Theme: The gospel Paul preached had both established and built the people of the church in Rome — and throughout the world — and this chapter gives us a glimpse into their work, diversity, and mentality.
Work — Gospel Workers, Part 1 (16:1-2)
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
1 Phoebe: She served the church at Cenchreae, outside of Corinth. 2 Welcome her in the Lord: Phoebe was probably the deliverer of the letter. They would give letters of verification in those days, and the book of Romans served as hers! 1 A servant: This is the word used for the position of deacon, which causes some to wonder if she had the position, making her a female deacon (especially due to: of the church).
Diversity — Gospel Church (Romans 16:3-16)
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.
3 Prisca and Aquila are a married couple found scattered throughout the New Testament.
- Corinthian Work — On his second missionary journey they met him in Corinth. As Jews, they had been driven from Rome by an edict of Claudius (Acts 18:1-2). They made tents with Paul, a trade they all knew (18:3-4).
- Ephesian Work — They left Corinth when Paul did (Acts 18:18) and went to Ephesus, where they stayed, though Paul departed for a while (Acts 18:18-21). In Ephesus they both took a fine, young teacher named Apollos aside to teach him the gospel (Acts 18:24-28). They must have stayed to help the church in Ephesus, because they greet the church in Corinth in a letter Paul wrote from there (1 Corinthians 16:8, 19).
- Roman Work (here)
- Back to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:19).
5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.
5 Epaenetus / first convert: He was the first convert on Paul’s third missionary journey when he got to Asia minor.
6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
7 Known to the apostles: Who knows you well? Who do you have a reputation with?
8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.
13 Rufus: He receives a distinguished title from Paul (chosen in the Lord), which everyone on the list could say, but Paul puts on only one man. He might have been the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21).
13 A mother to me as well: Paul needed this — he had been a recipient of her motherly love.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
The Roman church was unified, but very diverse in their unity.
- Racial diversity — Jew and Gentile.
- Social diversity — Many are common slave names, but there are also higher ranking people/names.
- Gender diversity — Nine of twenty-six are women.
- Four women in the passage are said to have worked hard.
Mentality — Gospel Caution (16:17-20)
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
17 Divisions / Create obstacles / Watch out / Avoid: Be on guard against and avoid those who cause divisions and create obstacles in the body of Christ.
Paul gives us three filters:
1 — Contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught: Does it agree with Scripture?
2 — Do not serve the Lord Christ: Does it glorify the Lord Christ?
3 — Your obedience is known to all: Does it promote goodness?
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Beautiful to see how the God of peace must make peace by crushing Satan.
Genesis 3:15 (ESV)—15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
This happened at the cross, but will be fully realized in the future.
Work — Gospel Workers, Part 2 (16:21-24)
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. 22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
21 Timothy: Eventual pastor of Ephesian church.
He had some limitations.
- Fear (psychological). 1 Timothy 1:7 Spirit of fear. 1 Corinthians 16:10-11 They might have rejected him.
- Sickness (physical). 1 Timothy 5:23 Wine for his stomachs sake. Ulcer? Sensitive and nervous?
- Age (social). 1 Timothy 4 — Youth. He had uphill battles, but he was committed to Christ.
22 Tertius: Paul’s stenographer for this epistle, sent his greetings.
Mentality — Gospel Praise (16:25-27)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
26 Prophetic writings: Remember this early statement about the gospel — Romans 1:2 (ESV)—2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures…
- Genesis 3:15 (ESV)—15 …he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” - Isaiah 53:5–6 (ESV)—5 But he was pierced for our transgressions… 6 …the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
- Animal sacrifices - Second coming glory - Foreshadowing (Abraham and Isaac, Jonah)
25 Him who is able to strengthen you: Romans provides a means for God to strengthen you. The gospel is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16-17). It is His instrument.
Jesus brought the gospel — His story is the gospel story. Mark 1:1 (ESV)—1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Romans is the gospel inspected (unpacked). The four Gospels present the words and works of Jesus, while Romans explores the significance of His sacrificial death.
We’ve unpacked the gospel in Romans:
- Gospel Need (1-3)
- Gospel Provision (3-5)
- Gospel Scope (6-8)
- Gospel Stumbling (9-11)
- Gospel Application (12-16)