“Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” Romans 16:16
Saints in the church are well aware of this passage. The religious world is so divided through human inventions and doctrines of men that the passage has lost its significance to many. While the church is designated by other phrases [i.e. the church (Eph. 1:22), the church of God (1 Cor. 1:2), etc.), there is nothing denominational about the usage of a Biblical phrase; otherwise, Paul would be doing what he charged the Corinthians not to do (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10, 13). The long list of names in Romans 16 would be a small illustration of what constituted “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). Consider some of the details from that list which would magnify the importance of churches of Christ.
- Identified as Being in Christ. Over and over is the identification that all these were to be greeted or saluted in view of their connection to Christ and thus to each other. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus:” (Rom. 16:3). “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved” (Rom. 16:7-9). Notice the other passages that denote this same designation of being in Christ (cf. Rom. 16:10, 11, 12, 13). Paul made it clear previous to the Roman letter that in order to be “in Christ” one must be baptized into Christ. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Being outside of Christ is to be without God and thus without hope (cf. Eph. 2:12). Being in Christ is to be where all spiritual blessings are found (cf. Eph. 1:3).
- Inclusive of Varying Demographics. Jesus declared plainly that the gospel was for all and thus the conditions of salvation in the gospel were for all who would obey (cf. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16). The church was not to be divided by gender, nationality, age, etc. Paul commends to the church at Rome “Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:” (Rom. 16:1). Paul mentions another woman, “Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us” (Rom. 16:6). Paul was by no means a male who despised women in the church. Paul respected Gentiles (cf. Rom. 16:4) as well as Jews (cf. Rom. 1:16; 16:11) in the church. Varying locations of brethren did not change the relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Important to Paul, Who was also in the Church. The Holy Spirit through Paul wanted the brethren at Rome to know that all other congregations in Christ worldwide greeted them through this letter. The common bond of all was through the brotherhood in the church. Paul knew how he became a part of the church. He wrote to the Corinthians, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). God specifically set the apostles first in the church concerning the work of it (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28). Therefore, Paul was a member of churches of Christ. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) brought him into the “one body” (Eph. 4:4). Would that all be in the same church like Paul was!