Romans 16 Study Notes
The final chapter! I hope you've enjoyed this series in Romans and have gotten something from it. Romans is such an excellent and deep book which deserves our careful attention.
We are now in the last chapter of the book of Romans! There’s a lot of personal notes in this chapter and a lot of individuals names given though we don’t know much about these people. What’s interesting is that Peter is not once mentioned, which Albert Barnes notes, “is conclusive evidence, contrary to the Papists, that Peter was not then known by Paul to be in Rome.” Catholics call Peter the first pope which is entirely fiction. Alright let’s jump in.
1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
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.
So this Phebe was a very important and helpful servant, minister, or deacon as the word is translated in these various ways. Most commentators accept that it was Phebe who delivered this letter from Paul to the church of Rome, and apparently she served at a church in Cenchrea.
Paul must have established the church there, as Cenchrea was a seaport of Corinth on the East side of Greece on the Aegean Sea. This is mentioned in Acts 18:18 which reads, “And 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.” Look at the next verse in Romans 16:
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.
These were a couple other friends of Paul, first mentioned in Acts 18. Verses 1-3 of that chapter read, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 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.”
These two apparently put themselves in harm’s way in order to save Paul at some point, and so he’s naturally grateful and so are all the churches of the Gentiles that need and benefit from Paul’s guidance.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
Home churches are biblical! There’s nothing wrong with a church meeting at a home, and in fact you’ll probably get closer fellowship and more dedicated Bible study there.
Epaenetus was apparently the first person, or among the first, to embrace Christianity in Achaia, and many more became believers there afterwards. Achaia was basically a Southern Region of Greece, but pretty much all the modern Bible versions will have Asia instead of Achaia.
6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
We don’t know anything of this Mary, but she was very helpful.
7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
These two were at least fellow Jews, and some speculate that they might have been relatives of Paul, and were known by the Apostles. They were also Christians before Paul’s Damascus Road conversion.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
We don’t know much about Amplias but it’s possible he died a martyr.
On Urbane and Stachys the Biblical Illustrator reads, “Urbanus was ‘our helper.’ Stachys was ‘my beloved.’ The one sustained a general relationship to Paul and to others beside Paul: but the other sustained a special relationship to the apostle himself.” There’s no reason to think this was a romantic relationship of any kind, just a close one, since Amplias, a male was beloved as well.
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.
On this verse 13, Albert Barnes explains, “’His mother in a literal sense, and mine in a figurative one.’ An instance of the delicacy and tenderness of Paul; of his love for this disciple and his mother, as if he were of the same family. Religion binds the hearts of all who embrace it tenderly together. It makes them feel that they are one great family, united by tender ties, and joined by special attachments.”
Just like Jesus said in Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
William Burkitt writes, “Observe here, How the apostle proceeds from greeting the saints at Rome himself, to persuade them to salute one another. There had been much dissension amongst them about meats and days; he therefore craves of them for the future to embrace each other with cordial love, and affectionate kindness, and, as a token and symbol of it, to salute one another with an holy kiss, the usual expression of friendship in those times.”
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Now we have a section in this chapter covering the topic of false teachers. Paul says “MARK THEM” and “AVOID THEM.” It is absolutely Biblical to call out and expose false teachers so that others aren’t deceived by them. How can you best know what is bad doctrine? By reading the Bible and learning RIGHT doctrine.
Albert Barnes rightly says, “They who attempt to form parties in the churches are commonly actuated by some evil or ambitious design.”
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.
Isn’t that well stated? Look at these megachurches with millionaire “pastors” who barely open the bible but they say nice sounding things to make their audience feel good. They aren’t serving God they are serving themselves.
Look at Philippians 3:18-19, “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”
We won’t read it now but you can also look at Titus 1:10-13. There are other places in Scripture that warn of these deceivers that pretend to follow Christ but really just serve themselves.
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.
So Paul compliments them on their obedience to the gospel and to instruction, but warms them to be not seduced by bad doctrine. I love how this is phrased and we should each take this to heart: be wise to that which is good, but simple as it concerns evil. Simple here is also translated harmless and can mean pure as well. We should be wise and well-learned to what the Bible says, but we definitely don’t need to know all the bad stuff out there! “The happy simplicity of ignorance. Often the knowledge of evil is evil, and many a man has lived to regret that he has had any acquaintance with it.” (The Biblical Illustrator)
I’ve heard people say that in order to reach Mormons, for example, you need to study Mormonism. FALSE! We need to know the BIBLE and it is sufficient to know that Mormonism teaches something false and contrary to God’s Word.
20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Why is Satan brought up here? Because he is to blame for divisions in the church and for the spreading of false doctrines. This isn’t talking about final judgment of the devil or any eschatological event, but just the present context that we’ve been reading about.
Godet writes here, “The expression: God of peace, is designedly chosen to describe God as one who, if the church fulfils its task well in these circumstances, will take care to overthrow the designs of its adversaries, and preserve harmony among the faithful.”
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
Timotheus is Timothy of course who was a great companion of Paul, and Lucius is mentioned briefly in Acts 13:1.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
Paul dictated this Epistle to Tertius.
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Gaius was a host in Corinth who showed hospitality to Paul and the whole church there, and where Paul composed this letter. Paul personally baptized him which we read in 1 Corinthians 1:14. Erastus was the chamberlain of the city which means he worked as a treasurer or city clerk, something like that.
Most modern Bible versions exclude verse 24 from their text.
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,
Paul ends this Epistle beautifully. God is able to establish and sustain us according to His truth, and the power of the Gospel. The mystery is the calling of the Gentiles into one family of believers, but now, look at the next verse.
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:
27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
The Gospel is for ALL nations and ethnicities and ALL are commanded to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ll finish with this quote from Adam Clarke, “This comes in with great propriety. He alone who is the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, had all this mystery in himself; and he alone who knew the times, places, persons, and circumstances, could reveal the whole; and he has revealed all in such a way as not only to manifest his unsearchable wisdom, but also his infinite goodness: therefore, to him be glory for his wisdom in devising this most admirable plan; and his goodness in sending Christ Jesus to execute it; to Him, through Christ Jesus, be glory for ever! Because this plan is to last for ever; and is to have no issue but in eternal glory.”