Romans 16:25-27


In the Nestle-Aland XXVI Greek text verses 25-27 are enclosed in single square brackets. This means that the editors consider these verses of doubtful authenticity though the apparatus assumes in principle that this reading is part of the text. What causes difficulty is that these verses are not found in the same place in all original documents. The apparatus informs us that some omit these words altogether; some add them after 14:23; some add them after 15:33; some add then after 14:23 and 15:23; some add them here and after 14:23. The most reliable texts add them here only. KJV adds them here because the Textus Receptus adds them here. All of our current versions have these words here only. No sane minded scholar considers these words spurious.

Comments by commentators on these verses are interesting.

Franzmann: Paul began the body of his letter with the proclamation of the power of God at work in his Gospel, 1:16. What wondrous things that power can do and does, his whole letter has set forth in unparalleled fullness. Paul closes with a hymn in praise of God who has power; He is a God at hand, able to sustain the Romans in their conspicuous and responsible place, able to strengthen them for the greater tasks that Paul's coming will open to them.
Kretzmann: Paul closes the letter with such a remarkable doxology, a veritable effusion of glowing thoughts, interwoven with a beautiful eulogy of the Gospel. He gives all glory to God, to Him that is able to make the Christians firm and constant in faith and holy life.
Bengel: A doxology closes the whole epistle, as one closed the doctrinal part of it, 11:36. So 2 Peter 3:18 and Jude verse 25. The last words of this epistle correspond exactly to the first, 1:1-5. Especially on the power of God, the Gospel, Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, obedience of faith, all nations.
Sanday-Headlam: The Epistle concludes in a manner unusual in St Paul with a doxology or ascription of praise, in which incidentally all the great thoughts of the Epistle are summed up. Although doxologies are not uncommon in these Epistles (Galatians 1:5; Romans 11:36), they are not usually so long or so heavily weighted; but Ephesians 3:21; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17 offer quite sufficient parallels. Ascriptions of praise at the conclusion of other Epistles are common, Hebrews 13:20-21; Jude 24-25.

This doxology is the grandest hymn of praise in the New Testament. It has often been said that the Epistle to the Romans is a grand summary of all the Christian Doctrine. This doxology is fitting for such a great book.

Romans 16:25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past,

Verses 25-27 comprise one sentence. Grammatically speaking verse 27 is the main clause. NKJV translates: "to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen." Verses 25-26 stand in apposition to "only wise God" in verse 27. The majority of our versions begin this verse with "now." It indicates the conclusion of the Epistle.

"Glory and praise" belong to God. "Is able" is present tense. He is constantly able. "Establish" means "to make firm, to make stable." RSV renders it "to strengthen." AAT has "to make strong." It covers both justification and sanctification, faith and living, in the life of the Christian. JB evidently wants to make sure that we do not omit Christian living here: "Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News, etc." 

We have three "by" or "according to" phrases in this text: two in verse 25 and one in 26. The translations of the three are interesting in the versions: KJV, NKJV, RSV, and NASB have "according, according, according." TEV has "according, according, by;" AAT has "by, by, as;" and NIV reads "by, according, by." The commentators ask whether these three phrases denote correspondence or cause. As becomes clear in verse 26, the very purpose and cause of the Gospel is to give me true faith in Christ and obedient living in keeping therewith.

In verse 26 the Gospel is called "good news, proclamation, revelation of mystery." These three terms are synonymous and embellish each other. Note that the first two are articular and that the third is likewise definite because it is modified by a genitive. The Gospel is THE good news, THE proclamation, and THE revelation of the mystery, par excellence. Even unbelievers are made aware of this. And, by virtue of the fact that it is THE revelation of God's mystery, all synergism is eliminated. Man's reason is incapable of originating such a plan and he is not even able to believe it of his own strength.

Why does Paul call it "my" Gospel? Three versions make it a subjective genitive, and we think that is correct. TEV and JB have "the Good News I preach." AAT reads "by the good news I bring." "Jesus Christ" is plainly objective genitive: "the proclamation about Jesus Christ." The proclamation is nothing more and nothing less than Jesus Christ.

"For long ages past" is variously translated "since the world began, for long ages, for endless ages." 

Lenski: During all those past ages no public proclamation in the world.
Kretzmann: It had been hidden, kept secret, unknown and undiscoverable by human reason, from ancient times, from eternity. The counsel of God for the redemption of mankind had been hid in God, Ephesians 3:9, and it had not been made known in its fullness and glory for several millenniums after the creation of the world.
Franzmann: Christ is the disclosure of the 'mystery' of God, the revelation of His long counsels of salvation that worked in strange and secret ways for long ages, all through the dark and inconspicuous history of His little people Israel.
Stoeckhardt: The eternal times extend from eternity through the eons of the pre-Christian era until the time designated by 'now' .. . Already the children of the Old Covenant hoped in Christ. Nevertheless, the mystery of eternity could with right be designated as something secret because the Savior had not yet appeared, because complete understanding of prophecy was lacking, because the report concerning Christ was limited to a small area and hidden to the world at large. The preaching of the Gospel is in this present era until the end of the world the greatest and most important work on earth.
Bengel: The TIMES are pointed out, which at their very beginning, as it were, touched upon previous ETERNITY, and as it were, mingled with it. Not eternity itself, of which the TIMES are, as it were, streams . . . . In the prophets the calling of the Gentiles had been predicted, but the Jews did not understand it.
Sanday-Headlam: God who rules over all the aeons or periods in time is working out an eternal purpose in the world. For ages it was a mystery, now in these last days it has been revealed.
Cranfield: The manifestation, which has taken place in the Gospel events and their subsequent proclamation, and is contrasted with the hiddenness of the mystery in the past, is a manifestation which is properly understood in its true significance only in the light of its Old Testament foreshadowing and attestation. It is when the manifestation of the mystery is understood as the fulfillment of God's promise made in the Old Testament, (compare 1:2) as attested, interpreted, clarified, by the Old Testament that it is truly understood as the Gospel of God for all mankind.

At this point look at 1 Corinthians 2:6,7,10; Ephesians 3:3,5,6; Titus 1:2,3; 2 Timothy 1:9,10.

Sanday-Headlam: This is the thought which underlies much of the argument of chapters 9-11, and is indirectly implied in the first eight chapters.

Romans 16:26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him--

The mystery which at first was kept secret, has now been made manifest and has been made known. "Through" denotes agency. It denotes the Old Testament prophetic writings. Then the cause or means, "by the command of God." 

"So that all might believe and obey," or literally "for the purpose of the obedience of faith." It is not easy to classify "believe" as a genitive. it could be appositional: faith is obedience. It might be called adjectival: the obedience of a Christ is of a certain type, faith obedience. Or perhaps subjective: faith causes obedience.

Arndt: . . . the obedience of faith, that is, simply faith.

Most versions take the second part of the phrase with "to make known," "made known to all the nations." Thus KJV, NKJV, NASB, TEV, NEB, AAT, and JB. But, notice, NIV takes it differently: "so that all nations might believe and obey him." Our versions translate "nations." Lenski understands it as "Gentiles." Perhaps JB likewise: "broadcast to pagans everywhere." 

Lenski: 'The publication' means a making manifest plus a making known. It began when Jesus sent the apostles into all the world to make it resound with the Gospel. . . . 'Writings' differentiates this means from the 'kerygma' which is oral, the voice of the heralds, Christ's Apostles. But the apostles preached Christ not apart from or as different from, the Old Testament prophets . . . Paul's Epistle constantly quotes the prophets. Now the fulfillment had come, and now at last the prophetic writings became a means for reaching the whole world.
Kretzmann: Through the preaching of the Gospel the very writings of the prophets are made clear and are shown to contain glorious Gospel truths.
Franzmann: All nations now shall know the God who hid Himself so long in Israel.
Stoeckhardt: The Gospel brings along with it that they who have come to faith also persevere in faith.
Sanday-Headlam: In this passage still carrying on the explanation of 'kerygma,' four main ideas of the Apostolic preaching are touched upon -- the continuity of the Gospel, the Apostolic commission, salvation through faith, the preaching to the Gentiles.

Like Lenski, they understand "Gentiles." Think for a moment: What is the greatest proclamation of New Testament times? Democracy? No. Communism? No. Islam? No. Science? No. It is what Revelation 14:6 calls "the everlasting Gospel." 

By the way, many are of the opinion that Revelation 14:6 speaks of Dr. Martin Luther proclaiming the Gospel.

Romans 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

The versions have difficulty with the two adjectives. KJV: "to God only wise."; NKJV: "to God alone wise"; RSV, NIV, AAT, NASB: "to the only wise God"; TEV: "to the only God, who alone is all wise"; JB: "He alone is wisdom"; 

Lenski: No one who could also be called wise can be placed beside him.
Arndt: Here the apostle calls God the only wise one.
Bengel: God's wisdom is glorified by the gospel in the Church, Ephesians 3:10. 'That is of power' (verse 25) and 'wise' are joined here, as 1 Corinthians 1:24, where Christ is called 'the power of God and the wisdom of God' who through Christ appears as wise alone.

"Through Jesus Christ" denotes Christ as Mediator between God and man. We would never have known God as the only wise one unless Christ has reconciled us to God and made this known in the Gospel.

Sanday-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.

No greater or weightier doxology than these verses appears anywhere in literature. Here is the ultimate commentary on 1 Chronicles 16:34 which passage occurs at least a dozen times in the Old Testament. Likewise Psalm 150 on which our common doxology is based. (The Lutheran Hymnal 644;Lutheran Worship 461. This is evidently what J. S. Bach meant when he appended the words "Soli Deo Gloria" to his individual compositions.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series B, Festival Season Sundays, Epistle Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1987, pp.18-21. Used with permission.

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