What does Romans 16:3 mean?
ESV: Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
NIV: Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus.
NASB: Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
CSB: Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my coworkers in Christ Jesus,
NLT: Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus.
KJV: Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
Beginning with this verse, Paul reels off a list of 16 sentences that begin with the word "greet." Though Paul has not yet been to Rome, he clearly knows quite a few of the believers there. He instructs his readers to greet these people on his behalf and, likely, so that each of them can represent him to the larger church in Rome.
He begins with a married couple called Prisca—or Priscilla—and Aquila, referring to them as his fellow workers in Christ. Compared to some of the other references given here, we know quite a bit about this faithful couple. From Acts 18:1–3, we learn how Paul first met them in Corinth and worked with them for a time in the trade of making tents. The couple had previously lived in Italy, but they were forced to leave when the emperor Claudius commanded all the Jews out of Rome.
In addition to partnering with Paul in tent-making, the pair came to Christ and worked with him in ministry. They traveled with him to Ephesus, where he left them to establish a church that ended up meeting in their large home (Acts 18:18–19; 1 Corinthians 16:19). Apparently knowledgeable in the things of God, they graciously taught a passionate young evangelist named Apollos a better understanding of the gospel (Acts 18:26). Paul eventually returned to Ephesus and served with them there for quite a while.
Now Aquilla and Priscilla were back in Rome, likely having returned after the death of Claudius and the end of his ban on Jews in AD 54. Paul had a long and close relationship with this couple.
Romans 16:1–16 includes a list of two dozen or so people or groups that Paul wants his readers to greet for him in Rome. He begins by introducing them to Phoebe, the lady who will deliver this letter from him in Corinth. He asks them to greet his good friends and longtime partners in work and ministry Prisca—or Priscilla—and Aquila, who have returned to Rome from their time in Asia. Also on the list are close friends, slaves, royal families, and members of the various house churches that meet in Rome.
The final chapter of Romans contains four sections intended to wrap up the letter. Paul commends the woman who will deliver the letter and then sends greetings to many people he knows in Rome. After last-minute, urgent instruction about false teachers, Paul sends greetings to the Roman Christians from those who are with him in Corinth, including Timothy. Paul closes out the letter with a hymn of praise to the God who has revealed to all the nations of the earth the gospel of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus.
Prior verses detailed Paul's plans to visit Rome and asked for prayer. This text concludes his letter to the Christians in Rome with four quick sections. He sends his greetings to a list of people he knows, or at least knows of, in Rome. Paul offers last-minute instruction about false teachers. He sends greetings from those who are with him in Corinth. And he closes out the letter with a beautiful praise hymn to the God who has revealed the mystery of the gospel of Jesus to all nations so that all might obey faith in Jesus.
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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