According to Wikipedia, scholars are unanimous about Romans being written before Paul's imprisonment. But I just came across Romans 16:7:

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me

Paul says "fellowprisoners"! Isn't it somehow indicative of Paul's imprisonment? Wikipedia says nothing about this verse, but I don't think scholars simply ignored it. Does anybody have some information on this point?

  • Is your question about the word(s) that is translated "fellowprisoners" or about when Romans was written? I'd like to edit the question to be more along the lines of 'Does the word "fellowprisoners" in Romans 16:7 indicate that Paul was under arrest at the time of writing?' Is that more or less what you were looking to have answered? Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 20:12
  • @JonEricson - "Is that more or less what you were looking to have answered?" - Absolutely.
    – brilliant
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 8:04

3 Answers 3


It may be plausible that Andronicus and Junias were in Rome, where they were imprisoned. That is, Paul was not collocated in Rome with them (when he wrote the letter) but simply added that they be greeted on his behalf by those who were in Rome (to whom he wrote the letter according to Rom 1:7).

At the beginning of Romans chapter 16 he indicates that Phoebe is being sent to Rome (with the letter written by Paul). Since Phoebe is from Cencherea, which is collocated with Corinth, it appears that Paul was in the vicinity of Corinth, when he wrote the letter.

Could he have been imprisoned in Corinth and was referring to Andronicus and Junias as his "fellow prisoners" in Rome?

  • (1) Yes, you may be right. Is "fellow prisoners" by all means in apposition to "Andronicus and Junia" in Romans 16:7, that is, could the fellow prisoners be some other people than Andronicus and Junia? If yes, then Andronicus and Junia might've never been imprisoned at all. Well, that still doesn't solve the problem... What really puzzles me about Romans is
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 13:15
  • (2) that Paul clearly lets us know that he had never been to Rome, however, in the last chapter he names and sends his regards to so many people from Rome (majority of which are never mentioned in Acts) that it really looks like he had already been there.
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 13:16
  • "Could he have been imprisoned in Corinth and was referring to Andronicus and Junias as his "fellow prisoners" in Rome?" - If he was then he had surely been released by the time he was writing Romans as in Rom. 15:25 he says that he is going to Jerusalem to serve saints. But then again it looks very strange that Luke decided not to say a word about that imprisonment.
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 13:20

The word certainly means "fellow-prisoners," but concerning the phrase "and my fellow-prisoners," John Gill writes,

either at Philippi, or in some other place; for though we read only of the apostle's being in prison at that place, and at Rome, yet it is certain from his own account, (2 Cor. 11:23) ; that he was frequently imprisoned; and Clement of Rome (First Epistle to the Corinthians, Ch. V) says, he was seven times in bonds, at one of which times these were bound with him, but when and where is not known. This is a greater character of them, and a greater honour to them, than to be called his kinsmen after the flesh:

  • Thanks, but it seems that, if we believe what Wikipedia says, all scholars agree that Romans was written before Paul's VERY FIRST imprisonment, that is, he was never imprisoned prior to writing this epistle; however, this verse gives us a huge basis to think otherwise.
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:00
  • @brilliant: Where does wikipedia say that? I couldn't find it.
    – Noah
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:14
  • @NoahSnyder - I see it in this phrase: "There are a number of reasons Corinth is most plausible. Paul was about to travel to Jerusalem on writing the letter, which matches Acts 20:3" - If we read Acts, we'll see that Paul simply had no time physically to be imprisoned prior to that time (excluding the short one-night imprisonment in Acts 16:23-28 with Silas, in which Andronicus and Junia, of course, couldn't have taken part), otherwise Luke would've surely reported it to us.
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:25
  • @brilliant: But you said Wikipedia says "all scholars agree that Romans was written before Paul's very first imprisonment." Wikipedia says no such thing, instead you're saying that you think that Paul was not imprisoned prior to the time that scholars think Romans was written. I think you're assuming too much about the completeness of Acts, the same argument would indicate Paul had no time to write any letters.
    – Noah
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:38
  • @NoahSnyder - Well, you are right - I think I need to research the time span that the scholars put forth as the time when Romans was written (51-58 a.d.) as this is exactly what they say and not what I think. However, unlike in the case with letters, Luke was sure to report even such a short imprisonment as one-night one with Silas in Acts 16 making it very unlikely that he dimmed any other case of imprisonment prior to Acts 23 as unimportant, especially if it was not only Paul, but Paul and some other fellow prisoners imprisoned.
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:59

If using the AV and considering punctuation to be inspired, you might note that "my kinsmen" is set apart as an appositive for "Andronicus and Junia". This allows "my fellowprisoners" to be qualified as being only those unnamed fellowprisoners "who are of note among the apostles" and "who also were in Christ before me". Taking this approach, Paul is considering his eight-times mentioned "prison" (cf. Act 16:23-40) as a devotional encouragement to "fellowprisoners" that Phebe will greet, rather than as a historical encouragement at the then-present writing of the epistle of Romans in northern Greece. If using an English version other than the AV, or using a personal selection of any number of Greek variants, anything goes.

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