Romans 16:5
Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) The church that is in their house.—A party of Christians seem to have been in the habit of meeting in the house of Aquila and Priscilla for purposes of worship at Rome, as previously at Ephesus (1Corinthians 16:19). Similar instances may be found in Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2.

Salute.—The same word in the Greek is translated indifferently by “salute” and “greet,” an unnecessary caprice.

Firstfruits of Achaia.—For “Achaia” we ought certainly to read “Asia”—i.e., the Roman province of Asia, a broad strip of territory including the whole western end of the peninsula of Asia Minor, from the Propontis in the north, to Lycia in the south. Ephesus was the capital, and the seven “churches in Asia” to which St. John wrote in the Apocalypse—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea—were the most central and important of its cities.

By “firstfruits of Asia” is meant one of the first converts won over to Christianity in Asia. (Comp. “firstfruits of Achaia,” in 1Corinthians 16:15, through the parallelism of which the text of our own passage became corrupted.)

16:1-16 Paul recommends Phebe to the Christians at Rome. It becomes Christians to help one another in their affairs, especially strangers; we know not what help we may need ourselves. Paul asks help for one that had been helpful to many; he that watereth shall be watered also himself. Though the care of all the churches came upon him daily, yet he could remember many persons, and send salutations to each, with particular characters of them, and express concern for them. Lest any should feel themselves hurt, as if Paul had forgotten them, he sends his remembrances to the rest, as brethren and saints, though not named. He adds, in the close, a general salutation to them all, in the name of the churches of Christ.The church that is in their house - Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned Acts 18:26 as having received "Apollos" into their family, to instruct him more perfectly. The church in their house is also mentioned 1 Corinthians 16:19. This may mean either the church that was accustomed to assemble for worship at their hospitable mansion; or it may mean their own family with their guests, regarded as a "church." In those times Christians had no houses erected for public worship, and were therefore compelled to meet in their private dwellings.

Salute - The same word before translated "greet."

Who is the first-fruits - One who first embraced Christianity under my preaching in Achaia. The "first-fruits" were a small part of the harvest, which was first gathered and offered to the Lord; Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 2:12; Deuteronomy 18:4. In allusion to this, Paul calls Epenetus the first-fruits of the great spiritual harvest which had been gathered in Achaia.

Achaia - See the note at Romans 15:26. This name and those which follow are chiefly "Greek," but we know little of the persons mentioned, except what is here recorded.

5. Likewise the church that is in their house—The Christian assembly that statedly met there for worship. "From his occupation as tent-maker, he had probably better accommodations for the meetings of the church than most other Christians" [Hodge]. Probably this devoted couple had written to the apostle such an account of the stated meetings at their house, as made him feel at home with them, and include them in this salutation, which doubtless would be read at their meetings with peculiar interest.

Salute my well beloved Epænetus, who is the first-fruits—that is, the first convert

of Achaia unto Christ—The true reading here, as appears by the manuscripts, is, "the first-fruits of Asia unto Christ"—that is, Proconsular Asia (see Ac 16:6). In 1Co 16:15 it is said that "the household of Stephanas was the first-fruit of Achaia"; and though if Epænetus was one of that family, the two statements might be reconciled according to the received text, there is no need to resort to this supposition, as that text is in this instance without authority. Epænetus, as the first believer in that region called Proconsular Asia, was dear to the apostle. (See Ho 9:10; Mic 7:1). None of the names mentioned from Ro 16:5-15 are otherwise known. One wonders at the number of them, considering that the writer had never been at Rome. But as Rome was then the center of the civilized world, to and from which journeys were continually taken to the remotest parts, there is no great difficulty in supposing that so active a travelling missionary as Paul would, in course of time, make the acquaintance of a considerable number of the Christians then residing at Rome.

Likewise greet the church that is in their house; the word greet is supplied to fill up the sense: q.d. Declare my goodwill to them, and desires of their welfare. You have the same salutations, 1 Corinthians 16:19; and the like in Colossians 4:15 Philemon 1:2. By

the church in their house, is generally understood, their family or household; which he calls a church, because of the godly order and religious worship that was exercised amongst them. May Aquila and Priscilia be a pattern unto other housekeepers; may the families of Christians be every where as little churches. The house of George, prince of Anhalt, for the good and godly order therein observed, was said to be, as well a church as a court. There are some that think, that by the church in their house, is meant the Christians that were wont to assemble there for solemn worship; but this is not likely, because of the particular salutations of so many in the following verses.

Salute my well-beloved Epenetus: Epenetus, in the Greek tongue, is laudable and praise-worthy; so was this person, both in name and in deed.

Who is the first-fruits, of Achaia unto Christ: the same is affirmed of the house of Stephanas, 1 Corinthians 16:15. The meaning may be this, Epenetus was the first person, and Stephana’s family was the first family, that embraced the faith of Christ in the region of Achaia. This is a singular commendation; God’s soul desires such first-ripe fruits, Micah 7:1. Likewise greet the church that is in their house,.... Which was either their own family, which might be somewhat large, and consisting entirely or chiefly of religious persons; for when they were in other places they had a church in their house as well as Rome; see 1 Corinthians 16:19; or the saints at Rome, who used to meet privately at their house, and pray and sing praises together, speak to one another of the things of God, and build up one another in their most faith; and from their gathering together in the name of Christ, and for the worship of him, and among whom his presence, according to his promise, was, they are called a church, or an assembly of Christians.

Salute my well beloved Epaenetus; for though all the saints were beloved by the apostle, yet there were some, as this good man, for whom he might have, on some account or another, a particular affection; as our Lord, as man, had for his disciple John, though he loved all his disciples. There is one of this name, said to be one of the seventy disciples, and bishop of Carthage; See Gill on Luke 10:1.

Who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ; that is, either he was one of the chief and principal for gifts and grace, or one of the first that was converted to Christ in those parts: the allusion is to the firstfruits under the law, which were offered unto the Lord, and were pledges of, and sanctified the rest. The Vulgate Latin, instead of Achaia, reads "Asia": and so it is read in the Alexandrian copy, and others: the reason of this different reading seems to be, because the house of Stephanas are said to be the firstfruits of Achaia, 1 Corinthians 16:15. But this hinders not but that Epaenetus might be so too, for he might be one of the family of Stephanas, who was now removed to Rome. If he was a Jew, his Jewish name might be Judah, the same with Epaenetus, in Greek.

Likewise greet the {b} church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the {c} firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

(b) The company of the faithful, for in so great a city as that was, there were different companies.

(c) For he was the first of Achaia that believed in Christ: and this type of speech is an allusion to the ceremonies of the law.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 16:5. Καὶ τὴν κατʼ οἰκ. αὐτ. ἐκκλ.] and the church which is in their house. Considering the size of Rome, it may be readily conceived that, besides the full assembly of the collective church, particular sectional assemblies were also formed, which were wont to meet in the houses of prominent members of the church. Such a house was that of Aquila and Priscilla, who had also in Ephesus given their dwelling for a similar object, 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2. Such house-churches are related therefore to the collective community, to which, as such, the epistles are directed, simply as the part, which has in addition its own special greeting, to the whole. Others (following Origen, Chrysostom, Theophylact, etc., with Koppe, Flatt, Klee, Glöckler) hold that the inmates of the household are intended. An arbitrary assumption of an unexampled hyperbole in the use of ἐκκλησία. That all the following saluted persons, up to Romans 16:12, were members of the house-church of Aquila and Prisca (Hofmann), is an arbitrary assumption, which is rendered very improbable by the repeated ἀσπάσασθε, forming in each case a fresh beginning.

Ἐπαίνετον[40]] Unknown like all the following down to Romans 16:15, but see the note on Ῥοῦφον, Romans 16:13. The traditions of the Fathers made most of them bishops and martyrs (see Justiniani, Comm., and Braun, Sel. sacr. i. 2. 29 ff.), and the Synopsis of Dorotheus places most of them among the seventy disciples. That Epaenetus had come to Rome with Aquila and Prisca (Hofmann), is very precariously conjectured from his being mentioned immediately after that couple.

ἀπαρχὴ τῆς Ἀς. εἰς Χ.] first-fruits of Asia (partitive genitive, see on Romans 8:23) in reference to Christ, i.e. that one of the Asiatics, who had first been converted to Christ.[41]

Ἀς. is the western portion of Asia Minor, as in Acts 2:9; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Corinthians 1:8.

[40] On the accentuation of the name, as well as that of Ἔραστος, ver. 22, see Lipsius, gramm. Unters. p. 30. The name itself is also frequently found in the Greek writers.

[41] With the reading ἀπαρχὴ τῆς Ἀχαΐας it was necessary, in order not to fall into variance with 1 Corinthians 16:15, to take ἀπαρχή as a first-fruit, one of the first converted,—certainly an explanatory makeshift, which weakens greatly the significance of the notice, and by which 1 Cor. l.c. would also be affected. Not less forced would be the combination, by which we should regard Epaenetus as an inmate of Stephanas’ house, who had been converted at the same time with him (Tholuck, yet only permissively, following older interpreters).5. the church that is in their house] Their house at Rome, like their house at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 16:19,) probably contained a large room (like the “Upper Room” at Jerusalem) which was devoted to Divine worship, and used by the Christians of the neighbouring district, who thus formed a “Church,” or assembly, which itself was an organic part of the main “Church at Rome.” No doubt the whole Roman community had a central meeting-chamber, probably of the same kind, (indeed Aquila’s may have been this central chamber,) in which e.g. this Epistle would be read.—Bingham (Antiquities, Bk. VIII. ch. i.) collects the allusions to Christian places of assembly in the first century. He makes it clear that special chambers were set apart for holy uses, but does not make it clear that whole buildings were, in those first days, built for, or devoted to, worship. No doubt the circumstances of society and the inexpediency of obtruding Christian worship on the view of the heathen, made this a natural and wise practice at first. But the existence of Jewish synagogues alone would make it equally natural, in due time, to dedicate whole buildings. By the third century, at latest, this was common.

For similar allusions to church-assemblies under private roofs, see 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2, and perhaps below, Romans 16:14-15.

Epenetus] Strictly, Epænetus: known only from this verse. We may suppose that he was not only the “firstling of Asia” (see below) but St Paul’s own convert, and thus specially “well-beloved” by the Apostle.—Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:15.

Achaia] The better reading is Asia; i.e. Asia in the strict sense, the Roman province of which Ephesus was the capital. See Acts 19:10; Acts 19:22; Acts 19:26-27; Acts 19:31.

unto Christ] i.e. as a convert to Him.Romans 16:5. Κατʼ οἷκον, in the house) When any Christian was the possessor of a spacious mansion, he gave it as a place for meeting together. Hitherto the believers at Rome had neither bishops nor ministers. Therefore they had nothing at that time resembling the papacy. It does not appear that there were more of these house-churches then at Rome; otherwise Paul would have mentioned them also [as he does those in this ch.] Aquila therefore was at Rome, what Gaius was at Corinth, ch. Romans 16:23; although the persecution had particularly pressed upon him, Acts 18:2.—Ἐπαίνετον, Epaenetus) Paul had not hitherto been at Rome, and yet he had many intimate acquaintances there from Asia, or even from Greece, Palestine, Cilicia, Syria. There is no mention here of Linus or Clement, whence we may conclude, that they came to Rome afterwards.—ἀπαρχὴ, first fruits) This is evidently a title of approbation, 1 Corinthians 16:15.—Ἀχαΐας) others have Ἀσίας,[166] and Grotius, along with the British writers quoted by Wolfius approves of it, with whom he says, how far he is correct I know not, that Whitby agrees. D. Hauberus in particular supports Ἀχαΐας, and somewhat too liberally ascribes to the transcribers the same skill in reasoning, for which he himself is remarkable. Bibl. Betracht., Part 3, page 93. See Appendix. crit. Ed. ii., on this passage.

[166] Ἀσίας is the reading of ABCD (corrected later) G Vulg. Memph. fg. Versions. Αχαΐας is only supported by the two Syr. Versions, of very ancient authorities.—ED.The church that is in their house (τῆν κατ' οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλησίαν)

The phrase church that is in their (or his) house occurs 1 Corinthians 16:19, of Aquila and Priscilla; Colossians 4:15, of Nymphas; Plm 1:2, of Philemon. A similar gathering may be implied in Romans 16:14, Romans 16:15. Bishop Lightfoot says there is no clear example of a separate building set apart for christian worship within the limits of the Roman Empire before the third century. The Christian congregations were, therefore, dependent upon the hospitality of prominent church members who furnished their own houses for this purpose. Hence their places of assembly were not called temples until late; but houses of God; houses of the churches; houses of prayer.

Numerous guilds or clubs existed at Rome for furnishing proper burial rites to the poor. Extant inscriptions testify to the existence of nearly eighty of these, each consisting of the members of a different trade or profession, or united in the worship of some deity. The Christians availed themselves of this practice in order to evade Trajan's edict against clubs, which included their own ordinary assemblies, but which made a special exception in favor of associations consisting of poorer members of society, who met to contribute to funeral expenses. This led to the use of the catacombs, or of buildings erected over them for this purpose.

The expression here denotes, not the whole church, but that portion of it which met at Aquila's house.

Epaenetus

A Greek name, meaning praised. It is, however; impossible to infer the nationality from the name with any certainty, since it was common for the Jews to have a second name, which they adopted during their residence in heathen countries. Compare John Mark (Acts 12:12); Justus (Acts 1:23); Niger (Acts 13:1); Crispus (Acts 18:8).

The first fruits of Achaia

The best texts read of Asia. An early convert of the Roman province of Asia. See on Acts 2:9 This is adduced as an argument that this chapter was addressed to Ephesus.

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