Quartus - A Brother
As he sat blind in the house in the street called Strait, Saul of Tarsus waited for God to act. The light that had shone on him, and the voice which he had heard, had turned his world upside down and nothing would ever be the same again. What future lay ahead of him? His past associates no longer would have interest in one whom they now regarded as a traitor. To whom now could he turn? The disciples of Jesus of Nazareth would surely spurn him. His past could not be forgotten. Would the future be a lonely pathway, would he be despised by all who knew him in early life and ignored and doubted by Christians whom he had so mistreated?
For days he prayed, and then, at last, the man sent from God came to the house and Saul of Tarsus heard the words which were confirmation of the change which had taken place in his life. "Brother Saul", said Ananias. "Brother"! How strange this must have sounded to Saul. "Brother", from one of the Christians who had been the object of his hatred and misplaced Jewish zeal. Yet when the greeting fell on his ears it would be as the small rain upon the tender herb. This was confirmation that a new relationship now existed, far greater in honour, privilege and dignity than anything he had known before. Not only was he valued by the Lord but also by other believers. Far better to be "Brother Saul", than to be "Saul the Pharisee".
So it is, years later, as Paul dictates his epistle to the Romans he sends greetings from such a faithful servant as Timothy, from such a well known local individual as Erastus, the chamberlain of Corinth, and from such a hospitable believer as Gaius, host to Paul and to the whole church. These were all men who were held in repute by the churches and who had proved their sterling worth in the service of the Master.
But one salutation must not be omitted. Quartus, a brother, also has his greetings recorded. He was just "a brother", one of many, and nothing more. Who was he and what do we know about him? Quartus means "the Fourth" and it may be that he was the fourth child or the fourth son of his family. He knew what it was to be one of the crowd. At least three other brothers or sisters claimed the attention of his parents. Tertius (which comes from the word meaning "the Third") was the scribe who wrote the epistle and some have suggested that he was the third child in this same family, but this seems to be too fanciful.
About Quartus nothing else is told us. How was he saved? What gifts did he exercise? What was his background before he became a "brother"? Where did his life lead? To these questions we will have no answers until we all meet in glory. What dignity, however, he is given. He may not have been an outstanding personality. He may not have been well known. He may still be one of the crowd. He may not even have been long on the Christian pathway, but he did wish to greet the saints in far off Rome, and with Paul he shares the great honour of being "a brother". As the greetings were penned, the mind of Paul may have run back to that day in Damascus when he met Ananias. So much had taken place since then, but the sweetness of these first words had not been forgotten. All that he had learned, all the experiences of service through which he had passed and all the fellowship enjoyed had not dimmed his appreciation of early lessons in the school of God.
Let us remember that no believer is too insignificant to be of value to the Lord. We may feel that we, too, are just part of the crowd, with nothing vital to offer. We may not have outstanding gifts. We may serve in relative obscurity with few ever knowing what we have done in following the Master. Remember, however, what Quartus, the brother, had come to know. He was part of a great spiritual family and this gave him a standing which no human position could bestow.
When disappointment crosses our pathway, when despair takes hold, when weariness grips, or when apathy threatens to weaken us, let us remember how great is the blessing of being brothers and sisters, bound together in salvation. May we value each other and treasure the relationship that we all enjoy.