Romans 16:5: Greet Also The Church In Their House. Greet My Beloved Epaenetus, Who Was the First Convert To Christ In Asia.
Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. (ESV)
Paul continues to send these special greetings to his various friends. Ministry is a lonely business. Believe it or not, those who give their lives to preaching the Gospel do not always have lots of friends. According to statistics garnered by Standing Stone Ministries, "70 percent of pastors do not have a close friend." We do not know how many friends Paul had, but we can see that he treasured the ones that he did have.
The first group of friends whom he mentions is the church that meets in the home of Priscilla and Aquila. These dear friends who had labored side by side with him for many years had a church meeting in their home. The common bond that his friends, and those in their church, shared was a love for Jesus Christ. However, they also shared a bond in friendship with Paul. This was very special to him.
Epaenetus is mentioned as the first convert to Christ in Asia. Now, for us to get a little bit of context, we will need to turn to the sixty-seventh book of the Bible, the Book of Maps. In a good Bible map you will see that what Paul describes as "Asia" is actually what we would call modern day Turkey. We read his name only once in Scripture. This believer was beloved of Paul, and with good reason.
Can you imagine if you were the Apostle Paul? You would have lived a previous life where you were putting Christians into prison and applauding their death. It must have felt strangely wonderful to now introduce sinners to the Savior. Those whom he was trying to exterminate from the Earth became his dearest treasures. Epaenetus had a very special place in Paul's heart.
Maybe you know someone who is a pastor? A missionary? An elder/leader in a local church? Would you pray for them today? They very likely need a friend.