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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 1
ROMANS Chapter 16
THE epistle concludes with various salutations. The names which occur in this chapter are chiefly Greek; and the persons designated had been, probably, inhabitants of Greece, but had removed to Rome for purposes of commerce, etc. Possibly some of them had been converted under the ministry of the apostle himself during his preaching in Corinth and other parts of Greece. It is remarkable that the name of Peter does not occur in this catalogue; which is conclusive evidence, contrary to the Papists, that Peter was not then known by Paul to be in Rome.
Verse 1. I commend. It was common then, as now, to bear letters of introduction to strangers, commending the person thus introduced to the favourable regards and attentions of those to whom the letters were addressed, 2 Co 3:1; Ac 18:27. This epistle, with the apostle's commendation, was designed thus to introduce its bearer to the Roman Christians. The mention of Phebe in this manner leaves it beyond a doubt that she was either the bearer of this epistle, or accompanied those who bore it to Rome. The epistle was therefore written, probably, at Corinth. (See Introduction.)
Our sister. A member of the Christian church.
Which is a servant. Greek, "Who is a deaconess." It is clear, from the New Testament, that there was an order of women in the church known as deaconesses, Reference is made to a class of females whose duty it was to teach other females, and to take the general superintendence of that part of the church, in various places in the New Testament; and their existence is expressly affirmed in early ecclesiastical history. They appear to have been commonly aged and experienced widows, sustaining a fair reputation, and fitted to guide and instruct those who were young and inexperienced. Comp. 1 Ti 5:3,9-11; Tit 2:4.
The Apostolical Constitutions, Book iii., say, "Ordain a deaconess who is faithful and holy, for the ministries toward the women." Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, says, when speaking of the efforts which he made to obtain information respecting the opinions and practices of Christians, "I deemed it necessary to put two maid-servants who are called ministrae [that is, deaconesses] to the torture, in order to ascertain what is the truth." The reasons of their appointment among the Gentiles were these:
(1.) The females were usually separate from the men. They were kept secluded, for the most part, and not permitted to mingle in society with men, as is the custom now.
(2.) It became necessary, therefore, to appoint aged and experienced females to instruct the young, to visit the sick, to provide for them, and to perform for them the services which male deacons performed for the whole church. It is evident, however, that they were confined to these offices, and that they were never regarded as an order of ministers, or suffered to preach to congregations, 1 Ti 2:12; 1 Co 14:34.
Of the church, etc. This is the only mention which occurs of a church at that place. It was probably collected by the labours of Paul.
At Cenchrea. This was the sea-port of Corinth. Corinth was situated on the middle of the isthmus, and had two harbours, or ports: Cenchrea on the east, about eight or nine miles from the city; and Lechaeum on the west. Cenchrea opened into the AEgean Sea, and was the principal port. It was on this isthmus, between these two ports, that the Isthmian games were celebrated, to which the apostle refers so often in his epistles.
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