Romans 16
Vincent's Word Studies
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
I commend (συνίστημι)

See on Romans 3:5.


The bearer of the epistle. The word means bright. In classical Greek an epithet of Artemis (Diana) the sister of Phoebus Apollo.

Servant (διάκονον)

The word may be either masculine or feminine. Commonly explained as deaconess. The term διακόνισσα deaconess is found only in ecclesiastical Greek. The "Apostolical Constitutions" distinguish deaconesses from widows and virgins, prescribe their duties, and a form for their ordination. Pliny the younger, about a.d. 104, appears to refer to them in his letter to Trajan, in which he speaks of the torture of two maids who were called minestrae (female ministers). The office seems to have been confined mainly to widows, though virgins were not absolutely excluded. Their duties were to take care of the sick and poor, to minister to martyrs and confessors in prison, to instruct catechumens, to assist at the baptism of women, and to exercise a general supervision over the female church-members. Tryphaena, Tryphosa, and Persis (Romans 16:12) may have belonged to this class. See on 1 Timothy 5:3-16. Conybeare ("Life and Epistles of St. Paul") assumes that Phoebe was a widow, on the ground that she could not, according to Greek manners, have been mentioned as acting in the independent manner described, either if her husband had been living or she had been unmarried. Renan says: "Phoebe carried under the folds of her robe the whole future of Christian theology."


More correctly, Cenchreae. Compare Acts 18:18 Corinth, from which the epistle was sent, was situated on an isthmus, and had three ports, Cenchreae on the east side, and Lechaeum on the west of the isthmus, with Schoenus, a smaller port, also on the eastern side, at the narrowest point of the isthmus. Cenchreae was nine miles from Corinth. It was a thriving town, commanding a large trade with Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and the other cities of the Aegean. It contained temples of Venus, Aesculapius, and Isis. The church there was perhaps a branch of that at Corinth.

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.
Assist (παραστῆτι)

See on Acts 1:3. It is used as a legal term, of presenting culprits or witnesses in a court of justice. Compare prove, Acts 24:13. From this, and from the term προστάτις succorer, it has been inferred that Phoebe was going to Rome on private legal business (see Conybeare and Howson). This is a mere fancy.

Succorer (προστάτις)

Only here in the New Testament. The word means patroness. It may refer to her official duties. The word is an honorable one, and accords with her official position.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
Prisca and Aquila

Priscilla is the diminutive of Prisca. See Acts 18:2, Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19. It is argued by some that Aquila and Priscilla must have been at Ephesus at this time, since they were there when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 16:19, and again when he wrote 2 Timothy 4:19. "It is strange to find them settled at Rome with a church in their house between these two dates" (Farrar). But, as Bishop Lightfoot remarks ("Commentary on Philippians," p. 176), "As Rome was their headquarters, and they had been driven thence by an imperial edict (Acts 18:2), it is natural enough that they should have returned thither as soon as it was convenient and safe to do so. The year which elapses between the two notices, allows ample time for them to transfer themselves from Ephesus to Rome, and for the apostle to hear of their return to their old abode." Notice that the name of Priscilla precedes that of her husband. So Acts 18:2. Probably she was the more prominent of the two in christian activity.


In christian labor, as they had been in tent-making.

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 (οἵτινες)

The double relative, with an explanatory force: seeing that they.

Laid down their own necks (τὸν ἑαυτῶν τράχηλον ὑπέθηκαν)

Laid down is, literally, placed under (the axe). Whether the expression is literal or figurative, or if literal, when the incident occurred, cannot be determined.

Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
The church that is in their house (τῆν κατ' οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλησίαν)

The phrase church that is in their (or his) house occurs 1 Corinthians 16:19, of Aquila and Priscilla; Colossians 4:15, of Nymphas; Plm 1:2, of Philemon. A similar gathering may be implied in Romans 16:14, Romans 16:15. Bishop Lightfoot says there is no clear example of a separate building set apart for christian worship within the limits of the Roman Empire before the third century. The Christian congregations were, therefore, dependent upon the hospitality of prominent church members who furnished their own houses for this purpose. Hence their places of assembly were not called temples until late; but houses of God; houses of the churches; houses of prayer.

Numerous guilds or clubs existed at Rome for furnishing proper burial rites to the poor. Extant inscriptions testify to the existence of nearly eighty of these, each consisting of the members of a different trade or profession, or united in the worship of some deity. The Christians availed themselves of this practice in order to evade Trajan's edict against clubs, which included their own ordinary assemblies, but which made a special exception in favor of associations consisting of poorer members of society, who met to contribute to funeral expenses. This led to the use of the catacombs, or of buildings erected over them for this purpose.

The expression here denotes, not the whole church, but that portion of it which met at Aquila's house.


A Greek name, meaning praised. It is, however; impossible to infer the nationality from the name with any certainty, since it was common for the Jews to have a second name, which they adopted during their residence in heathen countries. Compare John Mark (Acts 12:12); Justus (Acts 1:23); Niger (Acts 13:1); Crispus (Acts 18:8).

The first fruits of Achaia

The best texts read of Asia. An early convert of the Roman province of Asia. See on Acts 2:9 This is adduced as an argument that this chapter was addressed to Ephesus.

Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
Mary (Μαριάμ Mariam)

Westcott and Hort read Μαρίαν. A Jewish name, the same as Miriam, meaning obstinacy, rebelliousness.

Bestowed labor (ἐκοπίασεν)

See on Luke 5:5.

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

The latter name may be either masculine or feminine. If the latter, the person was probably the wife of Andronicus. If the former, the name is to be rendered Junias, as Rev. The following words point to this conclusion.

Kinsmen (συγγενεῖς)

The primary meaning is related by blood; but it is used in the wider sense of fellow-countrymen. So Romans 9:3.

Of note (ἐπίσημοι)

A good rendering etymologically, the word meaning, literally, bearing a mark (σῆμα, nota).

Fellow prisoners (συναιχμαλώτους)

See on captives, Luke 4:18.

Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.

A contraction of Ampliatus, which is the reading of the best texts.

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

The correct reading is Urbanus, city-bred.


Meaning an ear of corn.

Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.

It occurs in Horace as the name of a Jew, under the form Apella ("Satire," i. 5, 100).

Them which are of Aristobulus' household

Possibly household slaves. They might have borne the name of Aristobulus even if they had passed into the service of another master, since household slaves thus transferred, continued to bear the name of their former proprietor. Lightfoot thinks that this Aristobulus may have been the grandson of Herod the Great, who was still living in the time of Claudius.

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

This name was borne by a distinguished freedman, who was secretary of letters to Claudius. Juvenal alludes to his wealth and his influence over Claudius, and says that Messalina, the wife of Claudius, was put to death by his order ("Satire," xiv., 330). His household slaves, passing into the hands of the emperor or of some other master, would continue to bear his name.

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

From τρυφάω to live luxuriously. See on riot, 2 Peter 2:13. Perhaps sisters. Farrar says they are slave-names.

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

Meaning red. Possibly the son of Simon of Cyrene, Mark 15:21. Mark probably wrote in Rome.

And mine

Delicately intimating her maternal care for him.

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

Or Hermas. A common slave-name, a contraction of several different names, as Hermagoras, Hermogenes, etc.

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.
Divisions - offenses (τὰς διχοστασίας - τὰ σκάνδαλα)

The article with each noun points to some well-known disturbances. The former noun occurs only in Paul.

Avoid (ἐκκλίνατε)

Better, as Rev, turn aside. Not only keep out of their way, but remove from it if you fall in with 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.

Compare Philippians 3:19.

Good words (χρηστολογίας)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., good speaking. The compounded adjective χρης τός is used rather in its secondary sense of mild, pleasant. So Rev., smooth speech.

Deceive (ἐξαπατῶσιν)

Better, as Rev., beguile. It is not merely making a false impression, but practically leading astray

Simple (ἀκάκων)

Only here and Hebrews 7:26. Lit., not evil. Rev., innocent. Bengel says: "An indifferent word. They are called so who are merely without positive wickedness, when they ought to abound also in prudence, and to guard against other men's wickedness."

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.
Simple (ἀκεραίους)

See on harmless, Matthew 10:16.

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Shall bruise (συντρίψει)

See on Mark 5:4; see on Luke 9:39.

Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
Lucius and Jason - Sosipater

For Lucius, see on Acts 13:1. Jason, possibly the Jason of Acts 17:5. Sosipater, possibly the Sopater of Acts 20:4. Both names were common.

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

Paul's amanuensis. See on Galatians 6:11.

Wrote (γράψας)

Better Rev., write. The epistolary aorist. See on 1 John 2:13. Godet remarks upon Paul's exquisite courtesy in leaving Tertius to salute in his own name. To dictate to him his own salutation would be to treat him as a machine.

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

See Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; 1 Corinthians 1:14. Possibly the same in all three references.

Chamberlain (οἰκονόμος)

See on Luke 16:1. The word appears in the New Testament in two senses: 1. The slave who was employed to give the other slaves their rations. So Luke 7:42. 2. The land-steward, as Luke 16:1. Probably here the administrator of the city lands.

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,
This is the only epistle of Paul which closes with a doxology. The doxology (see on Romans 14:23) stands at the close of this chapter in most of the very oldest MSS., and in the Peshito or Syriac and Vulgate versions. In a very few MSS. it is omitted or erased by a later hand. In many MSS. including most of the cursives, it is found at the close of ch. 14, and in a very few, at the close of both 14 and 16. Weiss ("Introduction to the New Testament") says that the attempt to prove its un-Pauline character has only been the result of extreme ingenuity.

Stablish (στηρίξαι)

See on 1 Peter 5:10.


See on Romans 11:25. The divine plan of redemption. The particular mystery of the conversion of the Gentiles, which is emphasized in Ephesians 3:3-9; Colossians 1:26, is included, but the reference is not to be limited to this.

Kept secret (σεσιγημένου)

Rev., more accurately, kept in silence. In Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26, ἀποκεκρυμμένον hidden away, is used.

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.
To whom

God, who, through Christ, appears as "the only wise."

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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