Romans 16 – Commendations and Greetings & The Erastus Inscription

This is the last chapter of the Book of Romans so tomorrow we’ll start with…

Romans 16
Commendations and Greetings

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

“Cenchrea” – a port located about 6 miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf.

2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

“Priscilla and Aquila” – close friends of Paul who worked in the same trade of tent making.

4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

Cenchrea was the port for Corinth on the eastern side of the isthmus, and remains of the ancient harbor are visible in the water today.

Paul had his hair cut here because of a vow, and then set sail from the harbor, concluding his 18-month stay in Corinth (on his second journey; Acts 18:18).

5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia unto Christ.

6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us.

7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.

9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household.

“Aristobulus” – perhaps refers to the grandson of Herod the Great and brother of Herod Agrippa I.

11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.

12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which labored much in the Lord.

“Tryphena and Tryphosa” perhaps sisters, even twins, because it was common for such persons to be given names from the same root.

Corinth, or Korinth was a city-state (polis) on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta.

The modern town of Corinth is located approximately 3.1 mies northeast of the ancient ruins.

Since 1896, systematic archaeological investigations of the Corinth Excavations by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens have revealed large parts of the ancient city, and recent excavations conducted by the Greek Ministry of Culture have brought important new facets of antiquity to light.

“Persis” – Persian woman.

13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.

15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.

16 Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

16:17-20 – a theological application of the story o0f man’s fall (Gen 3).

“Them which cause divisions and offenses” – Paul is not specifically speaking of certain people, but anyone that preaches anything contrary to Jesus Christ. 

This includes religions that say their faith is in Jesus, but alters His teachings, such as the Catholics do.

18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Corinth today is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece.
Located about 48 miles southwest of Athens, Corinth is surrounded by the coastal townlets of (clockwise) Lechaio, Isthmia, Kechries, and the inland townlets of Examilia and the archaeological site and village of ancient Corinth.

22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.

“Gaius” – usually identified with Titius Justus, a God-fearer, in whose house Paul stayed while in Corinth.

“Eratus” – at Corinth archaeologists have discovered a reused block of stone in a paved square with the Latin inscription” “Eratus, commissioner of public works, bore the expense of this pavement.”

24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

The Erastus Inscription

Erastus was a 1st century Christian who worked with Paul. The earliest mention of him is in Acts 19:22.  Paul, at Ephesus on his third missionary journey around 53-55 A.D., “sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia.”

In 1929, among the excavated ruins of ancient Corinth was discovered an inscription on a marble paving stone bearing the name of Erastus.
The inscription read: ERASTVS. PRO. AED. S. P. STRAVIT, which is an abbreviation of ERASTUS PRO AEDILITATE SUA PECUNIA STRAVIT.

The inscription translates as “Erastus, in return for his aedileship, laid this pavement at his own expense.” The office of aedilis was the commissioner of public works and, for this reason, a high ranking public offical belonging to the Roman ruling class in a city.

Then, in Rom 16:23, Paul wrote (probably from Corinth around the year 57) that “Erastus, who [was] the city’s director of public works,” sent greetings.

Finally, in 2 Tim 4:20, when Paul was writing from prison in Rome toward the end of his life (around 66-67), he gave a status report on his coworkers, including the statement that “Erastus stayed in Corinth.”

It appears that Erastus was a resident of Corinth and, if so, most likely became a believer as a result of Paul’s 18-month ministry in that city on his second missionary journey, around 50-52 A.D.

In 1929 an inscription was discovered at Corinth mentioning an Erastus who may have been the same one referred to in the New Testament.  Located in a paved area northeast of the theater and dated to the mid-1st century A.D., it reads:

“Erastus in return for his aedileship laid [the pavement] at his own expense.”

An aedile, an elected official, was a city business manager responsible for such property as streets, public buildings and markets, as well as for the revenue gleaned from them. 

He was also a judge who decided most of the city’s commercial and financial litigation. In addition, an aedile was responsible for the public games taking place within a city.

Thus, Paul’s term “director of public works” in Romans 16:23 probably describes Erastus’s position as an aedile. Some have argued that since the Greek word Paul used, oikonomos, may not have been the exact equivalent of the Latin aedile.

Erastus may have held a lower position at the time of Paul’s writing. On the other hand, it is possible that Paul first encountered Erastus while he was discharging his fiscal responsibilities and thus perceived him primarily in this role.

Also, Corinth was distinctive in that the games there were run not by the aedile but by a different set of officials.

Thus, the aedile at Corinth basically functioned as a city treasurer (the rendering used in some translations, such as the NASB).

…the Book of 1 Corinthians.