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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 16

 

 

Verses 14-27

III. CONCLUDING PORTION OF THE EPISTLE.

This part of the Epistle may be divided into four sections, (1) Personal explanations, similar to those in chap. Romans 1:8-15 (chap. Romans 15:14-33). (2.) Greetings to different persons at Rome (chap. Romans 16:1-16). (3.) Closing exhortation, with greetings, from various persons (chap. Romans 16:17-24). (4.) Concluding Doxology (chap. Romans 16:25-27).


Introduction

Verse 1

Romans 16:1. I commend, etc. Both an introduction and a commendation are suggested.

Phebe our sister; a Christian believer; this is the general ground for receiving her.

Who is a deaconess, etc. This is the special reason, in view of the fidelity with which she had fulfilled her duty (Romans 16:2). It is implied that she occupied this position at the time Paul wrote. The word here used may mean ‘servant’ but it is unlikely that this is the sense, since there were deaconesses in the Christian church during the first century, their duty being to take care of the sick and poor, and of strangers, in the female portion of the churches. The rigid separation of the sexes made this the more necessary. The custom continued for centuries in the Greek church. In the Protestant church the office of deaconess has recently been revived. The Roman Catholic church has, as is well known, special orders of celibate women to perform the duties properly belonging to this office. The term here used may be either masculine or feminine. Some regard the ‘widows’ spoken of in 1 Timothy 5:3-16 as deaconesses, a new opposed by Neander; see that passage, and Schaff, Apostolic church, p. 535, where the identity is defended Phebe was the bearer of the letter, else no such special mention would have been necessary. From the independent manner of her movements, it has been inferred that she was a widow.

Cenchrea. The eastern part of Corinth, about nine English miles from that city. To argue from this that the letter was addressed to Ephesus, or some church east of Corinth, is puerile.


Verses 1-16

2. Greetings to different Persons at Rome.

The bearer of the letter is commended in vers, 1, 2. Then follow greetings to many individuals, and to some households or household churches. About one third of the persons mentioned are women. On the names as indicative of origin and station of the believers at Rome, see Introd., p. 12 (Romans Book Comments). Of this chapter, Chrysostom says: ‘It is possible even from bare names to find a treasure.’ The list shows: (1.) Paul's personal regard; (2.) The high place he accords to women; (3.) The constitution of the Roman congregation; (4.) The great influence he exerted, since so many friends were present in a place he had never visited; (5.) The undying name received from his friendly mention, is a type of the eternal blessing which belongs to those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Classic authors have not preserved for us the record of so many friends; the mention of their friends has not awakened so great an interest as this list of humble people whom they would have despised. On the origin and social standing of the Roman believers, as indicated by this list, see Introd., pp. 11, 12 (Romans Book Comments). Bishop Lightfoot (Philippians, pp. 169-176) finds that most of the names occurring in this section occur also in the inscriptions discovered in recently excavated burial places at Rome (columbaria). These inscriptions refer mainly to freedmen and slaves of emperors, and it is a fair inference that some of the imperial household are included here (comp. Philippians 4:22). Identification of the persons is of course impossible. The names are mainly Greek (‘Mary’ alone is Jewish), but this gives no clue to the nationality, since Greek names were borne by the Hellenistic Jews. We may assume that many of those saluted here were of Jewish extraction; proportionally more than in the Roman congregation as a whole.


Verse 2

Romans 16:2. That ye receive her in the Lord. This is the purpose of the commendation, that the Roman believers give her a Christian welcome.

Worthily of the saints, as saints ought to receive such an one.

And that ye assist her, etc. The term used is a legal one, and hence it has been inferred that her visit to Rome was on private legal business. It is unlikely that she was travel-ling in the discharge of her official duty as deaconess.

For she too, ‘she herself also,’ hath been a helper of many. The word used is an honorable one, indicating service bestowed by a superior on inferiors (patroness). It suggests here her labors as deaconess, though it may include private service.

Of myself also. Where is unknown; possibly Paul had once been ill during a visit to Cenchreae, or the Apostle may have made her house his home, as in the case of Lydia, at Philippi. This commendation has the true Christian tone; what she has done for other Christians gives her a claim on the helpfulness of the Roman believers.


Verse 3

Romans 16:3. Salute. ‘Greet’ (E. V.) and ‘salute’ represent the same word throughout the chapter.

Prisca and Aauila. ‘Priscilla’ is the diminutive form, found elsewhere and in the versions and Fathers. The wife seems to have been the more prominent and active Christian; her name comes first in Acts 18:2, as well as here. Then as now, capacity and fidelity formed the standard. ‘This married couple, tentmakers like Paul (Acts 18:3), expelled from Rome as Jews under Claudius, had been converted at Corinth by Paul (see on Acts 18:1), had then migrated to Ephesus (Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 16:19), are now again in Rome; but, according to 2 Timothy 4:19, were at a later period once more in Ephesus’ (Meyer). Their stay at Ephesus has been made the basis of the theory that this chapter (or Epistle) was originally addressed to that city; but persons of their trade would be apt to travel extensively.

Follow workers (so E. V. in Colossians 4:11) in Christ Jesus. They had wrought together at their common handicraft, but this refers to working for Christ, in Him as the sphere of activity. On the question whether ‘Prisca’ publicly preached, comp. the Epistle addressed to the church where she first labored for Christ (1 Corinthians 14:34).


Verse 4

Romans 16:4. Who for (‘in behalf of,’ not, ‘instead of’) my life laid down, etc. Lit., ‘laid under,’ used of submitting to execution. That they underwent peril of their life for the sake of Paul is clearly meant; whether at Ephesus or Corinth is uncertain, since in both places Paul had been ex-posed to violence. But the mention of this fact opposes the Ephesian destination of the chapter.

All the churches of the Gentiles; evidently including the Roman congregation. The Gentile churches owed gratitude for what was done in behalf of the Apostle to the Gentiles.


Verse 5

Romans 16:5. And salute; the verb is properly supplied, but the clause is grammatically connected with Romans 16:3, and should form a part of Romans 16:4.

The church that is in their house. The early Christians had, as a rule, no public place of assembly, but probably met in the houses of the more prominent brethren. In larger cities there seem to have been several such places of meeting; and one of these is here referred to. The language of Justin Martyr sustains this view. The same persons were doubtless wont to gather there, forming a household parish of the one Roman congregation. As the city was four miles in circumference, there was a necessity for a number of these assemblies.

Epenetus my beloved. All the persons named, from this point to the close of the section, are unknown. ‘The legends of the Fathers made the most of them martyrs and bishops, and the Synopsis of Dorotheus misplaces the most of them among the seventy disciples’ (Meyer).

The first-fruits of Asia onto Christ; i.e., among the first converts in the Roman province of Asia, of which Ephesus was the chief city. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:15, where the same expression occurs. There ‘Achaia’ is the correct reading; here ‘Asia’ is much better supported. The change may have arisen from the fact that this Epistle was written in Corinth, the capital city of Achaia.


Verse 6

Romans 16:6. Salute Mary. This is the sixth person of this name mentioned in the New Testament. Otherwise unknown, but characterized as one who bestowed much labor on you. So the best authorities, and most recent editors. ‘Bestowed labor’ points to practical activity, in charity and womanly ministrations. When preaching and teaching are meant, ‘in the word’ is usually added.


Verse 7

Romans 16:7. Andronicus and Junias, or ‘Junia.’ It is impossible to decide which form of the latter name is correct; if the feminine form (‘Junia’) be accepted, then the wife or sister of Andronicus is meant. But the description is supposed by many commentators to favor the reference to a man.

My kinsman. This may mean ‘fellow-countrymen,’ here and in Romans 16:11; Romans 16:21; but all the persons thus termed may have been actual ‘kinsmen.’ It cannot be affirmed that they were not.

My fellow prisoners. When and where is unknown.

Who are of note among the Apostles; honorably known by the Apostles. The phrase does not imply that they were Apostles. So loose a sense of the term cannot be accepted: see Schaff, Apostolic Church, pp. 512, etc.

Who also (i.e.., the two persons named, not ‘the Apostles’) have been in Christ before me. Became Christians before the conversion of Paul; probably in Judea, since they were known to the Apostles. Paul had a nephew at Jerusalem, we learn from Acts 23:16.


Verse 8

Romans 16:8. Ampliatus; so the weightier authorities; ‘Amplias’ is an abbreviated form. A common name in itself, it occurs several times in connection with the imperial household (Lightfoot). The same is true of nearly every name in the rest of the section.

My beloved in the Lord; in Christian fellowship.


Verse 9

Romans 16:9. Urbanus (the Latin form of this Latin name), our fellow worker in Christ ‘Our’ refers not to Paul alone, since he says ‘my’ so frequently here, but to the Roman Christians also.

Stachys my beloved. The variety in these commendatory phrases was probably due to specific reasons.


Verse 10

Romans 16:10. Apelles. Not to be confounded with ‘Apollos.’ The name occurs in Horace (Sat. i. v. 100) as that of a Jew. He may have been a freedman, as some suppose, but the name was not uncommon. There are various conjectures as to the grouping of freedmen and slaves in these salutations.

The approved in Christ; one whose Christian steadfastness had been tested.

Of the household of Aristobulus; the Christians in that household (comp. Romans 16:11), probably slaves. There is no evidence that the person named was a believer; the phrase used has been thought by some to indicate that he was dead.


Verse 11

Romans 16:11. Narcissus. A powerful freedman of Claudius bore this name, but died two or three years before this Epistle was written. Possibly the household of this person is meant.


Verse 12

Romans 16:12. The three persons mentioned in this verse were probably deaconesses.

Perris. The name is derived from Persia, but on this fact no inference can be based. This woman is not only distinguished by the mention of her greater labor, but is called the beloved. Meyer notices the delicacy of the phrase; not, ‘my beloved,’ as in the case of the men referred to in Romans 16:5; Romans 16:8.


Verse 13

Romans 16:13. Rufus. Possibly the person mentioned in Mark 15:21 (see in loco), since Mark probably wrote in Rome. But the name was frequent

The chosen in the Lord; not merely ‘elect in Christ,’ but a chosen distinguished Christian man.

His mother and mine. His mother by nature, mint by maternal kindness’ (Webster and Wilkinson). The peculiarly affectionate tone suggests some special kindness, in regard to which we can only conjecture. If she were the wife of Simon of Cyrene and had lived at Jerusalem, opportunities to befriend Paul would have been frequent.


Verse 14

Romans 16:14. The numerous group here referred to was probably intimately associated, and less known to the Apostle.

Hormes, Patrobas, Hermas is the order of the best authorities. The last named person can scarcely be the author of the Shepherd of Hermas, since that work was probably not written before the middle of the second century.

The brethren who are with them. Comp. Romans 16:15. The two phrases may refer to household churches, or to associations of Christians for business purposes. The former seems more probable. In that case five assemblies are indicated.


Verse 15

Romans 16:15. Julia; probably the wife of Philologus.

Olympas is the name of a man.

All the saints, etc. In any case pointing to a numerous body of Christians.


Verse 16

Romans 16:16. Salute one another with a holy kiss. ‘The meaning of this injunction seems to be, that the Roman Christians should take occasion, on the receipt of the Apostle’s greetings to them, to testify their mutual love, in this, the ordinary method of salutation, but having among Christians a Christian and holy meaning (Alford). See marginal references. The custom is still known in the Greek Church.

All the churches of Christ salute you. The word ‘all’ was probably omitted by the scribes, because the expression seemed too extensive. But Paul was in communication with most Christian churches; all such would feel interested in the believers at Rome, and if, as is probable, his intention of going there was known, many salutations would be in trusted to him. As he knew so well the believers at Rome which he had not visited, how well qualified he was to speak for the many believing assemblies he had himself organized.


Verse 17

Romans 16:17. Now, I beseech you, brethren. Comp. chap. Romans 15:30.

Mark them; note carefully. In Philippians 3:17, it is applied to those who are to be imitated.

Which cause, etc. The present tense indicates that such persons were doing this, but not necessarily at Rome.

Divisions and offences. The article (in the Greek) points to what is well known. The two words refer to divisions in churches and to temptations to depart from the gospel basis of faith and life. Others, with less reason, apply them to doctrinal divisions and moral offences.

Contrary to the teaching, etc. ‘Doctrine’ may mislead; the reference is to the entire range of Christian truth. The commendation of their teachers implied here indicates that the church was founded mainly by Christians of the Pauline type.

Avoid thorn; lit. ‘turn off from them.’ There is no reference to official excommunication, but to a rule of private conduct toward such. The other might follow, but that was for the local church to determine.


Verses 17-24

3. Closing Exhortation, with Greetings from Various Persons.

The warning of this section (Romans 16:17-20) indicates, not the presence of false teachers at Rome, but rather the danger of such persons making their appearance. The tone of the warning suggests this, as well as the fact that it occurs incidentally in a closing paragraph, instead of in the body of the Epistle. That Jewish zealots for the law were those against whom the Apostle warns is the most probable view. The description of Romans 16:18 is plainly applicable to these Judaizers, to whom the weak brethren would afford an opportunity. Romans 16:21-24 form a distinct paragraph. Most of the names are found in the Book of the Acts, but the persons may be different, except in the case of Timothy. Attempts have been made to prove that this paragraph was not destined for Rome, or is not genuine, but there is nothing in the passage itself to confirm either of these opinions.


Verse 18

Romans 16:18. For they that are such, etc. Comp. Philippians 3:18-19.

Our Lord Christ; He is the true Master (notice the unusual form, which is supported by all the early manuscripts), yet they do not serve Him, but their own belly; a figure for sensuality. It is remarkable how often schismatics have proved their Epicureanism.

By their good words and fair speeches; lit, by the kind speaking and blessing. These terms refer either to the tenor and force of their words, or the former may point to the mask of kindliness, and the latter to flattery. The unctiousness of sensual hypocrites is well known.

Deceive the hearts of the guileless; those who are unsuspicious, unwary. How many were deceiving and deceived appears from Philippians 1:15, written from Rome a few years after this. Undue severity cannot be ascribed to the Apostle’s language: few earnest Christian teachers have failed to observe how apt it still is.


Verse 19

Romans 16:19. For your obedience, etc. ‘Obedience’ to the gospel, obedience of faith, is meant, as throughout the Epistle. Because of their well-known obedience, he does not class them among the ‘guileless.’ This view of ‘for,’ as implying an antithesis, is further favored by the next clause. Other views: I warn you thus, because your obedient disposition is well known; and you are therefore likely to be led astray; or, I am confident you will heed my warning, because your obedience is well known. The former gives an unusual sense to ‘obedience;’ the latter does not accord well with the force of ‘for’ and ‘therefore.’

Over you (the better supported order places the emphasis on this phrase) therefore I rejoice: but I would have you, etc. A delicate combination of warning with the expression of firm confidence. Here is the added reason for the exhortation of Romans 16:17.

Wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil. ‘Simple’ is not the same word as in Romans 16:18; it might be rendered ‘harmless,’ as the margin of the E. V., since it denotes ‘unmixed,’ ‘pure’ ‘free from.’ ‘Unto’ in both cases points to the result. Wisdom is needed that we may rightly do what we know to be right; but in regard to what is evil, the one way is the simple, unmixed way of avoiding it altogether. Romans 16:20.

And the God of peace (so designated in contrast with those who cause divisions, Romans 16:17) shall bruise Satan (who moves all these disturbing teachers) under your feet shortly. The figure is based upon Genesis 3:15. God will give them the victory; both agencies will be employed. ‘Shortly’ is usually taken in the sense of ‘soon.’ The preservation of primitive Christianity from the fatal errors that very soon assailed it is one of the most striking of the gracious providences of God toward His church (Shedd). But Godet gives it the sense of ‘rapidly,’ as better supported by usage. A reference to the return of Christ is by no means necessarily implied

The grace of our Lord, etc. This benediction, except the word ‘Amen’ is supported by the oldest authorities (two of them omitting ‘Christ’), most of them, however, omitting Romans 16:24 (see below). The salutations which follow seem to have been added after the Epistle was virtually ended.


Verse 21

Romans 16:21. Timothy, my fellow-worker, satuteth you. That Timothy was with Paul at this time appears from Acts 20:4.

Lucius. Not ‘Luke’ but possibly ‘Lucius of Cyrene’ (Acts 13:1).

Jason. This may refer to the person named in Acts 17:5, as a resident of Thessalonica.

Sosipater. The same name as ‘Sopater’ (Acts 20:4), and possibly the same person. All three names were frequent.

My kinsmen. Comp. Romans 16:7; Romans 16:11. Here also the term probably means more than ‘countrymen.’ That Paul’s relatives should become Christians, and be associated with him, is probable enough.


Verse 22

Romans 16:22. I Tertius. Otherwise unknown; probably an Italian, though some have sought to identify him with Silas, because the Hebrew word answering to Tertius sounds like Silas.

Who write the epistle. ‘Wrote’ is more literal, but ‘write’ gives the sense of this epistolary aorist. Paul seems to have dictated most of his letters. Comp. Galatians, chap. 6. It was natural that the amanuensis, as a Christian brother, would send his salutation in the first person. In Romans 16:23 the dictation is resumed.

In the Lord. It is more natural to connect this with ‘salute’ though the Greek order permits it to be joined with ‘write.’


Verse 23

Romans 16:23. Gains mine host. Paul was lodging with this man, as he had previously done with Aquila and Justus (Acts 18:1-7). The name occurs in connection with Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:14; Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4. The same person is probably meant in the first instance, probably in the last, and possibly in all three.

And of the whole church. This may mean that a household church met with him, or that he was universal in his hospitality to Christians.

Erastus the treasurer (lit., ‘steward’) of the city; of Corinth. This may be the person mentioned in Acts 19:22; 2 Timothy 4:20; but in that case he had relinquished his office before the time.

Quartus the brother; some Christian brother, known to the believers at Rome, but totally unknown to us.


Verse 24

Romans 16:24. This verse is omitted by the best authorities. The repetition of the benediction is not so unexampled as to have given offence to the early transcribers, while it might readily have been transferred from Romans 16:20. No great weight can be allowed to arguments respecting the genuineness of the closing doxology (Romans 16:25-27) based upon the repetition of this benediction.


Verse 25

Romans 16:25. Now to him, etc. This is the usual form in a doxology; ‘the only wise God’ (Romans 16:27), is in apposition with ‘Him,’ all that intervenes being descriptive. There is, however, a grammatical difficulty, owing to the change of construction in the latter part of Romans 16:27. The phrase on which all that precedes logically depends (‘be the glory’) is placed in a dependent relative clause. Some have thought that in beginning the Apostle had in mind another form of expression than a doxology, and that the relative in Romans 16:27 refers to Christ, while others regard the relative as an interpolation (see below).

Who is able to stablish you. Comp. marginal references. This description of God is appropriate in this Epistle.

According to my gospel. It is difficult to determine the exact sense and connection of this phrase, but it seems best to join it with ‘stablish,’ with the sense ‘in reference to my gospel,’ that you may remain steadfastly faithful to the teaching I have set forth. Others give it the wider sense of ‘in subordination to and according to the requirements of my gospel’ (so Alford). The explanation ‘through’ is lexically untenable.

And the preaching of Jesus Christ. This is closely joined with the preceding phrase, and is probably an explanation of it; either the preaching concerning Christ, which is the substance of his gospel, or the preaching which Christ causes to be promulgated through him. ‘Preaching’ here means the thing preached, and the former explanation is preferable, since it follows the analogy of the phrase ‘the gospel of Christ.’ ‘The Apostle would thus efface what might seem too personal in that noun, “according to my gospel” (Godet). To refer the phrase to the preaching of Christ himself when on earth, is unwarranted.

According to the revelation, etc. The connection of the clause here introduced has been explained in three ways: (1.) Coordinate with ‘according to my gospel,’ etc., and thus closely connected with ‘stablish.’ (2.) Explanatory of the whole preceding statement, and thus defining ‘able to stablish,’ etc. (3.) Explanatory of ‘my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,’ connected with the verbal idea therein implied. The last seems least defensible grammatically. Either of the other two would be linguistically correct, but it is more probable that ‘according to’ here has the same sense as before. We therefore prefer (1), which gives us another designation of the gospel, ‘as the revelation of the primitive sacred mystery’ (Meyer).

Of the mystery. The article is wanting in the Greek, but what follows explains ‘mystery’ as the specific one on which the Apostle delighted to dwell. On the word, see chap. Romans 11:25, but especially Ephesians 1:9. Here, as in Ephesians, the contents of this mystery are, in general, the salvation of sinful men, decreed from eternity, accomplished by Christ, proclaimed through the gospel to all men, so that this is the revelation of the mystery! But the Apostle in such expressions seems always to have in mind the extension of salvation to the Gentiles, so that they become one body with believing Jews (see Ephesians 3:3-9; Colossians 1:26). But the view we take of the connection prevents our limiting the reference to this extension.

Hath been kept in silence during eternal ages. The thought is a common one in the Apostle’s writings. ‘Eternal ages’ include all the ages of human history, but also plainly suggest that eternal past when God formed his counsels of redemption (Ephesians 1:4). ‘Since the world began’ (E. V.) needlessly limits the sense to the period since the creation.


Verses 25-27

4. Concluding Doxology.

In no other Epistle does the Apostle conclude with a doxology, but this need occasion no difficulty. The passage bears every internal evidence of genuineness, and is exceedingly appropriate. ‘As a final complete conclusion, we have now this praising of God, rich in contents, deep in feeling (perhaps added by the Apostle’s own hand), in which the leading ideas contained in the whole epistle, as they had already found in the introduction (chap. Romans 1:1-5) their preluding key note, and again in chap. Romans 11:33-36, their preliminary doxological expression, now further receive, in the fullest unison of inspired piety, their consecrated outburst for the ultimate true consecration of the whole’ (Meyer).


Verse 26

Romans 16:26. But now is made manifest. The emphasis rests on ‘made manifest;’ the whole thought is explanatory of the ‘revelation of the mystery,’ and in contrast with the long silence just spoken of (Romans 16:25). ‘Now,’ as usual, refers to the period since the gospel was preached. ‘Made manifest’ suggests the revelation of the mystery made to the Apostles (comp. Ephesians 3:5); while ‘is made known,’ which all the rest of the verse qualifies, points to the publication of the mystery through preaching. The two expressions, however, are closely united by and (in the original a conjunction used only to connect similar things).

Through prophetic Scriptures. This is the first of four qualifying phrases joined with ‘is made known.’ These point respectively to (1) the means, (2) the cause, (3) the objects, and (4) the aim of this publication. In the original the order of (3) and (4) is inverted, to give that emphasis to the universality of the proclamation which befits the close of this Epistle. The arrangement of these phrases is not arbitrary. ‘The prophetic Scriptures’ were actually the means employed in the universal diffusion of the gospel. (The article is wanting. Comp. Romans 1:2.) Until they were fulfilled the matter was still a mystery, but Christ himself, as well as his Apostles, used the Old Testament constantly to teach evangelical truth. It is altogether unnecessary to argue from this reference to the Old Testament that the ‘mystery’ spoken of is exclusively the reception of the Gentiles. The entire mystery of redemption could be made known through the Old Testament, when once it had been manifested to the inspired Apostles. Godet labors to prove that New Testament prophetic writings are here meant, but such a sense is not obvious. In fact the statement that the mystery had been kept in silence (Romans 16:5) seems to require a reference to the Old Testament; otherwise the Apostle would have failed to give it the place in this grand passage which it has everywhere else in New Testament history and literature (see again, chap. Romans 1:2.)

According to the commandment of the eternal God. The reference to the Scripture naturally suggests God who spake through the prophets. But it is not necessary to take this phrase as subordinate to ‘Scriptures’; still less to make it parallel with ‘according to’ in Romans 16:25. The publication of the gospel was by Apostles who were fully persuaded that the same God who spoke through the prophets had sent them by specific commandment: comp. Matthew 28:19-20, and the Apostle’s language everywhere. ‘Eternal’ is appropriately used here, since the whole passage has reference to what he has disposed ‘during eternal ages’ as well as in the present

Unto all the nations. ‘Unto’ here points to the local extension of the gospel; it was made known so as to reach ‘all the nations.’ (The introduction of this phrase opposes the limitation of ‘mystery’ to the fact of the reception of the Gentiles; what was made known unto them was the entire gospel mystery.) The universal scope of the gospel has been the ground tone of the whole epistle; hence this phrase stands last in the original, to give it due emphasis.

Unto obedience of faith. Precisely as in chap. Romans 1:5; ‘in order to produce obedience to faith,’ to make men become believers. The gospel made known: by Divine authority, through recorded prophecy now fulfilled, in order to make men believe, and extended to all the nations. In the mystery thus made known, which was really the Apostle’s gospel, God was able to stablish them. Beginning with the form of a doxology to this God of powerful helpfulness, he has so enlarged upon the method of His help as to render a resumption necessary; hence the difficulty of the construction in Romans 16:27.


Verse 27

Romans 16:27. To the only wise God, etc. We give the literal rendering, which shows the difficult construction. Efforts have been made to avoid it by rejecting to whom; but a due regard for external authorities will not permit this. We regard the opening phrase as a resumption of the doxology begun in Romans 16:25, and the relative as an irregular construction. The difficult question still remains; does ‘to whom’ refer to ‘the only wise God,’ or to ‘Jesus Christ?’ Explanations: (1.) It refers to God. This is grammatically most probable, since otherwise the entire passage is left without any logical form. A change of construction is common enough in Paul’s writings; but we can hardly accept a logically incomplete doxology. ‘Through Jesus Christ’ may then be explained as meaning that God through Christ appears as the absolutely wise God (Meyer). We indicate this connection by placing a semicolon (instead of a comma) before the relative clause. The view of the E. V. (and many older versions and commentators), which joins ‘through Jesus Christ’ with ‘be the glory,’ is opposed by the presence of the relative. (2.) Many refer the doxology to Christ. The Apostle might utter such a doxology, but it seems harsh to turn the reference from the leading Person in the entire passage. (3.) Godet refers the relative to both God and Christ, urging that it is difficult to separate them in a passage like this. In chap. Romans 1:7, ‘the two substantives are placed under the government of one and the same preposition; they might therefore here be included in the same pronoun.’ Much such interpretation is precarious. The view of Meyer seems preferable.

Be the glory forever. ‘The glory,’ which befits Him (see chap. Romans 11:36). ‘Be’ is properly supplied, rather than ‘is’ The latter would give a true sense, but this is an ascription of praise. The Apostle, who had dived so deeply into the riches of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, might well close such an Epistle by declaring that God was revealed as absolutely wise through Jesus Christ, and ascribe to Him, as such, the glory forever. And when, through the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to this gospel, the mystery of God’s love in Jesus Christ shall be make known unto all the nations, and they, through the written revelation, become obedient to faith; then to Him at whose command the message is proclaimed, and who is therein revealed as the only wise God, to Him be the glory forever.

Amen. They only say ‘Amen’ who labor for and await the final triumph of Him whose plan of saving grace is so fully set forth in this great Epistle.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 16:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-16.html. 1879-90.

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