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Song of Solomon
Romans 16 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Commendation of Phoebe, and salutations to Christians at Rome.
Verses 1, 2.
I commend unto you Phoebe our sister
who is a servant of the Church that is in Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord, worthily of the saints, and assist her
stand by her
in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she too hath been a succourer
, corresponding to
of many, and of mine own self.
This Phoebe was probably the bearer of the Epistle. She appears to have had business, perhaps of a legal kind, that took her to Rome; and St. Paul took advantage of her going to send the letter by her, desiring also to enlist the aid of her fellow-Christians at Rome in furtherance of her business, whatever it might be. Her having business at Rome, and her having been "a succourer of many," suggests the idea of her being a lady of means. Her designation as
of the Church at Cenchrea probably implies that she held an office there corresponding to that of
, though there is no reason to suppose the distinguishing term
to have been as yet in use. Her function, and that of others (as perhaps of Tryphena and Tryphosa, mentioned in ver. 12 as "labouring much in the Lord"), might be to minister to the sick and poor, and to fulfil such charitable offices as women could best discharge. Cf.
1 Timothy 3:11
, mentioned in the midst of directions as to the qualifications of
for the office of deacons, probably denotes
who fulfilled similar duties. Cf. also Pliny's celebrated letter to Trajan (circ. A.D. 107), in which he says that he had extorted information as to the doings of Christians, "ex duabus ancillis, quae
dicebantur." The Latin
answers exactly to the Greek
. Cenchrea was the port of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf; and it appears from this passage that there was a Church or congregation there, as well as one or more in Corinth itself. It is an interesting conjecture that St. Paul, in speaking of Phoebe having been a succourer of himself as well as of others, may refer to an illness of his own at Cenchrea, during which she had ministered to him, and that his shaving his head at Cenchrea because he had a vow (
) may have been during, or on his recovery from, that illness.
That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
, which is but another form of the same name)
and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own neck: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the Churches of the Gentiles. And greet the Church that is in their house.
For other notices of them, el.
Acts 18:2, 18, 26
1 Corinthians 16:19
2 Timothy 4:19
; whence we learn that Aquila was a Jew of Pontus, who, with his wife Priscilla, had been settled at Rome, whence, when the Jews were expelled by Claudius, they had gone to Corinth, where St. Paul found them on his first visit to that city; that St. Paul abode with them there, working with Aquila at tent-making, which was the croft of both; that they left Corinth with St. Paul for Syria, and were for a time left by him at Ephesus, where they instructed Apollos on his arrival there; that, when St. Paul wrote from Ephesus his First Epistle to the Corinthians, they sent greetings by it, having then a congregation of Christians which assembled at their house; that, having returned to Rome when the Epistle to the Romans was written, their house there also was made available for the same purpose; and that, when St. Paul was for the last time a prisoner at Rome before his martyrdom, they were once more living at Ephesus. They were probably in good circumstances, having had both at Rome and Ephesus houses large enough to be used as churches; and they were evidently leading and active members of the Christian community. It would seem that Priscilla, the wife, was especially so, and she may have been, like Phoebe, officially employed; for though, when they are first mentioned (
) as having lately come to Corinth, and when they themselves send greetings to Corinth (
1 Corinthians 16:19
), Aquila's name naturally comes first, yet St. Paul in all other mention of them reverses the order. The occasion of their having apparently risked their own lives in defence of St. Paul is unknown. It may have been at Corinth at the time of the Jewish insurrection against him (
), or at Ephesus at the time of the tumult raised by Demetrius the silversmith (
, etc.), when St. Paul had been in imminent danger. The phrase, "laid down their neck" (not, as in the Authorized Version, "necks"), seems only to denote, figuratively, . "exposed their lives to danger." It appears, from the large number of greetings which follow, that there were now many Christians at Rome known to, or any rate known of by, the apostle. It does not follow that he was acquainted with all of them personally. He may have heard of them in the frequent inquiries he had doubtless made about the Roman Church (cf.
). Many of them, however, he evidently knew, and with some had been associated. It was likely that many known to him in various quarters might have had occasion to resort to Rome. There are in all twenty-six individuals to whom greetings are sent, together with two households of slaves, and probably three congregations, as will appear below.
(or, as before,
. The verb is the same as before, and so throughout the chapter)
my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Asia
(certainly so, rather than
, probably introduced into the text from
1 Corinthians 16:15
means the proconsular province so called, being the western part of Asia Minor, of which the capital was Ephesus. Epaenetus may have been St. Paul's own first convert there during his second missionary journey (cf.
). The fact of the apostle having been then "forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia" does not preclude there having been converts thence.
Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
Verses 6, 7.
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on you
, rather than, as in the Textus Receptus,
). Salute Andrenicus and Junia (or
it is uncertain whether this is masculine or feminine; if the latter, Junia might be the wife of Andronicus
), my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles who also were in Christ before me.
It is a question whether by "my kinsmen" (
τοὺς συγγενεῖς μου
) here and afterwards St. Paul means that the persons so called were his relations, or only that they were Jews (cf.
, where he speaks of the Jews generally as
τῶν συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα
. There are in all five persons so designated in this chapter. The designation "fellow-prisoners" implies that these two had been, like himself, at some time imprisoned for the faith, but it does not fellow that he and they had been in prison together. If, in speaking of them as "of note among the apostles (
ἐπὶσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις
)," he means to designate them as themselves apostles, this is an instance of a wider use of the term "apostle" than is generally understood (see note under Romans 12:6, etc.). The phrase, however, will bear the interpretation that they were persons held in honour in the circle of the original twelve. The term,
, is certainly often used distinctively of them, as in
, by St. Paul himself, the reference in both texts being to his own relations to them; and so here, speaking of two persons, who he also says had been in Christ before himself, he may only mean to point to their having been, as they still were, distinguished in association with the original apostles even before his own conversion.
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
) my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urban
) our fellow-worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apellos approved in Christ.
Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household
. As to who Aristobulus might be (viz. a grandson of Herod the Great, mentioned by Josephus, 'Ant.,' 20. l, 2, as being at Rome in a private station), see Lightfoot on 'Philippians,' p. 172, and 'Dict. of Gr. and Romans Biog.,' under "Aristobulus," 5. "Those of Aristobulus" (
) would probably be his
of slaves (cf.
1 Corinthians 1:11
, and below,
). The salutation is not to the whole household, but to the Christians among them, as intimated by
τοὺς ἐκ τῶν
, and more definitely expressed below in the case of the household of Narcissus.
Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus'
Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the
of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them of the household of Narcissus that are in the Lord
. This Narcissus may possibly have been the powerful freedman of Claudius, mentioned by Tacitus, 'Ann.,' 11:29,
; 12:57; and by Suetonius, 'Claud.,' 28. The fact that he appears from 'Ann.,' 13:1, to have been put to death on the accession of Nero, A.D. 54, is not inconsistent with the supposition. For his human chattels would be likely to pass into the possession of Nero, and so become part of Caeasar's household, and might still be called by their late master's name. This may also have been the case with the household of Aristobulus above referred to. It is observable that, at a later period, the apostle, writing from Rome to the Philippians, sends special greetings from them "that are of Caesar's household" (
Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persia, which laboured much in the Lord
. All these seem to have been Church workers; and the last at least, from the way St. Paul speaks of her, must have been known by him personally, and done work of which he was cognizant. It is to be observed how, in calling her "the beloved," he avoids, with delicate propriety, adding "my," as he does in speaking of his male friends.
Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine
. Observe the graceful way in which St. Paul intimates his obligation to the mother of Rufus, who at some time (though when and where we know not) had been as a mother to himself. Similar delicate courtesy of language is especially observable in the Epistle to Philemon.
Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
Verses 14, 15.
Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes
(not, surely, as Origen supposed, the author of 'The Shepherd of Hermes,' which is said in 'Canon Mumtori' to have been written by a brother of Pius I., and cannot well have been of earlier date than the second century),
Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren that are with them. Salute Philologus, and Julia
(these, being coupled together, may have been man and wife, or brother and sister),
Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them
. The "brethren" in ver. 14, and the "saints" in ver. 15, saluted in connection with the groups of persons named, may possibly mean the congregations that assembled under the leadership, or perhaps at the houses, of those persons. If so, there would appear to have been three congregations in Rome known of by St. Paul; for see ver. 5, which, indeed, seems in itself to imply that the Church that was in the house of Priscilla and Aquila was not the only one.
Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
Salute one another with an holy hiss. All the Churches of Christ salute you.
For allusions to the
kiss of peace
among Christians, cf.
1 Thessalonians 5:26
1 Corinthians 16:20
2 Corinthians 13:12
1 Peter 5:14
. Justin Martyr ('Apol.,' 85) speaks of it as exchanged before the Eucharist, and it is alluded to by many Fathers, directed in the 'Apostolical Constitutions,' and has its place in ancient liturgies (see Bingham, 15. 3:3). St. Paul, of course, in enjoining it here and in other Epistles, has in view the concord which it expressed. In sending salutations from "all the Churches of Christ" (
, omitted in the Textus Receptus, having authority decidedly in its favour), he may be understood as conveying to the Roman Christians the feeling towards them that had been expressed generally by the Churches he had visited. He may have spoken wherever he went of his intention of visiting Rome, and perhaps of meanwhile sending a letter thither; and the several Churches may have charged him with kind messages. Before authenticating these salutations with his usual autographic benediction, he feels bound to add one additional warning. The thought occurs to him, and he cannot but give expression to it. The warning is against a class of persons whose mischievous activity he had had experience of elsewhere, and attempts by some of whom to disturb the peace of the Roman Church he may possibly have heard cf. They may have been Judaists, or others who taught views contrary to the received faith, and so caused divisions and offences in the Churches. For allusions to such elsewhere, cf.
.; Galatians 3:1,
2 Corinthians 11:13
. For proof of such having been at work afterwards at Rome, cf.
.; Philippians 3:2, 17,
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause the divisions and offences
, meaning "causes of stumbling." Both the words have the article, so as to denote things known of)
contrary to the doctrine which ye learned; and avoid them
turn away from them
shun them; have nothing to do with them. The allusion seems to be, not to persons within the Church, but rather to outsiders, who come with new notions to disturb its peace.
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly
Philippians 3:18, 19
). Had St. Paul thought these people sincere though mistaken, he would doubtless have treated them with the tenderness he shows towards the weak brethren. But he regards them as self-interested, and of the flesh; and against such disturbers of the Church's peace he is, here as elsewhere, indignant (el.
Galatians 1:7, 8
Galatians 5:11, 12
). In speaking of them as serving, or being slaves to, their own belly, it cannot be concluded certainly that he attributed to them habits of sensuality. He may only mean that it is the gratification of the lower part of their nature that they have in view; and there may be allusion to the motive of such persons being the desire of eating and drinking at the cost of the Churches. In 'The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles' (alluded to under Romans 12:6,
.) the desire to live without working at the cost of the Church is set down as one of the marks of a false apostle or a false prophet.
And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple
So the word
is translated in
. It is different from
in ver. 19, though the Authorized Version makes no difference).
For your obedience is come abroad unto all men
. This is apparently adduced as a reason for his exhorting them to beware of those seducers, with a confidence that they will not be seduced by them, ver. 19 being thus dependent on ver. 17.
I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, but simple
concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
For your obedience is come abroad unto all
. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
with you. Amen.
Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
Greetings from Corinth.
Verses 21, 22.
Timotheus my workfellow
(Timothy may have joined St. Paul at Corinth before the letter was finally sent, not having been with him when it was begun. For his name is not conjoined with St. Paul's in the opening salutation, as it is in
2 Corinthians 1:1
1 Thessalonians 1:1
2 Thessalonians 1:1
. Still, it does not of necessity follow that this would have been so in the case of a doctrinal treatise such as this Epistle mainly is),
(not to be identified with St. Luke
), and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you, I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, salute you in the Lord.
It was St. Paul's habit to dictate his letters to an amanuensis (cf.
2 Thessalonians 3:17
). Here the amanuensis interposes his own greeting in his own person.
I Tertius, who wrote
epistle, salute you in the Lord.
Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
Verses 23, 24.
Gaius mine host, and of the whole Church, saluteth you
. Probably the person mentioned in
1 Corinthians 1:14
as baptized by St. Paul himself at Corinth. There is no reason for identifying him with those of the same name mentioned in
3 John 1
. Gaius was a common name. He appears to have been one who exercised extensive hospitality to Christians, which the apostle was enjoying at the time of writing.
Erastus the chamberlain
of the city
(not to be identified with the Erastus of
2 Timothy 4:20
and Quartus the brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ he with you all. Amen
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
with you all. Amen.
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
(For its original position, see above.) It may have been written by the apostle with his own hand. It differs, indeed, in form as well as fulness, from other autographic conclusions of his Epistles; but it is a suitable and grand ending of an Epistle of the peculiar character of this; summing up pregnantly in the form of a glowing thanksgiving the essential ideas of the whole Epistle, which had been more or less intimated in its preface.
Verses 25, 26.
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel
i.e. the gospel committed unto me to preach
1 Timothy 1:11
2 Timothy 2:8
and the preaching of Jesus Christ
, as appears from the use of
concerning Jesus Christ.
the announcement of Jesus Christ.
The phrase seems to be added as declaring what Paul's gospel was, rather than as referring back to Christ's personal preaching),
according to the revelation of the mystery
(on the meaning of
, see note on Romans 11:25),
which was kept secret
kept in silence
since the world began
in times eternal
but is now made manifest, and through the Scriptures of the prophets
), according to the command. meat of the eternal God, made known unto all the nations unto the obedience of faith.
We have seen throughout the Epistle how the Scriptures of the Old Testament are referred to as foretelling the revelation in Christ of the long-hidden mystery (cf. also
); and it was through showing them to be fulfilled that, in all the apostolic preaching, the
to all the nations; and this according to the
merit of God, that the
should thus be now at last made known.
But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
To God only wise,
glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
To God only wise, through Jesus Christ, be glory for ever. Amen
. The great preponderance of ancient authorities, including all uncials but B, have "to God only wise." But the intended sense is not affected by the insertion, the ascription of glory being still
to the only wise God
, and not to
Otherwise there would be no sequence to
μόνῷ σοφῷ Θεῷ
. "In the lively pressure of the great intermediate thoughts connected with the mention of the gospel, vers. 25, 26, the syntactic connection has escaped the apostle" (Meyer)
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