I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the assembly that is at Cenchreae, 2 that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self (Romans 16:1-2, WEB).
In the last chapter, the Apostle Paul exhorts believers in Rome to take care of Phoebe, who is a sister and servant of Christ. Paul encourages his readers to receive her in the Lord, in a way that is worthy of the saints, and that they assist her in whatever matter she may need. This is an incredible description of how the Apostle Paul treated women.
He was far from being a chauvinist like some theologians might assert; rather, Paul was gracious, kind, and sympathetic towards all people, both to the Jews and Gentiles, as well as males and females. Paul backs up his statement with “all are in Christ” as equals just by the tone of this epistle written to the church at Rome.
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the assemblies of the Gentiles. 5 Greet the assembly that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles, who were also in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet them of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Greet Persis, the beloved, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The assemblies of Christ greet you.
Furthermore, Paul is giving accolades and praises to those who are fellow workers in Christ. He calls each of them by name and tells believers in Rome to embrace and greet them with love and respect. The end of this letter, where Paul is making sure to uplift all the people in Christian ministry, is a sure sign of his apostleship.
Paul demonstrates his great leadership, not always by his theological treatises, but how he treats people in this letter. I think this last chapter is a significant piece for understanding the personality of Paul more than just his theological convictions.
17 Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For those who are such don’t serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. I rejoice therefore over you. But I desire to have you wise in that which is good, but innocent in that which is evil. 20 And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.
In Paul’s final words, he warns believers to watch out for individuals that try to cause division. The apostle is concerned with the unity of the faith. He desires that all who are in Christ emulate the spirit of peace.
In Romans 12:18 he says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Consequently, Paul warns them about those who are trying to cause division so they won’t fall prey to this temptation.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I, Tertius, who write the letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, my host and host of the whole assembly, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, as does Quartus, the brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen. 25
Tertius was a scribe who would write for the Apostle Paul. Paul would communicate with him in order to transcribe his thoughts into writing. Moreover, Timothy was Paul’s partner in the gospel ministry. He was from Asia Minor, born of a Jewish mother who became a Christian believer. The Apostle Paul met Timothy during his second missionary journey, and then Timothy became Paul’s companion along with Silas.
The Apostle Paul ends his letters with: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.” This statement truly reflects the whole mission and goal of the Christian life: To share the grace of Christ with the whole world. As believers, it should be our goal, just like Paul, to spread God’s love and grace to a world in dire need of Him. Amen.
Commentary written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)