Commentary on Romans 16:21-23

Notes (NET Translation)

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my compatriots.

Those mentioned in verses 21-23 are in Corinth with Paul. Timothy is one of Paul’s chief coworkers. Lucius might be Lucius the Cyrene, a prophet/teacher at Syrian Antioch (Acts 13:1-3), or Luke the physician (Col 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11; Phlm 24), the traditional author of Luke-Acts. Neither identification is particularly likely. This Lucius is a fellow Jew but Luke the physician was probably a Gentile (Col 4:10-14). Jason is probably the Jason who gave hospitality to Paul during his brief and tumultuous stay in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-9). Sosipater is most likely the Sopater (a variant of Sosipater) from Berea who accompanied Paul when he left Greece near the end of the third missionary journey (Acts 20:4). Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater were fellow Jews (“compatriots”). They may have been delegates from the Pauline churches selected to escort the collection to the poor saints in Jerusalem.

22 I, Tertius, who am writing this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Tertius is the scribe writing the letter for Paul. His greeting “in the Lord” indicates he was a Christian.

23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus the city treasurer and our brother Quartus greet you.

Three different men in the NT bear the popular name Gaius: Gaius of Derbe (Acts 19:29; 20:4), Gaius of Corinth (1 Cor 1:14), and Gaius of Asia Minor (3 John 1). Since Paul is writing this letter from Corinth we should identify this Gaius with the one in 1 Cor 1:14. It is not clear whether this Gaius was the host of the entire church of Corinth or the host of any Christian from the global church who might pass through Corinth. If he could host the entire church of Corinth he had enough wealth to own a large house. Keener, Moo, and Schreiner all raise the possibility that Gaius’s full name was Gaius Titius Justus and that this individual gave Paul lodging on the apostle’s first stay in Corinth (Acts 18:7).

We don’t know if this Erastus is also mentioned in Acts 19:22 or 2 Tim 4:20. Excavations in Corinth in 1929 discovered a pavement with the inscription, “Erastus, curator of public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense.” This pavement was found east of the stage building of the theatre and probably existed in the first century AD. In the Latin of the inscription Erastus is called an aedile (a step below the two ruling magistrates). The Greek word oikonomos used by Paul to describe Erastus was one of the Greek terms used to translate the Latin title aedile, but it could also refer to low-ranking public slaves. It is also possible that Erastus was an aedile at one time and a treasurer/manager at another time. The Erastus of Rom 16:23 is possibly the Erastus of the pavement inscription. If this identification is correct then at least one Christian in Corinth was a person of high political standing.

Bibliography

Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 6th Kindle Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981. Kindle Locations 1066-1069.

Keener, Craig S. Romans. New Covenant Commentary 6. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2009.

Kruse, Colin G. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.

Metzger, Bruce M., ed. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Second Edition. Hendrickson Pub, 2005.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 1998.

Witherington III, Ben, and Darlene Hyatt. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.

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