St. Hermas―One of the First Christians of Rome

Some sources say that the biblical Hermas is the same who wrote The Shepherd

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Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. ―Romans 16:14

Romans 16:14 is one verse among many found toward the end of the Epistle that contains the names of various Christians who were living in Rome when Paul wrote the letter (approximately AD 56–58). Very little is known with certainty about Hermas, but it is evident that when the letter was sent, Hermas and many others in Rome had somehow already learned about the life of Christ and were practicing the new Faith there.

Romans 16:14 shows that Hermas was somehow connected to a certain group of people, four of them named specifically: Asyncritus and Phlegon (April 8), Hermes, and Patrobas as well as some unspecified “brothers.” Romans 16:14 (the only Bible verse containing Hermas’s name) gives reason to consider that perhaps this particular cluster of Roman Christians would gather together for worship and fellowship or were possibly all connected to a house church together.

It is thought-provoking to imagine Hermas being among a group of Christians in Rome when Paul’s letter arrived―what surprise he may have felt when he saw his own name listed within the greetings found in the 16th chapter. How he and his friends must have pored over Paul’s words several times, making every effort to absorb all that the great evangelist wrote of, probably through discussion, contemplation and prayer.

Not many years later, it seems plausible that perhaps Hermas was a part of the group who greeted Paul when he arrived in Rome in chains or as one who sometimes visited Paul during his house arrest there.

It has been written that Hermas was one of the 72 followers mentioned in Luke 10 that Jesus sent out to preach. Some sources insist that this Hermas is the same who wrote The Shepherd of Hermas, an ancient Christian writing that was read and appreciated by many but did not make it into the finalized form of the Bible. He is sometimes identified as a former slave and as the brother of Pope Pius I of the mid-second century (quite a stretch if he was indeed one of Christ’s 72 followers). Other sources claim that Hermas was a bishop of Philippi and ultimately martyred.

 

Six Days of Bible Journaling with St. Hermas

Some might say that St. Hermas could be a patron saint for those who live in obscurity—for so little is known about this holy biblical Christian. It really takes some effort to tap into this saint—but, by trying to put your imagination into first-century Rome, pondering the passages below, maybe reading a few footnotes, or writing down some reflections, you might feel a stronger connection to this early Roman holy one. St. Hermas happens to share a feast day with the Old Testament Prophet, St. Isaiah on May 9.

  • Day 1) Romans 1:7
  • Day 2) Romans 16:14
  • Day 3) Acts 28:14b–16
  • Day 4) Acts 28:30–31
  • Day 5) Luke 10:1–12
  • Day 6) Luke 10:17–20