DIRECTIONS, AND A
1. I commend unto you Phœbebe our sister, which is a servant--or
of the church which is at Cenchrea--The word is "Cenchreæ," the
eastern part of Corinth
That in the earliest churches there were deaconesses, to attend to the
wants of the female members, there is no good reason to doubt. So early
at least as the reign of Trajan, we learn from PLINY'S celebrated letter to that emperor--A.D. 110, or 111--that they existed in the Eastern
churches. Indeed, from the relation in which the sexes then stood to
each other, something of this sort would seem to have been a necessity.
Modern attempts, however, to revive this office have seldom found
favor; either from the altered state of society, or the abuse of the
office, or both.
2. Receive her in the Lord--that is, as a genuine disciple of the Lord
becometh saints--so as saints should receive saints.
assist her in whatsoever business she hath--"may have"
need of you--some private business of her own.
for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also--(See
3-5. Salute Priscilla--The true reading here is "Prisca" (as in
a contracted form of Priscilla, as "Silas" of "Silvanus."
and Aquila my helpers--The wife is here named before the husband (as
and Ro 16:26,
according to the true reading; also in
probably as being the more prominent and helpful to the Church.
4. who have for my life laid down--"who did for my life lay down"
their own necks--that is, risked their lives; either at Corinth
(Ac 18:6, 9, 10),
or more probably at Ephesus
(Ac 19:30, 31;
They must have returned from Ephesus (where we last find them in the
history of the Acts) to Rome, whence the edict of Claudius had banished
and doubtless, if not the principal members of that Christian
community, they were at least the most endeared to our apostle.
unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the
Gentiles--whose special apostle this dear couple had rescued from
5. Likewise the church that is in their house--The Christian assembly
that statedly met there for worship. "From his occupation as tent-maker,
he had probably better accommodations for the meetings of the church
than most other Christians" [HODGE]. Probably this devoted couple had
written to the apostle such an account of the stated meetings at their
house, as made him feel at home with them, and include them in this
salutation, which doubtless would be read at their meetings with
Salute my well beloved Epænetus, who is the first-fruits--that is,
the first convert
of Achaia unto Christ--The true reading here, as appears by the
manuscripts, is, "the first-fruits of Asia unto Christ"--that is,
Proconsular Asia (see
it is said that "the household of Stephanas was the first-fruit of
Achaia"; and though if Epænetus was one of that family, the two
statements might be reconciled according to the received text, there is
no need to resort to this supposition, as that text is in this instance
without authority. Epænetus, as the first believer in that
region called Proconsular Asia, was dear to the apostle. (See
None of the names mentioned from
are otherwise known. One wonders at the number of them, considering
that the writer had never been at Rome. But as Rome was then the center
of the civilized world, to and from which journeys were continually
taken to the remotest parts, there is no great difficulty in supposing
that so active a travelling missionary as Paul would, in course of
time, make the acquaintance of a considerable number of the Christians
then residing at Rome.
6. Greet--or "salute"
Mary, who bestowed much labour on us--labor, no doubt, of a womanly
7. Andronicus and Junia--or, as it might be, "Junias," a contracted
form of "Junianus"; in this case, it is a man's name. But if, as is more
probable, the word be, as in our version, "Junia," the person meant was
no doubt either the wife or the sister of Andronicus.
my kinsmen--or, "relatives."
and my fellow prisoners--on what occasion, it is impossible to say,
as the apostle elsewhere tells us that he was "in prisons more frequent"
which are of note among the apostles--Those who think the word
"apostle" is used in a lax sense, in the Acts and Epistles, take this to
mean "noted apostles" [CHRYSOSTOM,
JOWETT]; others, who are not clear that the word
"apostle" is applied to any without the circle of the Twelve, save where
the connection or some qualifying words show that the literal meaning of
"one sent" is the thing intended, understand by the expression used
here, "persons esteemed by the apostles" [BEZA,
HODGE]. And of course, if "Junia" is
to be taken for a woman, this latter must be the meaning.
who also were in Christ before me--The apostle writes as if he envied
them this priority in the faith. And, indeed, if to be "in Christ" be
the most enviable human condition, the earlier the date of this blessed
translation, the greater the grace of it. This latter statement about
Andronicus and Junia seems to throw some light on the preceding one.
Very possibly they may have been among the first-fruits of Peter's
labors, gained to Christ either on the day of Pentecost or on some of
the succeeding days. In that case they may have attracted the special
esteem of those apostles who for some time resided chiefly at Jerusalem
and its neighborhood; and our apostle, though he came late in contact
with the other apostles, if he was aware of this fact, would have
pleasure in alluding to it.
8. Amplias--a contracted form of "Ampliatus."
my beloved in the Lord--an expression of dear Christian affection.
9, 10. Urbane--rather, "Urbanus." It is a man's name.
our helper--"fellow labourer"
10. Salute Apelles approved--"the approved"
in Christ--or, as we should say, "that tried Christian"; a noble
Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household--It would
seem, from what is said of Narcissus in
that this Aristobulus himself had not been a Christian; but that the
Christians of his household simply were meant; very possibly some of
11. Salute Herodion, my kinsman--(See on
Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the
Lord--which implies that others in his house, including probably
himself, were not Christians.
12. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord--two active
Salute the beloved Persis--another woman.
which laboured much in the Lord--referring probably, not to official
services, such as would fall to the deaconesses, but to such higher
Christian labors--yet within the sphere competent to woman--as Priscilla
bestowed on Apollos and others
13. Salute Rufus, chosen--"the chosen"
in the Lord--meaning, not "who is one of the elect," as every believer
is, but "the choice" or "precious one" in the Lord. (See
We read in
that Simon of Cyrene, who was compelled to bear our Lord's cross, was
"the father of Alexander and Rufus." From this we naturally conclude
that when Mark wrote his Gospel, Alexander and Rufus must have been
well known as Christians among those by whom he expected his Gospel to
be first read; and, in all likelihood, this was that very "Rufus"; in
which case our interest is deepened by what immediately follows about
his mother and mine--The apostle calls her "his own mother," not so
much as our Lord calls every elderly woman believer His mother
(Mt 12:49, 50),
but in grateful acknowledgment of her motherly attentions to himself,
bestowed no doubt for his Master's sake, and the love she bore to his
honored servants. To us it seems altogether likely that the conversion
of Simon the Cyrenian dated from that memorable day when "passing
[casually] by, as he came from the country"
"they compelled him to bear the" Saviour's cross. Sweet compulsion, if
what he thus beheld issued in his voluntarily taking up his own
cross! Through him it is natural to suppose that his wife would be
brought in, and that this believing couple, now "heirs together of the
grace of life"
as they told their two sons, Alexander and Rufus, what honor had
unwittingly been put upon their father at that hour of deepest and
dearest moment to all Christians, might be blessed to the inbringing of
both of them to Christ. In this case, supposing the elder of the two to
have departed to be with Christ ere this letter was written, or to have
been residing in some other place, and Rufus left alone with his
mother, how instructive and beautiful is the testimony here borne to
14, 15. Salute Asyncritus, &c.--These have been thought to be the
names of ten less notable Christians than those already named. But this
will hardly be supposed if it be observed that they are divided into two
pairs of five each, and that after the first of these pairs it is added,
"and the brethren which are with them," while after the second pair we
have the words, "and all the saints which are with them." This perhaps
hardly means that each of the five in both pairs had "a church at his
house," else probably this would have been more expressly said. But at
least it would seem to indicate that they were each a center of some few
Christians who met at his house--it may be for further instruction, for
prayer, for missionary purposes, or for some other Christian objects.
These little peeps into the rudimental forms which Christian fellowship
first took in the great cities, though too indistinct for more than
conjecture, are singularly interesting. Our apostle would seem to have
been kept minutely informed as to the state of the church at Rome, both
as to its membership and its varied activities, probably by Priscilla
16. Salute one another with an holy kiss--So
The custom prevailed among the Jews, and doubtless came from the East,
where it still obtains. Its adoption into the Christian churches, as
the symbol of a higher fellowship than it had ever expressed before,
was probably as immediate as it was natural. In this case the apostle's
desire seems to be that on receipt of his epistle, with its
salutations, they should in this manner expressly testify their
Christian affection. It afterwards came to have a fixed place in the
church service, immediately after the celebration of the Supper, and
continued long in use. In such matters, however, the state of society
and the peculiarities of different places require to be studied.
The churches of Christ salute you--The true reading is, "All the
churches"; the word "all" gradually falling out, as seeming probably to
express more than the apostle would venture to affirm. But no more seems
meant than to assure the Romans in what affectionate esteem they were
held by the churches generally; all that knew he was writing to Rome
having expressly asked their own salutations to be sent to them. (See
17. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and
offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned--"which ye
and avoid them--The fomentors of "divisions" here referred to are
probably those who were unfriendly to the truths taught in this epistle,
while those who caused "offenses" were probably those referred to in
as haughtily disregarding the prejudices of the weak. The direction as
to both is, first, to "mark" such, lest the evil should be done ere it
was fully discovered; and next, to "avoid" them (compare
2Th 3:6, 14),
so as neither to bear any responsibility for their procedure, nor seem
to give them the least countenance.
18. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ--"our Lord
Christ" appears to be the true reading.
but their own belly--not in the grosset sense, but as "living for low
ends of their own" (compare
and by good words and fair speeches deceive the simple--the unwary, the
19. For your obedience--that is, tractableness
is come abroad unto all. I am glad therefore on your behalf--"I
rejoice therefore over you," seems the true reading.
but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and
simple--"harmless," as in
from which the warning is taken.
evil--"Your reputation among the churches for subjection to the
teaching ye have received is to me sufficient ground of confidence in
you; but ye need the serpent's wisdom to discriminate between
transparent truth and plausible error, with that guileless simplicity
which instinctively cleaves to the one and rejects the other."
20. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly--The