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1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Ver. 1. Servant of the Church ] A deaconess to minister to the sick, as 1 Timothy 5:9 , not a praedicantisse, to preach or have Peter’s keys on their belt. (Dr Bastwick against Independency.)
2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
Ver. 2. As becometh saints ] Who are great princes, states, in all lands, Psalms 45:1-17 , and to be observed accordingly, even worthy of God,3 John 1:6; 3 John 1:6 .
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
Ver. 3. Salute Priscilla ] She is first mentioned, haply as more forward than her husband in the best things. So was Manoah’s wife and Nazianzen’s mother.
4 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.
Ver. 4. Who have for my life ] A rare example. Fast friends are in this age for the most part gone on pilgrimage (said one once), and their return is uncertain.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
Ver. 5. The church that is in their house ] The house of George Prince of Anhalt, for the good orders therein observed, is said to have been Ecclesia, Academia, Curia. the church, the university and the government.
The first fruits of Achaia ] The first that received the gospel there. A singular commendation, a sweet happiness. God’s soul hath desired such first ripe fruits, Micah 7:1 , such primroses.
6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
Ver. 6. Greet Mary, &c. ] It is profitable that men of great parts and place should preserve their memory with others, though it be but in a salutation; for it may be a means to fire up affection to godliness in such whom they so remember.
7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Ver. 7. Who are of note ] Επισημοι , noble, notable Christians, old, experienced, gray-headed disciples. Christianity finds or makes us honourable.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
Ver. 8. Greet Amplias ] Piety is no enemy to courtesy: it doth not remove, but rectify it.
9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
Ver. 9. Our helper in Christ ] A sweet sign to him, that his name was written in the book of life, Philippians 4:3 .
10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household .
Ver. 10. Approved in Christ ] A high style, far beyond that of the Great Turk, with all his big swollen titles.
11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
Ver. 11. My kinsman ] In the flesh, but more in the faith, that surest tie.
12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
Ver. 12. Who labour in the Lord ] Though not so much as Persis did, yet doth he not defraud them of their due commendation; Prima sequentem honestum est in secundis tertiisque consistere. (Cic. De Orator.) Every man must not look to excel; let him be doing, as he is able.
13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Ver. 13. His mother and mine ] His by nature, mine by affection. The apostles parted with parents and friends at home, found them abroad.
14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
Ver. 14. Salute Asyncritus, &c. ] Nothing is said of these; for haste perhaps, or else because they were (as one saith of Jesse, the father of David) Viri, probi et honesti, minus tamen clari, Good honest men, but not much noted. Or, lastly, for that the apostle had no very good opinion of them, as he seems not to have had of Demas, Col 4:14 , 2 Timothy 4:10 , who yet would needs be one in the apostle’s register there; a place he will have, though it be the last place. Hermas here mentioned was reputed by some of the ancients to be the author of that Apocryphal Book called "Pastor;" wherein he dealt not so fairly and faithfully in relating what he had received from the apostles, being sublatae fidei auctor. source of the elevated faith.
15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
Ver. 15. And Olympas ] Viri, nomen, non mulieris. The name not of a woman, but of a man, saith Beza.
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
Ver. 16. With a holy kiss ] The Independents at Arnheim in Holland propounded this kiss of love to be practised among them. So for anointing the sick with oil, singing of hymns by one man, all the rest being silent, σκοπειτε .
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Ver. 17. Mark them which ] Set a watchful and a jealous eye upon them, as upon pests and enemies. And here, let not our episcopi (whose office it is chiefly) be aposcopi, overseers, be byseers, but look well to the flock, lest these wolves worry them, Acts 20:29 .
And avoid them ] Gr. εκκλινατε . Decline them studiously, as ye would do a serpent in your way, or poison in your food.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Ver. 18. But their own bellies ] They pretend the service of Christ to their worldly and wicked respects, by a dissembled sanctity, which is double iniquity. The Duke of Bavaria is even eaten up with those Popish flesh flies, friars and Jesuits. It was an honest complaint of a Popish writer, We, saith he, handle the Scriptures, tantum ut nos pascat et vestiat, only for a livelihood; we serve God for gain: as children will not say their prayers unless they be promised their breakfasts. Cajetan writing on Matthew 5:13 ; "Ye are the salt of the earth," confesseth ingenuously of himself and his fellow prelates, that whereas by their places they should have been the salt of the earth, they had lost their savour, and were good for little else but looking after the rites and revenues of the Church. a And such were many of our English prelates grown, before their late extirpation. If you put not into the mouths of these Cerberuses, they would even prepare war against you. Therefore their "sun went down, and the day grew dark over them,"Micah 3:5-6; Micah 3:5-6 . All seducers are self-seekers: "they teach things that they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake," Titus 1:11 . They are like eagles that soar aloft towards heaven, not for any love of heaven, but that they may spy their prey the sooner, seize upon it the better: or like those ravens in Arabia, that, fully gorged, have a tunable sweet record; but empty, they screech horribly. In parabola oves capras suas quaerunt, comparison to a sheep seeking their nanny-goat, as the ferryman looks one way, rows another.
And by good words, &c. ] Those locusts in the Revelation have faces like women, insinuative and flattering. The Valentinian heretics had an art to persuade before they taught, whereas the truth persuadeth by teaching, it doth not teach by persuading. (Tertullian.)
They deceive ] As cheaters do, by the cogging of a dye, εν τη κυβεια , Ephesians 4:14 . Fallax artificium, vel potius artifex fallacia, saith Erasmus on that text, a cumfing kind of cozenage.
a Evanuimus ac ad nihilum utiles, nisi ad externas ceremonias, externaque bona.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men . I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
Ver. 19. For your obedience, &c. ] Whereas the Romans might object, Are we also of those simple ones? Your obedience, saith he, is famous all the world over. Howbeit I would have you wise to that which is good, but simple concerning evil. This simplicity is no disparagement, to be unskilled in the devil’s depths, Revelation 2:24 .
20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Ver. 20. Shall bruise Satan ] Sincerity of a little grace shall be rewarded with abundance of greater graces. Christ our champion hath already won the field, and will shortly set our feet upon the necks of our spiritual enemies. The broken horns of Satan shall be the trumpets of our triumph, and the cornets of our joy.
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
Ver. 21. Timotheus my workfellow ] Of Timothy, read Acts 16:1-2 . Of Lucius, Acts 13:1 . Of Jason, Acts 17:5 . Of Sopater, Acts 20:4 .
22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
Ver. 22. I Tertius who wrote, &c. ] Either from the apostle’s mouth, or rather out of his foul papers.
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
Ver. 23. Gaius mine host ] Baptized by Paul, for whom therefore, and for other good men, he thought he could never do enough, 1 Corinthians 1:14 . Such another was Phoebe, Romans 16:2 , who had been a helper, or a hostess, to many, and to myself, saith Paul, Multis hospitium praebuit. provided much hospitality.
24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Ver. 24. The grace of our Lord ] This is the seal of all St Paul’s Epistles,2 Thessalonians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:17 .
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,
Ver. 25. Which was kept secret ] Even from the very angels, 1 Peter 1:12 , who do daily profit in the knowledge of this secret, Ephesians 3:10 .
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:
Ver. 26. According to the commandment ] The writings of the prophets concerning the mystery of Christ were not made known to the world by haphazard, but by a special command of God.
For the obedience of faith ] Though God purposed good to his people before all worlds, yet that is concealed till such time as they yield this obedience of faith like as water that runs underground, is hidden a long time till it break out suddenly, and then we discover that there was a stream ran underground; as Arethusa and other rivers do.
27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.
Ver. 27. To God only wise, &c. ] So say I for these few notes thus finished. All that I shall now add is this distich, -
" Pars superat coepti, pars est exacta laboris:
Hic teneat nostras anchora iacta rates. "
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 16". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent