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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
Romans 16

 

 

Introduction

Romans CHAPTER 16:

OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN

I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 16:

I. The Commendation of Phoebe:

II. Paul"s Greetings to the Romans:

III. Warning Against False Teachers:

IV. Greetings From Paul"s Companions:

V. Final Statement of Praise to God:

II. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER 16:


Verse 1

Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church that is at Cenchreae:

"Commend"-to introduce favorably, "the regular word for letters of commendation" (2 Corinthians 3:1). So here verses 1 and 2 constitute Paul"s recommendation of Phoebe, the bearer of the Epistle." (Robertson p. 425)

"It was common then, as now, to bear letters of introduction to strangers, commending the person thus introduced to the favorable regards and attentions of those to whom the letters were addressed." (Barnes p. 332)

Such a letter of commendation accompanied Apollos when he went to preach in Corinth. (Acts 18:27)

"The fact that this commendation is placed first, that it assumes simultaneous arrival of Phoebe and Paul"s letter in Rome, and that no other person besides her is mentioned in this commendation, forms the basis for the conclusion that she was the bearer of Paul"s letter to Rome." (Lenski p. 898)

Other Christians would be the personal bearers of other letters written by Paul (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7-9).

"Phoebe"-(FEE bih). Her name means "bright or radiant".

Point to Note:

"In a long list of lovely people Paul begins with a woman! Chauvinist indeed. In a list of 27 people Paul makes no allusion to the office of "universal bishop" or its equivalent. Nor does he say hello to anyone in such an office. Does this silence say nothing?" (McGuiggan p. 439)

"who is a servant"-the word "servant" has created quite a stir here, seeing that many translator"s chose to add in the side ref., "or Deaconess".

Points to Note:

1. The same word "servant" is often used of male Christians, without any hint that we are to consider such men to be deacons. In fact, in those passages the translators didn"t add the side ref., "or deacons". (See 1 Timothy 4:6; Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:7) The same Greek word is applied to civil authorities (Romans 13:4), Jesus Christ (15:8), Paul and Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:5). Paul often uses the same word (translated "minister") when speaking of himself (Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23; Colossians 1:25), and from the qualifications laid down for "deacons", we know that Paul wasn"t calling himself a deacon. (1 Timothy 3:12) In the vast majority of cases, the word simply means a "servant", one who ministers, without any idea of an official office.

2. The "women" mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:11, must be the wives of the deacons, seeing that before and after this verse, the qualifications for deacons specifically apply to men. (3:8 "men of dignity"; 3:12 "Let deacons be husbands of only one wife.")

"However, because the passage is sandwiched between various qualifications for deacons, the most natural reference would be to the wives of those being considered for deacons...but because Paul says of deacons that they "must be the husband of but one wife" (1 Timothy 3:12), he does not appear to include women in that office."

3. "In Romans 16:1 Phoebe is described as a diakonos, but since the form is masculine, without article, and since the first indications of an office of "deaconess" appear only in the 3rd cent., it is highly doubtful that the verse refers to a specific and definite church office."

4. "We can get caught in the same trap of word usage when Paul refers to Phoebe as a "servant" (Romans 16:1). A possible rendering of the word "servant" is the word "deaconess", at least if one overlooks the fact that only the masculine word for the word "deacon" is found in Scripture. (There is no feminine form of the Greek word for deacon)."

This whole discussion is very frustrating, seeing that there wasn"t a consistent or impelling reason to place "or deaconess" in the side reference.

"that is at Cenchreae"-(SEN krih uh)-a seaport town in Greece about 7 miles east of Corinth. (Nelsons p. 213) "A village, it existed solely for the transportation of goods to and from Corinth and across the isthmus. Rather than sail around dangerous Cape Malea, the southern tip of the Peloponnesus, ships were dragged across the isthmus from Cenchreae to Lechaeum, the western habor of Corinth on sleds." (Zond. Ency. p. 771)

Evidently a church existed in this town, as well as in Corinth.


Verse 2

Romans 16:2 that ye receive her in the Lord, worthily of the saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever matter she may have need of you: for she herself also hath been a helper of many, and of mine own self.

"receive her in the Lord"-"give her a Christian welcome--one worthy of Christ"s people" (TCNT) "i.e. as a fellow-Christian. Travelling Christians in the days of the primitive Church could always be sure of finding hospitality with their fellow-Christians in any place where there was a church." (F.F. Bruce p. 270) "As the Lord would wish..in a manner pleasing to Christ..that would have Christ"s approval." (McGuiggan p. 439)

"Worthily of the saints"-"in a manner worthy of the saints" (NASV) "with such kindness as it becomes Christians to show." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 718)

Points to Note:

1. There is a certain way that Christians are to act. We are to live up to our "name and calling" (Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 4:1). Unfortunately, some Christians don"t ever seem to think about "doing a good job" in their service to God, or of "trying their best". I"m not talking about trying to earn salvation, rather, simply giving God our best. Where I could stand back and say, "You know, I did do a good job (effort that I am proud of, that I am willing to place my name on, that I wouldn"t be ashamed for everyone to know about, and to know that a "Christian" did that) in teaching that person or assisting them, raising those children, extending hospitality, etc...

"Since they were Christ"s they were to be like him. They had a name to live up to. Their treatment of this lady was to match their status." (McGuiggan p. 439)

2. "And yet a Church is not always the welcoming institution that it ought to be. It is possible for Churches...to become little cliques, almost little closed societies which are not really interested in welcoming the stranger. When a stranger comes among us, Paul"s advice (command) still holds good--welcome such a one as God"s dedicated people ought to welcome each other." (Barclay p. 227)

"assist"-"to stand by" (Robertson p. 425), "and give her any help she may require." (Mof) "He speaks indefinitely, but his language suggests that she was going to Rome on business in which they could assist her." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 718) "Assist speaks of "standing by someone, watching". In this case they are to (as it were) stand by her so that they could be there when she needed something." (McGuiggan p. 440)

"whatsoever matter"-Phoebe"s business in Rome is unclear. It may have been personal business, or some business relating to the Church in Cenchrea.

"for"-here is one reason that we need to be so willing to help this woman. "Help her for she is a helper" (McGarvey p. 545)

"helper"-4368. prostatis {pros-tat"-is}; feminine of a derivative of 4291; a patroness, i.e. assistant: -succourer.

"The term "helper" is almost the same as "patroness" and intimates that the one so designated was possibly a person of some wealth and social position." (Erdman pp. 167-168)

"and of mind own self"

Points to Note:

1. Unfortunately, somebody has come up with the idea that unless women can hold positions of authority in the Church, they don"t have any real value and all their talents are being wasted. Look at this woman and other"s that the Bible will mention, did their talents go to waste because they weren"t elders? (Acts 9:36; Acts 16:14-15; Acts 18:26; Romans 16:6). In reality, the vast majority of Christian men never hold such positions either (just look at the qualifications). Does that mean that their talents are being wasted?

2. The next time that someone tries to argue that the Bible is anti-women, have them read this chapter!

"Thank God that along the way he (Paul) met up with beautiful ladies who provided comfort and help where needed. I heard someone say that Paul saluted 16 women in this section." (McGuiggan p. 440)

"This list of obscure names is of great value and of true significance. It gives an aspect of reality and deep human interest to the whole epistle, and its accompanying phrases indicate that Christian doctrines were bearing fruit in the lives of those to whom they had been proclaimed. These greetings reveal the heart of Paul, showing his tender affection, his appreciation of kindness, his warm sympathy, and his high valuation of human friendships. They give instructive glimpses of the life of the early church, enabling us to form a picture of its close fellowships, its heroic sufferings, its generous sympathies, its purity, its devotion, its faith, its hope, its love." (Erdman p. 169)

As we are preaching the restoration of the New Testament Church, let"s "restore" this type of concern for our brethren too! This section of Scripture has a part in the New Testament Church also.

In verses 3-16 Paul sends his greetings to various brethren and sisters in Rome.


Verse 3

Romans 16:3 Salute Prisca and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus,

"Salute"-"Greet" (NASV) 782. aspazomai {as-pad"-zom-ahee}; from 1 (as a particle of union) and a presumed form of 4685; to enfold in the arms, i.e. (by implication) to salute, (figuratively) to welcome: -embrace, greet, salute, take leave.

"Prisca"-(PRIS kuh), a shortened form of Priscilla.

"Aquila"-her husband. (Acts 18:2) He was a Jew, a naive of Pontus, who was a tent-maker. (Acts 18:1-2) Paul had first met them in Corinth (A.D. 53), they sailed with Paul after leaving Corinth (Acts 18:18), he left them in Ephesus (18:19) where they met and instructed Apollos (18:26) and were with Paul during his 3 year stay there. (1 Corinthians 16:8-9; 19). Apparently they were back at Ephesus at the end of Paul"s life. (2 Timothy 4:19; 1 Timothy 1:3)

Being good and loyal friends of Paul, they may have returned to Rome to get things ready for his anticipated visit.

"fellow-workers"-"they were more than "talkers"; they were "workers"." (McGuiggan p. 440) Could Paul honestly refer to "us" as "fellow-workers"?


Verse 4

Romans 16:4 who for my life laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles:

"laid down their own necks"-Paul had encountered danger in both Corinth and Ephesus. (See Acts 18:12-17; Acts 19:23-41). "Risked their own necks" (NASV), "who once risked their very necks for my life." (Wms) "Laid down is, literally, placed under (the ax)." (Vincent p. 178)

"but also all the churches of the Gentiles"-"had reason to be thankful to them, for having rescued the Apostle of the Gentiles from danger." (Alford p. 970) "The language implies that the incident referred to had occurred long enough ago for all the Gentile Churches to be aware of it.." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 718)

"They laid their necks on the line for Paul. It"s interesting that being in Christ results in so much service; everybody "works". They all accepted grace and worked as though there were none. Anyone who says teaching justification by grace results in indolence hasn"t paid attention to the fruit of grace (see 1 Corinthians 15:10 and Romans 16:3; Romans 16:5; Romans 16:12)" (McGuiggan p. 440)


Verse 5

Romans 16:5 and {salute} the church that is in their house. Salute Epaenetus my beloved, who is the first-fruits of Asia unto Christ.

"the church that is in their house"-this expression is also found in (1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). Most commentators take the expression as referring to the Christians that meet for worship in the house provided by this couple. And yet this isn"t the only view:

"The church in one"s house, i.e. the company of Christians belonging to a person"s family; others less aptly understand the phrase of the Christians accustomed to meet for worship in the house of some one.." (Thayer p. 196)

Points to Note:

1. The word "house" often refers to one"s "household" (Acts 10:2; Acts 10:30; Acts 11:14; 1 Corinthians 16:15).

2. In certain passages, the interpretation, "congregation which meets in their home", doesn"t fit. In Colossians 4:16 we find that one "church" (congregation) existed in Laodicea. And yet in 4:15 two groups are greeted. The brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. Is Paul greeting the local congregation twice? In this verse, "church that is in her house", seems to refer better to the Christians who were members of Nympha"s family.

3. "It is possible that there were other Christians and teachers belonging to their household that constituted the nucleus of a church wherever they went." (Lipscomb p. 272)

"Prisca and Aquila lived a curiously nomadic and unsettled life. Aquila himself had been born in Pontus in Asia Minor (Acts 18:2). We find them resident first in Rome, then in Corinth, then in Ephesus, then back in Rome, and then finally back in Ephesus; but wherever we find them, we find that their home is a center of Christian fellowship and service.." (Barclay p. 229)

Point to Note:

Many commentators speculate as to why Paul places the wife"s name before her husbands. Normally the husbands name would come first. "Both Luke and Paul generally put Prisca before Aquila, her husband; this may have been due to her having the more impressive personality of the two, although some have inferred that her social rank was superior to his. She may have belonged by birth or manumission to the "gens Prisca", a noble Roman family." (F.F. Bruce p. 270)

Barclay speculates on a "Romantic possibility": "There is just the possibility that..Prisca herself was..a great lady, actually a member by birth of the Acilian family. It may be that at some meeting of the Christians this great Roman lady met Aquila the humble Jewish tentmaker, that the two fell in love..and that these two, the Roman aristocrat and the Jewish artisan, were joined for ever in Christian love and Christian service." (pp. 230-231)

"The rest of the names here...... Most of them seem to be those of slaves or freedmen; but these men and women, not recognized by the world, have attained glory enough by being known through all the passing centuries as friends of Paul and followers of Christ." (Erdman p. 169)

"Epaenetus"-(eh PEE nee tus) (praiseworthy)

"my beloved"-Paul knew him well. Little is said about this man, but what is said, it more than enough!

"who is the firstfruits of Asia unto Christ"-"the first convert to Christ from Asia" (NASV). As the household of Stephanas had been the first ones converted in Achaia (Greece) (1 Corinthians 16:15), so this man was Paul"s first success in Asia Minor.


Verse 6

Romans 16:6 Salute Mary, who bestowed much labor on you.

"Mary"-"Maria" would be Roman, the variant "Mariam" Jewish. (Lenski p. 905)

"who bestowed much labor on you"-"who has toiled so hard for you" (Wms) "There is something finer in Paul"s appreciation of services rendered to others than if they had been rendered to himself" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 719)

"labor"-2872. kopiao {kop-ee-ah"-o}; from a derivative of 2873; to feel fatigue; by implication, to work hard: -(bestow) labour, toil, be wearied. "To grow tired, to toil with effort" (Lenski p. 905)

"Of the twenty-four, six are women. That is worth remembering, often Paul is accused of belittling the status of women in the Church. If we really wish to see Paul"s attitude to women in the Church it is a passage like this that we should read.." (Barclay p. 231)


Verse 7

Romans 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

"Andronicus"-(an droe NYE kus) (conquer).

"Junias"-or Junia (JOO nih uh). This name may be either masculine or feminine. (Vincent p. 179)

"kinsmen"-i.e. of Jewish heritage. "The primary meaning is related by blood; but it is used in the wider sense of fellow-countrymen." (Vincent p. 180)

"who are of note among the apostles"-"it might mean well-known to the apostolic circle" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 719) "They stand out as men of note not only in Paul"s estimation but in the estimation of all the apostles." (Lenski p. 906) Or the word "apostle" might be used here in a broader sense, as it is used in reference to Barnabas (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14), that these two were well-known messengers of the gospel.

"fellow-prisoners"-they had shared one of Paul"s frequent imprisonments (2 Corinthians 11:23)--where, we cannot say. (F.F. Bruce p. 272)

"have been in Christ before me"-converted before Paul was converted. Taking us all the way back to Acts Chapter 9 and before. Christians from a very early date.


Verse 8

Romans 16:8 Salute Ampliatus my beloved in the Lord.

"Ampliatus"-(am plih AH tus). "The name is common in Roman inscriptions of the period, and is found repeatedly as borne by members of the imperial household." (F.F. Bruce p. 272) "Is quite a common slave name". (Barclay p. 232)

"my beloved in the Lord"-"my dear Christian friend" (Gspd). "Paul has none but Christian relations to this man." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 720)


Verse 9

Romans 16:9 Salute Urbanus our fellow-worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

"Urbanus"-(uhr BAIN us) "belonging to the urbs, or "city", i.e. Rome. A name by its very nature specially common in Rome. (F.F. Bruce p. 272)

"Stachys"-(STAY kis) (ear of grain). "One or two of its occurrences are in association with the imperial household." (F.F. Bruce p. 272)


Verse 10

Romans 16:10 Salute Apelles the approved in Christ. Salute them that are of the {household} of Aristobulus.

"Apelles"-(a PELL ez) "A name sufficiently common among the Jews of Rome to be used by Horace as a typical Jewish name." (F.F. Bruce p. 272)

"the approved in Christ"-"tested and tried in Christ" (Mon); "who has been tried and found trustworthy in Christ"s work" (Con), "that tried Christian" (Mof). "In some conspicuous way the Christian character of Apelles had been tried and found proof." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 720) (James 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:15) "The tired and true" (1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 2 Corinthians 13:7)" (Robertson p. 427)

"household"-"A Roman household included all in service from the noblest retainer to the meanest slave." (McGarvey p. 547) "Possibly household slaves." (Vincent p. 180) "Christians belonging to the household of Aristobulus" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 720)

Barclay makes the following comments: "Now in Rome for long there had lived the grandson of Herod the Great whose name was Aristobulus. This Aristobulus had lived always as a private individual and had inherited none of Herod"s domains; but he was a close friend of the Emperor Claudius. When he died his servants and slaves would pass into the possession of and become the property of the Emperor, but they would still form a section of the Emperor"s establishment known as the household of Aristobulus." (p. 233)

Bruce adds, "In the light of this suggested identification of Aristobulus with a member of the Herod family, is it a coincidence that the next name in Paul"s list is Herodian?" (p. 273)

"Aristobulus"-(a ris two BUE lus) (best advisor).


Verse 11

Romans 16:11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Salute them of the {household} of Narcissus, that are in the Lord.

"Herodion"-(hih ROE dee uhn) (heroic). Possibly one belonging to the above "household".

"Narcissus"-(narr SIS us) "was a common name; but the most famous Narcissus was a freedman who had been secretary to the Emperor Claudius and who had exercised a notorious influence over the Emperor. He was said to have amassed a private fortune..His power had lain in the fact that all correspondence addressed to the Emperor had to pass through his hands and never reached the Emperor unless he allowed it to do so. He made his fortune from the fact that people paid him large bribes to make sure that their petitions and requests did reach the Emperor. When Claudius was murdered and Nero came to the throne, Narcissus survived for a short time, but in the end he was compelled to commit suicide..it may well be his one-time slaves which are referred to here." (Barclay pp. 233-234)

This Narcissus had died in A.D. 54, three years before Paul wrote this letter.

"Lightfoot argues..that most of those here greeted by Paul were (now) Nero"s servants, once in Greece, especially Philippi, and now called to Rome, whence they later sent back greetings to Philippi (Philippians 4:22)" (McGarvey p. 547)

"that are in the Lord"-only certain members of this household had obeyed the gospel.


Verse 12

Romans 16:12 Salute Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Salute Persis the beloved, who labored much in the Lord.

"Tryphaena"-(trigh FEE nuh)

"Tryphosa"-(trigh FOE shuh) Perhaps sisters. (Vincent p. 180) "It was usual to designate members of the same family by derivatives from the same root (word)" (Lenski p. 910) "Probably near relatives or sisters, and quite possibly twins." (F.F. Bruce p. 273)

"who labor in the Lord"-"who are ever toiling in the Lord" (Mon). (1 Corinthians 15:58)

"the names Typhaena and Tryphosa means respectively dainty and delicate! It is as if Paul said: "You two may be called dainty and delicate; but you belie your names by working like trojans for the sake of the Church and for Christ." (Barclay p. 235)

"Persis"-(PUR sis) (Persian). "Persian woman", appears on Greek and Latin inscriptions at Rome. (F.F. Bruce p. 274)

"who labored much in the Lord"-an incredibly hard-worker. "Four women (,12), and hard, tiring labor is predicated of all of them. All of them seem to have had no difficulty in finding plenty of hard work to do.." (Lenski p. 910)


Verse 13

Romans 16:13 Salute Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

"Rufus"-(ROO fuhs) (red-haired). A very common name in Rome. Many speculate that this Rufus might have been the son mentioned that belonged to Simon of Cyrene. (Mark 15:21) "Mark, writing his gospel for the Christians in Rome, identifies Simon of Cyrene for his readers thirty years after the incident in which Simon figures by saying in effect: "You will know which Simon I mean if I tell you that he was the father of Alexander and Rufus." (F.F. Bruce p. 274)

See Barclay p. 236, for an interesting view of the feelings that Simon might have had about carrying the cross of Christ.

"chosen in the Lord"-"an outstanding follower of the Lord" (NEB); "that choice Christian" (Mof) "Noble specimen of a Christian" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 720)

"his mother and mine"-"Paul"s appreciation of her maternal care once, not his real mother." (Robertson p. 428) Where she had "mothered" Paul we do not know. (Mark 10:30; Matthew 19:29)


Verse 14

Romans 16:14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brethren that are with them.

"Asyncritus"-(a SIN cry tus) (incomparable)

"Phlegon"-(FLEG ahn) (zealous)

"Hermes"-(HUR meez) A common slave-name. The name of the god of good luck.

"Patrobas"-(PAT ruh buhs) (having life from father)

"Hermas"-(HUR muhs) (Mercury)

"and the brethren that are with them"-are we to understand that verse 14 is a greeting addressed to another congregation in Rome? And the same with verse 15? Do we have three congregations here addressed?


Verse 15

Romans 16:15 Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints that are with them.

"Philologus"-(fih LAHL uh guhs) (talkative)

"Julia"-(JOOL yuh). Perhaps these two are to be understood as husband and wife. The commonest name for female slaves in the imperial household because of Julius Caesar.

"Nereus"-(NEE roose).

"Olympas"-(oh LIMP us)


Verse 16

Romans 16:16 Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you.

"with a holy kiss"- (1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14). "Bestowing a kiss upon brow or cheek as sign of friendly accord, affection, and honor dates very far back among Oriental people." (Lenski p. 913) (2 Samuel 20:9; Luke 7:45; Matthew 26:49)

"holy"-"Paul is not teaching the Roman church a new custom, but is purifying an old one, insisting that the salutation be holy." (McGarvey p. 548)

Points to Note:

Paul is not giving a new custom for the Church, but he is rather insisting that when they greet one another, that their traditional method of greeting (taken from society), be pure and sincere. (See Luke 7:45-46)

"All the churches of Christ salute you"-"he indicates his wide acquaintance with the churches, and the deep interest which all felt in the welfare of the church at Rome." (Erdman p. 169)

Note: "The name of Peter is conspicuously absent from the list of those to whom greetings are sent." (F.F. Bruce p. 276)


Verse 17

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them.

"Mark"-4648. skopeo {skop-eh"-o}; from 4649; to take aim at (spy), i.e. (figuratively) regard: -consider, take heed, look at (on), mark. Compare 3700.

-"look out for, be keeping your eyes open for" (Lenski p. 915) "Keep your eye on..as an peril to be avoided" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 722) "Keep an eye on so as to avoid" (Robertson p. 428) "Do not shut your eyes to what they are doing, nor make excuses for them." (Whiteside p. 296)

"that are causing"-"keep your eye on those who cause dissensions" (NASV) "He remembers what subtle and corrupting heresies have appeared among other bodies of believers, and he fears lest they may cause divisions and scandals among the Christians at Rome." (Erdman p. 170)

"causing"-"engaged in the business of producing, and what they make it their business to produce." (Lenski p. 915)

"the divisions"-"The article with each noun points to some well-known disturbances." (Vincent p. 181) "Dissensions" (NASV)1370. dichostsis {dee-khos-tas-ee"-ah}; from a derivative of 1364 and 4714; disunion, i.e. (figuratively) dissension: -division, sedition. "stir up dissensions" (Mof)

"occasions of stumbling"-"put hindrances in your way" (Mof) "Death-traps" (Lenski p. 915) Teaching that hinders both those trying to live the Christian life and those coming to Christ.

"contrary to the doctrine which ye learned"-here is the test for what type of teaching constitutes "causes division and occasions of stumbling", any teaching that is contrary to the doctrine that Jesus and His apostles taught. (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 2 John 1:9)

"turn away from them"-"having nothing to do with them..mark the aorist imperative...definitely, decisively, once for all, incline away from them..from them, not merely from their teaching" (Lenski p. 916)

Points to Note:

1. The instruction given here is manifestly different from the instruction given in Chapter 14. In that chapter brothers were to receive one another in their different practices. Not here. Obviously, Chapter 14 wasn"t dealing with matters that were "contrary to the doctrine".

2. These verses may be a specific warning against Judaizing teachers, that Paul had battled with in other areas (Acts 15:1-5; Galatians 2:1-5). The next verse hints that they may have been those who preached that liberty in Christ means license to sin. (Romans 6:1; 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 2:18-19). Or it may simply be a blanket warning against any kind of error.

3. "Over and over again I hear people criticizing people for criticizing false teaching. They think it"s un-Christian to do that. They think it"s Christian for them to critique the person criticizing the false doctrine. People, there are lines to be drawn. In God"s name when they must be drawn, draw them. Don"t go off halfcocked but when the evidence is in and it"s clear, do what you must...the divisions being caused are "contrary to the doctrine which ye learned". Doesn"t this tell you something? Doesn"t this say there is a corpus of truth that is not only recognizable but which had been committed to all believers and which was indispensable to salvation and fellowship? The Master spoke of truth which was "knowable" and which gave freedom, recognizable, defensible, guardable, preachable, which could be obeyed, turned away from, denied and departed from.....to leave the doctrine of Christ without definite pattern is to convict Paul of nonsense...over and over again he calls these preachers (Timothy and Titus) to hold fast the "pattern of sound words and doctrine"...How could we recognize false teachers as false if there is no criterion for falseness?"


Verse 18

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent.

"their own belly"-they don"t serve the Lord! Paul actually said this about some religious people. "Their own appetites" (NASV) "Belly" is meant to express all the appetites of the carnal life. (McGarvey p. 550) A self-seeking spirit. (Philippians 3:19 "..whose god is their appetite")

This reveals that false doctrine often arises from moral problems within the individual rather than intellectual problems with the text.

"smooth"-"plausible" (Mof). Speech that sounds like the truth, speech that sounds good. Things that people like to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) Words that are mild and pleasant. (2 Peter 2:3)

"fair"-2129. eulogia {yoo-log-ee"-ah}; from the same as 2127; fine speaking, i.e. elegance of language; commendation ("eulogy"), i.e. (reverentially) adoration; religiously, benediction; by implication, consecration; by extension benefit or largess: -blessing (a matter of) bounty (X -tifully), fair speech.

-"flattering words" (RSV) They are good talkers. Just like the old Devil himself (Genesis 3:5).

"It has always been a characteristic of truth that it comes to us in plain and simple garb, rugged, unadorned." (McGarvey p. 550) (Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6; Ephesians 4:4-6).

"beguile"-1818. exapatao {ex-ap-at-ah"-o}; from 1537 and 538; to seduce wholly: -beguile, deceive.

"hearts"-the battle for the mind of man.

"innocent"-172. akakos {ak"-ak-os}; from 1 (as a negative particle) and 2556; not bad, i.e. (objectively) innocent or (subjectively) unsuspecting: -harmless, simple.

-"unsuspecting" (Mof); "simple-minded" (RSV); "suspecting no evil, and therefore liable to be deceived." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 722) "The innocent are those without wisdom and prudence. The inexperienced! Just today I heard false teachers being likened to "child-molesters". " They pervert and exploit innocence", said the preacher. Ouch! As blunt as Paul and just as much to the point. Self-serving preachers can"t help but produce self-serving followers. Is that surprising?" (McGuiggan p. 444) (Matthew 15:14)

Points to Note:

1. Here we see the great need to study the Scriptures. Lack of study makes you a vulnerable target for the false teacher. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

2. One can be too trusting. The false teacher is able to exploit the naive individual who thinks that every religious person is a true Christian and all religious bodies are merely serving the same God and are all on the same road to heaven.

3. The Christian is to avoid being gullible. (Matthew 10:16; Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 John 4:1)


Verse 19

Romans 16:19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I rejoice therefore over you: but I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil.

"obedience"-i.e. to the doctrine. ()

"come abroad unto all men"-"The news of the soundness of the faith of the Roman church has reached "all", namely all Christians in the congregations of other lands. The state of the church in the world"s capital would naturally be reported far and wide." (Lenski p. 921)

From this verse I infer that Paul doesn"t consider it wrong for brethren to ask about the "soundness" of another congregation. We shouldn"t be offended if someone asks us some pointed questions about the "doctrine", and where we stand in relation to it.

"I rejoice therefore over you"-Paul rejoiced over a congregation that stood for the truth.

"but"-seeing the dangers present (), Paul still feels the need to warn them.

"wise unto that which is good"-"well versed in all that is good" (TCNT); "to be experts in goodness" (NEB) "Integrity of the moral nature is the best security." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 722)

"simple"-185. akeraios {ak-er"-ah-yos}; from 1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of 2767; unmixed, i.e. (figuratively) innocent: -harmless, simple. (1 Corinthians 14:20; Matthew 10:16)

Points to Note:

1. "People do not have to indulge in evil things in order to know what is evil..people who are wise unto the good know evil, only the person who knows what is good has a CLEAR IDEA of what is evil. (Hebrews 5:14)" (Whiteside pp. 297-298)

2. This verse has a lesson for those Christians who seem to want to walk as close to the line of sin as they can without sinning.

3. Too many Christians are "experts" in worldly things and ways and "ignorant" in the Word of God.


Verse 20

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

"bruise"-4937. suntribo {soon-tree"-bo}; from 4862 and the base of 5147; to crush completely, i.e. to shatter (literally or figuratively): -break (in pieces), broken to shivers (+ -hearted), bruise.

"Satan was bruised, decisively, at Golgotha (Genesis 3:15). He is bruised again and again in each victory of God"s people. The reference seems to be that the saints will triumph over the dividers." (McGuiggan p. 445)

GREETINGS FROM PAUL"S COMPANIONS:

"Paul sends greetings from various friends who are with him at the time of writing." (F.F. Bruce p. 278)


Verse 21

Romans 16:21 Timothy my fellow-worker saluteth you; and Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

"Timothy"-a naive of Lystra, a convert of Paul"s, whom Paul had chosen to travel with him. (Acts 16:1-3) "First among them is Timothy, Paul"s beloved "fellow-worker", his "child in the faith", his comrade on perilous journey"s, his comfort in long imprisonments, and his deputy on difficult missions..a man who, as few others, knew the fullness and joy of the apostle"s affection and love." (Erdman p. 171) Acts 20:4 records Timothy as being with Paul on the eve of his setting out for Jerusalem. For Paul"s view of Timothy see Philippians 2:19-24; 2 Timothy 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Timothy 1:2-5.

"Lucius"-(LOO shuhs) (luminous). Difficult to identify, possibly the same man as mentioned in Acts 13:1. All three men in this verse are of Jewish background, "my kinsmen". (Note: "Luke", who wrote Acts and Luke, was a Gentile. (Colossians 4:11; Colossians 4:14)

"Jason"-Perhaps the Jason who was Paul"s host on his first visit to Thessalonica (Acts 17:6-7; Acts 17:9)

"Sosipater"-(soh SIP ah tur) (saving one"s father). Probably Sopater of Beroea, who was with Paul at this time. (Acts 20:4)


Verse 22

Romans 16:22 I Tertius, who write the epistle, salute you in the Lord.

"Tertius"-(TUR shee uhs) (third).

"who write the epistle"-an "amanuensis (secretary, scribe). "Tertius had an exciting job, didn"t he! I wonder did he dream that we"d be reading his writing 1900 years later?" (McGuiggan p. 445)

"Paul seems to have employed amanuenses to write his letters, but this is the only one who is known to us by name..he evidently was a Christian, since he sends his greetings "in the Lord"" (F.F. Bruce pp. 279-280)

See Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17.


Verse 23

Romans 16:23 Gaius my host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the treasurer of the city saluteth you, and Quartus the brother.

"Gaius"-(GAY US) "There weren"t many in the early church of high rank but there were some. Gaius and Erastus were respected men." (McGuiggan p. 445) (1 Corinthians 1:26)

Since Romans was written from Corinth, it is very likely that this Gaius is the one that Paul said he baptized (1 Corinthians 1:14) Three other persons with the same name are mentioned in the N.T. (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; 3 John)

"my host"-what a privilege to have Paul stay in your home!

"and of the whole church"-a very hospitable man. "Might either mean that the whole Christian community met in his house, or that he made all Christians who came to Corinth welcome." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 723)

"Erastus"-(ih RAS tus) (beloved). Two other Scriptures mention the same name (Acts 19:22; 2 Timothy 4:20)

"treasurer of the city"-i.e. of the city of Corinth.

"This Erastus has been identified (by some) with the civic official of that name mentioned in a Latin inscription on a marble paving-block discovered in Corinth in 1929..."Erastus, commissioner for public works, laid this pavement at his own expense." The pavement belongs to the first century A.D., and may well have been laid by Paul"s friend." (F.F. Bruce p. 280)

"Quartus"-(KWOR tus) (fourth).


Verse 24

Romans 16:24 [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]


Verse 25

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal,

"establish"-4741. sterizo {stay-rid"-zo}; from a presumed derivative of 2476 (like 4731); to set fast, i.e. (literally) to turn resolutely in a certain direction, or (figuratively) to confirm: -fix, (e-)stablish, stedfastly set, strengthen.

"according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ"-it is the message found in the gospel that is able to make one stand. (Acts 20:32; Colossians 1:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 6:11-18). The only stability in life is found in the message from Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:24 ff)

"revelation of the mystery"-Paul claims that the gospel is a mystery NOW REVEALED! The New Testament is understandable, it"s an uncovering, not a covering up. It was meant to enlighten and not confuse. (Ephesians 3:3-5)

"kept in silence through times eternal"-"which has been kept secret for long ages past" (NASV) (Ephesians 3:9-11; Colossians 1:26; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20). The gospel that Paul preached was God"s plan from eternity to save man, it wasn"t a last minute idea. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

What a privilege to live in a time when we can see the whole plan of God unfolded before us in His word. Do we take that for granted?


Verse 26

Romans 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith:

"but now is manifested"-"to make plain" (Robertson p. 430); "but has now been brought to light" (Con) The N.T. is the full revelation of God"s plan. It has been made plain and clear!

"by the scriptures of the prophets"-"It is in perfect accord with the writings of the inspired prophets" (Erdman p. 173) Time after time in this book Paul has quoted the prophets in support of the gospel that he preached.

"according to the commandment of the eternal God is made known unto all the nations"-God commanded that this revealed mystery be preached to all the nations. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47)

"eternal"-"The same adjective "aionios" (eternal) is here applied to God that is used of eternal life and eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46)" (Robertson p. 430)

"unto obedience of faith"-the purpose of such preaching, that obedience produced by faith may result. (Romans 1:5) "It is obedience to the faith and obedience that springs from faith." (McGuiggan p. 448)


Verse 27

Romans 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.

"only wise God"-the contents of this book demand such a declaration.

"be the glory for ever"-while men and women in this life strive for the glory and praise of others, in the end the glory won"t belong to Hollywood, the praise will always belong to God. In the end God"s views and God"s will be seen as right for eternity.

When you think about it, this life is the only time that we will be under attack and in a battle with evil. This struggle is only for this life! Therefore we need to make the most of it. Everyday of this earthly life needs to be viewed as an opportunity to inflict damage upon "evil", by talking to people, by practicing love of neighbor, to informing others as to what the truth is, by loving our spouses and children, by loving our brethren. Today I have another chance to take a bite out of evil. In my own life or in the lives of others. Let"s get to it!

"William Tyndale"s prologue to the Epistle to the Romans ends with the following admonition:

"Now go to, reader, and according to the order of Paul"s writing, even so do thou. First behold thyself diligently in the law of God, and see there thy just damnation. Secondarily turn thine eyes to Christ, and see there the exceeding mercy of thy most kind and loving Father. Thirdly remember that Christ made not this atonement that thou shouldest anger God again: neither died he for thy sins, that thou shouldest live still in them: neither cleansed he thee, that thou shouldest return (as a swine) unto thine old puddle again: but that thou shouldest be a new creature and live a new life after the will of God and not of the flesh. And be diligent less through thine own negligence and unthankfulness thou lose this favour and mercy again."" (F.F. Bruce p. 284)

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 16:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-16.html. 1999-2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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