GLORY TO GOD FOR HIS WISDOM IN UNITING JEWS AND GENTILES IN A STABLE FAITH THROUGH MAKING KNOWN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
Frank Thielman: Two theological themes dominate this final section of Paul’s letter.
- First, Paul speaks of the importance of preserving the unity of God’s people by staying grounded in the historically reliable apostolic tradition about the Christian faith.
- Second, he describes the importance of joining together with other believers to worship God, who strengthens his people to believe and obey this faith.
Thomas Schreiner: Paul prays that God will receive the glory for the gospel that has now been revealed. This gospel was both hidden and prophesied in the OT, but the age of fulfillment has come; the mystery that was shrouded in the past is now publicly declared. The gospel centers on Jesus the Messiah, for he fulfills the saving promises of the OT, and these promises are being realized in the inclusion of all nations into the people of God. As the gentiles exercise the obedience that comes from faith, they show that they are the children of Abraham. God’s saving plan, which includes Jews and gentiles and is effected through Jesus the Messiah, is wisely constructed so that he receives the glory and praise forever.
Michael Bird: The closing doxology is one of the most sublime pieces of theological prose ever composed. It reprises and amplifies the earlier doxology in Romans 11:33-36 by celebrating God’s glory as the climax to the redemptive history embodied in gospel. It is appropriate for Paul to end the letter on this note. The biblical story began with Adam falling into sin and all of humanity thereafter failing to give glory to God because they themselves have fallen short of the glory of God (see Rom 1:23; 3:23). Thankfully, the rest of the story is about the reversal of this dire state since salvation is about humanity giving glory to God and sharing in the hope of glory (see Rom 4:20; 5:2; 8:17-18, 21, 30). The story of Romans is then a microcosm of the biblical story since Paul takes us from glory lost to glory regained. Viewed this way, the doxology represents a virtual hermeneutical key for reading Romans, summing up the themes of God, glory, Messiah, and revelation.
John MacArthur: This is an incredible thing, how Paul has managed in that doxology to capture the essence of a review of the whole of Romans. In two brief verses, verses 25 and 26, the reader is carried back and swept through the whole Roman epistle to review quickly the gospel which brings praise to God, the gospel which causes the doxology. It is a gospel that establishes men in righteousness who formerly were fallen in sin. It is a gospel concerning Jesus Christ who has provided for us all the necessary elements of Christian living, and it is a gospel that is a mystery revealed, that Jew and Gentile are one in a great fellowship of love which fellowship is regulated by the principles given in chapter 9 and following. What a glorious gospel. What a glorious gospel.
I. (:21-23) FINAL GREETINGS
A. (:21) Timothy and 3 Fellow Jews
- Timothy, His Chief Fellow Worker
“Timothy my fellow worker greets you,”
Frank Thielman: Luke says that Timothy was with Paul during his three-month stay in Corinth prior to Paul’s journey to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21; 20:4), and this was almost certainly the time at which Paul wrote Romans. According to Acts 20:4, Timothy was part of the group that assembled in Corinth from Macedonia, Asia, and Galatia and that traveled with Paul to Jerusalem, a journey that Paul’s correspondence indicates was for the purpose of conveying the collection for the poor among the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem (Rom 15:25–27; 1 Cor 16:3–4; 2 Cor 8:19–21; cf. Acts 24:17).
- 3 Fellow Jews
“and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.”
Frank Thielman: Paul conveys greetings from Timothy to the Roman Christians, and perhaps especially to Prisca and Aquila. He also sends greetings from three fellow Jewish Christians, part of God’s graciously chosen Israelite remnant and perhaps also part of the delegation traveling with Paul to Jerusalem to convey the collection for the poor among the saints there. . .
There is a good probability that “Jason” was the same person who hosted Paul in Thessalonica and bailed him out of custody when he got into trouble with “the city authorities” (Acts 17:5–9). He may well have been one of the Thessalonians, in addition to Aristarchus and Secundus, who functioned as delegates from Macedonia for conveying the collection to Jerusalem. Similarly, “Sosipater” (Σωσίπατρος) is probably the same person as “Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus” who accompanied Paul as part of the delegation from Macedonia (Acts 20:4). “Sopater” could easily be a shortened form of “Sosipater.”
Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater were all Paul’s “compatriots” (συγγενεῖς) or fellow Jews (cf. Rom 9:3; 16:7, 11). Like Andronicus, Junia, and Herodion (16:7, 11), then, they were Jewish Christians and part of God’s graciously chosen remnant. Paul may have pointed out that they were Jewish Christians because they served as proof to him that God’s promises to Israel had not failed (9:6) and that God had not cast off his people (11:1–7).
B. (:22) Tertius – His Secretary
“I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.”
Frank Thielman: Paul seems to have frequently employed secretaries to assist him in taking down his letters since he occasionally took the pen from the person to whom he dictated a letter to make a comment in his own hand (1 Cor 16:21; Gal 6:11; Col 4:18; 2 Thess 3:17; Phlm 19). Only here, however, does a secretary suddenly walk onto the stage, announce his name, and speak in his own voice.
C. (:23) Gaius, Erastus and Ouartus
- Gaius, His Host
“Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you.”
Frank Thielman: Paul conveys greetings from Gaius, a believer whom he had baptized on his first visit to Corinth and who generously provided a safe place in his home for Paul and other foreigners in Corinth who were Christians
- Erastus, the City Treasurer
“Erastus, the city treasurer greets you,”
Frank Thielman: Erastus may well have been a person of great wealth and high social standing, moreover, and his resources of money and honor could have given him the freedom to travel with and support Paul. The Greek term translated “treasurer” here could refer to various offices from a low-level functionary that helped administrate the city’s financial affairs (an arcarius) to a wealthy and socially powerful financial officer for the city (or quaestor). It is hard to know why Paul would mention Erastus’s office at all if it were not something unusual, and this makes it possible that he had been a quaestor, “a high-ranking, honourable, and costly municipal position within the civic hierarchy.”
If so, then he may have been the Erastus named in an honorific inscription uncovered in Corinth in 1929 and dated by some scholars, although not without controversy, to the middle of the first century. The Erastus in the inscription is called an aedile, a lofty civic office reserved for the wealthy and socially powerful and to which the office of quaestor would be a natural stepping stone. If the Erastus here in Romans and the Erastus of the inscription are the same person, then he would be a Christian of unusually high social and political standing within the Pauline circle.
- Ouartus, the Significant Brother
“and Quartus, the brother.”
Frank Thielman: he was probably not Erastus’s brother, since Paul would probably have used a possessive pronoun if he had intended to indicate that the two were siblings of each other
[(:24) scribal addition
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”]
Grant Osborne: There is no verse 24 in most modern translations because it is not found in the most trusted Greek manuscripts. It is likely a scribal addition repeating the words of 16:20.
II. (:25-27) FINAL DOXOLOGY OF CELEBRATION
William Sanday and Arthur Headlam: The doxology sums up all the great ideas of the Epistle. The power of the Gospel which St. Paul was commissioned to preach; the revelation in it of the eternal purpose of God; its contents, faith; its sphere, all the nations of the earth; its author, the one wise God, whose wisdom is thus vindicated—all these thoughts had been continually dwelt on.
A. (:25a) Celebration of Spiritual Strengthening
“Now to Him who is able to establish you”
Frank Thielman: The second theological theme that Paul emphasizes here at the letter’s conclusion is the praise that rightfully belongs to God because of his ability and willingness “to strengthen” (στηρίξαι) believers in their commitment to the gospel (16:25–27; cf. 1:11). The term “strengthen” appears elsewhere only in Paul’s Thessalonian letters. Paul wrote these letters to a persecuted and theologically confused community in need of strength and encouragement to persevere in the faith despite the suffering and doctrinal deviation that surrounded them (1 Thess 3:2, 13; 2 Thess 2:17; 3:3). The Roman Christians, too, needed strengthening and encouragement (1:11–12), and Paul probably envisioned Romans itself as a means to that end.
Thomas Schreiner: The strengthening envisioned is the ability to resist temptations and trials, with the result that they do not forsake and abandon the Christian faith (cf. 1 Thess. 3:2, 13; 2 Thess. 2:17; 3:3; cf. Rom. 1:11; so Käsemann 1980: 423; Dunn 1988b: 914).
John Schultz: As the word doxology implies, Paul brings his epistle to an end by giving glory to God. He focuses on two points as the basis for this glory: God’s power to keep and God’s wisdom prepared and provides. The apostle digresses extensively between those two points.
Ray Stedman: Have you ever had the desire to be established? Many people think they are established when actually they are simply stuck in the mud. Most of us think that being established means that all progress ceases. We sit down, camp there, and that is it. In that sense, there are a lot of Christians who are established. But when Paul speaks of our being established, he means putting us on solid, stable ground. Have you ever erected a picnic table and tried to find a place where all four legs touched the ground at the same time? You tried to establish it so that it would not rock, or become shaky, or uncertain. That is the idea that Paul has in mind in this word establish. God wants to bring you and me to a place where we are no longer rocking or shaky or unstable, but solid and secure. The idea is basically what all human beings look for — an inner security from which you can handle all the problems of life. You become dependable, and have a true sense of worth, so that nothing gets to you, or shakes you up, or throws you off balance. This is the goal of all Christian teaching in the New Testament (and especially the goal of the letter to the Romans) that we believers might be brought to that place of security where we are not shaken by things, so that we do not lose our tempers easily, or get frustrated, angry, resentful or hostile; where we do not scream at our children, or yell at our mates, or get upset at the neighbors. Notice the resource that the apostle counts on to make that happen: “Now to him who is able to establish you… ” It is God himself who is responsible for this. You and I are not given the final responsibility to bring this about. Isn’t that encouraging?
B. (:25b) Celebration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
“according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,”
C. (:25c-26) Celebration of the Mystery of the Shared Faith of Jews and Gentiles
- (:25c) Revelation of the Mystery
“according to the revelation of the mystery
which has been kept secret for long ages past,”
Frank Thielman: This revelation was a “mystery” (μυστήριον) in the sense that no one would have known it had God not graciously revealed it to his people (cf. Rom 11:25; cf. Dan 2:27–30; Eph 1:7–10). It was a mystery kept silent for long ages because it was revealed after many generations of God’s work among his people and when the right moment for making it known had arrived (cf. 1 Cor 2:7; Gal 3:23; 4:4; Eph 3:5, 9).
- (:26a) Manifestation of the Mystery
“but now is manifested,”
Thomas Schreiner: The word μυστήριον (mystery) is prominent in Paul, signifying a secret hidden from human beings. In Rom. 11:25 the partial hardening and future salvation of Israel is a mystery that was previously hidden but is now revealed, while in Eph. 5:32 the relationship between Christ and the church is designated a mystery. Μυστήριον (mystery) often relates to the inclusion of the gentiles into the community of the redeemed, for although the OT often refers to gentiles entering the people of God, it is clear only from the NT that they are equal members with the Jews in the people of God (cf. Eph. 3:3–6, 9; Col. 1:26–27). The mystery fundamentally relates to Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1, 7; Eph. 1:9; 6:19; Col. 2:2; 4:3) and the gospel in which he is proclaimed. This verse in Romans runs along the same arteries, since the mystery relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ that was previously hidden “in former times” (χρόνοις αἰωνίοις, chronois aiōniois) but has now been revealed. The revelation of the mystery (note the words ἀποκάλυψιν μυστηρίου and φανερωθέντος, phanerōthentos, having been manifested) is an eschatological event that has “now been manifested” (νῦν φανερωθέντος, nyn phanerōthentos, 16:26; so Dunn 1988b: 915). . .
One must accept the tension, acknowledging that the gospel was both hidden and revealed in the OT. In light of the fulfillment, readers are able to perceive that what was hidden in the old is now revealed through the new. What was foreshadowed in the OT is now perceived in its true significance in light of the fulfillment that has arrived. There are enough lines of direct continuity between the Testaments that the claim to see fulfillment is not arbitrary or gnostic.
- (:26b) Anticipation of the Mystery
a. Foreshadowed in OT Prophetic Scriptures
“and by the Scriptures of the prophets,”
b. Foreordained by Divine Decree
“according to the commandment of the eternal God,”
c. Revealed to the World
“has been made known to all the nations,”
Frank Thielman: to all the gentiles, not in the sense that they are the revelation’s only object (1:16) but in the sense that their inclusion receives special emphasis (1:5, 14, 16; 3:29; 4:16–17; 10:12–13; 11:12, 32; 15:9–12, 16, 18).
Grant Osborne: This was the ultimate goal, all part of God’s plan from the beginning (see 1:5). Paul exclaims that it is wonderful to be alive when the mystery, God’s secret—his way of saving the Gentiles—is becoming known throughout the world! All the Old Testament prophecies are coming true, and God is using Paul as his instrument to tell this Good News.
- (:26c) Culmination of the Mystery
“leading to obedience of faith;”
Thomas Schreiner: The words “for the obedience of faith to all the nations” (εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, eis hypakoēn pisteōs eis panta ta ethnē) recall the words of the introduction (1:5). This phrase designates God’s purpose or goal (εἰς) in making known the gospel (so Cranfield 1979: 812). Gentiles participate in the Abrahamic blessing through the obedience that flows from faith. Paul never conceived of salvation taking root among the nations without a change of behavior. The gospel that takes hold of human beings changes them so that they become servants of righteousness. Such new behavior, however, has its roots in faith, in trusting God for the strength and power to live a new life. The gospel does not summon people to exercise their own moral virtue. It calls them to put their trust in God, who raised Jesus from the dead. By trusting him they will be filled with the power to live fruitful lives.
D. (:27) Celebration of the Glory of God for His Wisdom Manifested in Christ
“to the only wise God,
through Jesus Christ,
be the glory forever. Amen.”
Matthew Henry: The Mediator of this praise: Through Jesus Christ. To God only wise through Jesus Christ; so some. It is in and through Christ that God is manifested to the world as the only wise God; for he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Or rather, as we read it, glory through Jesus Christ. All the glory that passes from fallen man to God, so as to be accepted of him, must go through the hands of the Lord Jesus, in whom alone it is that our persons and performances are, or can be, pleasing to God. Of his righteousness therefore we must make mention, even of his only, who, as he is the Mediator of all our prayers, so he is, and I believe will be to eternity, the Mediator of all our praises.
Michael Bird: Salvation is unveiled in God’s way in God’s timing and not imposed on him by external circumstances. The God who does this is “the only wise God.” His wisdom is his wise plan for salvation (see Rom 11:33). To him surely belongs “glory forever through Jesus Christ!” To top that off, Paul ends with “Amen!” (v. 27), to which we might respond with our own “Amen indeed!”
John Toews: Romans is about God. It begins and ends with God. The power of God is a specific theme which Paul introduces at crucial points in the argument of the letter (1:16, 20; 4:21; 9:17, 22; 11:23; 14:4) to address the weakness and disobedience of human beings. This power is made known in Paul’s gospel which reveals a mystery that fulfills an eternal order of God. The purpose of that order is the faithful obedience of the nations to the one God through Messiah Jesus.