Romans 16 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Romans 16)

Verse 1

[1] I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:

I commend unto you Phebe — The bearer of this letter.

A servant — The Greek word is a deaconness.

Of the church in Cenchrea — In the apostolic age, some grave and pious women were appointed deaconnesses in every church. It was their office, not to teach publicly, but to visit the sick, the women in particular, and to minister to them both in their temporal and spiritual necessities.

Verse 2

[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.

In the Lord — That is, for the Lord's sake, and in a Christian manner. St. Paul seems fond of this expression.

Verse 4

[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.

Who have for my life, as it were, laid down their own necks - That is, exposed themselves to the utmost danger.

But likewise all the churches of the gentiles — Even that at Rome, for preserving so valuable a life.

Verse 5

[5] Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

Salute the church that is in their house — Aquila had been driven from Rome in the reign of Claudius, but was now returned, and performed the same part there which Caius did at Corinth, Romans 16:23. Where any Christian had a large house, there they all assembled together though as yet the Christians at Rome had neither bishops nor deacons. So far were they from any shadow of papal power. Nay, there does not appear to have been then in the whole city any more than one of these domestic churches. Otherwise there can be no doubt but St. Paul would have saluted them also.

Epenetus — Although the apostle had never been at Rome, yet had he many acquaintance there. But here is no mention of Linus or Cemens; whence it appears, they did not come to Rome till after this.

The firstfruits of Asia — The first convert in the proconsular Asia.

Verse 7

[7] Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Who are of note among the apostles — They seem to have been some of the most early converts.

Fellowprisoners — For the gospel's sake.

Verse 9

[9] Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Our fellowlabourer — Mine and Timothy's, verse 21. Romans 16:21

Verse 11

[11] Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.

Those of the family of Aristobulus and Narcissus, who are in the Lord - It seems only part of their families were converted. Probably, some of them were not known to St. Paul by face, but only by character. Faith does not create moroseness, but courtesy, which even the gravity of an apostle did not hinder.

Verse 12

[12] Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.

Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa — Probably they were two sisters.

Verse 13

[13] Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Salute Rufus — Perhaps the same that is mentioned, Mark 15:21.

And his mother and mine — This expression may only denote the tender care which Rufus's mother had taken of him.

Verse 14

[14] Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.

Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, … — He seems to join those together, who were joined by kindred, nearness of habitation, or any other circumstance. It could not but encourage the poor especially, to be saluted by name, who perhaps did not know that the apostle bad ever heard of them. It is observable, that whilst the apostle forgets none who are worthy, yet he adjusts the nature of his salutation to the degrees of worth in those whom he salutes.

Verse 15

[15] Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.

Salute all the saints — Had St. Peter been then at Rome, St. Paul would doubtless have saluted him by name; since no one in this numerous catalogue was of an eminence comparable to his. But if he was not then at Rome, the whole Roman tradition, with regard to the succession of their bishops, fails in the most fundamental article.

Verse 16

[16] Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Salute one another with an holy kiss — Termed by St. Peter, "the kiss of love," 1 Peter 5:14. So the ancient Christians concluded all their solemn offices; the men saluting the men, and the women the women. And this apostolical custom seems to have continued for some ages in all Christian churches.

Verse 17

[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Mark them who cause divisions — Such there were, therefore, at Rome also.

Avoid them — Avoid all unnecessary intercourse with them.

Verse 18

[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.

By good words — Concerning themselves, making great promises.

And fair speeches — Concerning you, praising and flattering you.

The harmless — Who, doing no ill themselves, are not upon their guard against them that do.

Verse 19

[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.

But I would have you — Not only obedient, but discreet also.

Wise with regard to that which is good — As knowing in this as possible.

And simple with regard to that which is evil — As ignorant of this as possible.

Verse 20

[20] And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

And the God of peace — The Author and Lover of it, giving a blessing to your discretion.

Shall bruise Satan under your feet — Shall defeat all the artifices of that sower of tares, and unite you more and more together in love.

Verse 21

[21] Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Timotheus my fellowlabourer — Here he is named even before St. Paul's kinsmen. But as he had never been at Rome, he is not named in the beginning of the epistle.

Verse 22

[22] I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you — Tertius, who wrote what the apostle dictated, inserted this, either by St. Paul's exhortation or ready permission.

Caius — The Corinthian, 1 Corinthians 1:14.

My host, and of the whole church — Who probably met for some time in his house.

Verse 23

[23] Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.

The chamberlain of the city — Of Corinth.

Verse 25

[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,

Now to him who is able — The last words of this epistle exactly answer the first, chapter i. 1-5: Romans 1:1-5: in particular, concerning the power of God, the gospel, Jesus Christ, the scriptures, the obedience of faith, all nations.

To establish you — Both Jews and gentiles.

According to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ — That is, according to the tenor of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which I preach.

According to the revelation of the mystery — Of the calling of the gentiles, which, as plainly as it was foretold in the Prophets, was still hid from many even of the believing Jews.

Verse 26

[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:

According to the commandment — The foundation of the apostolical office.

Of the eternal God — A more proper epithet could not be. A new dispensation infers no change in God. Known unto him are all his works, and every variation of them, from eternity.

Made known to all nations — Not barely that they might know, but enjoy it also, through obeying the faith.

Verse 27

[27] To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

To the only wise God — Whose manifold wisdom is known in the church through the gospel, 1 Corinthians 1:24, where Christ is styled "the wisdom of God," and "the power of God." To him be glory through Christ Jesus for ever - And let every believer say, Amen!