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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Romans 16



Verse 1

I commend (συνιστημιsunistēmi). The regular word for letters of commendation as in 2 Corinthians 3:1 (συστατικων επιστολωνsustatikōn epistolōn). See also Romans 3:5. So here Romans 16:1, Romans 16:2 constitute Paul‘s recommendation of Phoebe, the bearer of the Epistle. Nothing else is known of her, though her name (ΠοιβηPhoibē) means bright or radiant.

Sister (αδελπηνadelphēn). In Christ, not in the flesh.

Who is a servant of the church (ουσαν διακονον της εκκλησιαςousan diakonon tēs ekklēsias). The etymology of διακονοςdiakonos we have had repeatedly. The only question here is whether it is used in a general sense or in a technical sense as in Philemon 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13. In favour of the technical sense of “deacon” or “deaconess” is the addition of “της εκκλησιαςtēs ekklēsias ” (of the church). In some sense Phoebe was a servant or minister of the church in Cenchreae. Besides, right in the midst of the discussion in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 Paul has a discussion of γυναικαςgunaikas (1 Timothy 3:11) either as women as deaconesses or as the wives of deacons (less likely though possible). The Apostolic Constitutions has numerous allusions to deaconesses. The strict separation of the sexes made something like deaconesses necessary for baptism, visiting the women, etc. Cenchreae, as the eastern port of Corinth, called for much service of this kind. Whether the deaconesses were a separate organization on a par with the deacons we do not know nor whether they were the widows alluded to in 1 Timothy 5:9.

Verse 2

Worthily of the saints (αχιως των αγιωνaxiōs tōn hagiōn). Adverb with the genitive as in Philemon 1:27 because the adjective αχιοςaxios is used with the genitive (Luke 3:8). “Receive her in a way worthy of the saints.” This word αγιοςhagios had come to be the accepted term for followers of Christ.

Assist her (παραστητεparastēte). Second aorist (intransitive) active subjunctive of παριστημιparistēmi to stand by, with the dative case (“beside her”), the very word used by Paul of the help of Jesus in his trial (παρεστηparestē 2 Timothy 4:17). Used with ιναhina as προσδεχηστεprosdexēsthe

In whatsoever matter (εν ωι πραγματιen hōi pragmati). Incorporation of the antecedent (πραγματιpragmati) into the relative clause (ωιhōi).

She may have need of you (αν υμων χρηιζηιan humōn chrēizēi). Indefinite relative clause with ανan and the present subjunctive of χρηιζωchrēizō with genitive.

A succourer (προστατιςprostatis). Old and rare feminine form for the masculine προστατηςprostatēs from προιστημιproistēmi (προστατεωprostateō common, but not in the N.T.), here only in the N.T. and not in the papyri. The word illustrates her work as διακονονdiakonon and is perhaps suggested here by παραστητεparastēte just before.

Of mine own self (εμου αυτουemou autou). “Of me myself.”

Verse 3

In Romans 16:3-16 Paul sends his greetings to various brethren and sisters in Rome.

Prisca and Aquila (Πρισκαν και ΑκυλανPriskan kai Akulan). This order always (Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26; 2 Timothy 4:19, and here) save in Acts 18:2; 1 Corinthians 16:19, showing that Prisca was the more prominent. Priscilla is a diminutive of Prisca, a name for women in the Acilian gens. She may have been a noble Roman lady, but her husband was a Jew of Pontus and a tent-maker by trade. They were driven from Rome by Claudius, came to Corinth, then to Ephesus, then back to Rome, and again to Ephesus. They were good travelling Christians.

My fellow-workers (τους συνεργους μουtous sunergous mou). Both in tent-making and in Christian service in Corinth and Ephesus.

Verse 4

Laid down their own necks (τον εαυτων τραχελον υπετηκανton heautōn trachelon hupethēkan). First aorist active of υποτιτημιhupotithēmi old verb to place under (the axe of the executioner), only here in N.T. in this sense, though in 1 Timothy 4:16 to suggest. If literal or figurative, the incident may be connected with the uproar created by Demetrius in Ephesus. Certainly Paul felt deep obligation toward them (see note on Acts 20:34).

Not only I (ουκ εγω μονοςouk egō monos). Rather, “not I alone” (adjective μονοςmonos). The Gentile churches also (great mission workers).

Verse 5

The church that is in their house (την κατ οικον αυτων εκκλησιανtēn kat' oikon autōn ekklēsian). The early Christians had no church buildings. See also Acts 12:2; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2; Colossians 4:15. The Roman Christians had probably several such homes where they would meet.

Epainetus (ΕπαινετονEpaineton). Nothing is known of him except this item, “the first-fruits of Asia” (απαρχη της Ασιαςaparchē tēs Asias). An early convert from the province of Asia. Cf. Acts 2:9; 1 Corinthians 16:15 (about Stephanas and Achaia).

Verse 6

Mary (ΜαριανMarian). Some MSS. have ΜαριαμMariam the Hebrew form. The name indicates a Jewish Christian in Rome. Paul praises her toil. See note on Luke 5:5.

Verse 7

Andronicus and Junias (Ανδρονιχου και ΙουνιανAndronicou kai Iounian). The first is a Greek name found even in the imperial household. The second name can be either masculine or feminine.

Kinsmen (συγγενειςsuggeneis). Probably only fellow-countrymen as in Romans 9:13.

Fellow-prisoners (συναιχμαλωτυςsunaichmalōtus). Late word and rare (in Lucian). One of Paul‘s frequent compounds with συνsun Literally, fellow captives in war. Perhaps they had shared one of Paul‘s numerous imprisonments (2 Corinthians 11:23). In N.T. only here, Philemon 1:23; Colossians 4:10.

Of note (επισημοιepisēmoi). Stamped, marked (επι σημαepi sēma). Old word, only here and Matthew 27:16 (bad sense) in N.T.

Among the apostles (εν τοις αποστολοιςen tois apostolois). Naturally this means that they are counted among the apostles in the general sense true of Barnabas, James, the brother of Christ, Silas, and others. But it can mean simply that they were famous in the circle of the apostles in the technical sense.

Who have been in Christ before me (οι και προ εμου γεγοναν εν Χριστωιhoi kai pro emou gegonan en Christōi). Andronicus and Junias were converted before Paul was. Note γεγονανgegonan (Koiné{[28928]}š form by analogy) instead of the usual second perfect active indicative form γεγονασινgegonasin which some MSS. have. The perfect tense notes that they are still in Christ.

Verse 8

Ampliatus (ΑμπλιατονAmpliaton). Some MSS. have a contracted form Amplias.

Verse 9

Urbanus (ΟυρβανονOurbanon). “A common Roman slave name found among members of the household” (Sanday and Headlam). A Latin adjective from urbs, city (city-bred).

Stachys (ΣταχυνStachun). A Greek name, rare, but among members of the imperial household. It means a head or ear of grain (Matthew 12:1).

Verse 10

Apelles (ΑπελληνApellēn). A name among Jews and a famous tragic actor also.

The approved (τον δοκιμονton dokimon). The tried and true (1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 2 Corinthians 13:7).

Them which are of the household of Aristobulus (τους εκ των Αριστοβουλουtous ek tōn Aristoboulou). The younger Aristobulus was a grandson of Herod the Great. Lightfoot suggests that some of the servants in this household had become Christians, Aristobulus being dead.

Verse 11

Herodion (ερωιδιωναHerōidiōna). Probably one belonging to the Herod family like that above.

Kinsman (συγγενηsuggenē). Merely fellow-countryman.

Them of the household of Narcissus (τους εκ των Ναρκισσουtous ek tōn Narkissou). “Narcissiani.” There was a famous freedman of this name who was put to death by Agrippa. Perhaps members of his household.

Verse 12

Tryphaena and Tryphosa (Τρυπαιναν και ΤρυπωσανTruphainan kai Truphōsan). Probably sisters and possibly twins. Both names come from the same root, the verb τρυπαωtruphaō to live luxuriously (James 5:5). Denney suggests “Dainty and Disdain.”

Persis (ΠερσιδαPersida). A freedwoman was so named. She is not Paul‘s “beloved,” but the “beloved” of the whole church.

Verse 13

Rufus (ουπονRouphon). A very common slave name, possibly the Rufus of Mark 15:21. The word means “red.”

The chosen (τον εκλεκτονton eklekton). Not “the elect,” but “the select.”

And mine (και εμουkai emou). Paul‘s appreciation of her maternal care once, not his real mother.

Verse 14

Asyncritus (ΑσυνκριτονAsunkriton). There is an inscription of a freedman of Augustus with this name.

Phlegon (ΠλεγονταPhlegonta). No light on this name till the historian of the second century a.d.

Hermes (ερμηνHermēn). A very common slave name.

Patrobas (ΠατροβανPatroban). Name of a freedman of Nero, abbreviated form of Patrobius.

Hermas (ερμανHermān). Not the author of the Shepherd of Hermas. Common as a slave name, shortened form of Hermagoras, Hermogenes, etc.

The brethren that are with them (τους συν αυτοις αδελπουςtous sun autois adelphous). Perhaps a little church in the house of some one.

Verse 15

Philologus (ΠιλολογονPhilologon). Another common slave name.

Julia (ΙουλιανIoulian). The commonest name for female slaves in the imperial household because of Julius Caesar. Possibly these two were husband and wife.

Nereus (ΝηρεαNērea). Found in inscriptions of the imperial household. But the sister‘s name is not given. One wonders why.

Olympas (ΟλυμπανOlumpān). Possibly an abbreviation for Olympiodorus.

All the saints that are with them (τους συν αυτοις παντας αγιουςtous sun autois pantas hagious). Possibly another church in the house. These unnamed, the “and others,” constitute the great majority in all our churches.

Verse 16

With a holy kiss (εν πιληματι αγιωιen philēmati hagiōi). The near-east mode of salutation as hand-shaking in the Western. In China one shakes hands with himself. Men kissed men and women kissed women. See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12.

Verse 17

Mark (σκοπειτεskopeite). Keep an eye on so as to avoid. ΣκοποςSkopos is the goal, σκοπεωskopeō means keeping your eye on the goal.

Divisions (διχοστασιαςdichostasias). Old word for “standings apart,” cleavages. In N.T. only here and Galatians 5:20.

Those which are causing (τουσποιουνταςtouṡ̇poiountas). This articular participle clause has within it not only the objects of the participle but the relative clause ην υμεις εματετεhēn humeis emathete (which you learned), a thoroughly Greek idiom.

Verse 18

But their own belly (αλλα τηι εαυτων κοιλιαιalla tēi heautōn koiliāi). Dative case after δουλευουσινdouleuousin A blunt phrase like the same picture in Philemon 3:19 “whose god is the belly,” more truth than caricature in some cases.

By their smooth and fair speech (δια της χρηστολογιας και ευλογιαςdia tēs chrēstologias kai eulogias). Two compounds of λογοςlogos (speech), the first (from χρηστοςchrēstos and λογοςlogos) is very rare (here only in N.T.), the second is very common (ευeu and λογοςlogos).

Beguile (εχαπατωσινexapatōsin). Present active indicative of the double compound verb εχαπαταωexapataō (see note on 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 3:18).

Of the innocent (των ακακωνtōn akakōn). Old adjective (αa privative and κακοςkakos), without evil or guile, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 7:26 (of Christ).

Verse 19

Is come abroad (απικετοaphiketo). Second aorist middle indicative of απικνεομαιaphikneomai old verb, to come from, then to arrive at, only here in N.T.

Over you (επ υμινEphesians' humin). “Upon you.” Simple unto that which is evil (ακεραιους εις το κακονakeraious eis to kakon). Old adjective from αa privative and κεραννυμιkerannumi to mix. Unmixed with evil, unadulterated.

Verse 20

Shall bruise (συντριπσειsuntripsei). Future active of συντριβωsuntribō old verb, to rub together, to crush, to trample underfoot. Blessed promise of final victory over Satan by “the God of peace.” “Shortly” (εν ταχειen tachei). As God counts time. Meanwhile patient loyalty from us.

Verse 21

Romans 16:21-23 form a sort of postscript with greetings from Paul‘s companions in Corinth. Timothy was with Paul in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 1:1) before he came to Corinth. Lucius may be the one mentioned in Acts 13:1. Jason was once Paul‘s host (Acts 17:5-9) in Thessalonica, Sosipater may be the longer form of Sopater of Acts 20:4. They are all Paul‘s fellow-countrymen (συγγενειςsuggeneis).

Verse 22

I Tertius (εγω Τερτιοςegō Tertios). The amanuensis to whom Paul dictated the letter. See note on 2 Thessalonians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18.

Verse 23

Gaius my host (Γαιος ο χενος μουGaios ho xenos mou). Perhaps the same Gaius of 1 Corinthians 1:14 (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4), but whether the one of 3 John 1:1 we do not know. ΧενοςXenos was a guest friend, and then either a stranger (Matthew 25:35) or a host of strangers as here. This Gaius was plainly a man of some means as he was the host of all the church. Erastus (2 Timothy 4:20) was “the treasurer of the city” (ο οικονομος της πολεωςho oikonomos tēs poleōs), one of the outstanding men of Corinth, the “steward” (house-manager) or city manager. See note on Luke 12:42 and note on Luke 16:1. He is probably the administrator of the city‘s property.

Quartus (ΚουαρτοςKouartos). Latin name for fourth.

Verse 24

Is not genuine, not in Aleph A B C Coptic.

Verse 25

Romans 16:25-27 conclude the noble Epistle with the finest of Paul‘s doxologies.

To him that is able (τωι δυναμενωιtōi dunamenōi). Dative of the articular participle of δυναμαιdunamai See similar idiom in Ephesians 3:20.

To stablish (στηριχαιstērixai). First aorist active infinitive of στηριζωstērizō to make stable.

According to my gospel (κατα το ευαγγελιον μουkata to euaggelion mou). Same phrase in Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:8. Not a book, but Paul‘s message as here set forth.

The preaching (το κηρυγμαto kērugma). The proclamation, the heralding.

Of Jesus Christ (Ιησου ΧριστουIēsou Christou). Objective genitive, “about Jesus Christ.”

Revelation (αποκαλυπσινapokalupsin). “Unveiling.”

Of the mystery (μυστηριουmustēriou). Once unknown, but now revealed.

Kept in silence (σεσιγημενουsesigēmenou). Perfect passive participle of σιγαωsigaō to be silent, state of silence.

Through times eternal (χρονοις αιωνιοιςchronois aiōniois). Associative instrumental case, “along with times eternal” (Robertson, Grammar, p. 527). See note on 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 2:7, 1 Corinthians 2:10.

Verse 26

But now is manifested (πανερωτεντος δε νυνphanerōthentos de nun). First aorist passive participle of πανεροωphaneroō to make plain, genitive case in agreement with μυστηριουmustēriou

By the scriptures of the prophets (δια γραπων προπητικωνdia graphōn prophētikōn). “By prophetic scriptures.” Witnessed by the law and the prophets (Romans 3:21). This thread runs all through Romans.

According to the command of the eternal God (κατ επιταγην του αιωνιου τεουkat' epitagēn tou aiōniou theou). Paul conceives that God is in charge of the redemptive work and gives his orders (Romans 1:1-5; Romans 10:15.). The same adjective αιωνιοςaiōnios is here applied to God that is used of eternal life and eternal punishment in Matthew 25:46.

Unto obedience of faith (εις υπακοην της πιστεωςeis hupakoēn tēs pisteōs). See note on Romans 1:5.

Made known unto all the nations (εις παντα τα ετνη γνωριστεντοςeis panta ta ethnē gnōristhentos). First aorist passive participle of γνωριζωgnōrizō still the genitive case agreeing with μυστηριουmustēriou in Romans 16:25.

Verse 27

To the only wise God (μονωι σοπωι τεωιmonōi sophōi theōi). Better, “to God alone wise.” See note on 1 Timothy 1:17 without σοπωιsophōi

To whom (ωιhōi). Some MSS. omit.



Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 16:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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