Romans 16, Part 2
Jan 18, 2011
It was common in biblical days for people to change their names when living in another culture. Many still do this today, though perhaps not as often in recent years. The saints in Rome had done the same, exchanging their British names for Greek and Latin names which were near equivalents.
Paul writes in Rom. 16:8 (NASB),
(8) Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
The Greek text in The Emphatic Diaglott shows his name to be Amplias, as the KJV says. I do not know why the NASB translates the name in its longer form, but perhaps Amplias is a shortened form much like Prisca is short for Priscilla. At any rate, the name means "enlarged." We know nothing further, other than Paul's expression of endearment, "my beloved."
My guess is that Amplias was the "big-hearted" father of Caradoc, known as "the Blessed Bran" in Church history. According to the accounts, when the royal family was deported to Rome in 52 A.D., Caradoc's elderly grandfather King Llyr was among them. He had been the founder of the first Christian church in Wales at the city of Llandaff. He died shortly after arriving in Rome, and he was voluntarily replaced (as a hostage) by his son Bran, who was Caradoc's father.
Bran had previously abdicated his throne in favor of his son, Caradoc, and had become the Arch Druid of Siluria, with headquarters in Trevnan. Bran had become a Christian through the witness of Joseph of Arimathea, and the entire Druidic religion in Siluria and some other provinces in the south part of Britain had become Christian through his influence.
His generosity and "big heart" was proven when he replaced his father as a Roman hostage. Thus, it is likely that Bran was called Amplias or Ampliatus during his sojourn in Rome.
(9) Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. (10) Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ ...
No one knows who these people are.
(10) ... Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.
Aristobulus himself was from Rome, along with his household, but he himself was absent, because he had been appointed the first bishop of Britain. He was known there, not as Aristobulus, but as Arwystli Hen, having taken a more British name to suit his surroundings.
"Cressy states that 'St. Aristobulus,' a disciple of St. Peter or St. Paul in Rome, was sent as an Apostle to the Britons, and was the first Bishop in Britain; that he died in Glastonbury A.D. 99, and that his Commemoration or Saint's Day was kept in the Church on March 15th." [Rees, Welsh Saints, p. 81]
Paul, then, greets only his household. Aristobulus was the brother of Barnabas, Paul's travel companion from his first missionary journey. Peter's wife (mentioned in Mark 1:30 and Luke 4:38) was the daughter of Aristobulus, and she was martyred shortly before Peter and Paul in Rome. Eusebius quotes Clement's Miscellanies, Book VII, saying,
"We are told that when blessed Peter saw his wife led away to death, he was glad that her call had come and that she was returning home, and spoke to her in the most encouraging and comforting tones, addressing her by name, 'My dear, remember the Lord.' Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their consummate feeling towards their dearest." (History of the Church, III, xxx)
We do not know if Aristobulus' daughter (Peter's wife) was in Rome to receive Paul's greeting to "the household of Aristobulus." Most likely, she traveled with her husband on most of his trips.
(11) Greet Herodion, my kinsman...
Paul seems to have had quite a few relatives in Rome. This shows us that Paul had a personal desire to visit Rome, along with his desire to sow the seed of the gospel there.
(11) ... Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. (12) Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.
We know nothing further of these people. But then we come to one of the key people in Rome.
(13) Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.
His full name was Aulus Rufus Pudens Pudentinus, a young Roman senator, who had been the aide-de-camp for General Aulus Plautius in the British wars. During a truce, known as the "Claudian Treaty," General Plautius met and fell in love with Caradoc's sister, Gladys, and soon they were married. When the Treaty broke down, the fighting continued with Plautius leading the Roman troops against his brother-in-law, Caradoc. When the Emperor Claudius was apprised of the situation, Plautius was recalled and replaced in order to avoid trouble.
Rufus Pudens was assigned to assist General Plautius. When the royal family was captured in 52, Pudens was the one who escorted them to Rome as war captives. During that trip, he fell in love with 16-year-old Gladys, to whom the emperor himself adopted and bestowed his own name. Hence, she was known to Paul as Claudia, who had married Rufus Pudens in 53 A.D.
In Rom. 16:13 Paul greets "Rufus" by his first name. In 2 Tim. 4:21 he is called "Pudens" and is grouped with Linus and Claudia because they were part of the same family.
The Christian band of royals from Britain arrived in Rome the same year that Claudius expelled all Christians and Jews from Rome. It is ironic, then, that the Christian war-captives were forced to remain in Rome and were then the only Christians legally remaining in that city until the ban was lifted some years later.
When Paul addresses Rufus by his first name and claims also that he and Rufus had the same mother, most people search for alternate explanations. It seems too strange that Paul could have been speaking of a literal family relationship. But to say that Rufus' mother was also Paul's spiritualmother only raises further doubts. The fact remains that Paul had kinsmen in Rome, including Herodion (Rom. 16:11), as well as Andronicus and Junia (16:7).
It is likely that Andronicus and Junia were the British "war-captives," so how might Paul be related to them? It seems that the only possible explanation is that their daughter Gladys (Claudia) had married Rufus Pudens, whose mother was also Paul's mother. Paul's father had probably died years earlier, and being a Roman citizen, she moved to Rome where she married Rufus' father as her second husband. Perhaps this was the point in time when Paul (known then as Saul) decided to move to Jerusalem to be trained under Gamaliel.
This is the only feasible explanation how British prisoners of war could be Paul's kinsmen, and how a wealthy young Roman senator from the Pudentius family could be related to Paul and his mother.
Rufus and Claudia's first son was born in 54. They named him Timothy after Paul's co-worker. The next year a daughter was born to them, whom they named Pudentiana. She was martyred in 107 A.D. Their third son, Novatus, was martyred in 139 while his older brother, Timothy (age 83) was in Britain baptizing his uncle's grandson, King Lucius. Timothy later returned to Rome, where he was martyred at the age of 90.
This is the second part of a series titled "Romans 16." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones