The Church that is in their house - In these primitive times no such places existed as those which we now term churches; the word always signifying the congregation or assembly of believers, and not the place they assembled in. See the term defined at the end of the notes, Matthew 16:28; (note).
Epenetus - the first fruits of Achaia - In 1 Corinthians 16:15, the house or family of Stephanas is said to be the first fruits of Achaia: how then can it be said here, that Epenetus was the first fruits, or first person who had received the Gospel in that district? Ans. - Epenetus might have been one of the family of Stephanas; for it is not said that Stephanas was the first fruits, but his house or family; and there can be no impropriety in supposing that one of that house or family was called Epenetus; and that this person, being the only one of the family now at Rome, might be mentioned as the first fruits of Achaia; that is, one of that family which first received the Gospel in that country. This would rationally account for the apparent difficulty, were we sure that Αχαιας, of Achaia, was the true reading: but this is more than doubtful, for Ασιας, of Asia, is the reading of ABCDEFG, some others; the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala; and some of the chief of the fathers. On this evidence Griesbach has admitted it into the text. Yet the other reading is sufficiently natural, for the reasons already assigned.
The church that is in their house - Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned Acts 18:26 as having received “Apollos” into their family, to instruct him more perfectly. The church in their house is also mentioned 1 Corinthians 16:19. This may mean either the church that was accustomed to assemble for worship at their hospitable mansion; or it may mean their own family with their guests, regarded as a “church.” In those times Christians had no houses erected for public worship, and were therefore compelled to meet in their private dwellings.
Salute - The same word before translated “greet.”
Who is the first-fruits - One who first embraced Christianity under my preaching in Achaia. The “first-fruits” were a small part of the harvest, which was first gathered and offered to the Lord; Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 2:12; Deuteronomy 18:4. In allusion to this, Paul calls Epenetus the first-fruits of the great spiritual harvest which had been gathered in Achaia.
Achaia - See the note at Romans 15:26. This name and those which follow are chiefly “Greek,” but we know little of the persons mentioned, except what is here recorded.
During his sojourn at Corinth, Paul found time to look forward to new and wider fields of service. His contemplated journey to Rome especially occupied his thoughts. To see the Christian faith firmly established at the great center of the known world was one of his dearest hopes and most cherished plans. A church had already been established in Rome, and the apostle desired to secure the co-operation of the believers there in the work to be accomplished in Italy and in other countries. To prepare the way for his labors among these brethren, many of whom were as yet strangers to him, he sent them a letter announcing his purpose of visiting Rome and his hope of planting the standard of the cross in Spain. AA 373.1
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul set forth the great principles of the gospel. He stated his position on the questions which were agitating the Jewish and the Gentile churches, and showed that the hopes and promises which had once belonged especially to the Jews were now offered to the Gentiles also. AA 373.2
With great clearness and power the apostle presented the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. He hoped that other churches also might be helped by the instruction sent to the Christians at Rome; but how dimly could he foresee the far-reaching influence of his words! Through all the ages the great truth of justification by faith has stood as a mighty beacon to guide repentant sinners into the way of life. It was this light that scattered the darkness which enveloped Luther's mind and revealed to him the power of the blood of Christ to cleanse from sin. The same light has guided thousands of sin-burdened souls to the true Source of pardon and peace. For the epistle to the church at Rome, every Christian has reason to thank God. AA 373.3Read in context »