Romans 16:1-16, 21-23
I commend to you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:…
There remain now only salutations and conclusions. But the same courteous love shall be manifested to the end. Nowhere do the ethics of the new life come out more delicately than in these trivialities, as some would deem them, of epistolary correspondence. They are as the fragrance of the rose.
I. First, the letter-bearer is commended to their care. "Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the Church." The mere sisterhood in Christ should be enough, but she was one in honour, the honour that comes of loving service, being a "deaconess" of the Church. How many offices of mercy could be filled then, as now, by the ministrations of gentle women! Some such office she fulfilled - she had been "a succourer of many." Nay, even of Paul also, perhaps in some illness. Surely here was an additional reason why they should receive her, and assist her in whatsoever matter she might have need of them.
II. Next, many Christians at Rome whom he knew are saluted by name - such doubtless as had removed thither from scenes of his former work, and through some of whom, perhaps, the gospel had first been made known at Rome: Prisca and Aquila, those earnest workers, through whom also, in some great peril, his life had been spared at the peril of their own; Epaenetus the beloved; Mary, who in some way had wrought much for them; Andronicus and Junias, kinsmen, who had also shared his bonds, and were earlier than himself in the faith of Christ; Ampliatus the beloved in Christ; Urbanus the fellow-worker, and Stachys the beloved; Apelles, whose Christian faith had been sorely tested, but who had come forth approved from the fire; the household of Aristobulus, who himself perchance was not in Christ; Herodion, a kinsman; those of the household of Narcissus who were in the Lord; Tryphaena and Tryphosa, and Persis the beloved, earnest workers in Christ; Rufus the elect, and his mother, who had also acted a mother's part to Paul; Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brethren among whom they worked; Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints with them. And also, to those whom he knew not, but who were in Christ, as well as to those mentioned, whom he knew, he would have the salutation given: "Salute one another." And not on his behalf alone, but on behalf of all amongst whom he had preached Christ, and who, knowing his intent to visit Rome, had charged him with their love.
III. Yet, again, there are special ones who join him more formally in these salutings: Timothy, his fellow-worker, joined expressly with him in some Epistles (see 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Philippians, Philemon), but not in this, an authoritative exposition of the gospel, for which he, under Christ, must be alone responsible; Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, kinsmen; Tertius, the writer, suffered, by Paul's exquisite delicacy, to give his salutation in his own name; Gains, the host of the Church; Erastus the treasurer; and brother Quartus. It was done. The interchange of love was made. An illustration was given of that like-mindedness of love which he wished to see characterize the Churches of God. It only remained now that he should commend them to the grace of God. - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: