We need to consider Romans 16 as important as Romans 6, even as important as Romans 8, and as important as Romans 12. Romans 6 is one chapter of the book of Romans, Romans 8 is another chapter, and Romans 12 is another. But we must not forget that Romans has the sixteenth chapter. If you know Romans 6, you must know Romans 16. If you know Romans 8, you must know Romans 16. If you know Romans 12, you must know Romans 16. It seems that the Romans of even many seeking Christians does not have sixteen chapters. Their Romans contains only fourteen chapters, perhaps with some fragments of chapters fifteen and sixteen.
We all need to be impressed that Romans has sixteen chapters. We all have to pick up chapter sixteen of Romans. Without adequate experience, it is very hard to get into Romans 16 to see what is covered there, what it reveals to us. In this matter Romans 16 is like Romans 8. You need experience to get into Romans 8 and to understand it. Even more, without experience, it is impossible for you to understand Romans 16.
Most Christian readers would consider that Romans 16 is merely a chapter of greetings. Apparently this is the case. But I would say strongly that this is not the case. Actually and practically, this chapter is much more than a list of greetings.
The book of Romans is a full and complete sketch of the Christian life and the church life. No other book is so complete as the book of Romans in these two matters. It is not so much in detail, but it is complete. It is a sketch, an outline, in full, of the Christian life and the church life.
It is somewhat easy to understand that Romans 6 and Romans 8 reveal the Christian life, and that Romans 12 reveals the church life. However, it is not so easy to see what is revealed in Romans 16. As the last chapter of this book, Romans 16 reveals the practical church life.
The practical church life is not revealed even in Romans 15. The main point in chapter fifteen is the communication between the churches, the fellowship in the Body between the churches. You could not see the practical church life in any of the first fifteen chapters of Romans. The term church or churches is not used in those chapters at all. But in this one chapter, chapter sixteen, church or churches is used five times. The practical church life is here in this chapter.
We must not consider Romans 16 merely a chapter of greetings. It is a chapter of the practical church life. From this chapter we can see that the proper church life, first of all, depends on the sisters.
Before Paul greeted the saints, he recommended a particular sister to them in a very meaningful way. We may expect such a recommendation to come at the end, but Paul made this recommendation of a sister the number one item. Moreover, after this recommendation, the first ones that Paul greeted were a couple, but he mentioned the wife’s name first.
Then he greeted Mary, a sister, and two more sisters we didn’t cover, and Persis, another sister.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul put his recommendation and his greetings in this way with the purpose of showing that the sisters occupy the first place in the practical church life.
(Serving Sisters in the Church Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)