Recognize People, but Magnify God

Is it appropriate to give public recognition to faithful fellow Christians who  do the work of church ministry (Ephesians. 4:12)? Yes, it is. For instance, when Paul concluded his letter to the church at Rome, he recognized a variety of people, but he didn’t glorify them. By doing this, he showed appreciation for them and their ministry contributions. He also pointed to them as examples for all of us, disciples whom we should emulate.

Positive Recognition

  • Phoebe (vv. 1-2) – she had a servant-minded reputation among many churches
  • Priscilla & Aquila (vv. 3-5) – they partnered with Paul in ministry, risked their lives by doing so and opened their home for church ministry purposes
  • Epaenetus (v. 5) – he was the first (or a first) convert to Christ in the Achaia region, who continued to persevere as a disciple of Jesus
  • Mary (v. 6), Tryphena & Tryphosa (perhaps biological twins) & Persis (v. 12) – ladies who worked strenuously for the gospel
  • Andronicus & Junia (v. 7) – they served time in prison together with Paul, for the gospel and had also developed a reputation among the earlier apostles for having outstanding testimony
  • Amplias (v. 8) – a man having a close, brotherly friendship to Paul
  • Urbanus (v. 9) – another man who partnered with Paul in ministry efforts
  • Stachys (v. 9) – another many having a close, brotherly friendship to Paul
  • Apelles (v. 10) – a man who likely endured a difficult trial, but came through with a strong testimony for Christ
  • Aristobulus (v. 10) & Narcissus (v. 11) – heads of households having a shared testimony for Christ
  • Herodian (v.11) – a fellow citizen with Paul, who also followed Christ
  • Rufus and his mother (v. 13) – a son and mother, dear enough to Paul for him to consider them as family
  • Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and his sister and Olympas (vv. 14-15) – other believers with noteworthy reputations

Negative Recognition

After recognizing many believers for positive reasons, Paul instructed the church to recognize any among them who promoted divergent ideas, causing division within the church rather then unity. In a display of grace and discretion, he did not name any divisive people. He instead trusted the obedient believers to notice and avoid them.

Giving Glory to God

Though Paul appropriately and specifically recognized a variety of believers for a variety of reasons, he ultimately gave all glory to God. As he demonstrated, the work of God in the world features a host of devoted disciples doing the hard work of ministry, and this we should recognize also. But God, and no other person, deserves all of the credit.

To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. (Romans 16:7)

God the Father, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the only one who makes all devotion and service possible for every disciple. For all that we do, we should thank God for the opportunity, ability and results. And as we show appreciation to one another, as Paul did, we should carefully avoid going further and magnifying one another over God.

May we learn to recognize people, but glorify God.

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