Summary: 1) The Gospel that Strengthens Believers (Romans 16:25a), 2) The Gospel that Proclaims Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25b), and 3) The Gospel that Reveals God’s Mystery (Romans 16:25c–27).
As Canadians, this is a strange weekend. We watch, from afar, our brothers and sisters in the United States, celebrate Thanksgiving. Enjoying many of the same benefits that they enjoy, in many ways we can eco their thanks. Most rightly, we can join them in giving thanks and praise to our Lord as the source of all that is good.
When we find this event specifically occurring in scripture it is known as a doxology. The word doxology comes from the Greek words doxa, which means glory, and logos, which means word. So a doxology is a word that ascribes glory to God. The conviction behind New Testament doxologies is that everything exists and everything happens to draw attention to the glory of God (Piper, J. (2014). Sermons from John Piper (2000–2014). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.).
The book of Romans ends with a beautiful doxology, praising God for what He has done through His Son, Jesus Christ. Doxologies are found throughout Scripture. Sometimes a writer is so overwhelmed with gratitude that he breaks into inspired praise to God for His goodness and grace. In Romans 16, 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 (Sanday, W., & Headlam, A. C. (1897). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle of the Romans (3d ed., p. 436). New York: C. Scribner’s Sons.).
As we come to the end of our study of the book of Romans and are coming near the end of 2017, what are we most thankful for? Thankfulness is crucial for praise. If we think that we have enjoyed so much because of our hard work, or worse, just being lucky, we miss the entire story. Behind every deliverance, every gift, every sustaining and every joy, there is God. Understanding this fact is crucial for living a life that praises Him and showing to a selfish world, where the only source of true and lasting joy resides.
Paul’s closing doxology in Romans is unique, in that, in his praise of the Lord, he recapitulates major themes of the epistle. Perhaps taking the pen from Tertius (cf. v. 22), the apostle touches on 1) The Gospel that Strengthens Believers (Romans 16:25a), 2) The Gospel that Proclaims Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25b), and 3) The Gospel that Reveals God’s Mystery (Romans 16:25c–27).
We can praise God because of:
1) The Gospel That Strengthens Believers (Romans 16:25a)
Romans 16:25a 25 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) (ESV)
First of all, Paul praises God for the gospel that strengthens/establishes. God is able, that is, has sufficient power, to strengthen/establish those who trust in Him according to the true gospel that Paul, and every true preacher and teacher, have clearly set forth. It centered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the focal point of the gospel. Apart from him there could be no “good news” in the ultimate sense of that term. (Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 282). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Sterizo (to strengthen/establish) means to make firm and stable, to make fast. In this context it refers to being mentally settled, firmly rooted in the truth of the gospel. This reminds us that the gospel is not only the entry point into the Christian life; it is also the way we continue in, grow in and enjoy life with Christ. Paul has shown in Romans how the gospel not only saves us (chapters 1–5), but also how it then changes us (chapters 6–8; 12–15). If we believe the gospel, God is working powerfully through it, in us. We need never move away from it (Keller, T. (2015). Romans 8–16 for You. (C. Laferton, Ed.) (p. 181). The Good Book Company.).
Please turn to Ephesians 3 (p.977)
Through the gospel, God is able to strengthen/establish the minds and hearts of believers in the truth, to settle us, ground us, and make us firm in Him. No one but a Christian can be certain about God, certain about His truth, certain about His standards of righteousness, certain about His love and care, or certain about being with Him throughout eternity.
In praying for God to strengthen/establish the believers at Ephesus, Paul petitioned the Lord:
Ephesians 3:14–21 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.