Through the Bible in One Year

Day 300

Romans 16:1-16

We have finally reached the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Roman church.  Paul ends his letter with greetings to the people in Rome that he knew, a final exhortation to the Romans, greetings from Paul’s inner circle and a closing doxology.  Today we are going to be dealing with the greetings to those in Rome that Paul knew.

I recommend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea, that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.—16:1-2 (NASB)

Another subsidiary purpose of Paul’s letter is that it is a letter of recommendation for Phoebe.  Paul’s phrasing in verse 1 strongly implies that Phoebe hold the office of deacon in the church of Cenchreae (1 Timothy 3:11), though it is possible she has been commissioned for a specific task or is a servant in a general sense.  She is also a rich benefactor of many Christian workers (Romans 16:2).  Paul exhorts the Romans to receive her not because of her wealth and status, but because she is a fellow Christian.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsfolk and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding in the view of the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.—16:3-15 (NASB)

Paul’s list of people to greet includes a few people whom we know from elsewhere in the New Testament, but most are only names to us.  Priscilla and her husband Aquila (v. 3) were Jewish Christians and hosts of a house church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:19), having previously lived in Rome before the banishment of Jews by Claudius around AD 49 (Acts 18:2).  They also joined in Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 18:18), and this is perhaps when they risked their lives for Paul and benefited a number of Gentile churches (Romans 16:4).  They are now back in Rome and hosting a church in their house (v. 5).  They are, therefor, presumably successful in their tent-making business (Acts 18:3) if they have a house that can accommodate Christian meetings.

Epaenetus and Mary are unknown to us.  Mary might be a Jew, though the name Maria (as it is in Paul’s Greek) is also a Roman name (the feminine form of Marius).  Andronicus and Junia (presumably a married couple) were Jewish Christians.  Whether, they are referred to here as or among “apostles” is not clear.  In any case, Paul can use the term “apostle” narrowly (referring to the Twelve) or more broadly to include Epaephriditus (see Philippians 2:25, where “messenger” is the Greek word used for “apostle”) and perhaps James (Galatians 1:19).  In 1 Corinthians, Paul doe not equate “apostles” with the 12 disciples (15:5 and 7).

None of the names mentioned in Romans 16:8-15 are known to us, though they are known to the Lord.  It is, however, notable that there is a mix of men (vv. 8-11 and 13-14) and women (vv. 12-13 and 15).  Some were Jews (vv. 3, 7 and 11) and others were presumably Gentiles, though we cannot tell based on the names.  Some were perhaps slaves.  It is possible Rufus (v. 13) is the son of Simon of Cyrene mentioned in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 15:21).  Since Mark possibly wrote his gospel in Rome, Rufus may been the source of the account of Simon’s carrying of the cross; Rufus’ mother (Romans 16:13), therefore, would then have been Simon of Cyrene’s wife.  Paul not only cites all these people as his connections in Rome but commends them for their Gospel-hearted actions and characteristics: the life-endangering risks taken by Priscilla and Aquila for Paul (v. 4), the fidelity of Apelles (v. 10) and the hard work of Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis (v. 12).  They are presumably highlighted as role models for other members of the Roman churches.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.—16:16 (NASB)

The kiss was a common greeting in the ancient Mediterranean, especially among Jews.  It was incorporated into the earliest churches (2 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Thessalonians 5:26 and 1 Peter 5:14).  However, the key point is that they greeting, whatever shape or form that it takes, should be holy.  And that is where we will pick up tomorrow as we see Paul’s final exhortation to the Romans and the greetings to those in Rome from Paul’s inner circle.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

Jeremiah 51:54-52:34, Titus 3, Psalm 100:1-5 and Proverbs 26:18-19

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply