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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Romans 16

Verses 1-27

Fellow-workers in Christ

Romans 16:3-5

'Greet Priscilla.' 'Greet Mary.' 'Greet Amplias.' Salute Apelles.' 'Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas.' And so on, and so on. And let us mark that these delicate courtesies come at the end of this tremendous Epistle, an Epistle which for sheer power of reasoning was regarded by Coleridge as unsurpassed in literature.

I. First of all, I notice that Priscilla and Aquila have a common rootage with Paul. 'My fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.' The great Apostle and the more obscure disciples had a common spiritual soil; their souls were buried and enswathed in the same Lord. It is most heartening to recollect that Paul and John and St. Francis struck their roots into the same grace in which I stand. I may not share Paul's talents, but I can share his Christ.

II. And then Paul and Priscilla and Aquila were one in a common service, My fellow-workers. The literal interpretation of the phrase might thus be given: these humbler workers brought their energy, and added it to the strength of Paul in the cause of the kingdom of Christ. Aquila added his little to Paul's greatness! Yes, and that is just the lesson which many of us have got to learn. We have energy which, if added to the energy of a greater man, will enable him to do greater things. (1) But Priscilla and Aquila were not only fellow-helpers of Paul in the way of encouragement and prayer; they did positive and individual service in the ways of their own life and labour. In Corinth they met the great Apostle, who found lodgings in their house. Many a time would the needles become still and silent as Paul told the story of Nazareth, and Calvary, and Olivet, and his own solemn experiences on the way to Damascus. Until at last the tent-maker's house became a sanctuary, and all three were on their knees together in adoration of a common Lord. (2) And then the eager disciples became ardent Apostles. Having heard the message they passed it on. (3) And then these two disciples became centres of Christian fellowship. 'The Church which is in their house.' I often wish we could recover the power of these meetings in the home.

III. And lastly, Priscilla and Aquila were one with Paul in a spirit of common chivalry. 'Who for my life laid down their necks.' We do not know the particular occasion to which the Apostle refers, and it is not needful for us to know it. It is sufficient for us to know that Priscilla and Aquila were prepared to take risks in the service of the Lord. And what were the fruits of it? What the fruits always are. Holy boldness has the key to many a secret door. The disciple who bears much discovers much.

J. H. Jowett, British Congregationalist, 17th September, 1908, p. 242.

Romans 16:4

Now it was a time of great sufferings; and many Friends being in prison, many other Friends were moved to go to the Parliament, to offer up themselves to lie in the same dungeon, where their friends lay, that they that were in prison might go out and not perish in the stinking jails. This we did in love to God and our brethren that they might not die in prison.

Fox's Journal for 1658.

References. XVI. 4-16. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 405. XVI. 5. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 437. XVI. 7. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 367; ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 397; ibid. vol. x. p. 446. XVI. 7, 11. Ibid. vol. v. p. 94. XVI. 12. Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 189.

Romans 16:13

My kind mother did me one altogether invaluable service; she taught me, less indeed by word than by act and daily reverent look and habitude, her own simple version of the Christian faith.... My mother, with a true woman's heart, and fine though uncultivated sense, was in the strictest acceptation Religious. The highest whom I knew on Earth I here saw bowed down, with awe unspeakable before a Higher in Heaven: such things, especially in infancy, reach inwards to the very core of your being.

Sartor Resartus, bk. ii. ii.

References. XVI. 14. Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. pp. 65, 423. XVI. 16. W. M. Sinclair, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 321.

Romans 16:17

In the second chapter of his Apologia, Newman uses this verse to justify his conduct towards his brother Francis.

'I would have no dealings with my brother, and I put my conduct upon a syllogism. I said, St. Paul bids us avoid those who cause divisions; you cause divisions; therefore I must avoid you.' He admits that his behaviour on this and other occasions laid him 'open, not unfairly, to the charge of fierceness,' but adds, 'It is only fair to myself to say that neither at this, nor any other time of my life, not even when I was fiercest, could I have even cut off a Puritan's ears, and I think the sight of a Spanish auto-da-fè would have been the death of me'.

There were few warnings to his pupils on the entrance into life more solemn than those against party spirit, against giving to any human party, sect, society, or cause, that undivided sympathy and service which he held to be due only to the one party and cause of all good men under this Divine Head. There were few more fervent aspirations for his children than that with which he closes a letter in 1833: 'May God grant to my sons, if they live to manhood, an unshaken love of truth, and a firm resolution to follow it up themselves, with an intense abhorrence of all party ties, save that one tie which binds them to the party of Christ against wicked men'.

Stanley's Life of Dr. Arnold, iv.

References. XVI. 17-20. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 3. XVI. 19. J. Bowstead, Practical Sermons, vol. ii. p. 115. XVI. 20. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 213. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 393. XVI. 21. Ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 78. XVI. 22. W. J. Henderson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 330. XVI. 23 Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 82; ibid. vol. x. p. 158; ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 101; ibid. vol. iii. p. 234. XVI. 24. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 988. XVI. 25. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i.p. 33; ibid. vol. vii. p. 1. XVI. 26, 26. L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 47. XVI. 26-27. Ibid. p. 33. XVI. 25-37. Expositor (5th Series), vol. x. p. 200. XVI. 26. L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 63. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 34. XVI. 27. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 133. L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 81.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/romans-16.html. 1910.