A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
The Heartwarming Conclusion to a Great Revelation
While to some the final chapter of Romans may not look very interesting, often these portions of the Word of God which appear at first sight to be the least interesting are simply packed with precious things! Not many, in reading the Bible devotionally, will turn to the genealogical list or catalogue of names. This doubtless includes the sixteenth chapter of Romans. Yet there are items in this sixteenth chapter that make it worthwhile to spend a time with it.
As to general subject, there is none. It is simply a conclusion to the whole Book. There is, however, a key phrase:
Verse 2 - "That ye receive her in the Lord."
Verse 3 - "My helpers in Christ Jesus."
Verse 7 - "Who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ."
Verse 8 - "My beloved in the Lord."
Verse 9 - "Our helper in Christ."
Verse 10 - "Salute Apelles approved in Christ."
Verse 11 - "Which are in the Lord."
Verse 12 - "Who labor in the Lord ... which labored much in the Lord."
Verse 13 - "Rufus chosen in the Lord."
Verse 22 - "I Tertius ... salute you in the Lord."
That phrase occurs eleven times in this chapter, which contains only twenty-seven verses.
Although this section is not tightly structured, an outline can be placed on it: a. commendation (vv. 1-2); b. greetings (vv. 3-16); c. a warning (vv. 17-20); d. salutations (vv. 21-24); and e. doxology (vv. 25-27).
The second point and the fourth point appear to be the same: "greetings" and "salutations". In the second division Paul mentions people to whom the greeting is sent, while in the fourth division he mentions those with him who are sending greetings.
This woman Phoebe, undoubtedly carried the Roman epistle up to Rome. The early church was under the impression that this letter was carried up to Rome by Phoebe. She has three credentials that he mentions: "Our sister ... a servant of the church ... a succourer [or helper] of many and of myself also." The word "servant" in the Greek means "deaconess. Phoebe was a deaconess. It is as such the he recommends her to the church at Rome.
Here is perhaps the first instance of a church letter, for it really was Phoebe's church letter, in which Paul recommends her from the church at Cenchrea to the church at Rome; and he asks them, "as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you." Paul is referring to business that the woman had in Rome to attend to. She may have been a wealthy woman and owned property, or perhaps she was a merchant. But Paul is saying, "Give her all the assistance you can." Here is a beautiful lesson for us! We should always give our brethren all the assistance we can.
He singles out Priscilla and Aquila as having done something: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus." Then he adds, "Who have for my life laid down their own necks."
They were Jews, apparently a man and his wife, perhaps of some means, who made it their business to go to different places and help Paul with his work. First they were at Rome; then, driven out of Rome, they went to Corinth, then to Ephesus. What a wonderful thing for a man and his wife: having sufficient means to provide for themselves, they could go to a mission field and stand by an evangelist and provide for his need. The wife is named first, and not the man; this was the couple who took Apollos aside and taught him "the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:2, 18, 26).
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 88)