What do you think of when you hear the name “Rufus”? A backwoods bumpkin? Rufus the Redneck?
According to the Apostle Paul, a man named Rufus was “chosen in the Lord.”
Chapter 16 of the Epistle to the Romans lists several Christians who are little known, if at all.
Paul commended Phebeas “a servant of the church” and he instructed the Christians in Rome to “receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer (someone who gives help in times of need or distress or difficulty) of many, and of myself also.”
Somewhat more familiar were Priscilla and Aquila whom he described as his “helpers in Christ Jesus who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” They also hosted a house church.
In the book of Romans, Paul called for “salutes” to be given to specific Christians. Salute means “to address with expressions of kind wishes, courtesy or honor.”
Paul told the Roman Christians to “salute Rufus.” Also, Paul requested salutes to “my well-beloved Epaenetus,” who was one of the first to become a Christian in an area of Greece.
Other salutes were to go to “them which are of Aristobulus’ household, Herodion my kinsman, Urbane our helper in Christ, Stachys my beloved, Apelles approved in Christ, Tryphena and Tryphosa who labour in the Lord, and the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. Another salute was requested for his relatives Andronicus and Junia who also had been imprisoned with Paul. He said that they had been saved before him and “are of note among the apostles.”
Paul also wanted the mother of Rufus, who Paul felt close enough to call his own mother, to be saluted.
He mentioned a woman named Mary “who bestowed much labour on us.”
Paul wanted Amplias, his “beloved in the Lord,” to be greeted in Rome and also called for a greeting for “them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.”
More salutes were to go to “Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.” Also to be saluted were “Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.”
To the Romans he sent salutes from Lucius, Jason, “Sosipater my kinsmen,” “Quartus a brother,” “Erastus the chamberlain of the city” and “Gaius mine host.”
We know of the Old Testament heroes — Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Esther and Miriam, for example. Then there are the well-known names in the New Testament such as James, Mark, Stephen, and the Marys. However, Rufus and his local believers also deserve a place of honor.
For every preacher and musical performer, there are many Christians who do mundane things for the Master. They clean the church, empty the garbage, cook for the poor, visit the sick, maintain the machinery and a multitude of other labors for the Lord.
For those of us who are not what might be considered “big-time Christians,” be assured that Jesus has already mentioned and commended us to the angels. Also, Jesus will call the angels to greet and salute us some day. That will be wonderful, but it will also be so sweet for us to salute Rufus and the others mentioned in Romans 16.