Hello, and watch out for troublemakers
Say hello to these folks1 I want to vouch for Phoebe, an associate of mine who serves the church in Cenchrea. 2 When she gets there, be sure to welcome her with all the respect that’s due a fellow believer. Also, give her a hand with anything she may need from you. This woman has been a big help to many people, me included.
3 Would you tell Priscilla and Aquila that I say hello? We once worked together for Christ Jesus. 4 They stuck their necks out for me. For others, too. All the churches where non-Jewish people worship are grateful for this couple.
5 Also send my greetings to the church that meets in their home. And say hello to my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first convert in the province of Asia.
6 Say hello to Mary, who has worked hard for you.
7 Send my greetings to Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who spent time in prison with me. The apostles knew them very well. They became believers in the Messiah before I did. 8 Say hello to Ampliatus, my dear friend and fellow believer in the Lord. 9 Say hi to Urbanus; we’ve worked together for the Messiah. Hi to my dear friend Stachys, too. 10 Say hello to Apelles, a genuine Christian. Also say hello to everyone in the home of Aristobulus. 11 Hi, also, to my relative Herodion. Say hello to followers of our leader who live in the home of Narcissus.
12 Say hello to Tryphena and Tryphosa, both hard workers for our leader. Say hi to my dear friend Persis, another very hard worker for our leader. 13 Say hi to Rufus, an awesome Christian. Say hi to his mom, too. She’s like a mom to me. 14 Hello to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and all the other believers with them. 15 Say hi to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas—and to all the believers with them.
16 Greet each other warmly. All the churches devoted to the Messiah send you their greetings.
Watch out for troublemakers17 Dear family, please watch out for people who start arguments and damage the faith of others. What they’re doing is the opposite of what you have been taught to do. So avoid those people. 18 Those people aren’t doing anything to help our leader, the Messiah. They are helping themselves. They trick gullible people with their flattery and melodious string of words.
19 You have a reputation for obedience. I’m so grateful for you. But I want you to become known, also, as people who are guilty of goodness and innocent of evil. 20 The God who gives us peace is also the God who will soon crush Satan under your feet. May you experience the grace of our leader Jesus.
Others say hello, too.21 Timothy, my associate, sends his greetings to you. So do my relatives Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater.
22 I’m Tertius, and I’m the one writing down this letter. I want to send my greetings as a follower of our leader. 23 Gaius is hosting me in his home. A church meets there, too. He sends his greetings. So does Erastus, the city treasurer, along with our fellow believer Quartus.
Paul’s closing prayer24 May all of you experience the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Absolutely.
25 God is able to make you strong through the good news I’m telling you about and through the preaching of Jesus the Messiah. What you’re hearing is the revelation of a mystery that has been kept secret for a long time. 26 The prophets predicted all of this. It’s written in our Bible. And now the eternal God has commanded us to reveal it so everyone will put their faith in him and obey. 27 And now, because of what Jesus Christ has done, we’re going to praise the only wise God forever. And that’s the truth.
Cenchrea is a small port town near Corinth in Greece.
Asia was a Roman province in what is now central Turkey.
The word for “relatives” here and in 16:11 and 16:21 could also, in the context, mean “fellow Jews.”
See footnote for 16:7.
Paul told the people to greet each other with a “holy kiss.” That would not translate particularly well in many cultures today. Though some cultures do greet each other with a polite kiss on the cheek, others greet each other with a handshake or a hug. Some might rub their knuckles in the top of the head of a friend with a short haircut. But that’s not usually warmly received.
Paul seems to be referring back to the story of Adam and Eve and a snake in the Garden of Eden. In later Jewish tradition, the snake came to represent Satan (Revelation 12:9). God tells the snake, “You and the woman will hate each other… Her son will stomp your head into the ground” (Genesis 3:15).
“Grace” sounds like a vague word that’s hard to define. In fact, it’s a specific word that can be hard to define: charis. When Bible writers use it to describe God’s expression of grace to people, the word comes in different shades: mercy, kindness, love. We have to look for context clues if we want to understand how the writer used the word. One interpretation of God’s grace is this: “Grace is God accepting us the way we are and exactly where we are in our lives, yet it’s also his unwillingness to leave us there.” That may cover all the shades of “grace.” We should probably add that Paul says we can’t earn the right to any of it (Romans 9:16). In the Casual English Bible, we typically substitute “kindness” for “grace,” because the word “kindness” is more easily grasped and is a key feature of grace. But in Paul’s letter to Romans, we go back to “grace” because this is Paul’s greatest surviving work and the most theological. Some scholars describe this letter as the first thorough work of Christian theology. If you can handle Romans, you can wrap your welcoming arms around God’s grace.
See footnote for 16:7.
Some ancient copies of this letter don’t include this verse.
As you read through Paul’s list of greetings to people, in Romans 16:1-16, what do you learn about him?
Many Bible experts consider Romans the best of Paul’s writings. Many Christians know that. But they don’t know about the little surprise in Romans 16:22, “I’m Tertius, and I’m the one writing this letter.” Does it matter that Paul wasn’t actually the one who wrote this letter?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul tells Christians in Rome to “please watch out for people who start arguments and damage the faith of others” (16:17). What kind of problems have you seen erupt in the church that actually damaged the faith of people?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says the best way to deal with troublemakers in the church is to “avoid those people” (16:17). How do we go about avoiding people in the church like that?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul tells the people of Rome that he is grateful for the reputation they have for obeying God. But he adds, “I want you to become known, also, as people who are guilty of goodness and innocent of evil” (16:19). What kind of reputation do you think Christians, in general, have? Not only among people outside the faith, but even among Christians themselves.