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I commend (συνιστημ). The regular word for letters of commendation as in 2Co 3:1 (συστατικων επιστολων). See also Ro 3:5 . So here verses 1,2 constitute Paul's recommendation of Phoebe, the bearer of the Epistle. Nothing else is known of her, though her name (Φοιβη) means bright or radiant.
Sister (αδελφην). In Christ, not in the flesh.
Who is a servant of the church (ουσαν διακονον της εκκλησιας). The etymology of διακονος we have had repeatedly. The only question here is whether it is used in a general sense or in a technical sense as in Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8-13 . In favour of the technical sense of "deacon" or "deaconess" is the addition of "της εκκλησιας" (of the church). In some sense Phoebe was a servant or minister of the church in Cenchreae. Besides, right in the midst of the discussion in 1Ti 3:8-13 Paul has a discussion of γυναικας (verse 11) either as women as deaconesses or as the wives of deacons (less likely though possible). The Apostolic Constitutions has numerous allusions to deaconesses. The strict separation of the sexes made something like deaconesses necessary for baptism, visiting the women, etc. Cenchreae, as the eastern port of Corinth, called for much service of this kind. Whether the deaconesses were a separate organization on a par with the deacons we do not know nor whether they were the widows alluded to in 1Ti 5:9f .
Worthily of the saints (αξιως των αγιων). Adverb with the genitive as in Php 1:27 because the adjective αξιος is used with the genitive (Lu 3:8 ). "Receive her in a way worthy of the saints." This word αγιος had come to be the accepted term for followers of Christ.
Assist her (παραστητε). Second aorist (intransitive) active subjunctive of παριστημ, to stand by, with the dative case ("beside her"), the very word used by Paul of the help of Jesus in his trial (παρεστη, 2Ti 4:17 ). Used with ινα as προσδεξησθε.
In whatsoever matter (εν ω πραγματ). Incorporation of the antecedent (πραγματ) into the relative clause (ω).
She may have need of you (αν υμων χρηιζη). Indefinite relative clause with αν and the present subjunctive of χρηιζω with genitive.
A succourer (προστατις). Old and rare feminine form for the masculine προστατης, from προιστημ (προστατεω, common, but not in the N.T.), here only in the N.T. and not in the papyri. The word illustrates her work as διακονον and is perhaps suggested here by παραστητε, just before.
Of mine own self (εμου αυτου). "Of me myself."
In verses 3-16 Paul sends his greetings to various brethren and sisters in Rome.
Prisca and Aquila (Πρισκαν κα Ακυλαν). This order always (Ac 18:18,26; 2Ti 4:19 , and here) save in Ac 18:2; 1Co 16:19 , showing that Prisca was the more prominent. Priscilla is a diminutive of Prisca, a name for women in the Acilian gens. She may have been a noble Roman lady, but her husband was a Jew of Pontus and a tent-maker by trade. They were driven from Rome by Claudius, came to Corinth, then to Ephesus, then back to Rome, and again to Ephesus. They were good travelling Christians.
My fellow-workers (τους συνεργους μου). Both in tent-making and in Christian service in Corinth and Ephesus.
Laid down their own necks (τον εαυτων τραχελον υπεθηκαν). First aorist active of υποτιθημ, old verb to place under (the axe of the executioner), only here in N.T. in this sense, though in 1Ti 4:16 to suggest. If literal or figurative, the incident may be connected with the uproar created by Demetrius in Ephesus. Certainly Paul felt deep obligation toward them (see Ac 20:34 ).
Not only I (ουκ εγω μονος). Rather, "not I alone" (adjective μονος). The Gentile churches also (great mission workers).
The church that is in their house (την κατ' οικον αυτων εκκλησιαν). The early Christians had no church buildings. See also Ac 12:2; 1Co 16:19; Phm 1:2; Col 4:15 . The Roman Christians had probably several such homes where they would meet.
Epainetus (Επαινετον). Nothing is known of him except this item, "the first-fruits of Asia" (απαρχη της Ασιας). An early convert from the province of Asia. Cf. Ac 2:9; 1Co 16:15 (about Stephanus and Achaia).
Mary (Μαριαν). Some MSS. have Μαριαμ, the Hebrew form. The name indicates a Jewish Christian in Rome. Paul praises her toil. See Lu 5:5 .
Andronicus and Junias (Ανδρονιχου κα Ιουνιαν). The first is a Greek name found even in the imperial household. The second name can be either masculine or feminine.
Kinsmen (συγγενεις). Probably only fellow-countrymen as in 9:13.
Fellow-prisoners (συναιχμαλωτυς). Late word and rare (in Lucian). One of Paul's frequent compounds with συν. Literally, fellow captives in war. Perhaps they had shared one of Paul's numerous imprisonments (2Co 11:23 ). In N.T. only here, Phm 1:23; Col 4:10 .
Of note (επισημο). Stamped, marked (επ σημα). Old word, only here and Mt 27:16 (bad sense) in N.T.
Among the apostles (εν τοις αποστολοις). Naturally this means that they are counted among the apostles in the general sense true of Barnabas, James, the brother of Christ, Silas, and others. But it can mean simply that they were famous in the circle of the apostles in the technical sense.
Who have been in Christ before me (ο κα προ εμου γεγοναν εν Χριστω). Andronicus and Junias were converted before Paul was. Note γεγοναν (Koine form by analogy) instead of the usual second perfect active indicative form γεγονασιν, which some MSS. have. The perfect tense notes that they are still in Christ.
Ampliatus (Αμπλιατον). Some MSS. have a contracted form Amplias.
Urbanus (Ουρβανον). "A common Roman slave name found among members of the household" (Sanday and Headlam). A Latin adjective from urbs, city (city-bred).
Stachys (Σταχυν). A Greek name, rare, but among members of the imperial household. It means a head or ear of grain (Mt 12:1 ).
Apelles (Απελλην). A name among Jews and a famous tragic actor also.
Them which are of the household of Aristobulus (τους εκ των Αριστοβουλου). The younger Aristobulus was a grandson of Herod the Great. Lightfoot suggests that some of the servants in this household had become Christians, Aristobulus being dead.
Herodion (Hερωιδιωνα). Probably one belonging to the Herod family like that above.
Kinsman (συγγενη). Merely fellow-countryman.
Them of the household of Narcissus (τους εκ των Ναρκισσου). "Narcissiani." There was a famous freedman of this name who was put to death by Agrippa. Perhaps members of his household.
Tryphaena and Tryphosa (Τρυφαιναν κα Τρυφωσαν). Probably sisters and possibly twins. Both names come from the same root, the verb τρυφαω, to live luxuriously (Jas 5:5 ). Denney suggests "Dainty and Disdain."
Persis (Περσιδα). A freedwoman was so named. She is not Paul's "beloved," but the "beloved" of the whole church.
Rufus (Ρουφον). A very common slave name, possibly the Rufus of Mr 15:21 . The word means "red."
The chosen (τον εκλεκτον). Not "the elect," but "the select."
And mine (κα εμου). Paul's appreciation of her maternal care once, not his real mother.
Asyncritus (Ασυνκριτον). There is an inscription of a freedman of Augustus with this name.
Phlegon (Φλεγοντα). No light on this name till the historian of the second century A.D.
Hermes (Hερμην). A very common slave name.
Patrobas (Πατροβαν). Name of a freedman of Nero, abbreviated form of Patrobius.
Hermas (Hερμαν). Not the author of the Shepherd of Hermas. Common as a slave name, shortened form of Hermagoras, Hermogenes, etc.
The brethren that are with them (τους συν αυτοις αδελφους). Perhaps a little church in the house of some one.
Philologus (Φιλολογον). Another common slave name.
Julia (Ιουλιαν). The commonest name for female slaves in the imperial household because of Julius Caesar. Possibly these two were husband and wife.
Nereus (Νηρεα). Found in inscriptions of the imperial household. But the sister's name is not given. One wonders why.
Olympas (Ολυμπαν). Possibly an abbreviation for Olympiodorus.
All the saints that are with them (τους συν αυτοις παντας αγιους). Possibly another church in the house. These unnamed, the "and others," constitute the great majority in all our churches.
With a holy kiss (εν φιληματ αγιω). The near-east mode of salutation as hand-shaking in the Western. In China one shakes hands with himself. Men kissed men and women kissed women. See 1Th 5 26; 1Co 16:20; 2Co 13:12 .
Mark (σκοπειτε). Keep an eye on so as to avoid. Σκοπος is the goal, σκοπεω means keeping your eye on the goal.
Divisions (διχοστασιας). Old word for "standings apart," cleavages. In N.T. only here and Ga 5:20 .
Those which are causing (τουσ--ποιουντας). This articular participle clause has within it not only the objects of the participle but the relative clause ην υμεις εμαθετε (which you learned), a thoroughly Greek idiom.
But their own belly (αλλα τη εαυτων κοιλια). Dative case after δουλευουσιν. A blunt phrase like the same picture in Php 3:19 "whose god is the belly," more truth than caricature in some cases.
By their smooth and fair speech (δια της χρηστολογιας κα ευλογιας). Two compounds of λογος (speech), the first (from χρηστος and λογος) is very rare (here only in N.T.), the second is very common (ευ and λογος).
Of the innocent (των ακακων). Old adjective (α privative and κακος), without evil or guile, in N.T. only here and Heb 7:26 (of Christ).
Is come abroad (αφικετο). Second aorist middle indicative of αφικνεομα, old verb, to come from, then to arrive at, only here in N.T.
Over you (εφ' υμιν). "Upon you." Simple unto that which is evil (ακεραιους εις το κακον). Old adjective from α privative and κεραννυμ, to mix. Unmixed with evil, unadulterated.
Shall bruise (συντριψε). Future active of συντριβω, old verb, to rub together, to crush, to trample underfoot. Blessed promise of final victory over Satan by "the God of peace." "Shortly" (εν ταχε). As God counts time. Meanwhile patient loyalty from us.
Verses 21-23 form a sort of postscript with greetings from Paul's companions in Corinth. Timothy was with Paul in Macedonia (2Co 1:1 ) before he came to Corinth. Lucius may be the one mentioned in Ac 13:1 . Jason was once Paul's host (Ac 17:5-9 ) in Thessalonica, Sosipater may be the longer form of Sopater of Ac 20:4 . They are all Paul's fellow-countrymen (συγγενεις).
Gaius my host (Γαιος ο ξενος μου). Perhaps the same Gaius of 1Co 1:14 (Ac 19:29; 20:4 ), but whether the one of 3Jo 1:1 we do not know. Ξενος was a guest friend, and then either a stranger (Mt 25:35 ) or a host of strangers as here. This Gaius was plainly a man of some means as he was the host of all the church. Erastus (2Ti 4:20 ) was "the treasurer of the city" (ο οικονομος της πολεως), one of the outstanding men of Corinth, the "steward" (house-manager) or city manager. See Lu 12:42; 16:1 . He is probably the administrator of the city's property.
Quartus (Κουαρτος). Latin name for fourth.
Is not genuine, not in Aleph A B C Coptic.
Verses 25-27 conclude the noble Epistle with the finest of Paul's doxologies.
To him that is able (τω δυναμενω). Dative of the articular participle of δυναμα. See similar idiom in Eph 3:20 .
To stablish (στηριξα). First aorist active infinitive of στηριζω, to make stable.
The preaching (το κηρυγμα). The proclamation, the heralding.
Of Jesus Christ (Ιησου Χριστου). Objective genitive, "about Jesus Christ."
Revelation (αποκαλυψιν). "Unveiling."
Of the mystery (μυστηριου). Once unknown, but now revealed.
Kept in silence (σεσιγημενου). Perfect passive participle of σιγαω, to be silent, state of silence.
But now is manifested (φανερωθεντος δε νυν). First aorist passive participle of φανεροω, to make plain, genitive case in agreement with μυστηριου.
By the scriptures of the prophets (δια γραφων προφητικων). "By prophetic scriptures." Witnessed by the law and the prophets ( 3:21). This thread runs all through Romans.
According to the command of the eternal God (κατ' επιταγην του αιωνιου θεου). Paul conceives that God is in charge of the redemptive work and gives his orders (1:1-5; 10:15f. ). The same adjective αιωνιος is here applied to God that is used of eternal life and eternal punishment in Mt 25:46 .
Unto obedience of faith (εις υπακοην της πιστεως). See 1:5.
Made known unto all the nations (εις παντα τα εθνη γνωρισθεντος). First aorist passive participle of γνωριζω, still the genitive case agreeing with μυστηριου in verse 25.
To the only wise God (μονω σοφω θεω). Better, "to God alone wise." See 1Ti 1:17 without σοφω.
To whom (ω). Some MSS. omit.
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