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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Romans 16

 

 

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Introduction

CHAP. XVI.

Paul willeth the brethren to greet many; and adviseth them to take heed of those who cause dissension and offences; and, after sundry salutations, endeth with praise and thanks.

Anno Domini 58.

PHEBE, a deaconess of the church of Cenchrea, having occasion to go to Rome about some important affairs, the Apostle earnestly recommended her to the good offices of the Roman brethren, Romans 16:1-2.—To this recommendation, he subjoined salutations to a number of persons by name, members of the church at Rome, with whom it seems he was acquainted, Romans 16:3-16.

The names of the persons saluted, shew them to have been Greeks, or of Greek extraction. We may therefore conjecture, that they had settled themselves in Rome for the sake of commerce, or of exercising their particular trades. But being afterwards banished by the emperor Claudius, under the denomination of Jews, they had retired, some of them into Greece, others into the Lesser Asia, and others into Judea, where it is supposed they became known to the Apostle Paul, in the course of his travels through these countries. Some of the saluted are called by the Apostle his kinsmen, either because they were his relations, or because they were of the same nation with himself; and who, during theirbanishment from Rome, or perhaps before it, had been converted to Christianity. These, with many others, returned to Rome on the death of Claudius, and re-established the church there in its former lustre.

The Papists affirm, that at the time when the Apostle wrote this letter, St. Peter was in Rome exercising the office of bishop in the church there. But if St. Peter had been in Rome when this Epistle was written, St. Paul would certainly have known it: in which case, he would not have omitted him in the salutations, and have mentioned so manyothers of inferior note.—The Apostle's saluting so many members of the church at Rome, could not displease the rest who were not personally known to him. By saluting all his acquaintance in Rome, the Apostle proposed to make himself known to the Roman brethren, through the accounts which he knew his acquaintance would give of his apostolical character and gifts, and of his success in converting the Gentiles. The truth is, he wished the Roman brethren to be well informed concerning these matters, because the knowledge of them was necessary to give his letter its full effect with those who might read it.—From the characters which the Apostle has given of the persons whom he saluted, we learn that some of them were remarkable for their station and education, and all of them for their graces and virtues. Wherefore, the accounts which they gave of the Apostle's character and endowment, and success in preaching, must have had great weight in establishing his authority among the brethren at Rome, and in drawing their attention to the things written in this Epistle.

Concerning the salutations in the apostolic Epistles, it is proper to remark, in general, that they were of great benefit to the persons saluted. For being sent to individuals, in letters addressed to the churches of which they were members, such public testimonies of the Apostle's esteem not only gave the saluted much pleasure, but tended to confirm them in the faith, and to encourage them to bear with patience the evils attending the profession of the Gospel. And to us, these salutations are an example of that love which we owe to the sincere disciples of Christ, on account of their character. Farther, the Apostle, by naming so many persons in his Epistles, has not only transmitted to posterity an honourable character of them, but has furnished an additional proof of the truth and authenticity of his own epistles. For all the persons named in them, were appealed to as witnesses of the things which he has writt

After finishing his salutations, the Apostle gave the Romans a few more practical advices suited to their circumstances, Romans 16:17-20.—Then sent them salutations from his assistants, Romans 16:21-23.—To which he added his own apostolical benedictions Romans 16:24.—And concluded this letter, in which he had considered the dispensations of God to mankind, from the beginning of the world to the end of time, with a sublime doxology to God the Father, Romans 16:25-27.


Verse 1

Romans 16:1. I commend unto you, &c.— This chapter consists chiefly of salutations. Throughout the whole Epistle the Apostle has demonstrated his affectionate regards to the whole society of Christians at Rome. But it was still more engaging to take a friendly notice of the principal persons by name, adding to several of them the honourable character whichthey deserved, or some special mark of his esteem. In the midst of these expressions of his love, the great design of writing the Epistle, and establishing their happiness, recurs to his thoughts. The Jewish converts were exceeding zealous to reduce all professors of Christianity to a submission to the law of Moses; and on this account not only propagated bad principles of religion, but almost every where broke in upon the peace and unity of the Gentile churches. This was the case of the churches in Galatia; but was not yet the unhappy case of the church at Rome. But the Apostle fearing it might, after all that he has done in this Epistle to settle them upon the principles of pure Gospel, throws in here a very pathetic caution against such authors and fomenters of divisions, Romans 16:17-20. He concludes, after repeated benedictions, (like one who with his whole soul wished their highest felicity,) with a doxology to the only-wise God.

I commend Phebe—which is a servant, &c.— It might be translated, who is a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, a port belonging to the city of Corinth, whence St. Paul wrote this letter. It is agreed that the deacons were officers employed in distributing the church's stock among the necessitous. They were to be persons of an eminent character, 1 Timothy 3:8-11 and therefore their service in the church might not consist only in relieving the poor, but in visiting the sick, in exhorting, comforting, and teaching, as occasion required. Corinth was a city of Greece, and, according to the customs of that country, men could not well be allowed to perform those good offices to the women: for men to have visited and conversed with women, would have been counted a very great indecency, and must have brought a scandal upon the Christian profession; as in Greece the women were treated in a manner very different from the usages of the western parts of Europe. This appears from Cornelius Nepos, who observes in his preface, "A great many things in our customs are decent, which are thought scandalous among them: for which of the Romans thinks it a shame to take his spouse to a feast? Or whose wife keeps not in the first room of the house, and converses with company? Which is quite otherwise in Greece, where she is never admitted to a feast, unless of relations, and always keeps in a retired part of the house, which is called the woman's apartment, whither nobody comes, unless allied to her bynear relation." This being the case, it is not improbable that some women of probity and good understanding might be chosen to attend as deaconesses upon their own sex. And this custom of keeping the women in a state of separation might occasion, in Greece, other allowable peculiarities in religious affairs. It is certain that they sometimes exercised their devotions apart from their husbands (1 Corinthians 7:5.); and that they had separate assemblies for religious worship will appear probable, if we consider that the Apostle, when he is giving rules about prophesying, absolutely enjoins silence to the women in the church, or public assembly; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. They were not allowed to speak or prophesy there, by the commandment of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:37 or so much as to ask any question in the public assembly about what was taught, but directed to consult their husbands at home: much less were they allowed to teach or usurp authority over the men, but are expressly ordered to learn in silence, with all subjection, 1 Timothy 2:11-12. And yet the Apostle supposes, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 without any mark of disapprobation, that the woman might pray and prophesy, that is, speak unto others to edification, exhortation, and comfort; for that is here the meaning of prophesying, as the Apostle informs us, 1 Corinthians 14:3 therefore prophesying is an address to others, or to a company of persons. Here then the Apostle gives directions about the woman's praying and prophesying in an assembly, or where others were present, and yet, in the above-quoted places, he expressly enjoins silence, and forbids her speaking, and consequently prophesying, in the churches.—How shall we bring these things to a consistency?—Thus: the prohibitions and injunctions, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-12 expressly relate to those assemblies, in which the whole church, men and women, met for the worship of God. In such assemblies the women were to be in silence; consequently (unless the Apostle contradicted himself in the same Epistle, and in a matter upon which he discourses largely and expressly) those assemblies in which women are supposed and allowed to pray and prophesy, were separate meetings, which consisted of none but women. Of the decent appearance of women at such meetings, he discourses, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 where we may observe there is not one word of the church;—of praying or prophesying in the church;—for he did not consider those assemblies of women as proper churches. Then at 1 Corinthians 11:17 he begins to correct disorders in their proper assemblies, when they came together in the church, men and women (1 Corinthians 11:28); and discourses upon this subject to the end of ch. 14. In favour of this opinion, Grotius, on the verse before us, remarks, "that in Greece there were Πρεσβυτιδες, female presbyters, as well as deacons, for the instruction of their own sex; which female presbyters were ordained by the laying on of hands; till the council of Laodicea;" and for this he appeals to the eleventh canon of that council. This order of priestesses must grow out of the custom of women's holding separate assemblies for their mutual instruction and edification. In those assemblies theysupposed that they might lay aside the veil, the token of inferiority and subjection, and perform their religious exercises uncovered, as if they were upon a par with the men. This the Apostle opposes, and gives his reasons, 1 Corinthians 11:3-9. "But,—the women might object,—we have no men among us; why should we wear the badge of subjection, when we are among ourselves, and therefore are to be considered only in relation to ourselves?" The Apostle answers, Romans 16:10. You ought to have power (that is, a veil, the sign of the man's power or authority upon your head, because or on account of the MESSENGERS for so the word Αγγελους, which we translate Angels, most naturally and properly signifies; and so it is rendered, Matthew 11:10, Luke 7:24; Luke 7:27; Luke 9:52; James 2:25. This furnishes a hint of what the reason of the case plainly suggests, that the men, upon sundry occasions, especially to inspect their conduct, sent messengers to those female assemblies. If we duly reflect upon the general custom of confining and restraining the women, even at home, in their own houses, we need not doubt but those meetings were under particular regulations; and that care would be taken to send proper persons to see how they behaved in them; not to mention that a woman might be wanted at home, and a messenger might be sent to require her attendance. However, it is very probable, that access to messengers was one of the conditions upon which the women held these religious assemblies; and these messengers, coming in the name of their husbands, brought, in a sense, their authority along with them; on which account the women ought to observe a just decorum, as if their husbands were present, seeing that they were in effect still under their eye:—The woman ought to have power upon her head, on account of the messengers. Mr. Locke, in his note on 1 Corinthians 11:3 supposes women were allowed to prophesy in public assemblies, where men were present; not indeed as ordinary doctors and teachers, but when their "prophesying was a spiritual gift, performed by the immediate and extraordinary motion and impulse of the Holy Ghost." But this great commentator did not observe, that women are expressly and absolutely enjoined silence in the churches, by the commandment of the Lord, among the rules relative to speaking in this very kind of prophesying, by revelation. See 1 Corinthians 14:29-37. Whence, particularly from 1 Corinthians 14:32-33 we may conclude, that a revelation given by the Spirit of God was not, at least in general, attended with any such extraordinary motion or impulse, as constrained the person to speak to whom it was given. With regard to the time of speaking, he might use his discretion;—when he thought proper, he might begin to speak; and when he pleased, he might hold his speech, as decency and good order should require. Therefore, though the Spirit of prophesy might be poured out upon a Christian woman in the church; or though some truth might be revealed to her, yet she might keep it to herself, and was obliged to keep it to herself, among the Christian men, and to confer only with her husband about it, who, it seems likely, might communicate it to the church, if he thought fit.


Verse 3

Romans 16:3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila This excellent couple appear by this passage to have returned to Rome on the ceasing of that edict against the Jews, which had driven them thence in the reign of Claudius; Acts 18:2. Priscilla seems to have been a woman of great note, and probably of distinguished genius and influence; which appears, not only from the manner in which she is here named, but also from the edification which the eloquent Apollos received from her instructions, in concurrence with those of her husband. See Doddridge, and Calmet.


Verse 5

Romans 16:5. Who is the first-fruits of Achaia It is probable that Epenetus might be converted at the same time with Stephanas, called also the first-fruits of Achaia; 1 Corinthians 16:15 for there is no manner of necessity to understand by that expression the veryfirst Christian convert. Epenetus possibly might be one of that happy family, to whom this appellation is given.


Verse 7

Romans 16:7. Andronicus and Junia Or, Junias. Diodati thinks that by apostles in this verse are meant the evangelists; and that the meaning is, that these persons were noted messengers of the churches; but it is more probable that they were some early converts, who had been known and much esteemed by the apostles before the dispersion occasioned by the death of Stephen: and if so, St. Paul perhaps might once have been active in persecuting them, and have learned their names at first with an hostile intent of hunting them down to destruction. See Craddock's Apostol. Hist. Diodati, and Doddridge.


Verse 10

Romans 16:10. Them—of Aristobulus' household There is no certain evidence that either Aristobulus, or Narcissus, Romans 16:11 were Christians. It seems most probable that they were persons of high rank, who had each a large family of slaves or domestics; some of whom being Christian converts, the Apostle would not forget them, low as their rank was in life, when he was saluting his brethren in so particular a manner. We may observe what a regard the Apostle had for foreign churches, when he informed himself of the names, circumstances, and abode of so many of them in Rome. See Doddridge.


Verse 11

Romans 16:11. In the Lord From this and the following verse we may observe, that when the whole family was converted, the Apostle writes to the church in such a house; when not, the salutation is directed to as many as were in the Lord in that fami


Verse 13

Romans 16:13. And his mother and mine Hence some have thought, that Rufus was at least half-brother to St. Paul; but perhaps he might in this expression refer to the maternal care which this good woman had taken of him.


Verse 15

Romans 16:15. And all the saints, &c.— Dr. Calvin and many others observe, as before hinted, that had St. Peter been now at Rome, he would undoubtedly have been named, since no one in this numerous catalogue was of a dignity and eminence by any means comparable to him;—and yet if he were not there at this time, the whole tradition of the Romish bishops, as that church delivers it, fails in the most fundamental article of all.


Verse 18

Romans 16:18. And fair speeches ' Ευλογιας, flattering forms of address. We hence learn what were the weapons which these false apostles opposed to the miracles of the true. See Titus 1:10-11.


Verse 20

Romans 16:20. Shall bruise Satan, &c.— Satan is here put for his instruments;—the troublers of the church's peace. See 2 Corinthians 11:15. "God shall break the force and attempts of Satan upon your peace, by those his instruments, who would engage you in quarrels and discords." See Locke. At the same time, the words may be taken in the most spiritual sense, as implying that all the spiritual enemies of every faithful soul among them should soon be destroyed.


Verse 22

Romans 16:22. I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, &c.— It was the general custom of those times to dictate to an amanuensis;—especially with men of learningand business. An anonymous critic would read this verse, I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, for the glory of the Lord, salute you. It seems that Tertius, who was St. Paul's secretary or amanuensis, was well known to the Roman brethren. From his name he may be supposed to have been a Roman. Others think that this is Silas, because his name is of the same signification with Tertius.


Verses 24-27

Romans 16:24-27. The grace of our Lord, &c.— All the other epistles of St. Paul end with a similar benediction. When St. Paul says my Gospel, Romans 16:25 he cannot be supposed, says Mr. Locke, to have used such an expression, unless he knew that what he preached had something in it which distinguished it from what was preached by others: which was plainly the mystery, as he every where calls it, of God's purpose of taking in the Gentiles to be his people under the Messiah, and that without subjecting them to circumcision, or the law of Moses. This is that mystery which he is so much concerned that the Ephesians should understand and adhere to firmly, and which was revealed to him according to that Gospel whereof he was made the minister, as may be seen at large in that Epistle. The same thing he declares to the Colossians, particularly ch. Romans 1:27-29 and Romans 2:6-8. For that he preached this doctrine, in a fuller manner than any of the other apostles did, may be seen Acts 21:18-25. For though the other apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem had determined that the Gentiles should only keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, &c. &c. yet it is plain enough from what they say, Acts 21:20-24 that they taught not fully, what St. Paul openly declares to the Ephesians,—that the law of Moses was abolished by the death of Christ: (Ephesians 2:15.) so that St. Paul might in an eminent degree be termed the Apostle of the Gentiles. And in all this may be seen the goodness of God both to Jews and Gentiles. See Ephesians 2:15. A commentator observes, that the Apostle calls it his Gospel, because he was the man especially singled out and commissioned to preach it. He might also call it his Gospel, to distinguish it from that which was preached by some others, who mixed law and gospel together. But I cannot think, with Mr. Locke, that the Apostle intended to distinguish it from that which St. Peter and St. James taught; who, though they were apostles of the circumcision, do not appear from either of their epistles, to have held any sentiments inconsistent with what St. Paul taught. St. Peter particularly wrote his epistles to Gentile converts; and is as clear in giving them a full place in the church, and all the honours of the people of God, upon their faith in Christ, as St. Paul himself: nor can we form any argument as to his sentiments, from his blameable conduct, Galatians 2:12 for that was an error of infirmity, not of judgment. By the revelation of the mystery, the Apostle means the calling of the Gentiles, as appears from the next verse; Now is made known to all nations, or, to all the nations,—for the obedience of faith. The original, rendered since the world began, is χρονοις αιωνιοις ; that is, in the secular times, or the times under the law. Why the times under the law were called χρονοι αιωνιοι, we may find a reason in their jubilees, which were αιωνες, saecula, or ages; by which all the time under the law was measured; and so χρονοι αιωνιοι, are used, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2. And αιωνες are put for the times of the law, or the jubilees, Luke 1:70, Acts 3:21, 1 Corinthians 2:7, and 1 Corinthians 10:11, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:26, Hebrews 9:26. So Exodus 21:6. εις τον αιωνα, signifies not as we translate it, for ever, but "to the jubilee:" which will appear, if we compare Leviticus 25:39-41 and Exodus 21:2. Now that the times of the law, were the times here spoken of by St. Paul, seems plain from that which he declares to have continued a mystery during all those times; namely, God's purpose of taking in the Gentiles to be his people under the Messiah: for this could not be said to be mystery at any other time than that, when the Jews were separated to be the peculiar people of God: before that time there was no such name or idea of distinction as Gentiles; before the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the calling of the Israelites to be God's peculiar people was as much a mystery, as the calling of the Gentiles was a mystery afterwards. All thatSt. Paul insists upon here, and in all the places where he mentions this mystery, is to shew, that, though God had declared this his purpose to the Jews, by the predictions of his prophets among them, yet it lay concealed from their knowledge; it was a mystery to them; they understood no such thing: there was not any where the least suspicion or thought of it; till, the Messiah being come, it was openly declared by St. Paul to the Jews and Gentiles, and made out by the writings of the prophets, which were now understood. See Locke, and Burthogge's excellent pamphlet, intitled, "Christianity a revealed Mystery."

Written to the Romans, &c.— The first verse of this chapter justifies part of this note; but as the most ancient manuscripts have not these notes, and some of them are plainly contrary to passages in the epistles to which they are affixed, they are not to be esteemed of any authority. See Wetstein.

Inferences.—What an advantage is the Christian religion to friendship and good manners! It teaches us to pay civil respect to all ranks and degrees of persons, in such chaste and decent modes of salutation, as are customary in the age and country in which we live; it obliges us to be grateful for benefits, and to make the best returns of love and kindness that we are capable of; it gives a holy turn to civility and genteel behaviour, and makes us sincere in wishing the spiritual and eternal, as well as temporal prosperity of our friends; and it disposes one Gospel church to receive the members of another, when duly recommended to their holy fellowship. How concerned should Christians, whether men or women, be to excel in piety, to enter into Christian communion, and to be serviceable in their respective spheres, to the whole body! How amiable are those families which resemble a church of Christ in their worship, order, and conversation! And, Oh! what an honour is it to be first and eminent in the faith and profession of the Gospel! How careful should private Christians, as well as others, be, to judge for themselves in matters of religion, according to the doctrine which they have learnt from Christ and his apostles; and to guard against and avoid those who would cause divisions and offences, by broaching errors among them! Whatever may be the plausible pretences, fair shews, and flattering speeches of seducers, they are secretly carrying on some selfish and carnal views to deceive weak, though sincere souls. But it behoves us to be so wise as to know the truth, and not to be imposed upon by others; and so honest as to act up to our knowledge, and not impose upon them. What a busy adversary is the devil in promoting pernicious principles and practices, to the disturbance and corruption of the church! But it is the comfort and encouragement of all the faithful saints, that the God of peace will entirely subdue him under their feet shortly. How excellent is the Gospel of the grace of God! It is of ancient date, and of divine original; it harmonizes with the Old Testament Scriptures; and is now made known in all its light and glory, according to the commandment of the eternal God: the great subject of this Gospel is Jesus Christ, and salvation through him; it extends its blessings to sinners of all nations; and wherever it is sent by an overruling Providence, it ought to be received with a divine faith, that we may subject our consciences to the authority of God in it, and yield all holy obedience to him, from a principle of faith in Christ, according to it; and that we may ascribe all possible honour to the only-wise God, who is able to establish us in it; to whom be glory, through Jesus Christ, both now and for ever. Amen.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Apostle now takes his leave of them:

1. With commending to them the bearer. I commend unto you Phebe our sister in the Lord, which is a servant, or a deaconness, of the church which is at Cenchrea, in the neighbourhood of Corinth. She was one of those who devoted her time and substance to the service of the cause of Christ: probably her house served for the assemblies of the church, and she entertained those who came to preach the Gospel among them. Therefore he desires, That they would receive her in the Lord, with all holy affection, in the Redeemer's name and for his sake, as becometh saints, such as ye profess yourselves to be; and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you, shewing her every mark of kindness and respect: for she hath been a succourer of many, and has most hospitably received and entertained them; and of myself also; and with gratitude therefore I desire to acknowledge her kindness and generosity. Note; The least return that we can make for favours, is to testify our gratitude to our kind benefactors.

2. He sends his affectionate salutations to many at Rome.

[1.] To Priscilla and Aquila, of whom he speaks with the deepest regard as his helpers in Christ Jesus, who had been particularly assistant to him in labours at Corinth, and had for his life laid down their own necks, and, when he was in danger, rescued him at the hazard of their lives, Acts 18:12-17. For which noble instance of generous love, says he, not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles, who owe the continuance of my ministry to their zeal and interposition. Likewise greet the church that is in their house; either their family, who were all professors of the faith; or the saints who usually assembled there for public worship.

[2.] To Epenetus, whom he entitles his well-beloved. So tenderly affectionate was the Apostle's heart towards his spiritual children, and especially to Epenetus, as being the first-fruits of his ministry in Achaia unto Christ and the earnest of that plenteous harvest which followed.

[3.] To Mary, whom he distinguishes as having bestowed much labour on us, peculiarly assiduous in every kind office of love towards me and my fellow-labourers.

[4.] To Andronicus and Junia, whom some suppose to be husband and wife, but others more probably to be brothers. They were Jews, near kinsmen probably to the Apostle, had been endeared to him by confinement in the same prison for Christ, were persons eminent for their gifts, graces, sufferings, and services; and he adds to their honour, who were in Christ before me, called among the earliest converts, and preaching the faith while he destroyed it.

[5.] To divers others, the most of whom he mentions with some note of distinction. Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord, who bears his image, and is most amiable in the relation wherein he stands to the same divine Master. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and fellow-labourer in the glorious Gospel; and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles, approved in Christ, whose constancy and fidelity have appeared in many trials. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. Salute Herodion, my kinsman both in the flesh and in the Spirit. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord, vitally united by faith unto him. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, those excellent women who labour in the Lord, in their place and station indefatigable to serve the interests of the Gospel. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord, remarkably diligent in her sphere to advance the cause of God. Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, eminent for gifts and graces; and his mother and mine, whose kindness to me lays me under such obligations of filial love as if I were by birth her son. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them, and belong to their families, from the highest to the lowest. Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them, of their respective households. Salute one another with an holy kiss, loving one another out of a pure heart fervently. The churches of Christ salute you, joining me in the most affectionate remembrances, prayers, and good wishes.

2nd, Having testified his own warm affection towards them, and sought to unite them in mutual love, he adds,

1. A solemn caution. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences, so opposite to the spirit of vital Christianity, and so contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned. Mark with holy jealousy those deceivers, who, under plausible presences of greater purity of worship, rend the peace of the church, and avoid them, join not with them in communion, and shun, as the greatest evil, whatever would introduce or perpetuate needless divisions.

2. He discovers to them the true character of these pretenders, as the strongest argument to avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ; whatever plausible presences and professions they make, they have not really his glory and interest at heart, but their own belly, designing some mean, selfish, sinister, worldly advantage; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, who credulously follow them in their destructive ways. Of you I know better things; for your obedience is come abroad unto all men, and, to your honour, mention is made through all the churches of your professed and exemplary subjection to the Gospel of Christ. I am glad therefore on your behalf, that you are so well established, and have not been beguiled by these false teachers: but yet, knowing the weakness of human nature, and the subtilty of deceivers, I warn you to watch against their first efforts; for I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil, cautious to discern truth from error, and joining the wisdom of the serpent to the harmlessness of the dove.

3. He expresses his confidence in the Lord's preservation of them from all their enemies and seducers. Now the God of peace, to whose blessing and protection I have recommended you, shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly, and all his instruments, though never so crafty. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, to strengthen, stablish, settle you, and make you more than conquerors. Amen! Note; (1.) None do the devil's work more effectually than those who foment needless divisions among the people of God. (2.) The time is short; if faith and patience hold out, we shall be placed for ever out of the reach of sin and Satan, and reign triumphant with Him who shall make our foes become our footstool.

3rdly, As the Apostle had before saluted many of the saints by name, he adds,

1. The affectionate remembrances of some of those who were at present his companions, Timotheus my work-fellow, as a son with a father, serving with me in the Gospel, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, as the Apostle's amanuensis, salute you in the Lord. Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, whose hospitable doors are ever open to the saints, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you; such had been his high office, and perhaps he still continued in his post, though converted to the faith; and Quartus a brother in Christ Jesus; for all who have him for their Saviour, have one Father, even God.

2. He repeats his fervent prayers for their spiritual prosperity. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. May you experience his pardoning, comforting, strengthening, sanctifying grace below, and come to his complete and eternal glory above. Amen! I pray that it may be so.

4thly, Once and again, when he seemed to have closed his Epistle, some new matter arose to his mind; here he solemnly takes his leave of them.

1. He commends them to God and the word of his grace. Now I commend you to him that is of power to stablish you, according to my Gospel, which, by divine authority commissioned, I here declare unto you, and according to the preaching of Jesus Christ, agreeably to what he himself taught, and I speak in his name, pointing him out as the great sum and substance of the Gospel, the hope and help of his believing people; according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, wholly hid from the Gentiles, and but obscurely intimated to the Jews in types and dark prophesies; but now is made manifest by the ministry of the divinely illuminated servants of Jesus, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, which, having received their accomplishment, are unveiled, and clearly understood; according to the commandment of the everlasting God, who has given his ministers an express commission to declare the purposes of his grace, that they might be made known to all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews; for this glorious end that they might be brought to the obedience of faith, receiving the testimony of his word, and from the divine principle of faith, which worketh by love, engaged to walk before him in righteousness and true holiness.

2. He concludes with a doxology. To God only wise, essentially wise in himself, and seen especially to be so in the amazing contrivance of the Gospel method of salvation, be glory and honour ascribed, through Jesus Christ the only Mediator, for ever. Amen. May his saints on earth perpetuate with their latest breath his praises! and in heaven he shall for ever be to all his hosts the glorious object of their unceasing adorations. Amen and Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 16:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/romans-16.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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