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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 16

Verse 1

1. Sister Phebe, the deaconess of the church in Cenchrea, the seaport of Corinth, four miles away, is evidently the honored bearer of this letter to Rome.

Verse 3

3. “Salute Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow laborers in Christ Jesus, who laid down their neck for my life.” We have no inspired record of this transaction. A historic legend claims that it took place literally at an early period in Paul’s ministry at Corinth, before the arrival of Timothy and Silas, who had delayed in Macedonia to finish up the work. While associated with Aquila and Priscilla in tent-making and preaching, an awful persecution breaking out, his enemies seized Paul, condemning him to die and lay him down on the executioner’s block to cut his head off, at that moment Aquila and Priscilla running up lay down on either side of him begging his persecutors to cut off both of their heads as a substitute for Paul’s, that he might live. The executioners being unutterably astonished, as they had never before witnessed such a phenomenon, concluding that they must be Grecian gods in human form, took fright and released them all. In this wonderful catalogue of salutations sent to the Roman saints, all of whom were eminent Christian workers and matter-of-fact preachers of the gospel, we find ten women, Phebe, Priscilla, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, the mother of Rufus, Julia, and the sister of Nereus. Let the people who do not think the women preached in the apostolic age contemplate these ten all preaching at Rome, and sufficiently prominent for their names to be known in a far-off land and written down in this Pauline catalogue of salutations, sent in this grand epistle to the saints of the world’s capital. As Paul had never been to Rome, you might wonder why he knew by name this great catalogue of saints identified with the work in that distant city. You must remember that as Rome was the capital, the metropolis of the world, migrations thither were frequent from all lands, like New York city, the great metropolis of the new world, where I write these pages, whither the people from every state ever and anon resort. During the twenty years of Paul’s wonderful evangelistic career, preceding this writing, while he moved like a cyclone of fire through Asia and Europe, among the hundreds and thousands converted by his ministry, a goodly number had migrated to Rome. Hence he had there a large acquaintance awaiting him, who actually walked out forty miles to the Appian Forum and Three Taverns to meet him on his arrival, February, A. D. 61.

Verse 17

ALL SCHISMATICS AND HERETICS CONDEMNED

17. “But I exhort you, brethren, to mark those making divisions and stumblings contrary to the teaching which you have learned, and depart from them:

Verse 18

18. “For such do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own stomach, and through good speaking and eulogy deceive the hearts of the innocent.” This sad revelation of schismatics and heretics has flooded Christendom with delusion and destruction for ages, and is this day rampant in all the earth. Unspiritual, carnal, designing men, by their beautiful, eloquent and fastidious speeches and eulogies, bragging on the people, win the hearts of the simple and unsuspecting and lead them away proselytes, deluded by their sophistry and beguiled into conservatism to their selfish caprices for the sake of filthy lucre, patronage, popularity, promotion and temporal emolument. The same people turn this scripture against the poor holiness bands and accuse them of creating schism, division and heresy. This is where all the martyrs died under charge of schism, heresy and disloyalty. It was true, and is yet, that the devout, sincere people, pursuant to their conscientious duty to God, are forced to separate from these carnal shepherds who starve them to death and let Satan’s wolves devour them. This state of things results from the predominate power and influence of Satan in this dark fallen world, usurping the churches and passing himself for God, filling the pulpits with men of his own calling and leading, who are really these very schismatics and heretics here anathematized by the Holy Ghost. Hence if we did not separate from them, we would not only be untrue to God, but lose our souls. Therefore in all ages the persecuted martyrs and the poor holiness people have really been the true church of God, though everywhere denounced as schismatics and heretics, by the ecclesiastical tyrants, who under Satanic leadership having usurped the visible church, hurl their anathemas against all who dare to retreat away from the deadening influence of their carnal ministry. The real heretic is the one who separates from God and His truth, and not the one who separates from some visible organization claiming to be the church of God, but in countless instances signally failing to verify a solitary differentia of the Holy Ecclesia.

Verse 19

19. “For your obedience is gone forth to all.” This flowed as a natural consequence from the fact that Rome was the capital and metropolis of the world. “Therefore I rejoice over you and wish you to be wise in that which is good, and unmixed in that which is evil.” “Unmixed” (E. V., “harmless”) is from alpha “not,” kerannumi “mix”. Hence the word is exceedingly strong, beautiful and conclusive of entire sanctification. The sinner has evil in him unmixed with good; the wholly sanctified man is filled with good unmixed with evil; while the unsanctified Christian has a mixed experience consisting of good and evil, engaged in an exterminating war either with other.

Verse 20

20. “The God of peace will quickly crush Satan beneath your feet.” Paul was a prophet, here giving a cheering prediction of coming victory. “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” This benediction is short but sweet.

Verse 21

21. “Timothy, my fellow laborer, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my fellow kinsman, salute you.

Verse 22

22. “I Tertius, the one having written the epistle in the Lord, salute you.” This short verse is not the dictation of Paul, but of Tertius, his amanuensis, on his own responsibility. “Gaius my host, and that of the whole church, saluteth you.” Paul enjoyed the kind hospitality of Gaius while he dictated this letter to Tertius. “Erastus, the chamberlain of the city, and brother Quartus salute you.” While the Corinthian church was the largest in all the vast Pauline diocese, the members were nearly all poor in temporal circumstances, with a few exceptions of Gaius, here mentioned as the host of Paul and the whole church, Erastus, the chamberlain of the city, and Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue.

Verse 25

25. “To him who is able to establish you according to my gospel according to the revelation of the mystery having been hidden through eternal times,

Verse 26

26. “But having now been made manifest through the prophetical Scriptures, according to the promise of eternal God unto the obedience of faith having been made known unto all the Gentiles,

Verse 27

27. “To God alone wise, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory unto ages of ages; amen.” In this beautiful and prolix benediction pronounced on the Roman saints, we have the phrase “eternal God.” The Greek word is aioonas, which occurs frequently in the New Testament. It is from aei “always,” and the participle oon, from the verb eimi “to be.” Hence it literally means being or existing always. Here you see it applies to God Himself, defining the duration of His existence (Hebrews 9:14). It is applied to the Holy Ghost, defining the duration of His existence, who is none other than very and eternal God (Hebrews 9:12). It is applied to the redemption we have in Christ, defining its duration (Matthew 25:46).

The same word defines the duration of the life of the saints in glory. In the same verse the same word is used to define the duration of the punishment of the wicked. In v.41 it is used by our Savior to define the duration of the fire into which the wicked will be cast. Hence you see the lying nonsense of the dogmatism that would take eternal punishment out of the Bible; since the very identical word which tells how long the wicked will be punished in the fires of hell describes the duration of both the life and redemption enjoyed by the saints in glory; the same word also describing the duration of God Himself. Hence the only way to get rid of the teaching of eternal hell-fire is to throw away the Bible. In the last clause of this benediction, “to God only wise, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory unto ages of ages; amen,” I have eis tous aioonas toon aioonoon. That powerful Greek adjunct consisting of two nouns in the plural number, literally translated “into ages of ages or unto eternities of eternities,” here defines the duration of God’s glory. It repeatedly occurs in the Scriptures, defining the existence of God. This very same powerful adjunct tells how long the torment of the wicked in hell will continue to ascend up; vide Revelation 14:11; Revelation 19:3.

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Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 16". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/romans-16.html.