Romans 16 Bible Commentary – Community and Family

In Romans Chapter 16, we encounter a roll call of saints who have labored in love for the Gospel. These verses are more than a list of names; they are a testament to the power of community and the importance of each member within the body of Christ. Paul’s warm greetings remind us that every believer, regardless of their role, is valuable and cherished. 

As we study this chapter, we find inspiration from these early Christians, recognizing that we, too, are part of this great story. Together, we will uncover lessons of unity, service, and mutual encouragement that continue to resonate within our own journeys today.

Romans Chapter 16 Notes and Commentary

Paul ends his letter to the Romans with final greetings, warnings, and a blessing. Let’s take a deep dive into this chapter and study Romans 16 verse by verse.

Romans 16:1-16

In this first section of Romans chapter 16, the apostle Paul sends his greetings to various people and groups in the Roman church.

Verses 1-2

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 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.

Phoebe was the one whom Paul entrusted to carry and deliver his letter to the Romans. With the letter, Phoebe bears Paul’s high esteem. He refers to her as a servant (or a deacon), a worthy saint, and a patron to many including himself. 

Her dedication and service are a great example of godly Christian living. In this simple greeting, Paul shows the importance of recognizing and honoring those who faithfully serve the body of Christ.

Romans 16:3-4

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 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.

In these verses, Paul extends greetings to Prisca and Aquila, who demonstrated remarkable courage and dedication in their service to him. The first mention of this couple in the New Testament is in Acts.

After these events, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. – Acts 18:2

Prisca and Aquila were Jewish Christians who had fled Rome to come to Corinth. If we continue reading Acts 18 we learn that Paul spent much time with them. Not only were they fellow Jews and fellow servants of Christ but they also risked their lives for the sake of Paul. We aren’t given much detail about these events, but we can conclude that these believers were faithful servants to Christ and to Paul. 

This passage also gives us a glimpse into the early church. The church didn’t gather in a glamorous building with fancy lights, stages, or coffee bars. They met in their homes. Homes were the epicenter of church life. 

This concept is incredibly appealing. 

Gathering in our homes cultivates a deeper sense of intimacy and community. It encourages genuine relationships to flourish for building deeper fellowship and support. Also, it provides opportunities for hospitality and outreach, as we welcome neighbors and friends to share the love of Christ in tangible ways. 

I’m not saying church buildings are bad. There are perks to having one place for a large group of people to come together; it makes it easy for newcomers to find the location. But, along with our large Sunday gatherings, I think it’s crucial for us as the family of God to be intentional about meeting together in each others’ homes.

Verses 6-16

Bible Study Worksheet Kits

Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, 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.

In this next section, Paul lists multiple people to whom he sends his greetings. The first thing that stood out to me was the number of women Paul references. Many of these women weren’t just acquaintances; they were women who worked alongside Paul for the kingdom. 

This shows that Paul highly esteems women for their ministry and their contributions to God’s kingdom glory. His mention of Rufus’s mother warms my heart. What a great reminder that we have been brought into a new family as God’s children. 

He ends this section with the command to “greet one another with a holy kiss”. This may sound weird, but it seems as though this was a common custom in this culture. We see another example in Luke.

Luke 7:44-45 – Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.

David Guzik Bible Commentary – It seems that this practice was later abused. Clement of Alexandria complained about churches where people made the church resound with kissing, and says that “the shameless use of a kiss occasions foul suspicions the evil reports.”

Romans Chapter 16:17-23

Romans 16:20

Now, Paul appeals to the believers in Rome with a final warning to watch out for those who are causing divisions and deception within the body of Christ.

Verses 17-18

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. 18 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. 

In verse 17 Paul switches gears by warning the Romans of false teachers. The Greek word for ‘appeal’ in this verse means “to call near”. Paul wants them to actively listen and heed the warning to watch out for those who cause divisions and obstacles.

Divisions and obstacles would be things that divide and deceive the church. These people need to be noted and then avoided. 

Paul’s plea is for the church to be united in its persuasions, purpose, and practices and continue in the teaching and power of the gospel message.

This warning still rings true for us today. False teachers are among us. We must be careful and prayerful in discerning ideas and agendas that divide and deceive the body of Christ.

Romans 16:19-20

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

These verses are related to the previous. Paul rejoices over how they are handling the dividers and deceivers among them. In fact, their obedience to these things had become known among the churches in the surrounding areas. Paul’s exhortation is for them to continue to be watchful. He goes on by commanding them to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

Walking in godly wisdom is the best defense against temptation, complacency, and the evil that relentlessly attempts to creep into our lives. 

Revelation 20:1-3 talks about a future day when Satan will be thrown into the bottomless pit under our feet. Walking in wisdom by the power of the Spirit gives us daily victories in our battle against Satan. It’s our way of reminding our spiritual enemy of his ultimate destiny.

Verses 21-23

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

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

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

Here, Paul sends greetings to the Romans from those with him in Corinth. It was common in this culture for the author to dictate his letter to a scribe who would put pen to paper. This was Paul’s practice for most of his letters to the churches, however, he didn’t often mention the scribe by name.

Romans Chapter 16:25-27

Romans 16:27

In this final section of Paul’s letter, he gives his final exhortations.

Romans 16:25-27

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 26 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— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Paul concludes his letter to the Romans with a reminder that God is able to strengthen them through the message and grace of the gospel. It reminds us of what we learned back in the first chapter of his epistle.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17

The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is our strength and victory. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the hope we have been given and walk in obedience to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we come to the end of our exploration of Romans chapter 16, we find ourselves enriched by the profound sense of community and shared mission that Paul so beautifully portrays.

In our own lives, we can draw inspiration from these early Christians. Their unwavering commitment to each other and to the mission of spreading God’s love serves as a timeless example for us today. Let us be encouraged to see ourselves as part of this enduring legacy, contributing our unique gifts to the greater whole. As we build our own communities, let us strive to foster the same spirit of unity, service, and mutual encouragement that Paul celebrated.

Related Posts and Resources: