Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (56) Greetings for Friends in Rome

Romans 16:3-16


Scripture

3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household.
11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.


Commentary

3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Paul sends greetings to Priscilla and Aquila (see Acts 18:2, 3[1]), who had been such valiant fellow workers of his in the service of Christ Jesus. It is probable that they were converted under the preaching of Paul. Paul lived with them, and they had the advantage of his private instruction. How we can thank God for Christian couples who pour themselves out in sacrificial labor for the cause of Christ! This pious couple had been obliged to leave Rome, when Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. (see Acts 18:21), and take refuge in Greece. It is likely that they returned to Rome at the death of Claudius, or whenever the decree was annulled.
Here and in Acts 18:18, 19[2], and 2 Timothy 4:19[3], the wife’s name comes first, perhaps suggesting that she was the more distinguished in Christian service. In 1 Corinthians 16:19[4], where they send salutations, the husband’s name naturally comes first.

AQUILA [A kwil uh] — a Jewish Christian living in Corinth with his wife PRISCILLA at the time of Paul’s arrival from Athens (Acts 18:21). Aquila was born in PONTUS (located in Asia Minor) but lived in Rome until Claudius commanded that all Jews leave the city. He and Priscilla moved to Corinth, where Aquila took up his trade, tentmaking.

The apostle met this couple for the first time in Corinth, and when Paul left Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla traveled with him as far as Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19[4]), where they met Apollos and instructed him more thoroughly in the Christian faith (Acts 18:24–26[5]). Apparently, they returned to Rome, because Paul sent them greetings in his letter to the Romans.

PRISCILLA [prih SIL uh] — the wife of AQUILA and a zealous advocate of the Christian cause (1 Corinthians 16:19[4]). Her name is also given as PRISCA (2 Timothy 4:19[3]). Aquila and Priscilla left their home in Rome for Corinth when the emperor Claudius commanded all Jews to depart from the city (Acts 18:21). Thus, they were fellow passengers of the apostle Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts 18:18[2]), where they met Apollos and instructed him further in the Christian faith (Acts 18:26[5] ).

My helpers (i.e. my fellow laborers in the promotion of the gospel) — they had aided him in his work. A particular instance is mentioned in Acts 18:26[5]. They are mentioned as having been with Paul when he wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians; 1 Corinthians 16:19[4]. These active fellow-workers had first aided Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:21); then they went to Ephesus, and prepared the way for his work there (Acts 18:26[5]); they had now returned to Rome, their former home. Some have argued that this greeting could not have been sent to Rome, from the fact that Paul had left them at Ephesus. It was the natural thing for them to go back home, when they could safely do so, and Godet says that from two to three years had passed since Paul left them at Ephesus, which gives ample time for a change of residence.
_______________________verse 3 notes________________________________ 
[1](Acts 18:2, 3) “2And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” Here Paul met a Christian Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who had recently been, driven from Rome by the anti-Semitic activities of the empire at that time. There are inscriptions in the catacombs which hint that Priscilla was of a distinguished family of high standing in Rome. Later, in Ephesus, a church met in their home (see I Cor 16:19). In later years they apparently moved back to Rome (see Rom 16:3–5).”

[2](Acts 18:18, 19) “18And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews."  After remaining in Corinth yet a good while beyond the year and a half, he took Aquila and Priscilla and left for Ephesus. At this time we are told that he had shorn his head … for he had vowed a vow (vs. 18). Evidently, before leaving Corinth, he assumed a Nazarite vow and during the period of the vow allowed his hair to grow uncut and at the end of the period, cut his hair. While Paul strongly refused to allow the demand of the Old Testament law to be imposed upon Gentiles, he himself, as a Jew, continued to practice many of its demands in order to increase his effectiveness in Jewish evangelism. Arriving at Ephesus he left Aquila and Priscilla and there remaining only a short time himself and refusing their invitation to stay longer, he bade them farewell (vs. 21), or bid their leave. 
[3](2 Timothy 4:19) “19Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.” These last greetings show Paul’s deep concern for people. It shows God’s concern for people and even the smallest detail. Imagine the wonder that God included these items in the eternal Word of God. Prisca and Aquila are the close friends of Paul.
[4](1 Corinthians 16:19) “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” This couple, having been exiled from Rome (Acts 18:2), first met Paul in Corinth. They have since moved on to Ephesus (see Rom 16:3–5). The church that is in their house—apparently, wherever this couple went, they made their home a sanctuary where Christ was honored and believers gathered to share the Word together and worship.
[5](Acts 18:24-28 ) “24And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 27And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Aquila and Priscilla were impressed with Apolos’ ability and took him in and expounded the way of God more perfectly, implying that they brought him to a full understanding of the Christian gospel. Eventually he felt called to Corinth and departed, carrying with him the written recommendations of fellow believers in Ephesus. In Corinth he was greatly used of God in the apologetic ministry of convincing the Jews by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ (or Messiah). Notice that he used the Word of God as the focal point for his apologetic approach which resulted in a great number of conversions.

 

4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

On one occasion, Priscilla and Aquila actually risked their lives for Paul—a heroic act of which no details are given, but his life was frequently in peril of one sort or another. But the apostle is grateful, and so are the churches of converted Gentiles to whom he ministered. This makes it clear that the circumstance referred to was widely known, and suggests that it was not a very recent occurrence, since sufficient time had elapsed for the news to spread among the churches.

Paul was indeed grateful to them for their devotion to him; his statement about the gratitude of the churches not only is indicative of the deep-rooted affection which the churches felt for him, it expresses what he realized, without any self-congratulation, that his love and service for God among them was valuable to them.

The phrase “the churches of the Gentiles” signifies the churches which had been formed in the various gentile nations.

Laid down their own necks. To lay down the neck brings to mind a method of capital punishment still practiced in some parts of the world where the victim must lay his head on a block to be cut off with an axe; or to bow the head down to expose the neck so that it can be cut off by the sword of the executioner. The meaning is, that they had put their lives at risk, and had exposed themselves to imminent danger, to save the life of Paul. Seeing that Paul, lived with them (Acts 18:3[1]) and that he was often persecuted by the Jews, it is probable that he refers to one of those times when he was persecuted, and when Aquila and Priscilla took him into their house at the imminent risk of their lives.
We know from 2 Corinthians 11:23-27[6], that only a small part of his perils have been recorded. Also all the churches of the Gentiles are under a debt of gratitude to Priscilla and Aquila.
______________________verse 4 notes_________________________

[6] (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” Here Paul boasts of the cost of his commitment to Christ. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool). The expression is hypothetical. If they are ministers of Christ as they claim to be, then I am more. Discipleship cannot be purchased at bargain prices (Lk 9:23). The cost exacted of the Apostle Paul is measured by the tabulation which follows.

What Paul does here is demonstrate the depth of his commitment by delineating the sufferings and trials he endured because of it. In deaths oft (lit., “in many deaths”). This is tantamount to saying “I die daily” (I Cor 15:31). Forty stripes save one. Deuteronomy 25:3 forbids the Jews to inflict more than forty stripes upon an offender. Scrupulous in their observance of Moses’ law, they were in the habit of giving no more than 39 (so as not to go over the limit of the law). Once was I stoned (Acts 14:19). Thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep. Since Paul penned this letter long before the shipwreck recorded in Acts 27, it must be reckoned that the incidents of which he speaks find their mention in Scripture only here. There are numerous occasions recorded in Acts 13:1–2 when Paul traveled by sea. Since Luke, the author of the book of Acts, did not accompany Paul much of that time (apparently only in Acts 16:10–17), it is not surprising that some of the incidentals have been omitted from his account. Perils of waters (“perils of rivers”). Along the roads traversed by Paul there were numerous rivers which seasonally swell with flood waters, and which to this day, are legendary for the perils they pose for the traveler. This, especially along the Appian Way the road extending through Lebanon from Jerusalem to Antioch. Perils of robbers. The area from Perga to Antioch in Pisidia was especially known for this (Acts 13:14). Perils among false brethren. Halfway through the list of Paul’s perils from “outside” he includes his enemies at Corinth. What is implied by this is explicitly stated in 11:13. In fastings often. The context does not view this as a ritualistic observance practiced by the Pharisees. Rather it is an “involuntary abstinence.” While it is admitted that nesteia ( a voluntary fast, as a religious exercise) is ordinarily used of ritualistic fastings (cf. Lk 2:37; Acts 14:23), it is unlikely that such is the sense here. From its connection with hunger and thirst it is not unlikely that there is a touch of irony here. No doubt Paul’s Jewish adversaries at Corinth made a practice of ritualistic fasting and took pride in it. On the other hand, Paul fasted because the pressures of a faithful ministry required it of him.

 

5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

Greet the church that is in their house.
This means that an actual congregation of believers met in their house. Earlier, when Priscilla and Aquila lived in Corinth, they had a church in their house also. Here, the word “church” signifies the congregation or assembly of believers, not the place where they meet.

Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned (Acts 18:26[7]) as having received Apollos into their family, to instruct him more perfectly. The church in their house is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:19[8]. This may mean either the church that was accustomed to assemble for worship at their hospitable mansion; or it may mean their own family with their guests, regarded as a church. The family’s occupation was tent making, therefore they could provide a room for worship at any time. They could also make a tent serve as a room for traveling preachers, such as Apollos and Paul. It was not until the 3rd century that separate buildings were set apart for worship within the Roman Empire.

Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

Salute.—means the same as "greet."

Since Epaenetus was the first saved as a result of the apostle’s testimony, he would be very dear to Paul. In 1 Corinthians 16:15[9], the house or family of Stephanas is said to be the first fruits of Achaia[10]: 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.

Epaenetus means “praiseworthy.” No doubt this first convert in the province of Achaia  was true to his name. Paul speaks of him as my beloved; he is not mentioned elsewhere in scripture.

Firstfruits—the first-fruits were a small part of the harvest, which was first gathered and offered to the Lord (Exodus 22:29[11]). In allusion to this, Paul calls Epenetus the first fruits of the great spiritual harvest which had been gathered in Achaia.
_____________________verse 5 notes________________________

[7] (Acts 18.26) 24And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Paul left again for Asia Minor (modern Turkey) visiting and encouraging the churches there. He covered the country of Galatia and Phrygia where he strengthened the disciples. About this time an eloquent Bible teacher named Apollos (born in Alexandria, Egypt) arrived in Ephesus on a preaching tour. Apollos had learned of the ministry and message of John the Baptist from Jewish pilgrims while still in Egypt but knew nothing beyond that point. He came to Jerusalem during the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry. He had heard of the message of John the Baptist that the Messiah was soon to come and that this coming was fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Armed with these limited facts, he traveled afar faithfully proclaiming what he knew. Aquila and Priscilla were impressed with his ability and took him in and expounded the way of God more perfectly, implying that they brought him to a full understanding of the Christian gospel. Eventually he felt called to Corinth and departed, carrying with him the written recommendations of fellow believers in Ephesus. In Corinth he was greatly used of God in the apologetic ministry of convincing the Jews by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ (or Messiah).

[8] (1 Corinthians 16:19)The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” Aquila and Priscilla. This couple, having been exiled from Rome (Acts 18:2), first met Paul in Corinth. They have since moved on to Ephesus (cf. also Rom 16:3–5). The church that is in their house. Apparently, wherever this couple went, they made their home a sanctuary where Christ was honored and believers gathered to share the Word together and worship.

[9] (1 Corinthians 16:15) I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)” This was the very first family to receive Christ in Paul’s ministry in Achaia. This does not conflict with Romans 16:5, which in the better texts do not read “Achaia” but “Asia.”

[10] Citizens of Achaia were by and large Greeks.

[11] (Exodus 22:29) Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
The prominence of women’s names in this chapter emphasizes their wide sphere of usefulness (vv. 1, 3, 6, 12, etc.). A large number of those named were personal acquaintances of Paul; some had rendered him special service; many were, no doubt, his own converts. Of most of them we know nothing, with the exception that he places them in this honorable roll.
Two forms of the name Mary are found in the Greek text: Mariam, which represents the Hebrew Miriam, and thus is Jewish, denoting bitterness, and Maria, a gentile name. In the former case it is the only Hebrew name in the chapter. The latter is the more probable reading.

Who laboured much for us—Mary worked like a Trojan for the saints. Who this Mary was, or what the labor was which she bestowed upon the apostles, we do not know. Nothing more is known of her but this honourable mention of her name. Her works, though hidden from man, are with God; and her name is recorded with honor in the Book of Life. It is probable that these persons were formerly residents in Greece, and that the apostle had become acquainted with them there, but by this time they had relocated to Rome.

 

7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.


Salute Andronicus and Junia,
Junia (ee-oo-nee´-as) may be the name of a man or of a woman, since the form in which it occurs (᾿Ιουνίαν) fits either clarification. If it is a man’s name, it is Junias; if a woman’s, it is Junia. It is commonly taken to be a female name, and the person intended is supposed to have been the wife or sister of Andronicus (an-dron´-ee-kos).

my kinsmen,
We cannot be sure whether the word kinsmen means that they were close relatives of the apostle or simply fellow Jews; because both versions can be supported.

  • The word translated kinsmen (συγγενεις) signifies relatives, whether male or female, and since Junia is probably the name of a woman, the wife of Andronicus, it would be better to say relatives than kinsmen.
  • But most likely St. Paul is referring to Jews, in general; for instance, in Romans 9:3[12], he calls all the Jews his kinsmen according to the flesh.

and my fellowprisoners,
Paul was in prison often; and it is probable that on some of those occasions they had been confined with him. Compare to 2 Corinthians 11:23, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.”

who are of note among the apostles,
 We do not know whether the expression “of note among the apostles” means that they were respected by the apostles or they themselves were outstanding apostles; but the latter appears to me the most probable, because the word apostle, unless connected with some other word, as in the phrase, “messengers of the churches,” is very rarely, if ever, applied in the New Testament to any other group than the original messengers of Jesus Christ. It is never used in Paul’s writings, except in its strict official sense. The word has a fixed meaning, from which we should not depart without special reason. Besides, the phrase “among the apostles,” seems to point out the definite well known class of persons almost exclusively called apostles. This is how the passage is understood by Koppe, Flatt, Bloomfield, Meyer, Philippi, and the majority of commentators.

who also were in Christ before me.
In Christ before me
— Literally, “they have become in Christ before me.” They were evidently among the very early disciples. If, then, they were Paul’s relatives, he had family relations in Christ while he himself was persecuting the saints.

The only thing we can say about this couple, Andronicus and Junia, is that they were converted to Christianity before Paul was; probably at the day of Pentecost, or by the ministry of Christ himself, or perhaps by one of the seventy disciples.

The expression, “in Christ,” means to be united to him, to be interested in his religion, to be Christians.

___________________verse 7 notes_______________________

[12] (Romans 9:3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”

 

8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
The preposition “in,” here, and  in other places in Scripture, points out the relation or respect in which the word, to which it refers is to be understood; “Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” (Philemon 1:16).

Ampliatus was a Roman slave name, and is frequently found in inscriptions. This man was Paul’s friend, and also a genuine Christian. We would never have heard of any of these people except for their connection with Calvary. That is the only greatness about any of us.

 

9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Urbanus wins the title “our helper”, and Stachys is called “my beloved.” Romans 16 is like a miniature of the Judgment Seat of Christ, where there will be praise for every instance of faithfulness to Christ.

Urbanus is a name also found in a list of imperial freed men, which suggests that he may have obtained his liberty. We do not know who this Urbanus was; what is here stated is, that he had been a fellow laborer with the apostles.

Stachys is a Greek name, of masculine gender, and comparatively rare. He was one of Paul’s particular friends.

 

10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household.

Salute Apelles approved in Christ.
Apelles
had in some way been tested, had stood the test, and had gained the approval and esteem of his brethren. Some suppose that Apelles was the man called Apollos in other places in the New Testament: but, whoever he was, he had given every indication of being a genuine Christian.

approved in Christ—i.e. in his relation to Christ; an approved or tried Christian; who labors in the Lord; and, which labored much in the Lord, i.e. who, as it regards the Lord, labored much; it was a Christian or religious service. Apelles was an approved or tried Christian; approved and beloved by Christ.

Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household.
Aristobulus
was either dead, or not a believer. The “household” is, perhaps, Christian slaves belonging to this grandson of Herod the Great; rather than his kinsmen or friends. Great Romans had hundreds of slaves, usually white, many of them cultured. Thousands of the early Christians were gathered from these Roman slaves.

Of Aristobulus' household—it is doubtful that this person was converted, since the apostle does not salute him, but his household instead. 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.

11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.

Salute Herodion my kinsman.
Herodion was probably a slave and another converted Jew (see 16:7). He was a countryman of Paul, and he may have been the only Jewish slave belonging to the household of Aristobulus.

Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
At the time Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome, a favorite of Nero, named Narcissus, was all powerful there. Here, the term “household” probably refers to his servants or slaves. Some of which were also believers, and Paul includes them in his greetings. Even those who are lowest on the social ladder are not excluded from the choicest blessings of Christianity. The inclusion of slaves in this list of names is a lovely reminder that in Christ all social distinctions are obliterated because we are all one in Him.

The phrase “which are in the Lord” makes it clear that only some of this household were converted. Probably Aristobulus was dead at this time.

Which are in the Lord—this might intimate that some of this family were not Christians; only those of that family that were converted to the Lord were being saluted.

 

12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.

Tryphena and Tryphosa had names that meant “dainty” and “luxurious,” but they were veritable workhorses in their service for the Lord. These two holy women were assistants to the apostle in his work, probably by exhorting, visiting the sick, etc.

The beloved Persis was another of those women workers that are needed so much in local churches but seldom appreciated until they are gone. Persis’ service is spoken of as if it is in the past (contrast with what is said of the two preceding sisters), she may have been in advanced years at this time. Persis was another woman, who labored much in the Lord. These three women were almost certainly sisters by natural relationship, and they were probably deaconesses.

We learn from this, that Christian women, as well as men, labored 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 publicize it to the uttermost of their power. Many have spent much useless labor in endeavoring 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; “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”  (1 Corinthians 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 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.

 

13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Rufus may be the son of Simon, who carried the cross for Jesus (Matthew 27:32[13]). He was chosen in the Lord not only with regard to his salvation but also in respect of his Christian character; that is, he was a choice saint. The mother of Rufus had shown maternal kindness to Paul, and this earned his affectionate title “my mother.” Rufus is a Latin name.

Possibly the person referred to is the same as that in Mark 15:21[14], whose father bore the cross of Christ. If that is true, it may be that the father was dead and his widow and Rufus were living at Ephesus. Rufus was “chosen in the Lord.” This would hardly refer to the election of grace, which is common to all believers, but indicates some special endorsement by which he was distinguished for his excellence or his usefulness in service to Christ.

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 like a mother to the latter. We say of a person with this sort of character, that she is a motherly woman. Among the ancients, he or she who acted in a kind, instructing, and indulgent manner to another person, was dubbed the father or mother of such a one.

_________________verse 13 notes________________________

[13] (Matthew 27:32) “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” Cyrene was a Roman province in North Africa where many Jews lived. They had a synagogue in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9), indicating that many of them lived there. His sons, Alexander and Rufus, later became well-known Christians (see Mk 15:21).

[14] (Mark 15:21) And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.” The only information about Simon is his national origin, a Cyrenian, and the names of his sons. Since Rufus appears in Romans 16:13, and Mark’s Gospel was written in Rome, the readers must have known the two brothers. Some commentators suggest that Simon’s experience here eventually led to his conversion. At this time he was not a disciple for they forced (AV, compel) him into service.

 

14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.

Perhaps Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, and Hermes were active in a house church, like the one in the house of Priscilla and Aquila (16:3, 5). PAT´ROBAS (paternal) was the name of at least one member of the emperor’s household.

Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas may have been the nucleus of another house church.
In places like Rome, where Christians came from various lands, meetings were held in different houses, because there were no public buildings where large meetings of believers could be held, even if they could be legally held.

We do not know who these people were, but I suppose we could make a few comments based on information from sources other than the Bible. Hermas was probably the man who wrote a work called “The Shepherd of Hermas,” which still remains, and may be found among the writings of the apostolical fathers. But it would be almost impossible to identify any of these saints by investigating people with similar names; for, among the Greeks and Romans at this time there were many persons who bore the same names mentioned in this chapter.

Julia was probably the wife of Philologus. Possibly Nereus and his sister were their children, and Olympas was of the same family or household.

Much has been said about these particular men and women that is conjecture and nothing else; therefore, we can not speak of them with any degree of certainty. Even the names of some are so ambiguous that we do not know whether they were men or women. They were persons well known to St. Paul, and undoubtedly they had gone from different places where the apostle had preached to settle at Rome. One remark we may make is 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, it is unlikely that he would have been passed by, while Andronicus and Junia are mentioned as of note among the apostles (see 16:7), and that St. Paul should call on the people to remedy the turmoil that had crept in among them; 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, it is unlikely that that Church would be in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, (see 16:5). But it is a waste of time to rebut such ridiculous and groundless pretentiousness. It is very likely that Peter, so far from being universal bishop at Rome, never saw the city in his life. Peter the First Pope? Whether Peter was the first pope of Rome is a question that can only be answered by a study of church history. Jesus’ statement to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,” does not mention papal succession. But it does emphasize Peter’s prominent role in the founding of the church.

and all the saints which are with them—Probably another household church, which met with those just named.

 

 

16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Salute one another with a holy kiss—In those early times the holy kiss, as a token of peace, friendship, and brotherly love, was the common mode of affectionate greeting among the saints of the same sex.  It was frequently made use of among all people, and certainly Christians used it in their public assemblies, as well as in their occasional meetings. It is still practiced in some countries today, but for the most part it has been laid aside, not because it was abused, but because, the Church has become so numerous that the thing was impossible. Where the kiss of friendship is still common, it is scarcely ever abused, nor is it an incentive to do evil, because it is customary and common. It is designated as a holy kiss to guard against impropriety. In today’s modern and sometimes uptight culture, the kiss is generally replaced by the handshake or a hug in almost all Christian congregations. Reference to this custom is also made in 1 Corinthians 16:20[15];                      1 Thessalonians 5:26[16]; 1 Peter 5:14[17]. It is supposed to have been of oriental origin; after prayer, and especially before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the brethren saluting in this way the brethren, and the sisters the sisters. This salutation was expressive of mutual affection and equality before God.

The kiss was to be “holy,” hagios, i.e., free from everything unworthy of their calling as saints (hagioi). Moreover there was to be freedom from prejudice arising from social distinctions, and from partiality toward those who were well-to-do. In the assembly, masters and servants would thus salute one another with freedom from an attitude of condescension on the one part, and from disrespect on the other.

All the churches of Christ salute you.—the phrase “the churches of Christ” is found only here in the New Testament. It marks them in their relationship to Christ, as His possession. 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 honorably; and probably knowing the apostle's plans for visiting Rome, desired to be well thought of by the Church in that city.

_____________________verse 16 notes_____________________

 [15] (1 Corinthians 16:20)All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.”

[16] (1 Thessalonians 5:26) Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.”

[17] (1 Peter 5:14) Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

 

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