Romans Sixteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:

Phebe. Phebe is the first of thirty-five personal names mentioned in this last chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, most of whom are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. The reason why so much apparently personal information was included in the Scriptures by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is probably to illustrate the Spirit's concern with individuals. The names of all the redeemed are written in God's book in heaven (Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3); as a token of this fact, the names of some of these saints are written in God's book on earth.

servant. The Greek here is diakonos, usually translated as “deacon.” Evidently, Phebe was a deaconess of the Cenchrean church. Almost certainly it was she who carried Paul's epistle from Cenchrea, the seaport of Corinth, to Rome, for Paul.

Romans 16:2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

Romans 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Priscilla and Aquila. Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila at Corinth (Acts 18:1-2), but they had originally come from Rome, and apparently had gone back to Rome and were there at the time Paul wrote his letter.

Romans 16:4 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.

Romans 16:5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

Romans 16:6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.

Romans 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

kinsmen. Not only Andronicus and Junia, but also Herodion (Romans 16:11), Jason and Sosipater (Romans 16:21) are said to be Paul's “kinsmen.” Although the word normally refers to blood relatives, it can be extended to include fellow countrymen.

Romans 16:8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.

Romans 16:9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Romans 16:10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.

Romans 16:11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.

Romans 16:12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.

Romans 16:13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Romans 16:14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.

Romans 16:15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.

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

holy kiss. The holy kiss was an oriental form of friendly greeting, which was adapted by the early church to indicate Christian love, with men so greeting the men, and women the women.

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

divisions and offences. These two problem areas mean literally “dissension and scandal” (the Greek for “offenses” is skandalon). These would be caused by deviations from sound Biblical doctrine and behavior, respectively. The church has been under attack by Satan with these two weapons ever since its beginning (note Romans 16:20), and Paul was warning the Roman Christians to watch out for these before they appeared (note also Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:27-31).

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

their own belly. Those who cause such dissensions and scandals in the church often appear to be pious and talented devotees of Jesus Christ, while in reality they are self-centered and ambitious seekers of personal prestige or power. Paul says, “Mark them ... and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

fair speeches. Those who promote doctrinal tangents or worldly morality in the church often have charismatic personalities and are attractive in speech, able to “beguile” (more accurate connotation than “deceive”) those who are naive in their attitude toward Scripture and toward smooth-talking teachings. Christians need to learn to test all teaching by Scripture, taken in full context with other Scripture. Note Isaiah 8:20 and Acts 17:11.

Romans 16:19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

bruise Satan under your feet. There is a clear allusion here to the primeval promise of Genesis 3:15, anticipating the final victory of Christ over Satan, when the Seed of the woman will crush the head of that old serpent (Revelation 20:2, 10). In the meantime, believers, who also in a sense are the woman's seed (Revelation 12:17), can achieve local victories over Satan and his wiles by resisting him “steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). If we resist him with Scripture, as Jesus did, testing and refuting his enticements therewith (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), then he will “flee from you” (James 4:7), just as he did from Jesus “for a season” (Luke 4:13). Such local victories can be obtained over these dangerous teachers shortly in this manner, but we need to be continually alert to recurrent attacks. The ultimate victory over Satan will be won only by the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns.

Amen. There are three “amens” pronounced by Paul as he tries to bring his Roman epistle to a close (Romans 16:20, 24, 27). There had already been another “amen” at the end of Romans 15.

Romans 16:21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Timotheus. Timothy had joined Paul while he was in Corinth, and apparently was still with him when he wrote the Roman letter.

Romans 16:22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Tertius. Tertius evidently was Paul's secretary, to whom Paul had dictated his epistle. Paul was apparently almost blind (note Galatians 4:13-15), and hence needed someone to render this service.

Romans 16:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.

Romans 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul closes each of his epistles (including Hebrews) with a prayer that God's grace in Christ should be with those who would read them.

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

since the world began. Our word “mystery” comes from the Greek musterion, which referred to the secrets imparted only to initiates in the famous “mystery religions” of ancient Greece. Paul used the word some twenty times in his epistles, adapting this concept to the great purposes of God for His creation, planned before the foundation of the world but only revealed to His initiates, as it were, in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4). The gospel of Christ, revealed in its completeness to Paul (Galatians 1:11, 12), had been foreshadowed in many ways through the prophets, but finally became reality in human experience, when God became man, in Christ. Note also such passages as Ephesians 3:1-11 and Colossians 1:24-27.

Romans 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

scriptures of the prophets. In developing the great doctrines of the gospel, here in his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul did so within the prophetic framework of the Old Testament Scriptures, which he regarded as the inspired and authoritative Word of God. In this one epistle alone, he quoted from the Old Testament, directly or indirectly, at least fifty times, in support of his arguments and expositions.

everlasting God. Part of the essence of the now-revealed mystery of the gospel is that the God of creation is, indeed, the everlasting God, concerned with “all nations,” and that any can be saved by “the obedience of faith” (the same phrase is found in Romans 1:5).

Romans 16:27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

God only wise. See also 1 Timothy 1:17 and Jude 25. God is “only wise,” the only omniscient and only omnipotent one, knowing and planning and implementing all things, to accomplish His purpose in creating all things.