We now come to the last section in this incredible epistle to the Romans. In this last portion of this letter Paul gives his fifth and sixth benedictions. Paul seems to be having a difficult time ending this epistle. Every time he appears to finish what he wants to say, he continues on, and then gives another benediction.
More greetings. Vs. 21-24
In verses 21-24, Paul mentions those who are with him who also want to send their greetings to the church in Rome. He writes, “Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rom. 16:21-24). Note another interesting fact is that Paul must have dictated the message that he wanted to communicate to the Romans, and Tertius wrote the words down.
Paul’s final benediction. Vs. 25-27
Paul now ends this epistle by declaring, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27). These verses are quite profound, as Paul restates the reasons why he wrote this epistle. In other words, he summarizes the great truths of this letter for the people. What are these truths?
1. God wants to establish you.
God’s ultimate desire for your life is to establish you as a believer in Jesus Christ. He wants to strengthen you and make you fruitful in your walk with Him. The word establish means to strengthen and to fix you in an immoveable position, established on the solid rock of His Word. In fact, this is the ultimate reason for every epistle in the New Testament, and for that matter, the entire Scripture. God has sent His Word to establish and build you up in your faith, so you can be a true light for Him in this world. God is able to do this for each and every one of us! The words “Who is able” in verse 25, are in the present tense which means that God is continually, daily, at every hour, always ready and able to strengthen and establish you. Jude declared the same truth in his benediction in his epistle. He wrote, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25). This is the work that God is doing right now in all of His people’s lives. This is not man’s work; this is God’s own work that He is doing within you today! I cannot establish myself. I am not able to establish my own life. He is the only One who is able to accomplish this work of establishing you.
If you are reading these words and think to yourself, I don’t feel very established. I’m struggling in my faith and in my attempt to follow Christ. Why do I feel so unsettled in my life? This is a great question! I have been asked this very question many times throughout my ministry. The answer is very simple. An immature or a carnal believer, and all non-believers will always experience instability and weakness in their moral and spiritual lives. They will be extremely moveable, because they have no foundation for their faith or their decision making. The Bible declares in Isaiah 57:20, “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” This simile is very descriptive of someone who does not know the Lord and experiences a very troubled life. An unbeliever is constantly troubled within by their conscience, because of the guilt they experience due to their disobedience to God’s truth in their personal life. They are constantly troubled about many things which results in a turbulent life with no peace. The only way to cope with their guilt is to either harden their hearts toward God, or humble themselves in repentance before Him. These are the only two options!
For an immature and carnal believer, it is almost as bad. Paul explained to the immature believers in Ephesus, who understood very little of the truth of God’s Word, that they, “Should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men” (Eph. 4:14). The phrase “tossed to and fro,” obviously revealed that these immature believers experienced very little stability in their relationship with God, because they were not founded on the rock of God’s Word. I have often watched people who are very immature in their faith jump into every new crazy doctrine that passes through the church. Some ultimately realize that these teachings are out of balance with the Word, and they return to sound doctrine. Others only go from one new doctrine to the next one continually, never finding the stability in their lives that they desire. This only proves to me every time I watch this happen that it is essential to be established in the sound teaching of the Scripture. This same image is taught in Psalm 1 where David wrote, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away” (Ps. 1:1-4). One man is pictured as planted, established and fruitful, and the other is blown away by the wind. Which one of these two people do you wish to be?
Another key to becoming established is not only knowing the truth of the Word of God, but obeying it. Jesus made this clear in His teaching over and over again. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught His disciples that doing what He said was the ultimate way to become established. He taught, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matt. 7:24-27). If you want to become established and immoveable in your life, you need to know the truth of God’s Word, believe it for yourself, and then do what God commands.
If you want to become planted and founded on the Rock in your personal life, then come to the Lord and ask Him to do this work of establishing you. God wants to do this work in you! Notice the promise given by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17. There the apostle wrote, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” Paul is declaring that both the Father and the Son love us, and have bestowed grace upon us, so we can be established in every good word and work. Believe it! Follow Him, and He will do this work in you.
If you are not experiencing that strengthened and immovable position in your spiritual and moral life, I want to encourage you to find out why. Being established is the natural result of someone who is in Christ, and one who is abiding in Christ. Jesus said it very simply in John 15:7-8. He promised, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so will you be My disciples.” This is the simplicity of what it means to abide in Christ and to follow the Savior. Jesus must live inside of you. He and His Words must control your life and decision making. This results in you experiencing answered prayer, and a life filled with the fruit of His Spirit. This kind of a relationship with Jesus will result in a life that is strengthened and established on the solid rock of His truth. You will naturally become immoveable, because you are founded on, and fixed in the One who is immoveable. This is what the Christian life is all about. If you want this stability in your life, then begin to pursue God in His Word, prayer, and fellowship in the body of Christ. Let Him have control of you by surrendering the throne of your heart to Him. You will then experience what it means to be established in Christ.
2. Paul further develops how this work of becoming established occurs.
Paul gives four individual principles that you must do in order to become established in your spiritual and moral life. These four principles are in short phrases given in these remaining verses. It is important to also notice the words, “according to” used 3 times in this benediction. The words “according to” are a synonym meaning, based on or in keeping with something else. So, when Paul says that you are established according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, he is declaring that this work of establishing you is based on the gospel and the preaching of Christ’s message. This is one of the fundamentals of how you become established.
- You become established through hearing the gospel preached.
First, please don’t get hung up on Paul’s term “my gospel” in this verse. Paul is not saying that this is a gospel that he thought up, or made up, on his own to preach. This is just a reference to the gospel that he preached, concerning the grace of God and the work of Christ. It was a message that Jesus had given to him directly when He called Paul on the road to Damascus. Think of it this way. If someone asked you to go to church with them and they said, “This is my church,” you wouldn’t think that they were claiming that they owned this church. We all understand that it is His church, and we are a part of His church. You would immediately conclude they were referring to the fact that this is the church they are called to attend. Paul’s gospel was simply the message that he was called to preach.
The important fact in this verse that you should focus on, is the fact that you will be established though knowing the gospel and listening to this message preached regularly. But the problem is that according to a survey done by The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler, few attend church regularly. They found that 23-25% of Americans show up to church only 3 out of 8 Sundays over a two-month time frame. This means that the other 75-77% attend church even more inconsistently, and participate in fewer consistent preaching opportunities. This fact reveals that many have no concept of how important it is for them to hear the Word proclaimed on a regular basis. Preaching is then God’s method to establish you!
But you may be thinking, How does preaching establish, strengthen, and make me immoveable? This is another issue that few truly understand. Listening to preaching is probably the simplest way to build yourself up, and what enables you to become a strong believer. Paul declared this message to the church quite often. He taught that he was, “A bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (Titus 1:1-3). Note that God has chosen to “manifest His Word through preaching.” The word manifest means to reveal or make clear His Word through preaching. When you go to church and hear the Word preached, your eyes will be opened to see clearly the teachings that would not be otherwise understood. Church is where the gift of teaching is exercised, so that God’s people can grasp spiritual truth. This is especially true for young believers. Why? Preaching reveals truths that would take a young believer years to comprehend and apply in their lives if they didn’t have good preaching to listen to each week. In addition, preaching instills faith into the hearts of those who hear His Word. Paul said that, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). When you have the Word preached to you, and you hear it, and you receive it, faith results in your life.
Does this mean that preaching is the only way your faith grows? No! You also need to hear and receive the Word when you read it personally and allow the Spirit of God to encourage, reprove, and convict your heart. Having a daily time alone with God is essential for your spiritual and moral growth. This is how you can become strong in your faith. John wrote to believers and acknowledged this fact when he said, “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14). If you want to become strong in your faith and know what it means to be established and immoveable, then study the Word of God and listen to good preaching.
- You become established by understanding the mystery of the prophetic Scriptures.
Another way you become established is through an understanding of the prophetic Scriptures. Notice again the use of the words “according to” in this text. He declared, “According to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures” (Rom. 16:25-26). First, let’s look at the phrase “the revelation of the mystery.” What is this mystery that has been hidden from the beginning of time but has now been revealed? What is this revelation that we need? It is simply the mystery of how God was going to redeem all mankind, both Jew and Gentile alike, through the sacrifice of His Son. In Ephesians 3:2-6, Paul explains, “You have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” The message that has been hidden is simply that all men can inherit the promises of God in Christ. If you believe the gospel message, being a Jew or Gentile, you can be saved and receive your inheritance in Christ as a fellow heir with the Jewish people. John said, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). If you will receive Him by faith, Christ will come to live inside you, and you are then in Him. When that takes place, your life will radically change. However, when a person says to me, “I’ve never experienced that radical change.” I usually tell that person to question whether or not Christ is truly in them. Why do I say this? Because, if Christ is in you, He should radically change you. When He takes over your life, He is ready and able to establish you, transform you, and change you. So, if you have any question inside you about your salvation, just open your heart and surrender today by asking Him to come in and be Lord of your life. The change will then begin!
This mystery that has been hidden is also referred to by Paul in Colossians 1:27. Paul states, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The mystery is that God will accept Gentiles by His mercy and grace, just as He accepts the Jewish people. With this acceptance, Christ will live inside you. Christ living in you is the only reason you could ever have hope to go to heaven, which is your hope of glory. To the Jew, God came to dwell in a tabernacle and then in the Temple at Jerusalem, but to those who are born again, Christ will tabernacle or dwell inside of us (John 1:14). This is what changes and transforms us into His disciple.
The revelation of this mystery is given to us in the prophetic scriptures. This is another very important phrase that you must understand. The prophetic scriptures Paul is referring to are in the Old Testament. These passages predicted the coming suffering, redemptive work, and the glory of the coming kingdom of the Messiah. These verses will completely establish any believer who understands them. Why? Because they are the proof that every heart is looking for. The fact of prophecy in the Scriptures is what proves that the Bible has a divine author. Only God can predict the future, and it then comes to pass. This is the difference between every other religious book and the Bible. Anyone can make a prediction, but can it be proven in history as having been accomplished? There are so-called prophets that make predictions every new year in the tabloid magazines which you can buy in the grocery store checkout lane, but do they come to pass? One year I bought several of these magazines and kept them for an entire year to see if these predictions would come to pass. Not one of these predictions came true. However, the Bible has thousands of very specific and clear prophecies of what will happen to nations, people, events, and especially the Messiah. It is easy to look at history and see if these predictions came to pass or not. What you find is fulfillment every single time! If you are interested in studying some of the greatest prophecies in the Bible, go to my podcast and study the predictions, and see how they were fulfilled in history. Click on this link: https://calvarychapelag.libsyn.com/biblestudies/category/Greatest+Prophecies+in+the+Bible
Some respond and say, “Oh the Bible gives vague predictions that anyone can interpret any way they want.” This is simply not true. When the God of the Bible declares that specific nations, which He names, will be destroyed, that is pretty easy to check out. All you have to do is search the internet, and examine the time frame the prediction was made and see what happened. God predicted that He would bring the Babylonians to take the Israelites captive into Babylon because of the sins of the people (Is. 39:5-7; Jer. 20:4). The Lord also predicted that Babylon would be destroyed (Jer. 25:11-12; Is. 48:14). In addition, God predicted that He would bring His people back again to the land of Israel after their seventy-year captivity in Babylon (Jer. 29:10-13). Did these things take place in history? Yes! Because only God knows the future.
Later during the ministry of Christ, Jesus also predicted that the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, and the Jews would be scattered into all nations again (Luke 21:24). But the Bible again predicts that the Jews will be brought back to their land one more time before the Second Coming of Christ (Eze. 37:1-10; Eze. 37:21-28). This prophecy was fulfilled when the modern state of Israel became a nation again in 1948. Is this specific enough for you to believe? God said it, and it came to pass.
Do you realize that the Quran, the Hindu Gitas, the Book of Mormon, or any other religious book does not have any prophecies within it? Why? Because all it would take is for one prediction to not come to pass, and it would be seen that the guru or Mohamad was a false prophet. Hear the challenge that God gives to all false gods in Isaiah 41:21-23. He challenges these false gods to, “‘Present your case,’ says the LORD. ‘Bring forth your strong reasons,’ says the King of Jacob. ‘Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together.’” God is asking the idols to come down off the shelf they are sitting on, and do something good or evil. In other words, God is saying, “show us that you are more than just a piece of wood or stone.” But the ultimate challenge God makes to these false gods is to “declare to us things to come,” or in other words to predict the future, and then we will know that you are a god. Prophecy is the ultimate proof that the author of the Bible is the only true and living God in Heaven. Therefore, if you understand the prophetic Scriptures, you will become thoroughly established in your faith! Please, make a study of the prophesies in the Bible, and you will see what I mean.
- You will become established by trusting in and obeying the commandments of God.
The next principle that causes you to become established is trusting and obeying the commandments of God. Paul stated, “Now to Him who is able to establish you… according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Rom. 16:25-26).
Note the third use of the words “according to” at the end of verse 26. You are established in your spiritual and moral walk with God, based on your trusting in and obedience to God’s commandments. Do you realize that every command of God is to bring you to a place where you will hear the voice of God, so that you will choose to believe and obey?
Your first obedience to God is to believe in Him when He calls you to Himself. Jesus commanded those who heard Him, to “Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This is a command you must obey! Your second obedience is to do what He commands you, because you believe that what He has said is true. It is important to remember that every person on this planet lives by faith every day, but only some choose to trust in the true and living God. Every single one of us has been given a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). However, some choose to put their faith in Buddha, others in Mohammed, and still others simply believe in themselves. We all believe in something and someone. I choose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, sent by the Father to pay the price for my sin, because I have examined the prophetic Scriptures, after hearing the preaching of the gospel message. This is why I have put my faith in Him, and because I trust in Him, I will obey God’s commandments.
The ultimate end of obedience to God is to bring you into a deep abiding fellowship with God, which is the basis for how He establishes you in your spiritual life. John said it this way. “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:23-24). Notice that John was also assured that believing in Jesus was a commandment to be obeyed. The primary way that we obey God’s commandments is by loving those around us. If we keep His commandments then we will abide in Him and He in us, and the Holy Spirit’s presence will be the proof that this is all true. Abiding in Christ is the foundation of an established life and a vibrant Christian walk. You can’t get any more established than that!
- You will become established by acknowledging that God alone is the wise One!
The last way you become established in Christ is by acknowledging that He is the only One who is wise. Paul could not finish this epistle without declaring his praise: “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:27). This is so fitting for Paul to end this epistle in this way. He is acknowledging that he is not the wise one, but that God is the only wise One. Paul didn’t figure out all the truths that he has just taught; God revealed them to him. God planned how to save mankind, and then He accomplished His work of redemption. Paul knew that he owed all that he was, and had, to the God who loved him and gave Himself for him (Gal. 1:3-5). When you have this same understanding you are confident that you are nothing, and that Christ is everything. If you think that you are something, when in reality you are nothing, you have deceived yourself (Gal. 6:3). All these concepts reveal a deep humility within. Consequently, humility is the simplest way to establish yourself in the Lord. Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). Humbling yourself is always the result of sober thinking concerning yourself, which is the opposite of self-exaltation and self-deceit. Keeping yourself thinking correctly about your own life will be the difference between surrender and self-effort. Humility keeps you clinging to Jesus, and walking in full commitment to Him, as opposed to having a superficial and half-hearted Christian walk. This is why Paul was so confident that God alone was the wise One, because He knew God was the source, the means, and the end of all things. May the truths of this epistle bring you to this place of fully acknowledging that Jesus is Lord of your life, because you know He is the only wise God. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17). May your life always bring honor and glory to Him!