Romans 16
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Fellow-workers in Christ

Romans 16:3-5

'Greet Priscilla.' 'Greet Mary.' 'Greet Amplias.' Salute Apelles.' 'Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas.' And so on, and so on. And let us mark that these delicate courtesies come at the end of this tremendous Epistle, an Epistle which for sheer power of reasoning was regarded by Coleridge as unsurpassed in literature.

I. First of all, I notice that Priscilla and Aquila have a common rootage with Paul. 'My fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.' The great Apostle and the more obscure disciples had a common spiritual soil; their souls were buried and enswathed in the same Lord. It is most heartening to recollect that Paul and John and St. Francis struck their roots into the same grace in which I stand. I may not share Paul's talents, but I can share his Christ.

II. And then Paul and Priscilla and Aquila were one in a common service, My fellow-workers. The literal interpretation of the phrase might thus be given: these humbler workers brought their energy, and added it to the strength of Paul in the cause of the kingdom of Christ. Aquila added his little to Paul's greatness! Yes, and that is just the lesson which many of us have got to learn. We have energy which, if added to the energy of a greater man, will enable him to do greater things. (1) But Priscilla and Aquila were not only fellow-helpers of Paul in the way of encouragement and prayer; they did positive and individual service in the ways of their own life and labour. In Corinth they met the great Apostle, who found lodgings in their house. Many a time would the needles become still and silent as Paul told the story of Nazareth, and Calvary, and Olivet, and his own solemn experiences on the way to Damascus. Until at last the tent-maker's house became a sanctuary, and all three were on their knees together in adoration of a common Lord. (2) And then the eager disciples became ardent Apostles. Having heard the message they passed it on. (3) And then these two disciples became centres of Christian fellowship. 'The Church which is in their house.' I often wish we could recover the power of these meetings in the home.

III. And lastly, Priscilla and Aquila were one with Paul in a spirit of common chivalry. 'Who for my life laid down their necks.' We do not know the particular occasion to which the Apostle refers, and it is not needful for us to know it. It is sufficient for us to know that Priscilla and Aquila were prepared to take risks in the service of the Lord. And what were the fruits of it? What the fruits always are. Holy boldness has the key to many a secret door. The disciple who bears much discovers much.

—J. H. Jowett, British Congregationalist, 17th September, 1908, p. 242.

Romans 16:4

Now it was a time of great sufferings; and many Friends being in prison, many other Friends were moved to go to the Parliament, to offer up themselves to lie in the same dungeon, where their friends lay, that they that were in prison might go out and not perish in the stinking jails. This we did in love to God and our brethren that they might not die in prison.

—Fox's Journal for 1658.

References.—XVI. 4-16.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 405. XVI. 5.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 437. XVI. 7.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 367; ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 397; ibid. vol. x. p. 446. XVI. 7, 11.—Ibid. vol. v. p. 94. XVI. 12.—Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 189.

Romans 16:13

My kind mother did me one altogether invaluable service; she taught me, less indeed by word than by act and daily reverent look and habitude, her own simple version of the Christian faith.... My mother, with a true woman's heart, and fine though uncultivated sense, was in the strictest acceptation Religious. The highest whom I knew on Earth I here saw bowed down, with awe unspeakable before a Higher in Heaven: such things, especially in infancy, reach inwards to the very core of your being.

Sartor Resartus, bk. ii. ii.

References.—XVI. 14.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. pp. 65, 423. XVI. 16.—W. M. Sinclair, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 321.

Romans 16:17

In the second chapter of his Apologia, Newman uses this verse to justify his conduct towards his brother Francis.

'I would have no dealings with my brother, and I put my conduct upon a syllogism. I said, St. Paul bids us avoid those who cause divisions; you cause divisions; therefore I must avoid you.' He admits that his behaviour on this and other occasions laid him 'open, not unfairly, to the charge of fierceness,' but adds, 'It is only fair to myself to say that neither at this, nor any other time of my life, not even when I was fiercest, could I have even cut off a Puritan's ears, and I think the sight of a Spanish auto-da-fè would have been the death of me'.

There were few warnings to his pupils on the entrance into life more solemn than those against party spirit, against giving to any human party, sect, society, or cause, that undivided sympathy and service which he held to be due only to the one party and cause of all good men under this Divine Head. There were few more fervent aspirations for his children than that with which he closes a letter in 1833: 'May God grant to my sons, if they live to manhood, an unshaken love of truth, and a firm resolution to follow it up themselves, with an intense abhorrence of all party ties, save that one tie which binds them to the party of Christ against wicked men'.

—Stanley's Life of Dr. Arnold, iv.

References.—XVI. 17-20.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 3. XVI. 19.—J. Bowstead, Practical Sermons, vol. ii. p. 115. XVI. 20.—T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 213. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 393. XVI. 21.—Ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 78. XVI. 22.—W. J. Henderson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 330. XVI. 23—Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 82; ibid. vol. x. p. 158; ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 101; ibid. vol. iii. p. 234. XVI. 24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 988. XVI. 25.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i.p. 33; ibid. vol. vii. p. 1. XVI. 26, 26.—L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 47. XVI. 26-27.—Ibid. p. 33. XVI. 25-37.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. x. p. 200. XVI. 26.—L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 63. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 34. XVI. 27.—J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 133. L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 81.

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.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
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.
Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.
Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
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.
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.
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
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,
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:
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
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