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Romans 16:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church that is at Cenchreae:
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— I commend to you Phebe our sister, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— But I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is minister of the assembly which is in Cenchrea;
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And I commend to you Phoebe our sister,—being a minister [also] of the assembly which is in Cenchreae;
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And I commend you to Phebe our sister—being a ministrant of the assembly that [is] in Cenchrea—
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And I commend to you Phebe, our sister, who is in the ministry of the church, that is in Cenchrae:
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— I commend vnto you Phebe our sister, which is a seruant of the Church which is at Cenchrea:
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— I COMMEND to you Phebe our sister, who is a deaconess of the church of Kancreos,
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— And I commend to you Phebe, our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea:

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
1161
{1161} Prime
δέ
de
{deh}
A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.
I commend 4921
{4921} Prime
συνιστάω
sunistao
{soon-is-tah'-o}
From G4862 and G2476 (including its collateral forms); to set together, that is, (by implication) to introduce (favorably), or (figuratively) to exhibit; intransitively to stand near, or (figuratively) to constitute.
z5719
<5719> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 3019
unto you 5213
{5213} Prime
ὑμῖν
humin
{hoo-min'}
Irregular dative case of G5210; to (with or by) you.
Phebe 5402
{5402} Prime
Φοίβη
Phoibe
{foy'-bay}
Feminine of Φοῖβος [[phoibos]] (bright; probably akin to the base of G5457); Phaebe, a Christian woman.
our 2257
{2257} Prime
ἡμῶν
hemon
{hay-mone'}
Genitive plural of G1473; of (or from) us.
sister, 79
{0079} Prime
ἀδελφή
adelphe
{ad-el-fay'}
Feminine of G0080; a sister (natural or ecclesiastical).
which is 5607
{5607} Prime
ὤν
on
{oan}
The feminine, the neuter and the present participle of G1510; being.
z5752
<5752> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - No Voice Stated (See G5799)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 186
a servant 1249
{1249} Prime
διάκονος
diakonos
{dee-ak'-on-os}
Probably from διάκω [[diako]] (obsolete, to run on errands; compare G1377); an attendant, that is, (generally) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specifically a Christian teacher and pastor (technically a deacon or deaconess).
of the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
church 1577
{1577} Prime
ἐκκλησία
ekklesia
{ek-klay-see'-ah}
From a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564; a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both).
which 3588
{3588} Prime

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
is at 1722
{1722} Prime
ἐν
en
{en}
A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest (intermediate between G1519 and G1537); 'in', at, (up-) on, by, etc.
Cenchrea: 2747
{2747} Prime
Κεγχρεαί
Kegchreai
{keng-khreh-a'-hee}
Probably from κέγχρος [[kegchros]] (millet); Cenchreae, a port of Corinth.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Romans 16:1

_ _ Romans 16:1-27. Conclusion, embracing sundry salutations and directions, and a closing prayer.

_ _ I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant — or “deaconess”

_ _ of the church which is at Cenchrea — The word is “Cenchreae,” the eastern part of Corinth (Acts 18:18). That in the earliest churches there were deaconesses, to attend to the wants of the female members, there is no good reason to doubt. So early at least as the reign of Trajan, we learn from Pliny’s celebrated letter to that emperor — a.d. 110, or 111 — that they existed in the Eastern churches. Indeed, from the relation in which the sexes then stood to each other, something of this sort would seem to have been a necessity. Modern attempts, however, to revive this office have seldom found favor; either from the altered state of society, or the abuse of the office, or both.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Romans 16:1-16

_ _ Such remembrances as these are usual in letters between friends; and yet Paul, by the savouriness of his expressions, sanctifies these common compliments.

_ _ I. Here is the recommendation of a friend, by whom (as some think) this epistle was sent — one Phebe, Romans 16:1, Romans 16:2. It should seem that she was a person of quality and estate, who had business which called her to Rome, where she was a stranger; and therefore Paul recommends her to the acquaintance of the Christians there: an expression of his true friendship to her. Paul was as well skilled in the art of obliging as most men. True religion, rightly received, never made any man uncivil. Courtesy and Christianity agree well together. It is not in compliment to her, but in sincerity, that,

_ _ 1. He gives a very good character of her. (1.) As a sister to Paul: Phebe our sister; not in nature, but in grace; not in affinity or consanguinity, but in pure Christianity: his own sister in the faith of Christ, loving Paul, and beloved of him, with a pure and chaste and spiritual love, as a sister; for there is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:28. Both Christ and his apostles had some of their best friends among the devout (and upon that account honourable) women. (2.) As a servant to the church at Cenchrea: diakonon, a servant by office, a stated servant, not to preach the word (that was forbidden to women), but in acts of charity and hospitality. Some think she was one of the widows that ministered to the sick and were taken into the church's number, 1 Timothy 5:9. But those were old and poor, whereas Phebe seems to have been a person of some account; and yet it was no disparagement to her to be a servant to the church. Probably they used to meet at her house, and she undertook the care of entertaining the ministers, especially strangers. Every one in his place should strive to serve the church, for therein he serves Christ, and it will turn to a good account another day. Cenchrea was a small sea-port town adjoining to Corinth, about twelve furlongs distant. Some think there was a church there, distinct from that at Corinth, though, being so near, it is very probable that the church of Corinth is called the church of Cenchrea, because their place of meeting might be there, on account of the great opposition to them in the city (Acts 18:12), as at Philippi they met out of the city by the water-side, Acts 16:13. So the reformed church of Paris might be called the church at Charenton, where they formerly met, out of the city. (3.) As a succourer of many, and particularly of Paul, Romans 16:2. She relieved many that were in want and distress — a good copy for women to write after that have ability. she was kind to those that needed kindness, intimated in her succouring them; and her bounty was extensive, she was a succourer of many. Observe the gratitude of Paul in mentioning her particular kindness to him: And to myself also. Acknowledgment of favours is the least return we can make. It was much to her honour that Paul left this upon record; for wherever this epistle is read her kindness to Paul is told for a memorial of her.

_ _ 2. He recommends her to their care and kindness, as one worthy to be taken notice of with peculiar respect. (1.) “Receive her in the Lord. Entertain her; bid her welcome.” This pass, under Paul's hand, could not but recommend her to any Christian church. “Receive her in the Lord,” that is, “for the Lord's sake; receive her as a servant and friend of Christ.” As it becometh saints to receive, who love Christ, and therefore love all that are his for his sake; or, as becometh saints to be received, with love and honour and the tenderest affection. There may be occasion sometimes to improve our interest in our friends, not only for ourselves, but for others also, interest being a price in the hand for doing good. (2.) Assist her in whatsoever business she has need of you. Whether she had business of trade, or law-business at the court, is not material; however being a woman, a stranger, a Christian, she had need of help: and Paul engaged them to be assistant to her. It becomes Christians to be helpful one to another in their affairs, especially to be helpful to strangers; for we are members one of another and we know not what need of help we may have ourselves. Observe, Paul bespeaks help for one that had been so helpful to many; he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

_ _ II. Here are commendations to some particular friends among those to whom he wrote, more than in any other of the epistles. Though the care of all the churches came upon Paul daily, enough to distract an ordinary head, yet he could retain the remembrance of so many; and his heart was so full of love and affection as to send salutations to each of them with particular characters of them, and expressions of love to them and concern for them. Greet them, salute them; it is the same word, aspasasthe. “Let them know that I remember them, and love them, and wish them well.” There is something observable in several of these salutations.

_ _ 1. Concerning Aquila and Priscilla, a famous couple, that Paul had a special kindness for. They were originally of Rome, but were banished thence by the edict of Claudius, Acts 18:2. At Corinth, Paul became acquainted with them, wrought with them at the trade of tent-making; after some time, when the edge of that edict was rebated, they returned to Rome, and thither he now sends commendations to them. He calls them his helpers in Christ Jesus, by private instructions and converse furthering the success of Paul's public preaching, one instance of which we have in their instructing Apollos, Acts 18:26. Those are helpers to faithful ministers that lay out themselves in their families and among their neighbours to do good to souls. Nay, they did not only do much, but they ventured much, for Paul: They have for my life laid down their own necks. They exposed themselves to secure Paul, hazarded their own lives for the preservation of his, considering how much better they might be spared than he. Paul was in a great deal of danger at Corinth, while he sojourned with them; but they sheltered him, though they thereby made themselves obnoxious to the enraged multitudes, Acts 18:12, Acts 18:17. It was a good while ago that they had done Paul this kindness; and yet he speaks as feelingly of it as if it had been but yesterday. To whom (says he) not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; who were all beholden to these good people for helping to save the life of him that was the apostle of the Gentiles. Paul mentions this, to engage the Christians at Rome to be the more kind to Aquila and Priscilla. He sends likewise greeting to the church in their house, Romans 16:5. It seems then, a church in a house is no such absurd thing as some make it to be. Perhaps there was a congregation of Christians that used to meet at their house at stated times; and then, no doubt, it was, like the house of Obed-Edom, blessed for the ark's sake. Others think that the church was no more than a religious, pious, well-governed family, that kept up the worship of God. Religion, in the power of it, reigning in a family, will turn a house into a church. And doubtless it had a good influence upon this that Priscilla the good wife of the family was so very eminent and forward in religion, so eminent that she is often named first. A virtuous woman, that looks well to the ways of her household, may do much towards the advancement of religion in a family. When Priscilla and Aquila were at Ephesus, though but sojourners there, yet there also they had a church in their house, 1 Corinthians 16:19. A truly godly man will be careful to take religion along with him wherever he goes. When Abraham removed his tent, he renewed his altar, Genesis 13:18.

_ _ 2. Concerning Epenetus, Romans 16:5. He calls him his well-beloved. Where the law of love is in the heart the law of kindness will be in the tongue. Endearing language should pass among Christians to express love, and to engage love. So he calls Amplias, beloved in the Lord, with true Christian love for Christ's sake; and Stachys, his beloved: a sign that Paul had been in the third heaven, he was so much made up of love. Of Epenetus it is further said that he was the first-fruit of Achaia unto Christ; not only one of the most eminent believers in that country, but one of the first that was converted to the faith of Christ: one that was offered up to God by Paul, as the first-fruits of his ministry there; an earnest of a great harvest; for in Corinth, the chief city of Achaia, God had much people, Acts 18:10. Special respect is to be paid to those that set out early, and come to work in the vineyard at the first hour, at the first call. The household of Stephanas is likewise said to be the first-fruits of Achaia, 1 Corinthians 16:15. Perhaps Epenetus was one of that household; or, at least, he was one of the first three; not the first alone, but one of the first fleece of Christians, that the region of Achaia afforded.

_ _ 3. Concerning Mary, and some others who were laborious in that which is good, industrious Christians: Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. True love never sticks at labour, but rather takes a pleasure in it; where there is much love there will be much labour. Some think this Mary had been at some of those places where Paul was, though now removed to Rome, and had personally ministered to him; others think Paul speaks of her labour as bestowed upon him because it was bestowed upon his friends and fellow-labourers, and he took what was done to them as done to himself. He says of Tryphena and Tryphosa, two useful women in their places, that they laboured in the Lord (Romans 16:12), and of the beloved Persis, another good woman, that she laboured much in the Lord, more than others, abounding more in the work of the Lord.

_ _ 4. Concerning Andronicus and Junia, Romans 16:7. Some take them for a man and his wife, and the original will well enough bear it; and, considering the name of the latter, this is more probable than that they should be two men, as others think, and brethren. Observe, (1.) They were Paul's cousins, akin to him; so was Herodion, Romans 16:11. Religion does not take away, but rectifies, sanctifies, and improves, our respect to our kindred, engaging us to lay out ourselves most for their good, and to rejoice in them the more, when we find them related to Christ by faith. (2.) They were his fellow-prisoners. Partnership in suffering sometimes does much towards the union of souls and the knitting of affections. We do not find in the story of the Acts any imprisonment of Paul before the writing of this epistle, but that at Philippi, Acts 16:23. But Paul was in prisons more frequent (2 Corinthians 11:23), in some of which, it seems, he met with his friends Andronicus and Junia, yoke-fellows, as in other things, so in suffering for Christ and bearing his yoke. (3.) They were of note among the apostles, not so much perhaps because they were persons of estate and quality in the world as because they were eminent for knowledge, and gifts, and graces, which made them famous among the apostles, who were competent judges of those things, and were endued with a spirit of discerning not only the sincerity, but the eminency, of Christians. (4.) Who also were in Christ before me, that is, were converted to the Christian faith. In time they had the start of Paul, though he was converted the next year after Christ's ascension. How ready was Paul to acknowledge in others any kind of precedency!

_ _ 5. Concerning Apelles, who is here said to be approved in Christ (Romans 16:10), a high character! He was one of known integrity and sincerity in his religion, one that had been tried; his friends and enemies had tried him, and he was as gold. he was of approved knowledge and judgment, approved courage and constancy; a man that one might trust and repose a confidence in.

_ _ 6. Concerning Aristobulus and Narcissus; notice is taken of their household, Romans 16:10, Romans 16:11. Those of their household who are in the Lord (as it is limited, Romans 16:11), that were Christians. How studious was Paul to leave none out of his salutations that he had any knowledge of or acquaintance with! Aristobulus and Narcissus themselves, some think, were absent, or lately dead; others think they were unbelievers, and such as did not themselves embrace Christianity; so Pareus: and some think this Narcissus was the same with one of that name who is frequently mentioned in the life of Claudius, as a very rich man that had a great family, but was very wicked and mischievous. It seems, then, there were some good servants, or other retainers, even in the family of a wicked man, a common case, 1 Timothy 6:1. Compare 1 Timothy 6:2. The poor servant is called, and chosen, and faithful, while the rich master is passed by, and left to perish in unbelief. Even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee.

_ _ 7. Concerning Rufus (Romans 16:13), chosen in the Lord. He was a choice Christian, whose gifts and graces evinced that he was eternally chosen in Christ Jesus. He was one of a thousand for integrity and holiness. — And his mother and mine, his mother by nature and mine by Christian love and spiritual affection; as he calls Phebe his sister, and teaches Timothy to treat the elder women as mothers, 1 Timothy 5:2. This good woman, upon some occasion or other, had been as a mother to Paul, in caring for him, and comforting him; and Paul here gratefully owns it, and calls her mother.

_ _ 8. Concerning the rest this is observable, that he salutes the brethren who are with them (Romans 16:14), and the saints who are with them (Romans 16:15), with them in family-relations, with them in the bond of Christian communion. It is the good property of saints to delight in being together; and Paul thus joins them together in his salutations to endear them one to another. Lest any should find themselves aggrieved, as if Paul had forgotten them, he concludes with the remembrance of the rest, as brethren and saints, though not named. In Christian congregations there should be smaller societies linked together in love and converse, and taking opportunities of being often together. Among all those to whom Paul sends greeting here is not a word of Peter, which gives occasion to suspect that he was not bishop of Rome, as the Papists say he was; for, if he was, we cannot but suppose him resident, or at least how could Paul write so long an epistle to the Christians there, and take no notice of him?

_ _ Lastly, He concludes with the recommendation of them to the love and embraces one of another: Salute one another with a holy kiss. Mutual salutations, as they express love, so they increase and strengthen love, and endear Christians one to another: therefore Paul here encourages the use of them, and only directs that they may be holy — a chaste kiss, in opposition to that which is wanton and lascivious; a sincere kiss, in opposition to that which is treacherous and dissembling, as Judas's, when he betrayed Christ with a kiss. He adds, in the close, a general salutation to them all, in the name of the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16): “The churches of Christ salute you; that is, the churches which I am with, and which I am accustomed to visit personally, as knit together in the bonds of the common Christianity, desire me to testify their affection to you and good wishes for you.” This is one way of maintaining the communion of saints.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Romans 16:1

I commend unto you Phebe — The bearer of this letter. A servant — The Greek word is a deaconness. Of the church in Cenchrea — In the apostolic age, some grave and pious women were appointed deaconnesses in every church. It was their office, not to teach publicly, but to visit the sick, the women in particular, and to minister to them both in their temporal and spiritual necessities.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Romans 16:1

I (1) commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:

(1) Having made an end of the whole discussion, he comes now to familiar commendations and salutations, and that to good consideration and purpose, that is, that the Romans might know who are most to be honoured and to be considered among them: and also whom they ought to set before them to follow: and therefore he attributes to every of them individual and singular testimonies.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
commend:

2 Corinthians 3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some [others], epistles of commendation to you, or [letters] of commendation from you?

our:

Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
1 Timothy 5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
1 Peter 1:22-23 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: ... Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

a servant:

Luke 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
1 Timothy 5:9-10 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, ... Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

Cenchrea:

Acts 18:18 And Paul [after this] tarried [there] yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn [his] head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
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Mt 12:50. Mk 10:30. Lk 8:3. Ac 18:18. 2Co 3:1. 1Ti 5:2, 9. Jm 2:15. 1P 1:22.

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