An Exegetical Commentary
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 14 August 2011; Revised 29 July 2018
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of Romans is taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Unless otherwise indicated other Scripture quotations are also taken from the NASB. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found here. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Links to other ancient Jewish literature may be found at EarlyJewishWritings.com.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). The meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB," found online at BibleHub.com. Explanation of Greek grammatical forms and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance reference numbers are identified with "SH" for Hebrew and "SG" for Greek.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).
Writing Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy. Click here for a Study Questions for small group learning or self-study.
Conclusion: Greetings and Final Instructions, 16:127
Greetings and Commendations, 16:1-16
Final Exhortations, 16:17-20
Greetings from Fellow Workers, 16:21-23
Closing Doxology, 16:24-27
Greetings and Commendations, 16:1-16
Some scholars are puzzled over a few matters related to this section. First, since the names in Paul's greetings are ostensibly Jewish, why do they have Greek names? Harrison implies that many of the names in the list were Jews who had been expelled from Rome under Claudius (such as Aquila and Priscilla) and in consequence changed their names to prevent discrimination. Certainly this practice occurred frequently in Christian Europe in later centuries. However, no evidence exists that in the first century Jews adopted Greek names to prevent mistreatment. Even Hebraic Jews were conversant with the LXX (Greek Tanakh) and knew enough Greek to conduct trade and other formal relations with Gentiles. Jews no doubt adopted Greek names or gave them to their children for personal reasons unrelated to Gentile prejudice.
Douglas Hamp in his book Discovering the Language of Jesus says, "The use of non-Hebrew names seems to have been rather common since even the (Jewish) disciples Philip and Andrew have Greek names" (19). Philip, however, was not from Greece or anywhere else outside of Israel, but was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter (John 1:44). Andrew, likewise, had a completely Greek name. Hamp suggests that quite possibly the parents knew someone with the name or just simply liked how it sounded (20). Andrew's famous brother seems to have had three names, each in a different language (John 1:42): Shimon (Hebrew), Kēpha (Aramaic), and Petros (Greek), a translation of Kēpha. Paul also had three names: Saulos (Greek, Acts 7:58), Sha'ul (Hebrew, Acts 9:4) and Paulos (Latin, Acts 13:9).
Having established that even Hebraic Jews native to Judea and Galilee could have Greek names it is fair to say that a significant number of the names in the list of greetings below are likely Hellenized Jews (cf. Acts 6:1), given the inclusion of many of them in the record of Hippolytus (170-236), On the Seventy Apostles. Yeshua would not have sent out Gentiles (Luke 10:1) since they were to go to towns that he planned to visit and his mission was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:6). Little considered by commentators is that the Pharisees, with whom Paul continued to identify, were strongly anti-Hellenist. Paul was a traditional Jew and while he spoke Greek to conduct cross-cultural ministry and became "all things to all men" (1Cor 9:22) to effectively witness, he never embraced Hellenistic culture with its paganism, superstition and syncretism as Hellenistic Jews did in the Diaspora in varying degrees. The fact that Paul the apostle embraces Hellenized and Hellenistic Jews as kinsmen and fellow workers says much about his transformation and servant heart.
Second, how did Paul know so many people in Rome if he had never been there? Many scholars in the early twentieth century proposed that this section was actually part of a letter to Ephesus as those greeted would be more likely known in a congregation Paul knew well (Polhill 282). Aquila and Priscilla were located in Ephesus when last mentioned in Acts (18:26). However, the immediate logical answer that presents itself is that besides the names of Paul's blood relatives (verses 7 & 11), many of these persons had been expelled from Rome under Claudius, which providentially made them available as co-workers for Paul and were thus met in the course of his missionary journeys (such as Aquila, Acts 18:2). He could also have met these Jews at feasts in Jerusalem. After all, it was customary for Jews to travel to Jerusalem for the annual celebrations, such as Passover. The aggregate numbers of Jews at the time in the world made them a clear minority and the covenantal bond between them made for a close nation.
Third, why does Paul offer personal greetings in a letter that is primarily theological in subject matter? Every letter except Ephesians and Philemon contain personal greetings, whether to or from a named individual or generally to a group. Harrison suggests that a clue is provided by his letter to the Colossians, which also contains greetings and is written to a congregation he did not personally establish. In his letter to the Romans Paul is taking advantage of all the ties he has with this congregation that he hopes to visit in the near future. To send greetings to individuals in congregations where he knew virtually the entire congregation would expose Paul to the charge of favoritism. But the congregation at Rome was not such a community.
Witherington considers the naming of names to be very special. Sixteen out of the twenty-six named persons are singled out in some way making this section seem more like an honor roll than a greeting card. Moreover, as Witherington argues effectively, the list has considerable rhetorical effect (381):
(1) These are not persons the Gentile disciples in Rome can afford to ignore or treat in a condescending fashion.
(2) This list establishes that Paul had quite a social network established in Rome among these people. Thus, Paul and his special emissary Phoebe must be received.
(3) The honorific details in the list make it clear these are devoted hardworking disciples, to whom the Roman congregation are indebted, whether they know it or not.
A special feature of Paul's greetings is the prominence of seven women, beginning with Phoebe. They occupied various stations of life and all are represented as performing a valuable service for the Lord. Paul clearly esteemed them for their godly character, dependable ministry and even practical assistance. Paul's appreciation for these women should argue strongly against the assumption that Paul was sexist or opposed to women in ministry.
See my article Paul's Honor Roll of Names for a complete list of all the names Paul mentions in his letters.
Note on Spelling and Pronunciation
The reader will hopefully notice when reading the names that the Greek spelling does not conform to English spelling, and thus the names are normally mispronounced. The spelling of names of places and people in our Bibles is the result of transliteration (not translation), which refers to the substitution of letters in the target language for letters in the source language. The substitution attempts to replicate the sound of the letters or even syllables, but sometimes it is only an approximation due to the variance between alphabets.
In the history of Bible translation the Latin alphabet became the basis for transliteration and still governs the production of modern English Bibles. Thus, the English spelling and pronunciation of Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible is misleading at best and often just plain wrong. For example, "James," author of the epistle, is actually "Jacob" (Heb. Ya'akov), but the spelling is apparently based on the Latin Iacomus, a variant of Iacobus. Incorrect pronunciation of biblical names is engrained in Christian speech, yet no one considers how they would feel if their names were constantly misspelled or mispronounced.
The most common misspelling is rendering the Hebrew yod in the Tanakh and the Greek iota ("ee-ohta") in the apostolic canon with a "J." (Consider "Jerusalem" and "Jesus.") There is no "J" sound or letter in ancient Hebrew, Greek or Latin. (Consider the impact on pronunciation of 350+ names of people and places in the Bible beginning with "J.") In the Latin Vulgate names beginning with "J" in modern English versions begin with either "I" or "H," in an attempt to reproduce the soft sound of the respective Hebrew and Greek letters. The letter "J" did not make its appearance in languages until at least the 14th century. It is unfortunate that the original English Bible translators, who were proficient in Hebrew and Greek, should render the original words incorrectly and perpetuate centuries of Christian ignorance in pronunciation of important Bible names.
1. For those not familiar with Greek pronunciation here are some basic rules: "ē" is pronounced like 'ey' in 'they;' "ō" is pronounced like the 'o' in 'omega;' "a" is pronounced like the 'a' in 'father;' "e" is pronounced 'eh; and "u" is pronounced like 'u' in 'debut.
2. Certain combination of vowels function as a single syllable, called diphthongs, and are pronounced as follows: "ai" is like 'i' in 'bike;' "au" is like 'ow' in 'cow;' "ei" is 'ey' as in 'they;' "eu" is 'eoo' with the 'e' pronounced as in 'met;' "ēu" is 'eyoo' (ey-oo); "oi" is like 'oi' in 'oil;' "ou" is 'oo;' and "ui" is like 'wee' in 'weep.'
1― I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;
I commend: Grk. sunistēmi, pres., to mention or present for approval. "Commend" is the ordinary word for "to introduce" in written correspondence of that period (cf. 2Cor 3:1). Letters of recommendation were standard for travelers, and particularly for women during this period (Shulam). In addition, it was customary to commend or recommend the courier of a letter, especially if he or she was unknown to the audience (Witherington).
to you our sister: Grk. adelphē, fem. of adelphos, lit. "of the same womb." The feminine form occurs 24 times in the apostolic writings and is generally literal, but figurative uses occur also. Three possibilities may be considered in interpreting "sister." (1) Phoebe was Paul's wife. In 1Cor 9:5 "sister" is used to refer to the wife of Peter, but as Paul presented himself as unmarried in 1Cor 7:8, this seems an unlikely suggestion. (2) Phoebe was Paul's blood sister. Paul did have a sister (Acts 23:16), but it is not known whether this could be Phoebe. The use of the plural pronoun "our" would seem to argue against this interpretation. In Philemon 1:2 Paul uses to the plural pronoun to greet "our sister Apphia" and "Archippus our fellow soldier." (3) Phoebe was Paul's spiritual sister, a fellow disciple of Yeshua. Adelphē is used of female disciples six times (Matt 12:50; 1Cor 7:15; 1Tim 5:2; Phm 1:2; Jas 2:15; 2Jn 1:13). The use of "brother" and "sister" in reference to fellow disciples portrays the close familial feeling within the Body of the Messiah. Therefore, the bearer of this letter should be received as a fellow believer.
Phoebe: Grk. Phoibē, fem. name, lit. "bright" or "pure" (from the Grk. phoibos). In Greek mythology Phoebe was a Titan associated with the moon. This was also an epithet of her granddaughter, the moon goddess Artemis (BehindtheName.com). This is the only mention of this name in the Bible. "Phoebe" does not transliterate a Hebrew name as "Saul" does for "Sha'ul." If her Hebrew name corresponded to the meaning of Phoebe, then her Hebrew name might have been Berura, Tehora or Zaka, all of which have the same meaning as Phoebe. Thus, the name "Phoebe" would have been chosen, not because of any association with paganism, but because of its likeness in meaning with her Hebrew name. Harrison suggests that Phoebe might have been a businesswoman like Lydia.
who is a servant: Grk. diakonos, one who renders service to another, such as in a domestic or government context, but especially of one in the service of God, the Messiah, the Messianic community and the good news. Robertson suggests that this word may come from dia (through) and konis (dust), to raise a dust by one's hurry, and so to minister (note on Matt 20:26). A rabbinic saying from approximately a hundred years before Yeshua illustrates the devotion of a diakonos: "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). The term would come to be a technical term denoting someone in a recognized office in the congregation and having the duty of caring for its practical affairs (Acts 6:1-6; Php 1:1; 1Tim 3:1). See Acts 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:813 for the qualifications of a diakonos.
Most versions, as the NASB, render diakonos as "servant." A few versions inaccurately translate the word as "deaconess" (AMP, ISV, NJB, PNT, RSV), but some other versions have "deacon" (GW, NLT, NOG, NIV, NLT, NRSV, REV). A couple have "minister" (Darby, NAB). The TLV has "servant-leader." These versions recognize that Phoebe held an important office in the congregation. She wasn't just a reliable helper who waited on tables. As the ISBE points out, "servant" is vague, and "deaconess" is too technical. In later Christianity there was an order of deaconesses for special work among women, but there is no evidence of such an order at this early period. Both the CJB and OJB render diakonos with shammash, which Stern explains as the person who handles the day-to-day practical tasks of keeping a synagogue going.
One might wonder how Phoebe gained an office of such importance, but we only need to consider Deborah who served as a judge (Jdg 4:4), but was unqualified by Torah rules. In both of these cases there was likely a lack of male leadership, not an uncommon occurrence in modern congregations. Some interpreters take Phoebe's status as indicative of equality in ministry of men and women in the Body of Messiah during the apostolic era and therefore the basis for granting ordination for women and ministry assignments equal to men in modern times. The apostolic writings indicate the important role that women had in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Women singled out for recognition include Miriam (mother of Yeshua), Miriam (mother of Mark), Dorcas, Phoebe, Prisca, Junia, Lydia, Euodia, Syntyche, Nympha, Apphia, Peter's wife and the four daughters of Philip the evangelist. Women are specifically spoken of as providing financial support (Luke 8:2-3), hosting congregations (Acts 12:12; 16:15, 40; Rom 16:5; Col 4:15), performing charitable good works (Acts 9:36; 1Tim 2:10; 5:9-10), prophesying (Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9; 1Cor 11:5), intercession (Acts 1:14) and teaching other women (Titus 2:3-4). However, there is no denying the fact that the Paul imposed some strict guidelines for women that would directly impact both their selection and function in any kind of ministry (Eph 5:22-24; 1Tim 2:12; 3:1-2; Titus 1:6).
of the church: Grk. ekklēsia, means assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. In secular use ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (cf. Acts 19:32, 39, 41). The popular interpretation of ekklēsia as "called out ones" is based on etymology and not usage, and thus has little value in understanding the word in its biblical context. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). The word ekklēsia occurs twice on the lips of Yeshua (Matt 16:18; 18:17) and he most likely used the familiar Hebrew word. Thus, when Yeshua said he would build his qahal (Matt 16:18) he was not thinking of a Gentile ecclesiastical hierarchy centered in Rome.
The English translation of "church" was first introduced in the Wycliffe Bible (1395, "chirche"). The Tyndale Bible (1525), the Miles Coverdale Bible (1535) and the Bishop's Bible (1568) rendered ekklēsia as "congregation," but the Geneva Bible (1587) returned to the word "church" and from that time this has been the word used in Christian English Bibles. As the instructions of King James to the translators of the 1611 KJV show, the reason for using "church" was to maintain the ecclesiastical language of Christianity. The English word "church" comes from the Old English cirice, circe "church, public place of worship; Christians collectively," which itself devolved from the Greek kyriakē (oikia), kyriakon doma "Lord's (house). Greek kyriakon (adj.) "of the Lord" was used of houses of Christian worship since c. 300 A.D. (Online Etymology Dictionary). "Church" is not an accurate translation of ekklēsia, but the decision to use it created a permanent wedge between Christianity and its Jewish roots.
The reader of the apostolic writings should be cautious about reading modern church organization, whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or the 57 varieties of Protestantism, into first century settings. In the apostolic writings ekklēsia is never treated as an institution, a building, a specific polity or even a specific size of group as the English word "church" can mean. Everywhere in the apostolic writings ekklēsia refers to either the entire Body of the Messiah, the sum total of the Jewish and Gentile believers in a particular city, or the disciples meeting together in someone's home. Most importantly, the term emphasizes a spiritual bond based on common trust in the God of Israel and his Messiah (Stern 54).
The TLV translates ekklēsia as "community" or "Messiah's community" whereas the CJB, which normally uses "Messianic community" for ekklēsia has "congregation" here. The presence of offices, such as elders and deacons, clearly point to internal organization of each local group of disciples. Interestingly James 2:2 uses sunagōgē or synagogue, which would also imply structure and accountability (cf. Matt 10:17; John 9:22; Acts 22:19; 26:11), and, in fact, apostolic congregations mirrored the synagogue in organization. While the strict definition of "community" does refer to a group who share a government (such as a village, town or city), ekklēsia would be better served by translating it as "congregation," since it incorporates both organic and organizational characteristics in its definition and is more neutral in tone than "church."
However, organization should not overwhelm the organism. In the apostolic writings, then, the doctrine of the "church" is more about a living body with its parts serving one another. The assembly of the faithful should be known by its passion rather than its programs. As an organism each city congregation and sub-groups consist of disciples committed to living by the teachings of their Master and Messiah. Through the body of believers the ministry of Yeshua is extended far beyond the bounds of the holy land and his mortal life on earth.
which is at Cenchrea: Grk. Kegchreai, located some seven miles from Corinth and serving as the seaport of the city for commerce to the East. Paul had sailed from this port when he went from Corinth to Ephesus several years before (Acts 18:18). It was one of the communities to which the good news spread from Corinth during and after Paul's original ministry in that city (2Cor 1:1) (Harrison). As typical of English versions "Cenchrea" seems to be an inadequate transliteration of the Greek.
Harrison suggests that Phoebe may have already been on her way to Rome from Cenchrea and stopped at Corinth where Paul was ministering. A logical inference from what is said about her, then, is that Paul is sending his letter in her care.
2― that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.
that you receive: Grk. prosdechomai, aor. mid. subj., to receive to oneself in a kindly mode, to welcome. her in the Lord: The basis for the welcome is recognition that she has been received into fellowship by Yeshua because of her trust in his atoning sacrifice. She is a daughter of the King and a personal representative of Paul. in a manner worthy: Grk. axiōs, adv., in a manner that does honor. of the saints: pl. of Grk. hagios, lit. "holy ones." In the LXX the hagios word-group translates the Heb. qadōsh, "holy, and its derivatives (DNTT 2:224), which means to be separated from what is common, unclean or contrary to God's holiness (TWOT 2:788). The plural form of qadōsh is used in the Tanakh of angels (e.g., Zech 14:5), but especially of members of Israel (Deut 33:3; Ps 16:3; 34:9; Dan 7:18, 21-22, 25, 27; 8:24).
The appellation originated when God called Israel to be a people consecrated to worship and obey Him (Ex 19:6). The term succeeds in having a corporate meaning as well as an individual meaning. The "saints" are those who have accepted the truth of the Good News of the Messiah, repented of their sins, put their trust in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua for their sins and separated themselves to be faithful to their Lord. Paul addressed virtually all his letters to the "saints," but he did not use the term in any elitist sense. So, to receive Phoebe in a manner worthy of the saints would be of the kind that her home congregation would recognize as appropriate.
and that you help her: Grk. paristēmi, lit. "to place beside," that is, put at her disposal, make available, be available, or be supportive. in whatever matter: Grk. pragma, something that involves or presumes action by a responsible party; deed, matter or thing, she may have need of you: Paul does not anticipate what Phoebe might need upon arrival in Rome, such as lodging, food, etc. The needs of a visitor should be obvious and Paul expects her needs to be provided without charge. for she herself has also been a helper: Grk. prostatis, one who stands by as a supporter and so champions the cause or need of someone. Marshall translates as "protectress." ISBE prefers "patroness" (as does the TLV), because the masculine form of the word is used of the title of a citizen in Athens who took charge of the interests of clients and persons without civic rights. of many: ISBE comments that many of the early congregations had the appearance of clients under a patron, and probably the congregation of Cenchrea met in the house of Phoebe. She also devoted her influence and means to the assistance of brethren landing at that port.
and of myself as well: Paul alludes to a personal instance of assistance. Various suggestions have been made, such as tending him while he was sick. However, Paul includes himself generally as receiving help as others had received from her. A clue concerning the help may be found in Acts 18:18, which contains the only other mention of Cenchrea in the apostolic writings: "In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow." Phoebe's "help" may have been the provision of lodging consequent to her patroness role, but Paul may imply that she cut his hair for him. This was no ordinary haircut, since it signaled the end of a period of being under the vow of a Nazirite (Num 6:2). Paul never explains why he took the vow, but it would have reflected a significant spiritual commitment due to the Torah stipulations.
To conclude the vow meant not only cutting the hair, but also presenting a sin offering of animal, unleavened bread, grain and wine at the temple and placing the cut hair on the fire with the sacrificial animal (Num 6:13-18). Paul was a long ways from Jerusalem and he may well have requested Phoebe to perform the function of a priest. (Perhaps Phoebe had a priestly lineage.) Paul knew that Yeshua was his sin offering, so he could rationalize the conduct of a special ceremony in the presence of Phoebe's congregation. Paul may have presented an offering to the congregation equivalent to the Torah requirement and then Phoebe cut his hair and burned it. Such a ceremony would be a powerful statement of his respect for her.
3― Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
Greet: Grk. aspazomai, aor. mid. imp., to address with some form of special recognition or expression of affection. The verbal command is given 17 times in this chapter. Prisca: Grk. Priska, fem. name, from the Latin priscus, "ancient." Scripture provides no background information on Prisca, except that she came with her husband from Rome to Corinth after the expulsion order of Claudius (Acts 18:2). Luke uses only the colloquial diminutive form Priskilla (Priscilla), as he does other names (e.g., Silas, Apollos). Paul, on the other hand, uses only the formal name Priska in his references (1Cor 16:19; 2Tim 4:19) as he does others of his friends (e.g., Silvanus, Epaphroditus). and Aquila: Grk. Akulas, masc. name, from the Latin aquilla, "eagle."
Aquila is identified as a native of Pontus (Acts 18:2), a region in northern Asia situated on the southern shore of the Black Sea. Scripture provides no background on the introduction of the good news there, but Peter addresses his first letter to disciples in the region (1Pet 1:1). The couple is mentioned six times in the apostolic writings and always together (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; 1Cor 16:19; 2Tim 4:19). Four times Prisca's name precedes that of her husband, leading interpreters to conclude that she was either the more gifted, the more prominent in ministry or the more dominant in the relationship. There is no way to know for certain why both Luke and Paul give her name first. In any event the repetition of their names together is a testament to their marriage and partnership in ministry.
my fellow workers: pl. of Grk. sunergos, joint laborers with the focus on a supportive role. Luke and Paul provide glimpses of their ministry. Paul first met the couple in Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:2). Aquila and his wife were tentmakers by trade and this common ground helps establish their relationship with Paul. They gave him lodging and no doubt assistance in his synagogue ministry there. After opposition erupted Paul left Corinth for Ephesus, taking the couple with him (Acts 18:18). Aquila and Priscilla remained in Ephesus when Paul left for Antioch. While they were in Ephesus the couple had occasion to instruct Apollos "more accurately" in interpretation and application of Scripture (Acts 18:26).
in Christ: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. See the note on 1:1. In Greek culture christos had no religious connotation at all, and yet Jewish translators of the LXX deliberately chose this word to render Mashiach, "anointed one," and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Only kings and the high priest bore this title in the Tanakh. In Christian usage "Christ" is treated either as a last name or a title of deity with no connection to its Jewish roots. Yet, if it hadn't been for the Jews Christians would not even have the word "Christ" in order to call themselves "Christian." It is a common misbelief among Christians that the first century Jewish disciples of Yeshua converted to Christianity. On the contrary, Jews, as Paul and those whom are greeted, did not have a Christian religion to "convert" to. They simply embraced Yeshua as the fulfillment of their Messianic expectations and their character was transformed by the Holy Spirit. Jewish disciples did not abandon their obedience to Torah (Acts 21:20).
Jesus: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua, a contraction of the Hebrew name Y'hoshua, which means "YHVH is salvation." In the apostolic writings Christos is only used of the Jewish Messiah and King of the Jews, Yeshua. He is the only Messiah. The expression "in Christ" occurs 13 times in Romans and reflects complete association with Yeshua. The preposition en functions as a marker of position within, but may refer to agency, cause and close association (Danker). To truly be "in Messiah" is to be closely connected with the Jewish Messiah and under his control and jurisdiction.
4― who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;
who for my life: Grk. psuchē, a quality without which a body is physically dead, thus "life." The life may be physical or inner as in "soul." risked: hupotithēmi, aor., to expose to hazard. their own necks: a strong word picture, perhaps an allusion to beheading, the usual method for execution by the Romans. There can be no certainty concerning the occasion to which Paul refers, but it could be the time when a dangerous riot broke out in Ephesus, endangering the apostle's life (Acts 19:28-31; cf. 1Cor 16:19, 2Cor 1:8-10). to whom not only do I give thanks: Grk. eucharisteō, give thanks. This verse and Luke 17:16 are the only passages where the recipient of the thanks is not God. The crisis event was long past by the time of this writing, but still fresh in Paul's memory. When he recalled the danger he might shudder all over again thinking of what might have happened if not for the timely assistance of Aquila and Prisca.
but also all the churches: pl. of Grk. ekklēsia. See the note on verse 1 above. A better translation would be "congregations." of the Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group; lit. "nations." Ethnos in the singular may refer to a specific ethnic or cultural people, such as the Samaritan Jews (Acts 8:9) or Israel (Matt 21:43; Acts 24:17). In its plural form ethnos corresponds to the Heb. goyim, which in the Tanakh referred to all nations, including Israel (cf. Gen 10:5, 20, 31; 12:2; 17:4; 18:18; 25:23; 35:11; Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1; Jer 5:15; Ezek 4:13; 36:13-14; Mic 4:2-3). The plural form of ethnos here simply highlights the diversity of the congregations without implying they consist only of non-Jews. This translation might give the impression that Paul is thanking other congregations, but in fact the Greek syntax makes it clear that it is other congregations, particularly Corinth and Ephesus, who also express their thanks for the service of this dynamic couple.
5― also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.
also greet: See the note on 16:3. the church: See the note on "church" in verse 1 above. that is in their house: As of this letter the couple are back in Rome, probably hosting a portion of the total Roman congregation, perhaps even the Jewish minority. In the first century disciples met together in private homes (Acts 2:46; 12:12; 17:4-5; 18:7; 20:20; 21:8; 1Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; and Phlm 1:2) and, for large groups, in homes or halls owned by wealthy patrons (cf. Acts 19:9). Apostolic congregations did not possess the wealth for investment in real estate and structures, which began in the fourth century after the Edict of Milan gave legal standing to the Christianity and ended State-sponsored persecution (Edward T. McClellan, "Cathedrals and Churches, The 1998 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia).
Harrison suggests that it is quite likely that their return to Rome was encouraged by Paul, so that they could prepare for his arrival by acquainting the congregation with his work in some detail and with his plans for the future (cf. Acts 19:21). However, the fact that the congregation is "in" their house, suggests that they were not recent arrivals. Rome had been their home before the expulsion of Claudius and they were no doubt happy to join the return of Jews and reconnect with family and friends.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Epaenetus: Grk. Epainetos, masc. name, "praiseworthy." According to Hippolytus, On the Seventy Apostles, Epaenetus was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and eventually became the first bishop of Carthage. my beloved: Grk. agapētos, (from agapaō, to esteem or love) held in affection, esteemed, or dear. This character trait indicates one who has an interest in contributing to the well-being of another, even to the point of personal sacrifice. who is the first convert: Grk. aparchē, make a beginning in sacrifice, by offering something as first fruits to God. In the LXX aparchē renders Heb. reishit, lit. "beginning," "chief," "first of fruits," meaning the first fruits of natural products that were consecrated to the LORD, the giver of fruitfulness (Ex 23:19; Lev 2:12; 23:10; Num 15:20; 18:2; Deut 18:4; 26:2, 10; 33:21).
Aparchē also translates Heb. terumah, which denotes the contribution of natural products or money specifically for the priests and Levites (e.g., Ex 25:2; Deut 12:11), similarly understood as a thank-offering to the LORD (DNTT 3:415). Paul probably alludes to the feast of Reishit Katzir ("First Fruits of Harvest"), which occurs on the day after the Sabbath that follows Passover. In A.D. 30 this day coincided with the resurrection of Yeshua who is the "first fruits of those who are asleep" (1Cor 15:20). Calling Epaenetus "first fruits" characterizes his spiritual resurrection as akin to Yeshua's physical resurrection. A number of Bible versions as the NASB use the noun "convert" (HCSB, ESV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, RSV), and two versions have "Christian" (MSG, NLT), both of which misrepresent the Jewish idiom.
A few versions identify Epaenetus simply as the first to believe in Asia (CJB, GNB, GW, NCV) and while accurate in terms of basic meaning the translation falls short of the Hebrew word picture. Only a few Bible versions give the literal translation of "firstfruits" (ASV, DRA, HNV, KJV, MW, NKJV, TLV). In 1 Corinthians 16:15 Paul says that the household of Stephanas (whom he had personally immersed, 1Cor 1:16) was the aparchē or "first fruits" of Achaia (so rendered in the ASV, DRA, HCSB, HNV, KJV, LEB, NASB, NKJV). Lastly, Paul uses aparchē in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 to describe the congregation, which virtually all versions render as "from the beginning," making it a statement about predestination. However, BAG allows that aparchē should be translated as "first fruits" in this passage and some versions capture this sense (CJB, ESV, KJV, MRINT, MW, NIV, NLT, NRSV, OJB, TLV).
Shulam points out that in the pagan world men who dedicated themselves to the service of the sanctuary or who were given to the temple as temple servants were called "first fruits" (Grk. aparchai). In contrast Paul uses aparchē purposefully as in the Torah, alluding to the "first fruits" harvest offerings to the God of Israel (as cited above) and the later idiomatic use for the patriarchs and Israel as the "first fruits" chosen from the nations (Hos 9:10; Jer 2:3). More significant is that Yeshua rose from the dead on Reishit Katzir, "First Fruits of Harvest," that fell on the first day of the week following Passover. Sheaves of the barley harvest were raised up and waved before the Lord in the temple in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Yeshua being raised up was the initial first fruits that held forth the promise of resurrection for all (1Cor 15:20) and thus Yeshua became the "firstborn of many brethren" (Rom 8:29).
Fifty days later on Yom HaBikkurim, "Day of First Fruits," also called Shavuot ("Weeks"), sheaves of the wheat harvest were waved before the Lord in thanksgiving for the harvest while at the same time the Holy Spirit came in power and ushered in a harvest of souls who embraced Yeshua as their Messiah and Redeemer. Jacob in his letter uses aparchē or "first fruits" to describe these first disciples in Judea (Jas 1:18). To call Epaenetus the "first fruits" declares both his participation in the saving and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit begun at Shavuot and his eligibility for the redemption of the body at the resurrection on the last day (Rom 8:23).
to Christ: Grk. Christos. See the note on verse 3 above. from Asia: Grk. Asias. The KJV has "Achaia," which is a province in Greece. "Achaia" cannot be correct since Stephanas was the first fruits of Achaia (1Cor 16:15). and Epaenetus is not named in Acts or Paul's Corinthian correspondence. However, the earliest MS, P46 (c. 200) has "Asia," as do the early major MSS - Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus and several other early versions (Murray). The KJV is based on the Textus Receptus, a Greek text developed in the 16th century from late manuscripts before the bulk of New Testament manuscripts were discovered. The Roman province of Asia lay in western Asia Minor, which included the areas (north to south) of Mysia, Lydia and Caria. It's principal cities included Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Miletus.
Paul traveled through Asia on his second missionary journey, although he was not permitted by the Lord to preach there initially (Acts 16:6-7). On the return leg of the journey he stopped at the synagogue in Ephesus (Acts 18:19) and perhaps Epaenetus responded to the good news at this time. Luke does not report any results of Paul's visit and it may be that Paul only sowed seed that came to fruition under the ministry of Aquila and Prisca (Acts 18:18-19). Paul's command to greet Epaenetus emphasizes him as both a testament of God's work among the Jewish people in the Diaspora and the historical point of beginning for the full harvest in Asia during Paul's third missionary journey. Afterwards Epaenetus became a faithful disciple and an effective worker for his Messiah.
6― Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Mary: Grk. Maria, fem. name, an attempt at transliterating the Heb. Miryam (Miriam in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although some scholars say its meaning is "rebellion." The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning its unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation I've found is at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love."
There are at least a half dozen women named Miriam in the apostolic writings: (1) the mother of Yeshua (Matt 1:16), (2) Miriam of Magdala (Matt 27:56), (3) the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), (4) the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:39), (5) the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), and (6) the Miriam mentioned here. Paul offers no other identifying information and there is no evidence to link the Miriam of Rome with any other woman with this name in Scripture.
who worked hard: Grk. kopiaō, aor. act. ind., to experience fatigue as a result of exertion or to engage in fatiguing activity. The verb implies some kind of diligent and repeated physical activity that benefited others. for you: Presumptively Paul refers to the Roman congregation and it is enough that they knew to whom Paul was referring.
7― Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Andronicus: Grk. Andronikos, masc. name, a common name in the Mediterranean world. Shulam suggests that Andronicus might have been a freedman since the name is found listed among members of the Imperial household and as the name of a slave. and Junias: Grk. Iounian, fem. form of Iounias. Since historically translators considered it unlikely that a woman would be among those identified as "apostles," treated the name as masculine ("Junius"), presumed to be a shortened form of "Junianus." "Junias" is found in these versions: ASV, CEV, DRA, MSG, NASB, NLV, RSV, TLB, and TNIV.)
Others, however, were impressed by the facts that (1) the female Latin name "Junia" occurs more than 250 times in Greek and Latin inscriptions found in Rome alone, whereas the male name Junias is unattested anywhere, and (2) when Greek manuscripts began to be accented, scribes wrote the feminine Iounian ("Junia") (Metzger). "Junia" is found in many versions: BBE, CEB, CJB, ESV, GNB, GW, HCSB, HNV, KJV, NCV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, OJB, and TLV. It is highly unlikely that scribes would change a masculine name to feminine in the early Greek manuscripts. Therefore, Andronicus and Junia were likely a married couple who shared ministry as Aquila and Prisca.
my kinsmen: Grk. sungenēs, connected by lineage or related. See the note on 9:3. Paul could mean they are relatives by blood or marriage, or that they share his tribal ancestry (tribe of Benjamin). and my fellow prisoners: Grk. sunaichmalōtos, from Grk. sun, "together" and Grk. aichmalōtos, "taken by the spear" (as captive), thus fellow prisoner. Neither Luke nor Paul in their writings describe a time when this couple shared imprisonment with Paul. In his letter to Corinth Paul indicated that he suffered multiple imprisonments (2Cor 11:23). The important thing is that Paul knew and appreciated their faithful endurance for the Messiah. who are outstanding: Grk. episēmos, socially marked and when used in a good sense it means "illustrious." Marshall renders the word as "notable." among: Grk. en, prep., describes a position within, often rendered as "in, inside, within or among." Stern suggests that Paul's description may mean not that they were well known to the chief apostles, but that they were themselves well-known apostles. Given that the couple had begun following Yeshua quite early, they had many years to distinguish themselves in ministry. A couple of versions preface this phrase with "they are men" (AMP, RSV), but the word for "men" does not occur in the verse at all.
the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos, a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. See the note on 1:1. In the LXX apostolos translated shalach (1Kgs 14:6), "one being sent. First century Judaism institutionalized the office of shaliach, who acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender. Thus, the TLV renders the plural noun as shlichim. The shaliach's mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). In the apostolic writings the term "apostle" is applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:25-26), Paul (Acts 14:14), Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and James (the brother of Yeshua, Gal 1:19), because they too had "seen the Lord" and been approved to speak on His behalf (Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:6; 1Jn 1:1). All true apostles had the authority to proclaim the good news, impose requirements ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37) and equip the saints for service (Eph 4:11). Paul uses apostolos in the sense of a ministry, perhaps cross-cultural, in a list of spiritual gifts (1Cor 12:28), and in its ordinary sense of "messenger" on behalf of a congregation (2Cor 8:23; Php 2:25), but it's not likely he intends the latter meaning here.
Junia has generally not been accepted as an apostle in Christianity, because it would appear to be an exception to the rule that the apostles were men. However, Scripture records a number of positive examples of women in leadership roles (Miriam, Deborah, Queen of Sheba, Esther, Phoebe, Prisca; see the note on verse 1 above). The most satisfactory solution is that Andronicus and Junia were a married couple who performed apostolic ministry. That is, they were official messengers of Yeshua, sanctioned by the chief apostles, who took the good news to other lands. Paul called Junia an apostle (in reality a "co-apostle" with Andronicus and not separate from him) and there is no sound reason to dispute that status. According to Hippolytus Andronicus was appointed as the first bishop of Pannonia, which lay in the western half of modern Hungary.
who also were in Christ before me: It's possible that the couple were numbered with the 500 persons who witnessed the resurrected Yeshua (1Cor 15:6) and so they satisfied the criteria of having seen the Lord. Perhaps they were among the pilgrims in Jerusalem that witnessed the signs and wonders wrought by the Spirit and responded to Peter's message. The GNB, GW, and NLT inaccurately translates the phrase as "they became Christians before I did." Paul never uses the label "Christian" to refer to himself or anyone else in his writings.
8― Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Ampliatus: Grk. Ampliatos, from the Latin amplio, "increase the size" or "magnificent." The KJV has Amplias, but the earliest and best MSS attest Ampliatos. Ampliatus was a common slave name. my beloved: Grk. agapētos, the same description used of Epaenetus. Paul admits to a personal regard for this man that indicates a background of association. One commentator thinks it possible that this is the same Ampliatus named on a tomb in the Catacomb of Domitilla (the niece of the emperor Domitian) in Rome, saying it was a person "specially esteemed" (Osborne). According to Hippolytus this Ampliatus was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and was appointed bishop of Odyssus, a town also known as Lydda of Odyssopolis (Diospolis) in Judea. He died a martyr. in the Lord: the qualification indicates that Paul's affection arose as a result of their common love for Yeshua. The unique character of the Body of Messiah is that the love of God and transforming work of the Spirit brings together people from many different backgrounds who would not ordinarily associate with one another.
9― Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Urbanus: Grk. Ourbanos, masc. name, from the Latin Urbanus, "refined" or "elegant" (Harrison). The KJV spells the name Urbane, but the TR does have Ourbanos. our fellow worker: Grk. sunergos. See the note on verse 3 above. The noun implies that Urbanus had provided some kind of practical assistance to Paul in the past. The plural pronoun "our" alludes to his involvement with others associated with Paul in ministry. According to Hippolytus this Urbanus was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and whom the apostle Andrew ordained as the first bishop of Macedonia. in Christ: Grk. Christos. See the note on verse 3 above.
and Stachys: Grk. stacus, masc. name, perhaps related to the same word meaning the head or spike of a cereal plant containing its seed. The name is Greek and uncommon; it has been found in inscriptions connected with the imperial household (ISBE). According to Hippolytus this Stachys was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and whom the apostle Andrew ordained as the first bishop of Byzantium. Byzantium was a Greek city that later became known as Constantinople and finally Istanbul. my beloved: Grk. agapētos, one held in affection or one especially esteemed, the same description used of Epaenetus and Ampliatus.
10― Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Apelles: Grk. Apellēs, masc. name, of Latin origin, a fairly common name across group lines. According to Hippolytus this Apelles was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and was appointed as the first bishop of Smyrna. Whether this is the same overseer addressed in the letter to Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11 cannot be determined with any certainty, but in the letter the overseer is exhorted to be faithful until death. Apelles was eventually martyred for his faith. the approved: Grk. dokimos, meeting a standard for exceptional worth or character. This was Paul's desire for Timothy (2Tim 2:15) and for himself (1Cor 9:27) (Harrison). in Christ: See the note on verse 3 above.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. those who are of the household: Grk. tous ek tōn, lit. "the ones out of those of" [i.e., belonging to]. The usual Greek word for household (oikos) does not occur in the Greek text, and the preposition ek ("out of") would indicate family members (Marshall), although some commentators include employees and household servants in spite of the omission of oikos (Harrison). of Aristobulus: Grk. Aristoboulos, "best-counseling."
Lightfoot in his commentary on Philippians identified Aristobulus as the grandson of Herod the Great, who lived in Rome as a private citizen after his two brothers were appointed as kings by Caesar Claudius (Hyrcanus of Chalcis and Agrippa of Judea) (174-175). The date Aristobulus died is uncertain, but he was still living in 45 (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XX, 1.2). Of him Lightfoot offers this scenario:
"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 ek tōn Aristoboulou to be an equivalent. It is at least not an obvious phrase and deserves explanation. And, as the household of Aristobulus would naturally be composed of a large measure of Jews the gospel would the more easily be introduced to their notice." (175)
Harrison says that if Lightfoot is correct, Aristobulus was either not a believer or had died before Paul wrote, since he is not personally greeted. Those addressed would then be his slaves and employees who had become believers.
Against this interpretation is that in Scripture the use of the word "household" (Heb. bayith, Grk. oikos) generally includes the person to whom the household belongs, unless the context specifically says otherwise (cf. Gen 20:18; 50:4). When God told Jeremiah to speak to the "bayith of the king of Judah" (Jer 21:11), we would not assume that the king was excluded from the prophetic word. When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:16 that he baptized "the oikos of Stephanas," we can assume that he also immersed Stephanas, just as happened in the case of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:33). 1 Corinthians 1:15-17 makes clear that Stephanas was not dead or absent. In 2 Timothy 4:19 Paul instructs the young pastor, "Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the oikos of Onesiphorus," and Paul clearly indicates that Onesiphorus was not dead or absent (2Tim 1:16). Thus, if Paul implied oikos when he says "the ones of Aristobulus," the head of the household must be included. This interpretation of the greeting, then, lends credence to the record of Hippolytus that this Aristobulus was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and later served as the first bishop in Britain.
11― Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Herodion: Grk. Hrōdiōn, masc. name. The name may imply that he was a freedman of the Herods or a member of the household of Aristobulus, the grandson of Herod the Great (ISBE). In any event, Hippolytus identifies Herodion as included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and the first bishop of Tarsus. my kinsman: Grk. suggenēs, connected by lineage or related, thus an Israelite. See the note on verse 7 above. Greet: See the note on 16:3. those of the household: Paul uses the same idiomatic expression as in verse 10, lit. "the ones belong to," probably meaning family relations (Marshall). of Narcissus: Narkissos, masc. name, poss. from the flower of the same name. Narcissus was a common name, especially among freedmen and slaves (ISBE).
Lightfoot provides this historical scenario to identify Narcissus.
"Here, as in the case of Aristobulus, the expression seems to point to some famous person of the name. And the powerful freedman Narcissus, whose wealth was proverbial ... whose influence with Claudius was unbounded, and who bore a chief part in the intrigues of this reign, alone satisfies this condition.... As was usual in such cases, his household would most probably pass into the hands of the emperor, still however retaining the name of Narcissus. He was put to death by Agrippina shortly after the accession of Nero [i.e., 54] about three or four years before the Epistle to the Romans was written. As was usual in such cases, his household would most probably pass into the hands of the emperor, still however retaining the name Narcissus. These Narcissiani I suppose to be designated by St. Paul's ek tōn Narkissos." (175)
However, as noted in the comment on Aristobulus, there is not sufficient reason to suppose that the greeting does not include Narcissus. Since the name was a common one Lightfoot's hypothesis is not convincing. According to Hippolytus this Narcissus was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1)and eventually became bishop of Athens.
who are in the Lord: Grk. kurios, lit. "being in Lord," presumptively a reference to Yeshua. See the note on 1:4. Paul probably uses kurios as equivalent to the Heb. adōn ("Lord" in the sense of "ruler"). Expectant Jews would call Yeshua adōn because the Messiah would rule over Israel. Lordship implies all kinds of divine expectations that should be considered (Matt 7:21-23). Moreover, such a declaration in Rome, the center of Caesar worship, would be especially significant. Caesar believed he was kurios of the world and the Caesar cult, with faithful devotees scattered throughout the empire, provided a serious obstacle to discipleship. These faithful disciples, resident in the imperial quarters, were not ashamed to call Yeshua "Lord," and so Paul directs greetings to them. Eventually, the simple confession that "Yeshua is Lord" would create many martyrs.
12― Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Tryphaena: Grk. Truphaina, fem. name, from truphē, "dainty." and Tryphosa: Grk. Truphōsa, fem. name, from truphaō, "luscious." These two women were likely sisters. It was not uncommon then, as now, to give daughters names with a certain resemblance (cf. Jean and Joan). Harrison suggests that possibly they belonged to an aristocratic family, given the meaning of their names. If so, their convictions as followers of Yeshua led them to put aside any tendency to live a life of ease. workers: Grk. kopiaō, pres. act. part., to experience fatigue as a result of exertion. The verb suggests hard work under burdensome conditions, and in their case perhaps even in the face of family rejection. The present tense indicates on-going activity. in the Lord: See the note on the previous verse.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Persis: Grk. Persis, fem. name, a common name for a female slave, "the Persian." the beloved: Grk. agapētos. See the note on verse 5. This is the same descriptor lauded of Epaenetus, so the use here does not imply any romantic connection between Persis and Paul. who has worked: Grk. kopiaō, aor. This is the same verb used of the two sisters preceding. The verb tense indicates a significant activity that occurred in the past. hard: pl. of Grk. polus, extensive in scope, lit. "many things" (Marshall). The adjective suggests a range of work that outshined others. Harrison suggests that Paul may have known about her practical ministry from correspondence. in the Lord: See the note on the previous verse.
13― Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Rufus: Grk. Rouphos, masc. name, from the Latin rufus, "red." He is mentioned in Mark 15:21 as the son of Simon of Cyrene who assisted in carrying the cross. Harrison suggests that on the supposition that the book of Mark was composed at Rome, the mention of Rufus in Mark 15:21 may be explained because of his being well known to local readers. According to Hippolytus this is the same Rufus who was part of the seventy Jewish apostles Yeshua sent out and eventually became bishop in Thebes, Greece. Thebes was a short distance north of Athens. Harrison adds a further note that the Mark 15:21 reference serves as a confirmation that chapter 16 is genuinely a part of the Roman letter rather than being intended for the congregation at Ephesus, as some scholars contend.
a choice man: Grk. eklektos, favored with select status, chosen. See the note on 8:33. Since eklektos is normally used in reference to the whole body of Messiah (e.g., Col 3:12), the noun probably carries the general meaning of being distinguished above others. Harrison suggests that perhaps the incident involving his father brought him a certain fame among believers at Rome, but it is more likely that Rufus was recognized for his own service. in the Lord: See the note on verse 11.
also his mother and mine: The mother of Rufus remains unnamed, but she was apparently very special to Paul. The addition of "and mine" cannot refer to his own mother. Harrison suggests that she evidently perceived his loneliness after the loss of his family when he became a disciple of Yeshua (Php 3:8) and resolved to mother him. Her presence in Rome made him look forward with special anticipation to his visit. On the other hand, it's also possible that Paul accepted some responsibility toward her as John did of Miriam the mother of Yeshua (John 19:27), even though Miriam had other sons.
14― Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Little is known of the five men listed in this verse other than Paul's summary identification, although church tradition as ascribed significant service to them. Asyncritus: Grk. Asugkritos, masc. name, from a Greek work meaning "without comparison, incomparable." According to Hippolytus this Asyncritus was included in the group of seventy Jewish apostles sent out by Yeshua (Luke 10:1) and eventually became bishop of Hyrcania. Hyrcania is a territory on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, which at the time was part of Media. Phlegon: Grk. Phlegōn, masc. name, from a Greek word meaning "to be aflame." According to Hippolytus this Phlegon, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Marathon, Greece. Marathon, a short distance northeast of Athens was the site of the famous battle in which the Athenians defeated the Persians in 490 BC. Hermes: Grk. Hermēs, masc. name. Hermes, famous as the messenger of the gods, was often borne by slaves (Harrison). According to Hippolytus this Hermes, another of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Dalmatia. Dalmatia was a Roman province on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, northwest of Macedonia, and present-day Croatia.
Patrobas: Grk. Patrobas, masc. name. According to Hippolytus this Patrobas, one of Yeshua's seventy, became the first bishop of Naples. Hermas: Grk. Hermas, a variation of Hermēs, masc. name. According to Hippolytus this Hermas, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Philippi. The KJV reverses the order of "Hermes" and "Hermas," contrary to the earliest MSS. It would have been easy for the two names to become confused in transcription. and the brethren: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb." Usage in the apostolic writings is often literal in referring to male siblings, but also many times in a figurative sense for disciples of Yeshua and members of believing communities (1Cor 1:10; Gal 1:2; Php 2:25; 1Thess 3:22). See the note on 7:1. "Brethren," as an inclusive corporate term for all the members of the congregation, emphasizes their common bond love and loyalty both to one another and to their Messiah Yeshua. with them: This is very likely an allusion to a house congregation.
15― Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. Philologus: Grk. Philologos, masc. name, a combination of philos, "friend," and logos, "word." According to Hippolytus this Philologus, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Sinope. Sinope is a city situated about midway on the southern coast of the Black Sea (now Turkey), originally a Greek colony founded in 770 BC and an active center of trade (Atlas 140). Julius Caesar established a Roman colony there in 47 BC. and Julia: Grk. Ioulia, the feminine form of Julius, a Roman family name. Perhaps Julia's family originated in Sinope. The proximity of the names to one another suggests that Philologus and Julia were a married couple, especially since the next woman in the list is identified as a "sister." The KJV inserts a comma between Philologus and Julia to identify them as unconnected, but this is an arbitrary decision given that ancient Greek MSS had no punctuation. The conjunction kai ("and") clearly connects the two people.
Nereus: Grk. Nēreus, masc. name. The etymology of the name is uncertain. Among the Acta Sanctorum (Acts of the Saints) connected with the early church in Rome are the "Acts of Nereus and Achilleus" which call them chamberlains of Domitilla, the niece of Caesar Vespasian, and relate their influence over her in persuading her to remain a virgin (ISBE). and his sister: Grk. adelphē, sister. Given the pronoun "his" and the absence of "wife" as in 1 Corinthians 9:5, adelphē should be taken here in the literal sense as a sibling.
and Olympas: Grk. Olumpas, masc. name, perhaps a form of Olumpos, the mountain home of Greek gods. Nothing is known of him beyond Paul's reference here. and all the saints: pl. of Grk. hagios, lit. "holy ones." See the note on verse 2 above. who are with them: Very likely this is an allusion to a house congregation. Rome was a large place, making it probable that there were circles of believers in several sections of the city. They would certainly maintain communication and, when necessity dictated, could arrange to meet together (Harrison).
16― Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
Greet: See the note on 16:3. one another: Grk. allēlōn, a reciprocal pronoun meaning one another or each other. Since the pronoun is masculine one might assume the activity only involved men, but the gender of nouns is not always determinative of meaning. with a holy: Grk. hagios, like the Heb. qadosh it renders in the LXX, means dedicated to God, sacred or holy, i.e., reserved for God and His service. Here the adjective identifies behavior that is indicative of one so dedicated to God. kiss: Grk. philēma, a symbolic gesture of contact with one's lips indicating respect or regard. Paul encourages warm relations among fellow believers and alludes to a Middle-Eastern custom (cf. Luke 7:45). Paul experienced this physical expression of love before departing Ephesus for Jerusalem, "And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him" (Acts 20:27).
Scripture generally speaks of kissing in the context of familial affection, such as between father and children (Gen 27:27; 31:55; 48:10), husband and wife (Gen 29:11; SS 1:1), between siblings (Gen 33:4; 45:15) and other family relations (Ruth 1:14). Kissing might also be a seal of forgiveness and restoration (Gen 45:15; Luke 15:20). The actual point of contact is only mentioned three times: on the lips (Prov 24:26), on the neck (Gen 33:4) and the feet (Luke 7:38).
It may seem strange that he would even mention the custom (as also in 1Cor 16:20; 2Cor 13:12; 1Thess 5:26), except that possibly he had seen it carried to excess somewhere. The adjective "holy" guards the extension of affection from romantic or erotic associations. Friendly hugging and cheek kissing is widely practiced in the Body of Messiah in modern times in Europe, North and Latin America and the Middle East. A holy kiss may be like the French bise, a salutary kiss of greeting. As Paul implies, discretion and local custom must be followed to avoid giving the wrong impression.
Another aspect of a "holy kiss" is it reflects sincerity and transparency. As Solomon says, "An honest answer Is like a kiss on the lips. Don't be a witness against your neighbor without cause. Don't deceive with your lips" (Prov 24:26, 28 HNV). And, of course, Judas betrayed Yeshua with a kiss (Matt 26:48-49). A holy kiss illustrates the truth of Psalm 85:10, "Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
All: pl. of Grk. pas, adjective. The Maj-Text and the TR omit the word and thus it is not found in the KJV. the churches: pl. of Grk. ekklēsia, assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. See the note on verse 1 above. of Christ: Grk. Christos, gen. case, the Anointed One or Messiah of Israel. See the note on verse 3 above. greet: Grk. aspazomai, pres. mid. ind. See the note on verse 3 above. you: pl. of Grk. su, second person pronoun. The present tense of the verb indicate the shared bond that the congregations of the east have with the Roman congregation. On this clause Witherington comments,
"It is no accident that only here in Romans do we have the global greeting from "all the assemblies of the Messiah" in the east. Paul is finished with his work there and the effect of this remark is that the eyes and thoughts of these congregations are now all turning toward Rome as Paul plans to go there. The Roman congregation is part of a much larger entity, and its members have certain responsibilities toward the congregations in the east. This is why Paul enlists the Roman congregation to pray as he goes to Jerusalem with the collection (381).
Readers should be cautious about interpreting the Gentile translation "churches of Christ" as meaning anything comparable to modern Christianity or any of its many denominations. These assemblies were congregations of the Jewish Messiah, consisting of ardent disciples who accepted Israel's special relationship with God, lived by principles of Torah, loved the Jewish people and supported the poor in Israel. How many churches or denominations of modern Christianity can say the same about themselves?
Final Exhortations, 16:17-20
17― Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
Now I urge: Grk. parakaleō, call to be at one's side. In various contexts the word can have degrees of urgency or firmness, such as to entreat, to comfort, or as here to encourage performance. you: pl. of Grk. su, second person pronoun. brethren: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See the note on verse 14 above. For the tenth time in the letter, Paul uses "brethren" in direct address, emphasizing his affection for them, as well as tactfully asserting his apostolic authority. The double emphasis of the plural "you" with brothers" is meant to focus on the entire group, not just the Jewish or the Gentile factions. The plural vocative case (direct address) could be translated as "brothers and sisters" (Danker, and so rendered in the TLV) given that he is addressing the entire congregation. It's inconceivable that the vocative case would not include the women, given the amount of hortatory material that typically follows the occurrence of "brethren" in the letter.
keep your eye on: Grk. skopeō, pres. inf., give special consideration to, pay attention to or take note of. The present tense emphasizes a continual watchfulness. those who cause: pl. of Grk. ho, pronoun; lit. "the ones" (Marshall). The words "who cause" are added to express the assumed thought. dissensions: Grk. dichostasia, disagreement that threatens the unity of a group. and hindrances: Grk. skandalon may mean either (1) something that impedes movement, a trap; or (2) temptation, enticement to sin. The NASB chose the former meaning, but the latter works just as well. Perhaps both meanings should be considered. contrary to the teaching: Grk. didachē, teaching or instruction and in this case teaching given or sanctioned by the apostles. which you learned: Grk. manthanō, aor. act. ind., to acquire knowledge through instruction or receipt of information or through example or experience. Paul alludes to apostolic instruction, which for some of those in the congregation would have taken place in Jerusalem shortly after Pentecost (Acts 2:42). Those in Paul's hall of fame likely learned much from him as well in their joint labors on his missionary journeys.
and turn away: Grk. ekklinō, pres. imp., lit. "bend out of the regular line," thus to turn away, avoid, keep away from or turn aside. While the watchfulness is a strong exhortation, this verb is a firm apostolic command. from them: The ones causing trouble. Paul's concern in this verse is likely something much more serious than the dispute over food and calendar. He may very well be alluding to the Judaizer in chapter two against whom he remonstrated concerning hypocrisy. After all, the fictive opponent represented a small but influential movement within the Body of Messiah. Paul issued a similar warning when he departed Ephesus on his third missionary journey:
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert." Acts 20:28-31
18― For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
For such men: pl. of Grk. toioutos, masc. adj., heightened form of toios, "such," that draws attention to something that precedes or follows in the narrative and with focus on quality or condition. Paul refers back to those who cause dissensions. are slaves: Grk. douleuō, to function in total obedience to a master, as a slave or bond-servant. Elsewhere Paul describes legalism as slavery (Rom 8:15; Gal 2:4; 5:1). not of our Lord: Grk. kurios, "master or lord," presumptively a reference to Yeshua. See the note on verse 11 above. Christ: Grk. Christos, the Anointed One or Messiah of Israel. See the note on verse 3 above. Master and Messiah are a powerful combination in titles. The Greek syntax has "Lord our Messiah," which reinforces the Jewish identity of Yeshua. The KJV inserts "Jesus" into the midst of the titles, but this is not supported by the earliest MSS.
but of their own appetites: Grk. kolia, body cavity, belly or stomach. Although Paul may be implying that these men have an inordinate love of food, he is probably personifying the stomach as a slave master, a powerful image or figure of a fleshly desire. and by their smooth: Grk. crēstologia, fine talk that seems to offer something good or helpful but takes advantage of the unwary. and flattering speech: Grk. eulogia, expression of high commendation. they deceive: Grk. exapataō, to seduce in the sense of intellectual or spiritual swindling. the hearts of the unsuspecting: Grk. akakos, without inward or concealed maliciousness, guileless, innocent. The ones causing dissension are able to especially take advantage of the innocent because "the naοve believes everything" (Prov 14:15).
19― For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
For the report of your obedience: Grk. hupakon, the state of being in compliance, obedience or submission. The phrase in Greek is lit. "for your obedience." has reached: Grk. aphikneomai, aor. mid., to arrive at a certain point, thus to become known to. to all: Paul is likely alluding to the congregations with whom he has ministered, perhaps even to Jerusalem. therefore I am rejoicing: Grk. chairō, to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance, to be happy, glad, delighted or to rejoice. Paul is describing his personal emotional state and not an activity in worship. over you, but: Grk. de is a conjunction that generally indicates either a slight contrast or a transition in presentation of subject matter. It is an extremely flexible word. See the note on 10:6. De may continue a thought, sharply contrast the preceding thought or modify the preceding thought. The translation of "but" may sound as if Paul is about to express skepticism of the good report. It would be much better to translate de with "moreover," or "furthermore," or simply "and." In other words Paul wants them to maintain their good report and follows with a principle to assure that very thing.
I want you to be wise: Grk. sophos, adj., having a high level of discernment, understanding and insight; thus, shrewd, clever, learned or intelligent. In the LXX sophos stands generally for Heb. chakam, wise (DNTT 3:1027). Chakam occurs frequently in the Tanakh (first in Gen 41:8 and frequently in the wisdom literature) and has a range of meaning, including (1) skilful in technical work, (2) wise in political administration, (3) shrewd, crafty or cunning, (4) learned in the heavenly signs, (5) prudent toward leaders, (6) wise ethically and religiously, and (7) a learner in the school of wisdom, one who fears God (BDB 314).
in what is good: As the proverb says, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Prov 9:10). Yeshua pointed out to the rich young ruler that to know what is good requires knowing and obeying God's commandments (Matt 19:17). Disciples can only know God's expectations by studying His Word. and innocent in what is evil: This part of the proverb parallels Yeshua's counsel to his disciples about being as "harmless as doves" (Matt 10:16). Being "innocent" does not mean being ignorant of evil in the world, which would require shutting oneself off from the world to avoid being tainted by it. In contrast disciples are to be in the world but not of it (John 17:14, 16). Disciples are to be lights in the world (Php 2:15), but not to love the things of the world (1Jn 2:15). "Innocent" essentially means denying temptation and avoiding evil behavior.
20― The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
And: Grk. de. See the note in the previous verse. De is translated in the 1977 edition of the NASB but not in the updated version. This seems a mistake as the opening statement here is a continuation of the thought from the previous verse. The God: Grk. theos, deity, but everywhere in the apostolic canon theos refers to the God of Israel. See the note on 1:1. In direct contrast to its polytheistic use in pagan Greek, the Jewish translators of the LXX employed theos to render the Hebrew words for God, El (which occurs over 200 times) and Elohim (which occurs over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times. As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos (DNTT 2:67-70).
of peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which may be in reference to (1) a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostilities, whether in political or personal relationships; or (2) a state of well-being, used Hebraically as a greeting or as characteristic of the Messianic age and divine favor. In Hebrew this "peace" would be "shalom," the kind of relational harmony that is essential to life in a community. However, the exact phrase "God of peace" occurs only in Paul's writings (Rom 15:33; Php 4:9; 1Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20) and may allude to the three divine covenants of peace in the Tanakh (Num 25:12; Isa 54:10; Ezek 34:25; 37:26). See the note on this idiomatic expression in 15:33. Paul is careful to say that God will take the following action, so there is no need for disciples to do so (Witherington).
will soon: Grk. tachos (from tachus, swiftness), which may focus either on action or time. The adverb likely has an eschatological meaning here as it does in Revelation 1:1 and describes how long an event will take to be completed once started than how long until it begins. crush: Grk. suntribō, fut., to alter the condition of something through force. In various contexts it has the meaning of to break, to hurt or to crush. The KJV has "bruise," which in modern English means to injure slightly and thereby diminishes the impact of the promise.
Satan: Grk. satanas, adversary, the chief enemy of God and all who belong to God. Satanas may be a name, but functions more as a descriptive title of his function as heavenly prosecutor. In both the apostolic writings and the LXX satanas transliterates the Heb. satan (pronounced "saw-tawn), which means adversary (BDB 966). In the Tanakh the Heb. satan refers to a person, whether human (1Sam 29:4; 1Kgs 11:14, 24, 25; Ps 109:6) or angelic (Num 22:22, 32; 1Sam 29:4; 1Chron 21:1; Job 2:1; Zech 3:1), who opposes other humans. In the apostolic writings satanas is never used to describe a human. In apostolic writings Satan is depicted as an opponent of Yeshua and the good news of the Kingdom (Mark 4:15), as a tempter (Mark 1:13) and as the head of a demonic empire (Mark 3:23-26). In contrast with the "God of peace" Satan's character and life goals are summed up in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
under your feet: The hope of fallen angels being subjugated is common in Jewish apocalyptic texts (Jubilees 5:6; 10:7-11; 1Enoch 10:4, 11-12; 13:1-2; DSS 1QM 17:5-6; 18:1) (Witherington). However, all these references speak of the fallen angels being bound in darkness as in 2 Peter 2:4 and do not use the idiom of "under feet." The source and intent of this word picture is variously explained.
(1) Most commentators suggest that the source of the imagery is Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." Stern adds a second, the Testament of Levi, an apocryphal Jewish work written around 108 BC.
"And after their punishment shall have come from the Lord, then will the Lord raise up to the priesthood a new Priest, And Beliar shall be bound by Him, and He [the new priest] shall give power to His children to tread upon the evil spirits." Testament of Levi, 18)
Stern notes the same promise of power was given by Yeshua to his disciples, that they would "tread on serpents and scorpions" (Luke 10:19), alluding to the promise in Psalm 91:13. Stern then concludes: "According to Genesis 3:15 it is the "seed of the woman, the Messiah, who will "bruise" or "crush" the serpent's "head. But here it is God who will crush the Adversary under your feet. Therefore, by implication Yeshua is identified both with God and with those who trust in him."
However, the word picture in Genesis 3:15 does not use the words "under feet," and bruising a head may be accomplished in a variety of ways. Second, Paul does not allude to any power of the saints over Satan. Lastly, when Paul mentions "God" (Grk. theos) he normally means the Father in contrast to the Son, especially in verses where "God" and "Jesus" are both mentioned as here (also in 1Th 5:23; Heb 13:20; see my comment on "God who is blessed forever" in 9:5).
(2) Paul may also be alluding to the David's words in Psalm 8,
"What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet." (Ps 8:4-6; Heb 2:7-9)
In the Psalm "under his feet" refers to a general dominion over all that God has created and in context the idiom "son of man" refers to humanity. However, in quoting this passage in Hebrews 2:7-9 Paul applies "son of man" to Yeshua. In any event, the dominion mentioned in the Psalm does not specify Satan and the dominion has to do with governing, not crushing.
(3) More favorable as a source of the word picture in my view is the ancient practice that followed the defeat of an enemy and first mentioned in Joshua.
"When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." So they came near and put their feet on their necks. Joshua then said to them, "Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight." (Josh 10:24-25)
Witherington mentions that at the time Paul wrote this letter Roman coins depicted a military victor standing on the neck of the defeated with an inscription like "under the yoke of Rome." The important truth here is total victory over the chief opponent of God and His saints. While it is true that Yeshua has already defeated Satan (Col 2:15) and he has given his disciples authority of Satan's domain (Luke 10:19), Satan still has the power to cause much trouble to God's people. However, God has promised the day will come when Satan will be bound and cast into the abyss for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-3). In a very literal sense, Satan will then be under the feet of the saints, since the abyss is in the lower parts of the earth. Eventually Satan's freedom will be permanently curtailed (Rev 20:10).
Many people have difficulty reconciling the paradox of the "God of peace" crushing Satan. Perhaps we should even ask, how can God send anyone to Hell? See my article The Error of Pacifism. The true peace of God will only happen when there is victory over our enemies. Unfortunately, too many Christians and Jews have yet to learn this lesson.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you: Paul appears to be closing his letter with a benediction. Harrison asks, "Did Paul intend to stop here, or did he as an afterthought decide to allow his companions to send greetings when they requested the privilege?" There is no evidence that Paul did an "oops" and realized that more needed to be said before he could consider the letter finished. The closing clause actually lacks a verb so the insertion of "be" is an interpretation. This clause could just as easily be translated with "is" in place of "be." In other words, while we wait for the Messiah to come and shackle the devil to inaugurate the age to come, we are sustained in the present age by the power of God's grace (cf. Rom 5:2; 1Cor 15:10). Paul's words function, then, as an assurance of God's faithful presence, not just simply to provide a formal ending to the letter.
Greetings from Fellow Workers, 16:21-23
21― Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen
Timothy: Grk. Timotheos, "one who honors God." The name occurs 20 times in the apostolic writings, but the KJV inexplicably spells the name "Timotheus" 12 times and "Timothy" 8 times. Timotheus, virtually a transliteration, is the spelling in the Latin Vulgate. Timothy was apparently a native of Lystra (cf. Acts 16:1-2; 20:4), a city visited and evangelized by Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6) (ISBE). Timothy's father was a Greek (Acts 16:1, 3), but his mother was a Jewess. He had not been circumcised in infancy, probably owing to objections made by his father. Timothy's mother was called Eunice, and his grandmother Lois, who were godly influences (2Tim 1:5). Eunice had apparently embraced Yeshua as Messiah on Paul's first missionary journey to Derbe and Lystra, because, when he next visited these cities, she is spoken of as "a Jewish woman who was a believer" (Acts 16:1).
my fellow worker: Grk. sunergos, one who works alongside. See the note on verse 3 above. Paul was strongly attracted to Timothy, recognizing his spiritual character and suitability for the work of the ministry (Acts 16:3). Timothy agreed to Paul's request to assist in ministry, but before departure two important actions were completed. The first act was to circumcise Timothy, since by Jewish law he was a Jew. Some interpreters believe Paul only did this to appease Jewish disciples, but while there would have been a practical benefit for ministry among Jews, Paul was first and foremost an observant Jew himself and believed in Jews honoring the requirements of Torah. So, Paul took Timothy with his consent and circumcised him.
The second act was to have Timothy formally recognized ("ordained") by the local congregational elders in Derbe and Lystra (1Tim 4:14). In this ceremony Paul himself took part, as he later mentions (2Tim 1:6). Timothy then accompanied Paul on both the apostle's second and third missionary journeys to various cities and assisted in ministry (Acts 17:14; 19:22; 20:4; 2Cor 1:1; 2Thess 1:1). Timothy demonstrated his competence and reliability to such a degree and Paul was able to both leave him to work in certain places, as well as send him on missions to various cities to work (Acts 17:14-15; 1Cor 4:17; 16:10; 1Thess 3:1-7).
greets: Grk. aspazomai, pres. mid. ind. See the note on verse 3 above. Paul conveys the current good wishes and salutation from his co-workers. In typical Hebraic fashion the verb actually begins the verse in the Greek text. you, and so do Lucius: Grk. Loukios, a Roman praenomen, or given name, which was derived from Latin lux, "light" (BehindtheName.com). He was from Cyrene and a teacher or prophet at Antioch (Acts 13:1). According to Hippolytus this Lucius, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Laodicea in Syria. and Jason: Grk. Iasōn, which was derived from Greek iasthai "to heal." ISBE says that "Jason" was a common name among Hellenistic Jews who used it for Jesus or Joshua. It's not absolutely certain that this Jason was the same as the Jason in Acts 17, although probably so. In that narrative Jason was Paul's host during his stay in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9). The unbelieving Jews caused a riot and dragged Jason and several other brethren before the city authorities, accusing Jason of treason in welcoming those who said "There is another king, one Jesus." The magistrates, being troubled, took security from them, and let them go.
and Sosipater: Grk. sōsipatros, the same name as "Sopater of Berea," who was one of the companions of Paul on his journey from Philippi after his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4). At the time of this writing, then, Paul had with him in Corinth the two Macedonians, Sopater of Berea and Jason of Thessalonica. Of special interest is that the name Sosipater is found on a list of city rulers of Thessalonica (ISBE). According to Hippolytus this Sosipater, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Iconium, a city in the province of Galatia. my kinsmen: pl. of Grk. suggenēs, a fellow Jew. Lucius, Jason and Sosipater may have been relatives. See the note on verse 7 above.
22― I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.
I, Tertius: Grk. Tertios, from the Latin meaning "third." According to BehindtheName.com Tertius is both a Roman praenomen (given name) and a cognomen (surname). Originally cognomina were nicknames, but by the time of the Roman Empire they were inherited from father to son. who write this letter: At this point Paul's amanuensis apparently asks for the privilege of adding his personal greeting. It was Paul's habit to dictate his letters except for the close (1Cor 16:21; Gal 6:11; Col 4:18; 2Thess 3:17). According to Hippolytus this Tertius, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Iconium, successor of Sosipater, where he earned the martyr's crown.
greet: Grk. aspazomai, pres. mid. ind. See the note on verse 3 above. As in the previous verse the verb actually begins the verse in the Greek text as occurs in Hebrew grammar. you in the Lord: We may be sure Paul was careful to use believers rather than public secretaries who would do their work without any spiritual concern. We also may be sure that people like Tertius would undertake the task as work for the Lord, so that it would cost the apostle nothing (Harrison).
23― Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother.
Gaius: Grk. Gaios, a common name. Four different men are mentioned in Scripture with this name: (1) from Macedonia (Acts 19:29); (1) from Derbe (Acts 20:4); (3) from Corinth (1Cor 1:14) and (4) a man addressed in 3 John 1:1. Given the following description this is the Gaius from Corinth whose immersion Paul mentioned in his Corinthian letter. Paul would not have personally put Gaius under the water since immersion among Jews was self-immersion. Paul's role would have been to conduct the religious ceremony and serve as witness. host: Grk. zenos, relating to what is normally outside one's immediate experience. Here the intent is that of a dispenser of hospitality, with the situation of one in which the host and the beneficiary are in a reciprocal relationship of relative strangeness.
to me: Apparently Paul had been staying with Gaius while he wintered at Corinth. The mention of Gaius as Paul's host is strong evidence that this letter was written from Corinth. and to the whole: Grk. olos, adj., all of, whole, or entire. The adjective signifies a complete unit and not necessarily indicative of every individual person. church: Grk. ekklēsia. See the note on verse 1 above. The "whole church" may mean simply the aggregate of all the disciples in Corinth or that Gaius had such a large house that the great majority or all of the congregation was able to meet together there. Harrison notes:
"Because of Paul's remark that the whole church enjoyed Gaius's hospitality, it is tempting to suppose that he is the man (Titius Justus) who invited believers into his home after the break with the synagogue (Acts 18:7). This involves the supposition that Paul is giving only a part of his name and that Luke provides the rest (Romans had three names)."
greets you: Grk. aspazomai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 3 above. Again, as in the two previous verses, the verb actually begins the verse in the Greek text as occurs in Hebrew grammar.
Erastus: Grk. Erastos, "beloved." the city: Grk. polis, "city" or "town." Polis designated a population center, whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly. treasurer: Grk. oikonomos, one who takes care of business affairs, especially involving accounts in a large household. The translation of "treasurer" found in most versions seems inadequate to describe the scope of his duties. The KJV has "chamberlain," an archaic but more accurate term and the NIV has "director of public works." Erastus was not just the bookkeeper, but the chief financial officer and steward of the city of Corinth, which is viewed as a household. Harrison notes that archaeological excavation at the site of ancient Corinth found a reused paving block with an inscription, stating that the pavement was laid at the expense of Erastus, who was aedile (Commissioner of Public Works).
greets you: as before. Some question that this Erastus was the same person who assisted in Paul's ministry (Acts 19:22), thinking it improbable that one who held an office implying residence in one locality should have been one of Paul's companions in travel. However, Paul may be designating Erastus by an office he once held, but which he gave up to engage in mission work (ISBE). According to Hiippolytus this Erastus, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Paneas, near Caesarea Philippi.
and Quartus: Grk. Kouartos, The name is transliterated phonetically since there is no letter "Q" in Greek. the brother: Grk. adelphos. See the note on verse 14 above. The use of the definite article would suggest that Quartus was the brother of Erastus. According to Hippolytus this Quartus, one of Yeshua's seventy, eventually became bishop of Berytus (Beirut, Lebanon).
Closing Doxology, 16:24-27
Before commenting on the text of the doxology in verses 25-27, the reader may be interested to know that manuscripts are not unanimous on the location of the doxology. Five locations of the doxology in verses 25-27 have been identified in various manuscripts (GNT 577).
(a) 1.1-16.23 + doxology (found in the best and most early MSS)
(b) 1.1-14.23 + doxology + 15.1-16.23
(c) 1.1-14.23 + doxology + 15:1-16.24
(e) 1.1-15.33 + doxology + 16.1-23
The differences in these witnesses is difficult to explain, especially how the later manuscripts should differ so markedly from the earliest manuscripts. Marcion (85-160), the early antisemitic Christian heretic may have had some influence in this matter. Marcion opposed the Tanakh, especially the Law. He created a New Testament in which he omitted books he deemed most reliant on Judaism and the Tanakh. Marcion's book list included the book of Luke and Paul's ten letters to the congregations and Philemon. Within these works Marcion removed whatever he judged were interpolations - that is, anything that did not agree with his understanding of what Paul should have written. The doxology was one of those passages omitted in Marcion's New Testament. Metzger gives credence to the probability that Marcion, or his followers, circulated a shorted form of the epistle, lacking chapters 15 and 16 (472). Metzger also notes that scholarly opinion allows for the possibility that Paul dispatched two copies of the letter, one with chapter 16 and one without. Due to the variety of locations of the doxology in manuscripts some scholars believe it to be non-Pauline.
[24― The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]
The NASB, as most versions, has this verse in brackets because the earliest and best witnesses omit the verse (Metzger). Several MSS include the verse after verse 27, thus concluding the letter with a benediction. The sentence repeats the second half of verse 20 completely with the addition of "Christ," "all" and "amen." Like the clause there this verse contains no verb. Polhill concurs that it is poorly attested in ancient manuscripts and redundant given the longer benediction that follows (300).
25― Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
Stern is no doubt correct in saying that the doxology sums up the message of the whole book. Now to Him who is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. part., be capable of doing or achieving. To speak of God's ability means omnipotence beyond man's comprehension. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37; 18:27). to establish: Grk. stērizō, aor. act. inf., put inflexibly in place and in this context to cause to be inwardly firm or committed. God is able to put steel into the spines of his disciples. In 1:11 Paul used this same verb to express the desire to "impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established," and now he acknowledges that the true source is not himself but God.
you according to my: possessive form of the Grk. pron. egō, "my." gospel: Grk. euangelion originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. See the note on 1:1. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22). Most Christians think of the gospel only as 'Yeshua died on the cross to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven,' a gospel totally divorced from its Jewish context. However, the message of the apostles is clear that the full gospel was the good news for Israel that God had fulfilled His covenantal promises.
When Paul says "my good news" (also at Rom 2:16; 1Th 1:5; 2Th 2:14; 2Tim 2:8) he is not being egotistical or talking about a new message that replaced the good news announced by the angels in the nativity story (Luke 1-2), Yeshua himself or the other apostles. Contrary to many Christian theologians Paul did not change religions or invent a new religion; he did not repudiate the Torah and circumcision; and he most certainly did not teach God's rejection of the Jews. Harrison points out that Paul would hardly ask God to confirm readers in his message if it were different from that proclaimed by others. "My good news" may declare five things. First, Paul felt the need to rebut the distortions of his teaching (verse 17 above; cf. Rom 3:8, 31; 7:7; 11:1; 1Cor 4:13; 10:30; Gal 1:11; 3:21; 2Th 2:2; 1Tim 2:7). So, Paul's good news contrasts with those who taught a different good news (2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6).
Second, the good news is "his" in the sense that it was good news for him. The content of Paul's proclamation included telling his own story of grace experienced on the Damascus Road. "God can save the worst sinners, because he saved me." Third, "his" good news came by means of divine revelation as he says in Galatians 1:11, "For I would have you know, brethren, that the good news which was preached by me is not according to man." Fourth, the good news is "his" in the sense of his ordination and commission to convey this good news received directly from Yeshua, just as Ananias was informed, "He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel" (Acts 9:15). His good news was particularly intended for the Gentiles among whom he labored in four missionary journeys throughout the Diaspora to seek their obedience to God (Rom 15:18). Fifth, "his" good news emphasized the Jewish roots of the Messiah and Redeemer (Acts 13:22-23, 34; Rom 1:3; 9:5; 15:8; 2Tim 2:8), a fact sadly lacking in Christian creeds.
and the preaching: Grk. kērugma, an important public announcement or proclamation. The technical term derives from kērux, which in Greece denoted a man commissioned by his ruler or the state to call out with a clear voice some item of news and so to make it known (DNTT 3:48). In striking contrast to Greek literature the noun kērux occurs only four times altogether in the LXX, and in three of these instances without a Hebrew equivalent. Of these only two are in the Tanakh (Gen 41:43; Dan 3:4). This is evidence that a figure comparable to the Grk. kērux was unknown in Israel, and that it would be inappropriate to describe the prophets in this way, since they spoke for God and not the king.
Similarly, kērugma occurs only four times in the LXX, each in reference to a separate kind of proclamation: (1) the proclamation of Hezekiah for all Israel to celebrate Passover (2Chr 30:5); (2) the cry of Wisdom (personifying God) to seek understanding (Prov 9:3); (3) the proclamation of judgment against Nineveh (Jon 3:2) and (4) a proclamation by Ezra for all those who returned from captivity and had unlawfully taken pagan wives to come to Jerusalem for "civil" judgment (1Esdras 9:3; cf. Ezra 10:7).
Outside the LXX kērux occurs in Josephus in its classical Greek sense, but is found in Philo as a technical term for utterances of the Hebrew prophets. In rabbinic literature kērux and its verb kērussō are used in a technical and formal way to introduce rabbinic decisions on doctrine, or the citation of Scripture (DNTT 3:52). Of interest is that kērugma occurs on the lips of Yeshua only in reference to the proclamation against Nineveh (Matt 12:41; para. Luke 11:42). The remaining occurrences of kērugma in the apostolic writings occur only in the letters of Paul to refer to apostolic teaching in general (1Cor 1:21; 15:14), and especially his own teaching (as here, 1Cor 2:4; 2Tim 4:17; Titus 1:3).
of Jesus: Grk. Iēsous, the Greek transliteration of Yeshua. See the note on verse 3 above. The good news and apostolic kerygma is about salvation, which is the meaning of Yeshua's name. Christ: Grk. Christos, the Anointed One or Messiah. See the note on verse 3 above. The genitive case of both Iēsous and Christos does not mean the teaching done by Yeshua while on earth, nor does it refer to Yeshua's authoritative inspiration for Paul's teaching (2Cor 13:3), but rather the teaching that has Yeshua as the Messiah as its content (cf. Rom 1:2, 3). Paul's teaching, which began in Damascus (Acts 9:22), was not about an antisemitic Christian deity, but about a Jewish Messiah who fulfilled Jewish expectations and promises made to the patriarchs (Rom 1:1-2). It is this Messiah who extends forgiveness to the rest of the world (cf. Acts 10:42-44).
Christian scholars have written extensively on the content of apostolic teaching (typically written as "kerygma"). Often the perception is that apostolic teaching resembled the Apostles Creed. The primary source for determining the content of apostolic kerygma are the sermons recorded in Acts. For Paul we must consider his sermons in Acts 13 & 17 plus his letters. Paul's kerygma is certainly a declaration of God's salvation (Rom 16:25; 1Cor 1:21; 2:4; 15:14; 2Tim 4:17; Titus 1:3), but he preached two distinctively different types of sermons.
In Pisidian Antioch Paul addressed Jews at the local synagogue (Acts 13). Three major points may be deduced. First, he spoke of preparation for the coming of the Redeemer by recounting the mighty acts of God from Moses through David (13:17-22). Next, he spoke of the promise made to the fathers fulfilled in God sending a Davidic Savior who was announced by John the Immerser. The Messiah was crucified and raised (13:23-37). The last major point was that on the basis of Messiah's atonement forgiveness of sins and redemption is now available for Israel. He closed with a warning to respond to the truth to avoid judgment (13:38-41).
Paul's next major sermon was to the pagan Greeks in Athens (Acts 17). Because these unbelievers had no knowledge of Scripture Paul took a very different approach. His main points were that God is the Creator & Sustainer of all life (17:24f), that He made from one man every nation and determined national borders (17:26), and that God has made Man to seek Him (17:27f). In concluding his sermon Paul informed the Greeks that the true God is not an image (17:29), and that He commands all people to repent (17:30). God will judge the world through an appointed man, and this man was raised from the dead (17:31). The chief characteristic of this sermon was its emphasis on creation, and in a world where evolution holds dominate sway in every area of culture, the message of creation is absolutely vital to convince people of their need for God.
according to the revelation: Grk. apokalupsis means an uncovering, disclosure or revelation. In the LXX apokalupsis is found only in 1 Samuel 20:30 for ervah, "nakedness," and other three times without Hebrew equivalent in Sirach (11:27; 22:22; 42:1). The verb apokaluptō (found c. 80 times) generally represents forms of the Heb. vb. galah, "to strip" or "to expose." Whatever the context, "the goal of the uncovering is thus not distant observation, but entrance into the most intense form of encounter which can involve the individual person" (DNTT 3:310). Apokalupsis is used in Sirach in a secular sense for the revelation and publication of secrets. In the apostolic canon apokalupsis occurs 18 times, always with a theological meaning. Given the basic meaning of apokalupsis as the removal of whatever hinders direct observation, then revelation is something Paul did not understand at one time, but now does.
of the mystery: Grk. mustērion in common Greek usage meant a secret rite or secret teaching. Yeshua first used the term "mystery" when he explained why he taught in parables (Matt 13:11), but the concept of God's secrecy was originally explained to Moses, "the secret things belong to the Lord" (Deut 29:29). In Scripture a mystery is a reality or plan that God kept concealed from his people but finally revealed to his apostles (cf. Eph 3:5).
which has been kept secret: Grk. sigaō, perf. pass. part., to refrain for a time from revealing something publicly. The perfect tense refers to action that began in the past and continued to the present. God had communicated several mysteries (cf. Dan 2:28f; Matt 13:11; 1Cor 4:1; 13:2) to his prophets, but the meaning remained obscure, in effect hidden in plain sight. God's secret counsels were necessary because man cannot really be trusted (John 2:24f) and Satan has engaged in unceasing warfare against God's kingdom and would certainly use any intelligence to hinder God's workings (John 10:10; cf. Eph 6:12; 1Thess 2:18; 1Pet 5:8).
for long ages: pl. of Grk. aiōnios, (from aiōn, "age") relating to a period of time extending far into the past, typically translated as "eternal." However, ancient Hebrews did not conceive of time in the abstract. In the LXX aiōnios, in translating the frequent occurrence of Heb. ōlam (which means long duration, antiquity or futurity, BDB 761), is concerned with a concrete idea of time in relation to the whole duration of a man's life (DNTT 3:827). Indeed, one plural form of ōlam, tōledah, means "generations" (BDB 410).
past: pl. of Grk. chronos, a span or period of time. In secular Greek chronos denotes a space of time whose duration is not as a rule precisely determined. Other versions follow suit translating the two time references as "long ages" (ESV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NRSV, TNIV). In the LXX chronos most often renders yōm, "day" (DNTT 3:841). In its first usage in the Tanakh yōm is a specific division of time denoting the daytime portion of a 24-hour day (Gen 1:5) or a complete solar/lunar cycle of 24 hours (Ex 2:13). The plural yōmim is used to indicate the advanced age of various Bible characters such as Adam and Abraham.
Paul also uses the combination of chronos with aiōnios (in the plural form) two other times, which Harrison believes to have a bearing on his intention here.
"This grace was given to us in Messiah Yeshua before time began [chronos aiōnios], but now has been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Messiah Yeshua." (2Tim 1:9-10 TLV)
"God, who cannot lie, promised before time began [chronos aiōnios]." (Titus 1:2 HCSB)
Harrison suggests that the most natural meaning of "long ages past" is "eternity past" and he believes this is confirmed by the comments to Timothy and Titus, plus the matching description of "the eternal God" in the next verse. A few versions concur: ASV as "times eternal" and HNV has "eternal times." However, there are several reasons to reject this interpretation.
First, something could only be kept secret if there was someone in existence from whom one kept the secret. It is superfluous to say that God kept secrets in eternity past, i.e., before creation, when even the angels didn't exist. Second, in neither of the comments to Timothy and Titus does Paul use the word that means "began" (Grk. ginomai), so even there the translation of "before time began" is suspect. Third, there is no preposition "before" in this passage as in the other two. Fourth, it is more likely that Paul is using chronos and aiōnios in the same sense as in the LXX, which seeks to convey the Hebraic sense of olam, or ages, as the NASB has translated. So, for all the ages of man since creation, God kept his plans veiled until Yeshua came. The KJV/NKJV has "since the world began," and the NLT has "the beginning of time," which I think better capture Paul's intention.
26― but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
But: Grk. de is a conjunction that generally indicates either a slight contrast or a transition in presentation of subject matter. See the note on verse 19 above. The conjunction could just as easily be translated as "and." now: Grk. nun, adv. of present time, now. The opening phrase contrasts the former ages with the present age. is manifested: Grk. phaneroō, aor. pass. part., cause to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible. The divine secret has been publicly disclosed. and by the Scriptures: Grk. graphē, that which is written. In the apostolic canon graphē only refers to the Scriptures of Israel, namely the Tanakh, which consists of the Torah, Prophets and Writings (cf. Luke 24:44). The term sharply contrasts with the oral tradition of the Sages.
of the prophets: pl. of Grk. prophētikos, adj. from prophētēs, a person gifted with ability for interpretation or revelation of matters transcending normal insight or awareness. Prophets were active in apostolic days, engaged not only in exhortation and comfort (1Cor 14:3), but also in revelation (1Cor 14:29, 30; Eph 3:5). However, here Paul refers to the Hebrew prophets who were called by and spoke for God. The majority of the Tanakh was written by those identified as prophets. according to the commandment: Grk. epitagē, authoritative directive, command or order. of the eternal: Grk. aiōnios, ages. See the note on the previous verse. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel, the One who always was and always will be. See the note on verse 20 above. In other words, the Scriptures were written at the direct instigation and inspiration of God (cf. 2Pet 1:20-21).
has been made known: Grk. gnōrizō, aor. pass. part., to share information about something. to all the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. See the note on verse 4 above. The noun is sometimes translated as "Gentiles" and sometimes as "nations," but among Jews of the Second Temple period ethnos was used of non-Jews. leading to obedience: Grk. hupachoē, be present in a functional manner. of faith: Grk. pistis, a virtue with a two-fold nature that may be described as confidence and constancy or trust and trustworthiness. See the note on 1:1. The "obedience of faith" could mean a "functional faith," the kind of belief that guides every aspect of life. Harrison suggests that the "command of the eternal God" points to the Great Commission, which includes all the nations as embraced in the divine purpose (Matt 28:19). Paul's share in this commission was to seek the obedience of the Gentiles (Rom 1:1, 5).
27― to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
to the only: Grk. monos, adj., signifies the exclusion of any other entity, alone, only. Paul is not simply stating a philosophical belief in monotheism, that is, if there is deity there must be only one. Rather, he asserts, consistent with the rest of Scripture, that the God of Israel is the only God in existence (Deut 4:35; 32:39; 1Sam 2:2; 1Kgs 8:60; Isa 45:5, 6, 14, 21; 46:9). This is a shortened form of the much longer accolade in 1 Timothy 1:17, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
wise: Grk. sophos, adj., having a high level of discernment, understanding and insight. See the note on verse 19 above. Paul is not saying that there are multiple gods and the God of Israel is the only wise one in the bunch. Both monos and sophos function as separate adjectives describing God. There is no limit to God's wisdom because there is no limit to His knowledge, a fact similarly touted many times in Scripture (1Sam 2:3; Job 21:22; Ps 139:12; 147:5; Isa 40:13-14; Rom 11:33; 1Jn 3:20; Rev 2:23). Solomon spoke of God's wisdom, "The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old" (Prov 8:22). God's knowledge contrasts sharply with man's arrogance as He said to Job, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38:2)
God: Grk. theos, God of Israel. See the note on verse 20 above. through Jesus Christ: Messiah Yeshua. See the note on verse 3 above for "Christ Jesus." The preposition emphasizes that all that belongs to God's nature as been manifest in Yeshua. He is the wisdom of God in the flesh (1Cor 1:24). Stern notes that "important as is the work of Yeshua the Messiah (chapters 38), he is nevertheless subordinate to God the Father." be the glory: Grk. doxa, The phrase "be the glory" is an oft repeated praise in Paul's writings (Rom 11:36; Gal 1:5; Eph 3:21; Php 4:20; 2Tim 4:18; Heb 13:21).
forever: pl. of Grk. aiōn, lit. "into the ages" (Marshall). Paul uses this exact phrase in 1:25; 9:5 and 11:36. See the note on 1:25. Since neither the Greek aiōn or Hebrew ōlam in its singular form contains the concept of endlessness, the use of the plural intensive form olamim yields a declaration of ages that will continue without end (cf. Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 9:24). Amen: Grk. amēn transliterates the Heb. 'amen, an adverb meaning "verily" or "truly" (BDB 53). See the note on 1:25. In Hebrew amēn typically points to something previously said by a speaker. Paul closes his letter with "amen, probably a cue for the congregation hearing the doxology read to respond appropriately.
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