Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Romans 16:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They - serve not our Lord Jesus - They profess to be apostles, but they are not apostles of Christ; they neither do his will, nor preach his doctrine; they serve their own belly - they hate intruded themselves into the Church of Christ that they might get a secular support; it is for worldly gain alone that they take up the profession of the ministry: they have no Divine credentials; they convert not the heathen nor the ungodly, for they have no Divine unction; but by good words and fair speeches (for they have no miraculous nor saving powers) deceive the hearts of the simple, perverting Christian converts, that they may get their property, and thus secure a maintenance for themselves. The Church of God has ever been troubled with such pretended pastors - men who Feed themselves, not the flock; men who are too proud to beg, and too lazy to work; who have neither grace nor gifts to plant the standard of the cross on the devil's territories, and by the power of Christ make inroads upon his kingdom, and spoil him of his subjects. On the contrary, by sowing the seeds of dissension, by means of doubtful disputations, and the propagation of scandals; by glaring and insinuating speeches, χρηστολογιας, for they affect elegance and good breeding, they rend Christian congregations, form a party for themselves, and thus live on the spoils of the Church of God.

Should it be asked, Whom do you intend by this description? I answer: No soul, nor party, but such as the description suits. Irasceris.? - De Te fabula narratur. O, you are angry, are you? O, then, the cap fits you - put it on.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Serve not - Obey not. Though they are professedly, yet they are not his real friends and followers.

But their own belly - Their own “lusts;” their own private interests; they do this to obtain support. The authors of parties and divisions, in church and state, have this usually in view. It is for the indulgence of some earthly appetite; to obtain function or property; or to gratify the love of dominion.

And by good words - Mild, fair, plausible speeches; with an appearance of great sincerity, and regard for the truth; compare Colossians 2:4; 2 Peter 3:3. People who cause divisions commonly make great pretensions to peculiar love of truth and orthodoxy; and put on the appearance of great sincerity, sanctity, and humility.

And fair speeches - Greek εὐλογίας eulogiaseulogy, praise, flattery. This is another very common art. “Flattery” is one of the most powerful means of forming parties in the church; and “a little special attention,” or promise of an office, or commendation for talents or acquirements, will secure “many” to the purposes of party whom no regard for truth or orthodoxy could influence a moment.

Deceive the hearts of the simple - The minds of the unsuspecting, or those who are without guile τῶν ἀκάκων tōn akakōnThe apostle means to designate those who are simple-hearted, without any disposition to deceive others themselves, and of course without any suspicions of the “designs” of others. He has thus drawn the art of making parties with the hand of a master. First, there are smooth, plausible pretences, as of great love for truth. Then, an artful mingling of attentions and flatteries; and all this practiced on the minds of the unsuspecting, drawing their “hearts” and “affections” toward themselves. Happy would it have been if the art had been confined to his own times.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
How earnest, how endearing are these exhortations! Whatever differs from the sound doctrine of the Scriptures, opens a door to divisions and offences. If truth be forsaken, unity and peace will not last long. Many call Christ, Master and Lord, who are far from serving him. But they serve their carnal, sensual, worldly interests. They corrupt the head by deceiving the heart; perverting the judgments by winding themselves into the affections. We have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. It has been the common policy of seducers to set upon those who are softened by convictions. A pliable temper is good when under good guidance, otherwise it may be easily led astray. Be so wise as not to be deceived, yet so simple as not to be deceivers. The blessing the apostle expects from God, is victory over Satan. This includes all designs and devices of Satan against souls, to defile, disturb, and destroy them; all his attempts to keep us from the peace of heaven here, and the possession of heaven hereafter. When Satan seems to prevail, and we are ready to give up all as lost, then will the God of peace interpose in our behalf. Hold out therefore, faith and patience, yet a little while. If the grace of Christ be with us, who can prevail against us?
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 167

There is at the present time great need of caution. “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19. Let us heed the warning: “I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, ...and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 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.” Romans 16:17-19. 8T 167.1

“I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10. This is the will of God concerning us. Shall we obey it? “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? ...For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Verses 18-24. 8T 167.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 244.5

We have evidence that there are many deceivers in the world, men who say, “I go, sir,” but go not. They may speak smooth words, and make fair speeches; but they deceive; they reveal in their lives that their words are not wrought in God. The practical life is a genuine index of the character. By our words and works we reveal to the world, to angels, and to men whether we believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. TDG 244.5

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