Romans 16 faithful followers

May 30, 2021 // By:Dave // No Comment

1 I recommend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea,

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.

She is a fellow believer, probably a Gentile, and comes from Cenchreae. Paul would have had plenty of opportunity to get to know her, for Cenchreae is only eight miles from Corinth, where Paul spent 18 months at one point (Acts 18:1–18; see v. 11) and is now staying as he dictates to the Romans. (I say dictates because verse 22 clearly shows that Tertius is the writer)

servant = διάκονον= helper

every commentary agrees that Paul, in mentioning her first in his conclusion, not only confirms she was the bearer of the letter to the church in Rome (from Corinth) but that Paul is ensuring that they provide every need she may have once she has arrived (don’t just let her read this letter to you and walk off without food or lodging

in verse 2 Paul calls her a helper of many (of of himself as well)

he uses an unusual word προστάτις  prostatis 

helper (17x)  G4368 (1x)

[Greek Strong’s]

4368. προστάτις prostatis, pros-tat´-is; feminine of a derivative of 4291; a patroness

n secular Greek: “patron,” “benefactor” (NIV; NRSV).203 A “patron” was one who came to the aid of others, especially foreigners, by providing housing and financial aid and by representing their interests before local authorities. Cenchreae’s status as a busy seaport would make it imperative that a Christian in its church take up this ministry on behalf of visiting Christians. Phoebe, then, was probably a woman of high social standing and some wealth, who put her status, resources, and time at the services of traveling Christians, like Paul, who needed help and support. Paul now urges the Romans to reciprocate.

enough about Phoebe 🙂

Paul begins sixteen sentences in a row with the second person plural imperative, “greet.”214 And, with the exception of the last of these imperatives, with its reciprocal (“one another”) construction, it is clear that Paul is asking the Roman Christians to convey his own greetings to the respective individuals and groups

He now comments a couple (Priscilla and Aquila)  he met on his second missionary journey, in Corinth, who have now returned to Rome after fleeing the decree of Claudius back in Acts 18:2

they apparently made some tents together in Acts 18:3

he dropped them off in Ephesus by verse 18, where they shortly ran into Apollos and completed his understanding of Christ, Paul rejoined them in Ephesus verse 26

it seems that they returned to Rome after the death of Claudius

3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,

yes, some translation render her name Prisca but the greek spells out Priscilla


4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;

perhaps referencing the riot that took place in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41)

Demetrius, the silversmith incited a riot against Paul for turning people away from their statues of Artemis (and their profits from selling the statues)

5 also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.

if that doesn’t confirm that they are in Rome, this clearly indicates 

  1. they (Prisclilla and Aquila) have a house that is in Rome,
  2. “a church” is meeting there, in their home
  3. there is obviously more than one church meeting in Rome (that Paul feels a need to tell one about another)

Epaenetus is an unknown except for his comment about “first convert from Asia”

6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.

which Mary ?  no one knows (it’s as common a name among jews as Manny or Joe is among Portuguese populations, but they (the Roman christians) know which one she is and Paul make sure they know that she has worked hard for them.

7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsfolk and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding in the view of the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

kinsfolk implies Jews, yet their names are greek

(hellenistic jews) who apparently also shared an imprisonment time with Paul

prisoners (22x)  G4869 (6x)

[NIV Greek]

5257   [4869]   συναιχμάλωτος, synaichmalōtos, n.  [5250 + 171]. fellow prisoner, fellow captive of war

Paul does refer to himself as a prisoner of the Lord twice in his letters

Eph 4:1 and 2 tim 1:8 but there are two reasons I do not think he uses “prisoner” in a spiritual sense here in Rom 16

  1. the two spiritual references to being a prisoner clearly reference the captor as being the Lord
  2. the greek word for prisoner in both cases is different than Rom 16

   δέσμιος, desmios, n.  [1313]. prisoner, one under arrest

these two men have shared time with Paul behind bars for helping to share the gospel, and are well know by the apostles and thought well of by the apostles

Are you getting the impression that all these people commended by Paul have done more than just shared a half hour over a drink at the local café??!!

these are people who have really put themselves out there for the name of Christ

for His kingdom, and for those who represent that kingdom.

Do we see each other this way ?  Should we ?

(are we earning the right to be seen this way) ?

this is how the church started with people risking their lives and giving their lives to make a difference  (is it still looking like this ?)

he goes on …

8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.

9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.

11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.

12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.

13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.

14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters with them.

15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

a further list of beloved, 

  • fellow christians who reflect Christ well
  • fellow soldiers who refused to be entangled in the affairs of the world
  • fellow athletes who trained their bodies, and ran their race well

How did Paul see the role of christians in this world ?

he saw a world torn by spiritual war

one in which followers had a crucial , focused, role to play

2 Tim: 1-10

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 

4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 

Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 

The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 

Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 

for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

If this calling to make a difference was only for leaders in the church

would Jesus have commanded every follower to love their neighbors and enemies ?

Matt 5:44

If Jesus meant for most of his followers to go about their lives, uninterrupted, would he have given us the great commission ?

Matt 28:16-20

are we the types of followers that Paul would’ve mentioned in his letters
(or omitted us as “space fillers” in a local church) ?

Take a second and compare your life to those which Paul commends

(is there a difference?)

what shall each of us do with that difference ?

Will we hear “well done good and faithful servant” ?

Matt 25:21-23

There are four types of people who hear the Word of God (Matt 13)

3 ¶ And He told them many things in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow;

4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.

5 “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and they sprang up immediately, because they had no depth of soil.

6 “But after the sun rose, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.

8 “But others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times as much.

9 “The one who has ears, let him hear.”

three of them appear to start off fine

only one out of the four actually perseveres to produce the fruit desired by the farmer

which soil are you ?

how have you prepared your heart to consistently receive His Word ?

(remember, it’s not just a one time planting,

 just like His Word is not a one time hearing)

The opportunity we have each been given to walk with the Creator of the Universe,

to fellowship with Him, have Him inside our hearts, empowering us to share Him with others, is so often taken for granted, ignored, familiarity creeps in.

We don’t deserve His grace or mercy but we display our thankfulness poorly too often.

How should we reflect our Lord better

be less distracted

running better

17 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

18 For such people 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.

19 For the report of your obedience has reached everyone; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.

wise σοφός, sophos,  wise; expert, skilled; (n.) a person who is skilled or expert, often as a class or kind of person (a category, a rank of person), a wise man or woman

good ἀγαθός, agathos,  good as a moral quality

innocent  ἀκέραιος, akeraios, pure, not mixed with evil 

(think of a drop of red in a glass of water)

evil κακός, kakos wicked, wrong, a perversion of what pertains to goodness; 

as a noun, an evil thing can refer to any crime, harm, or moral wrong

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, and so do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

22 I, Tertius, who have written this letter, greet you in the Lord.

23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, greets you, and Quartus, the brother.

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,

Mystery ?

Matt. 13:35 This was so that what was spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled: “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL PROCLAIM THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”

Rom. 11:25 ¶ For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;

Eph. 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He set forth in Him,

Eph. 1:10 regarding His plan of the fullness of the times, to bring all things together in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.

summarized here in verse 26

26 but now has been disclosed, and through the Scriptures of the prophets, in accordance with the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;

27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Each of the people Paul has listed in his last chapter, are men and women he commends because of their response to an invitation from the Lord

“Come and Follow”

are we to compare ourselves to these followers and simply think

“sure, they had time and resources to follow the Lord … that’s why they are listed”

(which translates to:  “we who have other commitments can’t follow like that”)

Jesus said “come and follow me.  (to Peter)

We do know that Peter had a wife. During His earthly ministry, Jesus came to Peter’s house and healed “his wife’s mother” (Matthew 8:14- 5; Mark 1:30-31). This proves that Peter had a wife.

In 1Corinthians 9:5, Paul asked, “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” Cephas was another name for Peter. In this verse it speaks of him leading about a wife. Most likely, this meant that he took her around with him to different places as he traveled. Just as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord.

There a possible reference to a child is in 1 Peter 5:13 where Peter refers to “Marcus my son.”  this could refer to a biological son. the word for son there is 

son (2344x)  G5207 (377x)

5207. υἱός huios, hwee-os´; apparently a primary word; a “son”used very widely of immediate, remote or figuratively, kinship: — child, foal, son.

There is no reason to ascribe this to Mark as meaning spiritual son, especially when we know that Mark was discipled by Barnabas and Paul far more than Peter.

Peter even kept his fishing boat, He still has it in John 21 , after the death of the Lord, and announces in Capernaum, I’m going fishing”

I am glad that Jesus said this to a man with a family
(proven wife and maybe children as well), and a boat to provide for his family and others

I am glad because it reminds me that the Lord has a plan to use family members just as He desires to use single people

The “call to follow Him” is not only given to single adults with no family ties …

He also calls to fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters (Matt 10:35)

He does not call us to abandon our families

1 Tim 5:8 

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

but He calls us to follow Him nonetheless 

How the Lord desires each of us to balance family life 

with spiritual interaction with the outside world (the great commission for example) 

is a matter between each of us and God.

(but there is an expected balance to find, 

not to be excluding one for the satisfaction of the other)

How should we be reflecting our Lord better ?

be better balanced between two kingdoms

better soldiers in battle

better athletes for the faith


About Dave

Browse Archived Articles by Dave

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.