The Doxology of Romans, Glorify God (Romans 16:25-27)

The Doxology of Romans, Glorify God (Romans 16:25-27)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28, 2021

When Rebecca Pippert was an agnostic, she had one question she continually wrestled with: How can finite limited human beings ever claim to know God? How do they know they are not being deceived?

Pippert writes:

One sunny day I was stretched out on the lawn … when I noticed that some ants were busy building a mound. I began to redirect their steps with twigs and leaves. But they simply bounced off and started a new ant mound. I thought, This is like being God! I am redirecting their steps, and they don’t even realize it!

At one point, two ants crawled onto my hands and I thought, Wouldn’t it be funny if one ant turned to the others and said, “Do you believe in Becky? Do you believe Becky really exists?” I imagine the other ant answering, “Don’t be ridiculous! Becky is a myth, a fairy tale!” How comical, I thought–the hubris of that ant declaring that I don’t exist, when I could easily blow it off my hand. But what if the other ant said, “Oh, I believe that Becky exists!” How would they resolve it? How could they know that I am real? I thought. What would I have to do to reveal to them who I am?

Suddenly I realized: the only way to reveal who I am, in a way that they could understand, would be to become an ant myself. I would have to identify totally with their sphere of reality. I sat upright, and I remember thinking, What an amazing thought! The scaling-down of the size of me to perfectly represent who I am in the form of an ant! I know; I would have to do tricks! Things that no other ant could do!

Then it hit me: I had just solved my problem of how finite creatures could ever discover God. God would have to come from the outside and reveal who he is.[1]

My theme today is:

Paul closes Romans with a sentence worshipping God.

  1. Glory to the only wise God
    1. Now, we finally come to the conclusion of Romans. Paul is going to conclude with a beautiful doxology. A doxology a liturgical formula of praise to God. It comes from the mid 17th century: via medieval Latin from Greek doxologia, from doxa ‘appearance, glory’ (from dokein ‘seem’) + -logia (see -logy). Logy has to do with a subject of speech or interest. So, doxology means glory word.
    2. This doxology rehashes some of the themes of Romans. It is even similar to his introduction showing how well thought out the epistle of Romans was.
    3. The final three verses of Romans (one sentence in Greek) form a doxology that is liturgical in character.85
    4. Look at verse 25-27: 25Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
    5. Paul begins with, “now,” or “and” which is just moving the thought forward.
    6. To Him…
    7. By context we know that he is writing about God, the Father.
    8. To Him Who is able…
    9. Do you know we could have a sermon on just that phrase? We could have a whole sermon on the idea that God is able. But Paul does get more specific.
    10. Paul says, “strengthen you.” To Him Who is able to strengthen you.
    11. God is able to strengthen you… but how?
    12. “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…”
    13. This does not mean that the Gospel is literally Paul’s. No, Paul just had a stewardship in preaching the gospel.
    14. God is able to strengthen you by the Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.
    15. I think that is what this is about and he is going to expand on it.
    16. Paul continues: “according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages…” God is able to strengthen you according to the gospel and the revelation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, what is that mystery? In the Bible a mystery was something that had not been revealed but now was revealed. So, in this case the mystery is how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again. Further, I think this mystery is about how God planned to bring all nations together.
    17. Paul says this mystery was kept secret for long ages but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
    18. Remember all those Old Testament passages that Paul has been referencing? Paul has been using all of these Old Testament passages in order to show how the Old Testament prophesied about the gentiles believing. The mystery was kept secret, but now is revealed.
    19. “Mystery” is a common idea in Paul’s writings: Matt 13:35; Rom 11:25; 1 Cor 2:1, 7; 4:1; Eph 1:9; 3:3, 9; 6:19; Col 1:26f; 2:2; 4:3; 1 Tim 3:16[2]
    20. Paul used the prophetic writings to reveal this mystery. This mystery was revealed to the nations, in other words to the gentiles. The mystery is about salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone, and the salvation is for Jew and gentile.
    21. Romans 1:1-5 is about the mystery of the Gospel, Jesus risen from the dead.
    22. In mentioning the obedience of faith, Paul concludes his letter where he began (1:5).[3]
    23. This came about according to the command of the eternal God.
    24. This is a theological statement.
    25. The eternal God, God is eternal. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is outside of time (Colossians 1:17; Revelation 1:8; 21:6; and 22:13).
    26. This mystery is according to the command of the eternal God and what is the purpose? To bring about the obedience of faith. God wants Jews and gentiles to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior to have faith in Him.
    27. The Holman Christian Standard Bible is really good here: but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—
    28. One source: When Paul began this letter, he explained that he had received grace and apostleship ‘to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith’ (1:5). Towards the end of the letter he says that he won’t boast except of what Christ has accomplished through him ‘in leading the Gentiles to obey God’ (15:18), and in 16:19 he tells his audience that he rejoices because ‘everyone has heard about your obedience’. The mystery that has been revealed clearly now is that Gentiles as well as Jews should come to ‘the obedience that comes from faith’. What Paul means by ‘the obedience that comes from faith’ is primarily the obedience that consists in faith in the gospel.[4]
    29. Verse 27: is a powerful statement.
    30. To the only wise God…
    31. As the only God, He is the God of both Jews and Gentiles (cf. 3:29–30).[5]
    32. God is wise.
    33. Romans teaches that God is wise. Romans 11:28 and the following verses: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    34. Romans 11:34: Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    35. God is wise.
    36. To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ, amen.
    37. Give glory to God. That statement gives glory to God, because the statement itself says that He is the only wise God.
  2. applications
    1. We must recognize that God is able.
    2. God is able to save us.
    3. God is able to take care of our needs.
    4. God is able to strengthen us.
    5. God is able to strengthen you by the Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.
    6. We must trust God.
    7. God has revealed Himself and His way of salvation to us.
    8. We must worship God.
    9. He is the only God.
    10. He is wise.
    11. He deserves glory.

God is powerful:

Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? …

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.

It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.[6]

[1] Source: Rebecca Pippert, Stay Salt: The World has Changed Our Message Must Not, (The Good Book Company, 2020), pp. 39-40

85 Dunn lays out the Greek text in graphic form to show the orderly relationship between clauses (Romans, 2:913).

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[3] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1806.

[4] Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2012), 588–589.

[5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 16:27.

[6] Source: Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (Harper Perennial, 1988), p. 52.

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