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    CHAPTER 16


    1. I commend unto you Phœbebe our sister, which is a servant--or "deaconess"
    - of the church which is at Cenchrea--The word is "Cenchreæ," the eastern part of Corinth (Ac 18:18). 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 Jesus.
    - as--"so as"
    - 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 Ps 41:1-3; 2Ti 1:16-18).

    3-5. Salute Priscilla--The true reading here is "Prisca" (as in 2Ti 4:19), a contracted form of Priscilla, as "Silas" of "Silvanus."
    - and Aquila my helpers--The wife is here named before the husband (as in Ac 18:18, and Ro 16:26, according to the true reading; also in 2Ti 4:19), 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; and compare 1Co 15:32). 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 them (Ac 18:2); 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 imminent danger.

    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 peculiar interest.
    - 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 Ac 16:6). In 1Co 16:15 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 Ho 9:10; Mic 7:1). None of the names mentioned from Ro 16:5-15 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 kind.

    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" (2Co 11:23).
    - 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, LUTHER, CALVIN, BENGEL, OLSHAUSEN, THOLUCK, ALFORD, 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, GROTIUS, DE WETTE, MEYER, FRITZSCHE, STUART, PHILIPPI, 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"
    - in Christ.

    10. Salute Apelles approved--"the approved"
    - in Christ--or, as we should say, "that tried Christian"; a noble commendation.
    - Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household--It would seem, from what is said of Narcissus in Ro 16:11, that this Aristobulus himself had not been a Christian; but that the Christians of his household simply were meant; very possibly some of his slaves.

    11. Salute Herodion, my kinsman--(See on Ro 16:7).
    - 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 women.
    - 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 (Ac 18:18).

    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 1Pe 2:4; 2Jo 13). We read in Mr 15:21 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--salute.
    - 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" (Mr 15:21), "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" (1Pe 3:7), 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 her!

    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 and Aquila.

    16. Salute one another with an holy kiss--So 1Co 16:20; 1Th 5:26; 1Pe 5:14. 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 Ro 16:19).

    17. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned--"which ye learned."
    - 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 Ro 14:15 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 Php 3:19).
    - and by good words and fair speeches deceive the simple--the unwary, the unsuspecting. (See Pr 14:15).

    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 Mt 10:16, from which the warning is taken.
    - concerning--"unto"
    - 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 apostle%%%%


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