“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.... Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings."
Romans. One of those New Testament epistles full of theology explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But then, at the end of the letter, is chapter sixteen; the most exhaustive list of personal names found in any of the Apostle Paul's letters. It begins with a commendation of Pheobe, the Deacon Paul sent to deliver his letter. By name, he then greets and commends several believers in Rome, along with the churches who meet in their homes. This section ends with an entreaty for these leaders and communities to embrace one another, and to receive encouragement from churches farther away.
What do we get from chapter sixteen? Why are these people specifically addressed? What is this embrace all about?