I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Salute my well-beloved Epænetus, who is the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ.
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
Salute Apelles approved in Christ.
Salute them which are of Aristotulus' household.
Salute Herodion my kinsman.
Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord.
Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
Salute Philolgus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned: and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
What do we find in Romans 16? It is as noteworthy for what isn't written as for what is. The Scriptures are as inspired in their silence as in that which is written.
There is no division of clergy and laity. Indeed, except for "Apelles approved in Christ" in v. 10 we do not find any stipulated leaders. (The word "approved" in v. 10 is the same word, dokimos, used in I Cor. 11:19, II Cor. 10:18, and most famously in II Tim. 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," which good students of the Word understand to mean the approval of God, revealed to the churches of God through on-site testing (and not in "schools"), for the various speaking ministries of teaching, evangelism, preaching, and pastoring.)
We are to assume, I suppose, that Aquila was a leader in the church in his house. But what of Priscilla? She well understood the Scriptures and was able to instruct the eloquent Apollos in the Word, but of course not in the church meeting but out of the church, privately, in the aspect of fellowship that is "from house to house."
Who were the other leaders in the church in Aquila and Priscilla's house? Paul doesn't say. It isn't important to him, for "ye are all brethren." Or perhaps there were no other leaders in this house church. A church does not need a plurality of elders, or even any elders (cf. Mt. 18:20), in order to function; rather, elders are appointed in due time in a church, thereby "set(ting) in order the things that are wanting," Titus 1:5.
In v. 14 we read the phrase "and the brethren which are with them." This clearly indicates another church, but not a church divided from the rest of the saints in Rome.
The same is true in v. 15 where it says, "and all the saints that are with them." Another church, and yet also a part of the one, whole, indivisible church in Rome.
Now note, vv. 17-18. I have read a well-known evangelical Bible commentary that begins commentary on these verses with "Paul could not resist giving a final word of warning..." The commentator thus thinks that Paul's words here are disconnected to the preceding salutations. But there is absolutely no reason for our believing this to be true.
The fact is there were no divisions in the churches in Rome. There were various meetings or local churches throughout the city, and at the same time the church in Rome was one. This is in keeping with our Lord's words, Matt. 23:8,
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Paul, in saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, Acts 20, warned them that wolves would enter into the churches. These are those whom Paul warns the Romans against in Romans 16. They, Paul predicted, would cause divisions or sects or "denominations" such that today the church in any city in the world is made up of various "denominations." This of course has spawned heterodoxy and variety in teaching and doctrine to the point where the people say that "one can prove whatever he or she wants from the Bible." This, contrary to the doctrine which the original church in Rome had learned, cf. v. 17.
"The doctrine which ye have learned," v. 17, means all doctrine delivered by the apostles to the churches. But it most especially refers to the teaching that the church in a city is one. How do we know this? By the simple fact that divisions, schisms, or sects were without fail condemned by the apostles. Not only so, but the unity of the church in Rome was modeled in Paul's salutations in Romans 16.
"To all that be in Rome," or "to the church which is at Corinth," or "to the saints which are at Ephesus," or "unto the church of the Thessalonians," etc., all refer to the local manifestation of the one body of Christ.
Lest I be misunderstood as saying "the church in Rome" as the term is used today is a reflection of Romans 16, I say it is no such thing, but instead it is the antithesis of Romans 16. It has been said that "the church of Rome" was the very first heretical sect, formed in the 2nd-5th centuries A.D. However what is true of Rome is true of the Protestants also, including the evangelicals and fundamentalists, virtually all of whom have rejected the unity of the brethren found in Romans 16 in favor of the clergy system.