Greet my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first person from the province of Asia to become a follower of Christ.Romans 16:5
What made Epenetus so dear to Paul? The verse itself contains the clues to the answers. He was the first person in Asia to become a follower of Jesus. There you have it. Do you remember your first convert? I sure remember mine. I am just as sure that Paul remembered his and Epenetus was that person. If not his very first then he was indeed the first in Asia. I also remember my first in Indonesia. (Ha ha my first in Asia). This is why Epenetus is so dear to Paul.
Some argue that it may not mean the first to be converted but more to stand out above the others in terms of giftings or grace or connectedness to Paul. In my mind it is clear. The term that is used is ἀπαρχή [aparchē] which is the term used for “firstfruits”. The first offering to the Lord. To me there is no question that this man was the first to believe in Jesus Christ in the province of Asia.
There is more controversy surrounding this verse. Some translations read Asia and some read Achaia. So which is it? And how do we reconcile this verse with 1 Cor 16:15 which reads “the house of Stephanas is the firstfruits of Achaia”? Is this another of those contradictions in the Word of God. Can you even trust what Paul says. Does he not contradict himself?
Achaia is a part of the region known as “Asia”, part of the Peloponnesus, lying along the southern shore of the Corinthian Gulf, north of Arcadia and east of Elis. Is it also not possible that Epenetus is part of Stephanus’s family? Therefore both statements are true.
On another matter, it is not wrong to have stronger affection for one person above another. We are not called to love all people exactly equally. That is not possible but we are to love all people; just not equally. Jesus loved John with a special kind of love. He had love for all His disciples but special love for John. Epenetus’s name means “Praise”. The equivalent in Hebrew if he were Jewish would be “Judah”. He sure is the praise of God as the first of those who believed in Asia.
Where do I get all this information from? How can you have access to the same information? First step is pay attention to the commentaries that are found in E-sword. As I have told you before when we made our way through the Gospel of John you will have to make sure you have loaded them in E-sword first.
The commentaries I have loaded in my version of E-sword are John Gill’s, Matthew Henry, Jamieson Faussett and Brown, Albert Barnes, Adam Clarke and the Geneva Bible Translation notes. Added to those I have Keil and Delitzsch which is an authoritative commentary on the Old Testament alone. These commentaries are very useful to give us background and solve a number of standard problems regarding our understanding of the text. In addition to that I have a digital copy of the two volume set – The IVP Bible Background Commentary as well hard copies of the same. (But this one is not free in E-Sword.
Also another source is International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia You will need to load this into your copy of E-Sword. If you do this it will give you a rich source of information about any word, place, person’s name you care to research. Oh there are other sources too which are not available to you but at least those that I have named above are found in E-Sword and have a wealth of information for you to check out. Most but not all of the info I share with you comes from E-Sword. I limit myself to that source but I do occasionally add other material I have found in other sources and the fruit of research over the years. The above named sources are free to you with exception of the IVP two volume set.
There is one other source I have not mentioned yet. That is found in Strong’s Concordance. If you hover your cursor over the number which is attached to each word in any of the + versions in E-Sword [namely KJV+, NASB+, GNT-BYZ+, HOT+] the meanings of the words will appear or you can check it also with any of the dictionaries that are available to you in E-Sword. Make sure the dictionary of your choosing is open in the E-sword Dictionary window then the meanings will be displayed for you when you click on the Strong’s number. This is very useful information to you where names or other words are concerned.
Have fun; go put it all into practice.
Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.Benjamin Disraeli
The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness in common things.H.W. Beecher
You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.Dr. Seuss