“Salute one another with a holy kiss”  The churches of Christ salute you.”

“Salute one another with an holy kiss”
Literally:  “Greet one another with a holy kiss”–Notice how Paul proceeds from greeting the saints at Rome himself, to persuade them to greet one another.

There had been much dissension amongst them about meats and days; so he desires of them for the future to embrace each other with cordial love, and affectionate kindness, and, as a token and symbol of it, to greet one another with a holy kiss, the usual expression of friendship in those times.

           SALUTE ONE ANOTHER: (Grk.–aspasasthe allêlous)–Greet one another in an affectionate manner; that is, treat each other with kindness and love, and give evidence of this with proper marks of affection.

            HOLY KISS:  (philêmati hagiôi) —(See I Cor. 16:20; I Thess. 5:26; I Pet. 5:14). The custom prevailed among the Jews, and doubtless came from the East, where it still exists.

           Don’t forget that when Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus, he betrayed Him with a kiss  (Matt. 16:49; Mark 14:45; Luke 22:47). Its adoption into the Christian churches, as the symbol of a higher fellowship than it had ever expressed before, was probably as immediate as it was natural. In this Paul’s desire seems to be that on receipt of his epistle, with its salutations, they should in this manner expressly testify their Christian affection.
           In those early times the kiss, as a token of peace, friendship, and brotherly love, was frequent among all people; and the Christians used it in their public assemblies, as well as in their occasional meetings.  Later on, a kiss came to have a fixed place in the church service, immediately after the celebration of the Supper, and continued long in use. In such matters, however, the state of society and the peculiarities of different places require to be studied. This was at last laid aside, not because it was abused, but because the Church ws becoming very numerous, the practice was impossible.
           In some countries the kiss of friendship is still common; and in such countries it is scarcely ever abused, nor is it an incentive to evil, because it is customary and common. The common sign and pledge of Christian love in those days. Christian affection is always the same in its nature, but the modes of expressing it differ at different periods and in different nations. Those modes should be observed which are commonly esteemed suitable, and which are adapted to be useful.  Shaking hands, or a hug is now substituted for it in almost all Christian congregations.

“the churches of Christ salute you”–The true reading is, “All the churches.”  The word “all” gradually falling out, as seeming probably to express more than Paul would venture to affirm.

           The word “all”,  (Grk.–pasai), is added here by some of the most reputable mss., and principal versions. That is, the churches in the vicinity of the place where Paul wrote this epistle; probably the churches particularly in Achaia.
           Paul must mean here that all the Churches in Greece and Asia, through which he had passed, in which the faith of the Christians at Rome was known, spoke of them affectionately and honorably; and probably knowing Paul’s plan of visiting Rome, desired to be kindly remembered to the church there in Rome.


“Now I beseech ye brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.”
In every group there seems to be those who are intent on bringing it down.  Paul here is urging the Roman believers to be on guard for those who would stir up dissensions. This is a pertinent warning to us today in this time of Laodicean type of churches (see Rev. 3:14-22)–i.e., the Unfaithful Church.         

Now I beseech you brethren”
Literally:  “And brothers, I exhort you.”

  BESSECH:  (Grk.–parakaleô)—Literally meaning, “to call to one’s side, to call to one’s aid,” or “I beg of you.”  Paul here means the latter: “I beg you.” 

One great object of this epistle had been to promote peace between the Jewish and Gentile converts. So much did this subject press upon the mind of Paul, that he seems unwilling to leave it. He returns to it again and again; and even after the epistle is apparently concluded, he returns to it to give them a new charge on the subject.

“mark them”
Literally: “Observe them attentively, cautiously, and faithfully, (Phil 3:17) be on your guard against them.” In our vernacular we might say, “point them out; take note of them.” 

           MARK:  (Grk. skopeite)—From the verb, (Grk.-skopeô), which literally means, “to keep your eye on the goal”–a term for the Greek Games.  A strong term, meaning, “to  look out for.”  Keep an eye on so as to avoid.

         Skopos, (a Greek noun meaning “mark.”) is the goal; skopeô means keeping  your eye on the goal.”  Several MSS. read  “look sharply after them” (Grk.–asphalôs skopeite). Determine the ones who are the real causes of the divisions that spring up, and then point them out to everyone and avoid them–isolate them.  This warning against false teachers comes in a very abrupt way in the middle of the greetings, and has the characteristics of an afterthought.
            Notice how Paul ends this epistle with an admonition to them to take heed of persons that were erroneous in doctrine, and “scandalous” in practice.  Paul may mean either those Jews who pleaded the necessity of circumcision, and the observation of the Mosaic rites, as necessary to the salvation of the Gentiles, or the gnostics to whom the following characters do well agree. Whoever they were, they were dangerous seducers, and to be avoided.

“which cause divisions and offences”
Literally:  “Those making divisions and causes of stumbling.”

           WHICH CAUSE: (Grk.–poiountas)—“Making; who make.” Paul may be referring to Jewish teachers (the “Judaizers”), or those who insisted on the observance of the rites of the Mosaic Law and who setup a claim for greater purity and orthodoxy than those possessed who received the Gentile converts as Christian brethren.

Such Jews were perpetually thus recalling the Christian converts to the Law of Moses; insisting on the observance of those rites.  Their result was troubling the churches, and producing dissentions and strife, (Gal. 3:1; 5:1-8; Acts 15:1, 24).

DIVISIONS: (Grk.–tas dichostasias)—Literally: the divisions.”  Note the definite artic (“the”–Grk.–tas)—with “divisions” (Grk.–tas dichostasias).  Paul seems to be referring to the kinds of divisions that were threatening the unity of believers were widespread, and well known.  The Greek word dichostasias is included in the catalog of vices in Galatians 5:20.

Dissentions; parties; factions, (comp. I Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:20). The very attempt to form such parties was evil, no matter what the pretence. They who attempt to form parties in the churches are commonly actuated by some evil or ambitious design.  Let them have no kiss of charity nor peace, because they strive to make divisions, old word for “standings apart,” cleavages.  In N.T. only here and Gal. 5:20. and thus set the flock of Christ at variance among themselves.

           OFFENCES: (Grk.–skandala)-“scandals”–From these divisions, offences (scandals) are produced; and this is contrary to that Doctrine of Peace, unity, and brotherly love which you have learned.  Be on the alert for such that they do you no evil, and avoid them; give them no countenance, and have no religious fellowship with them.

          Scandals; or that give occasion for others to fall into sin. These two things are different. The first (divisions) means parties; the other (offences) denotes such a course of life as would head others into sin. I am reminded of what the prophet Nathan said to David regarding David’s adultery:  “Because of this deed thou has given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme {Him}” (II Samuel 12:14).
          The Jews would form parties, or cliques” on the pretense of superior holiness; the Gentiles, or some bold Gentile convert, might deride the scrupulous feelings of the Jew, and might thus lead him into sin in regard to what his conscience really forbade (see 14:15). These persons on both sides were to be avoided, and they were to refuse to follow them, and to cultivate the spirit of unity and peace.

“contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned”
Literally:  “Against the doctrine you have learned.”–Contrary to the teaching which you have received in this epistle and elsewhere.

The teaching that these divisions should cease; that the Jewish ceremonies are not binding; that all should lay aside their causes of former difference, and be united in one family. See chapters 14 and 15.

“and avoid them.”
Literally:  “And turn away from them.”–Not only keep out of their way, but remove from it lest you fall in with them.

           AVOID:  (Grk.-ekklinate)–The present imperative case of the Greek verb, ekklinô,  meaning, “to turn away.”  Being in the present imperative case, this literally means, “keep turning away; continue turning away” {from them}.

There is a danger in our local churches that our Christian charity makes us unwilling to deal with righteous sternness and decisiveness toward those who are doing work deadly to the cause of Christ or harmful to the harmony of the local assembly.  Local church discipline is not only necessary for a local church but is commanded.  Give them no approval or esteem. Do not follow them (comp. I Tim. 6:3-4, 6; II John 1:10; Gal. 1:8-9). That is,
1.         Avoid them as teachers;
2.         Do not follow them.
This does not mean that they were to be treated harshly; but that they were to be avoided in their instructions. The members of the church were to disregard all that they could say tending to produce alienation and strife; and resolve to cultivate the spirit of peace and union.

This would be an admirable rule if always followed, especially in this day and age. Let men make peace their prime object; resolve to love all who are Christians, and it will be an infallible gauge by which to measure the arguments of those who seek to promote alienations and contentions.

“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus”        

            “they serve not our Lord Jesus
            Literally:  “Such ones do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ.”–They do not seek His honor, but their own selfish ends.

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 have intruded themselves into the Church of Christ that they might get a secular support.

“their own belly”
Literally:  “they are slaves to their own base desires.”–
Living for low ends of their own (compare Acts 20:29; Phil. 3:19);   for their own lusts; their own private interests; they do this to obtain support. 

           A blunt phrase like the same picture in Phil. 3:19 “whose god is the belly,” more truth than caricature in some cases. An expression of selfishness and sensuality.  The authors of parties (cliques) and divisions, in church and state, have this usually in view.  It is for the indulgence of some earthly appetite; to obtain office or property; or to gratify the love of dominion.  Some commentators refer this to the Jews, alluding to Titus 1:12.
          It is for worldly gain 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.  Unfortunately, we see too much of this today with so many of these so-called, “tele-evangelis,” mega-churches, the con-artists running these great so-called “healing campaigns,” and the “electronic-churches.”

“by good words”
Literally: “by smooth speech.”–By smooth sounding words and fair speeches (for they have no miraculous nor saving powers) deceive the hearts of the simple;
perverting Christian converts, who have no Christian discernment, that they may get their property, and thus secure a maintenance for themselves.        

           GOOD WORDS:  (Grk.–chrêstologia)–Literally:  “fair speaking,”–the smooth and plausible address that stimulates goodness.  Mild, fair, plausible speeches; with an appearance of great sincerity, and regard for the truth; (comp. Col. 2:4; II Peter 3:3).  This word is used only here in the N.T.

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”
Literally:  “and eulogy.”  Eulogy, 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.  

         FAIR SPEECH:  (Grk.–eulogia)–Meaning, “fine words; flattery.”  Of the fourteen times this word is used in the N.T., it is only here that it is used in a negative sense.                                                                

The Church of God has ever been troubled with such pretended preachers–men who feed themselves, not the flock;
1.         Those who are too proud to beg,
2.         Those who are too lazy to work;
3.         Those who are 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.  
             a.         By sowing the seeds of dissension,
             b.         By means of doubtful disputations, and,
             c.         By the propagation of scandals;
             d.         By glaring and smooth speeches,
                         Literally: “good speaking.”  
Mild, fair, plausible speeches; with an appearance of great sincerity, and regard for the truth. Comp (Col. 2:4; II Pet. 2:3). Men 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. They affect elegance and good breeding, but they rend Christian congregations, form a party for themselves, and thus live on the spoils of the Church of God.

            “deceive the hearts of the simple.”
            Literally:  “Deceiving the hearts of the guiless.”      

DECEIVE: (Grk.–exapatosin)—literally:  “beguile.”  It is not merely making a false impression, but practically leading astray.

          SIMPLE: (Grk.–akakôn)–literally, “not evil, innocent.” People unconscious of bad intentions, and hence unsuspicious of them. This word is used only here and in Heb. 7:26.

Paul 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 towards themselves. Happy would it have been if the art had been confined to his own times.

“For your obedience is come abroad upon 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.”
Your reputation among the churches for subjection to the teaching you have received is to me sufficient ground of confidence in you; but you need the serpent's wisdom to discriminate between transparent truth and plausible error, with that guileless simplicity which instinctively cleaves to the one and rejects the other.

“For your obedience is come abroad”
Literally:  “For your obedience reached to all.”–Paul gives this as a reason why they should continue to hear and heed those who had led them into the path of truth, and avoid those false teachers whose doctrines tended to the subversion of their souls.

 In 1:8 Paul complimented these Roman believers on their faith being well spoken of by other churches: “your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”  Here he compliments them on their obedience being spoken of by other churches.

“your obedience”Your mild, obedient disposition to learn, and to obey the precepts of the teachers of religion

“come abroad”–Literally: “is reached to all.”  The report of your obedient disposition and conduct.

“I am glad therefore on your behalf”
Literally:  “Therefore I rejoice over you,.”–I rejoice that you display such a disposition. He immediately adds, that this was just the temper to be imposed upon, and cautions them against that danger.

“yet I would have you wise unto that which is good”
Literally:  “But I desire you to be truly wise {as} to good.”– I would wish you carefully to discern the good from the evil, and to show your wisdom, by carefully avoiding the one and cleaving to the other.

WISE(Grk.–sophous)-Ready and skillful to do good, but not really practiced in and opposed to doing evil.

I would wish you carefully to discern the good from the evil, and to show your wisdom, by carefully avoiding the one and cleaving to the other. In doing good, Christians should have that wisdom and skill which result from practice, experience, and habit; but they should be wholly unskilled and inexperienced in doing evil.

“simple concerning evil.”
Literally:  “But simple toward evil.”

          SIMPLE: (Grk.–akerios)–Literally in the Greek, “harmless, unmixed, pure, with any mixture of evil, free from guile, innocent.”–Used only here and Heb. 7:26.

          They are called so who are merely without positive wickedness, when they ought to abound also in prudence, and to guard against other men’s wickedness.  Not disposed to do wrong; having no plan, and yielding to none of the allure-ments of evil. You have shown your wisdom in obeying the gospel. I would have you still evince wisdom towards every good design; but to be unacquainted with any plan of evil. Do not yield to those plans, or follow those who would lead you into them.
          Wise–and simple; ready and skillful to do good, but unpractised in and opposed to doing evil. In doing good, Christians should have that wisdom and skill which result from practice, experience, and habit; but they should be wholly unskilled and inexperienced in doing evil.  Simplicity must be joined with wisdom. Furnished with the knowledge of the truth and wisdom, so that you may embrace good things, and avoid evil, beware of the deceits and snares of false prophets, and resist them openly: and this place plainly destroys the papists faith of credit, whereas they maintain it to be sufficient for one man to believe as another man believes, without further knowledge or examination what the matter is, or what ground it has: using these daily speeches, “We believe as our fathers believed, and we believe as the Church believes.”

“Just as in Eden God did not prevent the serpent from tempting Eve–‘beguiling her in his craftiness;’ so God does not forcibly prevent false teachers, division-makers, evil workers, stumbling producers, from coming among His saints.  But He warns His saints, and expects them to exercise both their discernment and their holy hatred of evil in turning away from such”–(William Newell–Romans Commentary).