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Volume 31 - Page 140 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
Perhaps the fact that the Apostle was to lay down his life for Christ's sake, together with
the fact that Priscilla and Aquila had laid down their own necks for his sake, may provide
the reason why this more intimate name came to the surface in these two passages. Every
reader of these lines should feel indebted to these two faithful believers, for in verse 4 we
"Unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Rom. 16: 4).
The salutation to the "church that is in their house" seems to indicate that this
hospitable couple had dedicated their home to the Lord, and this is confirmed in
Acts 18: where we read that both Paul and Apollos profited by their welcome, when
they had been forced out of Rome and abode for the time at Corinth (Acts 18: 1, 2, 26).
Moreover, when they lived for a while in Ephesus we again find that there was a church
in their house (I Cor. 16: 19).
From verse 5 onwards a number of believers are mentioned of whom nothing more is
known. The Apostle's regard for the good name of a sister in Christ is illustrated by the
reserve with which he uses endearing titles. Speaking of a brother in the Lord he says
"my beloved" (verse 9), but when giving the same title to a sister he says "the beloved
Persis" (verse 12). We get a very homely touch in the following verse where the Apostle
writes: "Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine." No details are
added, but one can well imagine the lonely Apostle, without wife, sister or mother,
travel-worn and weary, finding a Bethel in the home of Rufus and his mother.
Andronicus and Junia are said to be not only "kinsmen", but also "of note among the
apostles". There is no difficulty about this phrase, if we remember that the "apostles"
were not limited to the "twelve". Barnabas (Acts 14: 4, 14), Sylvanus and Timothy
(I Thess. 1: 1, 2: 6), Apollos (I Cor. 4: 6-9), and Epaphroditus (Phil. 2: 25) all appear
to have held this office, besides others who are not named (II Cor. 8: 23).
It is of great interest to learn that quite recently an Italian market-gardener laid bare a
little cemetery, with a number of head stones bearing the names Urbanus, Stachys,
Tryphena, Amplias, Philologus, Julius and Hermas. Every one of these appears in
Rom. 16:, and there can be no doubt that these were the very people mentioned by the
Apostle. Lightfoot, in his note on the reference to the "saints in Cæsar's household" in
Philippians, has shown that many of these names were well known at the Roman court.
Amplias and Urbanus are mentioned several times. Stachys is rare, but there is a record
of a man of this name who held office at about the time when Paul wrote. Apelles
(verse 10) was a name belonging to the Imperial household. Aristobulus, mentioned in
the same verse, was the grandson of Herod the Great, and slaves belonging to him would
be designated Aristobuliani, or as Paul puts it, hoi ek ton Aristoboulon (Rom. 16: 10).
Herodian, a fellow-countryman of the Apostle, is mentioned immediately after this
household of Herod's grandson.
The name Narcissus was a fairly common one, but the close proximity of the
household of Narcissus to that of Aristobulus (verses 10 and 11) makes it probable that
the Apostle is referring to a powerful freedman Narcissus, whose wealth was proverbial