The Pulpit Commentary

Romans 16:25-27 (Romans 16:25-27)

G. Doxology. (For its original position, see above.) It may have been written by the apostle with his own hand. It differs, indeed, in form as well as fulness, from other autographic conclusions of his Epistles; but it is a suitable and grand ending of an Epistle of the peculiar character of this; summing up pregnantly in the form of a glowing thanksgiving the essential ideas of the whole Epistle, which had been more or less intimated in its preface.

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Romans 16:25-26 (Romans 16:25-26)

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel ( i.e. the gospel committed unto me to preach; cf. Romans 2:16 ; 1 Timothy 1:11 ; 2 Timothy 2:8 ), and the preaching of Jesus Christ , according to the revelation of the mystery (on the meaning of μυστηρίον , see note on Romans 11:25 ), which was kept secret (literally, kept in silence ) since the world began (literally, in times eternal ) , but is now made manifest, and through the Scriptures of the prophets (literally, prophetic Scriptures ) , according to the command. meat of the eternal God, made known unto all the nations unto the obedience of faith. We have seen throughout the Epistle how the Scriptures of the Old Testament are referred to as foretelling the revelation in Christ of the long-hidden mystery (cf. also Romans 1:2 ); and it was through showing them to be fulfilled that, in all the apostolic preaching, the mystery, now manifested, was made known to all the nations; and this according to the commandment or appoint- merit of God, that the mystery should thus be now at last made known.

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Romans 16:25-27 (Romans 16:25-27)

A comprehensive doxology.

It has often been noticed that the thoughts of the Apostle Paul rushed with such swiftness through his mind that they could scarcely find coherent expression; one seems to follow and to efface that which precedes; and the unity of the whole is with difficulty discernible because of the pressure upon the attention of the several parts. It is so with these closing verses of the Epistle to the Romans; they introduce to the reader's mind so very many subjects, and they contain so many memorable observations, that he is likely to forget that they constitute a doxology. But to the mind of the writer the intention to utter closing words of praise was present and powerful; and the reasons and motives for praise crowded in upon his mind with such rapidity and force that he could hardly bring his Epistle to its conclusion. Let us endeavour to appreciate the comprehensiveness of this great doxology.

I. THIS DOXOLOGY CONTAINS A CELEBRATION OF DIVINE ATTRIBUTES , Three are brought forward, two of them explicitly, and one implicitly, in such a manner as to enhance our conception of God's character, and to summon the Church of Christ to the congenial exercise of lowly and adoring praise.

1. Power.

2. Wisdom.

3. Benevolence.

All these attributes are connected with the gospel which Christians have received, and which is intended for the illumination and salvation of all men. Though benevolence is not mentioned, it is implied in the statements of God's designs of mercy towards all nations, made at the close of verse 26.

II. THIS DOXOLOGY CONTAINS A COMPENDIUM OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE .

1. The substance of Christian truth is Contained in the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ.

2. This is represented as a gospel, or glad tidings from God to men.

3. And as a revealed mystery, something which existed in the mind and counsels of God from eternity, which was treated throughout the earlier ages of human history as a secret, concealed beneath promises and types and sacrifices, but only made manifest upon the institution of the new and spiritual kingdom of truth and righteousness.

III. THIS DOXOLOGY CONTAINS A PROMISE OF WORLD - WIDE BLESSINGS TO MAN . The large heart of the great apostle of the Gentiles was in perfect sympathy with the love of God revealed in Christ, and with the vast scheme of human redemption. It is like himself—the unselfish, compassionate, truly heroic nature that he was—that, in closing this Epistle, which has sometimes been misrepresented as teaching the limitation of Divine mercy and the substitution of arbitrariness for pity, St. Paul should thus refer to the glorious future of the kingdom of the Saviour upon earth. He glorified God that the glorious gospel of the blessed God should be published to all nations, that this should be by Divine prediction and by Divine command, and that the purpose of such publication was, not the condemnation of the sons of men, but salvation, as explained in that elevated and truly Christian phrase, "the obedience of faith."

IV. THIS DOXOLOGY IMPLIES A WISH AND PRAYER FOR THE STABILITY IN FAITH AND HOLINESS OF THOSE TO WHOM AND FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE EPISTLE WAS WRITTEN .

V. THIS DOXOLOGY CONCLUDES THE EPISTLE WITH AN ASCRIPTION OF PRAISE AND HONOUR TO THE Cl OD OF ALL GRACE AND SALVATION , The whole treatise is inspired by a reverent and grateful spirit, and is evidently an effort to represent the true moral glory of the Lord of all; and it is appropriate that it should close as it does with ascribing glory, through Jesus Christ, to God the only wise.

HOMILIES BY C.H. IRWIN

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Romans 16:20-27 (Romans 16:20-27)

The object and the strength of a Christian Church.

With these two important thoughts St. Paul closes his Epistle.

I. THE CHURCH 'S OBJECT . The Epistle ends with an ascription of glory to God ( Romans 16:25-27 ). This was the great end the apostle had in view in writing his Epistle. And he would have his readers remember that this, too, is the great end for which a Church of Christ exists. "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever." We should glorify the love of the Father. This is the potent influence to draw men's hearts from sin. "God so loved the world;" "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!" We should glorify the saving power of Jesus Christ the Son. This gives the sinner confidence to come to him. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish." We should glorify the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. " Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you;" "When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth."

II. THE CHURCH 'S STRENGTH . "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" ( Romans 16:20 ); "Now to him that is of power to stablish you" ( Romans 16:25 ). The Church's strength is not necessarily in its numbers. Gideon's army was at one time too numerous. "The People that are with thee are too many" ( 7:2 , 7:4 ). Nor in its wealth. Wealth has often been the weakness rather than the strength of the Christian Church. Our strength is in having God in the midst of us, and in our living near to him. This truth is wonderfully verified in the history of the little Church of the Vandois. Through seven centuries of almost incessant persecution, that faithful and primitive little band—sometimes not exceeding a thousand in number—withstood the attacks of popes and princes, defied and defeated mighty armies, "out of weakness were made strong." Their strength was unquestionably in the presence of God with them, and in their unfaltering fidelity to the truth of the gospel. "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."—C.H.I.

HOMILIES BY T.F. LOCKYER

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Romans 16:25-27 (Romans 16:25-27)

The final commendation.

The final commendation, left imperfect as regards mere form; but hearts were full, his and theirs, and full hearts do not utter all they feel. "I commend you"—so in Acts 20:32 . But they will understand his meaning, without the utterance of the words, and he need but Point upwards, and say, "To him" etc Shall we reverently gaze on this prayer of an apostle's full heart? So we note—the power of God; the principles of the exercise of Gods Power; the glad committal to that wise power through Jesus Christ.

I. God was "able to stablish" them. Paul had expressed the desire in Romans 1:11 to impart to them some spiritual gift, that they might be established. He yet hopes to see them with that intent. And surely he may well trust that this letter, written in fulfilment of his mission from Christ, may have such result. But only God's Power can effect the result, when man has done his best. And God's power can accomplish all things; he is "able to stablish." The manifold stablishment: we need but glance along the line of the Epistle to determine that. In their faith, surely, in God's forgiving love, which was the basis of the new life; in their death to sin, and new life unto God, which such true faith in God's love through Christ must work; in their humility and love amongst one another as Christians; in their submission to the rightful Powers of the state, and their true, love-inspired justice towards their fellow-citizens; in their hope of the coming of God's perfect kingdom; and in their determined resistance of all incoming evil: in this God could stablish them, and God alone.

II. And, "according to my gospel." The reception of God's power was conditioned upon the reception of God's truth, for "the Power of God can act only in agreement with the thought of God" (Godet). If they would be firm in the faith, and in the new life of faith, they must intelligently believe the gospel of Christ. Yes, for Paul's gospel was Christ's gospel, and he preached not himself, but Christ Jesus. And this preaching of Christ was not according to his own skill and wisdom; it had been revealed from heaven (see Galatians 1:11 , Galatians 1:12 , Galatians 1:16 ). It had not been always revealed; a "mystery' once, "kept in silence through times eternal" hidden in the thought of God from the beginning, and through the earlier ages of the world's history. Oh, these blessed secrets of God, ready to burst upon us with a shock of surprise! This secret had broken on the world; the mystery was "manifested," and "made known unto all the nations," manifested to the apostles, pre-eminently to Paul, and made known by them. not as an absolutely new thing, but as hinted at in earlier prophecies; made known in their teaching and writing, that all the world might know. And the end, as before, "obedience of faith "—the yielding of the whole mind and heart to the message and grace of the eternal God, that so his power might work in them to their salvation and eternal stablishment.

III. To such a One he commends them, and to the word of his grace. He had taught them according to his best wisdom; should he see them, he will build them up according to his best power. But his wisdom and power are nothing apart from the power of God "only wise;" and when his wisdom and power have done their best, still God's wise power must work all. He may see them; he may not: but, in any case, the eternal God is their Refuge, and round and underneath are the everlasting arms!

To him be the glory, through Christ! "For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. Amen."—T.F.L.

HOMILIES BY S.F. ALDRIDGE

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Romans 16:1-27 (Romans 16:1-27)

Salutations and benedictions.

The programme being sketched, the apostle now proceeds to the salutations and benedictions with which his Epistles usually end. And here notice—

I. THE DISTINGUISHED PLACE OCCUPIED IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH BY WOMEN . There are no less than nine women specially referred to in this list, and all are active in the Church. Some were deaconesses; for instance, Phoebe, Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa, and Persis. Oriental society separates the sexes in a way we do not in the West; hence the need of such officials there, and in zenana mission work still. Why should they not exist? Many a work which the Church should undertake can be better done by women than by men. But notice briefly:

1. Phoebe . She was a deaconess of Cenchrea, the port of Corinth. It was she who carried the precious Epistle to Rome. Some business led her thither. She is the bearer of the finest Epistle ever written to a Christian Church, and in it she has a magnificent introduction.

2. Prisca. Called Priscilla, and mentioned before her husband Aquila. Perhaps she was the better Christian. At all events, they had a "Church in their house." They had been very kind to the apostle, and had prosecuted with him their tent-making trade.

3. Tryphena and Tryphosa. Their names suggest voluptuous living—but they had been transformed by grace into hard workers (cf. Godet, in loc. ) .

4. Persis. Likely an aged deaconess. Her work is over. She had done much—had doubtless done what she could, and did not need to go to her work in company, like the preceding pair, but could face it alone.

5. Mother of Rufus. She seems to have been the widow of Simon the Cyrenian, as Mark 15:21 suggests. Paul had likely lodged with them when in Jerusalem, and received maternal sympathy from the good lady. Hence he speaks of her as his mother too.

II. NOTICE THE PARTICULAR KNOWLEDGE PAUL POSSESSES OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH IN ROME . This long list is a very particular one, and shows how the apostle has them all at his fingers' ends. He seems to have had that very enviable faculty for remembering names. And his particularity in the matter was from the love he bore them, as references in the words used over and over suggest.

III. THE SALUTATION WITH THE KISS OF HOLINESS . The arrangement was men kissed men, and women women, as is the Oriental fashion. It indicated a deeper interest in one another's welfare than we are inclined for in the West.

IV. THE ADVICE TO AVOID TROUBLES OF THE CHURCH . ( Mark 15:17-20 .) Prudence was necessary in the doing of good and a desire to avoid all pugnacity. On peaceful lines they might expect the victory over the evil one.

V. PAUL 'S FELLOW - WORKERS AT CORINTH SEND GREETINGS TO THE CHURCH AT ROME . ( Mark 15:21-23 .) The apostle had made good way at Corinth, from the greetings he was here enabled to send.

VI. THE DOXOLOGY . ( Mark 15:24-27 .) He carries his praise and hope upwards, and lays all at the feet of God. So should it be always.—R.M.E.

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