Romans 16 Commentary

Romans 16

Personal notes and greetings


Paul winds up this reasoned theological letter by extending personal greetings and appreciation to some of the beloved fellow servants of the Lord in Rome. From this we get a glimpse of the servants of the Lord, and of Paul in his ministry. Anyone who serves the Lord Jesus Christ is valued. They are immortalized in God’s Holy Word. We also see that many small house churches make up the church in the capital of the Roman Empire. Paul, in this final chapter, notes that even the churches in Rome had trouble makers, because he advises them to be alert to trouble makers and those opposing the correct doctrine they were taught, and not only to be alert but also to stay away from such people. Along with this warning, he commends the believers in Rome for their well-known good testimony. He is glad of that testimony, yet reminds them to continue to be wise toward good and innocent toward evil. Paul, and his stenographer Tertius, then extend greetings from those who are with Paul. His benediction focuses on thanks to God who is able to establish and strengthen them according to Paul’s ministry and the Old Testament Scriptures.


  1. Romans 16:1-2. Paul recommends Phoebe, a serving lady, and asks that the Romans help her whenever and in whatever she needs help.
  2. Romans 16:3-16. Paul greets and sends personal notes to many of the Roman believers.
  3. Romans 16:17-21. Paul warns them to beware of the troublemakers, specifically those that live by their emotions and smooth talk people and work against the doctrine that has been taught.
  4. Romans 16:21-24. Others greet—some of the men with Paul also send personal greetings to the Romans.
  5. Romans 16:25-27. Benediction—God, who stabilizes believers, has all glory.


  1. Romans 16:1-2. Paul recommends Phoebe, a serving lady, and asks that the Romans help her whenever and in whatever she needs help.
    1. Romans 16.1. Paul commends Phoebe (συνιστημι unite collect, commend, recommend) to the Roman believers. She is part of the church at Cenchrea. This small seaport city is east across the Isthmus of Corinth from Corinth. She is called a servant (διακονος agent, servant, assistant, used 29 times in NA28). Some think she was an official deaconess, but this is not necessary. The word refers to a servant or one who serves the Lord and the church. The word is used for any servant for the Lord. Most likely she may have provided care for the suffering believers or given financial support for Paul, and she may have been like Lydia of Acts 16.14,15,40. Also, 1 Timothy 5.9-10 may give insight about her kind of activities. We do not know. She carried Paul’s letter to the Romans to Rome for him. They are to receive her with respect and honor, “worthy of the saints.” This includes providing what she may need while in Rome such as food, shelter, and fellowship. Phoebe may have been wealthy. We do know that Paul thought very highly of her. The great apostle memorialized her in Scripture. This should remove any thoughts of Paul disrespecting women in the ministry.
  2. Romans 16:3-16. Paul sends personal notes to many of the Roman believers. He names 26 more believers and also the mother of Rufus and the sister of Nereus. εν κυριω (5 times in this section); εν χριστω (3 times in this section). These people are variously described.
    1. Romans 16.3-5. Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquila. They are the only helpers in this list who are mentioned for sure in the New Testament. They first met Paul in Corinth. They co-workers with Paul, tent-makers, and served in churches in Corinth (acts 18.1-11; 1 Cor 16.19-20, house church in Ephesus), Ephesus (Acts 18.19; 2 Tim 4.19), and Rome (Romans 16.3-5). They had churches in their home (1 Corinthians 16.19). Claudius, in AD 49, had commanded Jews to leave Rome. They had ethnicity, work, and faith in common with Paul and so teamed up with him. They took aside Apollos and instructed him in the faith (Acts 18.26-27). They probably returned to Rome in 54 and started another church after Claudia died. Possibly they were also threatened by the riot in Ephesus along with Paul (Acts 19.
    2. Romans 16.5. Epenetus, first convert in Asia. This was on the third missionary trip. Beloved by Paul.
    3. Romans 16.6. Mary, hard worker.
    4. Romans 16.7. Andronicus and Junius. Jews and possible of the same tribe. These also were imprisoned, possibly with Paul. They were believers before Paul was. Possible Christians for 25 years.
    5. Romans 16.8. Ampliatus, another beloved in the Lord. Used in this context it indicates special appreciation.
    6. Romans 16.9. Urbanus and Stachys.
    7. Romans 16.10. Apelles. He was tested and approved (δοκιμος). The household of Aristobulus.
    8. Romans 16.11. Herodion, a kinsman (συγγενης, probably fellow Jew. Those of Narcissus, those in the Lord. Probably not all in the household were believers.
    9. Romans 16.12.Tryphena and Tryphosa; Persis, workers (κοπιω) in the Lord.
    10. Romans 16.13. Rufus and his mother. Chosen in the Lord (εκλεκτος) probably meaning distinctive or choice since this is true of all believers. The mother likely means that she was like a mother to Paul.
    11. Romans 16.14-15. Philologos and Julius, Nereus and his sister, and Olympus, and the saints with them.
    12. Identifying traits
      1. my beloved (αγαπητης special relationship, beloved. Romans 16.5,8,9,12); Epaenetus, Ampliatus, Stachys, Persus
      2. worked hard (κοπιαω work hard struggle, become tired Romans 16.6,12); Mary, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis.
      3. fellow workers (συνεργος Rom 16.3,9,21; helper, fellow worker; Prisca, Aquila, Urbanus, Timothy. See Phil 2.25; 4.3);
      4. kinsmen (συγγενης belonging to the same family, clan, or group, Romans 16.7,11), see Romans 9.3, Andronicus, Junias, Herodion
      5. fellow prisoners (συναιχμαλωτος Rom 16.7); Andronicus, Junias
      6. outstanding (επισημος exceptional quality, prominent, Romans 16.7); Andronicus, Junias
      7. approved in Christ δοκιμος approved by test, genuine, respected, valuable Romans 16.10); Apelles
      8. in the Lord (εν κυριω Romans 16.11) of the household of Narcissus.
      9. choice (‘εκλεκτος chosen, distinguished, choice, excellent Romans 16.13); Rufus
      10. brethren (αδελφος brother, one of close affinity, member, associate, here probably fellow Jews, Romans 16.14); Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and others
      11. saints (`αγιος dedicated to God’s service, sacred, Romans 15.15); Philogos,Julia, Nereus, Olympas, other saints with them.
  3. Romans 16:17-21. Paul warns them to beware of the troublemakers, specifically those that live by their emotions and smooth talk people and work against the doctrine that has been taught. Some could be part of the churches and some could be outsiders. Either way, watch out.
    1. Romans 16.17. Paul urges the brethren (παρακαλεω pres act ind) to keep an eye on (σκοπεω pres act infin epexegetical) those making factions, oppositions (διχοστασια factions Gal 5.20; 1 Cor 3.3) and hinderances (σκανδαλον trap, enticement, cause opposition). Deliberate troublemakers. What is the issue? The trouble makers teach and act contrary to the apostolic doctrine already learned. Doctrine is διδαχη (teaching, instruction 1 Cor 14.6. 26; Titus 1.9). Not only watch out for, but also turn away (εκκλινω pres act impv, 2nd plural, to keep away, steer clear of) from the trouble makers. So, Paul says to 1) watch out for and 2) steer clear of trouble makers, those who have modified, changed, added to apostolic doctrine. This tells us that the Roman believers have been taught biblical doctrine before Paul wrote to them.
    2. Romans 16.18. They serve themselves (appetites, κολια belly, abdominal cavity, womb, then inner feelings and desires). These troublemakers serve their own ideas and emotions. Furthermore, with plausible speech (χρηστολογια or speech that sounds good) and praise and flattery (ευλογια praise, fine speaking) they deceive (εξαπαταω cheat, deceive) the hearts (καρδια) or core thinking and desires of the innocent (ακακος) people who do not know better. They fool people like the old traveling patent medicine people, or poltiticians or some TV preachers.
    3. Romans 16.19. Paul has heard that they are obedient believers. Obedient to what? Obedient to what they understand about the Christian faith. Then his challenge to be wise (σοφος adj skillful, experienced) toward the good and innocent to evil (Matthew 10.16).
    4. Romans 16.20. The God of peace (Romans 15.23; Hebrews 13.20). He is characterized by peace. In the future he will destroy Satan’s work and judge him. Possibly referring to the struggles at hand, but more likely to the more prophetic future—God’s victory in the great spiritual battle.
  4. Romans 16:21-24. Some of the men with Paul also send personal greetings to the Romans.
    1. Timothy. Paul’s trusted assistant (see Acts 16.1-2; Philippians 2.19-21; 1 Timothy 1.2; 2 Timothy 1.2; 1 Corinthians 4.7; 16.10 and others).
    2. Lucius. A kinsman of Paul. Possibly the Lucius of Cyrene in the church at Antioch, otherwise we do not know him (Acts 13.1).
    3. Jason. A kinsman of Paul. Possibly the Jason of Thessalonica (Acts 17.5-9).
    4. Sosipater. A kinsman of Paul. Possibly the Sopater of Berea (Acts 20.4). Paul is using the formal spelling.
    5. Tertius. Paul’s stenographer. When this epistle is compared to the style and directness of Galatians and 1 Corinthians most scholars think that Tertius wrote what Paul dictated. Moo, p 935 quoted by JH Neimela in Romans by Zane Hodges p 453.
    6. Gaius. Probably the Gaius mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1.14 whom Paul baptized. Gaius was probably wealthy since he was the host to the whole church in Corinth.
    7. Erastus. The treasurer of Corinth. Probably the same as Acts 19.22 and 2 Timothy 4.20. Both Gaius and Erastus were from Corinth, which information helps to place the writing from Corinth.
    8. Quartus. Nothing is known about him. A believer in Corinth.
    9. Romans 16.24 repeats the grace be with you.
  5. Romans 16:25-27. Benediction. God, who establishes believers, has all glory and is the only wise God.
    1. Romans 16.25. To the one who is able (δυναμαι, present midd or pass participle dative, to be capable, dative of personal interest advantage, or possession) refers to God the Father. To God in Romans 16.27 is in apposition to δυναμαι.
    2. A benediction is a statement of praise to God or a request for his blessing upon his people or an emphatic summary statement about his person, work, and provision. It serves to center the final thoughts of the assembly, audience, and reader upon our Lord and remind us of his blessings upon us and of our dependence upon him.
    3. Romans 16.25. God establishes believers in the faith through Paul’s ministry (Ephesians 3.1-12) and the Old Testament Scriptures (Romans 1.2; 1 Peter 1.10-12). The word establish (translated strengthen in the NASB) is στεριζω fut act indic, fix firmly in place, establish, support, confirm. Paul got his message, doctrine, gospel by revelation from God (mystery) , Ephesians 3.1-11) the Old testament prophets.
    4. Romans 16.25. στεριζω is also in 1 Peter 5.10,(the God of all grace) plus the following words.
      1. God will perfect you (καταρτιζω fut act indic, restore, put in order, repair, equip).
      2. God will confirm you (στεριζω fut act indic, fix firmly in place, establish, support, confirm (Romans 16.25).
      3. God will strengthen you (σθενοω fut act indic, make strong, strengthen).
      4. God will establish you (θεμελιοω fut act indic, to provide a base, lay a foundation, strengthen, establish).
    5. Romans 16.25. My gospel (see 1 Timothy 1.11, 2 Timothy 2.8, Titus 1.3, Galatians 1.11-12). Paul received his message about the good news through Jesus Christ by revelation of the mystery from God, and through the Old Testament Scriptures. Note: gospel of Jesus Christ (objective genitive), church mystery doctrine (objective genitive).
    6. Romans 16.26. God wants people to obey the gospel by believing it εις `υπακοην πιστεως.
    7. Romans 16.27. The only wise God (in apposition to “the one who is able”) receives glory or possesses glory. Jesus Christ has now made the Father’s glory known even more. See Ephesians 3.20, Colossians 2.3,

So What Application

  1. All believers, young or old, men or women, prominent or unknown, can serve the LORD and his church with distinction no matter what spiritual gift and abilities they have (Romans 16.1-16).
  2. Trouble makers may be found in many churches. They are self-centered, they flatter, and they are skilled talkers. They will try to insert false doctrine and cause divisions in the congregation. Do not allow them to gain a foothold in the church (Romans 16.17-18).
  3. God establishes believers in the faith through the gospel about Jesus Christ and teaching the Scriptures (Romans 16.25-26).
  4. The gospel has been made known and available to all the nations (probably Gentiles here) and they should believe it (Romans 16.26).
  5. Give honor to God who is wise and powerful (Romans 16.25-27).
  6. We have access to our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ (Romans 16.27).

Select Doctrines

  1. Relationship among believers
  2. Spiritual gifts
  3. Ministry
  4. Importance of God’s word
  5. God’s attributes
  6. Benedictions
  7. God’s plan for faith