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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Romans 16

 

 

Verses 1-16

SECTION 50 — SALUTATIONS TO ROME

CH. 16:1-16

I recommend to you Phœbe our sister, she being a deacon of the church in Cenchreæ; that ye may receive her in the Lord, in a manner worthy of the saints, and may stand by her in whatever matter she may need you. For she also has been a protector of many, and of myself.

Salute Prisca and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, who on behalf of my life laid down their own neck; to whom not only I give thanks but also all the churches of the Gentiles: and salute the church in their house. Salute Epænetus, my beloved, who is a firstfruit of Asia for Christ. Salute Mary who laboured much for you. Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsfolk and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who were in Christ before me. Salute Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urban, our fellow-worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. Salute Apelles, the proved one in Christ. Salute those from the household of Aristobulus. Salute Herodion, my kinsman. Salute them from the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Salute Tryphæna and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute Persis the beloved, who laboured much in the Lord.

Salute Rufus, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobus, Hermas, and the brethren with them. Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you.

Romans 16:1-2. Phœbe: not mentioned elsewhere. These words suggest that she was the bearer of this epistle.

Deacon: see under Romans 12:7. She held an office in the church, probably to care for the bodily wants of the poor and sick.

Cenchrea: Acts 18:18 : the eastern port of Corinth, five miles away.

In the Lord: cp. Philippians 2:29. Their inward union with their Master should prompt them to welcome Phœbe.

Worthy-of the saints: same word in Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 3 John 1:6 : as those who belong to God ought to receive a fellow-servant.

Saints: as in Romans 1:7.

Protector of many: probably by caring for their wants, in her office of deacon. That Phœbe was a sister, and still more an office-bearer, gave her a claim on the kindness of the Roman Christians: that she had herself been a helper of many, and of Paul himself, gave her a special claim: and she would probably need their assistance.

Romans 16:3-5 a. Prisca: or Priscilla, Acts 18:2 : named before her husband also in Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26; 2 Timothy 4:19.

Fellow-workers: probably at Ephesus, where they were living a year ago: cp. 1 Corinthians 16:19. This implies that they had only recently taken up their abode at Rome. Perhaps after Claudius died the edict which compelled them to leave Rome was no longer enforced.

Their own neck: at the risk of the executioner’s axe, they had saved Paul’s life. This reminds us how much of his history is unknown to us. By saving Paul, they had earned the thanks of all the churches of the Gentiles. These words suggest that this service was known and acknowledged.

Church in their house: so at Ephesus, 1 Corinthians 16:19 : cp. Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2. Probably it was their custom, wherever they lived, to gather together their fellow Christians in their house for mutual edification. Notice that this small part of the Roman Church is called a church.

Romans 16:5-16. Firstfruit: cp. Romans 8:23.

Asia: the Roman province: so Acts 2:9; Acts 16:6; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:11. Laboured much for you: understood by the readers, but not by us. Junias: a man, or Junia a woman.

Kinsfolk: blood-relations: so Mark 6:4; Acts 10:24. Paul would not state in this special and emphatic, yet ambiguous, way the mere fact that they were Jews: contrast Romans 9:3.

Fellow-prisoners: cp. Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:23.

Among the apostles: in the apostolic circle they were honourably known. It is utterly unsafe to infer from this easily-explained phrase that they were themselves apostles.

Before me: consequently, while persecuting the Church, Paul had Christian relatives.

Our fellow-worker: i.e. with Paul and his colleagues: cp. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

The proved-one: his faith had been put to some special test.

Rufus: possibly the same as in Mark 15:21.

And mine: a recognition of special maternal kindness to himself.

The brethren with them: implying some connection, local or in joint Christian enterprise, altogether unknown to us. Another company in Romans 16:15.

Holy kiss: 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14.

All the churches: to all whom he met, Paul said that he was writing to the Christians at Rome; and all sent greeting.

Of the above names, Phœbe, Prisca, Mary, Tryphæna, Tryphosa, Persis, are women: Junias or Junia and Julias or Julia are doubtful: the rest are men.

That Paul knew so many persons in a city he had never visited, need not surprise us: for all sorts of people went to live at Rome. Two-thirds of the names are Greek. And even Roman names might, as in the case of Paul, be names of Jews and Greeks. The case of Aquila suggests how some others may have become known to Paul.


Verses 17-20

SECTION 51 — A WARNING AGAINST DIVISION CH. 16:17-20

But I exhort you, brethren, to mark those who make the divisions and the snares contrary to the teaching, which ye learnt. For such men do not serve the Lord Christ, but their own belly: and through their smooth talking and fine talking they deceive the hearts of the guileless. For your obedience has reached to all men. In you then I rejoice. But I desire you to be wise for that which is good, and pure for that which is evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet quickly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Romans 16:17-19. Divisions: so 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:20.

Snares: so Romans 14:13. They who set Christian against Christian are setting a trap into which both themselves and others are likely to fall.

Contrary to etc.: explained in Romans 16:18. Paul taught men to serve Christ: these men serve their lower appetites. Men serve their own belly when they make its gratification the aim of their life: cp. Romans 6:12; Philippians 3:19. Paul here uncovers the real source and tendency of all party spirit, viz. self-gratification; in this case, of a gross kind.

The guileless: lacking, as the context implies, not only deceit but wisdom. That innocent men are their victims, increases the guilt of the deceivers. These men are a complete contrast to those in Romans 14:6 who, while eating food which some disapprove, eat it “for the Lord.”

For your obedience and in you then: in sharp contrast to the guileless who are led into disobedience.

Has reached to all: as good tidings: cp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans 1:8.

Romans 16:20. From the authors of discord Paul turns to the God of peace: cp. Romans 15:33.

Satan: a Hebrew word denoting adversary: e.g. 1 Kings 11:14; 1 Kings 11:23; 1 Kings 11:25; Numbers 22:22; Numbers 22:32; and used in Job 1:6-12; Zechariah 3:1; 1 Chronicles 21:1 for the great supernatural adversary of God and man: cp. Revelation 20:2; 1 Corinthians 5:5, etc. As hostile to the God of peace, he is an author of confusion.

Will crush Satan: thus fulfilling the promise in Genesis 3:15, which is in part fulfilled in each victory over evil.

Under your feet: which God will make strong enough to crush Satan.

Quickly: for in Christ the battle is already over.

The grace etc.: may the favour of our Master be your companion.

That Paul refers to the divisions only for a moment at the end of his letter, suggests that this evil was not serious at Rome. That this reference is found in a letter written probably from Corinth where divisions were rife ( 1 Corinthians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 11:11-15), is a mark of genuineness.


Verses 21-27

SECTION 52 — SALUTATIONS FROM CORINTH: AND DOXOLOGY

CH. 16:21-27

Timothy my fellow-worker salutes you; and Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. I, Tertius, who wrote the letter in the Lord, salute you. Gaius, the host of me and of the whole church, salutes you. Erastus, the steward of the city, salutes you: and the brother Quartus.

To Him that is able to establish you, according to my Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to a revelation of a mystery kept in silence for eternal times but manifested now, and made known, through prophetic writings, according to a command of the eternal God, for obedience of faith, for all the nations, to the only wise God through Jesus Christ; to whom be the glory for the ages. Amen.

Romans 16:20 seemed to be the end of the letter. But, after writing it, Paul either receives or remembers the greetings from Corinth to Rome which follow. He adds them as a postscript; and then concludes again with a doxology.

Romans 16:21-23. Timothy my fellow-worker: so Acts 16:3; Acts 17:14-15; Acts 18:5. When Paul, after writing this letter, started from Corinth to Jerusalem, Timothy was with him: see Introd. iv. 4; Acts 20:4.

Lucius: same name in Acts 13:1.

Jason: same name in Acts 17:5. Whether they were the same men, we cannot tell.

Sosipater: possibly the same as Sosipater in Acts 20:4.

My kinsmen: as in Romans 16:7. In our total ignorance of Paul’s family, we need not wonder that he had three relatives at Rome and three at Corinth.

Tertius, who wrote the letter, inserts a greeting in his own name. The use of a secretary is also implied in 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17. But the peculiarity and close similarity of style suggest that we have dictated words of Paul.

Gaius: perhaps the same as in 1 Corinthians 1:14. If so, his name confirms our inference that this letter was written from Corinth. Same name in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4 : it was very common.

Of the whole church: either by finding room for its meetings, or by entertaining many of its members.

Erastus: probably not the same as in Acts 19:22. The commonness of the name leaves us uncertain whether he was the same as in 2 Timothy 4:20.

Steward: in charge of the city finances. This mention of a Christian in an influential position confirms 1 Corinthians 1:26, “not many mighty.”

Romans 16:24. Certainly spurious. Of Romans 16:25-27, Origen says in his commentary, “In other copies, i.e. in those not desecrated by Marcion, we find this passage itself differently placed. For in some MSS., after the place we have mentioned above, viz. but all that is not of faith is sin, joining on at once is read but to Him that is able to establish you. But other MSS. have it at the end as now placed.” These verses follow Romans 14:23 in one uncial and in many later copies. A few, including the Alex. MS., have it in both places; and a few in neither. But the authority of nearly all the oldest copies, of the oldest versions, and of Origen the earliest commentator, puts beyond doubt that the verses are genuine, and that their place in our Bible is the right one.

Romans 16:25. Paul put his usual farewell in Romans 16:20; and now, instead of repeating it, concludes with a doxology: cp. 2 Peter 3:18, and especially Judges 1:24. In view of hostile influences around, he looks up to Him that is able to establish, i.e. to give immoveable firmness: same word in Romans 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

According to my Gospel: same words in Romans 2:16 : an unshaken position in harmony with the tidings of salvation.

Proclamation: as in Romans 2:21 : same word in 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 15:14; 2 Timothy 4:17; Titus 1:3. The good news is also an announcement made by Christ as herald: cognate word in Romans 2:21; Romans 10:8; Romans 10:14-15.

Revelation: as in Romans 1:17.

Mystery: as in Romans 11:25.

Eternal, or age-lasting: cognate to ages in Romans 16:27, and age in Romans 12:2.

Eternal times: same words in 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2. Since the plural times cannot denote the uncreated pre-existence of God, this term can only denote the long ages before the appearance of Christ, during which the salvation afterwards announced in the Gospel for all that believe was kept in silence. But even then it was “promised:” Titus 1:2. A similar use of the word eternal for a long period of past time is found (LXX.) in Psalms 24:7; Psalms 24:9; Psalms 77:5; Isaiah 58:12; Isaiah 61:4. In the Gospel God reveals, by a proclamation brought by Christ, a purpose kept in silence during long ages and unknown now except to those to whom the Spirit of God reveals it, viz. that without respect of nationality God saves all who believe: a close parallel in Ephesians 3:2-11.

Romans 16:26. Manifested: as in Romans 1:19 : set publicly before men, viz. by the coming and preaching of Christ.

Now: in Paul’s own day.

By means of prophetic writings: viz. the Jewish Scriptures: cp. Romans 1:2; Romans 3:22. The apostles proved that Jesus is the Christ, and thus made known the mystery of salvation, by showing that in Him were fulfilled the O.T. descriptions of the Messiah. So Acts 18:28; 2 Timothy 3:15. Thus the O.T. held a place in their teaching it cannot have with us who received O.T. and N.T. at the same time and with like authority.

According to a command of God: so 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3. The Gospel was preached to the Gentiles at the bidding of God.

Eternal or age-lasting God: reigning throughout the age-lasting times. The use of the same adjective in the same sentence for limited and for unlimited duration, need not surprise us. In each case, it denotes long duration: and this is the meaning of the word. That God has neither beginning nor end, and that the long ages of silence had both, the readers knew so well that express distinction was needless.

For obedience of faith: as in Romans 1:5 : purpose of the command to preach the Gospel.

For all the nations: persons embraced in this purpose: cp. Romans 1:5.

Romans 16:27. God alone wise: cp. 1 Timothy 1:17, “alone God;” 1 Timothy 6:16 “alone has immortality.” The Father, even as compared with the Son, is, as the fount of deity, the one ultimate source of wisdom and possessor of immortal life: cp. Romans 11:33.

Through Jesus Christ: as the channel through which the Father manifests Himself and accomplishes His purposes. At this point the sentence is broken off; and concludes with a relative clause: to whom be etc.

The glory for the ages, or for ever, as in Romans 11:36. It is quite uncertain whether or not Paul added of the ages, as in Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18.

A close parallel in Judges 1:24-25 : “To Him who is able to guard you from stumbling, and to set you in the presence of His glory without blemish, in gladness, to Him who is alone God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, greatness, might, and authority, before all the age and now and for all the ages. Amen.”

Paul turns from the perils around to Him whose power is able to preserve the Roman Christians unmoved amid all. He is encouraged by remembering that what he desires for them is but a realisation of that which Christ was sent forth from God to proclaim, an accomplishment of a purpose which, after lying hidden for long ages in the mind of God, had in their days been revealed. He remembers that to prepare the way for the Gospel the prophets had written, that the Gospel was preached by the command of God, in order to lead all men to obey God. A contemplation of this eternal purpose, and of the means by which God is slowly but surely advancing to its accomplishment, calls forth praise to the all-wise God. But Paul cannot ascribe praise to the Father without speaking of Him through whom alone the light of the Father’s wisdom has fallen on our race. And, while he praises the might and wisdom of God, he knows, with heart-felt approbation, that the song of praise will go up for ever.

Thus this glorious epistle leaves us gazing into the endless succession of coming ages and listening to the song which throughout each successive age will rise with louder and sweeter note to Him who, before the ages were, formed for us, whom He foresaw in sin and ruin, His wondrous and costly purpose of salvation and life, who throughout the successive ages of the earlier covenants carried His purpose towards and to its historic completion in Jesus of Nazareth, and who now day by day carries forward the same purpose by His Spirit in the hearts of us His children until that day when we and Paul and the whole family of earth and heaven shall join in that anthem of praise whose notes from afar, as the weary pen of the apostle falls from his hand, are already ringing in His ears.

 


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Bibliography Information
Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 16:4". Joseph Beet's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbc/romans-16.html. 1877-90.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
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