Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:Chap. 16:1-16.] Recommendation of Phœbe: greetings.
1, 2.] In all probability Phœbe was the bearer of the Epistle, as stated in the (rec.) subscription.
διάκονον] Deaconess. See 1Timothy 3:11, note. Pliny in his celebrated letter to Trajan says, “necessarium credidi, ex duabus ancillis quæ ministræ dicebantur, quid esset veri et per tormenta quærere.” A minute discussion of their office, &c., in later times may be found in Suicer, Thesaurus, sub voce; and in Bingham, book ii. chap. 22, § 8. Neander, Pfl. u. Leit., Exo_4, pp. 265-267, shews that the deaconesses must not be confounded with the χῆραι of 1Timothy 5:3-16, as has sometimes been done.
Kenchrëæ, the port of Corinth (τῶν Κορινθίων ἐπίνειον, Philo in Flacc. § 19, vol. ii., p. 539: κώμη τις τῆς Κορίνθου μεγίστη, Theodoret, h. l.) on the Saronic gulf of the Ægean, for commerce with the east (Acts 18:18): seventy stadia from Corinth, Strabo viii. 380. Pausan. ii. 2, 3. Livy xxxii. 17. Plin. iv. 4. The Apostolical Constitutions (vii. 46, p. 1053, Migne) make the first bishop of the Cenchrean church to have been Lucius, consecrated by Paul himself (Winer, Realw.). The western port, on the Sinus Corinthiacus, was Leche (Paus.), Lecheæ (Plin.), or Lecheum (Strab., Ptol.).
2.] ἐν κυρίῳ, in a Christian manner,—as mindful of your common Lord: ἀξίως τ. ἁγίων, ‘in a manner worthy of saints;’ i.e. ‘as saints ought to do,’—refers to προσδέξησθε, and therefore to their conduct to her;—not, ‘as saints ought to be received.’
παραστῆτε] Her business at Rome may have been such as to require the help of those resident there.
προστάτις πολλῶν] This may refer to a part of the deaconess’s office, the attending on the poor and sick of her own sex.
κ. ἐμοῦ αὐτοῦ] when and where, we know not. It is not improbable that she may have been, like Lydia, one whose heart the Lord opened at the first preaching of Paul, and whose house was his lodging.
3, 4.] The form Prisca is also found 2Timothy 4:19. On Prisca and Aquila see note, Acts 18:2. They must have returned to Rome from Ephesus since the sending of 1 Cor.:—see 1Corinthians 16:19: and we find them again at Ephesus (?), 2Timothy 4:19.
Their endangering of their lives for Paul may have taken place at Corinth (Acts 18:6 ff.) or at Ephesus (Act_19). See Neander, Pfl. u. Leit., p. 441. “ὑποτιθέναι est pignori opponere. Demosth. in Aphobum: ἀπέτισα τὴν λειτουργίαν, ὑποθεὶς τὴν οἰκίαν καὶ τἀμαυτοῦ πάντα. Æschines: ὑπέθησαν αὐτῷ τοῦ ταλάντου τὰς δημοσίας προσόδους.” Wetst.
The ‘churches of the Gentiles’ had reason to be thankful to them, for having rescued the Apostle of the Gentiles from danger.
It seems to have been the practice of Aquila and Priscilla (ref. 1 Cor.) and some other Christians (reff. Col., Philem.) to hold assemblies for worship in their houses, which were saluted, and sent salutations as one body in the Lord. Some light is thrown on the expression by the following passage from the Acta Martyrii S. Justini, in Ruinart, cited by Neander, Church Hist. i. 330, Rose’s trans. “The answer of Justin Martyr to the question of the prefect (Rusticus) ‘Where do you assemble?’ exactly corresponds to the genuine Christian spirit on this point. The answer was; ‘Where each one can and will. You believe, no doubt, that we all meet together in one place; but it is not so, for the God of the Christians is not shut up in a room, but, being invisible, He fills both heaven and earth, and is honoured every where by the faithful.’ Justin adds, that when he came to Rome, he was accustomed to dwell in one particular spot, and that those Christians who were instructed by him, and wished to hear his discourse, assembled at his house. (This assembly would accordingly be ἡ κατʼ οἶκον τοῦ Ἰουστίνου ἐκκλησία.) He had not visited any other congregations of the Church.”
5.] Epænetus is not elsewhere named.
ἀπαρχή, the same metaphor being in the Apostle’s mind as in ch. 15:16,—the first believer.
On Ἀσίας see var. readd.
εἰς χρ., elliptical: the full construction would be τῆς προσφορᾶς εἰς χρ.
6.] None of the names occurring from ver. 5-15 are mentioned elsewhere (except possibly Rufus: see below).
De Wette remarks, that, notwithstanding the manuscript authority, εἰς ἡμᾶς is perhaps the more likely reading, (1) because the Apostle would hardly mention a service done to themselves as a ground of salutation from him, and (2) because κοπιᾷν without being expressly followed by λόγῳ (1Timothy 5:17: see Philippians 2:16; Colossians 1:29), said of women, most likely implies acts of kindness peculiar to the sex.
7.] Ἰουνιᾶν may be fem. (Ἰουνίαν), from Ἰουνία (Junia), in which case she is probably the wife of Andronicus,—or masc., from Ἰουνιᾶς (Junianus, contr. Junias). It is uncertain also whether συγγενεῖς means fellow-countrymen, or relations. Aquila and Priscilla were Jews: so would Maria be, and probably Epænetus, being an early believer. If so, the word may have its strict meaning of ‘relations.’ But it seems to occur vv. 11, 21 in a wider sense.
συναιχμ.] When and where, uncertain.
ἐπίσημοι ἐν τ. ἀποστ.] Two renderings are given: (1) ‘of note among the Apostles,’ so that they themselves are counted among the Apostles: thus the Greek ff. (τὸ ἀποστόλους εἶναι, μέγα· τὸ δὲ καὶ ἐν τούτοις ἐπισήμους εἶναι, ἐννόησον ἡλίκον ἐγκώμιον, Chrys.), Calv., Est., Wolf, Thol., Kölln., Olsh., al.: or (2) ‘noted among the Apostles,’ i.e. well known and spoken of by the Apostles. Thus Beza, Grot., Koppe, Reiche, Meyer, Fritz., De W.
But, as Thol. remarks, had this latter been the meaning, we should have expected some expression like διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν (2Corinthians 8:18). I may besides remark, that for Paul to speak of any persons as celebrated among the Apostles in sense (2), would imply that he had more frequent intercourse with the other Apostles, than we know that he had; and would besides be improbable on any supposition. The whole question seems to have sprung up in modern times from the idea that οἱ ἀπόστολοι must mean the Twelve only. If the wider sense found in Acts 14:4, Acts 14:14; 2Corinthians 8:23; 1Thessalonians 2:6 (compare 1:1) be taken, there need be no doubt concerning the meaning.
οἳ καὶ …] refers to Andr. and Jun., not to the Apostles. In the use of γέγοναν, there is a mixed construction—“who have been longer than me,” and “who were before me.”
8 ff.] Ampliatus = Amplias: see v. r. ἀγ. ἐν κυρ
ἀγ. ἐν κυρ. beloved in the bonds of Christian fellowship.
συνεργ. ἐν χρ., fellow-workman in (the work of) Christ.
Origen and others have confounded Apelles with the well-known Apollos, but apparently without reason. Cf. Hor. Sat. i. 5. 100.
δόκιμ. ἐν χρ., approved (by trial) in (the work of) Christ. It does not follow that either Aristobulus or Narcissus were themselves Christians. Only those of their familiœ (τοὺς ἐκ τῶν) are here saluted who were ἐν κυρίῳ: for we must understand this also after Ἀριστοβούλου.
συγγ., see above. Grot., Neander, al., have taken Narcissus for the well-known freedman of Claudius. But this can hardly be, for he was executed (Tac. Ann. xiii. 1) in the very beginning of Nero’s reign, i.e. cir. 55 a.d., whereas (see Prolegg. § iv. 4, and Chronol. Table) this Epistle cannot have well been written before 58 a.d. Perhaps, as Winer (Realw.) suggests, the family of this Narcissus may have continued to be thus known after his death (?).
13.] Rufus may have been the son of Simon of Cyrene, mentioned Mark 15:21: but the name was very common.
ἐκλεκτόν—not to be softened, as De W., al., to merely ‘eximium,’ a sense unknown to our Apostle;—elect, i.e. one of the elect of the Lord.
καὶ ἐμοῦ the Apostle adds from affectionate regard towards the mother of Rufus: ‘my mother,’ in my reverence and affection for her. Jowett compares our Lord’s words to St. John, John 19:27.
14.] These Christians of whom we have only the names, seem to be persons of less repute than the former. Hermas (= Hermodorus, Grot.) is thought by Origen (in loc. “Puto, quod Hermas iste sit scriptor libelli istius qui Pastor appellatur”), Eus. H. E. iii. 3, and Jerome, Catal. script, eccl., c. x., vol. ii., p. 846, to be the author of the ‘Shepherd.’ But this latter is generally supposed to have been the brother of Pius, bishop of Rome, about 150 a.d.
The σὺν αὐτοῖς ἀδελφοί of ver. 14, and σὺν αὐτοῖς πάντες ἅγιοι of ver. 15, have been taken by De W. and Reiche to point to some separate associations of Christians, perhaps (De W.) assemblies as in ver. 5: or (Reiche) unions for missionary purposes.
16.] The meaning of this injunction seems to be, that the Roman Christians should take occasion, on the receipt of the Apostle’s greetings to them, to testify their mutual love, in this, the ordinary method of salutation, but having among Christians a Christian and holy meaning, see reff. It became soon a custom in the churches at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. See Suicer under ἀσπασμός and φίλημα, and Bingham, xv. 3.3.
ἀσπάζ. ὑμ. αἱ ἐκκλ. π.] This assurance is stated evidently on the Apostle’s authority, speaking for the churches; not implying as Bengel, “quibuscum fui, c. xv. 26. His significarat, se Romam scribere,” but vouching for the brotherly regard in which the Roman church was held by all churches of Christ. The above misunderstanding has led to the exclusion of πᾶσαι.
17-20.] Warning against those who made divisions among them. To what persons the Apostle refers, is not plain. Some (Thol., al.) think the Judaizers to be meant, not absolutely within the Christian pale, but endeavouring to sow dissension in it: and so, nearly, Neander, Pfl. u. Leit., p. 452. De W. thinks that Paul merely gives this warning in case such persons came to Rome. Judging by the text itself, we infer that these teachers were similar to those pointed out in Philippians 3:2, Philippians 3:18; 1Timothy 6:3 ff.; 2Corinthians 11:13, 2Corinthians 11:20: unprincipled and selfish persons, seducing others for their own gain: whether Judaizers or not, does not appear: but considering that the great opponents of the Apostle were of this party, we may perhaps infer that they also belonged to it.
17.] σκοπεῖν = βλέπειν, Philippians 3:2.
The διδαχή here spoken of is probably rather ethical than doctrinal; compare Ephesians 4:20-24.
18.] χρηστολογία, κολακεία, Theophyl. Wetstein cites from Julius Capitolinus, in Pertinace, 13, “omnes, qui libere conferebant, male Pertinacem loquebantur, chrestologum eum appellantes, qui bene loqueretur et male faceret.”
εὐλογίας, fairness of speech: so Plato, Rep. iii. 400 d, εὐλογία ἄρα κ. εὐαρμοστία κ. εὐσχημοσύνη κ. εὐρυθμία εὐηθείᾳ ἀκολουθεῖ—or perhaps ‘eulogies’ (flatteries), as Pind. Nehemiah 4:8, οὐδὲ θερμὸν ὕδωρ τόσον " γε μαλθακὰ τεύχει " γυῖα, τόσσον εὐλογία φόρ " μιγγι συνάορος.
19.] See ch. 1:8. Their obedience being matter of universal notoriety, is the ground of his confidence that they will comply with his entreaty, ver. 17.
Some slight reproof is conveyed in χαίρω, θέλω δὲ κ.τ.λ. They were well known for obedience, but had not been perhaps cautious enough with regard to these designing persons and their pretended wisdom. See Matthew 10:16, of which words of our Lord there seems to be here a reminiscence.
20.] ἐπειδὴ γὰρ εἶπε τοὺς τὰς διχοστασίας κ. τὰ σκάνδαλα ποιοῦντας, εἶπεν εἰρήνης θεόν, ἵνα θαρσήσωσι περὶ τῆς τούτων ἀπαλλαγῆς. Chrys. Hom. xxxii. p. 755: and so most Commentators. De W. prefers taking ὁ θ. τῆς εἰρ. more generally as ‘the God of salvation;’ and the usage of the expression (see reff.) seems to favour this.
συντρ. τ. σατ. is a similitude from Genesis 3:15.
συντρίψει, not as Stuart, ‘for optative,’ nor does it express any wish, but a prophetic assurance and encouragement in bearing up against all adversaries, that it would not be long before the great Adversary himself would be bruised under their feet.
ἡ χάρις κ.τ.λ.] It appears as if the Epistle was intended to conclude with this usual benediction, but the Apostle found occasion to add more. This he does also in other Epistles: see 1Corinthians 16:23, 1Corinthians 16:24; similarly Philippians 4:20, and vv. 21-23 after the doxology,—2Thessalonians 3:16, 2Thessalonians 3:17, 1Timothy 6:16, 1Timothy 6:17 ff.:—2Timothy 4:18, 2Timothy 4:19 ff.
21-24.] Greetings from various persons.
21.] Lucius must not be mistaken for Lucas (= Lucanus),—but was probably Lucius of Cyrene, Acts 13:1, see note there.
A ‘Sopater (son) of Pyrrhus of Berœa’ occurs Acts 20:4, but it is quite uncertain whether this Sosipater is the same person.
οἱ συγγενεῖς, see above, ver. 7. These persons may have been Jews; but we cannot tell whether the expression may not be used in a wider sense.
22.] There is nothing strange (as Olsh. supposes) in this salutation being inserted in the first person. It would be natural enough that Tertius the amanuensis, inserting ἀσπάζεται ὑμ. Τέρτ. ὁ γρ. τ. ἐπ. ἐν κυρ., should change the form into the first person, and afterwards proceed from the dictation of the Apostle as before. Beza and Grot. suppose him to have done this on transcribing the Epistle. Thol. notices this irregularity as a corroboration of the genuineness of the chapter. On the supposed identity of Tertius with Silas see note on Acts 15:22.
23.] Gaius is mentioned 1Corinthians 1:14, as having been baptized by Paul. The host of the whole church probably implies that the assemblies of the church were held in his house:—or perhaps, that his hospitality to Christians was universal. Erastus, holding this office (οἰκονόμος, the public treasurer, ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς δημοσίας τραπέζης, arcarius, Wetst., who quotes from inscriptions, Νείλῳ οἰκονόμῳ Ἀσίας,—Secundus, arkarius Reip. Armerinorum), can hardly have been the same who was with the Apostle in Ephesus, Acts 19:22. It is more probable that the Erastus of 2Timothy 4:20 is identical with this than with that other.
ὁ ἀδελφός, our brother [see 1Corinthians 1:1],—the generic singular; one among οἱ ἀδελφοί, ‘the brethren.’ The rest have been specified by their services or offices.
[24.] The benediction repeated; see above on ver. 20. The omission (see var. read.) has perhaps been by the caprice of the copyists.]
25-27.] Concluding doxology. The genuineness of this doxology, and its position in the Epistle have been much questioned. The external evidence will be found in the var. readings;—from which it is plain, that its genuineness as a part of the Epistle is placed beyond all reasonable doubt. Nor does the variety of position militate here, as in some cases, against this conclusion. For the transference of it to the end of ch. 14 may be explained, partly from the supposed reference of στηρίξαι to the question treated in ch. 14 (so Chrys., πάλιν γὰρ ἐκείνων ἔχεται τῶν ἀσθενῶν, κ. πρὸς αὐτοὺς τρέπει τὸν λόγον), partly from the supposed inappropriateness of it here after the benediction of ver. 24, in consequence of which that verse is omitted by mss. which have the doxology here,—partly from the unusual character of the position and diction of the doxology itself.
This latter has been used as an internal argument against the genuineness of the portion. Paul never elsewhere ends with such a doxology. His doxologies, when he does use such, are simple, and perspicuous in construction, whereas this is involved, and rhetorical. This objection however is completely answered by the supposition (Fritz.) that the doxology was the effusion of the fervent mind of the Apostle on taking a general survey of the Epistle. We find in its diction striking similarities to that of the pastoral Epistles:—a phænomenon occurring in several places where Paul writes in a fervid and impassioned manner,—also where he writes with his own hand;—the inferences from which I have treated in the Prolegg. to those Epistles (vol. iii. Prolegg. ch. vii. § i. 30-33). That the doxology is made up of unusual expressions taken from Paul’s other writings, that it is difficult and involved, are facts, which if rightly argued from, would substantiate, not its interpolation, but its genuineness: seeing that an interpolator would have taken care to conform it to the character of the Epistle in which it stands, and to have left in it no irregularity which would bring it into question. The construction is exceedingly difficult. Viewed superficially, it presents only another instance added to many in which the Apostle begins a sentence with one construction, proceeds onward through various dependent clauses till he loses sight of the original form, and ends with a construction presupposing another kind of beginning. And such no doubt it is: but it is not easy to say what he had in his mind when commencing the sentence. Certainly, ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τ. αἰῶνας forbids us from supposing that δόξα was intended to follow the datives,—for thus this latter clause would be merely a repetition. We might imagine that he had ended the sentence as if it had begun ὁ δὲ δυνάμενος, κ.τ.λ. and expressed a wish that He who was able to confirm them, might confirm them: but this is prevented by its being evident, from the μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ, that the datives are still in his mind. This latter fact will guide us to the solution. The dative form is still in his mind, but not the reference in which he had used it. Hence, when the sentence would naturally have concluded (as it actually does in B: see digest) μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ, διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, ἡ δόξα εἰς τ. αἰῶνας,—a break is made, as if the sense were complete at χριστοῦ, and the relative ᾧ refers back to the subject of the sentence preceding, thus imagined complete,—viz. to ὁ δυνάμενος—μόνος σοφὸς θεός. The analogy of the similar passage Acts 20:32 would tempt us to supply with the datives παρατίθεμαι ὑμᾶς, or the like, as suggested by Olsh.;—but as De W. remarks, the form of a doxology is too evident to allow of this. After all, perhaps, the datives may be understood as conveying a general ascription of praise for the mercies of Redemption detailed in the Epistle, and then ᾧ ἡ δ. as superadded, q. d., To Him who is able &c.… be all the praise: to whom be glory for ever.
25.] κατά, in reference to, i.e. ‘in subordination to,’ and according to the requirements of.
κήρυγμα Ἰησοῦ χρ. can hardly mean, as De W. and Meyer, ‘the preaching which Jesus Christ hath accomplished by me’ (ch. 15:18),—nor again as Chrys., ὃ αὐτὸς ἐκήρυξεν,—but the preaching of Christ, i.e. making known of Christ, as the verb is used 1Corinthians 1:23; 1Corinthians 15:12 al. fr. So Calv., and most Commentators.
κατὰ ἀποκ.] This second κατά is best taken, not as co-ordinate to the former one, and following στηρίξαι, nor as belonging to δυναμένῳ, which would be an unusual limitation of the divine Power,—but as subordinate to κήρυγμα,—the preaching of Jesus Christ according to, &c. The omission of τό before κατὰ ἀποκ. is no objection to this.
μυστ.] The mystery (see ch. 11:25, note) of the gospel is often said to have been thus hidden from eternity in the counsels of God—see Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26; 2Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8.
26.] See ch. 1:2. The prophetic writings were the storehouse out of which the preachers of the gospel took their demonstrations that Jesus was the Christ: see Acts 18:28;—more especially, it is true, to the Jews, who however are here included among πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.
κατʼ ἐπιταγ. may refer either to the prophetic writings being drawn up by the command of God,—or to the manifestation of the mystery by the preachers of the gospel thus taking place. The latter seems best to suit the sense. αἰωνίου refers back to χρ. αἰωνίοις [the word should have been kept scrupulously the same in English, not as here and in Matthew 22:46 rendered by two different English terms].
The first εἰς indicates the aim—in order to their becoming obedient to the faith:—the second, the local extent of the manifestation.
27.] διὰ Ἰης. χρ. must by the requirements of the construction be applied to μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ, and not (as Aug. [and E. V.]) to δόξα, from which it is separated by the relative ᾧ. The quantity of intervening matter, especially the datives μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ, prevent it from being referred (as Œc., Theophyl.) to στηρίξαι. It must then be rendered to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, i.e. Him who is revealed to us by Christ as such.
On the construction of ᾧ see above. It cannot without great harshness be referred to Christ, seeing that the words μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ resume the chief subject of the sentence, and to them the relative must apply.