Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:Ch. Romans 16:1-16. A commendation, and many salutations
1. I commend] Lit. But, or now, I commend. The particle marks transition to a new subject.
Phebe] Strictly, Phœbe.—Nothing is known of Phœbe beyond the information in this passage. It is probable that she was the bearer of the Epistle to Rome; for no other bearer is mentioned, and the prominence of this notice of her suggests a special connexion with the writing. See further below.—The early Christian converts seem to have had no scruple in retaining a pre-baptismal name even when the name (as in this case) was that of a heathen deity. Cp. Hermes, (Romans 16:14); Nereus, (Romans 16:15); and such derivative names as Demetrius (3 John 1:12).
a servant of the church] Plainly the word “servant” here bears more than a menial reference: Phœbe was in some sense a dedicated helper of the community at Cenchreæ, and very probably a person of substance and influence.—There is good evidence of the existence in the Apostles’ time of an organized class of female helpers in sacred work; for see especially 1 Timothy 5:3-16. Just after the apostolic age the famous Letter of Pliny to Trajan indicates that such female helpers (ministræ) were known in the Bithynian Churches; and for two centuries from the time of Tertullian (cir. a.d. 210) allusions to them are frequent, and shew that they were largely employed both in the relief of temporal distress, chiefly among women, and also in the elementary teaching of female catechumens. They were regularly set apart by imposition of hands. As a rule, they were required to be of mature age, (rarely of less than 40 years,) and in most cases they appear to have been widows and mothers. By the 12th century the Order had been everywhere abolished. (See Bingham’s Antiquities, Bk. II. ch. xxii.)—We must not assume that Phœbe was a deaconess in the full later sense of the word; but that her position was analogous to that of the later deaconesses seems at least most probable.
“The church:”—here in the very frequent sense of a local community of Christians.
Cenchrěa] In the Gr. Cenchreæ: the Eastern port of Corinth. Cp. Acts 18:18.—See Introduction, ii. § 1.
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.2. in the Lord, as becometh saints] With all the attention and delicacy due from Christians to a Christian woman.
assist her] Lit. (in the lit sense of “assist,”) stand by her. What Phœbe’s business at Rome was, is quite unknown to us. It may have concerned property, and involved enquiries and directions about law. Or it may have been (though less probably) religious business.
a succourer] Lit. a champion; one who stands before another. The word conveys a graceful allusion to the request that they would “stand by” Phœbe: she had “stood before” many a needing and suffering Christian.
of myself also] Very probably at some time of illness, such as that other time which apparently delayed him in Galatia, on his first visit there, and called out the sympathetic love of the Galatians. (Galatians 4:13-15; where read, “on account of weakness of the flesh;” i.e. “because of illness”).
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:3. Priscilla and Aquila] Better, Prisca and Aquila; so 2 Timothy 4:19.—See Acts 18:2; Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26, for the whole known history of these two eminent Christians, (except the references to them here, and in 1 Corinthians 16:19, and 2 Timothy 4). Aquila (whose name in its Greek form is Akulas) was born in Pontus—as was another well-known Aquila, a translator of the O. T. into Greek. He and his wife, Prisca or Priscilla, first met St Paul at Corinth; then, 18 months later, went with him to Ephesus, where they both took part in the instruction of Apollos: here we find them again at Rome; and in St Paul’s last days they are probably again at Ephesus. (2 Timothy 4.) Their after-history is quite unknown. Whether or no they were converts of St Paul is uncertain. (See Introduction, i. § 17, 23; ii. § 2.)—“Priscilla is an example of what a married woman may do, for the general service of the Church, in conjunction with home-duties, just as Phœbe is the type of the unmarried servant of the Church, or deaconess.” (Dr Howson, in Smith’s Dict. Bibl.)—The variation in the form of Prisca’s name has many parallels in Roman nomenclature.
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.4. who have for my life, &c.] Lit., and better, who did for my life lay down their own neck, (not necks). An entirely unknown occasion, on which Aquila and his wife had risked their lives for St Paul’s.—“Laid down:”—the figure is of presenting the neck, or throat, to the executioner. Whether the word is only figurative here, we cannot determine.
all the churches of the Gentiles] To whom they had, by their self-devotion, preserved their Apostle.
Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.5. the church that is in their house] Their house at Rome, like their house at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 16:19,) probably contained a large room (like the “Upper Room” at Jerusalem) which was devoted to Divine worship, and used by the Christians of the neighbouring district, who thus formed a “Church,” or assembly, which itself was an organic part of the main “Church at Rome.” No doubt the whole Roman community had a central meeting-chamber, probably of the same kind, (indeed Aquila’s may have been this central chamber,) in which e.g. this Epistle would be read.—Bingham (Antiquities, Bk. VIII. ch. i.) collects the allusions to Christian places of assembly in the first century. He makes it clear that special chambers were set apart for holy uses, but does not make it clear that whole buildings were, in those first days, built for, or devoted to, worship. No doubt the circumstances of society and the inexpediency of obtruding Christian worship on the view of the heathen, made this a natural and wise practice at first. But the existence of Jewish synagogues alone would make it equally natural, in due time, to dedicate whole buildings. By the third century, at latest, this was common.
For similar allusions to church-assemblies under private roofs, see 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2, and perhaps below, Romans 16:14-15.
Epenetus] Strictly, Epænetus: known only from this verse. We may suppose that he was not only the “firstling of Asia” (see below) but St Paul’s own convert, and thus specially “well-beloved” by the Apostle.—Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:15.
Achaia] The better reading is Asia; i.e. Asia in the strict sense, the Roman province of which Ephesus was the capital. See Acts 19:10; Acts 19:22; Acts 19:26-27; Acts 19:31.
unto Christ] i.e. as a convert to Him.
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.6. Mary] Mariam or Maria. Both forms represent the Heb. Miriam. In the Gospels, the Holy Mother is always, or nearly always, called Mariam in the Greek text; the other Maries, Maria.—This is the only Hebrew name in this chapter.
bestowed much labour] Lit. toiled; the strongest word for pains and efforts.
on us] The better reading is, on you. We do not know the occasion or occasions of these “labours.” The verb is aorist, and refers to a definite past period or crisis.
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.7. Andronîcus and Junia] Or, perhaps, Juntas, i.e. Junianus (in a contracted form, as Lucas for Lucanus, Silas for Silvanus, &c.). There is no various reading, but the Gr. accusative may belong to either Junia (feminine) or Junias (masculine). It is impossible to decide, but perhaps the following expressions favour the view that we have here two Christian men.
my kinsmen] Of course in a literal sense, which alone can be distinctive here. Their names are Greek and Latin (respectively); but this was continually the case with Jews, (cp. Paulus, Crispus, Apollos, &c.). They were, we may assume, Benjamites at least, if not near relatives of St Paul’s.—Of his “kinsmen” we elsewhere (outside this chapter) hear only where his nephew is mentioned, Acts 23:16.
fellowprisoners] Strictly, fellowprisoners-of-war. Same word as Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:23. The word indicates that these Christians had once been in prison with St Paul (a glorious reminiscence) in the course of the warfare of Christian duty and suffering.
See 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23, for hints of the many (to us) unknown imprisonments of the Apostle. The last passage is specially instructive as proving that the Acts is a narrative of selection only.
of note among the apostles] The words may mean either (1) “distinguished Apostles,” or (2) “well known to, and honoured by, the Apostles.” If (1) is right, the word “Apostle” is used (as in the Gr. of 2 Corinthians 8:23; Php 2:25;) in its literal and wider sense of a messenger, and here probably (if so) a messenger of the Gospel, a missionary. The context, however, in 2 Corinthians 8 and Philippians 2, is of a kind which explains, and so justifies, such a reference more distinctly than the context here. We may suppose that St Paul would more naturally have written here, had (1) been his meaning, “of note among the apostles of the churches.” We incline, then, to the explanation (2):—these two Christians, possibly because of special deeds of love and help to others of the Apostles besides St Paul, were particularly honoured by the apostolic body.
in Christ before me] A beautiful and affecting tribute to these his “senior saints.”
Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.8. Amplias] A name probably contracted from Ampliâtus, which appears in some documents. The name is Latin.
Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.9. Urban] Strictly, Urbânus. The letter -e in the E. V. form is not to be pronounced: it is like the final -e of Constantine, and has nothing to do with feminine terminations. It would have been better to write Urban in E. V.) The name is Latin.
Stachys] A Greek name, and masculine.
Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.10. Apelles] A Greek name. It is used by Horace, in a well-known passage, (Satires, I. v. 100,) as a name common among Jews.
approved in Christ] i.e. one who has been tested and found true, as a “member of Christ.” Perhaps he had borne special suffering or sorrow with strong faith.
them which are of Aristobûlus’ household] Lit. those from amongst Aristobulus’.—Aristobulus’ name is Greek: we know no more of him. He may, or may not, have been a Christian; and the latter is slightly the more likely alternative. See next verse, and cp. Php 4:22.—“Those from amongst his” household, or people, are probably the converts in his familia, or establishment, of slaves and freedmen.
Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.11. Herodion my kinsman] See on Romans 16:7. The name is Greek.
them that be of the household of Narcissus] Lit., as just above, those from amongst Narcissus’. There was one notorious Narcissus, a freedman of Claudius; and another, one of Nero’s bad favourites. Either of these may have been the master of the Christian dependents here saluted; but the name was a common one. The freedman of Claudius was probably by this time dead, but his household may have been subsisting still.
Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.12. Tryphçna and Tryphôsa] Greek names. These Christian women are otherwise unknown to us. They were very probably, like Phœbe, “servants of the Church.”
labour in the Lord] toil (same word as that rendered “bestow much labour,” Romans 16:6,) in the Lord; as being “in Him,” and working under His presence and influence.
the beloved Persis] A Greek name. It is noticeable, as a sign of St Paul’s faultless Christian delicacy, that he does not call this Christian woman “my beloved.”
laboured] toiled. The aorist may point to some special occasion in the past. Or possibly Persis was an aged believer, whose day of toil, being over, was now viewed as one act of loving work for Christ.
Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.13. Rufus] A Latin name. Possibly this was the Rufus of Mark 15:21, brother of Alexander and son of Simon the Cyrenian. Alexander and Rufus are apparently named by St Mark as well known in the Christian Church, and it is observable that his Gospel was probably written at Rome. But the name is a common one.
chosen in the Lord] Lit. the chosen one, &c. All true Christians might be so described, (Romans 8:33,) but this, as Meyer remarks, would not forbid a special and emphatic use of the word, in the case of a Christian remarkable for character or usefulness.
his mother and mine] Evidently, the mother of Rufus (possibly the wife of Simon the Cyrenian,) had endeared herself to St Paul by special Christian kindness; the sweeter to him as his own parents, probably, were long departed.
Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.14. Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes] All otherwise unknown. The names are Greek.—Hermas was the name of the author of “The Shepherd,” a celebrated religious romance, sometimes compared as such to the Pilgrim’s Progress. But it is at least probable that “The Shepherd” belongs to a later generation than that of the Hermas here named.—On Hermes, see second note on Romans 16:1.
the brethren which are with them] Perhaps forming with them a “church” such as that of Romans 16:5; where see note. If so, the next verse may similarly be a greeting to a similar district “church,” meeting under another roof.
Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.15. Philologus] A Greek name.
Julia] Possibly the wife of Philologus.—The name may (as in the case of Junia: see note on Romans 16:7;) be really Julias, i.e., Julianus; a masculine name. But the mention just after of “Nereus and his sister” weighs, however lightly, in the other direction. So Meyer.
Nereus] A Greek name; that of a minor sea-god, tutelar of the Mediterranean under Poseidon. See second note on Romans 16:1.
Olympas] A Greek masculine name.
the saints which are with them] See last note on Romans 16:14.
At the close of this long roll of names we cannot but remark on it as a noble and beautiful illustration of the “family-affection of Christianity.” It is often observed that a peculiar charm attaches to successions of names,
“Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore;”
and such a rhythmical charm is not absent here. But far above it is the charm of the pure intense spiritual intimacy of hearts, an intimacy created by the possession of “one Lord, one Hope,” and which with the advent of the Gospel touched the weary world as a new and unknown visitor from heaven. We might quote many parallels from later Christian literature; but one will be enough—the dying farewell to his flock of a man who had no small measure of the holy love and zeal of St Paul—Felix Neff, the “Apostle of the Hautes Alpes.” Two days before his death (April, 1829,) “being scarcely able to see, he traced the following lines at different intervals, in large and irregular characters, which filled a page: ‘Adieu, dear friend André Blanc; Antoine Blanc; the Pelissiers, whom I dearly love; François Dumont and his wife; Isaac and his wife; Aimé Deslois; Emilie Bonnet, &c., &c., Alexandrine, and their mother—all, all the brethren and sisters at Mens—Adieu, adieu. I am departing to our Father (je monte vers notre Père) in perfect peace.—Victory, victory, victory, by Jesus Christ.—Felix Neff.’ ” (Vie, Toulouse, 1875.)
Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.16. Salute one another] As if to respond to the example set them in the Apostle’s loving greetings.
a holy kiss] So 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14. See also Acts 20:37.—The kiss, as a mark both of friendship and of reverence, is still almost as usual as ever in the East.—In the early offices for Baptism the kiss is given to the newly-baptized. (Bingham, Bk. 12. ch. 4.).
The churches] A better reading gives, All the churches. He assumes this universal greeting, from the fact of the universal good-report of the Roman Christians. (See Romans 1:8.) And he offers it as a seemly message to the Christians of the mighty Capital.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.17–20. Special warning against certain teachers of error
17. Now I beseech you, &c.] From this ver. to Romans 16:20, inclusive, we have a paragraph or section by itself. It contains a brief but earnest warning against an evil which everywhere beset and encountered the Apostle—the bold or subtle efforts of perverted and perverting teachers, Christians in name. We may gather that this evil was only just beginning at Rome; otherwise more of the Epistle would be given to it.
Bp Lightfoot, in his note on Php 3:18, gives good reason to think that the teachers specially in view here are not Judaizers, but their antipodes—Antinomians. “They (the persons in this passage) are described as … holding plausible language, (Romans 16:18,) as professing to be wise beyond others, (Romans 16:19,) and yet not innocent in their wisdom. They appear therefore to belong to the same party to which the passages Romans 6:1-23, Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:6, of that Epistle [to the Romans] are chiefly addressed.”
 We think, however, that the opinions refuted in ch. 6 are not identical with those corrected in cch. 14, 15. In the former case, St Paul makes no compromise; in the latter, as regards abstract principle, he almost identifies himself with those whom he reproves. In the present verse, accordingly, we take the Antinomians whom the Romans are to avoid to be Antinomians in the fullest sense; rejecters of the moral (as well as ceremonial) law in all respects; heretics, in fact, of the type afterwards developed in some forms of Gnosticism,—holding, probably, that the acts of the body were indifferent to the soul. They thus may have coincided with the persons in view in ch. 16, but hardly with those in view in cch. 14, 15.
mark] watch; so as to avoid them. Cp. Php 3:17, where the same word is used with an opposite reference—“watch, so as to follow with them.”
divisions and offences] Strictly, and better, the divisions and the stumblingblocks. He refers to circumstances already well-known in various Churches, and beginning to be felt at Rome.
contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned] Lit. beyond the teaching which you (emphatic) did learn. (“Contrary,” however, rightly represents the Gr.)—The emphasis on “you” seems to indicate that the erring teachers were, or would be, visitors to Rome, not original members of the Roman Church.—“Did learn:”—at the time of their evangelization. On the question, when that time was, see Introduction, i. § 17, 23.
“The teaching they had learned” could admit no real compromise, just because it was, in its origin, “not the word of men, but the word of God.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Cp. Galatians 1:6-10.
avoid them] A peaceable but effective way of resistance.—Cp. 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 John 1:10. But these parallels are not exact; for the present passage seems to be specially a caution to individual Christians, not to go as learners to the erring teachers.
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.18. serve not] Perhaps these words (lit. do not bondservice to,) allude to the professed “liberty” of the erring teachers. Q. d., “they decline, indeed, the bondage of Christ, but they are in bondage to their own appetites all the while.” Cp. 2 Peter 2:19.—With a similar emphasis, probably, he writes “our Lord (Master) Jesus Christ.”
their own belly] Cp. Php 3:19. The words indicate sensual self-indulgence generally, whether grosser or lighter.
by good words, &c.] Lit. by their sweet-speech and fair-speech. The first word denotes the seeming piety, the second the seeming reasonableness, of their doctrine.
the simple] Lit. the evil-less; people unconscious of bad intentions, and hence unsuspicious of them.
Meyer remarks that St Paul did not write thus severely till after long and full experience.
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.19. For your obedience, &c.] This verse is sometimes explained q. d., “You are known to be singularly docile; a good thing in itself, but which may be abused by these false teachers: therefore see that your simplicity is in the right place, and be on the watch.” But this is unlikely. For (1) St Paul would scarcely commend, even passingly, the spirit which listens deferentially (“obedience”) to any teacher whoever he may be; (2) this Epistle alone proves that, as a fact, the Roman Christians were “in understanding, men;” (3) the word rendered “obedience” is always, elsewhere in N. T., a word of pure good; (4) the closing words of this verse do not agree with the suggested explanation, which would rather demand “simple (in listening) to good, but wise (in watching) against evil.” Far more probably the ver. may be paraphrased: “These sectaries deceive the simple. I do not say they deceive you; for your heartfelt acceptance of the Truth is known everywhere; and I rejoice to think of you in this light, whatever I may have to mourn over in others. But a caution, even for you, may be in season: do not be led astray by tempting baits of fancied wisdom. Be deep in the wisdom of humble faith; be content to be untainted by acquaintance with a wisdom which at its root is evil.”
is come abroad] Lit. did come. Probably the occasion of their first definite acceptance of the Gospel is referred to. Their strong and deep allegiance to the Truth, (“obedience,”) was at that time famous everywhere.
on your behalf] Lit. as to what concerns you. The word “you” is emphatic, with a reference to others who might give St Paul less cause for joy.
but yet I would, &c.] See the paraphrase above, in the last note but two. Cp. Revelation 2:24, where probably the words imply that the false teachers at Thyatira tempted the believers to listen to them by promising to reveal “depths” of wisdom; depths which were really, says the Lord, “depths of Satan.”
simple] Lit. untainted. Same word as Matthew 10:16; Php 2:15; (E. V., “harmless”). The original idea (freedom from alloy,) passes into that of freedom from ill motives, or (as here) from defiling knowledge.
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.20. the God of peace] See on Romans 15:33. Here the sacred Title seems to refer to the miseries of the strife (“divisions and offences”) attendant on false doctrine. The God of Peace would be with those who, by clinging to the holy Truth once delivered, held fast to true unity.
shall bruise Satan, &c.] The very first promise of Redemption (Genesis 3:15,) is doubtless here referred to.—The “Enemy who soweth tares” had been already “bruised” by the Redeemer, in His triumphant work; and that victory would be, in due time, realized in the personal (“under your feet,”) triumph over sin and death, and final deliverance from all trial, of each of His followers.
shortly] In the eternal “Day,” so near at hand, (Romans 13:11-12,) when all “enemies shall be made the footstool” of Messiah, and of His saints through Him.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.] It may be that St Paul was about to close the Epistle here. If so, we may suppose that the request of the Christians round him to add their greetings gave him occasion to add the few remaining sentences. But may not this benediction be specially connected with the immediate context? Q. d., “You have a battle to fight against the assaults of error. It will soon be over; and meantime may your Lord’s grace be with you in the strife.”—The “Amen” should be omitted.
Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.21–24. Salutations
21. Timotheus my workfellow] Cp. especially Php 2:19-22 with this brief allusion to this singularly beloved and honoured friend and helper of the Apostle. His name appears in eleven Epistles; Romans , 1 and 2 Cor., Phil., Colossians , 1 and 2 Thessalonians , 1 and 2 Tim., Philem., Hebr.
Lucius] Perhaps the same person as Lucius of Cyrene, (Acts 13:1). He is sometimes identified with St Luke (Lucas); but there is no good evidence for this. The names Lucius and Lucas (Lucanus) are quite distinct.
Jason] Perhaps the same as Jason the Thessalonian; Acts 17:5-7; Acts 17:9.
Sosipăter] Perhaps the same as Sopater the Berœan; Acts 20:4. That Sopater perhaps started from Corinth with St Paul on the journey to Asia there mentioned.
my kinsmen] See on Romans 16:7. Lucius bore a Roman name; Jason and Sosipater, Greek names.
I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.22. I Tertius, &c.] This ver. may be read, I Tertius greet you, who wrote the Epistle in the Lord; i.e., who wrote it, (as the Apostle’s amanuensis,) in the spirit of a Christian, as a work of holy privilege and love. But the E. V. is also justified by the Greek, and is the more probable on the whole.
Tertius had a Latin name, and was perhaps a Roman, personally known to the Church at Rome. There is something strangely real and life-like in this sudden interposition of the amanuensis, with his own personal greeting.
who wrote this epistle] Letter-writing by amanuensis was very common in the days of St Paul; and if St Paul suffered in his eyes, as is not unlikely, he would be doubly sure to use such help. It was his custom (in his earliest Epistles, at least,) to write a few words at the close with his own hand. See 2 Thessalonians 3:17.—Cp. Galatians 6:11; where render, “See in what large letters I write to you, with my own hand.”
 See Introduction, i. § 32.
Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.23. Gaius] The same Latin name as Caius. This Gaius may be the same as Gaius of Macedonia, (Acts 19:29,) or as Gaius of Derbe, (Acts 20:4;) and again the Gaius of 2 John may be identical with either of these. But the name was exceedingly common.
We may be fairly sure that the Gaius here and the Gaius of 1 Corinthians 1:14 are the same. In this Christian’s house St Paul seems to have lodged on this visit to Corinth; and it was a house ever open to Christian guests. Perhaps the words “and of the whole church” mean that St Paul’s stay with Gaius led to a large concourse of other Christian visitors there, whether Corinthian residents or not.
Erastus] A Greek name. This was probably not the Erastus of Acts 19:22, (and probably also of 2 Timothy 4:20,) who was an assistant to St Paul, like Timotheus.
chamberlain] Better, treasurer. Erastus stands almost alone in the apostolic history as a convert from the dignified ranks. Cp. Acts 17:34, and perhaps Acts 13:12. See 1 Corinthians 1:26.
the city] Corinth. The brief phrase indicates the eminence of the place whence the letter is written.—See Introduction, ii. § 1.
Quartus] A Latin name; (in its Greek form here, Kouartos.) Possibly Quartus, like Tertius, was a Roman. We know him only from this verse.
a brother] Lit. the brother; i.e. “our fellow-Christian.”
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.24. The grace, &c.] Cp. 2 Thessalonians 3:16, for a similar adieu before the actual close.
We venture to suggest that thus far the amanuensis wrote; that St Paul then in some sense reviewed his great Epistle; and then, perhaps with his own hand, added the rapturous Doxology with which it now ends, and which sums up with such pregnant force so much of the mighty argument.
 Alford quotes the same suggestion from Fritzsche, and points out that the diction of the Doxology resembles passages elsewhere which are known to have been written with St Paul’s own hand.
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,25–27. Final Doxology to the Giver and Revealer of the universal Gospel of Salvation by Faith
25. Now to him, &c.] The construction of this Doxology is irregular; for in Romans 16:27 the lit. Gr. is, To God only wise, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen; and the relative pronoun “to whom” is redundant. (See further on that verse.) The practical meaning, however, is clear. The whole is a Doxology to the Eternal Father, through the Son, for the gift and manifestation of the world-wide Salvation by Faith, which prophets had foretold and which was now at last fully proclaimed.—On the questions raised about this Doxology, see Introduction, ii. § 3.
to stablish you] Cp. Romans 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 5:10. See also Acts 14:23; Acts 20:32.
according to my gospel] i.e. in the way revealed and promised in the Gospel as taught by St Paul; the Gospel which offers justification to the believer, and with it the gift of the Divine Spirit and His aid.—“My Gospel:”—same words as Romans 2:16, (where see note;) 2 Timothy 2:8. Cp. 1 Timothy 1:11.
the preaching of Jesus Christ] This may grammatically mean either (1) “the preaching which speaks of Him;” (in which case it would be a phrase explanatory of “my Gospel;”) or (2) “the preaching which He Himself delivers.” In the latter case again the reference may be either (a) to the Lord’s utterances when on earth (as e.g. John 3, 6); or (b) to His after work through St Paul and the other Apostles; cp. Romans 15:18, and note there. On the whole, the last reference seems the most likely. St Paul thus both qualifies the thought that the Gospel he preached was “his,” and enforces the thought of its absolute truth.—“Preaching:”—the Gr. word (same as 1 Corinthians 1:21,) means the contents of the message, not the act of preaching.
according to the revelation, &c.] St Paul’s Gospel and the Lord’s Proclamation were “according to,” in harmony with, this “unveiling” of the great hidden Truth. The unveiling of the Truth occasioned the proclamation, and was the substance of it. The unveiling and the proclamation were thus coincident and harmonious.
the mystery] On the word “mystery,” see note on Romans 11:25.—The great Secret here is that of Salvation by Faith for all, of whatever nation, who come with “the obedience of faith” to Christ the Propitiation. See especially Ephesians 3:3-9. Here, however, more than there, the emphasis seems to be on the freedom of the Way of Acceptance as well as on the world-wide largeness of the offer;—on the “obedience of Faith” as well as on the “making of it known to all nations.” Not that Salvation by Faith was a secret unheard of till the Christian age; (for see ch. 4;) but that its Divine manifestation in the Cross, and consequent unreserved proclamation as the central truth of Redeeming Love, were new.
which was kept secret since the world began] Lit. which had been reserved in silence during æonian times, or periods of ages. The “ages” here probably refer to the whole lapse of periods before the Gospel “age,” perhaps including not only human time with its patriarchal and Mosaic “ages,” and its ranges of pagan history, but the “age” of angelic life. For we gather (cp. Ephesians 3:10) that even to angels the Incarnation and its results in believing mankind formed a new manifestation of the Divine wisdom.—The E. V. thus well represents the Gr. as a paraphrase.—Cp. again Ephesians 3:3-9.
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:26. now] In the days of Messiah, and in Him as the Propitiation. Cp. Colossians 1:26.
by the scriptures, &c.] Lit. by means of (the) prophetic scriptures. This Epistle, and e.g. Acts 13, are the best commentary on these words. The O. T., as the great prediction of Messiah and preparation for Him, was the text and the warrant of His Apostles wherever they went, and that for Gentiles as much as for Jews. When the Gentiles previously knew nothing of the O. T. the preaching would, of course, not take the O. T. as its starting-point; (see St Paul’s discourse at Athens;) but even in such cases it would bring forward the Prophecies as soon as possible, both as its credentials and its text.—We have heard this verse unintentionally illustrated by a distinguished Hindoo convert, of great intellectual power; who attributed his ultimate escape from the maze of Brahminic pantheism to the attentive study of the Messianic prophecies side by side with the Gospel history.
the everlasting God] The Gr. word (aionios) rendered everlasting perhaps refers back to the “æons” or “ages” of Romans 16:25. Q. d., “The Gospel is now revealed and proclaimed according to the will of Him who appoints and adjusts all the developements of His providence, alike past, present and to come.” He who rules all duration knows when to keep silence and when to break it.—This adjective is nowhere else in the N. T. attached to the word God.—On the adjective, see further on Romans 2:7.
to all nations] Lit. to (or perhaps better, for) all the nations. The special reference is, of course, to the Gentiles.
for the obedience of faith] i.e. to invite that obedience which, in fact, faith implies; that trustful acceptance of the terms of Salvation which may be described, in one aspect, as “submission to the righteousness of God.” (See note on Romans 10:3.) The thought is not so much of the course of moral obedience to which faith leads, as of the element of submission in the act of faith.
In this brief phrase the great Theme of the Epistle is heard for the last time.
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.27. to God only wise] So certainly; though the Gr. equally allows the rendering to the only wise God. But the assertion of His glory as the Only (absolutely) Wise Being is far more in harmony with the height and fulness of the language here, than the assertion that among all Divinities, real or supposed, He only is wise.—The eternal Wisdom is here emphasized because the Gospel is its supreme expression. See especially the profound words of Ephesians 3:10, and 1 Timothy 1:17 (with its connexion). Cp. also “Christ … the wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:24.—In Jude 25, the word “wise” is probably to be omitted.
be glory, &c.] The lit. order and rendering of the remaining words is—through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen. Here the construction becomes involved by the use of the relative, “to whom;” and this is equally so whether the relative refers to God or to Christ. That it refers to God seems to be proved, (1) by the opening words of Romans 16:25, which lead us to expect, through the whole passage, an ascription of praise to the Father; (2) by the name of Christ occurring in a phrase (see next note) which indicates His mediatorial work, as the Channel through which praise rises to the Father.
through Jesus Christ] Meyer connects these words closely with the phrase “to God only wise,” and explains them to mean that the absolute Wisdom of God acts and is revealed through Jesus Christ. But this, though in itself eternally true, involves a grammatical construction sufficiently peculiar to recommend the more obvious one which takes the words “through Jesus Christ” to refer to the Son of God as our Channel of thanks and praise. Cp. ch. Romans 1:8.—We now explain the abrupt construction (see last note) as if St Paul had fully written, “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you, &c., we give thanks; even to God Only Wise, through Jesus Christ; to whom (i.e. to God) be the glory for ever.”
The construction of this Doxology is remarkable not only in itself, but in the fact that it was evidently left unaltered by St Paul and his friends. No various reading of the least importance occurs throughout it.
for ever. Amen] See on Romans 1:25, and on Romans 11:33, &c. Justly does the great Epistle end with the highest of all thoughts, the Glory of God everlastingly manifested and confessed. Amen, so be it.
Written to the Romans, &c.] Lit. To the Romans [i.e. The Epistle to the Romans] was written from Corinth, by means of Phœbe the servant of the Cenchrean church. This ancient “Subscription” is no doubt true to fact. In this it differs from those appended to 1 Cor., Galat., 1 Tim., which are contradictory to the contents of the respective Epistles; and from those appended to Thess. and Titus, which are difficult to be reconciled with the contents.
These “Subscriptions” (to St Paul’s Epistles) are said to be the work of Euthalius, a Bishop of the fifth century. They thus possess an antiquarian interest, but no historical authority. (See Scrivener’s Introduction to the Criticism of the N. T., ed. 1874, p. 60.)