Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (58) Greetings From Friends With Paul

Romans 16:21-23


Scripture

21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.

 

Commentary

21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

These verses contain the greeting of the apostle’s companions to the Roman Christians.

The Apostle had sent his own greetings to many in this church, and to Christians in the churches around him, but here he adds an affectionate greeting from some particular persons who were now with him, which was a good way to promote familiarity and fellowship among distant saints, and by mentioning these creditable individuals, who were probably already known to the Roman Christians, it might serve to commend this epistle. He lists eight in this verse—Timotheus, Lucius, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, Jason, Quartus, and Sosipater.

Timotheus (Timothy) [“honored of God”] my workfellow 
Paul calls special attention to Timotheus by calling him ‘my work-fellow.’ He sometimes calls Timothy his son, like he was an inferior; but here he calls him his work-fellow, like he is equal with him, an indication of great respect. We know more about Timothy than we do about his other friends; we think of him as Paul’s son in the faith and a faithful co-worker. This is the same Timothy to whom St. Paul directs the two epistles which bear his name, 1 and 2 Timothy. The apostle was brought together with Timothy, for the second time, when he visited Derbe and Lystra, according to acts 16:1-5. “1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. 4And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”

(Paul had probably met Timothy during his first visit to Lystra, where he was stoned and left for dead.) Without giving the least detail of Paul's labors in Syria and Cilicia, Luke hurries us forward to his arrival in Derbe and Lystra, the scenes respectively of the most painful and the most consoling incidents which occurred on his former tour. His chief object in this seems to be to introduce us to a new character, destined to play an important part in the future history. (1) “Then he came down into Derbe and Lystra, and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, son of a believing Jewess, but of a Greek father; (2) who was well attested by the brethren in Lystra and Iconium.” Not only the mother, but also the grandmother of the disciple was a believer; for Paul afterward writes to him: “I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, that first dwelt in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded also in thee.” From this it seems that both the mother and grandmother had preceded him into the kingdom; for it is clearly their faith in Christ, and not their Jewish faith, that Paul here is speaking about. With such an example before him, it is not surprising that the young disciple should be found to be well spoken of by all the brethren who knew him. The fact that he was respected not only at Derbe and Lystra, which are within the vicinity of his residence, but also in the more distant city of Iconium, makes it probable that he was already known as a public speaker.

On the occasion of Paul's former visit to Lystra, we learned that while he supposedly lay dead, after the stoning, “the disciples stood around him.” Timothy, who lived in Lystra, was no doubt in the group; for he was Paul's own son in the faith, and must have been immersed previous to the stoning, because Paul left the city immediately after. The stoning occurred during the period immediately following his immersion in baptism, when the soul is peculiarly susceptible to be impressed by a noble example. The recesses of the heart are then open to their deepest depths, and a word well spoken, a look full of religious sympathy, or a noble deed, makes an impression which can never be wiped out. In such a frame of mind Timothy witnessed the stoning of Paul; wept over his prostrate form; followed him, back into the city, as if he was raised from the dead, and saw him depart with heroic determination to another field of conflict in defense of the glorious gospel. It is wonderful that a nature so full of sympathy for the heroic apostle could wring from the latter the declaration, “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state…But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me” (Philippians 2:20, 22, 23), and should be inspired by his example, and be made ready to share with him the toils and sufferings of his future career.

The discriminating and watchful eye of Paul soon discovered qualities which would render this youth a fitting companion and fellow-laborer, and it was by his request that Timothy was placed in the position which he afterward so honorably filled. “Paul wished him to go forth with him, and took him, and circumcised him on account of the Jews who were in those quarters; for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

From 2 Corinthians 1:1[1], we learn that Timothy was with Paul in Macedonia when he wrote this Roman Epistle (that was in the latter part of A.D. 57). Possibly the apostle came on to Corinth alone. He was with him just before setting out from Corinth for Jerusalem (Acts 20:4[2]).

and Lucius,
This friend of the apostle is not thought to be Dr. Luke, for the fuller form of "Lucas" is not "Lucius" but "Lucanus." The person meant seems to be "Lucius of Cyrene," who was among the "prophets and teachers" at Antioch along with Paul our apostle, before he was summoned into the missionary field (Acts 13:1[3]). We know very little about Lucius except that he, like Paul, was of Jewish parentage; and that he was a prophet or teacher from Cyrene ministering at Antioch (Acts 13:13). Tradition says that Lucius was later ordained bishop of the church of Cenchreæ. Lucius of Cyrene is first mentioned in the New Testament in company with Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Manaen and Saul; they are described as prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch. Whether Lucius was one of the seventy disciples is entirely a matter of conjecture; but, it is highly probable that he was part of the congregation to whom St. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:10[4]; and, there can hardly be a doubt that he was one of “the men of Cyrene” who, being “scattered abroad during the persecution that arose about Stephen’s death,” went to Antioch preaching the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:19, 20[5]).

and Jason (one who will heal)
It is likely that this is the same person mentioned in Acts 17:5-9, who at Thessalonica received the apostles into his house, and befriended them at the risk both of his property and life. “5But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.” Some of the Jews were persuaded, and took their place with Paul and Silas as Christian believers. Also, some of the Jews, many of the Greek proselytes and some of the leading women of the city were converted. This provoked the unbelieving Jews to decisive action. They rounded up some of the hoodlums from the marketplace, incited a riot, and besieged the house of Jason where Paul and Silas had been guests. When they did not find Paul and Silas in the house, they dragged Jason (also called the Thessalonian) and some of his fellow believers before the rulers of the city. Without meaning to, they paid a genuine tribute to Paul and Silas when they described them as men who had turned the world upside down. Then they charged them with plotting to overthrow the government of Caesar by preaching about another king—Jesus. It was, to say the least, a strange thing for Jews to be so zealous in safeguarding the government of Caesar, because they had little or no love for the Roman Empire.

But was their charge true? Doubtless they had heard Paul proclaim the Second Coming of Jesus to reign as king over all the earth. But this did not pose an immediate threat to Caesar, since Christ would not return to reign until Israel had repented nationally.

The city officials were troubled by these reports. They required Jason and those with him to post bail, probably adding instructions for his guests to leave the city. Then they let them go.

and Sosipater (one who defends the father),
Sosipater
(probably the same as Sopater) was a Berean, the son of one Pyrrhus, a Jew, by birth, and he accompanied St. Paul from Greece into Asia, and probably into Judea. Paul called him, his kinsmen; not only because they were Jews, but they may have been related. It seems that Paul was a good family man, and that he met with many of his kindred in several places. It is a very great comfort to see the holiness and usefulness of our kindred.

___________________________verse 21 notes___________________________________

[1](2 Corinthians 1:1) “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:” The fact that Timothy is mentioned in verse 1 does not mean that he helped to compose the Letter. It only signifies that he was with Paul at the time the Epistle was written.
[2](Acts 20:4) “And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.” Timothy not only accompanied Paul to Asia but was with him in Rome during his first imprisonment. Subsequently he traveled with Paul through proconsular Asia. In his Second Letter to Timothy, Paul expressed the desire to see him again, but we do not know whether this wish was ever fulfilled.

[3]Acts 13:1) “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

[4](Acts 2:10) “Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes.”
[5](Acts 11:19-20)
“19Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.”

22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

It is a mark of the genuineness of this Epistle that the apostle’s writer would insert his personal greeting; first of all, no forger would have mentioned what he had done; secondly, we have here an instance of Paul’s characteristic courtesy; it would not have been like him to dictate such a greeting in the third person; thirdly, Tertius displays the sympathetic spirit and wholehearted cooperation of a brother in Christ by taking a part in the work in which the apostle was engaged.

Paul was the human author of the epistle to the Romans, but Tertius wrote it down, Gaius gave Paul a place to live and work (v. 23), and Phoebe carried the completed letter to Rome. Nobody in God’s family is unimportant to Him, and no ministry is insignificant. Find the work; He wants you to do an exceptional job, and faithfully do it.

Some eminent commentators believe Tertius and Silas are the same person. If this were so, it is strange that the name which is generally given to him elsewhere in Scripture is not used in this place. I have already noticed that some learned men believe that St. Paul wrote this epistle in Syriac, and that Tertius translated it into Greek; but this can never agree with the declaration we have here: I Tertius, who wrote, 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 he introduces himself by joining with St. Paul in affectionate wishes for their welfare. Tertius was probably a native Italian. Apparently he interjects his own greeting into Paul’s narration because he too knows and loves the believers at Rome.

The apostle seldom wrote his epistles with his own hand; that's why he refers to the fact that he is the writer of the letter to the Galatians as something that is unusual; “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with my own hand”  (Galatians 6:11). Apparently his writing was pretty bad; it was not very legible, and so he excuses himself when he writes to the Galatians. The large letters with which he wrote might have indicated that Paul’s eyesight was poor, as many have suggested from this and other passages. However, in order to authenticate his epistles, he usually wrote the salutation or benediction at the close of each one, himself; 1 Corinthians 16:21, “The salutation of me Paul, with mine own hand;” Colossians 3:18, "The salutation by the hand of me Paul;" 2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand; which is the token in every epistle: so I write”.

I…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 are the words of Tertius or St. Paul.

In the Lord— As Christian brethren.

 
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you and Quartus a brother.

Gaius mine host,
There are at least four men by the name of Gaius in the New Testament. This is probably the same one spoken of in 1 Corinthians 1:14; “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius.” He was noted for his hospitality, not only to Paul but to any Christians who needed it; this was uncommon at that time.

The word host means one who entertains another at his own house without reward.

Gaius can be identified with the man whom Paul baptized at Corinth (I Corinthians 1:149) and may also be identified with Titus Justus of Acts 18:7[6], who extended the hospitality of his house to Paul when the fledgling church of Corinth was expelled from the synagogue next door. It is uncertain whether this was Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4[7]) or Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19:29[8]), or rather Gaius of Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:14), and whether any of these people was the person to whom John wrote his third epistle. Gaius in Greek is the same as Caius in Latin, which was a very common name among the Romans. St. Luke (Acts 19:29[8]) 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.

Gaius in Greek is the same as Caius in Latin, which was a very common name among the Romans. St. Luke (Acts 19:29[8]) 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. However, the important thing here is that Paul commends him for his great hospitality; not only my host, but of the whole church—one that entertained them all when there was an occasion for it, opened his doors to their church-meetings, and eased the rest of the church by his readiness to treat all Christian strangers that came to them.

This Gaius is almost certainly the one of 1 Corinthians 1:14 and probably the Titus Justus of Acts 18:1–8, his full name being Gaius Titus Justus, with whom Paul lodged on his first visit to Corinth after he stayed with Aquila.

The Roman system of naming a citizen was by the use of three names (praenomen, nomen, and cognomen) and Gaius was a common praenomen. His full name would then have been Gaius Titus Justus. Gaius in Greek is the same as Caius in Latin, which was a very common name among the Romans. St. Luke (Acts 19:29[8]) 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 was baptized by Paul himself at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 1:14[9]) and was so highly esteemed by the church, that John wrote an epistle to him, 3 John 1:1[10]. He was probably a wealthy citizen of Corinth, who freely opened his house to entertain Christians, and for the purpose of religious meetings.

and of the whole church,
Here he is called not only the host, 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 assets to be able to take on this expense. And he must have been a man with a good deal of devoutness and love for the cause of Christ; or else he would not have employed that property in this way.

If Gaius was one of the elders of the church at Corinth, he certainly fulfilled the qualification of an elder or bishop, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:2, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” The qualifications of a bishop are continued in verses 3–7. They stress four main prerequisites: personal character, the witness of the home, teaching aptitude, and a measure of experience. These are God’s standards for any who would exercise spiritual leadership in the local church. Some argue today that no one can measure up to these standards. However, this is not true. Such an argument robs the Sacred Scriptures of their authority and permits men to take the place of a bishop who have never been qualified by the Holy Spirit.

saluteth you.
A salute can be either an embrace or greeting or both. 
The word has several meanings:                                                                                       
1. to draw to one’s self
2. to greet, bid welcome, wish well to
3. to receive joyfully, welcome

Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you,
 He was, in fact, the Treasurer of the city of Corinth, from which St. Paul wrote this epistle. He was one of St. Paul's companions, and, as it appears from 2 Timothy 4:20[11], he was left in Corinth about this time, by the apostle. He is called the chamberlain, which signifies the same as treasurer. As Treasurer, he was responsible for the receipts and expenditures of the public money that were entrusted to him. He received the tolls, customs, etc., belonging to the city, and out of them he paid the public expenses. Such persons were in very high standing; and if Erastus (“beloved”) was at this time treasurer, it would appear that Christianity was in good standing in Corinth at that time. But if the Erastus of the Acts was the same as the Erastus mentioned here, it is not likely that he now held the office, because it could not at all be compatible with his travelling with St. Paul. Hence, several, both ancients and moderns, who believe that they know the identity of these persons, believe that Erastus was not the treasurer at this time, but that having formerly been the treasurer he still retained the title. Chrysostom thought that he still retained the employment. Not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but some are. His property, and honour, and employment, did not prevent him from helping Paul or giving himself for the good of the church; it should seem, in the work of the ministry that it was not belittling to the chamberlain of the city for him to be a preacher of the gospel of Christ.

The chamberlain. A chamberlain is an officer who was in charge of a chamber, or of chambers. In England, the lord chamberlain is the sixth officer of the crown, and has charge of the king's lodgings and wardrobe, etc. He also has an important rank on days of public ceremonies, such as the coronation day, etc. The word used here is commonly found in the New Testament, where it is translated steward. It means one who is in charge of domestic affairs, provides for a family, pays the servants, etc. In this place it means one who presided over the financial affairs of the city; and should have been translated the treasurer; the city treasurer; an office of trust and of some importance, showing that all who were converted at Corinth were not of the lowest rank. This is implied in 1 Corinthians 1:26, "Not many wise men, not many mighty, not many noble, are called," implying that there were some sick.

and Quartus a brother.
Quartus (“fourth”), of whom we know nothing, is simply mentioned as a brother, like Sosthenes and Timothy are called (1Co l:1[12]; 2 Co 1:1[13]); for as one is our Father, even Christ, so all of us are brethren; what an honor, what a dignity!
This phrase does not imply that Paul was related to Erastus naturally, or any of those who had been mentioned; it suggests rather that he was known both to the writer and readers as a brother in the Lord—one of the heavenly family.

_____________________verse 23 notes____________________________

[6](Acts 18:7) “And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.”
[7](Acts 20:4) “And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
[8](Acts 19:29) “And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.”
[9](1 Corinthians 1:14) “And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.”
[10](3 John 1:1) “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.”

[11](2 Timothy 4:20) “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Milet[13]( 2 Corinthians 1:1)um sick.”
[12](1 Corinthians 1:1) “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother.”
[13](2 Corinthians 1:1)“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia.”

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