Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Romans 16:7
I’m certain there are times we all feel as if we’re just not contributing to much of anything. For example, new jobs where you’re the new employee and they haven’t quite figured out how to inject you into the workflow. In a broader sense, we see all the swirl going on around our culture and can’t figure out how to contribute and make a difference. Perhaps even in Kingdom work, we feel rather puny in our contribution.
Nothing could be further from the truth! There’s no way we can fully understand the influence we have on those around us. Recently, we had my dad’s funeral, who died on June 26th of this year. I’m sure he felt the same way, not having any influence on people, places, or things. What an amazing outpouring of love and affection we witnessed for dad! Men and women he worked with in the US Navy; Teachers and administrators from the small Christian school where he was the principal; and many folks from his church. Despite his feelings of inadequacy and lack of contribution, those around him spoke quite the opposite.
Andronicus and Junia are mentioned only here. I like the ESV rendering of the word συγγενεῖς as kinsmen, which are understood as blood relatives. Other renderings are ‘fellow Jews,’ but while Jews are considerably tighter than most as a culture, being considered related by blood more aptly describes (for me) his feelings towards these two people.
Paul adds more weight to their import in the next sentence where he declares their relationship with the Apostles (‘well known’) and their early acceptance into God’s Kingdom before Paul!
We have absolutely no way of knowing in this life whether these two members of the faith felt as we do sometimes. We just can’t. And keep in mind that for every mentioned name, there are ‘scads’ (as my dad used to say) of people unmentioned. The only One who really matters knows all who are called by his name and he misses no detail (Luke 12:7). Re-read Romans 16 from start to finish. Notice the names, perhaps even trying to pronounce them out loud. Begin to realize that, just as Paul has listed these people, your name is known to Jesus concerning your Kingdom work, and that’s all that really matters!
By Rich Obrecht