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 Romans Chapter 16 – Part One

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PostSubject: Romans Chapter 16 – Part One   Thu 2 Apr 2015 - 23:22

Romans 16:1-2

Personal greetings

The capital city of Rome was a magnet that drew people from all over the empire. In addition Paul’s travels to many of the major population centers — Jerusalem, Syrian Antioch, Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus — brought him into contact with the mobile segment of Roman society. These factors help explain the presence of Paul’s many friends in Rome, but his knowledge of their whereabouts remains a tribute to his deep concern for people.
Phoebe (which means “bright, radiant”) was Paul’s emissary to deliver this letter, so he wrote officially, I commend to you our sister Phoebe. The relationship mentioned is spiritual, not familial. Phoebe was a servant of the church in Cenchrea, a seaport a few miles east of Corinth (cf. Act_18:18. “Servant”: This is one passage used in support of the office of deaconess. No specific specifications however are given of such an office. Such women are better viewed as being either the wives of deacons, or godly widows who were supported financially by the church. Here it is best to understand Phoebe’s role to be that of “helper.”
In the early church, women servants cared for sick believers, the poor, strangers and those in prison. They instructed the women and children.
Whether Phebe had an official title or not, she had the great responsibility of delivering this letter to the Roman church.
Cenchrea is the little town east of Corinth from which Paul wrote Romans.
The word diakonon, “servant,” is used for the office of deacon (Php_1:1; 1Ti_3:8, 1Ti_3:10, 1Ti_3:12) as well as used generally (Rom_15:8; 1Co_3:5). Use of the word with the phrase “of the church” strongly suggests some recognized position, a fact appropriate for a person serving as Paul’s emissary. Paul not only officially commended her (cf. 2Co_3:1), but also asked the Roman Christians to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help (lit., “and to stand by her in whatsoever matter”) she may need from you. Succourer means a patron. In many of Paul's writings, such as this, we see that many women ministered with him. Paul calls her his sister; she is not his sister in the flesh, but in the ministry.
Notice, also, that Paul says to help her in her business. In the first verse, he had told us that her business was as servant in the church. We see from this that, Paul is saying to help her in her ministry. She had been a great help to Paul, as well as others. Notice in this next Scripture in Jesus' own words what He feels toward these workers.
Matthew 10:40 "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." You see, when you receive a servant of God {male or female} you are, in fact, receiving the God that sent them.
Paul explained, for she has been a great help (prostatis, “a protectress, succorer”) to many people, including me. So they should help her since she had helped others.

Romans 16:3-5

This list of greetings (Rom_16:3-16) that Paul wanted conveyed to friends in Rome is the longest in any of his epistles. He mentioned 26 people by name, and referred to many others (Rom_16:5, Rom_16:10-11, Rom_16:13-15). Several women are included in the list: Priscilla (Rom_16:3), Mary (Rom_16:6), Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom_16:12), Persis (Rom_16:12), Rufus’ mother (Rom_16:13), and Nereus’ sister (Rom_16:15). Two others are possibly women — Junias (Rom_16:7) and Julia (Rom_16:15).
Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila when he arrived in Corinth on his second missionary journey (Act_18:2) and worked with them at their trade of tentmaking. They had come to Corinth from Rome because of Claudius’ decree that all Jews must leave Rome. They accompanied Paul when he left Corinth (Act_18:18), but stayed in Ephesus when the party stopped briefly (Act_18:19). There they ministered to Apollos (Act_18:26) and undoubtedly to Paul during his stay in Ephesus on his third journey, because they sent greetings to the Corinthian Christians (1Co_16:19). Shortly after that, they must have moved back to Rome and still later returned to Ephesus (2Ti_4:19).
Paul paid them great praise, calling them my fellow workers in Christ Jesus and revealing that they risked their lives for me (lit., “they lay down their own neck for my soul”). In what way they risked their lives is not known. We know that these two had befriended Paul before. In fact, Paul lived with them and worked as a tentmaker while he ministered.
Acts 18:2-3 “And 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." "And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers."
John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
These two had been fellow workers with Paul on several occasions.
All the Gentile churches, Paul added, were grateful to them. Paul also sent greetings to the church that met at their house. The Christians in Rome apparently worshiped in numerous homes such as Priscilla and Aquila’s. This couple had had a house church in Ephesus (1Co_16:19) and probably wherever they lived. Other churches in homes are mentioned in Col_4:15 and Phm_1:2.
Epenetus, to whom greetings were sent, is mentioned only here, but is called by Paul my dear friend (lit., “the one loved by me”; cf. Stachys, Rom_16:9). He was the first convert (lit., “the firstfruits”) to Christ in the province of Asia. Acts 18:27 "And 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:"
We see for certain that Paul ministered in Achaia from this scripture. (Achaia – Located in Asia Minor or modern Turkey)
I 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 Scripture shows the good fruits of the church that Paul started in Achaia.
Paul reached Asia, the western portion of modern-day Turkey, on his third missionary journey (Act_19:10), after having been prevented from going there on his second journey (Act_16:6).

Romans 16:6-7

Mary is identified simply as one who worked very hard (“toiled much”; cf. Rom_16:12). Some Greek manuscripts read Mariam, the Hebrew form, which probably identifies this woman as a Jew.
Andronicus and Junias, greeted together, may have been husband and wife; Junias can be either masculine or feminine. Paul called them my relatives, which probably refers to a tribal, not a family kinship (cf. Rom_9:3). He also mentioned four other “relatives” (Rom_16:11, Rom_16:21). He said Andronicus and Junias had been in prison with him (lit., “my fellow prisoners”); when or where this occurred is not mentioned (cf. 2Co_11:23). Paul commended them as outstanding (episēmoi, lit., “having a mark [sēma] on them,” therefore “illustrious, notable, outstanding”) among the apostles. Very little is written in the Bible about Adronicus. A history book states that he became bishop of Pannonia. His name means man-conquering. He and Junia seemed to be blood relations of Paul.
“Note among the apostles” just means they were well known to the apostles. The New Testament knows only the 12 apostles plus Matthis and Paul. The office of apostle was not extended beyond this number. Andronicus and Junia (a woman) are not apostles.
Their ministry with Paul, and perhaps with Peter and some of the other apostles in Jerusalem before Paul was converted, was well known and appreciated by the apostles.
The word “apostles” is probably used here in the broader, general sense in which Barnabas, Silas, and others were called apostles (Act_14:14; 1Th_2:7). Or it could mean the apostles in the limited sense, referring to the reputation this pair had among the Twelve. Paul added, They were (perf. tense, “they came to be and still are”) in Christ before I was. So they had been believers for about 25 years.

Romans 16:8-11

Ampliatus was one Paul loved in the Lord. This was high praise from the apostle. Amplias was a common name among the emperor’s household slaves at that time; he may have been one of those in “Caesar’s household”. Urbanus was called our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys was addressed as my dear friend (lit., “the one loved by me”; cf. Epenetus, Rom_16:5). Urbane means polite or of the city.
Stachys is said by historians {not the Bible} to have been bishop of Byzantium. Tradition, also, has him to be one of the 70 disciples. This is an uncommon Greek name meaning “ear of corn.” He was obviously closed to Paul, but the details are not know for sure.
Paul said Apelles was tested and approved (ton dokimon, “the one approved through testing”; cf. the same word trans. “approved,” Rom_14:18; the related infinitive dokimazein is trans. “to test and approve,” Rom_12:2). Just the fact that Apelles was approved of Christ tells us that he was probably one of the 70 sent out to minister by Jesus. Some historians believe he was the bishop at Smyrna.
Without naming other individuals Paul sent greetings to those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. A household may have included family members and servants. Aristobulus is another that is only mentioned here in the Bible, but seems to have been in the early converts to Christianity. His name means counselor.
Since his household is mentioned, probably some in his house received the Lord as Savior.
As Paul does not greet him personally, some think he was probably not a believer.
Historians say that he was a brother to Barnabus. One noted biblical scholar believers that he was the brother of Herod Agrippa I and the grandson of Herod the Great. (However, the Gr. simply has “those out of, belonging to Aristobulus”; cf. Rom_16:11).
Herodion was greeted as my relative, but once again the relationship was probably tribal and not familial (cf. Rom_16:7, Rom_16:21). The name may identify this person as belonging to Herod’s family. Once again without naming individuals Paul sent greetings to those in the household of Narcissus (lit., “those out of, belonging to Narcissus”; cf. Rom_16:10). But Paul restricted his greetings to the ones who are in the Lord, which probably indicated Narcissus’ family was divided spiritually. “Herodion”: Related to the Herod family and so perhaps associated with the household of Aristobulus.
“My kingsman” meaning, he may have been one of Paul’s Jewish relatives.
Narcissus: Some scholars believe that this was the Emperor Claudius’ secretary. If so, two households within the palace had Christians in them.

Romans 16:12-13

Paul sent greetings jointly to Tryphena and Tryphosa, identifying them as those women who work hard (“toil”) in the Lord. Tryphena and Tryphosa are not mentioned anywhere else. All we know is that they worked for the Lord. The only thing we know about Persis is that this was a woman who was a laborer for the Lord.
“Tryphena and Tryphosa”: Possibly twin sisters, who names mean “delicate and dainty”.
Then Persis, addressed as my dear friend (lit., “the one loved”), was another woman who has worked very hard (“toiled much”) in the Lord. Persis seems to be named after her native Persia since her work is spoken of in the past tense, she was probably older that the other two women in this verse. Interestingly four women were said to have “worked hard” (cf. Mary, Rom_16:6).
Whether Rufus is the same person mentioned in Mar_15:21 or not is uncertain. If so, then he, as a son of Simon of Cyrene, was a North African. Paul said Rufus was chosen in the Lord, a statement true of every believer (cf. Eph_1:4). Biblical scholars generally agree that he was one of the sons of Simon of Cyrene, the man enlisted to carry Jesus’ cross and was likely saved through that contact with Christ. Mark wrote his gospel in Rome, possibly after the letter to Rome was written, and circulated. Paul would not have mentioned Rufus if that name were not well known to the church in Rome.
“Chosen in the Lord”, meaning he was elected to salvation. This indicates he was widely known as an extraordinary believer because of his great love and service.
Rufus was not Paul’s natural brother. Rather Rufus’ mother, the wife of Simon of Cyrene, at some time had cared for Paul during his ministry travels.
Consequently the word translated “chosen” may mean “eminent,” since it was given to Rufus as a statement of distinction. The greeting included Rufus’ mother who, Paul said, had also been a mother to him. Paul obviously did not say she was his actual mother, but he had been the recipient of her motherly care.

Romans 16:14-16

The next five names mentioned together (Rom_16:14) evidently had something in common, perhaps as leaders of another house church. This may be indicated by the reference to the brothers with them. They are all common names, particularly among slaves.
Julia may have been the wife of Philologus. Two other husband-wife teams were Priscilla and Aquila (Rom_16:3) and (possibly) Andronicus and Junias (Rom_16:7). Nereus and his sister were then greeted, though the sister’s name is not given. And finally, greetings were sent to Olympas and all the saints with him. The only thing we know about Asyncritus is that the name means incomparable.
Phlegon means burning. Historians say he was one of the original 70 disciples of Christ.
Hermas is celebrated as a saint on May 9th by the Romans. Hermas means mercury.
Patrobas means life of his father. Little else is known of any of these Christians that Paul sent greetings to.
Philologus means fond of talk.
There were many Julias at this time, and no one knows for sure which one she is.
Nothing more is known of Nereus or Olympas.
This group may have been the leaders of another house church (cf. Rom_16:14).
Of all these individuals only Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament for certain; yet Paul knew them all individually and sent personal greetings to them and their associates. Paul cannot properly be charged with not being “a people person.” He closed this section with the command, Greet one another with a holy kiss. We notice, here, that this kiss was to be a holy kiss. This was not a passionate kiss, but a friendly kiss. Paul is explaining how the church must be together in Christ. We will list 4 of the Scriptures that speak of this greeting with a holy kiss.
I Corinthians 16:20 "All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss." II Corinthians 13:12 "Greet one another with an holy kiss."
I Thessalonians 5:26 "Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss." I Peter 5:14 "Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace [be] with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen."
Kissing of friends on the forehead, cheek or beard was common in the Old Testament. The Jews in the New Testament church carried on the practice, and it became especially precious to new believers, who were often outcasts from their own families because of their faith, because of the spiritual kinship it signified.
The mode of salutation similar to the handshake today and with a general word of salutation, all the churches of Christ send greetings (lit., “greet you”).
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