QUARTUS, A BROTHER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-14-87 7:30 p.m.
The title of the sermon tonight is Quartus, a Brother. In the concluding words of the sixteenth chapter of Romans, his name is mentioned: “Quartus, a brother” [Romans 16:23]; Kouartos ho adelphos, “Quartus the brother.”
Timothy my fellow worker, Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you, all of you Christians in Rome.
I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord—
The amanuensis; Paul dictated the letter to Tertius, and he writes for himself—
I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, I salute you in the Lord.
Then Paul continues—Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the treasurer—
He calls him chamberlain—
of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
[Romans 16:21- 23]
We had never known him nor would he have been known to us had he not asked Paul to send his greetings to the church at Rome. Just this and none other: “Quartus a brother salutes you.”
These others who are named are known. “Timothy my fellow worker” [Romans 16:21]. We know Timothy. There are two letters in the New Testament addressed to that young minister. He was the pastor of the church at Ephesus. He was Paul’s companion in so large a segment of his missionary assignment. So we have met Timothy. “Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you” [Romans 16:21]. Those three, some people think they were just fellow Jews. There are other commentators and scholars who say that they belong to the family of Paul. Not kinsmen only in the sense of race, but kinsmen in the sense of the family of the apostle. They were members of his house.
Jason is mentioned in Acts 17:5-9: He sheltered Paul and Silas in Thessalonica when they were accosted and condemned and confronted. This man, Jason, took them into his own house and sheltered and befriended them. Sosipater is named in Acts 20:4. He was from Berea, and he accompanied Paul on his last journey going with him from Corinth to the city of Jerusalem [Acts 20:1-4]. These three are known to us. “I Tertius,” the amanuenses of Paul [Romans 16:22]. He sends greetings in the name of the Lord [Romans 16:22].” He must have been an educated scholar. The language that he writes is beautiful. And the epistle that he wrote under the direction of the apostle Paul is the finest theological treatise in human language. “I Tertius . . . I salute you” [Romans 16:22].
“Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you” [Romans 16:23]. Paul says He baptized Gaius, speaking of him in 1 Corinthians 1:14. He must have been well-to-do. He must have been affluent. He was the host of the apostle Paul and his party [Romans 16:23]. They stayed in his house. And they ate at his table. And not only that, but the whole church was taken care of by this guest. He fed them and welcomed them into his domicile. Gaius, a wonderful and affluent Christian, he salutes the saints at Rome [Romans 16:23].
Then “Erastus the chamberlain—the treasurer—of the city, saluteth you” [Romans 16:23]. He must have been a political figure of some acquaintance and recognition in the whole city of Corinth. “Erastus, the treasurer, salutes you, and Quartus a brother” [Romans 16:23]. What do we know about him? That’s all: “Quartus a brother,” but that is enough. And we are going to speak of that tonight. Sometimes just a little word of description and affection are an eloquent volume, describing the character of a man; “Quartus a brother.” He asks that he be remembered to you who are calling on the name of the Lord, in the imperial city of Rome [Romans 16:23].
For example, just to emphasize how just a little word about somebody will describe them in the deep of their hearts: in Genesis 5:24, it says: “And Enoch walked with God.” That is all you know about him. “And Enoch walked with God.” But wouldn’t that be a volume describing that wonderful man in the fifth chapter of Genesis. Enoch walked with God. He was going God’s way. He was moving at God’s pace. He was assigned his work in God’s time. And he was with the Lord forever [Genesis 5:24]. “And Enoch walked with God.” That is all we know, but what a beautiful appellation and description. That’s the same thing here. “Quartus a brother, salutes you in the Lord” [Romans 16:23]—you saints there in Rome.
“Well, pastor, why are you so persuaded of that?” Well, that is the message tonight. Number one; somewhere, sometime, he had become a Christian. He had become a brother in the church. He had trusted Jesus as his Savior. And this is a distinction conferred upon him that was beyond the ableness of the whole wide world. The world could never bestow the distinction of a brother upon Quartus. But Jesus could. Jesus did. He was converted. He found the Lord as his personal Savior [Romans 16:23].
The world as such, has no interest in Christ. You go out there and pick one of those worldly anybodies and try to talk to them about the Lord. You could not find less interest in the conservation than these worldly ones, these worldlings out there who inhabit the thousands and the thousands all around us. But he did. Some where some time in some place, he wanted to be saved. He wanted to be a Christian. And isn’t that a wonderful thing to come to pass, to develop, to find a response in the heart of a somebody? “I would love to know the Lord. I would love for you to show me the way of salvation. I would love to be a Christian. I would love to be a child of God. I would love to be born to the kingdom. I would love to be a fellow pilgrim to heaven.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing in somebody’s heart, in somebody’s life? That’s Quartus [Romans 16:23]. Somewhere, sometime, somehow he wanted to know Jesus. He wanted to be saved.
That’s what it is to become a Christian. A Person is our Savior and our salvation. It is Somebody He. A Person is our life giver and our life. A Person is our Redeemer and our redemption. A Person is our righteousness and our holiness. A Person is our peace and our hope. And that Person is Jesus, the Man Christ Jesus; the Mediator between God and man [1 Timothy 2:5]. By His blood we have been brought nigh to God [Ephesians 2:13]. Our relationship is not an organization nor is it the giving ourselves to a system. Our relationship is personal. It’s with Jesus our Lord.
You know, I do not know why that I did not know who wrote this beautiful, beautiful lyric. It was John Newton. I have known this beautiful tribute all of my life. I cannot remember when I did not know it. But it is just this week that somehow I came into the knowledge that John Newton wrote it. He was the one that wrote “Amazing Grace.”
John Newton was, I suppose, the most profitless and profligate of all of the sinners of all time. He was an Englishman. He was impressed into the navy—the English navy. He went AWOL. He forsook it. They incarcerated him when they found him. In a life of profligacy, he became a servant of a slave trader. You could spend half of this night describing the depths of the darkness of the sin of John Newton. And he met the Lord. And this is that beautiful lyric.
How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flow’rs
Have all lost their sweetness for me;
The midsummer sun shines but dim
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him
December’s as pleasant as May.
His name yields the sweetest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice.
His presence disperses my gloom.
And makes all within me rejoice.
I should, were He always thus nigh
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal so happy as I,
My summer would last all the year.
Content with beholding His face.
My all to His pleasure resigned.
No changes in season or place,
Would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.
[“How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours,” John Newton]
Isn’t that incomparably precious? If I were in a dungeon, or in a prison, it would be a palace for me, “If Jesus would dwell with me there.” That is wonderful, and that is what this says. “Quartus a brother, he salutes you” [Romans 16:23]. Somewhere he had met the Lord, and that was the greatest distinction that heaven or earth could bestow upon him. He is a Christian. He knows and loves the Lord Jesus.
All right, a second thing about Quartus a brother. He asked that he be remembered to you [Romans 16:23]. His request reveals the deep character of the man himself. It is the love of a Christian for another. In Colossians 2:2, Paul says: “their hearts,” talking about these fellow Christians, were “knit together in love.” Their hearts were knit together in love. These Christians—these in Corinth, and across the sea those in Rome [Romans 1:7]—they were far apart in miles. There was an ocean between them. It was a world between of war and hatred and trouble and turmoil and rebellion and confusion. But across the seas, and across the separating cultures—they in Latin Rome and these in Greek Corinth—they found themselves one in the faith, in the fellowship, and in the Lord, and the right hands of love and communion were extended to one to the other [Romans 16:1]. Quartus a brother, salutes you [Romans 16:23]. Isn’t that a wonderful thing, the comradeship of a brother?
When I one time was going around in Israel, I was with a group of men, had never seen them before. There were about half a dozen of us. And we were going places I’d never heard of and never seen. It was a new experience for me. When noontime came at a prearranged, apparently, place, we sat down for a noon meal. And in the center of the table, not very high, we were, we were on the floor, seated on the floor around that not very high table. In the center of the table was a stack of loaves of bread. They were round. They were about this round. And they were not thick. They were about that thick. They were round loaves of bread right in the center of the table. And that man directly across from me reached forth his hand and picked up the top loaf of that bread. And extending it across to me, he said, “My brother, would you break bread with me?” And I extended my hand. And we broke the bread together, and then each one broke off a part of that one loaf.
Of course, being as I am presiding over the communion, the Lord’s table here in the church, it meant to me a picture of the breaking of bread. All of us, Paul says: “eat of that one loaf” [1 Corinthians 10:17]. But doubly meaningful when he said, “My brother, my brother, would you break bread with me?” How different our culture. How different our place of living and livelihood. Oh, dear! And yet across the seas and the seas and across the cultures, this is my brother. “Quartus a brother salutes you” [Romans 16:23]. What a marvelous portrayal of the love of his heart for his fellow Christians in Latin Rome.
Do you remember this most famous of poems by Leigh Hunt? Lived back there in a long time ago in the middle of the last century in England. Do you remember it, “Abou Ben Adhem”? Do you remember that? One of the dearest, sweetest presentations of a man’s heart in poetry, in language:
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight of his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence of the room he said,
“‘What writest thou?”—The angel raised his head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me now as one that loves his fellowmen.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
He came again with a great awakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
[“Abou Ben Adhem,“ Leigh Hunt]
Just write me down as someone who loves the Lord and who loves his brother. “Quartus a brother salutes you in the Lord” [Romans 16:23]. What a wonderful revelation of the deep character of the man.
And one last: “Quartus a brother salutes you” [Romans 16:23]. He was a member of the church in Corinth. That also is a volume. He belonged to the fellowship of God’s people. He was a member of the family of the household of faith. And when the brethren met, he met with them. When they praised God, he praised God with them. When they bowed in love and adoration to the Lord Jesus, he bowed with them. When they read these sacred letters, he listened to the Word of God. “Quartus a brother salutes you”—a member of the church in Corinth [Romans 16:23].
I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our dear Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.
I love Thy church, O God!
Her walls before Thee stand,
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
And graven on Thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall,
For her my pray’rs ascend;
To her my toil and cares be giv’n,
Till toils and cares shall end.
[“I Love Thy Kingdom Lord,” Timothy Dwight ]
Quartus a brother, in the church at Corinth, salutes you. What a beautiful tribute in God’s Book to a wonderful man that we’ll greet someday in glory.
Now we are going to sing us a song, and while we sing it, someone you here tonight to give himself in faith and trust to the Lord Jesus [Ephesians 2:8-9], what a precious time to stand before the congregation of God’s people and openly, unashamedly confess your faith in the blessed Lord. A family you or a couple, coming into the fellowship of our dear church, a thousand times welcome; someone answering God’s call in his heart, “The Lord has spoken to me and I am answering with my life. I am coming tonight. The Lord has bid me and here I stand.” While we sing the appeal, confessing the Lord as Savior [Romans 10:9-13], or putting your life in the fellowship of our dear church or answering a call of the Spirit of God in your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come. May angels attend you in the way. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.