Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)My kinsman.—See the Note on Romans 16:7.
Them that be of the household of Narcissus.—A phrase similar to that which is translated, “Them which are of Aristobulus’ household,” above. Narcissus, too, is an historical name. There had been a famous Narcissus, a freed-man and favourite of Claudius, who had been put to death three or four years before this Epistle was written. His household would naturally pass into the hands of the emperor, though still keeping his name. In the case of Aristobulus, the transference would be effected by bequest, in that of Narcissus by confiscation. Many instances of both methods occur in the history and records of the time.
The interpretation here given, and the identification of Aristobulus and Narcissus with the historical bearers of those names, is some way short of certain, but may be said to have some degree of probability.
Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord—which implies that others in his house, including probably himself, were not Christians.Salute Herodion my kinsman: see Romans 16:7.
Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus: this Narcissus is reported by Suetonius to have been in great favour with Claudius the emperor, and to have abounded in wealth, so that he was worth ten millions. He was a wicked man himself, yet it seems he had divers good Christians in his family. So we read that there were saints in Nero’s house or court, Philippians 4:22. To what a degree of wickedness are they arrived, who will not suffer a religious person to dwell in their houses! This shows, that good Christians may serve wicked masters with a good conscience.
Which are in the Lord; this may be added, because that all in Narcissus’s family were not Christians, or members of the church of Christ. Luke 10:1.
Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord; some have thought, that this Narcissus is the same man that Suetonius (q) and other writers speak of (r), who was secretary to Claudius Caesar; a very great favourite of his, who amassed a great deal of wealth under him, and was raised to great honour and dignity by him: he himself is not saluted, either because he was not at home, which might be the case, if, as Ambrose, or rather Hilary the deacon on the text says, he was a presbyter and abroad, performing his office in foreign parts; or because he was dead, or rather not a believer: if he was the same with Claudius's favourite, he was dead before this time, being miserably put to death by Agrippina (s), the wife of Claudius; and seems to have died a wicked man, and justly punished for his being the cause of the destruction of others, through his calumnies: nor are all of his household saluted, not being all converted persons; it being frequently the method of divine grace to take some of a family, and not all, and bring them to Zion; only those that were "in the Lord", on his heart, and in his hands, secretly represented by him, and united to him, and who were openly in him, being called by his grace, and brought to believe in him, and live upon him.Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Romans 16:11-12. Narcissus is by Grotius, Michaelis, and Neander, held to be the powerful freedman of Claudius (Suet. Claud. 28; Tacit. Ann. xi. 29 ff., xii. 57). It is possible, although Narcissus, according to Tacitus, Ann. xiii. 1, was already dead (see Wieseler, Chronol. p. 371 ff.). A decision, however, cannot be arrived at; but, considering the frequency of the name, the suspicion of an anachronism (Lucht) is groundless.
The three women, Romans 16:12, perhaps deaconesses, are otherwise unknown. Note how Persis is distinguished above the two previously named women; as also how delicately Paul has not added μου, after τὴν ἀγαπητήν, as with the men’s names, Romans 16:8-9, although he means his sentiment of love towards Persis. Observe, also, the distinction between κοπιώσας (present) and ἐκοπίασεν. The particular circumstances of the case are unknown to us.Romans 16:11. Ἡρωδίωνα τὸν συγγενὴ μου. This agrees very well with the interpretation just given to τοὺς ἐκ τῶν Ἀριστοβούλου. In the household of Herod’s grandson there might naturally be a Jew with a name of this type, whom Paul, for some cause or other, could single out for a special greeting. τοὺς ἐκ τῶν Ναρκίσσου τοὺς ὄντας ἐν Κυρίῳ: the last words may suggest that, though only the Christians in this household have a greeting sent to them, there were other members of it with whom the Church had relations. The Narcissus meant is probably the notorious freedman of Claudius, who was put to death shortly after the accession of Nero (Tac., Ann., xiii., 1), and therefore two or three years before this epistle was written. His slaves would probably pass into the emperor’s hands, and increase “Cæsar’s househould” as Narcissiani (Lightfoot, loc. cit.).11. Herodion my kinsman] See on Romans 16:7. The name is Greek.
them that be of the household of Narcissus] Lit., as just above, those from amongst Narcissus’. There was one notorious Narcissus, a freedman of Claudius; and another, one of Nero’s bad favourites. Either of these may have been the master of the Christian dependents here saluted; but the name was a common one. The freedman of Claudius was probably by this time dead, but his household may have been subsisting still.Romans 16:11. ὄντας, who are) Therefore a part of that family were heathens.Verse 11. - Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them of the household of Narcissus that are in the Lord. This Narcissus may possibly have been the powerful freedman of Claudius, mentioned by Tacitus, 'Ann.,' 11:29, seq.; 12:57; and by Suetonius, 'Claud.,' 28. The fact that he appears from 'Ann.,' 13:1, to have been put to death on the accession of Nero, A.D. 54, is not inconsistent with the supposition. For his human chattels would be likely to pass into the possession of Nero, and so become part of Caeasar's household, and might still be called by their late master's name. This may also have been the case with the household of Aristobulus above referred to. It is observable that, at a later period, the apostle, writing from Rome to the Philippians, sends special greetings from them "that are of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:23).
This name was borne by a distinguished freedman, who was secretary of letters to Claudius. Juvenal alludes to his wealth and his influence over Claudius, and says that Messalina, the wife of Claudius, was put to death by his order ("Satire," xiv., 330). His household slaves, passing into the hands of the emperor or of some other master, would continue to bear his name.
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