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This Chapter, which closeth the Epistle, is chiefly Greetings and Salutations to certain Persons of the Church, known to the Apostle. Paul closeth the whole with ascribing Praise and Glory to God.
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: (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 succorer of many, and of myself also. (3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: (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. (5) Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. (6) Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us. (7) Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
I do not think it necessary, in a work of this kind, to amplify the pages, in dwelling upon the characters Paul hath here given testimony to, of their faith in Christ. Much no doubt might be said, of honor to them, and of profit to ourselves. But I must forego that pleasure. One point at the close of those verses, I would beg the Reader to notice, in order to guard against any misapprehension; I mean, when speaking of some which were of note among the Apostles, he saith: who also were in Christ before me. By which we are to understand, that they were brought into a saving acquaintance with Christ before that Paul was. Nothing more can be implied than this. For as to the being in Christ, and the well-being in Christ, the whole Church were so together, and that before all worlds. Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world, Acts 15:18 . It forms one of the most blessed of all truths, that the Church was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4 . And, from that moment in eternity, be that moment called by whatsoever name it may, in which to the infinite mind of Jehovah Christ stood up, as the Head, and Husband of his Church; every individual member of his mystical body, as the body and spouse of Christ, must have stood up with him. So that, in the secret decree, fore-knowledge, and fore-appointment of God, all Christ's members were alike in Christ together; as his seed, his children, his offspring, Proverbs 8:22-31 . All alike at one time given by the Father. All alike covenanted for, and engaged for, by God the S on. And all equally beloved in Christ by God the Spirit, from the beginning; though his great work of regeneration, remained to be accomplished, in the several ages of the Church, as appointed. The being in Christ therefore before Paul, was in allusion to the time of this glorious act of regeneration wrought in their being quickened who were before in the Adam - nature of a fallen state dead in trespasses and sins. And in this sense, it was a blessed thing to be early called; and to be brought from darkness and the shadow of death. Thousands of transgressions are thereby cut short. And Paul was ready to give them the birth-right of honor. No doubt it melted his heart to consider, how the Lord had distinguished them with this sweet grace of conversion, when he was blaspheming and causing the Lord to serve with his sins, and wearying him with his iniquities. All this was cause for blessing the Lord for his distinguishing mercy. But, in relation to an union with Christ, and being in Christ, here there could be no precedency. The first sinner awakened by grace, whether Adam, Eve, or Abel; and the last sinner of the Adam race, which is yet unborn in nature, and consequently unborn in grace; were all alike secretly in Christ, chosen in Christ, beloved in Christ, and interested in all that belongs to Christ, as the Christ of God, and Head of his body the Church, from the beginning, and before all worlds.
Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. (9) Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. (10) Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. (11) Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. (12) Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which labored much in the Lord. (13) Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. (14) Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. (15) Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. (16) Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
I stop the Reader at this last verse of the paragraph, just to remark a few words, in relation to an holy kiss. It was the custom in those eastern countries, for friends and relations to salute one another with various outward marks of affection. The Abba Father was never used by slaves to the Ab, or Head of the family. This privilege belonged only to children. In like manner the kiss, was a general token of love and reverence, or of equality. The brethren of Christ, his Church, his people, had their love-tokens also to manifest their affection, and attachment to each other. But Paul, taught by the Holy Ghost, instructs the Church, to shew their love, not simply by a kiss, but an holy kiss. Perhaps recollecting the traitorous kiss of Judas. And also to distinguish it from anything savoring of a want of chastity. The holy followers of the Holy Jesus are in everything to be distinguished from the carnal and ungodly. And if they do in their salutations, use the kiss of brotherly affection, it must be holy, and with an eye to the holy child Jesus!
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (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. (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. (20) And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
What a refreshment hath this promise been found to thousands! The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Let the Reader observe the sweetness of it, and the certainty of it. Satan is a subtle foe, a powerful foe, an everlasting foe. But the promise is absolute; he shall be bruised under the feet of the Lord's people shortly. He is come down with great wrath among the inhabitants of the earth, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time, Revelation 12:12 . But how is he to be conquered, and brought under our feet? The promise doth not give the least encouragement, that any of God's redeemed shall subdue him, in any strength of their own, Alas! the strongest of God's people, are but as feathers, if left to themselves, to the wind of Satan's temptations. But, the great blessedness of the promise is, that the God of peace will do it. And there is another precious part in this promise: when the God of peace bruiseth Satan, it shall be under our feet. Sweet consideration! Though you, and I, have nothing to do in the work; yet we have all the blessedness, in the victory. Our God will bruise him, and bring him down; but it shall be under our feet. As Joshua said to the men of war, which went with him to the holy war: Come ye near, and put your feet upon the necks of your enemies: So our Almighty Joshua will do by all that war with him, when he brings Satan under their feet, Joshua 10:24-25 . And though the child of God, when harrassed with temptations, thinks it a long season, and frequently groans under the exercise, saying: how long shall mine enemy afflict me? yet the Lord saith, shortly he will bruise Satan under our feet. The Lord doth by his people now, as he did by his people of old, in driving out their enemies before them from Canaan. The Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little. Thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field encrease upon thee. But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed, Deuteronomy 7:22-23 . If the Lord were to destroy Satan at once, and if no foes from within, nor temptations from without, were to exercise the people of God; the beasts of the field in a man's own heart, namely, Spiritual pride, and Pharisaical righteousness, would increase upon him, and be more deadly in evil, than all the other devices of Satan. The Lord keeps his people humble therefore, by continually letting them see, and feel, the plague of their own heart. And Satan, for this purpose, is not wholly destroyed as yet. Neither at length shall the people of God have any hand in his destruction. This is our Jesus's work, and our Jesus's sole glory. It is the Lord thy God which shall drive all out, and consume all our foes with a mighty destruction, until they are destroyed. Reader! do not, no, not for a moment, lose sight of this sweet promise. The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly!
Timothy my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. (22) I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. (23) Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. (24) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (25) Now to him that is of power to establish 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, (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: (27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Reader! do not overlook, how blessedly the Apostle dwells upon the precious words: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! He repeats it, as if it could not be mentioned (and which it never can) too often. And it is to the same purport, when he folds up the last leaf, in the cover of this blessed Epistle, and saith: To God only wise; or as Jude (for it is to one and the same Person the address is) renders it: To the only wise God our Savior! Reader! what think you of these precious, precious things? Who can this only wise God, and God our Savior be, but He, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge? Colossians 2:3 . Is he not all along revealed, as the visible Jehovah? Is it not said: No man hath seen God at any time. But, it is immediately added; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father; he hath declared him. John 1:18 . He then it is, that hath come forth from the invisibility of Jehovah, to make him visible to the Church; in and through the medium of our nature. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9 . Is he not then the only wise God, which both Paul and Jude here alluded to? Not to the exclusion of the Persons of the Father, and the Holy Ghost, but in common with both, and the visible representation of the whole three Persons. And, Reader! I pray you to turn to the Epistle of Jude, and read attentively the whole; and then say, whether all along through the whole of it, the Apostle is not principally speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ? He is said to present to himself, the Church as faultless before him. So Paul saith, Ephesians 5:23 ; Philippians 3:20 ; Titus 2:13 . And Peter to the same amount, 2 Peter 1:1 . Neither is this act of presentation at the last day ever spoken of in the Scripture, as the act of God the Father, or of God the Holy Ghost! Can anything more clearly define the Person, and Office-work of the Lord Jesus Christ? Hail thou God only wise! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! be glory ascribed to thee through the mediation of the God-Man Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
May the faithful Ministers of Christ here learn from Paul, how near, and dear, to the heart, must ever lie the Church of Christ, when the Spirit of Christ dwells in the heart. Not content with is dressing the whole mystical body of Christ, the Apostle here particularly mentions one by one, in name, as members of Christ's body, his flesh, and his bones. Oh! how infinitely more to be valued is this record of Christ's people in the book of God, than the being enrolled among all the great ones of the earth.
Reader! do not overlook what Paul hath said, in honorable testimony of those, who by awakening, and regenerating grace, were in Christ before him. How sweet is early grace! How blessed to know the Lord from our youth! Little children! if peradventure the Lord should, put this Poor Man's Commentary in the way of any such, who like Josiah, or Timothy, have been brought acquainted with the Lord God of your fathers from your youth; do not fail to mark and bless God for the distinguishing grace! And you no less of upper years, who even like Paul, can observe those that were in the knowledge of Christ before you; yea, if even at the eleventh hour! Oh! bless God for his distinguishing mercy. He that came in at the eleventh hour, was made equal with him which had borne the burden and heat of the day! And why so, but because it is all of free grace. He that is called early, is not called for his deservings. And he that is called late, is called then for God's grace, and not his merit. All is to the praise of the glory of his grace who hath made us accepted in the beloved.
And now, for the moment, we take leave of the Apostle. Farewell Paul! We have cause to thank thee for thy ministry. But we bless Paul's Lord infinitely more, who appointed it. Oh! for grace, mightly to value and love the servant; but to pass by the servant, and love and adore the Master. Precious Jesus! he is indeed thy minister. Oh! make those sweet writings blessed to the souls of thy people. And may they minister in thine Almighty hand, to all the Churches, to bring glory to the Father, Son, and Spirit, now, and forever.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Romans 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent