I have read in several places the theory that Romans 16 was not an original part of Paul's letter to the Romans. Some scholars contend that it is more likely that this chapter was intended to be sent to Ephesus and was attached to the Roman letter later on. One reason they think this is because Priscilla and Aquila's presence in Rome is questionable. It is possible that they returned there from Ephesus after Claudius' death (the emperor who exiled the Jews in Acts 18); but if so, they were there for a very short time. Another question scholars have is how Paul would intimately know so many people in a city he had never visited. He would, however, have relationships like that in Ephesus. Your thoughts? - Gina Poirier (Anchorage)

Yes, there are many ideas about Romans 16! I remember being first exposed to them in autumn 1980, when I took a Greek exegesis course on Romans at Harvard Divinity School. I'm not sure any of them is on particularly solid ground! For example, why couldn’t Paul know lots of people in a city he never visited? Missionaries moved around a lot, and Christian relationships crisscrossed the Mediterranean. I know people in a number of places I've never visited--because they moved there after we met, or because we have written letters to one another.

On the other hand, it is true that some manuscripts of Romans end in chapter 15. Other manuscripts place chapter 16 between chapters 14 and 15. What happened?

I see two possibilities. Either the last chapter was added as a sort of appendix, probably by Paul; or in some manuscripts chapter 16 became detached, then was reattached. Either way, the version of Romans given to us by the Spirit of God has 16 chapters.