Commendation of Phoebe (16:1-2)
- Spiritually to “receive her in the Lord worthily of saints”. The expression “receive” here would seem to have a different context than used in Rom. 14:1. Here it is an official reception into the fellowship of the assembly as a believer. In ch.14 it is a practical reception into Christian fellowship. Hence the qualifier; “ but not to doubtful disputations.“
- Materially to “assist her in whatever matter she has need of you”. The purpose of her trip was some private matter; perhaps personal, such as visiting sick family, or perhaps commercial, such as banking, purchases, sales, etc. in Rome. We are to take advantage of any reason that fellow believers travel through our area, and not limit our hospitality to those who travel for spiritual purposes only.
Personal Salutations from Paul Himself (16:3-16)
The holy kiss is mentioned four times in the New Testament as a common expression of affection, to be used as a greeting for Christians (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:261). There was to be a ‘kiss’, or display of affection; but it was to ‘holy’ as well. They were to be careful that their greetings were genuine, and above reproach. There are at least two ways a kiss could be unholy. First, if it is not genuine, like the kiss of Judas (Luke 22:47-48) or Joab (2 Sam. 20:9). Second, if it is sexually motivated or gives the appearance of evil (1 Cor. 7:1). Paul wanted to see affection between the saints, but he wanted it to be pure. God's desire is for warmth and affection to be present in the greetings of His saints. It is remarkable how a simple greeting such as a kiss can remove barriers, soften bitter hearts, and draw the Lord's people together.2To encourage them, Paul sent greetings from “all the assemblies of Christ“, for he could so speak having traveled to a great extent.
Closing Exhortations (16:17-20)
Closing Salutations from Paul’s Companions (16:21-24)
- Timothy. The young man from Derbe whom Paul calls “my own son in the faith” and to whom Paul addressed two pastoral epistles. He has accompanied Paul on many of his journeys, and was left by Paul at or dispatched to: Berea (Acts 17:14), Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2), Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17), Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), and finally to Rome (2 Tim. 4:9).
- Lucius. H.A. Ironside believed that ‘Lucius’ is the same as Luke the physician, who likely would have been travelling with Paul at this time. However, the name ‘Lucius’ is used in Acts 13:1 for a prophet or teacher of Cyrene, one of those at Antioch who laid their hands on Barnabas and Paul and sent them on the first missionary journey. Evidently this was a common name. Most likely it was a different person than Luke the physician, as this ‘Lucius’ was a kinsman of Paul.
- Jason. Most likely this is the Jason who welcomed Paul in Thessalonica, and as a result his house was assaulted by the Jews (Acts 17:5-9). We learn for the first time that Jason was a close relative of Paul.
- Sosipater. It is possible that this is the same person as Sopater mentioned in Acts 20:4, who was from Berea, son of Pyrrhus, and accompanied Paul from Greece into Asia. He also is here described as a kinsman of Paul.
- Gaius. He was Paul’s host in the city of Corinth, and also had the assembly meeting in his home. He had filled in the void that would naturally have been created when Aquila and Priscilla moved to Ephesus.
- Erastus. He was a city official that had gotten saved. However, he is identified merely as the “steward of the city”, nothing is said of his connections with Paul, the saints, or Christ. Mr. Kelly suggests that Paul leaves room for growth with Erastus. Perhaps he did not have the courage to more boldly identify himself, being in a position where the confession of Christ could put him in danger. It is good to “provoke unto love and to good works” but not to force them.
- Quartus. Both he and Tertius were most likely slaves, or at least had been slaves. Instead of names, they were given numbers. How wonderful to hear his commendation; not “Quartus, a number” but “Quartus, a brother“. Those whom this world values little are highly valued by God, and ought to be embraced by Christians as “brethren” in the family of God.
Closing Doxology: Two Parts of Paul’s Doctrine (16:25-27)
|The Gospel||The Mystery|
|Romans 16:25-26||v.25a "…according to my glad tidings and the preaching of Jesus Christ…"||vv.25b-26 "…according to the revelation of the mystery, as to which silence has been kept in the times of the ages…"|
|Ephesians 3:8-9||v.8 "…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…"||v.9 "…And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God…"|
|Colossians 1:23-28||v.23 "…the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature..."||vv.25-26 "…according to the dispensation of God… Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations…"|
The believer's standing "in Christ":
The truth of Christ and the Church:
When Paul refers to "the apostles and prophets" he is referring to New Testament apostles and prophets. These apostles and prophets are the "foundation gifts" (Eph. 2:20). The apostles were those men sent by the Lord Himself. Read more... But not all the New Testament writers were apostles, and yet some of their words and writings were just as much inspired as the apostles' writings. These speakers and writers were called prophets. This gift was not limited to writing, because much of what they spoke by inspiration was not written down (1 Cor. 2:13). They were prophets in the sense of:  forth-telling the revealed mind of God (like Judas and Silas; Acts 15:32),  foretelling the future (like Agabus; Acts 11:28; 21:10), or  receiving divine inspiration (like Mark, James, etc.) to pass on orally or in written form (Romans 16:25-26). We don’t have New Testament apostles and prophets with us in person, but we do have their writings. The reason we don’t have them in person is that they were the foundation (Eph. 2:20), which is already complete. Thankfully, what God saw fit to give us was written down and canonized, so we have these gifts with us "till we all come" (at the rapture). Those who hold covenant theology are attempting to show the Church in the Old Testament. They want to say that the Old Testament prophets were part of the Church's foundation (Eph. 2:20), and that the Mystery was known to them (Eph. 3:5). This is false, and it doesn't fit in the context of each passage. For instance, how could the mystery have been known to Old Testament prophets if it has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1:26). Also, if Old Testament prophets were intended, the order would have been reversed, as in 2 Peter 3:2. Rather than say "apostles and prophets" Paul would have said "prophets and apostles". By mentioning prophets after apostles, it shows that they are not Old Testament prophets.Read more…
- In addition, we have a "kiss of love" in 1 Pet. 5:14.
- Should we still practice the holy kiss today? If God had intended some other form of greeting He would have specified it. In many cultures around the world, a greeting with a kiss is still common and socially appropriate. However, in some western cultures a kiss in public would have the appearance of evil. For example, in the United States, two men kissing in public, or a man kissing another man's wife, would give the appearance of evil, and therefore could not be considered "a holy kiss". In these cases, a different greeting could be used, or else discretion should govern the times and places the holy kiss is used.