How many of you like mystery stories? I certainly do. When I was younger, I loved watching mystery TV shows such as the “Perry Mason” movies, “Columbo”, “MacLeod, “CSI: NY” and all three versions of “NCIS”. I also like reading mystery stories and novels, so it’s not surprising that I really like the passage from Romans 16:25-27.
This reading is a prayer of praise to God. It ascribes glory and worth to God’s name. Paul wanted the Christians in Rome to be established, firm and unmoved in their commitment to the truth of the Gospel. There is a mystery surrounding the revelation of God. The part of God that was not revealed in the Old Testament was revealed in the New Testament.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans explains the salvation that has come by God’s grace for God’s glory. Romans 16:25-27 is appropriate for the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Christ was born so that God’s glory and grace could be brought into our sin-filled world. God’s grace is the only way we can be restored to him. Since we are separated from him, we are in exile just like the Israelites were in exile in Egypt. God comforts his exiled people by promising the world-changing display of his glory. That display was the birth of Jesus.
Paul reminds the Christians in Rome that God commanded that his Scriptures be preached throughout the world so that all people can obey God’s command to believe. We must remember that while we are celebrating the Advent of our Saviour, that Saviour is also the reason for the season. The reason we celebrate Advent is to remind us that the mystery Paul spoke of in this passage is no longer a mystery or a secret.
Romans 16:25-27 is a doxology or song of praise that praises God for his work through Jesus. It summarizes the major themes of the Letter to the Romans. Paul has outlined the great themes of salvation in this letter. He urges the Romans and us to live as Christians and spread the Gospel to the whole world. In order to have the strength to do this work, we must always look to Jesus and the mystery of salvation that was revealed on that first Christmas 2,000 years ago.
The gospel was revealed by the Father through Jesus Christ. God revealed what had been hidden for so long when Christ died and rose again. Christ conquered death for himself and for everyone who believes in him in faith. Our sinful nature estranged us from God, but Christ’s death and resurrection reconciled us to God. Adam’s sin led to our condemnation, and Christ’s righteousness made our justification possible. God is wise and deserves glory forever and ever. He sees all, and he can take our foolishness and give us wise hearts. He knows our beginning and our ending, and his wisdom holds us together, especially when times are tough.
We are to listen to God with a heart that is filled with faith. We are to honor God because he plans to bring all peoples and nations together in faith. Obedience to God and listening to God means that we have to listen to what he tells us and apply our hearts and minds to those words.
Jesus is the access route that we have to take for our salvation. That’s why he was born on that first Christmas. He places us securely and permanently in a position of faith, blessing and peace. God gets us to a spiritual place where our faith can’t be shaken and where life’s trials strengthen our faith.
Why should God receive glory? He gives us strength through his message. He revealed his will in a way that was hidden in the past. Our relationship with him is based on faith. Romans 16:25-27 places Christ’s birth in the broad arena of God’s desire for humanity to live in peace. The reconciliation that is offered in the gospel is the reconciliation to what humanity was created to be. The goal of reconciliation has always been at the heart of the mystery of the revelation of God.
Luke’s Gospel relates the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary, and then together with Mary we sing the reversals of the gospel in the Magnificat. This announcement was the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret throughout history. This revelation brings together the hopes of the Old Testament prophets, the longing of the Old Testament law and the yearning of all humanity. The history of salvation begins to unfold before us in full splendor and will be fully and finally realized in a meal in which this mystery is given and distributed to the community.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
- Briscoe, D.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASB (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson INc.; 2006)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package
- Anne Jervis, “Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?community_id=183
- Dirk G. Lange, “Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?community_id=1152
- Exegesis for Romans 16:25-27. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org