Romans 16 - Glory To God Alone Forever

INTRODUCTION: Paul wanted the believers at Rome to receive his letter to them, before he would be able to see them in person. There are quite a few names in the exchange of greetings, and most of them are ones who would have no record in scripture except for this letter. Paul closed the letter in a very positive manner with glory to God. This chapter of Romans is in my own paraphrase, to some extent in an amplified style, prepared by examining several translations, and with some use of Greek and Hebrew lexicons.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King James Bible.


A - PAUL WANTED PHOEBE TO BE WARMLY RECEIVED AT ROME

Romans 16 "1 I send to you with my trust Phoebe, our sister, who is a dedicated servant to the assembly of believers at Cenchreae. 2 I want you to receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of fellow Christians, and to assist her in whatever ways she may need from you, for she has given needed help to me and to many others. 3 give my greeting to Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 they risked their own lives for my life; and for that not only do I thank them, but also all the assemblies of the Gentile believers thank them. 5 Give my greeting to the assembly of believers that meet in their house. Give my greeting also to Epaenetus, my beloved, who was the first to accept Christ during my ministry in Achaia."

COMMENTS: Paul introduced Phoebe to the believers at Rome in this closing chapter of his letter. He sent her with a high personal recommendation, and asked that the believers there willingly give her any kind of help she might need. This reference to Phoebe is all that is available in scripture about her. Cenchreae was the eastern port of Corinth, and Paul had been there in his first visit after he left Athens. Acts 18 "1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 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. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers."

Aquila and Priscilla may have been among the earliest contacts Paul had with believers from Rome before he was able to be there himself. After more than a year of ministry amid some degree of conflict, Paul and that couple left Corinth together. Acts 18 "18 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." There are several references in scripture about Aquila and Priscilla, and more than once it is apparent that they hosted a group of believers in their house.

Based on what Paul wrote in this chapter, Epaenetus was the first one to accept Christ Jesus as Savior when Paul first visited Corinth. That alone could make Epaenetus very special to Paul, but there is no other information about this person anywhere in scripture. We don't know why Epaenetus was in Rome, but we also don't know why Aquila and Priscilla had gone back there after they had met Paul in Corinth and later moved on to Ephesus with him. They stayed in Ephesus and served the Lord among other believers, but there is no record of how long they continued to minister there.

The previous chapter of Romans told of the gift Paul had for the materially poor believers at Jerusalem, and he was very determined to make that delivery before he went on to Rome. So it is most likely that Paul sent the letter to the Romans along with Phoebe before he left Greece (also called Achaia) after his second and final visit there. Paul had been in Ephesus before he traveled back through Macedonia and Achaia, and the next passage, which starts out in Ephesus, very briefly explains why Paul didn't take the shorter route to Syria. Acts 20 "1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto [him] the disciples, and embraced [them], and departed for to go into Macedonia. 2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 3 And [there] abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia."


B - PAUL LISTED MORE GREETINGS TO ONES IN ROME BY NAME

Romans 16 "6 Greet Mary for me, who did much diligent work for us. 7 Also give warm greeting to Andronicus and Junia, my blood relatives and my fellow prisoners, who have distinction and good reputation among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved and esteemed in the Lord; 9 and Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Give my greeting to Apelles, one who is acceptable and pleasing in Christ; and also greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 give my greeting to Herodion, my relative; and to those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord, and Persis, the beloved, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus for me, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother who has treated me as though she were mine. 14 Give my greeting to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Also to Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Then greet one another with genuine warm affection. The assemblies of Christ send their love and affectionate greeting to you."

COMMENTS: There are several women named Mary in scripture, and all we know of this one is that she was warmly mentioned here. All the other names listed in the above verses do not appear anywhere else in scripture. Andronicus and Junia are referred to as relatives of Paul, and the Greek word he used normally meant blood relative. Since they were believers before Paul, they could have been some of the earliest Christians with close contact to other apostles. Though there is no recorded case to assure that Paul was not using a metaphor, they may have actually been fellow prisoners in persecution with Paul at some time since he was a prisoner more than once. 2 Corinthians 11 "23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft." Paul referred to Herodion as his relative, and he used the same Greek word for relative as he had before.

Paul used various brief descriptive terms such as beloved for Amplias, Stachys, Persis, and he called Apelles acceptable and pleasing. Urbanus was called fellow worker, and Tryphaena and Tryphosa laborers in the Lord. he called Rufus the chosen in the Lord, whose mother was like a mother to Paul. He mentioned whole households for Aristobulus and Narcissus. The others he listed were apparently also very important friends or acquaintances, and he even asked that his greetings to those he named be shared with anyone else in the assembly at Rome. Paul asked them all to greet one another warmly in honor to the Lord. Then he turned to the pleasure of passing along greetings of love from the assemblies of Christ to the believers at Rome.


C - FAILURE TO FOLLOW SOUND DOCTRINE CAUSES DIVISION

Romans 16 "17 Now I earnestly and urgently call upon you my fellow believers to be watchful and prepared for those who are causing divisions and creating snares and impediments to progress, that do not line up with the sound doctrines and principles which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For those who take such actions don't serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own desire for personal gain and satisfaction; and by their smooth, skillful, convincing, and even flattering speech, they deceive the very hearts of the innocent. 19 Your obedient compliance in the faith has become known to people all around, and for this reason I rejoice over you. But I also very much want you to be wise in that which is truly good and beneficial, but separated from thoughts or actions that are harmful, base, evil, injurious or unjust. 20 And be assured that the God of peace, joy, and rest will quickly break and tread down Satan to be forever vanquished before you. May the grace, mercy, and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. May it be so, Amen. 21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives."

COMMENTS: Paul gave a final warning about those who deviate from sound doctrine because they are more concerned with promoting themselves than serving the Lord of glory. They can be very convincing in the way they present themselves, and that presents a real danger to believers who are not on their guard against such people. Those who alter true doctrine often have great skill with their words and pretenses, and usually try by various means to excessively and insincerely compliment the ones they want as followers. Paul said the good reputation of the believers at Rome gave him great pleasure, but he wanted to emphatically encourage them to continue on that pathway; as they exercised their wisdom in doing that which is truly good and beneficial, while remaining separated from thoughts or actions that are not characteristic of a dedicated follower of Christ.

As was true for the believers in Rome, today whoever trusts in Christ serves the God of peace, joy, and tranquility who will bring all believers into that everlasting state when he completely vanquishes Satan forever. With that promise firmly guaranteed by God Almighty we need to continually embrace the grace, mercy, and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ despite any trials we may face. Before the final passage in the letter, Paul gave greetings to the Roman believers in behalf of his fellow worker Timothy, who had been with Paul for both journeys through Macedonia and Achaia. Paul also sent greetings from three more of his companions which he called his relatives, who most likely were with him at the time the letter was written, but we have no definitive information. about any of them.


D - TERTIUS GAVE GREETINGS BEFORE CLOSING THE LETTER

Romans 16 "22 I, Tertius, the one writing the letter, give you my greeting in the Lord. 23 Gaius, my host and host of the whole assembly, sends his greetings to you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, as does Quartus, the brother. 24 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 25 Now give praise to the one who has all the power to firmly establish you in accord and in agreement with the gospel I share, and the preaching of Jesus Christ. This is precisely in accord with the disclosure of the mystery, which was kept concealed for centuries on end, 26 nevertheless from now on it is revealed, and that being shown by the scriptures of prophecy, according to the commandment of the eternal and everlasting God. And this is declared for understanding to all people everywhere for the acceptance and submissive exercise of their faith and belief. 27 To God who alone is wise, may there be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."

COMMENTS: The name Tertius appears only this one time in all of scripture, and Paul apparently confidently asked him to write down this long letter for him. As for Gaius There is more than one to be found, but the reference in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians seems to be the best reference to further identify this one. 1 Corinthians 1 "14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;" According to Tertius this Gaius was a gracious host for an assembly of believers. Erastus is identified as the treasurer of the city, and he and Quartus both want to send greetings to the believers at Rome, but that is all the information we have about either of them. Then Tertius closed his inserted comments expressing the desire that all at Rome would experience the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul wanted to convey assurance to those who believe in God through acceptance of Jesus Christ that their God has unlimited power to establish and sustain them in their eternal position in him. The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is in complete agreement with the many prophecies of the Old Testament that were fulfilled by the appearing of Jesus in flesh. This mystery could not be fully understood and foreseen by even the greatest wisdom of man. It had to be revealed by Jesus, and subsequently by his apostles. They explained how the events in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were reconciled with the many prophecies that had been recorded. All of this was planned and brought to reality by the commands of the eternal and everlasting God. These things are written and declared through preaching to be spread all around the world for any who will receive and accept the truth by placing faith in Christ Jesus the Son of God, to the glory of the only true and living God forever!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I pray that I will often think of Paul in regard to the many people he connected with over the years as he traveled. Some of those accompanied him at various times, while others gave him accommodations and support for his journeys. They were spread over many territories, and some were Jews while others were Gentiles, but Paul's letter showed how much respect and love he had for all who were fellow believers. Though Paul had a very special authority as your chosen apostle, he knew how to live in humility while at the same time asserting his firm commitment to the truth of scripture. He set aside his own comfort over many years to take the gospel to unreached areas, and you provided many people to assist him in his journeys.

Paul always spoke so well of the mercy, grace, and glory, of the Lord God; and he continually offered guidance for believers to strengthen their faith in Christ and to continually separate themselves from false doctrine. Lord, I ask that you help me to learn from the teaching of Paul about the many truths in scripture to share with those who need Christ as Savior. I also want to live as you chose and designed for me that I may build up other believers with each opportunity you provide. I know that I will always need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to further open my understanding and application of the teaching that is throughout all scripture. Amen.

Published 31 July 2016