16:1 Phebe. Phebe is the first of thirty-five personal names mentioned in this last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, most of whom are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. The reason why so much apparently personal information was included in the Scriptures by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is probably to illustrate the Spirit’s concern with individuals. The names of all the redeemed are written in God’s book in heaven (Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3); as a token of this fact, the names of some of these saints are written in God’s book on earth.
16:1 servant. The Greek here is diakonos, usually translated as “deacon.” Evidently, Phebe was a deaconess of the Cenchrean church. Almost certainly it was she who carried Paul’s epistle from Cenchrea, the seaport of Corinth, to Rome, for Paul.
16:3 Priscilla and Aquila. Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila at Corinth (Acts 18:1-2), but they had originally come from Rome, and apparently had gone back to Rome and were there at the time Paul wrote his letter.
16:7 kinsmen. Not only Andronicus and Junia, but also Herodion (Romans 16:11), Jason and Sosipater (Romans 16:21) are said to be Paul’s “kinsmen.” Although the word normally refers to blood relatives, it can be extended to include fellow countrymen.
16:16 holy kiss. The holy kiss was an oriental form of friendly greeting, which was adapted by the early church to indicate Christian love, with men so greeting the men, and women the women.
16:17 divisions and offences. These two problem areas mean literally “dissension and scandal” (the Greek for “offenses” is skandalon). These would be caused by deviations from sound Biblical doctrine and behavior, respectively. The church has been under attack by Satan with these two weapons ever since its beginning (note Romans 16:20), and Paul was warning the Roman Christians to watch out for these before they appeared (note also Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:27-31).
16:18 fair speeches. Those who promote doctrinal tangents or worldly morality in the church often have charismatic personalities and are attractive in speech, able to “beguile” (more accurate connotation than “deceive”) those who are naive in their attitude toward Scripture and toward smooth-talking teachings. Christians need to learn to test all teaching by Scripture, taken in full context with other Scripture. Note Isaiah 8:20 and Acts 17:11.
16:20 bruise Satan under your feet. There is a clear allusion here to the primeval promise of Genesis 3:15, anticipating the final victory of Christ over Satan, when the Seed of the woman will crush the head of that old serpent (Revelation 20:2,10). In the meantime, believers, who also in a sense are the woman’s seed (Revelation 12:17), can achieve local victories over Satan and his wiles by resisting him “steadfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:9). If we resist him with Scripture, as Jesus did, testing and refuting his enticements therewith (Matthew 4:4,7,10), then he will “flee from you” (James 4:7), just as he did from Jesus “for a season” (Luke 4:13). Such local victories can be obtained over these dangerous teachers shortly in this manner, but we need to be continually alert to recurrent attacks. The ultimate victory over Satan will be won only by the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns.
16:20 Amen. There are three “amens” pronounced by Paul as he tries to bring his Roman epistle to a close (Romans 16:20,24,27). There had already been another “amen” at the end of Romans 15.
16:21 Timotheus. Timothy had joined Paul while he was in Corinth, and apparently was still with him when he wrote the Roman letter.
16:22 Tertius. Tertius evidently was Paul’s secretary, to whom Paul had dictated his epistle. Paul was apparently almost blind (note Galatians 4:13-15), and hence needed someone to render this service.
16:24 grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul closes each of his epistles (including Hebrews) with a prayer that God’s grace in Christ should be with those who would read them.
16:25 since the world began. Our word “mystery” comes from the Greek musterion, which referred to the secrets imparted only to initiates in the famous “mystery religions” of ancient Greece. Paul used the word some twenty times in his epistles, adapting this concept to the great purposes of God for His creation, planned before the foundation of the world but only revealed to His initiates, as it were, in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4). The gospel of Christ, revealed in its completeness to Paul (Galatians 1:11,12), had been foreshadowed in many ways through the prophets, but finally became reality in human experience, when God became man, in Christ. Note also such passages as Ephesians 3:1-11 and Colossians 1:24-27.
16:26 scriptures of the prophets. In developing the great doctrines of the gospel, here in his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul did so within the prophetic framework of the Old Testament Scriptures, which he regarded as the inspired and authoritative Word of God. In this one epistle alone, he quoted from the Old Testament, directly or indirectly, at least fifty times, in support of his arguments and expositions.
16:26 everlasting God. Part of the essence of the now-revealed mystery of the gospel is that the God of creation is, indeed, the everlasting God, concerned with “all nations,” and that any can be saved by “the obedience of faith” (the same phrase is found in Romans 1:5).
16:27 God only wise. See also I Timothy 1:17 and Jude 25. God is “only wise,” the only omniscient and only omnipotent one, knowing and planning and implementing all things, to accomplish His purpose in creating all things.