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Bible Commentaries
Romans 16

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


I recommend to you. This is Paul’s official statement certifying that she is a member in good standing. She was probably a business woman (such as Lydia, Acts 16:14). Paul’s language implies she was on her way to Rome on business, and that they could help her. We think she took this letter to the Roman church. Our sister Phoebe. We are brothers and sisters in Christ! Who serves the church. DIAKONOS – the exact same word translated “church helper” [deacon] in 1 Timothy 3:8. Conditions of ancient society required the feminine version of church helpers to take care of the needs of certain women. Some of them were likely the wives of men who served as church helpers (see 1 Timothy 3:11), and there may have been the feminine version of church leaders who taught the younger women under conditions and in situations where it would have been impossible for a man to do so (see 1 Timothy 5:9-10). Jewish women had much more freedom than Gentile women (see 1 Corinthians 11:1-16). Cenchreae. This was the seaport of Corinth, on the Asian side.

Verse 2


As God’s people should. Their Christian life was to be open for her to share in it. Give her any help. The Greek word is a legal term, which implies her business was a legal matter. For she herself has been a good friend. Perhaps in her role as a church helper. One of those which she had helped was Paul himself. Gifford thinks Paul’s vow in Cenchreae (Acts 18:18) implies sickness, and that Phoebe helped him at that time.

Verse 3


To Priscilla and Aquilla. They had left Rome when Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews (Acts 18:2), had gone to Ephesus (Acts 18:19), and now were back in Rome. Priscilla is mentioned first, implying she was the more dominant one of the couple.

Verse 4


Who risked their lives for me. We know nothing at all about this. But much of Paul’s experiences are not told to us (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Not only I. The incident where they had risked their lives had happened long enough in the past to be well known among all the Gentile churches, but recent enough to be fresh in Paul’s mind.

Verse 5


Greetings also. See note on Colossians 4:15. Epaenetus. Most of these whom Paul sends greetings, are unknown to us today. In the province of Asia. Achaia is an incorrect reading. Asia is the Roman province of that name. Sanday and Headlam mention the discovery of an Ephesian Epaenetus on a Roman inscription.

Verse 6


Greetings to Mary. Most of these were personal friends of Paul; some had done him special favors; and many had been led to Christ by him.

Verse 7


Andronicus and Junias. Paul is writing to a church mostly made up of Gentiles. It is only natural that he mentions these two as “fellow Jews,” and also that they had been in prison with him. When, we do not know. They became Christians before I did. This would help explain why they were so well known by the apostles. Compare Acts 21:16.

Verse 8


Ampliatus. A common Roman slave name. A person of this name was well known in the earliest Roman church.

Verse 9


Urbanus. Another common slave name. Stachys. We know only that he was a dear friend to Paul. These three men are connected with the Imperial household by inscriptions which have been found.

Verse 10


Apelles. A common Jewish name. Family of Aristobulus. Lightfoot makes Aristobulus the grandson of Herod the Great, “Family” here refers to those Christians who belong to his household. He may have died, in which case his slaves and servants would have been transferred to the palace of Claudius. However, they may have been part of his family, as we use the word (compare Luke 8:3).

Verse 11


Herodion. He may have been a part of the “family of Aristobulus.” Family of Narcissus. This is probably the Narcissus who had been killed by Nero two or three years before Paul wrote this letter. His slaves and servants were made part of the Imperial palace.

Verse 12


Tryphaena and Tryphosa. These two women were probably sisters. They were very active in the Lord’s work. Persis. Another woman, who was especially loved for her work in the past. Johnson thinks all three were deaconesses [church helpers].

Verse 13


Rufus. This may be the Rufus of Mark 15:21.

Verse 14


My greetings. The Christians mentioned in this verse may have formed a “house church.” Hermas is sometimes identified as the author of “The Shepherd of Hermas,” an early Christian writing, but the Canon of Muratori says this is not so.

Verse 15


Philologus and Julia. Probably husband and wife. Both are common slave names. Nereus and his sister. Lightfoot thinks the sister’s name was Nereis, and that both were part of the palace staff. These, together with Olympas and the others, may have formed a “house church.”

Verse 16


With a brotherly kiss. Denny says: “The custom of combining greeting and kiss was oriental, and especially Jewish, and in this way became Christian.” Our equivalent would be a warm handshake. All the churches of Christ. Sanday and Headlam say: “This phrase is unique in the New Testament.” Compare Matthew 16:18.

Verse 17


Watch out for those who cause divisions. SKOPEIN = watch out for, keep one’s attention on. Paul is warning them against a danger which he has seen in other places, he may be thinking about: (1) the circumcision party; (2) the immorality of false teachers; (3) the antinomian reactionaries. See Acts 15:5; Philippians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 6:3-5. Keep away from them. As you would quarantine a disease-carrier.

Verse 18


Are not serving Christ our Lord. Paul speaks bitterly of their character, rather than the doctrines they teach. This contrasts sharply with the character of those who serve Christ. Innocent people. Compare 2 Timothy 3:5-6.

Verse 19


Everyone has heard of your loyalty. “You are such loyal Christians that you should not be fooled by such as these false teachers!” But innocent. Compare Philippians 2:15-16.

Verse 20


Will soon crush Satan. “False teachers may come and cause division, but God who is our source of peace will give you the victory over Satan!!!” The Grace. This benediction makes some think Romans 16:1-20 were originally a short letter that Paul had intended to send the Roman church.

Verse 21


Timothy. He was one of Paul’s associates. He was with Paul (Acts 20:4-5) when he began his trip to Jerusalem (mentioned in Romans 15:25). The other three cannot be identified. [The names are found in Acts 13:1; Acts 17:5; Acts 20:4, but these cannot be positively connected.]

Verse 22


Tertius. He did the writing as Paul dictated it. Some think Paul had eye trouble (see Galatians 6:11). He often wrote the benediction himself (see 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17).

Verse 23


Gaius. Since Paul is in Corinth as he writes this, Gaius is probably the one mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:14. Erastus might be the one mentioned in Acts 19:22 : 2 Timothy 4:20. Quartus must have had some special connection with Rome.

Verse 24


The grace. Romans 16:21-24 are personal greetings from Paul’s companions. This is the benediction.

* Some MSS add Romans 16:24 : May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.

Verse 25


Let us give glory to God! With these words Paul begins his doxology, which is a brief statement of all the important principles explained in this letter. He is able. Paul may be speaking about God the Holy Spirit. Compare Romans 1:11; Romans 14:4; John 16:7-14; Ephesians 3:20. According to the Good News. Compare Romans 1:16-17. The secret truth. Compare Romans 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10.

Verse 26


Now, however. Compare Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44-47. That Truth is God’s salvation centered in One Person Jesus Christ. See Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:11; Colossians 2:9; 1 John 1:1-4. And by the command. Salvation in Christ is by the command of the eternal God!!! This is the eternal Plan!!! See Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8. God acted in Christ to set us free. We reach out through faith to seize Christ’s sacrifice and make ourselves part of it!!! Paul and the others gave their very lives to make known to all nations this Good News of salvation in Christ.

Verse 27


To the only God. Paul is a “Mono-Theistic Trinitarian.” To believe in three gods is paganism. Yet it is a PARADOX in human terms that the One God exists in three persons: The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit. The emphasis here is on the God, who alone is all-wise, who is the SOURCE of the gospel which Paul preaches!!! Through Jesus Christ forever! The eternal Plan of salvation has been worked out in Jesus Christ. God acted in history! Our salvation is based upon what God ALREADY has done in Jesus Christ! We cannot be saved by our own merit, and praise God, we don’t have to be!!! We can reach to seize the MERIT of Christ’s life and death and resurrection, AND MAKE OURSELVES PART OF IT!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/romans-16.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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