16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
Final Instructions and Greetings
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Romans 16 Commentary
by Hank Workman
As this letter closes here in Romans 16, Paul turns personal. From the beginning of this remarkable and outstanding work inspired by the Holy Spirit concerning solid truth, Paul consistently explained sound and pure theology. But this last chapter shows another side– his great affection for the people working for the Kingdom. We can see he was a very knowing and wise individual but he also was a deeply loving man.
He gives shout out after shout out. But who were these people? To name a few, Phoebe was a deaconess and a woman of means who supported the ministry financially. Her pocketbook was open to see ministry go forward. Priscilla and Aquila were a married couple who having been expelled by the emperor of Rome, settled in Corinth. They were very dear friends of Paul whom he lived with at one point. They also were missionaries, helped out at the church of Ephesus and completely solid Believers.
Paul gives a shout out to Andronicus and Junias, two he refers to as “Outstanding among the apostles” who had sat in prison alongside him. But something made them outstanding! I would love to know more. And there’s Timothy. This was the young man who was like a son to Paul, whom he loved deeply. Timothy was by Paul’s side through so many circumstances and was mentored for his calling. He lived and breathed Paul for years until he was ready for the role he was destined which would lead him toward pastorate. These are just a few in the long list of names Paul commends.
I reflect upon these people and think first of how lonely ministry can be. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Far too often it’s a lonely calling as you stand alone with certain stances, work tirelessly toward seeing the Kingdom of God tangibly come in the field of which you labor and seeing few results. You can be misunderstood and relegated to the sidelines at times. Yes, ministry can be a lonely calling. How we need one another to build us up, encourage when things go south or hardship ensues. Paul had these whom he lovingly refers to.
But I also think of this current mindset that is sweeping this nation. It’s the concept that has really hit the twenty-thirty somethings that they don’t need the church. For whatever reason they choose to overlook the writer of Hebrews admonition:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”Hebrews 10:23-25
Oh yes, they find their own scriptures to claim as they’ve walked away from the Body of Christ, to which this is an entirely different topic. But I cannot tell you how much this brings sorrow and grief to spiritual leaders. They may think they don’t ‘need the church’ to be Believers, but the church needs them. They are cheating the support and encouragement the leadership needs.
They fail to recognize the ministry they have which could complement and reach a whole other people group even. It is a completely selfish way to follow Christ of which Paul addressed several times even in this letter. As with financial giving to a ministry and what people choose to faithfully support, this is a heart issue. And it’s a heart issue only the Holy Spirit can wrestle with.
We need each other. The church needs people of commitment to see ministry go places being held back. Paul could not have done what he did without the support and genuine commitment of these whom he so lovingly references and neither can the church today.
Romans 16 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
This is a phenomenal chapter that champions the role of women in the church. Romans 16 begins with an affirmation of a woman serving in a position of leadership.
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae.Romans 16:1 HCSB
Most translations use the word ‘servant’ to translate the Greek word diakonos, however, in Timothy we find the same word translated ‘deacon’ to describe men who were serving in church offices. ‘Servant’ is the traditional rendering, but if you look at how diakonos evolved throughout the Bible, you will see that Jesus brought a spiritual meaning to it (Matthew 20) and Paul brought a church office feel to it.
So, the term ‘deacon’ would have been a new word to the church at that time. Today, the word deacon generally refers to an elder in the church, but in the early church, a deacon could have been someone who cared for the widows, the orphans, and the poor. We can also gather from Roman 16:2 that Phoebe was probably a wealthy woman. This would have made sense in the context of serving the less fortunate.
“Most likely she held the office of “deacon,” but there is little evidence regarding what this office entailed (Dunn 1988b thinks it a “ministry of hospitality,” but it was certainly more than that). Most likely deacons dealt with the practical needs of the church, for example, caring for the needy (Cranfield 1979) and financial oversight (Moo 1996).”IVP New Testament Commentary
Taking all this into consideration, I think we can safely assume that Phoebe was a deaconess in the church. Paul commends (stands with her) in her position of leadership within the church in Cenchreae. The believers who delivered Paul’s letters often would read them and even weigh in with their interpretation of the letter. Why then, would Paul send a woman (Phoebe) to deliver this letter to Rome if he had reservations about women serving in positions of leadership?
“At Cenchrea she was not only a recognised member, but an active and useful “servant of the Church.” Many would translate, “a deaconess.” The letter of Pliny to the Emperor Trajan, written early in the second century, speaks of two Christian women, “who were called ministers,” having been examined by torture. This looks as if a female order of some kind existed in the Churches of Asia Minor at that time.”The Biblical Illustrator
Paul goes on to mention several other women serving in ministry. Priscilla (v. 3), Mary (v. 6), and Junia (v. 7) were all sharing in the work of Christ alongside Paul. But that’s not all! In fact, when reading over Paul’s entire list, more than 1/3 of the names mentioned here are women and this speaks to the larger point.
Paul’s list includes men, women, Jews, Gentiles, old people, young people, free citizens, and slaves. His list speaks to the diversity of the body of Christ and the unity that transcends human discrimination. Gender, ethnicity, economic status, social status, and age should never restrict the Gospel call. Paul’s “letter within the letter” is a strong statement of inclusion within the church. This is a testimony of the extensive love of Jesus that reaches far beyond any human restriction.