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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 16

 

 

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Verse 1

Romans 16:1 f. συνίστημι δὲ ὑμῖν φοίβην. αυνίστημι is the technical word for this kind of recommendation, which was equivalent to a certificate of church membership. Paul uses it with especial frequency in 2 Cor., both in this technical sense (Romans 3:1, Romans 5:12), and in a kindred but wider one (Romans 4:2, Romans 6:4, Romans 7:11, Romans 10:12; Romans 10:18). τὴν ἀδελφὴν ἡμῶν: our (Christian) sister, 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 9:5. The spiritual kinship thus asserted was a recommendation of itself, but in Phœbe’s case Paul can add another. οὖσαν καὶ διάκονον τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἐν κεγχρεαῖς: who is also a servant of the Church in Cenchreæ. It is not easy to translate διάκονος, for “servant” is too vague, and “deaconess” is more technical than the original. διακονία was really a function of membership in the Church, and Phœbe might naturally be described as she is here if like the house of Stephanas at Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:15) she had given herself εἰς διακονίαν τοῖς ἁγίοις. That is, a life of habitual charity and hospitality, quite apart from any official position, would justify the name διάκονος. On the other hand it must be remembered that the growth of the Church, under the conditions of ancient society, soon produced “deaconesses” in the official sense, and Phœbe may have had some recognised function of διακονία assigned to her. Cenchreæ was on the Saronic gulf, nine miles . of Corinth: as the port for Asia and the East, many Christians would pass through it, and a Christian woman who gave herself to hospitality (Romans 12:13) might have her hands full. ἐν κυρίῳ: no mere reception of Phœbe into their houses satisfies this—their Christian life was to be open for her to share in it; she was no alien to be debarred from spiritual intimacy. ἀξίως τῶν ἁγίων: with such kindness as it becomes Christians to show. καὶ παραστῆτε αὐτῇ (Jeremiah 15:11): after the Christian welcome is assured, Paul bespeaks their help for Phœbe in whatever affair she may require it. He speaks indefinitely, but his language suggests that she was going to Rome on business in which they could assist her. καὶ γὰρ αὐτὴ: in complying with this request they will only be doing for Phœbe what she has done for others, and especially for Paul himself. προστάτις (feminine of προστάτης) is suggested by παραστῆτε. Paul might have said παραστάτις, but uses the more honourable word. προστάτης (patronus) was the title of a citizen in Athens who took charge of the interests of μέτοικοι and persons without civic rights; the corresponding feminine here may suggest that Phœbe was a woman of good position who could render valuable services to such a community as a primitive Christian Church usually was. When she helped Paul we cannot tell. Dr. Gifford suggests the occasion of Acts 18:18. Paul’s vow “seems to point to a deliverance from danger or sickness,” in which she may have ministered to him. It is generally assumed that Phœbe was the bearer of this epistle, and many even of those who regard Romans 16:3-16 as addressed to Ephesus still hold that Romans 16:1-2 were meant for Rome.


Verse 3

Romans 16:3 f. Greeting to Prisca and Aquila. ἀσπάσασθε: only here does Paul commission the whole Church to greet individual members of it (Weiss). For the persons here named see Acts 18:2. Paul met them first in Corinth, and according to Meyer converted them there. Here as in Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26 and 2 Timothy 4:19 the wife is put first, probably as the more distinguished in Christian character and service; in 1 Corinthians 16:19, where they send greetings, the husband naturally gets his precedence. τοὺς συνεργούς μου ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ: on first acquaintance they had been fellow-workers, not in Christ Jesus, but in tent-making: they were ὁμότεχνοι, Acts 18:3. οἵτινες: quippe qui. τὸν ἑαυτῶν τράχηλον: the singular (as Gifford points out) shows that the expression is figurative. To save Paul’s life Prisca and Aquila incurred some great danger themselves; what, we cannot tell. They were in his company both in Corinth and Ephesus, at times when he was in extreme peril (Acts 18:12; Acts 19:30 f.), and the recipients of the letter would understand the allusion. The technical sense of ὑποθεῖναι, to give as a pledge, cannot be pressed here, as though Prisca and Aquila had given their personal security (though it involved the hazard of their lives) for Paul’s good behaviour. οἷς οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος εὐχαριστῶ κ. τ. λ. The language implies that the incident referred to had occurred long enough ago for all the Gentile Churches to be aware of it, but yet so recently that both they and the Apostle himself retained a lively feeling of gratitude to his brave friends. καὶ τὴν κατʼ οἷκον αὐτων ἐκκλησίαν: these words do not mean “their Christian household,” nor do they imply that the whole Christian community (in Rome or in Ephesus) met in the house of Prisca and Aquila. They signify the body of believers meeting for worship there, a body which would only be part of the local Christian community. Cf. 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2, Acts 12:12. “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, though apartments in private houses might be specially devoted to this purpose” (Lightfoot on Colossians 4:15). ἀσπάσασθε ἐπαίνετον τὸν ἀγαπητόν μου: after Priscilla and Aquila, not a single person is known of all those to whom Paul sends greetings in Romans 16:3-16. ἀπαρχὴ τῆς ἀσίας: Epænetus was the first convert in Asia (the Roman province of that name). Cf. 1 Corinthians 16:15. There is no difficulty in supposing that the first Christian of Asia was at this time—temporarily or permanently—in Rome: but the discovery of an Ephesian Epænetus on a Roman inscription (quoted by Sanday and Headlam) is very interesting.


Verse 6

Romans 16:6. It is not certain whether ΄αριάμ (which is Jewish) or ΄αρίαν (Roman) is the true reading. ἥτις πολλὰ ἐκοπίασεν: the much labour she had bestowed is made the ground ( ἥτις) of a special greeting. εἰς ὑμᾶς is much better supported than εἰς ἡμᾶς: there is something finer in Paul’s appreciation of services rendered to others than if they had been rendered to himself. Cf. Galatians 4:11.


Verse 7

Romans 16:7. Andronicus is a Greek name, which, like most names in this chapter, can be illustrated from inscriptions. ἰουνίαν may be masculine (from ἰουνίας, or ἰουνιᾶς contraction of Junianus), or feminine (from ἰουνία): probably the former. τοὺς συγγενεῖς μου: i.e., Jews. Cf. Romans 9:3. It is hardly possible that so many people in the Church addressed (see Romans 16:2; Romans 16:21) should be more closely connected with Paul than by the bond of nationality. But it was natural for him, in writing to a mainly Gentile Church, to distinguish those with whom he had this point of contact. Cf. Colossians 4:11. συναιχμαλώτους μου: this naturally means that on some occasion they had shared Paul’s imprisonment: it is doubtful whether it would be satisfied by the idea that they, like him, had also been imprisoned for Christ’s sake. The αἰχμάλωτος is a prisoner of war: Paul and his friends were all Salvation Army men. The phrase ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις, men of mark among the Apostles, has the same ambiguity in Greek as in English. It might mean, well-known to the apostolic circle, or distinguished as Apostles. The latter sense is that in which it is taken by “all patristic commentators” (Sanday and Headlam), whose instinct for what words meant in a case of this kind must have been surer than that of a modern reader. It implies, of course, a wide sense of the word Apostle: for justification of which reference may be made to Lightfoot’s essay on the name and office of an Apostle (Galatians, 92 ff.) and Harnack, Lehre der zwölf Apostel, . 111–118. On the other hand, Paul’s use of the word Apostle is not such as to make it easy to believe that he thought of a large class of persons who might be so designated, a class so large that two otherwise unknown persons like Andronicus and Junias might be conspicuous in it. Hence scholars like Weiss and Gifford hold that what is meant here is that Andronicus and Junias were honourably known to the Twelve. οἱ καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ γέγοναν ἐν χριστῷ: they had evidently been converted very early, and, like Mnason the Cypriot, were ἀρχαῖοι μαθηταί, Acts 21:16. On γέγοναν see Burton, Moods and Tenses, § 82. The English idiom does not allow of a perfect translation, but “were” is more idiomatic than “have been”.


Verse 8

Romans 16:8. ἀμπλιᾶτον: “a common Roman slave name”. Sanday and Headlam give inscriptions from the cemetery of Domitilla, which make it probable that a person of this name was conspicuous in the earliest Roman Church, and may have been the means of introducing Christianity to a great Roman house. τὸν ἀγαπητόν μου ἐν κυρίῳ: Paul has none but Christian relations to this man.


Verse 9

Romans 16:9. οὐρβανὸν: also a common slave name, “found, as here, in juxtaposition with Ampliatus, in a list of imperial freedmen, on an inscription A.D. 115” (Gifford). τὸν συνεργὸν ἡμῶν: the ἡμῶν (as opposed to μου, Romans 16:3) seems to suggest that all Christian workers had a common helper in Urbanus. Of Stachys nothing is known but that he was dear to Paul. The name is Greek; but, like the others, has been found in inscriptions connected with the Imperial household.


Verse 10

Romans 16:10. ἀπελλῆν τὸν δόκιμον ἐν χριστῷ: Apelles, that approved Christian. In some conspicuous way the Christian character of Apelles had been tried and found proof: see James 1:12, 2 Timothy 2:15. The name is a familiar one, and sometimes Jewish: Credat Judœus Apella, Hor., Sat., I., v., 100. By τοὺς ἐκ τῶν ἀριστοβούλου are meant Christians belonging to the household of Aristobulus. Lightfoot, in his essay on Cæsar’s Household (Philippians, 171 ff.), makes Aristobulus the grandson of Herod the Great. He was educated in Rome, and probably died there. “Now it seems not improbable, considering the intimate relations between Claudius and Aristobulus, that at the death of the latter his servants, wholly or in part, should be transferred to the palace. In this case they would be designated Aristobuliani, for which I suppose St. Paul’s οἱ ἐκ τῶν ἀριστοβούλου to be an equivalent. It is at least not an obvious phrase, and demands explanation” (Philippians, 175).


Verse 11

Romans 16:11. ἡρωδίωνα τὸν συγγενὴ μου. This agrees very well with the interpretation just given to τοὺς ἐκ τῶν ἀριστοβούλου. In the household of Herod’s grandson there might naturally be a Jew with a name of this type, whom Paul, for some cause or other, could single out for a special greeting. τοὺς ἐκ τῶν ναρκίσσου τοὺς ὄντας ἐν κυρίῳ: the last words may suggest that, though only the Christians in this household have a greeting sent to them, there were other members of it with whom the Church had relations. The Narcissus meant is probably the notorious freedman of Claudius, who was put to death shortly after the accession of Nero (Tac., Ann., xiii., 1), and therefore two or three years before this epistle was written. His slaves would probably pass into the emperor’s hands, and increase “Cæsar’s househould” as Narcissiani (Lightfoot, loc. cit.).


Verse 12

Romans 16:12. τρύφαιναν καὶ τρυφῶσαν: “It was usual to designate members of the same family by derivatives of the same root” (Lightfoot): hence these two women were probably sisters. The names, which might be rendered “Dainty” and “Disdain” (see James 5:5, Isaiah 66:11) are characteristically pagan, and unlike the description τὰς κοπιώσας, “who toil in the Lord”. They are still at work, but the “much toil” of Persis, the beloved, belongs to some occasion in the past. τὴν ἀγαπητήν: Paul does not here add μου as with the men’s names in Romans 16:8-9. Persis was dear to the whole Church.


Verse 13

Romans 16:13. ῥοῦφον τὸν ἐκλεκτὸν ἐν κυρίῳ: for the name see Mark 15:21. If Mark wrote his gospel at Rome, as there is ground to believe, this may be the person to whom he refers. In the gospel he is assumed to be well known, and here he is described as “that choice Christian”. ἐκλεκτὸν cannot refer simply to the fact of his election to be a Christian, since in whatever sense this is true, it is true of all Christians alike; whereas here it evidently expresses some distinction of Rufus. He was a noble specimen of a Christian. καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ κ. ἐμοῦ: where she had “mothered” Paul we do not know. For the idea cf. Mark 10:30.


Verse 14

Romans 16:14. Of Asyncritus, Phlegon and Hermes nothing is known. Patrobas (or Patrobius) may have been a dependant of a famous freedman of the same name in Nero’s time, who was put to death by Galba (Tac., Hist., i., 49, ii., 95). Hermas has often been identified with the author of The Shepherd, but though the identification goes back to Origen, it is a mistake. “Pastorem vero nuperrime temporibus nostris in urbe Roma Herma conscripsit sedente cathedra urbis Romœ ecclesiœ Pio eps. fratre ejus”: these words of the Canon of Muratori forbid the identification. τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς ἀδελφούς indicates that the persons named, and some others designated in this phrase, formed a little community by themselves—perhaps an ἐκκλησία κατʼ οἶκόν τινος.


Verse 15

Romans 16:15. Philologus and Julia, as connected here, were probably husband and wife; or, as in the next pair, brother and sister. Both, especially the latter, are among the commonest slave names. There are Acts of Nereus and Achilleus in the Acta Sanctorum connected with the early Roman Church. “The sister’s name is not given, but one Nereis was a member of the [imperial] household about this time, as appears from an inscription already quoted” (Lightfoot, loc. cit., p. 177). Olympas is a contraction of Olympiodorus. τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς πάντας ἁγίους: see on last verse. The πάντας may suggest that a larger number of persons is to be included here.


Verse 16

Romans 16:16. ἀλλήλους. When the epistle is read in the Church the Christians are to greet each other, and seal their mutual salutations ἐν φιλήματι ἁγίῳ. In 1 Thessalonians 5:26 the προιστάμενοι apparently are to salute the members of the Church so. In 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, exactly the same form is used as here. The custom of combining greeting and kiss was oriental, and especially Jewish, and in this way became Christian. In 1 Peter 5:14 the kiss is called φίλημα ἀγάπης; in Apost. Const., ii., 57, 12, τὸ ἐν κυρίῳ φίλημα; in Tert(39) de Orat., xiv., osculum pacis. By ἅγιον the kiss is distinguished from an ordinary greeting of natural affection or friendship; it belongs to God and the new society of His children; it is specifically Christian. αἱ ἐκκλησίαι πᾶσαι τοῦ χριστοῦ: “this phrase is unique in the N.T.” (Sanday and Headlam). The ordinary form is “the Church” or “the Churches of God”: but in Matthew 16:18 Christ says “my Church”: cf. also Acts 20:28, where τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ κυρίου is found in many good authorities. For “all the Churches” cf. Romans 16:4, 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 14:33, 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 11:28. Probably Paul was commissioned by some, and he took it on him to speak for the rest. If the faith of the Romans were published in all the world (chap. Romans 1:8), the Churches everywhere would have sufficient interest in them to ratify this courtesy. “Quoniam cognovit omnium erga Romanos studium, omnium nomine salutat.”


Verse 17

Romans 16:17. σκοπεῖν: to keep your eye upon, either as an example to be followed (Philippians 3:17), or (as in this case) as a peril to be avoided. τοὺς τὰς διχοστασίας καὶ τὰ σκάνδαλα ποιοῦντας: both the persons and their conduct are supposed to be known; “the divisions” and “the scandals,” which had been occasioned in other Churches, are assumed to be familiar to the Romans. τὰ σκάνδαλα refers more naturally to conduct which would create a moral prejudice against the Gospel, and so prevent men from accepting it, than to any ordinary result of Jewish legal teaching. But if the latter caused dissension and generated bad tempers in the Church, it also might give outsiders cause to blaspheme, and to stumble at the Gospel (Romans 14:13; Romans 14:16). παρὰ τὴν διδαχὴν ἣν ὑμεῖς ἐμάθετε: ὑμεῖς is emphatic, and implies that they at least are as yet untouched by the false teaching. By “the teaching which you received” is meant not “Paulinism,” but Christianity, though the words of course imply that the Roman Church was not anti-Pauline. ἐκκλίνετε with ἀπὸ in 1 Peter 3:11, Proverbs 4:15.


Verses 17-20

Romans 16:17-20. Warning against false teachers. This comes in very abruptly in the middle of the greetings, and as it stands has the character of an after-thought. The false teachers referred to are quite definitely described, but it is clear that they had not yet appeared in Rome, nor begun to work there. Paul is only warning the Roman Church against a danger which he has seen in other places. There is a very similar passage in Philippians 3:18 f., which Lightfoot connects with this, arguing that the persons denounced are not Judaising teachers, but antinomian reactionists. It is easier to see grounds for this opinion in Philippians than here: but chap. Romans 6:1-23 may be quoted in support of it.


Verse 18

Romans 16:18. οἱ γὰρ τοιοῦτοι κ. τ. λ. Christians must not associate with those who do not serve the one Lord. τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν χριστῷ: this combination occurs here only in N.T. τῇ ἑαυτῶν κοιλίᾳ: cf. Philippians 3:19, ὧν θεὸς κοιλίᾳ. The words need not mean that the teachers in question were mere sensualists, or that they taught Epicurean or antinomian doctrines: the sense must partly be defined by the contrast—it is not our Lord Christ whom they serve; on the contrary, it is base interests of their own. It is a bitter contemptuous way of describing a self-seeking spirit, rather than an allusion to any particular cast of doctrine. διὰ τῆς χρηστολογίας καὶ εὐλογίας: according to Grimm, χρηστολογία refers to the insinuating tone, εὐλογία to the fine style, of the false teachers. Examples from profane Greek bear out this distinction ( εὔαρχός ἐστιν λόγος καὶ πολλὴν τὴν εὐλογίαν ἐπιδεικνύμενος καὶ εὔλεξις), but as εὐλογία in Biblical Greek, and in Philo and Josephus invariably has a religious sense, Cremer prefers to take it so here also: “pious talk”. ἐξαπατῶσι: Romans 7:11, 1 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Thessalonians 2:2. ἀκάκων: all the English versions, except Gen(40) and A.V., render “of the innocent” (Gifford). See Hebrews 7:26. In this place “guileless” is rather the idea: suspecting no evil, and therefore liable to be deceived.


Verse 19

Romans 16:19. γὰρ ὑμῶν ὑπακοὴ: What is the connection? “I give this exhortation, separating you altogether from the false teachers, and from those who are liable to be misled by them; for your obedience ( ὑμῶν emphasised by position) has come abroad to all men. (Cf. Romans 1:8.) Over you therefore I rejoice, but,” etc. He expresses his confidence in them, but at the same time conveys the feeling of his anxiety. For χαίρειν ἐπὶ see 1 Corinthians 13:6; 1 Corinthians 16:17. σοφοὺς μὲν εἶναι εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν, ἀκεραίους δὲ εἰς τὸ κακόν. For ἀκέραιος see Matthew 10:16, Philippians 2:15, and Trench, Syn(41), § lvi., where there is a full discussion and comparison with ἄκακος. The fundamental idea of the word is that of freedom from alien or disturbing elements. What Paul here wishes for the Romans—moral intelligence, not impaired in the least by any dealings with evil—does suggest that antinomianism was the peril to be guarded against. Integrity of the moral nature is the best security: the seductive teaching is instinctively repelled.


Verse 20

Romans 16:20. δὲ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης: used here with special reference to αἱ διχοστασίαι. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33. συντρίψει τὸν σατανᾶν: divisions in the Church are Satan’s work, and the suppression of them by the God of peace is a victory over Satan. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14 f. There is an allusion to Genesis 3:15, though it is doubtful whether Paul found anything there answering to συντρίψει. The LXX has τηρήσει. ἐν τάχει: cf. Ezekiel 29:5; Deuteronomy 28:20. The false teachers may come and cause dissension, but it will not be long till peace is restored. χάρις κ. τ. λ. This benediction can hardly be supposed to belong only to Romans 16:17-20. It rather suggests that some copies of the epistle ended here; possibly that Romans 16:1-20 (for there is another benediction at Romans 15:33) were originally an independent epistle.


Verse 21

Romans 16:21. τιμόθεος. In many of the epistles Timothy’s name is associated with Paul’s in the opening salutation (1 and 2 Thess., 2 Cor., Phil., Col., Philemon). Perhaps when Paul began this letter he was absent, but had come back in time to send his greeting at the close. He was with Paul (Acts 20:4 f.) when he started on the journey to Jerusalem mentioned in Romans 15:25. Lucius, Jason and Sosipater are all Jews, but none of them can be identified. For the names (which may or may not be those of the same persons) see Acts 13:1; Acts 17:5; Acts 20:4.


Verses 21-23

Romans 16:21-23. Greetings of Paul’s companions.


Verse 22

Romans 16:22. ἐγὼ τέρτιος γράψας τὴν ἐπιστολήν: the use of the first person is a striking indication of Paul’s courtesy. To have sent the greeting of his amanuensis in the third person would have been to treat him as a mere machine (Godet). ἐν κυρίῳ goes with ἀσπάζομαι: it is as a Christian, not in virtue of any other relation he has to the Romans, that Tertius salutes them.


Verse 23

Romans 16:23. γάϊος ξένος μου κ. ὅλης τῆς ἐκκλησίας: As the Epistle to the Romans was written from Corinth this hospitable Christian is probably the same who is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:14. Three other persons (apparently) of the same name are mentioned in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4, and 3 John. By ξένος μου is meant that Gaius was Paul’s host in Corinth; ξένος ὅλης τῆς ἐκκλησίας might either mean that the whole Christian community met in his house (cf. Romans 16:5; Romans 16:14-15), or that he made all Christians who came to Corinth welcome. ἔραστος οἰκονόμος τῆς πόλεως. We cannot be sure that this is the Erastus of Acts 19:22, 2 Timothy 4:20 : the latter seems to have been at Paul’s disposal in connection with his work. But they may be the same, and Paul may here be designating Erastus by an office which he had once held, but held no longer. The city treasurer (arcarius civitatis) would be an important person in a poor community (1 Corinthians 1:26 ff.), and he and Gaius (whose boundless hospitality implies means) are probably mentioned here as representing the Corinthian Church. κούαρτος ἀδελφός: Quartus, known to Paul only as a Christian, had perhaps some connection with Rome which entitled him to have his salutation inserted.


Verse 24

Romans 16:24. The attestation of this verse is quite insufficient, and it is omitted by all critical editors.


Verse 25

Romans 16:25 f. τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ: cf. Ephesians 3:20, Judges 1:24. στηρίξαι: this word takes us back to the beginning of the epistle (Romans 1:11.) Paul wished to impart to them some spiritual gift, to the end that they might be established; but only God is able (cf. Romans 14:4) to effect this result. The stablishing is to take place κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου: in agreement with the gospel Paul preached. When it is achieved, the Romans will be settled and confirmed in Christianity as it was understood by the Apostle. For τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου cf. Romans 2:16, 2 Timothy 2:8 : also 1 Timothy 1:11, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐπιστεύθην ἐγώ. The expression implies not only that Paul’s gospel was his own, in the sense that he was not taught it by any man (Galatians 1:11 f.), but also that it had something characteristic of himself about it. The characteristic feature, to judge by this epistle, was his sense of the absolute freeness of salvation (justification by faith, apart from works of law), and of its absolute universality (for every one that believeth, Jew first, then Greek). τὸ κήρυγμα ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ is practically the same as τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου. It was in a preaching (1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 15:14, Titus 1:3) of which Jesus Christ was the object that Paul declared the characteristic truths of his gospel: and this preaching, as well as the gospel, may be said to be the rule according to which the Romans are to be established as Christians. κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν μυστηρίουγνωρισθέντος. This passage “goes not with στηρίξαι, but with κήρυγμα” (Sanday and Headlam). This is the simplest construction: the gospel Paul preaches, the gospel in accordance with which he would have them established, is itself in accordance with—we may even say identical with—the revelation of a mystery, etc. The μυστήριον here referred to is God’s world-embracing purpose of redemption, as it has been set out conspicuously in this epistle. One aspect of this—one element of the mystery—is referred to where μυστήριον is used in Romans 11:25; but the conception of the Gospel as a μυστήριον revealed in the fulness of the time dominates later epistles, especially Ephesians (cf. Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 6:19). The Gospel as Paul understood it was a μυστήριον, because it could never have been known except through Divine revelation: μυστήριον and ἀποκάλυψις are correlative terms. χρόνοις αἰωνίοις: the dative expresses duration. Winer, p. 273; cf. 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2. For φανερωθέντος δὲ νῦν cf. Romans 3:21. The aorist refers to Christ’s appearing, though the significance of this had to be made clear by revelation (Weiss). διά τε γραφῶν προφητικῶνγνωρισθέντος: for τε cf. Romans 2:16. The connection is meant to be as close as possible: the γνωρίζειν follows the φανεροῦν as a matter of course. The γραφαὶ προφητικαί are the O.T. Scriptures of which Paul made constant use in preaching his gospel (cf. κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). For him the O.T. was essentially a Christian book. His gospel was witnessed to by the law and the prophets (Romans 1:2, Romans 3:21; Romans 3:4, passim), and in that sense the mystery was made known through them. But their significance only came out for one who had the Christian key to them—the knowledge of Christ which revelation had given to Paul. κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ αἰωνίου θεοῦ: cf. 1 Timothy 1:1, Titus 1:3. The idea is that only an express command of the Eternal God could justify the promulgation of the secret He had kept so long. For the “Eternal God” cf. Genesis 21:33, 1 Timothy 1:17 ( τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων). εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως: cf. Romans 1:5 εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη: in Romans 1:5 it is ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν: for εἰς in this sense see Romans 3:22. It is very difficult to believe that such mosaic work is the original composition of Paul.


Verses 25-27

Romans 16:25-27. The doxology. St. Paul’s letters, as a rule, terminate with a benediction, and even apart from the questions of textual criticism, connected with it, this doxology has given rise to much discussion. The closest analogies to it are found in the doxology at the end of Ephesians 3, and in Jude (Judges 1:24-25); there is something similar in the last chapter of Hebrews (Hebrews 13:20 f.), though not quite at the end; Pauline doxologies as a rule are briefer (Romans 1:25, Romans 9:5, Romans 11:36, Philippians 4:20), and more closely related to what immediately precedes. This one, in which all the leading ideas of the Epistle to the Romans may be discovered, though in a style which reminds one uncomfortably of the Pastoral Epistles rather than of that to which it is appended, would seem more in place if it stood where (42) (43) and an immense number of MSS. place it—after Romans 14:23. It may represent the first emergence and conscious apprehension of thoughts which were afterwards to become familiar; but it cannot be denied that the many distinct points of contact with later writings give it, in spite of all it has of imposing, a somewhat artificial character, and it may not belong to the Epistle to the Romans any more than the doxology in Matthew 6 belongs to the Lord’s Prayer.


Verse 27

Romans 16:27. μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ: this description of God suits all that has just been said about His great purpose in human history, and the hiding and revealing of it in due time. The true text in 1 Timothy 1:17 has no σοφῷ. The absence of the article here indicates that it is in virtue of having this character that God is able to stablish the Romans according to Paul’s Gospel. δόξα: it is impossible to be sure of the reading here. If be omitted, there is no grammatical difficulty whatever: glory is ascribed to God through Jesus Christ, through Whom the eternal purpose of the world’s redemption has in God’s wisdom been wrought out. But its omission is almost certainly a correction made for simplification’s sake. If it be retained, to whom does it refer? (1) Some say, to Jesus Christ; and this is grammatically the obvious way to take it. But it seems inconsistent with the fact that in τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ and μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ Paul wishes unequivocally to ascribe the glory to God. And though it saves the grammar of the last clause, it sacrifices that of the whole sentence. Hence (2) it seems necessary to refer it to God, and we may suppose, with Sanday and Headlam, that the structure of the sentence being lost amid the heavily-loaded clauses of the doxology, the writer concludes with a well-known formula of praise, δόξα κ. τ. λ. (Galatians 1:15, 2 Timothy 4:18, Hebrews 13:21). This might be indicated by putting a dash after ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. The thread is lost, and the writer appends his solemn conclusion as best he can.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 16:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/romans-16.html. 1897-1910.

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