Chapter 16 brings to a close the marvelous letter to the Roman saints.[ 1 ] Paul commends Phoebe to them. He greets some twenty-five people including some congregations meeting in houses. He warns about divisive individuals. His amanuensis Tertius was allowed to write his own greeting. Seven others sent greetings. The letter closes by glorifying the God who by prophetic Scriptures made known the gospel for obedience of the faith (see chart ROMANS 16 OUTLINE).
Chart ROMANS 16 OUTLINE
1. Phoebe commended (Ro 16:1, 2).
2. Greetings to twenty-five people and house congregations (Ro 16:3-16).
3. Warning about divisive people (Ro 16:17-20).
4. Tertius' and others send greetings (Ro 16:21-24).
5. God who made known the gospel for obedience
is glorified (Ro 16:25-27).
16:1, 2 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church
in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of
the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed
she has been a helper of many and of myself also.
I commend to you [but I commend unto you].[ 2 ] Verses 1, 2 serve as a "letter"
of recommendation[ 3 ] for a sister in Christ who would be carrying not only the
portion that praised her but Paul's entire epistle to the church of Christ in Rome.
Phoebe, our sister [ our sister Phebe].[ 4 ] Phoebe was a Christian, a sister in
Christ. Living Oracles, the translation that Alexander Campbell admired has:
I recommend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a deaconess of the
congregation in Cenchrea."
Conybeare and Howson suppose that Phoebe was a widow of consideration and
wealth who acted as one of the deaconesses of the Church and was now about to
sail to Rome upon some private business apparently connected with a lawsuit in
which she was engaged. She could not (according to Greek manners) have been
mentioned as acting in the independent manner described either if her husband had
been living or if she had been unmarried.[ 5 ]
Spiros Zodhiates summarized church activities of women as follows:
In this regard we must note that the story of the early church significantly
begins with the inclusion of women in the apostolic meetings for prayer (Ac
1:14). Their presence and activity are clearly illustrated by the references
to Tabitha (Ac 9:36), Mary the mother of John Mark (Ac 12:12), Lydia (Ac
16:14), Damaris (Ac 17:34), and Priscilla (Ac 18:2). The story of Sapphira
(Ac 5:7f) implies the comparatively independent membership and
responsibility of women within the Christian community. Priscilla illustrates
their active evangelism (Ac 18:26).[ 6 ]
Who is a servant [a, which is a, deaconess, who is minister].[ 7 ] A deaconess
is a servant. So is a deacon. The word translated "deacon" or "deaconess" is
used several times in Scripture of servants in an ordinary non-official sense. If the
early church had special female servants, what did they do?
Adam Clarke described the work of women as follows:
There were deaconesses in the primitive Church, whose business it was to
attend the female converts at baptism; to instruct the catechumens, or
persons who were candidates for baptism; to visit the sick, and those who
were in prison and, in short, perform those religious offices for the female
part of the Church which could not with propriety be performed by men.
They were chosen in general out of the most experienced of the Church, and
were ordinarily widows, who had borne children. Some ancient constitutions
required them to be forty, others fifty, and others sixty years of age.... In
the tenth or eleventh century the order became extinct in the Latin Church,
but continued in the Greek Church till the end of the twelfth century.[ 8 ]
Marvin Vincent gives additional information. According to him, the third
century Apostolical Constitutions distinguish deaconesses from widows and virgins,
prescribe their duties and a form for their ordination. Pliny the younger[ 9 ] appears
to refer to them in his letter to Trajan, in which he speaks of the torture of two
maids who were called ministrae.[ 10 ] Vincent observes further: The office or work
seems to have been confined mainly to widows, though virgins were not absolutely
excluded. Their duties were to take care of the sick and poor, to minister to
martyrs and confessors in prison to instruct catechumens, to assist at the baptism
of women and to exercise a general supervision over the female church-members[ 11 ] (see note on 1Ti 3:11).[ 12 ]
Of the church in Cenchrea [of the assembly at, which, that, is at, is in,
Cenchrea].[ 13 ] Cenchrea was a seaport town nearly nine miles east of Corinth on
the shore of the Aegean Sea. Its prime location made it a trade city. The Isthmian
games were held nearby on the six mile wide isthmus. Paul got a haircut at
Cenchrea after leaving Corinth (Ac 18:18).
That you may receive her [that ye receive her].[ 14 ] Paul realized he was
writing Scripture. He knew the Roman letter was inspired by the Holy Spirit and
by God's grace it would be delivered to the church at Rome. The church there was
instructed to look for Phoebe's arrival with the letter and to welcome her as a
sister in the Lord.
In the Lord [in the Lord].[ 15 ] Phoebe was a faithful Christian, one who was "in
the Lord" by virtue of baptism (see Ro 6:3; Ga 3:27) and one who possessed the
Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9).
In a manner worthy of the saints [as befits, as becometh, worthily of
saints].[ 16 ] All Christians are saints. As such, they should be received with honor
and treated with dignity.
And assist her [and help her, and that ye assist, may assist, her].[ 17 ] Phoebe
was almost certainly a widow.[ 18 ] Although Paul had confidence in her as an
intelligent and competent woman, in the metropolis of Rome she would need
introductions to leading citizens with whom she would transact business or file a
lawsuit. She would require assistance in obtaining lodging as well as arranging
local and return transportation.
In whatever business she has need of you [in whatever, in whatsoever
matter, she hath, she may require, from you, have need of you].[ 19 ] The Greek
PRAGMATI matter was sometimes used in secular writings in a technical sense
to denote a matter at law, a case, a lawsuit. Some have imagined that Phoebe was
a lawyer or at least a paralegal who needed information and arrangements or funds
for a trial in Rome. Along this line, J. S. Howson wrote,
From the use of legal terms here, it would seem that the business on which
Phoebe was visiting Rome was connected with some trial at law.[ 20 ]
For indeed she has been a helper of many [for she, for she herself, hath been
also a succorer of many].[ 21 ] Phoebe had been generous and hospitable to
numerous others (compare Ro 12:8).
And of myself also [and of mine own self as well].[ 22 ] One thing Phoebe did
for Paul was to deliver the Roman letter from Corinth to the church in Rome.[ 23 ]
No doubt, she assisted him in other ways as implied by the word PROSTATIS a
patroness or protectress.
16:3-6 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who
risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also
all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their
house. 5 Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to
Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us.
Greet [salute].[ 24 ] Paul begins his greetings to several people at Rome. Right
now, I cannot think of a single instance where he ever sent greetings to a non-Christian anywhere (but see note on Narcissus at verse 11; compare 2Jo 10).
Priscilla and Aquila [Prisca and Aquila].[ 25 ] First to be honored by Paul with
a greeting is his favorite couple, Priscilla and Aquila. Apparently these converts
were from Rome but had been banished along with other Jews by Claudius Caesar
(Ac 18:2, 18, 26). Paul found them in Corinth. They travelled with him to
Ephesus.[ 26 ] When he left to go to Jerusalem, they stayed behind, prepared the
soil and sowed gospel seed for a harvest of souls when Paul returned. Later, they
returned to Rome and were there when Paul wrote the Roman letter. When he
wrote 2 Timothy from Rome, they were again at Ephesus (2Ti 4:19; see chart
PRISCILLA AND AQUILA).
May I call attention to Paul's unusual and courteous mention of the wife before
the husband? This was contrary to custom (see Ac 18:18, 26; 2Ti 4:19). Priscilla,
in some way, seemed to stand out as the more important of the two. This is an
indication that Paul was not prejudiced against women. Certainly the Holy Spirit
My fellow workers [my helpers, my fellow-workmen].[ 27 ] Priscilla and Aquila
worked along with Paul in making tents, but more importantly, in. the teaching of
In Christ Jesus.[ 28 ] Priscilla and Aquila were in Christ. That is, they were
Christians. They enjoyed a close union with the Son of God (see Ro 16:2, 7, 9,
10, 11, 12, 13; chart WHAT IT MEANS TO BE IN CHRIST).
[16:4] Who.[ 29 ] The Greek word HOITINES who is a little stronger than the
English "who." It carries an explanatory connotation. One might translate it
"seeing that they" (see footnote).
[16:4] Risked their own necks [laid down, have laid down, staked, their
necks, their own neck].[ 30 ] Since Priscilla and Aquila were with Paul both in
Corinth and Ephesus and no one laid a hand on him in Corinth,[ 31 ] it has been
suggested that the heroic risking of life by Priscilla and Aquila occurred in or near
For my life.[ 32 ] Somehow in the past Priscilla and Aquila had saved Paul's life.
At this point, I have been unable to determine when and where they did this.
To whom not only I give thanks [ unto whom not I only give thanks, am
thankful].[ 33 ] Paul was not an ingrate. He took opportunity to express his deep
appreciation for what Priscilla and Aquila had done for him.
But also all the churches of the Gentiles [but all the churches, assemblies, of
the nations, of the Gentiles also].[ 34 ] Priscilla and Aquila were Jews like Paul.
They had worked with him among Gentiles in both Corinth and Ephesus. Gentile
churches respected them and were appreciative of what they did for the apostle.
[16:5] Likewise greet the church that is in their house [greet also, also greet].
and salute, the assembly in, that is at, their house].[ 35 ] According to Lightfoot,
there is no clear example of a separate building set apart for Christian worship
within the limits of the Roman Empire before the third century.[ 36 ] The Christian
Chronicle printed an article by David Emery, stating:
The countries lying adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea contain remains
of thousands of early Christian meeting places. Included among these
are more than 500 Christian basilicas with baptisteries that date from
Ad 313 to 539. These dates are significant in that they mark the
beginning of the legal status of the Christian faith by a decree of
Emperor Constantine and of mandatory baptism of all children in their
"tender age," by Emperor Justinian.[ 37 ]
At first, Jewish synagogues were made available to the Christians but prejudice
soon brought an end to this privilege. However, in nearly every large city there
was an amphitheater suitable for a meeting-place of thousands of Christians.
Greet my beloved Epaenetus [salute Epaenetus my beloved, salute my well-beloved Epaenetus].[ 38 ] Epaenetus was a Christian and a dear friend of Paul's
(see chart BELOVED IN THE LORD).
Who is the firstfruits [who was, the first convert, first converted].[ 39 ] Some
have become confused because of what Paul had previously written about the
household of Stephanas being the firstfruits of Achaia.
I urge you, brethren-- you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the
firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry
of the saints (1Co 16:15).
Most likely Epaenetus was of the household of Stephanas. He may have been
the first one in that family to have obeyed the gospel. Evidently, he was the only
member of it in Rome at the time Paul sent greetings.
Of Achaia[ 40 ] [in, of, Asia].[ 41 ] There is some doubt that "of Achaia" is the correct word here. Harrison and others plainly state that the KJV is wrong in its reading "Achaia."[ 42 ] At least twelve manuscripts and several modern versions have "of Asia" which is thought to be the correct reading (see note on 1Co 16:15).
To Christ [for, unto, Christ].[ 43 ] Notice how Christians are described in this chapter. They are "sisters" or "brethren" (verses 1, 14, 17), "in the Lord" (verses 1, 8, 11 12, 13), "in Christ" or "in Christ Jesus" (verses 3, 7, 9, 10), converted to Christ (verse 5), "saints" (verse 15) and slaves of the Lord (implied in verse 18).
[16:6] Greet Mary [salute Mary, Maria].[ 44 ] Mary was a fairly common name in the first century. This one is generally called "Mary of Rome" to distinguish her from four other Marys in the NT. For all I know, this fine lady may have been one of them but there is no way I can be sure. Priscilla, Aquila and others travelled back and forth from Asia to Rome. It is possible that one or more of the other Marys did the same (see note and chart PRISCILLA AND AQUILA at verse 3).
Who labored much for us [who worked, has worked, hard for you, among
you, who bestowed much labor on us].[ 45 ] Nothing identifies this particular
Mary except her diligent work for the church (see charts PAUL GREETS EIGHT
WOMEN; HARD-WORKING WOMEN).
16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners,
who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet Andronicus [salute Andronicus][ 46 ] (see note below on And Junia; also
And Junia [and Junias].[ 47 ] The variation in spelling of Junia(s) is due a textual
variation in various manuscripts (see note below and footnote). Junia is feminine
and Junias is masculine. Arndt and Ginrich state that ancient commentators
regarded Andronicus and Junia as a married couple but most regard Junias as a
man.[ 48 ]
Some writers have had an agenda to make Junias (masculine) into Junia
(feminine). They attempted to claim that there was a female apostle in order to
prop up their obsession to put women into the pulpit! However, the language is
not definitive enough to do that. In fact, there is not much support at all for
"Junia" (feminine) being the correct reading. Junias (masculine) appears in several
manuscripts and is carried in most modern versions. Zondervan assumes he was
a man, stating, "He had become a Christian before Paul's conversion."[ 49 ]
The meticulous NASB translators render the name "Junias" (masculine).
Andronicus and Junias, long-time faithful Christian men, were well-known by Paul
and other apostles.
My kinsmen [my relatives].[ 50 ] The Greek word for "kinsmen" or "relatives"
is broad enough to mean Paul's own family members, members of his tribe or his
fellow-Jews. To say the least, Paul implied by "kinsmen" that Andronicus and
Junias were his fellow-countrymen. However, some other Christians mentioned
in this chapter were Jews but are not designated by him as "kinsmen." For
example, Priscilla and Aquila were not.[ 51 ] Elsewhere Paul apparently applied
"kinsmen" to Jews in general (see Ro 9:3; 16:10, 21).
Some have taken a middle course in order to make "kinsmen" mean more than
fellow-Jews and less than family, suggesting that they were of Paul's own tribe of
And my fellow prisoners [and fellow-captives].[ 52 ] Paul was converted about
AD 34-37. He was imprisoned at least seven times.[ 53 ] Some of his fellow-prisoners had obeyed the gospel during confinement. Other Christians were with
him voluntarily or were arrested because they stayed with him too long or aroused
suspicion in some other manner. Just when or why Andronicus and Junias were
with him in prison is not known.
Who are of note [they are men of note, eminent, noted, outstanding].[ 54 ]
Among the apostles.[ 55 ] Apostles are simply those sent forth as messengers or
those on a commission. Other than the twelve, several others were "apostles" in
a general sense. For example, Barnabas was called an apostle (Ac 13:3). Some
have postulated that Andronicus and Junias were apostles in this sense. However,
the language does not require that they were apostles at all. The verse says they
were known "among the apostles." Under the heading of APOSTOLOS apostle,
Thayer lists this passage and wrote, in part:
In a broader sense the name is transferred to other eminent Christian
teachers; as Barnabas.[ 56 ]
Thayer then cites Romans 16:7 with a question mark to imply uncertainty as to
whether the title of "apostle" should be attributed to Junias. It is interesting that
apostles are mentioned but Peter is not even alluded to. Was he in Rome? Was
he the first Pope? If so, it is peculiar that Paul passed him by without even a
greeting, but mentioned Junia(s)!
Who also were in Christ before me [and they were, have been, who were,
who were also, in Christ before I was].[ 57 ] Andronicus and Junias became
Christians before Paul did. It is possible they were converted on or after Pentecost
and knew the apostles in Jerusalem. The church began on Pentecost in AD 30 and
the Roman letter was written about AD 56. If Andronicus and Junias became
members of the church of Christ on Pentecost, they could have been Christians for
as long as twenty-six years when Paul wrote the Roman letter. The Greek perfect
tense indicates that they were still faithful when Paul wrote the Roman epistle.
16:8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
Greet Ampliatus [salute Amplias].[ 58 ] F. F. Bruce commented:
A branch of the gens[ 59 ] Aurelia bore this cognomen.[ 60 ] Christian members
of this branch of the family are buried in one of the oldest Christian
burying-places in Rome, the Cemetery of Domitilla, the beginnings of which
go back to the end of the first century. One tomb in that cemetery,
decorated with paintings in a very early style, bears the inscription
AMPLIAT in uncials of the first or early second century.[ 61 ]
My beloved in the Lord [beloved in the Lord].[ 62 ] Except that Ampliatus was
Paul's personal friend, I know nothing about him (see chart BELOVED IN THE
LORD at verse 5).
Greet Urbanus [salute Urbane].[ 63 ] Nothing else is known about Urbanus
except that he worked with Paul and his name means "city-bred" or "polite" (see
chart PERSONS OF WHOM LITTLE IS KNOWN at verse 6).
Our fellow-worker in Christ [our helper, fellow-workman, in Christ].[ 64 ]
Urbanus had worked with Paul and others but the circumstances are not known.
And Stachys my beloved [and my beloved Stachys][ 65 ] Stachys whose name
means "a head of grain" was another of Paul's friends in Christ (see chart
BELOVED IN THE LORD at verse 5).
16:10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the
household of Aristobulus.
Greet Apelles [salute Apelles].[ 66 ] Some have suggested that Apelles is Apollos
but I doubt it (see chart PERSONS OF WHOM LITTLE IS KNOWN at verse 6).
Approved in Christ [the approved, who is approved, in Christ].[ 67 ] Apelles must have undergone a severe test and had come through it sound and unscathed. Regardless of the severity of the situation, he continued to show by his manner of life that he was a true Christian.
Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus [salute them which,
that, belong to the family of Aristobulus].[ 68 ] The name Aristobulus" means "the
best counselor." Tradition makes him one of the seventy (see Lu 10:1, 17).[ 69 ]
Aristobulus may not be included in the greeting as are those of his household.
16:11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household
of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
Greet Herodion, my countryman [salute my kinsman Herodion, Herodion my kinsman, my relative].[ 70 ] Herodion was Paul's kinsman. This at least means he was a Jew who had become a Christian (but see note on verse 7; chart PAUL'S KINSMEN at verse 7).
Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus [salute them who belong
to Narcissus, that be of, the family of, Narcissus, Narcissus' house].[ 71 ] The
favorite freedman of the emperor Claudius Caesar bore this name[ 72 ] but was put
to death before the Roman letter was penned. Since only his household is greeted,
it is possible that this particular Narcissus was dead when Paul wrote.[ 73 ] Another
Narcissus[ 74 ] in Rome was a favorite of Nero. Which ever one is intended, some
of his slaves and/or family members were Christians.
Who are in the Lord [in, which, that, are in, the Lord].[ 75 ] Those greeted
here were Christians. Some others in the household may not have been as yet
baptized. Everyone who is "in the Lord" has been immersed into Him (see Ro
6:3, 4; Ga 3:26, 27).
16:12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet
the beloved Persis who labored much in the Lord.
Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa [salute Tryphena and Tryphosa].[ 76 ] All I
am sure of is that these two were sisters in Christ worked very hard for the Lord.
Their similar names suggest to some that they were twins, blood sisters or possibly
slaves. Both names are derived from a Greek word meaning to live luxuriously.
Slaves were sometimes named "Prosperous" or "Profitable" (see notes on Phm 11,
20). A slave-owner might have so named these girls to reflect his actual or
desired financial status. The name "Tryphaena" has been found on inscriptions of
name plates in the burial places of the servants of the royal household of Rome
from the time of Paul[ 77 ] (see chart HARD-WORKING WOMEN).
Who have labored in the Lord [workers, those workers, who labor, in the
Lord].[ 78 ] Tryphaena and Tryphosa toiled and labored for the Lord and in the
Lord. The exact nature of their work is unknown. Because Paul approved it, we
may infer that it was in line with the Scriptural role of women in the church.[ 79 ]
Greet the beloved Persis [salute Persis the beloved, greet Persis].[ 80 ] The
name "Persis" suggests that this beloved lady was a Persian or an Iranian (see
chart PERSONS BELOVED IN THE LORD, verse 5).
Who labored much in the Lord [who has, which, worked hard in the
Lord].[ 81 ] The only work acceptable to heaven is that done "in Christ" (see Mt
7:21-23: 1Co 15:58). Persis "labored much in the Lord" as compared to
Tryphaena and Tryphosa who were "workers in the Lord."
16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Greet Rufus [salute Rufus].[ 82 ] The son of Simon of Cyrene[ 83 ] wore the Latin name "Rufus" or "Red." Mark had probably read Paul's letter to the church in Rome before he wrote his own gospel. No doubt he knew personally Ruphus who was a member there. The manner in which Mark mentions him suggests that he was well-known and certainly had become a Christian (see Mk 15:21).
Chosen in the Lord [eminent, the chosen, in the Lord].[ 84 ] "Chosen" or is
often used in Scripture in the sense of eminent or outstanding (see Ge 23:6; De
12:11; Jg 20:16; Ps 78:31). Rufus was no ordinary bench-warmer. As a
Christian, he was choice, chosen, outstanding!
And his mother and mine [also his mother and mine, and greet his and my
mother].[ 85 ] "His mother" is understood to be the literal mother of Rufus and the
figurative mother of Paul. If I am right in assuming the Rufus whom Paul greets
was the son of Simon, then "his mother and mine" was the wife of the Simon of
Cyrene who was pressed into service to bear the cross of Jesus. When she heard
Paul's letter being read including the words "His mother and mine" her tender and
elderly heart must have overflowed with emotion as tears welled up in her eyes.
16:14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the
brethren who are with them.
Greet Asyncritus [salute Asyncritus].[ 86 ]
Phlegon.[ 87 ]
Hermas [Hermes].[ 88 ]
Patrobas.[ 89 ]
Hermes [Hermas].[ 90 ] The names Hermas and Hermes both mean "Mercury"
or "interpreter." They are similar to our word "hermeneutics," the science of
interpretation. There is a "church fathers" manuscript called The Shepherd of
Hermas. Perhaps the Hermas whom Paul greets wrote it.
And the brethren who are with them [and the brethren with, which, that,
are with, them].[ 91 ] The five men listed in verse 14 were associated in one group.
Possibly they met together in a "house church" (see chart HOUSEHOLDS AND
HOUSE CHURCHES at verse 5).
16:15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and
all the saints who are with them.
Greet Philologus and Julia [salute Philologus, Julia].[ 92 ]
Nereus and his sister[ 93 ] and Olympas.[ 94 ]
And all the saints who are with them [and all the saints with them, that are,
which are, with them].[ 95 ] Possibly this is another house church (see chart
HOUSEHOLDS AND HOUSE CHURCHES at verse 5).
16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The[ 96 ] churches of Christ greet
Greet one another [salute one another].[ 97 ] If Paul could would visited the
saints in Rome he surely would have tried to personally greet each one with a holy
kiss. Did the entire membership at Rome assemble in such a place as the
colosseum for the reading of the Roman letter? At the conclusion of which, did
everyone turn and greet one another as Paul would have done?
With a holy kiss [with an holy kiss].[ 98 ] From early times, the kiss was a
common form of greeting. It was generally on the cheek, beard or forehead.
Sometimes it was on the lips (Pr 24:26; compare Song 1:2; 8:1). Men kissed men
(Ge 29:13; 33:4; 45:15; Ex 4:27; 18:7; 2Sa 14:33). Men and women kissed each
other (Ge 29:11; 31:28). People kissed each other goodbye (Ge 31:55; Ru 1:9,
14; Ac 20:37). Friends kissed (1Sa 20:41; 2Sa 19:39). A sinful woman kissed
Jesus' feet (Lu 7:38, 45).
Kisses as greetings were seldom abused. However, they were not always a sign
of genuine affection (see 2Sa 15:5; 20:9; Pr 27:6; Mt 26:48, 49; Mk 14:44, 45).
The churches of Christ greet you [all the churches of Christ, the assemblies
of Christ, salute you].[ 99 ] Paul had travelled among the churches in Greece, Asia,
Syria, Judea and other places. Now doubt he often expressed to them his desire
to visit Rome (see Ro 15:23). Brethren in various localities asked him to greet the
large and well-known church in Rome on their behalf.
Dwell on the splendid name given to the congregations of God's people-- "the
churches of Christ." The name honors the one who established the church. It
recognizes its head. It pays homage to the one who purchased it with His own
blood. All of God's congregations are His. They are all "churches of Christ."
One congregation is a church of Christ. Jesus said, "On this rock I will build My
church" (Mt 16:18). The church universal is made up of all the congregations.
It is also His. That great body of saved people is "the church of Christ."
16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses,
contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
Now I urge you [I, but I, appeal to you, beseech you, admonish you].[ 100 ]
With the word "urge" Paul introduces a very solemn and vital topic.
Brethren.[ 101 ] The term "brethren" distinguishes the faithful from those who
cause dissensions. Brethren are baptized believers. They are Christians, those
who are "spiritual" (see Ga 6:1). Included are both brothers and sisters in Christ.
Mark those [to consider, to take note of, be on the lookout for, them].[ 102 ]
Church-splitters are to be noted and watched carefully. The command to greet one
another with a holy kiss does not necessarily apply to them.
Who cause divisions [who create, which cause, those who cause, that are
causing, dissensions, the divisions].[ 103 ] The definite article in the Greek
suggests the dissensions or disturbances were well-known to the brethren in Rome.
The only division of which I am aware had to do with Jew-Gentile problems.
However, most any false teaching, if preached long enough by someone with
charisma, can gain a following. When people accept error, it nearly always causes
division. In our day, divisions have been caused by stressing various issues both
conservative and liberal.
When a congregation divides, who is responsible? Are there not two sides to
every story? Yes, but in the case of division, the ones who are wrong are the ones
guilty of church-splitting. For example, those who insisted on introducing the
instrument of music into churches of Christ caused division in the ranks of those
interested in restoring NT Christianity.
And offenses [and difficulties, occasions of stumbling, falling].[ 104 ]
Hindrances and obstacles are whatever makes it easier to sin and harder to do what
Contrary to the doctrine which you learned [in opposition to the doctrine
which you received, have been taught, which ye, which ye have, learned,
learnt].[ 105 ] It makes a great difference what kind of doctrine one teaches,
believes or follows. The gospel preached by the apostles was inspired by the Holy
Spirit (see Ac 2:1-5; 1Co 2:10, 13; 14:37; 2Co 12:1; Ga 1:12). Teaching contrary
to it is sinful and leads to eternal damnation (Ga 1:7-9).
And avoid them [avoid them, and turn away from them].[ 106 ] False teachers
are not to be kept in the fellowship nor should they be invited to speak on
lectureships or in pulpits.
16:18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus[ 107 ] Christ, but
their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts
of the simple.
For those who are such [for such, for such persons, people, they that are
such].[ 108 ] The men under consideration in the present verse are those who cause
disturbances and divisions (see verse 17).
Do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ [serve not our Lord Christ].[ 109 ] The life
of a Christian is one of service to the Savior. No matter how smooth and nice
false teachers may seem to be, they do not belong to Christ. They are in the
service of Satan.
But their own belly [but their own appetites, selves].[ 110 ] Some false teachers
serve their own belly. Paul, on the other hand, taught that the kingdom of God
is not "eating and drinking" (Ro 14:17) but everyone in his day had not learned
that. Sadly, in our generation there have been preachers, television evangelists
and others whose primary motivation seemed to be to engage in sins of the flesh
and to line their own pockets. Paul described them as follows:
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even
weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is
destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--
who set their mind on earthly things (Php 3:18, 19).
And by smooth words [and through good words, fair words, their smooth
speech, fair speeches].[ 111 ] The crafty schemes cooked up by smooth talkers
involve "every wind of doctrine" and "trickery of men" (Eph 4:14). They employ
"persuasive argument" (Col 2:4) but Paul calls them "idle talkers" (Tit 1:10).
And flattering speech [and fair talk, speeches, words].[ 112 ] Flattering speech
is a style of speaking designed not to teach the truth but to captivate the hearers.
Deceive [they deceive, beguile].[ 113 ] "Deceitful workers" (2Co 11:13) not only
dupe others but are themselves deceived (2Ti 3:13). They speak "deceptive words"
(2Pe 2:3). Their number is "many" (2Jo 7).
The hearts of the simple [the hearts of the simple-minded, the innocent, the
unsuspecting].[ 114 ] Weak Christians may listen to deceptive preaching week after
week without detecting anything wrong with it. They ought to be studying the
Bible for themselves (see Ac 17:11). Their "antennae" should go up when they
hear a tiny bit of error. If they fail to investigate and think for themselves, they
will be led into apostasy and, perhaps, be lost forever.
16:19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on
your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning
For your obedience [the report of, for while, your obedience].[ 115 ] In chapter
1, Paul complimented his readers:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is
spoken of throughout the whole world (Ro 1:8).
The only way anybody knows for certain about his faith is by his obedience (see
Has become known to all [is known, has reached, is come abroad, has come
unto all men].[ 116 ] Christians everywhere had heard about the great church in
Rome. Conservative estimates from burials of Christians in the catacombs suggest
a membership of more than 250,000 members of the Lord's church when Paul
penned the Roman letter. But it was not the size of the church but the obedience
of the members that impressed people in other cities.
Therefore I am glad on your behalf [so that I rejoice, I rejoice therefore,
over you, as it regards you].[ 117 ] Even though Paul had not yet been in Rome,
he was delighted that the faith of the Roman Christians was magnificent and
But I want you to be wise [I would, but I would, but yet I would, have you
wise, wish you to be wise].[ 118 ]
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming
the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but
understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:15-17).
In what is good [unto, about, as to, that which, is good].[ 119 ] Christians are
always thinking about that which is good (Php 4:8). They are making wise
decisions based on an understanding of the truth. They are doing good deeds at
appropriate times (see Pr 3:27; Joh 12:35; Ga 6:10; Eph 5:16; 2Ti 4:2, 3).
And simple [and guileless, but innocent].[ 120 ] God said of the Jews:
For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly
children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to
do good they have no knowledge (Jer 4:22).
God wants a people so isolated and apart from sin that they do not understand
evil innuendos and double-talk and who can still blush (see Jer 6:15; 8:12).
Concerning evil [as to, as to what is, unto that which is, about what is,
evil].[ 121 ] Christians who enjoy reading or watching immorality and violence
cannot be described as innocent in what is evil.
16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
And the God of peace [then the, but the, God of peace][ 122 ] (see note on Now
the God of peace at Ro 15:33).
Will crush Satan [shall bruise Satan].[ 123 ] The crushing of Satan has presented
a puzzle to several writers. Some have imagined that Paul thought that Christ was
to return soon (see chart at Ro 13:11, DID APOSTLES THINK THE FINAL
JUDGMENT WAS NEAR?).
James Macknight[ 124 ] and others saw the divisive false teachers as ministers of
Satan (see 2Co 11:15). According to this view, either Paul's letter or his presence
in Rome would crush Satan and heal whatever division existed there. If this view
is correct, Satan would be crushed when peace once again reigned in the church
In just a few years after Paul's second imprisonment in Rome, he would finish
his course and suffer martyrdom just outside Rome. It was Satan's desire to topple
his faith and thus destroy the confidence so many had in him. If Satan could
accomplish this, he hoped he could "crush" the Lord's church. If Paul could only
faithfully finish his course, he would finally be at peace. Satan's plot would be
defeated. The church would be immeasurably strengthened by the manner in
which the faithful apostle died. That is exactly what happened.
Under your feet.[ 125 ] "Under your feet" is a figurative expression but it seems
to locate Rome as the place where Satan would be crushed. The term does not
appear to be general enough to apply to Jerusalem, Ephesus, Antioch or some
Shortly [soon].[ 126 ]
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you [the grace of our Lord Jesus
be with you].[ 127 ] To the Corinthians, Paul the exact words.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you (1Co 16:23).
There is a connection between the God of peace (verse 20) and the grace of
Christ (verse 21). Both Father and Son possess deity. Both give grace and peace
to the saints.
16:21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my
countrymen, greet you.
Timothy my fellow-worker [Timotheus my fellow-workman, workfellow].[ 128 ]
Timothy was with Paul in Corinth when he wrote the Roman letter (see note on
Ac 16:1; also the Introduction to 1 Timothy).
And Lucius [so do Lucius].[ 129 ] Lucius "of Cyrene" may well be the person
sending greetings to Rome. If so, he was one of the "prophets and teachers" at
Antioch (see Ac 13:1).
Jason [and Jason].[ 130 ] When Paul was in Thessalonica, the Jews took some wicked men, stirred up a mob and attacked the house of Jason (see Ac 17:5-9). If this is the man Paul alludes to, he had travelled to Corinth and was with him at the time of writing.
And Sosipater.[ 131 ] Paul was accompanied by "Sopater" and others when he left
Greece for Macedonia. The "Sosipater" in the present verse may or may not be
the same as "Sopater" (see Ac 20:1-4).
My countrymen [my kinsmen][ 132 ] (see notes on Ro 9:3; 16:7; chart PAUL'S
KINSMEN at verse 7).
Greet you [greets you, salute, saluteth, you][ 133 ] (see note on verse 3).
16:22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.
I, Tertius.[ 134 ] Tertius is Latin for "third." Perhaps he was the third child born
into his family. He was the scribe, stenographer, secretary or amanuensis to whom
Paul dictated the inspired letter addressed to the Romans. Tertius wrote down what
Who wrote this epistle [the writer of, who write, who have written, this
letter].[ 135 ] "Who wrote" is said to be the epistolary aorist. Greek writers
commonly pretended they were present with the recipients of their letters as they
were read. Paul often employed an amanuensis or secretary to write for him. In
some instances the apostle added a greeting with his own hand to authenticate his
letters (see 1Co 16:21; Ga 6:11; Col 4:18).
Greet you in the Lord [salute you in the Lord].[ 136 ] Tertius sends his own
special greeting to the church at Rome. His salutation indicates that he was a
16:23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus,
the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother.
Gaius, my host [Gaius, mine host, host to me, who is host to me].[ 137 ] I find
it difficult to perfectly identify all the men in Scripture named Gaius. It is almost
impossible since people moved around a lot (see chart PRISCILLA AND AQUILA
at verse 3). The Gaius who was baptized by Paul may have been the same man
who was host to Paul and to the whole church at Corinth (1Co 1:14). However,
more than one Gaius is mentioned in the NT, any one of whom might have sent
greetings to the church at Rome.[ 138 ]
And the host of the whole church [and to, and of the whole assembly].[ 139 ]
There is an implication that Gaius was well-to-do. Until the church of Christ at
Corinth became very large, the whole congregation at times met in the home of
Gaius, socially, for worship or both.
Greets you [saluteth you].[ 140 ]
Erastus, the treasurer of the city [Erastus, the city steward, the city
treasurer, the chamberlain of the city].[ 141 ] Erastus was administrator of the
city lands, director of public works or, possibly, city treasurer of Corinth (see
footnote). He was one of the few "noble" men in that city who were called (see
1Co 1:26). Paul sent him and Timothy north to Macedonia (Ac 19:22). Afterward,
the apostle said Erastus "stayed at Corinth" (2Ti 4:20).
Greets you [greet, salutes, saluteth, you].[ 142 ]
And Quartus, a brother [and our brother, the brother, Quartus, and
Quartus the brother, and brother Quartus].[ 143 ]
16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.[ 144 ]
Several students have questioned the genuineness[ 145 ] of verse 24. However, the
same words except the "Amen" appear in Romans 16:20; see also the close of the
Roman letter (Ro 16:27). Really nothing at all is in question.
16:25-27 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and
the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept
secret since the world began 26 but now has been made manifest, and by the
prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the
commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith-- 27 to God,
alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Now to him who is able [now to him that is able, that is of power].[ 146 ] This
begins the "doxology" which runs through verse 27. It is a section of praise to
God.[ 147 ] In some manuscripts it appears after Romans 14:23 but most have it as
it appears here quoted from the NKJV (see notes on Eph 3:20).
To establish you [to stablish, strengthen, you].[ 148 ] God is able to establish
Christians (see chart GOD IS ABLE TO ESTABLISH YOU). Christ is "able to
save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him" (Heb 7:25). God is
able to keep Christians from falling (Jude 24). His establishing power is wielded
according to the gospel of Christ that Paul preached.
According to my gospel [according to my glad tidings].[ 149 ] The word of God
is that by which God builds up Christians and establishes them. Earlier in the
Roman letter, Paul said the gospel is "the power of God to salvation" (Ro 1:16).
He also wrote that the judgment itself would be "according to my gospel" (Ro
2:16). To the Ephesian elders, Paul praised God and His precious Word:
So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace,
which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those
who are sanctified (Ac 20:32).
And the preaching of Jesus Christ [the proclamation of Jesus Christ].[ 150 ]
To preach the word is to preach Christ, the Kingdom of God, the name of Christ
and baptism (see Ac 8:4, 5, 12).
According to the revelation of the mystery [according to the revelation of the
mystery].[ 151 ] In secular writings, a mystery is generally understood to be
something difficult or impossible to understand. According to Scripture, "the
mystery" was at one time hidden. After it was revealed it was still called "the
mystery." Jesus Himself uttered things "kept secret from the foundation of the
world" (Mt 13:35). The fact that salvation is made available to everyone through
Christ is a mystery revealed. Paul said of it:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which
God ordained before the ages for our glory (1Co 2:7).
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the
mysteries of God (1Co 4:1; compare 2Ti 1:9).
The mystery for which Paul was imprisoned had to do with Him who had been
revealed to the world, that is, Christ Himself (see Col 2:2; 4:3; charts FACTS
ABOUT THE MYSTERY; WHAT IS THE MYSTERY?).
Kept secret since the world began [which was, which hath been, as to which
silence has been, concealed, kept in silence, for long ages, through times
eternal, in the times of the ages, for ages].[ 152 ] The word for "kept secret" is
SESIGEMENOU kept silent. In Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:26,
APOKEKRUMMENON hidden away is used.[ 153 ] The mystery was both hidden
away and kept silent for "since the world began" or from "long ages past." The
KJV rendering "times eternal" is a little confusing because the two words "times"
and "eternal" are contradictory. The meaning seems to be "the times of the
ancient dispensation" (see note on Tit 1:2). Except for several prophecies in the
Hebrew Scriptures about the future salvation of all peoples, the "revelation of the
mystery" was kept secret from the Gentiles through past generations, essentially
throughout the Jewish age.
But now is made manifest [but is now, but which has now, shown forth,
disclosed, manifested, been made manifest].[ 154 ] It was not until Christ gave the
Great Commission at the close of the Jewish age that God's word was commanded
to be preached to all the world.[ 155 ]
And by the prophetic Scriptures [through, and through, the prophetic
writings, and by prophetic scriptures, the scriptures, the writings, of the
prophets].[ 156 ] The gospel was promised "before through His prophets in the
Holy Scriptures" (Ro 1:2). NT Scriptures were written by NT prophets. Various
Scriptures mention the latter prophets (Ac 11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 19:6; 21:9; 1Co
11:4; 12:28, 29; 13:2, 8; 14:29, 32, 37; Eph 4:11). Paul included himself as one
who had the gift of prophecy (Ro 12:6). Prophets "spoke forth" the word of God
by inspiration. They sometimes foretold the future but did not necessarily have to
do so in order to be called prophets (see 1Co 14:3, 4). The entire NT was written
by prophets but much of it is not predictive.
Made known for all nations [is, has been, made known to, unto, all the
nations].[ 157 ] After Paul arrived in Rome, he confirmed to Colossae the fact that
the gospel "was preached to every creature under heaven" (Col 1:23).
According to the commandment [according to commandment, the
command].[ 158 ] Under the Great Commission, NT prophets were commanded to
write Scripture (see 1Co 14:37; Jude 3; Re 1:11, 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 12,
14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5).
Of the everlasting God [of the eternal God].[ 159 ] God is the God of the living.
He is also the living God. Elihu remarked concerning the eternity of God:
Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His
years be discovered (Job 36:26).
Jeremiah spoke to an idolatrous nation.
But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting
King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able
to endure His indignation (Jer 10:10; compare Mk 12:26, 27; Lu 20:37 38;
see charts THE ETERNAL GOD A, B and C).
For obedience to the faith [unto, unto the, to bring about the, obedience of
faith].[ 160 ] Grace and apostleship were given to Paul to enable him to carry out
his commission with power, which he accomplished among the Gentiles for the
sake of the Lord's name (see notes on 2Th 1:8; Heb 5:9).
Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the
faith among all nations for His name (Ro 1:5).
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has
believed our report?" (Ro 10:16).
To God alone wise [the; to the, only wise God, to God only wise].[ 161 ]
Through Isaiah, God said compared his wisdom with that of man.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says
the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways
higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isa 55:8, 9;
see chart THE ONLY WISE GOD).
Be glory [to whom be glory, the glory].[ 162 ] The only wise God richly
deserves glory forever.
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory
forever. Amen (Ro 11:36).
Through Jesus Christ.[ 163 ] The only avenue for men to glorify God in the
present age is through Jesus Christ. To pray Christless prayers and sing Christless
songs is to worship in vain.
And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of
men (Mt 15:9; Mk 7:7).
Forever [for evermore, for endless ages].[ 164 ]
Amen.[ 165 ] The Holy Spirit ends the letter with "Amen," meaning it is so.
Christians read it and say "Amen," meaning so be it.
This final chapter of the epistle to the Romans began by commending Phoebe.
Some twenty-five people including some congregations meeting in houses were
greeted. The readers were warned about divisiveness in the church. Eight others,
including Tertius, the stenographer, sent greetings. God who by prophetic
Scriptures made known the gospel for obedience of the faith was glorified.
Themes of the book of Romans are God's righteousness and salvation by faith, both of which have been revealed in the gospel. Gentiles did not succeed in making a way of salvation. Neither did Jews who depended upon a ritual observance of the Law. The life of Abraham demonstrated salvation by faith. Adam and Christ were contrasted. In chapter 6, we read about immersion into Christ to be followed by righteous living. Support was given to the idea that Gentiles as well as Jews may become Christians and be saved in heaven. Chapter 12 listed practical details of virtuous living. Submission to civil government, receiving those weak in the faith and marking false and divisive teachers were taught. The book closes with personal greetings and praise to God.