Erastus the Chamberlain
Romans 16:21-24
Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.…

Perhaps the apostle's helper in Ephesus (Acts 19:22). Mentioned in connection with his own city, Corinth (2 Timothy 4:20). An undesigned coincidence. Probably on receiving he accompanied Paul for a time. He was the public steward or treasurer, town clerk or recorder — an office of high respectability — mentioned by Josephus. The gospel suits and gains all classes. Yet not many noble called (1 Corinthians 1:26). Grace is compatible with high position and manifold avocations. Christians may hold office under heathen rulers (Nehemiah 1:1). To serve Christ we need not abandon worldly business.

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

Erastus the chamberlain: — "Not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called," but there were exceptions; and in some places not a few. If, when a Christian, Erastus retained office, the fact speaks highly of his reputation as a citizen and a functionary. The disciples of Jesus are still members of society; and if on any occasion their fellow-citizens call them to any situation of authority and influence, not requiring anything inconsistent with their Christian principles, it may even become an imperative duty for them to obey. Whatever station we are called in providence to fill, let us see to it that we never act the part of a trimming worldly policy. In every situation "let your light shine." There is danger, when Christians are placed in situations of worldly honour and influence, of their getting secularised: sad is it when this is the case; for it is alike injurious to the spiritual interests of the individual and to the cause of Christ. Oh, for grace according to our situation — that God in all things may be glorified!

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

Quartus a brother. — It is easy to make a little picture of this brother. He is a stranger to the Church in Rome, and is evidently a man of no especial reputation in the Church at Corinth. He has no wealth like Gaius, nor civil position like Erastus, nor wide reputation like Timothy. But he would like the Romans to know that he thought lovingly of them, and to be lovingly thought of by them. So he begs a little corner in Paul's letter, and gets it; and there, in his little niche, like some statue of a forgotten saint, scarce seen amidst the glories of a great cathedral, "Quartus a brother" stands to all time. Note —

I. HOW DEEP AND REAL THESE WORDS SHOW THE NEW BOND OF CHRISTIAN LOVE TO HAVE BEEN. A little incident of this sort is more impressive than any amount of talk about the uniting influence of the gospel. Quartus was a Corinthian, and there was little love lost between Rome and Corinth. The world then was like some great field of cooled lava on the slopes of a volcano, all broken up by a labyrinth of clefts and cracks, at the bottom of which one can see the flicker of sulphurous flames. Great gulfs of race, language, religion, and social condition, far profounder than anything of the sort which we know, split mankind into fragments. And all these disintegrating forces were bound together into an artificial unity by the iron clamp of Rome's power, holding up the bulging walls that were ready to fall — the unity of the slave-gang manacled together for easier driving. Into this hideous condition of things the gospel comes, and silently flings its clasping tendrils over the wide gaps, and binds the crumbling structure of human society with a new bond, real and living. And we see the very process going on before our eyes in this message from "Quartus a brother."

1. It reminds us that the very notion of humanity, and of the brotherhood of man, is purely Christian. A world-embracing society, held together by love, was not dreamt of before the gospel came; and if you wrench away the idea from its foundation, as people do who talk about fraternity, and seek to bring it to pass without Christ, it is a mere piece of Utopian sentiment — a fine dream. But in Christianity it worked. The gospel first of all produced the thing and the practice, and then the theory came afterwards. The Church did not talk much about the brotherhood of man, or the unity of the race; but simply ignored all distinctions, and gathered into the fold the slave and his master, the Roman and his subject, fair-haired Goths and swarthy Arabians, the worshippers of Odin and of Zeus, the Jew and the Gentile.

2. And before this simple word of greeting could have been sent some profound new impulse must have been given to the world. What was that? What should it be but the story of One who gave Himself for the whole world, who binds men into a unity because of His common relation to them all, and through whom the great proclamation can be made: "There is neither Jew nor Greek," etc. Brother Quartus' message, like some tiny flower above-ground which tells of a spreading root beneath, is a modest witness to that mighty revolution, and presupposes the preaching of a Saviour in whom he and his unseen friends in Rome are one.

3. So let us learn not to confine the play of our Christian affection within the limits of our personal knowledge. Like this man, let us sometimes send our thoughts across mountains and sea. He and the Romans were strangers, but he wished to feel, as it were, the pressure of their fingers in his palm.

II. QUARTUS BELONGED TO A CHURCH WHICH WAS REMARKABLE FOR ITS DISSENSIONS. One "said, I am of Paul," etc. I wonder if Qaartus belonged to any of these parties. It is quite likely that he had far more love to the brethren in Rome than to those who sat on the same bench with him in the upper room at Corinth. For sometimes it is true about people, as well as about scenery, that "distance lends enchantment to the view." A great many of us have much keener sympathies with "brethren" who are well out of our reach than with those who are nearest. Do not let your Christian love go wandering away abroad only, but keep some for home consumption.

III. HOW SIMPLY, AND WITH WHAT UNCONSCIOUS BEAUTY, THE DEEP REASON FOR OUR CHRISTIAN UNITY IS GIVEN IN THAT ONE WORD, A "BROTHER." "Never mind telling them anything about what I am, tell them I am a brother, that will be enough." We are brethren because we are sons of one Father. The great Christian truth of regeneration is the foundation of Christian brotherhood. That is the true ground of our unity, and of our obligation to love all who are begotten of God. All else — identity of opinion, practice, and ceremonial, local or national ties, and the like — all else is insufficient. It may be necessary for Christian communities to require a general identity of opinion and form of worship; but if ever they fancy that such are the grounds of their spiritual unity, they are slipping off the real foundation, and are perilling their character as Churches of Christ.

IV. HOW STRANGELY AND UNWITTINGLY THIS GOOD MAN HAS GOT HIMSELF AN IMMORTALITY BY THAT PASSING THOUGHT OF HIS. One loving message has won for him the prize for which men have joyfully given life itself-an eternal place in history. How much surprised he would have been if, as he leaned forward to Tertius and said, "Send my love too," anybody had told him that that one act of his would last as long as the world! And how much ashamed some of the other people in the New Testament would have been if they had known that their passing faults — the quarrel of Euodia and Syntyche for instance — were to be gibbeted for ever in the same fashion! When a speaker sees the reporters in front of him he weighs his words.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

WEB: Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives.

Distinctions Even in the Church
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