Commentary on Romans 16:25-27

Notes (NET Translation)

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages,

Verses 25-27 are one long incomplete sentence.

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). An exhortation to be strong is not here.1

The gospel is the means of strengthening (1:11) and consists in the proclamation about Jesus Christ. The revelation of the gospel is the pinnacle of salvation history. The “mystery” may include God’s salvation plan to include both Jews and Gentiles in the people of God (Rom 11:25; cf. 1 Cor 2:1, 7; Eph 1:9; 3:3-9; 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 4:3).

26 but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith —

The “prophetic scriptures” are the OT (1:1-2; 3:21). The “command” of God refers to God’s will to make the mystery known at the time he did.

The emphasis on God’s sovereignty is pronounced, for it is “the eternal God” who decided that now is the time in which the mystery would be revealed. The term “eternal” underlines the truth that God exists through all the ages, and he has determined the juncture in which he, as the Lord of history, will reveal the mystery of the gospel to human beings.2

The purpose of the mystery is the obedience of faith (1:5; 15:18).

How can the gospel be a mystery that was hidden in the OT and at the same time be prophetically announced in the Scriptures? One could simply posit a contradiction: something cannot be hidden and announced beforehand simultaneously. This solution is unsatisfactory, for it is unlikely that Paul did not perceive the tension between these two conceptions, since they stand side by side in successive verses. The most satisfactory solution, therefore, is to acknowledge the tension. On the one hand, there is a sense in which the revelation of the gospel is hidden and obscure in the OT. For instance, the equal status of Jews and Gentiles in the people of God was not clearly communicated (cf. Eph. 3:3-6). On the other hand, the Pauline gospel fulfills what was prophesied in the OT. If the OT wholly conceals what is to come, then only a gnostic exegesis could claim that the gospel of Christ brings to completion what was promised in the OT. Conversely, one should not posit a simplistic and patently obvious continuity between the old covenant and the new. If the lines of continuity were so easily discernible, the language of mystery and concealment would be superfluous. A simple either-or is not the way forward here. One must accept the tension, acknowledging that the gospel was both hidden and revealed in the OT. In light of the fulfillment readers can now 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.3

27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.

God is ultimately the one who can strengthen the Roman believers. He does this through Jesus Christ and so it is appropriate that the saints give glory to God through Jesus Christ.

Bibliography

Keener, Craig S. Romans. New Covenant Commentary 6. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2009.

Kruse, Colin G. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.

Metzger, Bruce M., ed. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Second Edition. Hendrickson Pub, 2005.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 1998.

Witherington III, Ben, and Darlene Hyatt. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.


  1. Schreiner 1998, Kindle Locations 15699-15702 
  2. Schreiner 1998, Kindle Locations 15752-15754 
  3. Schreiner 1998, Kindle Locations 15761-15773 
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