Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

By J. Patout Burns Jr.; Constantine Newman | Go to book overview

Romans 16

The final chapter of the letter is largely dedicated to greetings, along with statements of praise and a final prayer or blessing. Origen and Ambrosiaster remark that the text calls Phoebe a minister of the church; Chrysostom explains that Paul prevented women from teaching but only in the assembly.

Origen finds a number of instances in which a figurative interpretation is necessary: Epaenetus as the firstfruits of Asia, the captivity Paul shared with Andronicus and Junias, that the name Satan can be applied not to an individual but to force contrary to the gospel, and how Paul is related to Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater.

Origen, Ambrosiaster, and Augustine discover dogmatic issues in the final blessing.


Romans 16:1-2

1I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, 2that
you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may
require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well
.


(1) Origen on verses 1-2

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may receive her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has helped many and myself as well. This passage teaches us, with apostolic authority, that women were appointed to the ministry of the church. Paul describes Phoebe, who held office in the church of Cenchreae, with great praise and commendation. He lists her outstanding deeds and says, she has helped many, ready whenever they were in difficulty, and myself as well, in my troubles and my apostolic labors, with full devotion. I would compare her work to that of Lot; because he always offered hospitality, he merited to receive angels as guests. Similarly Abraham, who always went out to meet strangers, merited that the Lord and his angels would stop and rest in his tent. In the same way, Phoebe, since she offered and provided assistance to everyone, merited to become a benefactor of the Apostle. This passage provides two lessons:

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Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church’s Bible i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Interpreting the New Testament xiii
  • An Introduction to Romans xxiii
  • Preface to Romans 1
  • Romans 1 13
  • Romans 2 37
  • Romans 3 61
  • Romans 4 83
  • Romans 5 102
  • Romans 6 132
  • Romans 7 154
  • Romans 8 182
  • Romans 9 217
  • Romans 10 245
  • Romans 11 260
  • Romans 12 289
  • Romans 13 314
  • Romans 14 334
  • Romans 15 359
  • Romans 16 381
  • Appendix 1- Authors of Works Excerpted 394
  • Appendix 2- Sources of Texts Translated 396
  • Index of Names 414
  • Index of Subjects 417
  • Index of Scripture References 422
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