

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  1. As I read through the Bible each year I want to skip over all the NAMES but then I thought that maybe someday I might run into them in heaven. I want to be able to say, oh, I read about you and since you were important enough to be mentioned, it’s an honor to meet you. Great post today.

  2. Thank you for sharing your wise and inspired words Ivonne. I have to share that some years ago while reading the whole Bible I came to a conundrum, do I need to read all these names or do I skip them and continue reading the passage? After a brief pause this thought came to my mind, What if when the book of life is opened someone skips over your name? Oh my Lord!!! No skipping over long lists of names for me, no matter how long the list or how difficult the pronunciation because for the Lord everyone of us is important no matter who we are or what are our circumstances and by reading our names we are recognized and celebrated! The Lord be with you always!

  3. Esther Rabenstein says:

    How very interesting….. the “ blah, blah, blah” caught my eye as I do that all the time…. thanks for impressing on me the need to be observant, careful, and thoughtful as I read the Bible….. Thanks fir the insight… Esther

  4. Hi I enjoy you blog! I have noticed you use those white hurricanes a lot! I really love them and was wondering where you got them?? Thanks and keep decorating!

    1. Hi Gwen, can you email me and tell me a post that they are in so I can see what you mean? Thanks. I’m looking forward to helping you.

    1. You are welcome. When I learned a little about the people behind the names they became real!

  5. Thank you, Yvonne, for not being ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and proclaiming it so boldly! It is so easy to be silent, however, as Christians, we are ALL commanded to share the Gospel (good news of Jesus). God doesn’t tell us that if we feel like sharing then go ahead. Prayer and practice help tremendously. Just a little encouragement! “For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36

  6. Blah, blah, blah! That is exactly how I read over the names, skimming over so I can get to the good stuff, forgetting that these individuals played a role in the good stuff!
    These people were God’s ambassadors, sharing the message of salvation.
    Today is a new day though. No more skimming!
    Thank you for sharing your insights.

  7. Yvonne,

    Names are soooo important, but like you, I am a face recognizer and don’t always remember names. What a joy to know that Jesus has our name written on the palm of His hand where He was nail-pierced for our transgressions so we might spend eternity with Him and all the great roll call of saints!

    Blessed Sabbath Day to all,

  8. This post is like life is. We get rid of issues and names we think we don’t need to remember, but we must remember them as they are or have been important in God ‘s schemes for us to be closer to Him. I will never thank you enough for these very inspiring pieces of writing that just come out of your heart, and the heart is our best place to treasure all your wonderful explanations of the Scriptures.

    Be as happy as you can ever be and be proud of helping so many people all over the world with your words of hope.

    Big hug from Spain full of affection,

    1. Charo, even though I have never met you I feel like you are a good friend! When I see your comments I just can’t wait to read them. We are kindred spirits, knit together by our love of our Lord Jesus! God bless you too Charo, my friend! xo

      1. Thanks for your words! I promise you are helping lots of people enormously!
        Have lots of joy and peace this week,

  9. My daddy was a prayer warrior and daily Bible reader. I don’t know how many times he had read the Bible when he left us at the age of 96 1/2. I had an interesting conversation with him and my mother (she left us at 104) about Bible names. Daddy said he always read every name as he came to it. My mother skipped them. I read the names like Daddy did. One of the things I learned about names when I taught school is how important a person’s name is to them; it is part of our identity. God left us information about the identity of early Christians by the names of the people in the Bible. Their names were not coincidence. They challenge us to be more like Him, and I hope I rise to that challenge every day. Thanks for your words today.

  10. Adele Haney LeChien says:

    What a wonderful, and most needed I might add, post for today. A bit- a- burden was lightened to know I am not the only one who struggles remembering names. I have so often wondered about those same people mentioned in your post, who they were, why were they mentioned by name, and why it is important to have their names documented. Another eye opener beautiful and so valid for the world we live in. Thank you so much and may God Bless you Yvonne. One of the best things in my day is opening my computer to see your posts, scripture sharing, decorating fun, and recipe miracles. -Adele.

  11. Thank you for sharing your insights and for testifying of our Savior Jesus Christ.