The original manuscripts for the closing section of the book of Romans vary considerably. For instance, the verses that we are considering here (Romans 16:25-27 in the NRSV) are found in chapter 14 in some manuscripts—chapter 15 in at least one—and chapter 16 in others. Of course the manuscripts don’t include the chapter and verse markings, which came later—but the material in the manuscripts is arranged in these various ways.
Consequently, the verses found in Romans 16:25-27 (NRSV) are found in Romans 14:24-26 (World English Bible—WEB). I am using the WEB here, but have changed to the verse numbers to correspond with the more familiar NRSV scheme.
Many scholars believe that Paul’s original letter ended with 14:23. They believe that this doxology (along with much of chapters 15 and 16) were added later to summarize the contents of the letter—and to provide a less abrupt ending.
The closing section of this book starts with 15:14, where Paul explains his reason for writing so boldly (15:14-21) and his plan to visit Rome (15:22-33). In chapter 16, there is a lengthy passage of personal greetings (16:1-16), followed by last minute exhortations (16:17-20)—last minute greetings (16:21-23)—and this doxology (16:25-27). Most translations omit 16:24, which is not well-supported by the manuscripts.
Verses 25-27 constitute a doxology—a word derived from the Greek words doxa (glory) and logos (word). The purpose of a doxology is to give praise to God. Doxologies are common in both Old and New Testaments (see 1 Chronicles 16:36; 1 Samuel 25:32; Psalm 28:6; 31:21; 41:13; 68:19; 72:18; 89:52; 106:48; Romans 11:33-36; Galatians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Peter 4:11, 20; Revelation 5:8-9; 19:1-2).
ROMANS 16:25. THE REVELATION WHICH HAS BEEN KEPT SECRET
25Now to him who is able (Greek: dunameno—from dunamai) to establish (Greek: sterixai—from sterizo) you according to my Good News (Greek: euangelion) and the preaching (Greek: kerygma) of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery (Greek: mysterion) which has been kept secret through long ages….
Now to him who is able (dunameno—from dunamai) to establish (sterixai—from sterizo) you according to my Good News (Greek: euangelion) and the preaching (kerygma) of Jesus Christ” (v. 25a). The word dunamai is where we get our word “dynamite.” It has to do with power—the power or ability to do something or to accomplish something.
The word sterizo has to do with stability—steadfastness—being fixed in place or established. It can mean “strengthened.”
The word euangelion is derived from two Greek words—eu (good) and angello (to proclaim), and is usually translated “Gospel” or “Good News.” In the New Testament, euangelion refers to the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and the salvation that he brings.
When Paul says, “my Good News,” he is speaking of the Gospel that he preached rather than the Gospel that he created. He makes that clear in his letter to the Galatians, where he says that “the Good News which was preached by me, …is not according to man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).
The word kerygma meant proclamation, but came to be associated with the content of early apostolic preaching. In his book, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments, C. H. Dodd summarized the kerygma as including:
(1) The fulfillment of scripture
(2) The inauguration of a new age
(3) The lineage of Jesus, traceable back to King David
(4) Jesus’ death on a cross
(5) Jesus’ burial
(6) Jesus’ resurrection
(7) Jesus’ exaltation and
(8) The promise that Jesus will come again to judge and to save.
Paul’s point in this verse is that the Gospel—the Good News of Christ and the salvation that he brings—is that which strengthens the Christian—that which makes it possible for the Christian to be steadfast. As Paul said earlier in this book, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (8:31). In other words, if God is for us, what does it matter who is against us—because, in the end, God will prevail. When we have faith in God, we can indeed become rock-steady in the midst of a stormy world.
“according to the revelation of the mystery (mysterion) which has been kept secret through long ages” (v. 25b). Paul uses the word mysterion frequently. In his writings, mysterion means something that God has kept hidden—at least for a period of time. In this case, the mysterion is God’s plan of salvation, which involves Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.
This mysterion of the role of Christ in our salvation was kept secret for many centuries. God made a covenant with Abraham, but Abraham never learned of the role that Christ would play in fulfilling that covenant. The same was true of Moses and other great men and women of the Jewish faith.
But God left clues aplenty so that, when the plan was fully revealed, the Jewish people could find those clues and relate them to Christ’s work. For instance, when God made a covenant with Abram, he promised, “All the families of the earth will be blessed in you” (Genesis 12:3). The book of Isaiah is replete with allusions to the coming of the Messiah.
But it wasn’t until the death and resurrection of Christ that God pulled back the curtain to reveal that which had been hidden for so long—that Christ not only conquered death for himself, but also for all who have faith in him. We have sinned, which estranged us from God—but Christ, through his death and resurrection, has reconciled us to God once again (Romans 5:10-11). Just as Adam’s sin led to our condemnation, so also Christ’s righteousness makes possible our justification (Romans 5:18).
ROMANS 16:26. BUT NOW IS REVEALED
26but now is revealed, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment (Greek: epitage) of the eternal God, is made known for obedience of faith to all the nations;
“but now is revealed, and by the Scriptures of the prophets” (v. 26a). As noted above, the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ constituted this revelation. At the point of Jesus’ resurrection, the curtain was pulled back so that we could see God’s plan in its fullness. Also, at that point, the many clues found in the Old Testament scriptures, and particularly in the prophets, became clear.
“according to the commandment (epitage) of the eternal God” (v. 26b). The word epitage means commandment—authority—order. God has ordered that the curtain be pulled back to reveal the plan of salvation that he conceived eons earlier—and it was so.
This reminds me of the first chapter of Genesis, where Yahweh said, “Let there be light”—”and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The word of God is more than a word—it includes the power to accomplish what God has ordered. So it is here. God has ordered that the mysterion be revealed—that that which was hidden for so long be made manifest—and it happened according to the order or the commandment of God.
The revelation has been progressive. Abram saw some things. Moses saw other things. The prophets saw still more. But the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ makes the plan of the eternal God visible to all who see with the eyes of faith.
“of the eternal God” (v. 26b). While the revelation has been progressive, God is eternal. This is a great comfort to those who have faith—a fact that is expressed over and over again in scripture. “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains tremble with their swelling” (Psalm 46).
“is made known for obedience of faith” (v. 26c). The purpose of this revelation is to bring people to the “obedience of faith.” It has done that. Preaching that proclaims the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ is, by the grace of God, powerfully evangelistic. People who might respond casually to social gospel preaching respond with much more vigor to a message of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension.
“to all the nations” (v. 26d). The Jews believed that they were God’s chosen people to the exclusion of all other peoples. However, there were earlier hints that God’s intent might be otherwise. As noted above, God promised Abram, “All the families of the earth will be blessed in you” (Genesis 12:3). God sent Jonah to save the Ninevites—Gentiles—much against Jonah’s will. Examples of this sort are replete in the Old Testament.
ROMANS 16:27. TO THE ONLY WISE GOD
27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
As noted above, these three verses constitute a doxology—the purpose of which is to give glory to God. The one deserving of our glory or praise is “the only wise God.”
There are various ways that we might give God glory. One is through our worship. Many of our hymns are written has songs of praise to God. Remember that the next time you open your hymn book.
But the most powerful way to give God glory is by the living of a Christ-like life. As Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
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Copyright 2012, 2017, Richard Niell Donovan