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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Greetings from Believers in Rome (4:21b-22)
Greetings from Believers in Rome (4:21b-22)

Next Paul sends greetings from two sets of believers in Rome: the brothers who are with me and all the saints. His failure to mention the names of his associates in this case is in keeping with the terseness of these greetings. Just as he does not mention anyone in Philippi by name, neither does he mention any of his companions, even though this greeting makes it clear that some of them are still with him (see further commentary on 2:20-21).

The next greeting reaches out to the broader circle of believers in Rome. Here he does indeed say all the saints, and he surely intends that, even if many of them do not even know they are being included—and in light of 1:15 and 17 some of those might not wish to be included! But they are all included simply because they all belong to one another, those in Rome to each other and those in Rome to those in Philippi as well.

But in this case Paul adds the intriguing especially those who belong to Caesar's household. Household would include household slaves as well as family members, but in either case it refers in particular to those who actually lived in Nero's palace in Rome (now uncovered by archaeologists and accessible to tourists). Two matters are noteworthy.

First, this little phrase joins with mention of the Praetorian Guard in 1:13 as the strongest kind of evidence for the Roman origins of this letter. Every objection to this takes the form of trying to gainsay a simple historical reality, namely, that both of these groups are especially "at home" in Rome. All other views must seek to discredit the obvious and thereby discount the significance of this notation.

Second, the import of this greeting could hardly be lost on the Philippian believers, whose opposition in part at least stems from the fact that Philippi is a Roman colony, where devotion to Caesar had a long history. Paul and the Philippians have a common source of opposition: they suffer at the hands of Roman citizens loyal to Caesar, Paul as an actual prisoner of Caesar. But by incarcerating him at the heart of the Empire, they have thus brought in a member of the "opposition" who is in the process of creating a "fifth column" within the very walls of the emperor's domicile. Paul either has found or has made disciples of the Lord Jesus among members of the imperial household, who are thus on the Philippians' side in the struggle against those who proclaim Caesar as lord! Paul is an indomitable apostle of Christ Jesus. Let him loose and he will be among those "who turn the world upside-down" (Acts 17:6; a charge of sedition!) for his Christ; imprison him too close to home and he will turn Caesar's household upside-down as well. Here is a word of encouragement. The "word of life" to which the Philippians hold firm (Phil 2:15-16) has already penetrated the heart of the Empire. They have brothers and sisters in Caesar's own household, who are on their side and now send them greetings; and therefore the Savior whom they await (3:20) will gather some from Caesar's household as well as from Caesar's Philippi when he comes.

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