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Romans 16 (web)

Personal Greetings

16:1 I commend to you Phoebe, our sister,
who is a servant of the assembly that is at Cenchreae,

16:2 that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints,
and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you,
for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self.
16:3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
16:4 who for my life, laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks,
but also all the assemblies of the Gentiles.
16:5 Greet the assembly that is in their house.
Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.
16:6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us.
16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and my fellow prisoners,
who are notable among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
16:8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord.
16:9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved.
16:10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ.
Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.
16:11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman.
Greet them of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.
16:12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord.
Greet Persis, the beloved, who labored much in the Lord.
16:13 Greet Rufus, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
16:14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas,
and the brothers who are with them.
16:15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas,
and all the saints who are with them.
16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The assemblies of Christ greet you.
16:17 Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those
who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling,
contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them.
16:18 For those who are such don't serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly;
and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent.
16:19 For your obedience has become known to all. I rejoice therefore over you.
But I desire to have you wise in that which is good, but innocent in that which is evil.

16:20 And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

16:21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you,
as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives.
16:22 I, Tertius, who write the letter, greet you in the Lord.
16:23 Gaius, my host and host of the whole assembly, greets you.
Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, as does Quartus, the brother.
16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.

16:25  Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
16:26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith——
16:27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Discussion Questions

How many Christians in your church do you know by name?
How many do you spend personal time with individually or in a small group during the week?
If you were to make friends with people of like-heart with yourself,
what kind of people would they be?
What do you think it would require of you to have been considered Paul's friend? Jesus' friend?
vs 17 What kinds of divisions was he referring to?
And what kind of obstacles do people put in our way?
vs 18 Compare the manner in which Jesus presented truth with those who speak smoothly and with flattery. (Example: Matthew 23)
Should you presume that everything you pastor tells you is true?


The Value of the Individual

Romans 16 Overview

Most of Romans 16 is devoted to recognizing the significance of individual Christians most of whom were colaborers with Paul. Jesus cherished such people more so than His own family (including Mary). While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother." Mt 12:46-50

Often churches today tend to devalue individuals putting emphasis rather on programs and numbers. But as we will see in this chapter Paul had individuals on his mind, in spite of the fact that his ministry was to a large portion of the Roman Empire. Yet he obviously spent time with individuals, building relationships beyond the shallow relationships one normally associates with institutional Christianity. One recent survey of pastors noted that 70% of pastors say that they have no close friend.

Notice also that these people were laborers. While today, Christians may be praise just for showing up for church or Bible study, here he praises them for the their laboring for the Lord. But then again so few Christians today are encouraged to think of themselves as laborers.


Rom 16:1-5a I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea.  I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

While Paul did not allow women to teach or hold positions of authority over men (1Tim 2:11-14), women were active in serving the church with regards to practical matters. Likewise during Jesus ministry, for being crucified it is written, "Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs." Mt 27:55  And in Acts 9 a woman is commended. "In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor." Acts 9:36

Cenchrea was in the area of Corinth, the port city of Corinth. So it appears Phoebe was planning to travel to Rome.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Note that while Paul had not been to Rome he was familiar with many of these people. Some speculate that Priscilla and Aquila founded the church at Rome. This couple is mentioned a number of times. They were originally from Rome but moved to Corinth for a time. "There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,  and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them." Acts 18:2,3 They also traveled with Paul for a time. "Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila." Acts 18:18 They also explained to Apollos the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26)

Fellow Workers

Rom 16:5-9 Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.

As is reflected in many of his epistles to the churches, Paul cared deeply about many people on an individual basis. His friendship with Epenetus shows that those he converted he also followed up. And he gives special recognition to those who work hard ministering to others, be they men or women.

As for Andronicus and Junias, the word "relatives" may be misleading. For while the Greek word "suggenes" can refer to relatives, Paul is likely referring to his countrymen as the NKJV translates it, namely Jews. As he also notes concerning Herodian in verse 11. For he also used the same word in chapter 9 saying, "For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh", referring to Jews in general. We don't know when they had been imprisoned with Paul as the book of Acts is not comprehensive. As for being outstanding among the apostles, Roberson notes, "Naturally this means that they are counted among the apostles in the general sense true of Barnabas, James, the brother of Christ, Silas, and others. But it can mean simply that they were famous in the circle of the apostles in the technical sense."

In any case he commends them for being outstanding, as he does all these others. So let us recognize, commend and honor those who are doing an outstanding job laboring for the Lord.

Hard Workers

Rom 16:10-12 Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my relative. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.

If people seek approval, they're going to have to go through a season of testing. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." Jam 1:12 In this section he notes three more women who were commendable, again characterizing them as working very hard. "Worked" is the word more accurately translated "labored", indicating the intensity of one's work, that which is exhausting. And even makes the distinct between Persis who labored, but adds the modifier "much" to described the labor of Mary in verse 6 and that of Tryphena and Tryphosa here, indicating that Paul carefully noted not only the commendable labors of others, but also the degree to which they labored.

Would you be commended for laboring much, or even laboring at all with regards to Christian ministry?


Rom 16:13-16 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

There's a possibility that Rufus may have been the son of one Simon who carried Jesus cross.  Mr 15:21 "And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross."

And having given special commendation to those previously mentioned, these others I take it Paul mentions without special commendation, not worthy of the same recognition. Kind of like the judgement day where there will be those who will be commended greatly for their labor, and others who will simply be noted as having their names written in the book of life, but without special commendation. Which would you rather be?

"Holy kiss" is mentioned a number of places. 1Cor 16:20; 2Cor 13:12; 1Th 5:26 It was cultural form of greeting expressing the relationship being more than that of acquaintance, and more emotional than that of respect. But as the meanings and appropriateness of forms of greeting are often a matter of culture, this is not widely practiced today. But we see the principle applied in this very chapter as Paul shows his heart for all these people, as he also expresses in many of his epistles.

Don't be Naive

Rom 16:17,18  I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

Whenever there is division, either side may claim that they are the standard by which the opposition should be measured. But in fact everything should be scrutinized in light of the scriptures, rather that in light of denominational doctrine. Catholics may claim protestants are the those who caused divisions, which would be the case if "Catholicism" were the measure of all things, but it isn't. The Bible is the measure of all things and not Catholicism. And likewise with regards to other denominations which reckon themselves to be the measure of all things.

In fact the demand to unify around an institution with its institutional dogma is itself inherently divisive. Even among evangelicals there is a sense of allegiance to one institutional church over another institutional church. But the body of Christ is not an institution, but a collection of all believers in Christ, a corporate body, being unified in holding the Bible as the Word of God and interpreting and applying it in the same Spirit, the one Spirit into which all have been baptized. "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body." 1Cor 12:13a You can most easily identify they who cause divisions and offenses by their doctrine. For in order to make a themselves distinct and give themselves a sense of superiority over other Christians, they must exaggerate, misinterpret, or twist the scriptures in order to fabricate some doctrine unique to them whereby they may set themselves apart from others. And in fact virtually all denominations do this to some degree. Thus Paul warns, "The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2Tim 4:3,4 Don't be naive.

Be Obedient, Wise and Innocent

Rom 16:19,20 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Obedience is characteristic of those born of God. And since according to John 1:12, faith leads to being born of God, one could say, "obedience comes from faith" Rom 1:5

Faith -> Justification -> Regeneration -> Obedience -> Sanctification

Furthermore obedience to the gospel opens doors for evangelism and causes others to praise God.

"Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ." 2Cor 9:13a

"The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia— your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead" 1Th 1:8-10a

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3John 1:4

We are to mature, becoming more experienced in doing good, and inexperienced, but not naive with regards to evil. Paul writes, "In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults." 1Cor 14:20

The promise of crushing Satan's head goes back to the first Messianic prophecy found in Genesis 3:15.

Greetings from Others

Rom 16:21-24 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.  Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Possible Cross References to some of these guys:
Note the Paul dictated this letter to Tertius who was the one who actually wrote it down. Though Paul was literate, he may have had an affliction which made it difficult for him to write, likely an eye disease, and thus in Gal 6:11 he writes, "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" Though Paul did pen the greetings personally as he said in 2Th 3:17 "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write."

Established by the Gospel

Rom 16:25-27 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—— to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

To be noted here is that it is God's command for the gospel to be made known to all nations. Those who are not involved in promoting and propagating the gospel are not obeying God's command. But that should not even be an issue for those who believe the gospel. For if we believe the gospel, we will speak it. It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak. 2Cor 4:13 For we realize that "since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men." 2Cor 5:11, given that apart from faith in the gospel there is no promise for salvation from God's wrath,  "the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints." Col 1:26

What is it to be "established" but to be made strong in conviction, unshakeable in faith, which is part of the sanctification process, which itself is part of the salvation package, as Paul indicates here saying, "according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ." For "the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one." 2Th 3:3 That's part of the gospel message. The gospel is not just about justification. It's also about the security we have in Christ, the empowering by the Holy Spirit, and the effect regeneration has on our behavior.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 28,2022