SUMMARY.--The Bearer of the Letter Commended. The Church Asked to Give Her Aid in the Work that Calls Her to Rome. Greetings for Old Friends and Fellow-Laborers. A Household Church. Warned Against Divisions. Farewell Benediction.
1, 2. I commend unto you Phoebe. Evidently the bearer of the letter, a sister in Christ. In this list of persons greeted, a number are women, and the greetings show how highly Paul esteemed woman's work in the church. A servant. The word is deacon in the Greek. The word also means "servant," as rendered, but we know that there were deaconesses in the church of the first century, and Paul, in giving her a recommendation, no doubt mentions her office. To say that she was a servant of the church, would convey no special distinction. In the East, where women were so much secluded, deaconesses would be a necessity. Paul evidently refers to them. 1 Tim. 5:9, 10, evidently refers to them; Ignatius, a companion of the apostles, mentions them in one of his epistles, and Pliny does also, in his famous letter to Trajan, early in the second century. Which is at Cenchreæ. Paul wrote this letter at Corinth; Cenchreæ was its seaport, on the Ægean Sea, about nine miles from the city. A small town with the old name still marks its site. 2. That ye receive her in the Lord. Give her a Christian welcome. And that ye assist her. The term used in the Greek is a legal one; hence it is supposed that some kind of legal business called her to Rome. She hath been a succorer of many. This would result from her office as a deaconess. Among those ministered to was the apostle himself.
3-5. Greet Priscilla and Aquila. These active fellow-workers had first aided Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:2); then they went to Ephesus, and prepared the way for his work there (Acts 18:26); they had now returned to Rome, their former home. Some have argued that this greeting could not have been sent to Rome, from the fact that Paul had left them at Ephesus. It was the natural thing for them to go back home, when they could safely do so, and Godet says that from two or three years had passed since Paul left them at Ephesus, which gives ample time for a change of residence. The fact that the name of the wife comes first here, and in Acts 18:2, seems to imply that she was the more efficient. They are also named in 1 Cor. 16:19, and in 2 Tim. 4:19. 4. Who have for my life laid down, etc. It is evident that at some time they had endured great peril for Paul's sake. We know from 2 Cor. 11:23-27, that only a small part of his perils have been recorded. Also all the churches of the Gentiles. Are under a debt of gratitude to Priscilla and Aquila. 5. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. As the early Christians had no houses of worship, they met in the homes of prominent brethren. In the large cities there would be several such groups. One of these in Rome met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila. Salute Epænetus. He is not mentioned elsewhere. The first fruits of Achaia. "Asia," as in the Revision, is the true reading. The family of Stephanas were the first converts of Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15).
6-16. Greet Mary. A large number of those named were personal acquaintances of Paul; some had rendered him special service; many were, no doubt, his own converts. Of most of them we know nothing, save that he places them in this honorable roll. 7. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen. Countrymen. My fellow-prisoners. When confined with Paul, we do not know. Of note among the apostles. Well and favorably known to the apostles. 10. Salute them who are of the household of Aristobulus. Aristobulus was either dead, or not a believer. The household is, perhaps, his slaves. Great Romans had hundreds of slaves, usually white, many of them cultured. Thousands of the early Christians were gathered from these. 11. The household of Narcissus. At the time Paul wrote, a favorite of Nero, named Narcissus, was all powerful in Rome. He probably meant a number of his servants having accepted Christ. 12. Tryphæna, Tryphosa, . . . Persis. These are the names of women. From the fact stated of them, they were probably deaconesses. 13. Salute Rufus. Some have supposed this to be the Rufus named in Mark 15:21. His father was of Cyrene. Paul had certainly met his mother elsewhere, for he not only greets her, but says she had been a mother to him. 14. Hermas. Supposed by some to have been the author of an early Christian writing, called "The Shepherd of Hermas," which still remains. 15. And all the saints which are with them. Probably another household church, which met with those just named. 16. Salute one another with a holy kiss. The kiss is still a common salutation in the East, and was in New Testament times. See Luke 7:45; also 2 Sam. 20:9, and 1 Pet.5:14 The custom is still preserved in the Greek churches.
17-20. Mark them which cause divisions. Judaizing, or other false teachers, who disturbed the Gentile churches by urging them to keep the law of Moses, or by teaching some heresy. Read the Epistle to the Galatians. They were not to listen to them, and were to avoid them. 18. Serve not our Lord Jesus Christ. These men, like many other false teachers, were more devoted to their own appetites than to Christ. The simple. The unsuspecting. 19. For your obedience is come abroad. Your reputation as good Christians is so well known that you ought not to be deceived by these false teachers. 20. The God of peace shall bruise Satan. Shall give you the victory.
21-23. Timothy. We learn from Acts 20:4, that Timothy was with Paul at this time. He joins with other companions of Paul in greetings. Lucius. Possibly, "Lucius of Cyrene" (Acts 13:1). Jason. Possibly the one named in Acts 17:5. Sosipater. The same name as Sopater. See Acts 20:4. Kinsmen. Countrymen; Jews. 22. I, Tertius. Otherwise unknown. Paul dictated the letter, and Tertius acted as scribe. 23. Gaius, mine host. Paul baptized a Gaius at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14). The name occurs several times. He was noted for his hospitality. Erastus the chamberlain. The city treasurer, hence a man of high position. The name occurs in Acts 19:22, and in 2 Tim. 4:20.
24-27. The grace of our Lord. At the close of his greetings, Paul adds his benediction. He had already given it in verse 20. It is now written with his own hand (2 Thess. 3:17). He also adds a doxology, which makes a noble conclusion. 25. To him. They are commended to God. According to the revelation of the mystery. The mystery of the gospel, and especially of the salvation of the Gentiles. See Rom. 11:25. A mystery is a divine purpose that had been kept secret. When God's glorious purpose was revealed, the mystery was made known. 26. This mystery now is made manifest. The apostles were engaged in declaring this mystery to the world. 27. To God only wise. The source of all wisdom.