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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Romans 16

Verses 1-16

Paul’s Greetings to the Church in Rome In Romans 16:1-16 Paul sends greetings to many individuals in the church at Rome. The verbs used in this passage are imperatives in the Greek, telling them to greet those in Rome.

Paul’s List of Men of Christian Valour - It is interesting to note that this list of saints found in Romans 16:1-16 and Romans 16:21-24 reads somewhat like David’s list of mighty men in 2 Samuel 23:8-39. Just as David’s mighty men served in the ministry of helps allowing David to subdue kingdoms, so did these New Testament saints serve the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul in establishing the Kingdom of God on this earth.

Romans 16:1 “which is a servant of the church” Comments - The word “servant” used in Romans 16:1 is the Greek word διάκονος (G1249). Phebe was a female deacon in the church at Cenchrea. Pliny the Younger mentions interrogating “deaconesses” in the early Church in order to force them to renounce their Christian faith ( Letters 10.96), [226] thus verifying the fact that women were allowed to serve in the office of a deacon in the early Church.

[226] Pliny the Younger writes about his procedures for forcing Christians to renounce their faith or face death. He refers to “deaconesses” from a church saying, “I judged it so much the more necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses [Latin: ministrae]: but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition.” See Pliny: Letters, vol. 1, trans. William Melmoth, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1915), 404-405.

Romans 16:1 “which is at Cenchrea” Comments - Cenchrea was a seaport city seven or eight miles east of Corinth on the Isthmus of Corinth, the seaport to the west being called Lecheum. Paul visited this city during the end of his second missionary journey and perhaps started or strengthened a church there.

Acts 18:18, “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea : for he had a vow.”

The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, states that there was a man by the name of “Lucius” who became the bishop of the church at Cenchrea, being ordained by Paul the apostle. This could very well have been the same person that is mentioned in Romans 16:21.

“Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Cenchrea, Lucius, by Paul.” ( Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.4.46)

Romans 16:1-2 Comments - Phebe - We find in Paul’s closing remarks to his epistle to the Romans a reference to Phebe, who lived in Cenchrea, a seaport city seven or eight miles east of Corinth on the Isthmus of Corinth. It appears that Paul placed this letter into her hands and sent her to Rome to deliver it.

Romans 16:4 “Who have for my life laid down their own necks” Scripture References - See:

John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Romans 16:3-4 Comments - Aquila and Priscilla - Paul first met Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth on his second missionary journey when he established a church there. They had been banished from Rome by Claudius.

Acts 18:1-2, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.”

He took them with him on his way back to Antioch and left them in the city of Ephesus.

Acts 18:18-19, “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.”

We find that this couple is still in Ephesus when Paul returns on his third missionary journey and writes his first epistle to the Corinthians from there. They had started a church in their home while in Ephesus.

1 Corinthians 16:19, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”

In Romans 16:3, which is dated a short time later, we find them back in the city of Rome. It is possible that Paul sent them to Rome before he left Ephesus in order to help establish the church there.

Romans 16:3-4, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”

Near the end of Paul’s life, while writing to Timothy from the city of Rome just before his death, we find this couple back in Ephesus.

2 Timothy 4:19, “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

This story would certainly fit the Paul’s description of their sacrifices of laying down their lives in the following verse (Romans 16:4). They had returned to Rome, which was placing them in risk of their lives. They had served in Ephesus for some years until Paul returned on his next visit. Thus, the churches of the Gentiles had something to thank them for.

Romans 16:5 “Likewise greet the church that is in their house” - Comments - There were house churches in the New Testament. The common meeting places for the early churches were in the homes of those members who were wealthy or able to accommodate them. Thus, at Colossi the congregation met in the house of Philemon (Philemon 1:2). At Ephesus the congregation initially met in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9) before later meeting in the house of Aquila and Prisca (1 Corinthians 16:19, Romans 16:5). At Corinth the church met initially in the house of Justus (Acts 18:7), and later in the house of Gaius, as the congregation grew in number (Romans 16:23). At Laodicea one congregation met in the house of Nympha (Colossians 4:15). In Philippi the early believers probably met in the house of Lydia (Acts 16:15). In Thessalonica the first converts probably met in the house of Jason (Acts 17:5). This was the way Jesus Christ commanded His disciples in Matthew 10:11-13 to find a place of rest during their travels, by staying in the homes of those who received their message.

Matthew 10:11-13, “And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

Romans 16:7 “and my fellowprisoners” - Comments - Paul uses the words “fellowprisoners,” “fellowlabourers,” and “fellowhelpers,” in a number of his epistles. These words go deeper in meaning than just describing their personal relationships with Paul. It also describes their spiritual relationship with him in the sense that they were partners and partakers of Paul’s sufferings as well as his heavenly rewards. In other words, these words describe people would receive the same rewards in heaven that Paul would receive because they stood with him during these difficult times.

Romans 16:7 “who are of note among the apostles” - Comments - Romans 16:7 mentions apostles, which tells us that there were others who held the office of an apostle, beside the first twelve.

Romans 16:11 Word Study on “Narcissus” Strong says that the name “Narcissus” means “stupefaction.”

Romans 16:12 Comments - The idea of “laboring much” simply means to work hard. It includes laboring in fastings, in prayer, in Bible study, in helping others, etc.

The word σπουδάζω is similar, and means, “to be zealous or eager, take pains, make every effort.” ( BDAG) Our labours in the Lord are a part of our sanctification (Hebrews 10:9-10).

Hebrews 10:9-10, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Illustration - I was working hard as janitor at Fort Worth Country Day School (January 21, 1983) while a bible student.

Romans 16:13 “Rufus” Scripture Reference - There is only one other mention of a person by this name in the Scriptures. Since Paul indicates in this epistle that Rufus was a citizen of Rome, and since Mark wrote his Gospel while in Rome, some scholars suggest that this occasioned Mark to mention this person’s name in his Gospel.

Mark 15:21, “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus , to bear his cross.”

Romans 16:13 Comments - This verse is saying either:

1. Paul’s and Rufus’ mother were the same in flesh

or 2. Rufus’ mother in the flesh, but Paul’s mother in the spirit

or 3. Greet Rufus, his mother, and greet Paul’s mother in the flesh.

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

Romans 16:14 “Hermas” Comments - Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340) tells us that this Hermas is the same one who is identified with the ancient writing “The Shepherd of Hermas.”

“But as the same apostle [Paul], in the salutations at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, has made mention among others of Hermas, to whom the book called The Shepherd is ascribed, it should be observed that this too has been disputed by some, and on their account cannot be placed among the acknowledged books; while by others it is considered quite indispensable, especially to those who need instruction in the elements of the faith. Hence, as we know, it has been publicly read in churches, and I have found that some of the most ancient writers used it. This will serve to show the divine writings that are undisputed as well as those that are not universally acknowledged.” ( Ecclesiastical History 3.3.6-7)

Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) refers to Hermas as the author of “The Shepherd of Hermas.”

“Hermas whom the apostle Paul mentions in writing to the Romans “Salute Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren that are with them” is reputed to be the author of the book which is called Pastor and which is also read publicly in some churches of Greece. It is in fact a useful book and many of the ancient writers quote from it as authority, but among the Latins it is almost unknown.” ( Lives of Illustrious Men 10)

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

Romans 16:16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Romans 16:16 “Salute one another with an holy kiss” Comments - The Oriental custom of greeting with a kiss was practiced within the Jewish culture and the early Church. [227] Paul’s charge to salute, or greet, the brethren with a holy kiss is also found in the closing remarks of three other Pauline epistles as well as 1 Peter, where it is called a “kiss of love.”

[227] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 38A (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Romans 16:16.

1 Corinthians 16:20, “All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.”

2 Corinthians 13:12, “Greet one another with an holy kiss.”

1 Thessalonians 5:26, “Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.”

1 Peter 5:14, “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Verses 1-27

Illustration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Closing Remarks - Paul closes his epistle to the church at Rome by illustrating the message of the Gospel in his own life. Paul explains his intent and purpose of visiting them (Romans 15:14-33). He sends greetings to many individuals at Rome (Romans 16:1-16). He gives a final warning about divisions in the church (Romans 16:17-20). He sends greetings from members of the church at Corinth (Romans 16:21-24). He closes with a doxology (Romans 16:25-27).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul’s Intent to Visit Rome Romans 15:14-33

2. Paul’s Greetings to the Church in Rome Romans 16:1-16

3. Warnings About Divisions Romans 16:17-20

4. Greetings from Believers in Corinth Romans 16:21-24

Verses 1-27

Illustration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Closing Remarks - Paul closes his epistle to the church at Rome by illustrating the message of the Gospel in his own life. Paul explains his intent and purpose of visiting them (Romans 15:14-33). He sends greetings to many individuals at Rome (Romans 16:1-16). He gives a final warning about divisions in the church (Romans 16:17-20). He sends greetings from members of the church at Corinth (Romans 16:21-24). He closes with a doxology (Romans 16:25-27).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul’s Intent to Visit Rome Romans 15:14-33

2. Paul’s Greetings to the Church in Rome Romans 16:1-16

3. Warnings About Divisions Romans 16:17-20

4. Greetings from Believers in Corinth Romans 16:21-24

Verses 17-20

Warnings About Divisions In Romans 16:17-20 Paul warns the believers in Rome about causing divisions.

Romans 16:17 Scripture Reference - Note similar verses:

Proverbs 19:27, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”

1 Timothy 6:3-7, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Romans 16:19 “but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” - Scripture Reference - Note the same ideas in:

Jeremiah 4:22, “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”

1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

Romans 16:20 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” Comments - This closing benediction finds itself in an unstable position when examining early manuscripts. That is, these words are found in various positions within the epistle.

Romans 16:20 Scripture Reference - See a reference in:

Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Verses 21-24

Greetings from Believers in Corinth In Romans 16:21-24 Paul sends greetings from others believers in the church at Corinth.

Romans 16:21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Romans 16:21 “and Lucius” Comments - The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, states that there was a man by the name of “Lucius” who became the bishop of the church at Cenchrea. This could very well have been the same person.

“Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Cenchrea, Lucius, by Paul.” ( Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.4.46)

Romans 16:21 Comments - The fact that Paul mentions Timothy as a “workfellow” in this epistle beside the name of Sosipater indicates that they were traveling with him. We see these two individuals with Paul in Macedonia during the proposed time of writing of this epistle. This would support the belief that Paul wrote from the city of Corinth.

Acts 20:4, “And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus ; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.”

Some scholars use Acts 20:4 to show Gaius, as well as Timothy and Sosipater, accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey when he wrote his epistle to the Romans. However, it can be debated whether or not this Gaius of Derbe is the same Gaius of Romans 16:23.

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

Romans 16:22 Comments - The name Tertius is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. It is obvious that he served as Paul’s amanuensis for this letter to the Romans. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity (2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters.

Romans 16:22, “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 16:21, “The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.”

Galatians 6:11, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

Colossians 4:18, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.”

2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”

Philemon 1:19, “I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.”

Romans 16:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.

Romans 16:23 “Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you” Comments - Paul also sends greetings from Gaius, who was a member of the church at Corinth. He is mentioned two times in other Scriptures in reference to Macedonia and Corinth.

Acts 19:29, “And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia , Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.”

1 Corinthians 1:14, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius ;”

The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, states that there was a man by the name of “Gains” who became the bishop of the church at Pergamus. [228] It is very possible that this was the same person mentioned in John’s third epistle. It is interesting to note that the name of Demetrius (3 John 1:12) is mentioned next to the name of Gaius in this passage.

[228] “Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Pergamus, Gains. Of Philadelphia, Demetrius, by me.” ( Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.4.46)

William Alexander tells us that the writer of The Synopsis of Holy Scripture, which was once attributed to Athanasius (A.D. 296-373), says, “the Gospel according to John was both dictated by the John the apostle and beloved when in exile at Patmos, and by him was published in Ephesus, through Caius the beloved and friend of the apostles, of whom Paul writing to the Romans saith, Caius mine host and of the whole church.” ( PG col. 434A-B) [229]

[229] William Alexander, “Introduction,” in The Epistles of St. John, in The Expositor’s Bible, eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956), in Ages Digital Library, v. 1.0 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc., 2001), in “Chapter 21: The Quietness of True Religion, section I.”

Romans 16:23 “Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you” Word Study on “chamberlain” Strong says the Greek word “chamberlain” ( οικονο ́ μος ) (G3623) literally means, “house-distributer (i.e. manager), overseer, a fiscal agent (treasurer),” and it comes from two Greek words, ( οικος ) (G3624) and ( νο ́ μος ) (G3551). The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 10 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “steward 8, chamberlain 1, governor 1.” Other translations use the word, “treasurer of the city (city treasurer)” ( ASV, BDAG, DRC, RSV, Weymouth) or “steward of the city” ( YLT).

Comments - Paul also sends greetings from a certain Erastus, who was “the chamberlain of the city.” Robert Gundry says a first century inscription was discovered in Corinth reading, “Erastus, the commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense.” He acknowledges to that a commissioner is not the same as city treasurer, they could be “roughly Synonymous.” Therefore, it is possible that the Erastus of Acts 19:22 is the same individual of the so-called “Erastus inscription” found at Corinth. [230] In addition, Erastus is mentioned two other times in the New Testament, where he is associated with Macedonia and Corinth. Thus, he is considered by scholars as the chamberlain of the city of Corinth.

[230] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 278.

Acts 19:22, “So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.”

2 Timothy 4:20, “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”

Romans 16:24 Comments - In Romans 16:24 Paul basically commends them into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, in much the same way that he did in the book of Acts. We find this statement at the end of all of Paul’s epistles.

Acts 14:23, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

Acts 20:32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Verses 25-27

The Doxology Romans 16:25-27 serves as the doxology to the epistle of Romans.

Textual Criticism Romans 16:25-27 makes up the doxology of the epistle to the Romans. This doxology is found a various positions in ancient manuscripts. One ancient manuscript, the Chester Beatty papyrus (p46), places this doxology at the end of chapter 15 and before the text of chapter 16. However, the best manuscripts, both Alexandrian and Western, place it at the end of chapter 16. Note how it follows almost the same benediction (Romans 16:24) that is written in Romans 16:20. We can also note that every one of the Pauline epistles except the book of Romans ends with a prayer of God’s grace being with his recipients. This Roman epistle is the only one that ends with a doxology.

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Romans 16:25 “according to my gospel” Comments - Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340) tells us that because of Paul's close companionship with Luke, he is referring in this phrase to the Gospel of Luke ( Ecclesiastical History 3.4.7-8).

“But Luke, who was of Antiochian parentage and a physician by profession, and who was especially intimate with Paul and well acquainted with the rest of the apostles, has left us, in two inspired books, proofs of that spiritual healing art which he learned from them. One of these books is the Gospel, which he testifies that he wrote as those who were from the beginning eye witnesses and ministers of the word delivered unto him, all of whom, as he says, he followed accurately from the first. The other book is the Acts of the Apostles which he composed not from the accounts of others, but from what he had seen himself. And they say that Paul meant to refer to Luke's Gospel wherever, as if speaking of some gospel of his own, he used the words, “according to my Gospel .”“ ( Ecclesiastical History 3.4.7-8)

Scripture Reference - Note the other times when Paul used this phrase:

Romans 2:16, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel .”

2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel :”

Romans 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26 “But now is made manifest” Scripture Reference - Note:

1 Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh , justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

Romans 16:26 “made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” Scripture Reference - Note a similar opening verse to this epistle:

Romans 1:5, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:”

This is an indication that these two verses reflect the major theme in the epistle to the Romans

Romans 16:26 Comments - The themes of each book of the Holy Scriptures can be found in the open verses or passages of each book, and often in the closing verses. This is certainly the case with the epistle to the Romans. Notice how Paul opens and closes the epistle of Romans with the same phrase in Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:26 about obedience to the faith among all nations.

Romans 1:5, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:”

Romans 16:26, “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”

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

Romans 16:27 “Amen” Comments - In the Textus Receptus the word “Amen” is attached to the end of all thirteen of Paul’s epistles, as well as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and to the General Epistles of Hebrews , 1 and 2 Peter , 1 and 2 John, and to the book of Revelation. However, because “Amen” is not supported in more ancient manuscripts many scholars believe that this word is a later liturgical addition. For example, these Pauline benedictions could have been used by the early churches with the added “Amen.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Romans 16". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/romans-16.html. 2013.