I have long wondered what I would say to you, Church, on the day we finish the greatest letter ever written, Paul’s letter to the Romans. Two years ago we stood before this letter, very eager to begin but a bit daunted, as 16 weighty chapters loomed over us, feeling as a “…mountain climber who, after looking at a grand mountain from a distance and traveling near it, finds himself in the position to approach it directly with the intention of climbing it.”[1]

Now, by God’s grace we have scaled this vast mountain, and I’d say we still feel like climbers, but now our position is different. Step by step, verse by verse, argument by argument we’ve arrived at the top of this mountain, and from such a height we look out over the vast landscape of 16 chapters of beauty and see the glory of the Lord and His work with a new awe and wonder. Perhaps Martin Luther’s statement about Romans now resounds to us in a new and powerful way. We mentioned it back at the beginning, I’ll repeat again for us now. Luther said, “Romans is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word by heart, but that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. We can never read it or ponder over it too much; the more we deal with it, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”[2]

So Church, has this proven true for you? Has Romans become precious to you, and sweeter to the taste? An even better question is: has the God of Romans become more precious and sweeter to you as a result of working through this book? Has His work of redemption stunned you afresh? Does God shine out more brightly to you because of Romans? I pray these things are true of you, and I pray the Lord and all His wonder would continue to shine as we conclude the letter today.

Church, our final text is Romans 16:25-27, let’s dig in.

“Now 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 but 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—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

Generally speaking these verses form what is called a doxology, which is a gladhearted expression of joyful and exuberant praise to God for who He is, for what He has done, is doing, and will do. These doxologies often end many books in the Bible, and in Paul they’re often found not only at the end of his letters but found within his letters as well as he wraps up certain sections and launches out in a new section. We saw this happen, of course, at the end of Romans 11 as the doctrinal section concludes. Paul can’t help but burst out into praise after writing all he did about God. So it is with chapter 16. As he draws the whole letter to a conclusion, Paul ends with praise to God.

There is much to glean in v25-27, but before we get into it there is one small item to mention. Did you notice v24 is missing in your Bibles? You ever notice that? Did the publishers mess up? No. Well I should correct myself, v24 is missing for those of you with a more modern translation like the ESV or NIV while older translations like the KJV and NKJV keep it in. The reasoning for this is very technical but it all boils down to the fact that historically speaking v24 first appeared in Romans around the 10th century.[3] That’s the reason why most of you don’t see it in your Bibles today, because the oldest manuscripts we have don’t have it.

Now to the doxology itself. There are many ways to breakdown v25-27, I’ve chosen to do it in four headings.

Romans is about God (v25a)

See how Paul begins. “Now to Him…” His final words begin with “Now to Him…” “…to Him…” Who is the ‘Him’ in view here? It’s God! How fitting for the end of Romans to begin with the Person of God. Hasn’t Romans been all about God all along? Indeed it has!

Romans is about the righteous God who has made a way for enemies of God who fall short of the glory of God to be saved from the wrath of God and brought into peace with God through the gospel of God concerning the Son of God, all of which displays the power of God and the grace of God. These enemies of God turned into saints by faith in Jesus Christ become alive to God, they’re filled with the Spirit of God, they’re given great promises by God, by which they rest in God, enjoying not only no condemnation from God, but also no separation from God because of the great love of God. All of this is the work of the sovereign the mercy of God. And, by the mercies of God, the saints offer their bodies back to God, as a worshipful sacrifice acceptable to God, which leads to a mind renewed in the will of God, a heart yearning to love the people of God, and a burning desire to preach the Son of God to those who’ve never heard the gospel of God.

Simply put, all of Romans could be summed up in this first phrase of v25, “Now to Him…” Romans is about God!

Romans is about God’s Gospel Strength (v25b)

See how Paul continues in v25, “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel…” This righteous God who shows such grace to such sinful people desires to do something with us sinful people. What does He desire to do? He desires to make us strong. This is how Paul ends, with God’s ability to strengthen us. But if you remember it, this is also how he began the letter. Back in 1:11-12 he said this, “For I long to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” So, now at the end we see Paul’s desire is brought to pass, not in himself, but in God’s power. “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you…”

God is strong, God is able, and God desires to make us strong, v25 says it. But how does He do it? How does God give us strength? Is it through us doing our best effort to be strong ourselves? Or does God just zap us, or snap His fingers and change us weak sinful creatures into strong holy creatures in an instant? Or is it that God’s power is already available out there in the universe and we just have to claim it for ourselves in order to be strong? No. God’s strength, God’s power, v25 makes clear, is only and is abundantly accessible to us through the gospel. Remember 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” That’s just like v25, “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel…”

Wait, who’s gospel is it? I thought God desires to strength us, but this says it’s Paul’s gospel. Is it arrogant of Paul to call the gospel “my gospel?” Some think so, I don’t. Because Paul has been saved by God and called by God to take God’s gospel to those who’ve not heard it before, and he calls the message, ‘my gospel’ because the gospel of God has taken hold of him. It didn’t come from him, but it has taken possession of him, so much so that it is his gospel, and everyone who believes it could say the same. That through Paul’s preaching they’ve come to believe in God’s gospel, yet it truly was Paul preaching! R.C. Sproul said it well when he said, “The only gospel is Paul’s gospel!”[4]

So, God desires to strengthen sinners through the gospel. Anyone wondering why Paul said that instead of saying ‘to Him who is able to save you according to my gospel?’ Why didn’t he do that?[5] Isn’t the gospel able to save? Of course it is! Paul has already told us about how the gospel saves us, all throughout this letter. Here in v25 he’s reminding us that the gospel isn’t only the way into the Christian life, he’s reminding us how the gospel is also the way we continue in, grow in, are established in, and are made strong in our life with Christ. We never graduate from the gospel! If you find yourself weak and in need of strength for life in this fallen world, where will you look? Yourselves? No. Empty wells abound in the mirror, and in self-worth. Will you look to others? No. Empty wells abound in the praise of man. Only the gospel can make us strong. It is the deep well that never runs dry.

But notice, how God strengthens us through the gospel. Paul gets specific about it in v25, “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…” God strengthens weak sinners through the gospel, by the preaching of the gospel! I love this! This is job security to me, but it’s also so much more. This is why preachers exist. Not so we can feel important, not so we can share knowledge, not to build our own kingdoms, no. Preachers exist because God does something unique in the faithful preaching of His gospel, something that the preacher cannot do! What does God do in the preaching of His gospel? He not only saves those who believe, He strengthens those who believe. Praise God for this work of grace!

Romans is about God’s Gospel Mystery (v25c-26)

“…according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but 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…”

This is where the bulk of this doxology is found. The revelation of God’s mystery is what he calls it, and by that Paul means the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the way he speaks of it here is really important to notice. This gospel mystery involves five components, and all five are found here in v25c-26.

First, this mystery was once secret, or hidden. There were hints here and there, of a coming One who would crush the deceiving serpent’s head and save God’s people from the curse of sin. But it was shadowy. God says this hidden-ness was normal, par for the course, for long ages.

Second, this mystery has been made known through Scripture. By the grace of God, through the prophetic writings, God slowly but surely revealed more and more of this mystery to His people. In the Garden we learned of a coming snake crusher. In the wilderness we learned of a coming Prophet like Moses but greater than Moses. In the worship of Israel we learned of a coming Priest like Aaron but greater than Aaron. And in national Israel we learned of a coming King like David but greater than David. Isaiah told us more, that this coming King would be both born of a virgin and the suffering servant. And on and on and on the prophets spoke of this coming one and the Kingdom He would usher in.

Third, v26 mentions this mystery will be global. In the unfolding of the Scriptures Israel was told the coming King and His Kingdom would encompass a larger boundary than small Israel. That it would be, not just for their nation, or for a few nations, but for and among every nation and every people. In this way, v26 reminds us, God’s promise to Abraham would come true. That through Abraham’s descendant God would indeed bless the world. And that all who bless this descendant would be blessed and all who curse this descendant would be cursed.

Fourth, all of this happened by God’s command. All the hidden-ness, all the prophetic proclamation of previous generations, all the coming global scope, all the way up to the very moment this anticipated One came onto the scene, all of this happened, occurred, and was brought to pass by God’s command. This tells us all of history comes about by God, in just the right way to prepare for, make much of, and spread the news about the Son of God. And that God in His grace, commanded that it would all be like this, to ensure that He would be glorified by blood bought sinners from all the nations.

Fifth, all of this happens to bring about obedience. That surprising? God did all of this, not just to bring about salvation, but to bring about the obedience that is born out of faith. One thing this means, of the many, is that those who are saved by God will be marked by their obedience to God. Yes of course we’re saved by faith and faith alone, but when faith saves it produces all manner of obedience and works. Works that give glory to God and works that give gospel witness to neighbor. These obedient ones, Christians, don’t see God’s commands as burdensome killjoys, but as a delight and treasure.

So Romans is about God. Romans is also about God’s gospel strength. And as we just saw, Romans is about God’s gospel mystery. Paul now ends, with a grand conclusion.

Romans is about God’s Wisdom and Glory in Christ Forevermore (v27)

“Now 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 but 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—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

This final sentence tells us from seeing all this wondrous gospel work – from start to finish, from shadow to reality, from promise to fulfillment – those who believe in this gospel will see God’s great wisdom and will give God glory. But this won’t happen generally, as if millions of believers will give God glory for no specific reason. We will give God glory because of, in, and through Jesus Christ forevermore. Why? Because we won’t get over the fact it is Jesus Christ who has brought us to God. He will ever be our strength and our song of praise.


I want to ask a final question as we come to the end of Romans today.[6] What difference has this letter made to us? Have we simply been passengers on a tour bus this whole time, admiring the view as we pass by? Hopefully not. Hopefully, Lord willing, we got out of the tour bus, and walked up and down this mountain ourselves, and have been forever changed by it! So Church, what difference has this letter made to us? The letter to the Romans exists to ‘strengthen us’ in the gospel. Has that happened during our time in it? Have you grown strong? Perhaps think of our image we began with today, as a climber. We all as a church together have scaled the mountain that is Romans and are now standing atop this great mountain, and I wonder, are your eyes open to see the beauty surrounding us?

Some of you are riddled and plagued by all kinds of sins, sorrows, anxieties, troubles, and cares. I get it, I do. Life in this fallen world will feel very fallen at times. But, in spite of it all, would you look at the glory of this God of Romans? Would you grow a defiant spirit and turn away from your sins and sorrows and look into the face of Him who desires to make you strong in the gospel of Christ? May you look, may you find all your heart has ever desired, and may you continue to look all your days, until the last day comes, and you finally see Him face to face.

[1] J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 16.

[2] Cited in Timothy F. Lull and William R. Russell, eds., Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress, 2012) 76.

[3] Richard N. Longenecker, Romans: A Commentary on the Greek Text, ed. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner, NIGTC (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016). Accessed via Logos Bible software, 5/24/22.

[4] R.C. Sproul, Romans, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2009), 509.

[5] Timothy Keller, Romans 8-16 For You, God’s Word For You (The Good Book Company, 2015), 181.

[6] J. V. Fesko, Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018), 437.

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