Romans 16

CHAPTER XVI.

The apostle commends to the Christians at Rome Phoebe, a

deaconess of the Church at Cenchrea, 1, 2.

Sends greetings to Aquila and Priscilla, of whom he gives a

high character; and greets also the Church at their house, 3-5.

Mentions several others by name, both men and women, who were

members of the Church of Christ at Rome, 6-16.

Warns them to beware of those who cause dissensions and

divisions, of whom he gives an awful character, 17, 18.

Extols the obedience of the Roman Christians, and promises them

a complete victory over Satan, 19, 20.

Several persons send their salutations, 21-23.

To whose good wishes he subjoins the apostolic blessing;

commends them to God; gives own abstract of the doctrines of

the Gospel: and concludes with ascribing glory to the only wise

God, through Christ Jesus, 24-27.

NOTES ON CHAP. XVI.

Verse 1. I commend unto you Phoebe] As the apostle had not

been at Rome previously to his writing this epistle, he could not

have had a personal acquaintance with those members of the Church

there to whom he sends these friendly salutations. It is likely

that many of them were his own converts, who, in different parts

of Asia Minor and Greece, had heard him preach the Gospel, and

afterwards became settlers at Rome.

Phoebe is here termed a servant, διακονον, a deaconess of the

Church at Cenchrea. There were deaconesses in the primitive

Church, whose business it was to attend the female converts at

baptism; to instruct the catechumens, or persons who were

candidates for baptism; to visit the sick, and those who were in

prison, and, in short, perform those religious offices for the

female part of the Church which could not with propriety be

performed by men. They were chosen in general out of the most

experienced of the Church, and were ordinarily widows, who had

borne children. Some ancient constitutions required them to be

forty, others fifty, and others sixty years of age. It is evident

that they were ordained to their office by the imposition of the

hands of the bishop; and the form of prayer used on the occasion

is extant in the apostolical constitutions. In the tenth or

eleventh century the order became extinct in the Latin Church, but

continued in the Greek Church till the end of the twelfth century.

See Broughton's Dictionary, article deaconess.

Cenchrea was a sea-port on the east side of the isthmus which

joined the Morea to Greece, as the Lechaeum was the sea-port on

the west side of the same isthmus. These were the only two havens

and towns of any note, next to Corinth, that belonged to this

territory. As the Lechaeum opened the road to the Ionian sea, so

Cenchrea opened the road to the AEgean; and both were so

advantageously situated for commerce that they were very rich.

These two places are now usually denominated the Gulf of Lepanto,

and the Gulf of Ingia or Egina. It was on the isthmus, between

these two ports, which was about six miles wide, that the Isthmian

games were celebrated; to which St. Paul makes such frequent

allusions.

Verse 2. Succourer of many] One who probably entertained the

apostles and preachers who came to minister at Cenchrea, and who

was remarkable for entertaining strangers. See Clarke on Ro 12:8.

Verse 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila] This pious couple had

been obliged to leave Rome, on the edict of Claudius, see

Ac 18:2, and take refuge in Greece. It is likely that they

returned to Rome at the death of Claudius, or whenever the decree

was annulled. It seems they had greatly contributed to assist the

apostle in his important labours. Instead of Priscilla, the

principal MSS. and versions have Prisca, which most critics

suppose to be the genuine reading.

Verse 4. Who have for my life laid down their own necks] What

transaction this refers to we know not; but it appears that these

persons had, on some occasion, hazarded their own lives to save

that of the apostle; and that the fact was known to all the

Churches of God in that quarter, who felt themselves under the

highest obligations to these pious persons, for the important

service which they had thus rendered.

Verse 5. The Church that is in their house.] In these

primitive times no such places existed as those which we now term

churches; the word always signifying the congregation or assembly

of believers, and not the place they assembled in. See the term

defined at the end of the notes, Mt 16:28.

Epenetus-the first fruits of Achaia] In 1Co 16:15,

the house or family of Stephanas is said to be the first fruits of

Achaia: how then can it be said here, that Epenetus was the first

fruits, or first person who had received the Gospel in that

district? Ans.-Epenetus might have been one of the family of

Stephanas; for it is not said that Stephanas was the first fruits,

but his house or family; and there can be no impropriety in

supposing that one of that house or family was called Epenetus;

and that this person, being the only one of the family now at

Rome, might be mentioned as the first fruits of Achaia; that is,

one of that family which first received the Gospel in that

country. This would rationally account for the apparent

difficulty, were we sure that αχαιας, of Achaia, was the true

reading: but this is more than doubtful, for ασιας, of Asia, is

the reading of ABCDEFG, some others; the Coptic, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala; and some of the chief of the

fathers. On this evidence Griesbach has admitted it into the

text. Yet the other reading is sufficiently natural, for the

reasons already assigned.

Verse 6. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.] Who

this Mary was, or what the labour was which she bestowed upon the

apostles, we know not. Her works, though hidden from man, are

with God; and her name is recorded with honour in this book of

life.

Verse 7. Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen] As the word

συγγενεις signifies relatives, whether male or female, and as

Junia may probably be the name of a woman, the wife of Andronicus,

it would be better to say relatives than kinsmen. But probably

St. Paul means no more than that they were Jews; for, in Ro 9:3,

he calls all the Jews his kinsmen according to the flesh.

My fellow prisoners] As Paul was in prison often, it is likely

that these persons shared this honour with him on some occasion,

which is not distinctly marked.

Of note among the apostles] Whether this intimates that they

were noted apostles or only highly reputed by the apostles, is not

absolutely clear; but the latter appears to me the most probable.

They were not only well known to St. Paul, but also to the rest of

the apostles.

In Christ before me.] That is, they were converted to

Christianity before Paul was; probably at the day of pentecost, or

by the ministry of Christ himself, or by that of the seventy

disciples.

Verse 8. Amplias, my beloved in the Lord.] One who is my

particular friend, and also a genuine Christian.

Verse 9. Urbane, our helper] Who this Urbanus was we know

not; what is here stated is, that he had been a fellow labourer

with the apostles.

Stachys, my beloved.] One of my particular friends.

Verse 10. Apelles, approved in Christ] A man who, on

different occasions, had given the highest proofs of the sincerity

and depth of his religion. Some suppose that Apelles was the same

with Apollos: whoever he was, he had given every demonstration of

being a genuine Christian.

Of Aristobulus' household.] It is doubted whether this person

was converted, as the apostle does not salute him, but his

household; or as the margin reads, his friends. He might have

been a Roman of considerable distinction, who, though not

converted himself, had Christians among his servants or his

slaves. But, whatever he was, it is likely that he was dead at

this time, and therefore those of his household only are referred

to by the apostle.

Verse 11. Herodion, my kinsman.] Probably another converted

Jew. See Clarke on Ro 16:7.

Of the household of Narcissus] Probably dead also, as we have

supposed Aristobulus to have been at this time.

Which are in the Lord.] This might intimate that some of this

family were not Christians; those only of that family that were

converted to the Lord being saluted. There was a person of the

name of Narcissus, who was a freed man of the Emperor Claudius,

mentioned by Suetonius in his life of that prince, cap. 37; and by

Tacitus, An., lib. xii. cap. 57: but there does not seem any

reason to suppose that this was the person designed by St. Paul.

Verse 12. Tryphena and Tryphosa] Two holy women, who it seems

were assistants to the apostle in his work, probably by exhorting,

visiting the sick, &c. Persis was another woman, who it seems

excelled the preceding; for, of her it is said, she laboured much

in the Lord. We learn from this, that Christian women, as well as

men, laboured in the ministry of the word. In those times of

simplicity all persons, whether men or women, who had received the

knowledge of the truth, believed it to be their duty to propagate

it to the uttermost of their power. Many have spent much useless

labour in endeavouring to prove that these women did not preach.

That there were some prophetesses, as well as prophets in the

Christian Church, we learn; and that a woman might pray or

prophesy, provided she had her head covered, we know; and that

whoever prophesied spoke unto others to edification, exhortation,

and comfort, St. Paul declares, 1Co 14:3. And that no preacher

can do more, every person must acknowledge; because to edify,

exhort, and comfort, are the prime ends of the Gospel ministry.

If women thus prophesied, then women preached. There is,

however, much more than this implied in the Christian ministry, of

which men only, and men called of God, are capable.

Verse 13. Rufus, chosen in the Lord] τονεκλεκον, one of

great excellence in Christianity; a choice man, as we would say.

So the word εκλεκτος often signifies. Ps 78:31:

They smote τουςεκλεκτους, the chosen men that were of Israel.

So εκλεκταμνημεια are choice sepulchres, Ge 23:6: εκλεκτα

τωνδωρων choice gifts, De 12:11; and ανδρεςεκλεκτοι,

choice men, Jud 20:16. By the same use of the word, the

companions of Paul and Barnabas are termed chosen men,

εκλεξαμενουςανδρας, persons in whom the Church of God could

confide. See Whitby.

His mother and mine.] It is not likely that the mother of

Rufus was the mother of Paul; but while she was the natural mother

of the former, she acted as a mother to the latter. We say of a

person of this character, that she is a motherly woman. Among the

ancients, he or she who acted a kind, instructing, and indulgent

part to another, was styled the father or mother of such a one.

So Terence:-

Natura tu illi pater es, consiliis ego.

Adelphi, Act. i. scen. 2, ver. 47.

Thou art his father by nature, I by instruction.

Verse 14. Salute Asyncritus, &c.] Who these were we know not.

Hermas was probably the same to whom a work called the Shepherd is

attributed; a work with this title is still extant, and may be

found among the writings of the apostolical fathers. But it is in

vain to look for identity of persons in similarity of names;

for, among the Greeks and Romans at this time there were many

persons who bore the same names mentioned in this chapter.

Verse 15. Salute Philologus, &c.] Of these several persons,

though much has been conjectured, nothing certain is known. Even

the names of some are so ambiguous that we know not whether they

were men or women. They were persons well known to St. Paul, and

undoubtedly were such as had gone from different places where the

apostle had preached to sojourn or settle at Rome. One thing we

may remark, that there is no mention of St. Peter, who, according

to the Roman and papistical catalogue of bishops, must have been

at Rome at this time; if he were not now at Rome, the foundation

stone of Rome's ascendancy, of Peter's supremacy, and of the

uninterrupted succession, is taken away, and the whole fabric

falls to the ground. But if Peter were at Rome at this time, Paul

would have sent his salutations to him in the first place; and

if Peter were there, he must have been there, according to the

papistical doctrine, as bishop and vicar of Jesus Christ; but if

he were there, is it likely that he should have been passed by,

while Andronicus and Junia are mentioned as of note among the

apostles, Ro 16:7,

and that St. Paul should call on the people to remedy the

disorders that had crept in among themselves; should not these

directions have been given to Peter, the head of the Church? And

if there were a Church, in the papistical sense of the word,

founded there, of which Peter was the head, is it likely that that

Church should be in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, Ro 16:5.

But it is a loss of time to refute such ridiculous and groundless

pretensions. It is very likely that Peter, so far from being

universal bishop at Rome, never saw the city in his life.

Verse 16. Salute one another with a holy kiss.] In those

early times the kiss, as a token of peace, friendship, and

brotherly love, was frequent among all people; and the Christians

used it in their public assemblies, as well as in their occasional

meetings. This was at last laid aside, not because it was abused,

but because, the Church becoming very numerous, the thing was

impossible. In some countries the kiss of friendship is still

common; and in such countries it is scarcely ever abused, nor is

it an incentive to evil, because it is customary and common.

Shaking of hands is now substituted for it in almost all Christian

congregations.

The Churches of Christ salute you.] The word πασαι, ALL, is

added here by some of the most reputable MSS. and principal

versions; and Griesbach has received it into his text. St. Paul

must mean, here, that all the Churches in Greece and Asia, through

which he had passed, in which the faith of the Christians at Rome

was known, spoke of them affectionately and honourably; and

probably knowing the apostle's design of visiting Rome, desired to

be kindly remembered to the Church in that city.

Verse 17. Mark them which cause divisions] Several MSS. read

ασφαλωςσκοπειτε, look sharply after them; let them have no kiss

of charity nor peace, because they strive to make divisions, and

thus set the flock of Christ at variance among themselves; and

from these divisions, offences (σκανδαλα, scandals) are produced;

and this is contrary to that doctrine of peace, unity, and

brotherly love which you have learned. Look sharply after such

that they do you no evil, and avoid them-give them no countenance,

and have no religious fellowship with them.

Verse 18. They-serve not our Lord Jesus] They profess to be

apostles, but they are not apostles of CHRIST; they neither do his

will, nor preach his doctrine; they serve their own belly-they

hate intruded themselves into the Church of Christ that they might

get a secular support; it is for worldly gain alone that they take

up the profession of the ministry: they have no Divine

credentials; they convert not the heathen nor the ungodly, for

they have no Divine unction; but by good words and fair speeches

(for they have no miraculous nor saving powers) deceive the hearts

of the simple, perverting Christian converts, that they may get

their property, and thus secure a maintenance for themselves. The

Church of God has ever been troubled with such pretended

pastors-men who FEED themselves, not the flock; men who are too

proud to beg, and too lazy to work; who have neither grace nor

gifts to plant the standard of the cross on the devil's

territories, and by the power of Christ make inroads upon his

kingdom, and spoil him of his subjects. On the contrary, by

sowing the seeds of dissension, by means of doubtful disputations,

and the propagation of scandals; by glaring and insinuating

speeches, χρηστολογιας, for they affect elegance and good

breeding, they rend Christian congregations, form a party for

themselves, and thus live on the spoils of the Church of God.

Should it be asked, Whom do you intend by this description?

I answer: No soul, nor party, but such as the description suits.

Irasceris.?-De TE fabula narratur. O, you are angry, are you? O,

then, the cap fits you-put it on.

Verse 19. For your obedience is come abroad] The apostle

gives this as a reason why they should continue to hear and heed

those who had led them into the path of truth, and avoid those

false teachers whose doctrines tended to the subversion of their

souls.

Yet I would have you wise] I would wish you carefully to

discern the good from the evil, and to show your wisdom, by

carefully avoiding the one and cleaving to the other.

Verse 20. The God of peace] Who neither sends nor favours

such disturbers of the tranquillity of his Church.

Shall bruise Satan] Shall give you the dominion over the great

adversary of your souls, and over all his agents who, through his

influence, endeavour to destroy your peace and subvert your minds.

Several critics suppose that the word Satan is a sort of

collective term here, by which all opposers and adversaries are

meant; and especially those false teachers to whom he refers

above.

The grace of our Lord] That you may be truly wise simple,

obedient, and steady in the truth, may the favour or gracious

influence of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you! without which you

cannot be preserved from evil, nor do any thing that is good.

Here the apostle appears to have intended to conclude his

epistle; but afterwards he added a postscript, if not two, as we

shall see below. Several ancient MSS. omit the whole of this

clause, probably thinking that it had been borrowed from

Ro 16:24; but on the ground that the apostle might have added a

postscript or two, not having immediate opportunity to send the

epistle there is no need for this supposition.

Verse 21. Timotheus my workfellow] This is on all hands

allowed to be the same Timothy to whom St. Paul directs the two

epistles which are still extant. See some account of him in the

notes on Ac 16:1, &c.

Lucius] This was probably Luke the evangelist, and writer of

the book called The Acts of the Apostles. For a short account of

him see the Preface to that book.

Jason] It is likely that this is the same person mentioned

Ac 17:7, who at Thessalonica received the apostles into his

house, and befriended them at the risk both of his property and

life.

Sosipater] He was a Berean, the son of one Pyrrhus, a Jew, by

birth, and accompanied St. Paul from Greece into Asia, and

probably into Judea. See Ac 20:4.

Verse 22. I Tertius, who wrote this epistle] Some eminent

commentators suppose Tertius to be the same with Silas-the

companion of St. Paul. If this were so, it is strange that the

name which is generally given him elsewhere in Scripture should

not be used in this place. I have already noticed (Preface, page

v.) that some learned men have supposed that St. Paul wrote this

epistle in Syriac, and that Tertius translated it into Greek; but

this can never agree with the declaration here: I Tertius, who

wrote, γραψαςτηνεπιστολην, this epistle; not translated or

interpreted it. It appears that St. Paul dictated it to him, and

he wrote it down from the apostle's mouth; and here introduces

himself as joining with St. Paul in affectionate wishes for their

welfare.

Salute you in the Lord.] I wish you well in the name of the

Lord: or, I feel for you that affectionate respect which the grace

of the Lord Jesus inspires. It is not clear whether the two

following verses be the words of Tertius or St. Paul.

Verse 23. Gaius mine host] Gaius in Greek is the same as

Caius in Latin, which was a very common name among the Romans.

St. Luke (Ac 19:29)

mentions one Gaius of Macedonia, who was exposed to much violence

at Ephesus in the tumult excited by Demetrius the silversmith

against St. Paul and his companions; and it is very possible that

this was the same person. He is here called not only the host

ξενος, the entertainer of St. Paul, or Tertius, (if he wrote this

and the following verse,) but also of the whole Church: that is,

he received and lodged the apostles who came from different

places, as well as the messengers of the Churches. All made his

house their home; and he must have been a person of considerable

property to be able to bear this expense; and of much piety and

love to the cause of Christ, else he had not employed that

property in this way.

Erastus the chamberlain of the city] Treasurer of the city of

Corinth, from which St. Paul wrote this epistle. This is supposed

to be the same person as is mentioned Ac 19:22. He was one of

St. Paul's companions, and, as appears from 2Ti 4:20, was left

about this time by the apostle at Corinth. He is called the

chamberlain οικονομος, which signifies the same as treasurer; he

to whom the receipt and expenditure of the public money were

intrusted. He received the tolls, customs, &c., belonging to the

city, and out of them paid the public expenses. Such persons were

in very high credit; and if Erastus was at this time treasurer, it

would appear that Christianity was then in considerable repute in

Corinth. But if the Erastus of the Acts was the same with the

Erastus mentioned here, it is not likely that he now held the

office, for this could not at all comport with his travelling with

St. Paul. Hence several, both ancients and moderns, who believe

the identity of the persons, suppose that Erastus was not now

treasurer, but that having formerly been so he still retained the

title. Chrysostom thought that he still retained the employment.

Quartus a brother.] Whether the brother of Erastus or of

Tertius we know not; probably nothing more is meant than that he

was a Christian-one of the heavenly family, a brother in the Lord.

Verse 24. The grace of our Lord] This is the conclusion of

Tertius, and is similar to what St. Paul used above. Hence it is

possible that Tertius wrote the whole of the 22d, 23rd, and 24th

verses, Ro 16:22-24 without receiving any particular

instructions from St. Paul, except the bare permission to add his

own salutations with those of his particular friends.

There is a great deal of disagreement among the MSS. and

versions relative to this verse; some rejecting it entirely, and

some of those which place the following verses at the end of

Ro 14:23, inserting it at the end of the 27th verse in that

place. The reader who chooses may consult Wetstein and Griesbach

on these discordances.

Verse 25. Now to him] In Clarke's note at "Ro 14:23", I have

shown that this and the following verses are by the most reputable MSS.

and versions placed at the end of that chapter, which is supposed

by most critics to be their proper place. Some of the arguments

adduced in favour of this transposition may be found in the note

above mentioned. I shall therefore refer to Griesbach, and

proceed to make a few short remarks on the verses as they occur

here.

Of power to stablish you] To that God, without whom nothing is

wise, nothing strong; who is as willing to teach as he is wise;

as ready to help as he is strong.

According to my Gospel] That Gospel which explains and

publishes God's purpose of taking the Gentiles to be his people

under the Messiah, without subjecting them to the law of Moses.

This is what he here calls the preaching of Jesus Christ; for

without this he did not think, as Mr. Locke observes, that Christ

vas preached to the Gentiles as he ought to be; and therefore in

several places of his epistle to the Galatians he calls it the

truth, and the truth of the Gospel, and uses the like expressions

to the Ephesians and Colossians. 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 a minister. And it is probable that

this grand mystery of bringing the Gentiles into the kingdom of

God, without passing through the rites of the Mosaic law, was

revealed more particularly to St. Paul than to any other of the

apostles, and that he preached it more pointedly, and certainly

with more success. See Taylor and Locke.

Which was kept secret] This purpose of calling the Gentiles,

and giving them equal privileges to the Jews, without obliging

them to submit to circumcision, &c.

Verse 26. But now is made manifest] Now, under the New

Testament dispensation, and by my preaching.

By the scriptures of the prophets] Hints relative to this

important work being scattered up and down through all their

works, but no clear revelation that the Gentiles, who should be

admitted into the Church, should be admitted without passing under

the yoke of the Mosaic law. This was the point which was kept

secret: as to the calling of the Gentiles, this was declared in

general terms by the prophets, and the apostle quotes and makes a

most important use of their predictions; but the other was a point

on which the prophets gave no information, and it seems to have

been peculiarly revealed to St. Paul, who received the commandment

of the everlasting God to make it known ειςπανταταεθνη, to all

the Gentiles-all the people of the earth that were not of Jewish

extraction. And it was to be made known for the obedience of

faith, that they might believe its doctrines and obey its

precepts; its universal voice requiring repentance towards God,

faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and circumcision of the heart, in

the place of all Jewish rites and ceremonies.

Verse 27. To God only wise] This comes in with great

propriety. He alone who is the fountain of wisdom and knowledge,

had all this mystery in himself; and he alone who knew the times,

places, persons, and circumstances, could reveal the whole; and he

has revealed all in such a way as not only to manifest his

unsearchable wisdom, but also his infinite goodness: therefore, to

him be glory for his wisdom in devising this most admirable plan;

and his goodness in sending Christ Jesus to execute it; to Him,

through Christ Jesus, be glory for ever! Because this plan is to

last for ever; and is to have no issue but in eternal glory.

Written to the Romans from Corinthus, &c.] That this epistle

was written from Corinth is almost universally believed. That

Phoebe was a deaconess of the Church at Cenchrea, we have seen in

the first verse of this chapter; and that the epistle might have

been sent by her to Rome is possible; but that she should have

been the writer of the epistle, as this subscription states,

εγραφηδιαφοιβης, is false, for Ro 16:22 shows that Tertius was

the writer, though by inserting the words and sent, we represent

her rather as the carrier than the writer. This subscription,

however, stands on very questionable grounds. It is wanting in

almost all the ancient MSS.; and even of those which are more

modern, few have it entirely, as in our common editions. It has

already been noted that the subscriptions to the sacred books are

of little or no authority, all having been added in latter times,

and frequently by injudicious hands. The most ancient have simply

To the Romans, or the Epistle to the Romans is finished. The word

Amen was seldom added by the inspired writers, and here it is

wanting in almost all the ancient MSS. As this was a word in

frequent use in religious services, pious people would naturally

employ it in finishing the reading or copying of this epistle, as

they would thereby express their conviction of the truth of its

contents, and their desire that the promises contained in it might

be fulfilled to them and to the Church at large; and in this sense

the word is not only harmless but useful. May the fulness of the

Gentiles be brought in, and may all Israel be saved! This is

treated of at large in this epistle; and to this prayer let every

pious reader say AMEN! Often this word seems to be used as we use

the word finis, i.e. the end. See the observations on this word

at the end of the Gospel of John.

BEFORE I conclude this work, I shall beg leave to add several

important observations, chiefly extracted from Dr. Taylor.

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