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Bible Commentaries
Romans 16

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Verse 1

Romans 16:1

Hebrews ch. 11 is a picture gallery of OT heros

Romans ch. 16 is a picture gallery of NT believers

Romans 16:1,2 Paul commends Phebe to the Christians at Rome,

Romans 16:3-16 and sends salutations to many by name.

Romans 16:17-20 He warns them to take heed of those who cause

divisions and offences.

Romans 16:21-24 After sundry salutations,

Romans 16:25-27 he concludes with praise to God.

How could Paul know so many people at Rome? He had never been there. One-third of the names are women in the Roman church, this is interesting considering woman’s role in Judaism.

Phebe -- The poets called the moon Phoebe, as they did the sun Phoebus. This name is likely to have been given by her parents. Phoibe (which means"bright, radiant") was the name of a pagan goddess. (Apollos, a devote Jew, also had a mythological name.)

Phebe is in all likelihood the one who carried Paul’s letter to Rome. Paul might have been writing this letter to the Romans from Corinth on a winter-long stop there near the end of his third missionary journey (see Acts 20:2-3).

our sister -- i.e. in Christ, and by the profession of the same faith: see James 2:15.

servant -- Deaconess (feminine) - The word is used in both a technical and non-technical sense. It is an often used word to indicate service. The qualification of 1Timothy 3 is of deacons’ wives, not deaconesses.

Paul uses the Greek word (διάκονος, diakonos), a word which is masculine in form but was used for both men and women. Its basic connotation is “servant, helper, one who carries out the will or purpose of another, one who ministers to the needs of others.” The NT usually uses it in this generic sense for Christian workers (and others). In this case the English word “servant” is most appropriate. - CPNIV

servant of the church -- It is not meant she was a deaconness, or one of the college of widows, of whom he speaketh, 1 Timothy 5:9. But she served the church, in harbouring and succouring the saints that were driven out of their country; yea, as appears by the next verse, she was a succourer of the ministers of the gospel, and of the apostle himself. We read, Luke 8:3, of some that ministered unto the Lord of their substance; there the same word is used. And this Phebe seems to have been employed in the same works; she ministered unto Paul as Onesiphorus did, 2 Timothy 1:18; there the same word is used again. - BN

Notice the word "helper" NKJV; "patron" ESV; "succourer" KJV; "leader" CEV; in the next verse. Romans 16:2

church -- This is the first use of the word “church” (ἐκκλησία, ekklesia) in Romans, and (as it does most of the time in Paul’s writings) it refers to the local congregation, the collective body of Christians in a particular area. - CPNIV

Cenchrea -- A port or haven belonging to Corinth, on the east side (about 7 miles) towards Asia: there was another on the west side towards Italy, called Lechea. By reason of this double haven, Corinth was called by the poets, Bi maris. Here Paul paid a vow, which he had made, Acts 18:18.

Apparently there was a distinct church at Cenchrea as well as at Corinth itself. Such church is no where else mentioned. Acts 18:18; Romans 16:1. Such church could have been included in Paul’s reference to Achaia, Romans 15:26;

(Acts 18:12; Acts 18:27; Acts 19:21; Romans 15:26; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 11:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:8.)

From the introduction in 2 Corinthians 1:1 it seems the letter would have included such church at Cenchrea if it was distinct from Corinth.

Verse 2

Romans 16:2

receive her in the Lord -- i.e. in the Lord’s name, or for the Lord’s sake; being mindful of the Lord. see Matthew 18:5.

Whenever the early Christians traveled from one church to another, they carried letters of introduction. This was a real courtesy to the church being visited and a help to the visitor. - BBC

in manner worthy of the saints -- As those who profess themselves to be saints, to receive one another.

help her in whatever she may need from you -- Stand by her, and afford her your counsel, or any other assistance. She might have some business in the emperor’s court, or there just on business (as Lydia at Philippi, Acts 16:14) There might be those among the saints that could provide her assistance. (There were Christians of Caesar’s household, Philippians 4:22.)

helper [succourer] -- The word used here προστάτις prostatis, means properly “a patron, a help,” "Patroness "- probably implying some wealthy or social position.

Various translations read: "helper" NKJV; "patron" ESV; "succourer" KJV; "leader" CEV; in the this verse. Romans 16:2

Applied to Phebe, it means probably that she had shown great kindness in various ways to the apostle, and to other Christians; probably by receiving them into her house; by administering to the sick, etc. (BN)

Of more significance for Phoebe’s status and influence is the description of her as prostatis, the feminine of a word for a leader, ruler, president, guardian, and in Greek and Roman society a patron. This indicates that Phoebe was a person of some wealth and social standing, and it is likely that she owned a home that provided a meeting place for the church and hospitality to Paul and other Christians. This would have given her considerable prominence even if not an officially recognized position in the church. Ferguson, E. (1996). The church of Christ: a biblical ecclesiology for today Romans 16:2;off=1122;ctx=in_the_church_here._~Of_more_significance> (p. 338). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

This term, proistatis, is found only here in the NT. ... This word originally referred to a wealthy patroness. Since Phoebe was traveling to Rome (cf. Romans 16:1) and had helped many (cf. Romans 16:2), this may be historically true of her. - Utley

Verse 3

Romans 16:3

There are five groups of believers - family households, or family churches. Paul mentions 26 people by name and referred to many others.

Priscilla and Aquila -- A wife and husband who assisted Paul in his missionary work (see Acts 18:2-3). They helped establish the church in Ephesus (Acts 18:18; 1 Corinthians 16:19). At the time they met Paul, they had left Rome because the emperor, Claudius, had expelled all the Jews (Acts 18:2). It is unknown when they returned to Rome.

Mentioned six times in the scriptures, always together, three times she is mentioned first. Acts 18:1-3; Acts 18:18; Acts 19:26; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19

Luke refers to her as Priscilla, but Paul uses Prisca. The variation in the form of Prisca’s name has many parallels in Roman nomenclature. - CBSC

It is surmised from ancient records that Aquila was a Jew born in Pontus living in Rome who married a blue-blood of Roman aristocracy. She stuck with him and was converted and migrated with him wherever he went.

Priscilla and Aquila worked in the same trade as Paul, tentmaking (Acts 18:1-3), and labored with him in Corinth and Ephesus (Acts 18:1-3, Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26). This married couple is never mentioned separately, perhaps because they ministered so effectively together. The NT does not record how or where Priscilla and Aquila risked their own necks for Paul, though it probably happened at Ephesus. - NNIBC

Priscilla -- Priscilla was the wife of Aquila. They are mentioned in Acts 18:2, Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 16:19. Paul at first found them at Corinth. Aquila was a Jew, born in Pontus, who had resided at Rome, and who had left Rome, and come to Corinth, when Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome; see the notes at Acts 18:2. It is probable that they were converted under the preaching of Paul. Paul lived with them, and they had the advantage of his private instruction; Acts 18:3; compare Acts 18:26. At the death of Claudius, or whenever the decree for the expulsion of the Jews was repealed, it is probable that they returned to Rome. - BN

But during Paul’s last days, and Nero’s persecution of Chrisians, they are again at Ephesus, 2 Timothy 4:19.

Πρίσκαν καὶ Ἀκύλαν -- cf. Acts 18:2; Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19. We first hear of this pair at Corinth, where they were found by S. Paul on his first visit and that connexion was formed which lasted for the rest of his life. They had then lately come from Rome, and presently went with S. Paul to Ephesus, where they remained while he went on his way to Jerusalem. At Ephesus they were when Apollos arrived, and probably were influential in the small Church there, as they put Apollos in the way of full Christian teaching. They were there still, or again, when S. Paul wrote 1 Cor., certainly nine months, perhaps more than a year, before this Epistle. Now they are at Rome, and again some years later (2 Tim.) in the province of Asia. A difficulty has been raised about this frequent change of home: and it has been directed against the originality of this passage in this place. But, apart from the migratory habits of Jews engaged in business, it is clear from Acts, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and this passage that A. and P. had given themselves to the work of propagating the Gospel: and it is not unreasonable to conjecture that just as they were left behind at Ephesus (Acts 18:18) to begin the work there and to prepare for S. Paul’s return, so they may now have been sent by him to Rome to prepare the way for his intended visit; and returned to Asia at a later date, perhaps when he himself was released from Rome. This conjecture is supported by the fact that S. Paul’s intention to go to Rome was already formed at least before he left Ephesus (Acts 19:21). It would explain his knowledge of the Christians who were at Rome at this time, both of those who seem to have centred round these two and of the other groups mentioned. For if they went to Rome to prepare for S. Paul’s visit, they would naturally communicate with him as soon as they had got into full touch with the Church there. The list of salutations gains much in naturalness and point, if we can suppose it to have been based on information sent by A. and P. And we may see in such a letter from Rome the direct occasion of S. Paul’s letter and even in some degree the influence which determined its character. (Zahn, Einl. p. 275, also makes this suggestion.) See Introd. p. xii f. - CBSC

co-workers [helpers] -- My fellow-workers. The couple had aided Paul in his work. A particular instance is mentioned in Acts 18:26. They are mentioned as having been with Paul when he wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians; 1 Corinthians 16:19.

in Christ Jesus -- In the Christian cause.

Verse 4

Romans 16:4

who risked their own necks -- When did Priscilla and Aquila do this? The occasion is unrecorded but possibly during the riot in Ephesus, (Acts 19, 1 Corinthians 15:32), the matter, however, seems to have been well known.

who did for my life lay down their own neck, (not necks). An entirely unknown occasion, on which Aquila and his wife had risked their lives for St Paul’s.—“Laid down:”—the figure is of presenting the neck, or throat, to the executioner. - CBSC

Laid down their own necks -- To “lay down the neck” is to lay the head on a block to be cut off with the axe; or to bow down the head as when the neck was exposed to be cut off by the sword of the executioner. The meaning is, that they had hazarded their lives, had exposed themselves to imminent danger, to save the life of Paul. On what occasion this was done, is not known, as it is not referred to in the New Testament elsewhere. As Paul, however, lived with them Acts 18:3, and as he was often persecuted by the Jews, it is probable that he refers to some such period when he was persecuted, when Aquila and Priscilla took him into their house at the imminent hazard of their lives. - BN

I give thanks -- Paul was grateful for their rescue.

all the churches -- The matter was well known among the Gentile churches and they knew and appreciated the couple’s devotion to Paul in risking their own lives to save him.

Verse 5

Romans 16:5)

church -- Only one mentioned. One congregation, or family (household). Church households Acts 12:12 ; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2

Acts 8:3; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2. Alford Edersheim points out that in cities where there was no synagogue for the Jews to meet, a wealthy Jewish family would set aside a room for them to meet in. He believes these references refer to assembly rooms where the Chrisians would meet, rooms set aside for that purpose by a wealthy Christian family. (Sketches of Jewish Social Life by Alfred Edersheim, ch. 12)

Three or more churches mentioned, cf. Romans 16:14-15

the church that is in their house -- Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned Acts 18:26 as having received “Apollos” into their family, to instruct him more perfectly. The church in their house is also mentioned 1 Corinthians 16:19. This may mean either the church that was accustomed to assemble for worship at their hospitable mansion; or it may mean their own family with their guests, regarded as a “church.” - BN

Greet also the church that meets at their house -- In the apostolic era, in some times and places, it may have been possible for the whole church in an area to meet together (1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 14:23), but church buildings as such did not exist, and often the Christians just met together in smaller groups in the houses of individual Christians (Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). Prisca and Aquila hosted house churches both in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19) and in Rome (indicated here). Verses Romans 16:14-15 also seem to refer to such house churches, though the specific expression is not used. Also, the two households in vv. Romans 16:10-11 may have been nuclei for house churches. - CPNIV

beloved Epaenetus -- Apparently one of Paul’s first converts in Asia and dearly loved by him. Probably an older man well establish in the faith. We only know him from this verse. (1 Corinthians 16:15).

It is possible that he was a convert of Prisca and Aquila (Acts 18:18-19), and that this is why he is mentioned just after them. - CPNIV

first convert in Asia -- The Greek text here literally means “first fruit.” See Romans 8:23 and note; Romans 11:16.

Asia -- This would be a reference to the Roman province of Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital, today called Asia Minor (western 1/3 of modern Turkey). Some MSS uses the word "Achaia" instead of Asia. See Acts 19:10, Acts 19:22, Acts 19:26-27, Acts 19:31.

An additional support that the reading should be "Achaia" and that Epaenetus was the "first fruit" of the great spiritual harvest there is he is listed immediately after Aquila and Priscilla, and he may have been a convert of theirs (as they may have already been Christians when Paul meet them in Corinth, Acts 18:1-4) If Paul converted the couple he lodged with, he may have converted Epaenetus before them from his preaching in the synagogue.

Verse 6

Romans 16:6

Mary -- Where had she labored with Paul? In Achaia, or where? (Or possibly Jerusalem, Acts 12:12 ) Apparently Paul had met many of these believers he mentions during his labors probably during his journeys. Most likely he converted some of them. Some are relatives (Romans 16:7).

Paul probably courteously mentions the older disciples first (Epaenetus and Mary).

Nothing more is known about her. Some would speculate she is the mother of John Mark and probably with whom Paul stayed some while in Jerusalem, Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25. John Mark (and his mother) may have had a home in Rome also since his father, it is believed, was a Roman (cf.Timothy, Acts 16:1) and Mark himself is known later to be in Rome (Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24).

labored much -- The verb for “worked hard” is κοπιάω (kopiao), “to toil, labor, struggle, strive, work hard.” The adverb “very” translates πολλά (polla), “many things, much,” which intensifies an already strong verb.

The language may be used of those in leadership roles (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17), but is not limited to this. Laudably laboring for the Lord is something that can be done by both men and women. In this list of greetings Paul uses the term only for four women and no men. - CPNIV

Verse 7

Romans 16:7

Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen -- “Junia” is most likely a woman’s name, so this probably refers to another husband and wife team. They likely were converted by Christian Hellenists in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:10)

In Greek, the name Junia could refer to a man named Junias or to a woman named Junia. Most interpreters understand Junia as a feminine name.

The deciding factor seems to be the existence or nonexistence of these two names in contemporary Roman inscriptions. The facts are that the feminine name Junia has been found about 250 times in such inscriptions, while the masculine form Junias has thus far been found nowhere (Lampe, “Romans 16,” 223, 226). The reasonable conclusion, then, is that Junia was a woman, and that Andronicus and Junia were husband and wife. - CPNIVC

my kinsmen -- Of course in a literal sense, which alone can be distinctive here. Their names are Greek and Latin (respectively); but this was continually the case with Jews, (cp. Paulus, Crispus, Apollos, &c.). They were, we may assume, Benjamites at least, if not near relatives of St Paul’s.—Of his “kinsmen” we elsewhere (outside this chapter) hear only where his nephew is mentioned, Acts 23:16. - CBSC

These individuals, along with Herodion (Romans 16:11), Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater (Romans 16:21), are called Paul’s “relatives.” This is a misleading translation, because Paul almost certainly means not “close relatives,” but “fellow Jews,” “those of my own race” (Romans 9:3, same word). - CPNIVC

fellow prisoners -- Probably a reference to their actually sharing the same cell or adjacent cells at some point.

These two disciples are also called “my fellow prisoners.” Paul uses the same term also for Aristarchus (Colossians 4:10) and Epaphras (Philemon 1:23), who were with him during his Roman imprisonment.

fellowprisoners -- Strictly, fellowprisoners-of-war. Same word as Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:23. The word indicates that these Christians had once been in prison with St Paul (a glorious reminiscence) in the course of the warfare of Christian duty and suffering.

See 2 Corinthians 6:5, 2 Corinthians 11:23, for hints of the many (to us) unknown imprisonments of the Apostle. The last passage is specially instructive as proving that the Acts is a narrative of selection only. - CBSC

of note [outstanding] among the apostles -- The words may mean either they were themselves (1) “distinguished Apostles,” or (2) “well known to, and honoured by, the Apostles.” (CBSC)

If (1) then apostles refers to "messengers" or "ambassadors, missionaries"; if (2) the kinsmen were loved helpers to other apostles beside Paul.

highly respected among the apostles -- This phrase probably indicates that Andronicus and Junia were apostles—i.e., accredited missionaries of the church (see Acts 14:4, Acts 14:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5-6; Galatians 2:9). - NLTSB

Some have said that this verse proves that Junia was an apostle, and thus women can fill any church office. The verse seems to be saying, however, that Andronicus and Junia were well known to the apostles, not that Junia was herself an apostle. (Other examples of this construction, Greek. episēmos plus en plus dative, have been found with the meaning “well known to [someone]” - ESVSB

apostles -- Their ministry with Paul, and perhaps with Peter and some of the other apostles in Jerusalem before Paul was converted, was well known and appreciated by the apostles. - MSB

This designation likely is used in a generic sense to refer to missionaries who were sent out (compare Greek in 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25; Acts 13:1-4; Acts 14:14; ) and not necessarily a reference to the Twelve. (FSB)

in Christ before me -- A beautiful and affecting tribute to these his “senior saints.” - CBSC

This passage also reveals that the couple was Jewish, had been imprisoned, and had become Christians before Paul. - ESVSB

Verse 8

Romans 16:8

16:8–16 The names in this section are unknown to scholarship. They are beloved of God and Paul but their names and service are not recorded in the NT or early Christian literature. What is remarkable is that there is a mixture of common slave names and noble Roman and Jewish family names. There are men and women. There are wealthy freedman and itinerant preachers. There are foreigners from Persia. All barriers are down in the church of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 3:22; Romans 10:12; Joel 2:28-32 [Acts 2:14-21]; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11)! - Utley

Amplias -- A common Latin name among the emperor’s household slaves at that time; he may have been one of those in “Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22).

A slave name found on a tombstone in Rome.

Cranfield points out that in a burial chamber in the Catacomb of Domatilla in Rome, there is a late first-century or early second-century tomb with the inscription AMPLIAT[I], belonging to “someone who was specially esteemed” (2:790; see SH, 424). Whether this is the person Paul mentions we have no way of knowing. - CPNIVC

Ampliatus … Urbanus … Stachys … Apelles. Common slave names. They may have been either slaves or “freedmen,” former slaves who had gained their freedom. - NIVZSB

my beloved in the Lord -- The term “beloved” [τὸν ἀγαπητόν μου] is used by God the Father for Jesus the Son in Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5, which may be a title from the Servant Songs of Isaiah (cf. Matthew 12:18, quoting Isaiah 42:1). However, Paul uses it to address believers (cf. Romans 1:7; Romans 16:8-9; 1 Corinthians 4:14, 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 6:21; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 4:7, Colossians 4:9, Colossians 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:2; Philemon 1:16). - Utley

This same phrase is variously translated "my dear friend" or "dear friend." The point is that he was a personal friend of Paul. (see Romans 16:5).

Verse 9

Romans 16:9

Urbane -- This is another Latin slave name. Urbanus. The name means "city dweller" or "city bred."

This reminds us of the story of Onesimus in Philemon. It was said by Roman historians that every run-away slave made his way to Rome. It was also said that half the population of Rome were slaves.

our fellow worker -- Apparently he had worked with Paul somewhere before coming to Rome. There seems to be significance that Paul says "our" and not "my" fellow worker, indicating he is still a worker in Christ. (CP)

in Christ -- A often repeated phrase, along with "in the Lord" indicating these workers were all together in one Christian family.

Stachys -- An uncommon Greek masculine name meaning “ear of corn.” He was obviously close to Paul, but the details are unknown.

Verse 10

Romans 16:10

Apelles approved -- Another Greek name that was common among Jews (like "Apollos" was, Acts Acts 18:24; Acts 19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 16:12; Titus 3:13. ) .

Approved -- One who has been tested and proved faithful. A well tried Christian, 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 1 Corinthians 13:7. Apparently he had undergone a trial (or trials) of which Paul was aware.

who are of the household -- Aristobulus himself may or may not have been a Christian, and the latter is slightly the more likely. “Those from amongst his” household, or people, are probably the converts in his familia, or establishment, of slaves and freedmen. (CBSC)

Aristobulus -- Since Paul does not greet him personally, he was probably not a believer, although some relatives and household servants apparently were.

Some scholars believe that he was the brother of Herod Agrippa I (10 b.c.–a.d. 44), and the grandson of Herod the Great (c. 73–4 b.c.). This is uncertain. (Philippians 4:22)

Verse 11

Romans 16:11

Herodian my kinsman -- Related to the Herod family, or perhaps a slave in that family. Only three of those Paul mentions in Rome are called by Jewish names.

my countryman -- The preferred reading is “my kinsman,” indicating that he may have been one of Paul’s Jewish relatives. - MSB

However, Paul almost always refers to his fellow countrymen in this same way. G4773, συγγενής, suggenēs; Thayer Definition: 1) of the same kin, akin to, related by blood

2) in a wider sense, of the same nation, a fellow countryman.

the family [household] of Narcissus -- refers to family members or more likely the slaves in Narcissus’s household. The name was a common one at the time.

Some scholars think Narcissus was the wealthy freedman who served the emperor Claudius as his secretary (a.d. 41–54). If so, two households within the palace had Christians in them (cf. Philippians 4:22).

who are in the Lord -- Those slaves, or family members, mentioned were known by Paul to be Christians.

Verse 12

Romans 16:12

Tryphena and Tryphosa -- Apprently sisters, probably even twins, whose names mean “delicate” and “dainty.”

labored in the Lord -- They were probably, like Phœbe, “servants of the Church.” Their service "toil" and faithfulness was known to Paul.

Persis -- The Greek is feminine. This means the “Persian woman.” Most like it is a proper name and she is named after her native Persia; since her work is spoken of in the past tense, she was probably older than the other two women in this verse. - MSB

beloved Persis -- It is noticeable, as a sign of St Paul’s faultless Christian delicacy, that he does not call this Christian woman “my beloved.” - CBSC

laboured [toiled] -- Toiled. The aorist may point to some special occasion in the past. Or possibly Persis was an aged believer, whose day of toil, being over, was now viewed as one act of loving work for Christ. - CBSC

Verse 13

Romans 16:13

Rufus -- This name means “red” or “red-headed.” There is an apparently well known Rufus in Rome (cf. Mark 15:21). - Utley

Rufus -- Biblical scholars generally agree that he was one of the sons of Simon of Cyrene, the man enlisted to carry Jesus’ cross (cf. Mark 15:21) and was likely saved through that contact with Christ. Mark wrote his gospel in Rome, possibly after the letter to Rome was written, and circulated. - MSB

Rufus -- A Latin name. Possibly this was the Rufus of Mark 15:21, brother of Alexander and son of Simon the Cyrenian. Alexander and Rufus are apparently named by St Mark as well known in the Christian Church, and it is observable that his Gospel was probably written at Rome. - CBSC

chosen in the Lord -- Lit. the chosen one, &c. All true Christians might be so described, (Romans 8:33) but this, as Meyer remarks, would not forbid a special and emphatic use of the word, in the case of a Christian remarkable for character or usefulness. - CBSC

Some translations render “chosen” as “choice,” which indicates he was widely known as an extraordinary believer because of his great love and service. - MSB

Rufus -- his mother and mine -- “His mother in a literal sense, and mine in a figurative one.” An instance of the delicacy and tenderness of Paul; of his love for this disciple and his mother, as if he were of the same family. - BN

Rufus was not Paul’s natural brother. Rather, Rufus’ mother, the wife of Simon of Cyrene, at some time had cared for Paul during his ministry travels. - MSB

Evidently, the mother of Rufus (possibly the wife of Simon the Cyrenian,) had endeared herself to St Paul by special Christian kindness; the sweeter to him as his own parents, probably, were long departed. - CBSC

Many believe that this is the son and wife of Simon of Cyrene who bore the cross for Christ. Mark 15:21.

1) Apparently Simon is named in the Gospel narratives because he was well known.

2) His sons are mentioned because they were well know in Rome.

3) Some where along the way Paul had stayed with this family (probably at Antioch Acts 11:20).

[See the sermon "Mar 15 Simon of Cyrene" in Sermons_Gann.topx in the e-Sword module on BibleSupport.com or Gann_sermons.topx Acts 11:20Documentse-SwordGann_Sermons.topx> in Topic Notes.

Verse 14

Romans 16:14

Vs. 14 Group 4

Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them . . These men are simply not known to us. It may be, since Paul says nothing about them, that he himself did not know them personally but only by reputation. The “brothers with them” may refer to a house church to which they all belonged. - CPNIVC

All otherwise unknown. The names are Greek. —Hermas was the name of the author of “The Shepherd,” a celebrated religious romance, sometimes compared as such to the Pilgrim’s Progress. But it is at least probable that “The Shepherd” belongs to a later generation than that of the Hermas here named. - CBSC

The early Christian converts seem to have had no scruple in retaining a pre-baptismal name even when the name (as in this case) was that of a heathen deity. Cp. [Phoebe, ver. 1] Hermes, (ver. 14); Nereus, (ver. 15); and such derivative names as Demetrius (3 John 1:12). - CBSC

Hermes is the name of the god of good luck. It was a very common slave name of the first century Greco-Roman world. - Utley

brethren -- The "brethren with them" probably refers to a house church to which they all belonged.

“Brethren” in this context, probably refers to both men and women, which indicates that these names represent the outstanding leaders of two of the assemblies in Rome. - MSB

Verse 15

Romans 16:15

Vs. 15 = Group 6

Apparently husband and wife and family.

Philologus and Julia -- Philologus is a Greek name meaning "loves words" meaning to love books. Julia is feminine and probably the wife of Philologus.

Nereus and his sister, and Olympas -- Probably the children or relatives in the house-church that this describes.

Nereus -- A Greek name; that of a minor sea-god, tutelar of the Mediterranean under Poseidon. - CBSC

Olympas -- A Greek masculine name.

Nereus -- Associated by Roman tradition with Domitilla, a cousin of Domitian, and a Christian who was exiled by him in AD 95.

This group, again unknown to us, may have constituted another house church. Some speculate that the first two were husband and wife, and the next two were their children; but there is no way to verify this. Of interest is the fact that the name Julia appears on over 1,400 inscriptions in Rome, which makes it by far the most common name of those in this list (the next most frequent is Hermes, 640 times). - CPNIV

all the saints who are with them -- This probably speaks of another house church that meet with this family.

Verse 16

Romans 16:16

holy kiss -- 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26

Same as kiss of love in 1 Peter 5:14

holy kiss -- Kissing of friends on the forehead, cheek, or beard was common in the OT. The Jews in the NT church carried on the practice, and it became especially precious to new believers, who were often outcasts from their own families because of their faith, because of the spiritual kinship it signified. - MSB

The kiss, as a mark both of friendship and of reverence, is still almost as usual as ever in the East.—In the early [church] the kiss is given to the newly-baptized. (Bingham, Bk. 12. ch. 4.). - CBSC

in Christian love [NLT] -- (literally with a sacred kiss): The kiss was a common way to greet another person in the ancient world and particularly among the Jews. It is mentioned frequently in the NT as a greeting (1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; see 1 Peter 5:14); the kiss of peace became a standard feature of the Christian liturgy by the second century. - NLTSB

Churches of Christ -- all those in Achaia, Macedonia, Asia, etc. cf. Romans 16:4; 1 Corinthians 7:17; 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 11:28; 1 Corinthians 16:19

The churches -- A better reading gives, All the churches. He assumes this universal greeting, from the fact of the universal good-report of the Roman Christians. (See Romans 1:8.) And he offers it as a seemly message to the Christians of the mighty Capital. - CBSC

Verse 17

Romans 16:17

Now I beseech you -- From this ver. to ver. 20, inclusive, we have a paragraph or section by itself. It contains a brief but earnest warning against an evil which everywhere beset and encountered the Apostle ... We may gather that this evil was only just beginning at Rome; otherwise more of the Epistle would be given to it. - CBSC

Mark them -- watch; so as to avoid them. Cp. Philippians 3:17, where the same word is used with an opposite reference—“watch, so as to follow with them.” - CBSC

Cause divisions and offenses -- RSV "create dissensions and difficulties"

Strictly, and better, the divisions and the stumblingblocks. He refers to circumstances already well-known in various Churches, and beginning to be felt at Rome. - CBSC

Doctrinal falsehood and unrighteous practices (cf. Matthew 24:24; Acts 20:27-32; Galatians 1:6-8; Ephesians 4:14). - MSB

people who cause divisions: Paul had trouble with divisive false teachers elsewhere (see Galatians, Colossians, 1 Timothy), so he warned the Roman church about this danger. - NLTSB

contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned -- Literally, beyond the teaching which you (emphatic) did learn. (“Contrary,” however, rightly represents the Greek)—The emphasis on “you” seems to indicate that the erring teachers were, or would be, visitors to Rome, not original members of the Roman Church.—“Did learn:”—at the time of their evangelization. - CBSC

16:17–19 A warning about false teachers is unusual in NT letter closings—especially in this case since the letter does not explicitly mention false teaching anywhere else. Paul’s description of the teachers is too general to enable us to identify who they were or what they were teaching. - NIVZSB

There is a list in verses 17–18 of what these false teachers were doing.

1. they stirred up divisions

2. they put hindrances in the believer’s way

3. they taught in opposition to the instruction the church had given

4. they were serving their own base appetites

5. they were deceiving the hearts of unsuspecting people by their smooth, flattering talk.

- Utley

avoid them -- A peaceable but effective way of resistance.—Cp. 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 John 1:10. But these parallels are not exact; for the present passage seems to be specially a caution to individual Christians, not to go as learners to the erring teachers. - CBSC

Verse 18

Romans 16:18

their own stomach -- This might describe false teachers who emphasized Jewish dietary laws (see Romans 1:1 and note; Philippians 3:19 and note) or sought to serve their selfish desires (see Romans 13:14). - FSB

appetites [NIV] -- Or “bellies,” a vivid way of indicating their preoccupation with satisfying their own bodily comforts (cf. Philippians 3:19). - NIVZSB

serve ... their own belly -- Driven by self-interest and self-gratification, often seen in their pretentious, extravagant, and immoral lifestyles (cf. Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Timothy 3:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:20–2:3, 2 Peter 2:10-19; Judges 1:12-13). - MSB

smooth words and flattering speech -- Literally, by their sweet-speech and fair-speech. The first word denotes the seeming piety, the second the seeming reasonableness, of their doctrine. - CBSC

False teachers are often physically attractive and have dynamic personalities (cf. Colossians 2:4). They are often very logical in their presentations. Beware! Some possible biblical tests to identify false teachers are found in Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 18:22; Matt. 7; Philippians 3:2-3, Philippians 3:18-19; 1 John 4:1-6. - Utley

the simple -- Lit. the evil-less; people unconscious of bad intentions, and hence unsuspicious of them. - CBSC

These apparently new or naive believers were vulnerable (“inexperienced in evil”). - Utley

naive people [NIV] -- “Innocence” about doing evil is a good thing (v. 19), but innocence that involves ignorance about Christian doctrine is dangerous. - NIVZSB

Verse 19

Romans 16:19

known to all -- This is referred to in Romans 1:8. This is one of Paul’s hyperboles. - Utley

be wise … in what is good, and innocent in what is evil -- This reflects the teaching of Jesus (cf. Matthew 10:16; Luke 10:3). - Utley

Christians should have the wisdom to discern the good they should be doing, and they should be unacquainted with doing what is evil. - NIVZSB

simple concerning evil -- Lit. untainted. Same word as Matthew 10:16; Philippians 2:15; (E. V., “harmless”). The original idea (freedom from alloy,) passes into that of freedom from ill motives, or (as here) from defiling knowledge. - CBSC

Verse 20

Romans 16:20

The God of peace -- Refers to the God who brings peace (see note on Romans 5:1), in contrast to the discord caused by false teachers (Romans 16:17). - FSB

Bruise Satan -- shortly -- Satan, through using Jewish persecution Revelation 2:9; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:9 would suffer a defeat with the Jewish rebellion of AD 67-70 being put down in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem.

under your feet -- This is an allusion to Genesis 3:15. [God promised that Eve’s offspring would “crush” Satan’s “head”] The believer’s relationship with the Messiah gives them victory also (cf. 1 John 5:18-20). - Utley

Christians would be exhonorated and vindicated.

the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you -- This is a common closing for Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; Colossians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18 and also in Revelation 22:21). It was possibly written in his own hand. It was his way of verifying his letters (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18). - Utley

the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ -- It may be that St Paul was about to close the Epistle here. If so, we may suppose that the request of the Christians round him to add their greetings gave him occasion to add the few remaining sentences. - CBSC

Verse 21

Romans 16:21

16:21–23 These verses are a post script. Greetings from the Corinthian Jewish brethren (from where Paul wrote) and Timothy.

Timoty, my fellow worker -- Timothy was one of Paul’s closest ministry associates ( Acts 16:1-3). He accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey and was with Paul in Corinth while Paul wrote this letter to the Roman church (see Acts 20:2-4).

See especially Philippians 2:19-22 with this brief allusion to this singularly beloved and honoured friend and helper of the Apostle. His name appears in eleven Epistles; Rom., 1 and 2 Cor., Phil., Col., 1 and 2 Thess., 1 and 2 Tim., Philem., Hebr. - CBSC

Lucius -- Either 1) a native of Cyrene, one of the prophets and teachers in Antioch who participated in Paul and Barnabas’ commissioning (Acts 13:1-3) or 2) another form of Luke, for “highly educated one”; the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. or (3) an otherwise unknown Christian.

Jason -- Possibly the same individual who provided Paul with refuge during a riot in Thessalonica - Acts 17:5-9 One of the first converts in Thessalonica, who evidently let Paul stay in his home for a short time before Paul and Silas were sent to Berea (see notes on Acts 17:5-10).

Sosipater -- A longer form of “Sopater” (Acts 20:4-6), a Berean (cf. Acts 17:10-12) who joined other believers in meeting Paul at Troas after the apostle left Ephesus.

my countrymen . . See note on Romans 16:11.

Lucius bore a Roman name; Jason and Sosipater, Greek names.

Verse 22

Romans 16:22

I, Tertius, who write this letter -- Paul used a scribe (amanuensis) to write his letters (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). It is very probably that Paul had poor eye sight and could not write the small, tight script needed to perserve space on a sheet of papyrus or leather scroll (cf. Galatians 6:11)!

[Speculation varies as to how Paul’s eyes may have been damaged. cf. Acts 14:19 etc.]

Tertius -- Paul’s amanuensis. He wrote down the words as Paul dictated the letter. He adds his identification and personal greeting. See also 1 Peter 5:12; Paul apparently takes the pen in hand and concludes the epistle from this point on. Galatians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:17,

Tertius had a Latin name, and was perhaps a Roman, personally known to the Church at Rome. There is something strangely real and life-like in this sudden interposition of the amanuensis, with his own personal greeting. - CBSC

who wrote this epistle -- Letter-writing by amanuensis was very common in the days of St Paul; and if St Paul suffered in his eyes, as is not unlikely, he would be doubly sure to use such help. It was his custom (in his earliest Epistles, at least,) to write a few words at the close with his own hand. See 2 Thessalonians 3:17.—Cp. Galatians 6:11; where render, “See in what large letters I write to you, with my own hand.” - CBSC

Verse 23

Romans 16:23

Vs. 23 Greetings from more people at Corinth who are interested in the church at Rome.

Gaius -- Perhaps the Gaius mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:14. This Gaius may also have been known as Titius Justus, whom Acts 18:7 identifies as the person with whom Paul stayed in Corinth. NIVS

There was a different Gaius of Derbe mentioned in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4.

host to me and the whole church -- This was the hospitality needed in the church. Some believers with resources offered the traveling Christian ministers room and board. Some, as this man, also opened his home to be the meeting place for gathered events. House churches were the norm for over a hundred years. - Utley

Justus Acts 18:7; Acts 19:29; 1 Corinthians 1:14. The church at Corinth met in his house, next door to the synagogue.

(Gaius of Derbe was a different man Acts 20:4;) and he could be the Gaius John mentions 3 John 1:1; and apparently Gaius also hosted the church in his home at Corinth (Romans 16:23)

EGT p. 163 says of Gaius of 3 John 1:1 A common name. Three in the N.T. 1) Gaius of Macedonia, Acts 19:29; 2) Gaius of Derbe, Acts 20:4; 3) Gaius of Corinth, Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14. The name is so common this Gaius may be altogether a different one.

Erastus -- He was the city treasurer, a prominent position with political clout. Acts 19:22, 2 Timothy 4:20. There is an inscription found at Corinth with his name.

A large Latin inscription in the limestone pavement near the Corinthian theater reads, “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid [the pavement] at his own expense.” An aedile was a man elected to oversee aspects of city finances. Often prominent elected officials would fulfill campaign pledges by providing some public structure to the city. Although there is some debate over whether the Greek word for “city treasurer” (oikonomos) was the equivalent in the Corinthian Roman colony to the Latin aedile, the mid-first-century dating of the pavement and the rarity of the name Erastus in first-century Corinth hold out the distinct possibility that this pavement was laid by Paul’s fellow churchman. - ESVSB

Quartus -- This name in Latin means “fourth.” He may have been a physical brother of Tertius (which in Latin means “third”) but more likely just the final brother in Christ listed here.

Verse 24

Romans 16:24

Vs. 24-27 Closing Doxology

The doxology of verse 24 may have been penned by Tertitus at Paul’s dictation. And then Paul may have taken the pen in his own hand and penned the larger doxolgy of verse 25-27.

Closing his letters in his own hand was Paul’s custom and a mark of genuine authorship. See 1 Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17).

Verse 25

Romans 16:25

16:25–27 This is one sentence in Greek.

16:25–27 The letter concludes with a beautiful doxology that praises God for His work through Jesus Christ and thereby summarizes the major themes in Romans (see notes on Romans 11:33-36; cf. Matthew 6:13; Luke 19:37-38; Ephesians 3:20-21; Heb. 13:20-21; Revelation 5:9-10). - MSB

to Him who is able -- This is another wonderful title for God used three times in the NT (cf. Ephesians 3:20; Judges 1:24).

Believers are enabled by the knowledge of the gospel. This gospel has now been made available to all!

my gospel -- The gospel Paul preached was Jesus Christ. His death, burial, and resurrection 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

preaching of Jesus Christ -- Synonymous with the gospel, it was Paul’s supreme life commitment (see notes on Romans 10:14-15, Romans 10:17; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6). - MSB

the preaching of Jesus Christ -- This may grammatically mean either (1) “the preaching which speaks of Him;” (in which case it would be a phrase explanatory of “my Gospel;”) or (2) “the preaching which He Himself delivers.” - CBSC

revelation of the mystery -- Something that was secret but now made known. Something now disclosed; how the Gentiles were included in the Kingdom of God. Romans 11:25; Ephesians 3:3 ff; Colossians 1:26 ff.

In the NT, this word does not have its modern connotation. Instead, it refers to something hidden in former times but now made known (1 Corinthians 4:1; Ephesians 5:32; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:25-26; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8; 1 Timothy 3:9, 1 Timothy 3:16). The NT’s most common mystery is that God would provide salvation for Gentiles as well as Jews (Eph. 3:3–9). - MSB

Verse 26

Romans 16:26

now -- In the days of Messiah, and in Him as the Propitiation. Cp. Colossians 1:26. - CBSC

now is manifested -- This mystery or plan of God has now been clearly revealed to all mankind. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how all (Jew and Gentile) are now to be united in one spiritual body (cf. Eph. 2:11–3:13).

prophetic Scriptures made known -- God had told Israel that He would not only call her to righteousness, but appoint her as a light (of the gospel) to the nations (see notes on Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; 1 Peter 1:10-11; cf. Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 53:11; Isaiah 60:3-5; Jeremiah 31:31-33). - MSB

This was foretold by the OT prophets. The establishment of a NT church made up of believing Jews and Gentiles was always God’s plan (cf. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

has been made known to all the nations -- This is an AORIST PASSIVE PARTICIPLE. It was placed last in the Greek sentence for emphasis. God has presented the gospel offer to the whole world which was always His purpose (cf. Genesis 3:15)! - Utley

the everlasting God -- The Greek word (aionios) rendered everlasting. ... This adjective is nowhere else in the N. T. attached to the word God. - CBSC

the obedience of faith -- Romans 1:5.

Obedience to the faith -- At the beginning of the book Paul informs us that "the faith" is something to be obeyed among all the nations (Jew and Gentile.) And lest we forget what Paul is meaning by faith, he reminds us again at the end of the book, Romans 16:26, so we shouldn’t make any mistake about what he is talking about when he uses this word.

Erroneous doctrines are built on mis-defining Paul’s usage of faith in this book.

for the obedience of faith -- i.e. to invite that obedience which, in fact, faith implies; that trustful acceptance of the terms of Salvation which may be described, in one aspect, as “submission to the righteousness of God.” (See note on Romans 10:3.) The thought is not so much of the course of moral obedience to which faith leads, as of the element of submission in the act of faith. - CBSC

so that they too might believe and obey him -- Paul uses the same language about the mission to the Gentiles that he used in Romans 1:5, creating a beautiful frame around the letter as a whole. - NLTSB

obedience of faith -- It is God’s will that this gospel go to all nations, so that all who are obedient because of their faith will be saved. - ESVSB

Verse 27

Romans 16:27

the only wise God -- This is an allusion to monotheism (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Christianity has only one God, just like Judaism, however, the full deity of Jesus and the full personality of the Spirit force us to a “tri-unity,” Trinity. - Utley

go God only wise -- The eternal Wisdom is here emphasized because the Gospel is its supreme expression. See especially the profound words of Ephesians 3:10, and 1 Timothy 1:17 (with its connexion). Compare also “Christ … the wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:24 - CBSC

to God … be glory -- It was through the Father that the gospel was ultimately revealed, therefore He deserves all the credit, praise, and worship. - MSB

- - - - - - -- - - - -

Notes from this book are often from:

Bernard, J. H. (1929). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to St. John. (A. H. McNeile, Ed.). New York: C. Scribner’ Sons.

Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 15:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

King James Version study Bible . (1997). (electronic ed., Jn 15:26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 1616). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

New Living Translation Study Bible. (2008). (Jn 15:18–27). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

CPNIVC -- Jack Cotrell, The College Press NIV Commentary. Romans vol 1 & 2.

The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, By

R. C. H. LENSKI

AB = Alex Bayes, Class on Romans

SW = Scott Wright, Class on Romans

And other sources as well.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Romans 16". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/romans-16.html. 2021.
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