Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pastor's Sermon Notes - February 18, 2007

The Bruising of Satan
Romans 16:20

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen


This verse must not be disconnected from the preceding context (16:17-19) concerning the discipline of and separation from those who do not bring Gospel truth and Gospel holiness.

The significance of the teaching of this verse in Romans - it is the only mention of Satan! Paul has maximized his time and teaching on the Gospel. We must avoid the curiosity that insists on going beyond the bounds of Scripture concerning Satan, fallen angels, demons, witches, and other evil workers. We must be more concerned with knowing God, and knowing ourselves as He has revealed these truths in Scripture. His emphases must become our emphases, and His boundaries must become our's!

The significance of this verse in relationship to Gen. 3:15 - And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
The fulfillment of this prophecy in the curse is referred to nowhere else in the New Testament! [note 1]
The only allusions to it elsewhere in the New Testament may be found at:
Luke 10:19 - Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Rev. 12:17 - And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
It is troubling not to find cross references at Rom. 16:20 to Gen. 3:15 in the margins or notes of many modern study Bibles (and Greek New Testaments)!

1. This is a Divine Work - it is done by the God of peace
2. This is a Victorious Work - the result is a defeated Satan under our feet
3. This is a Quick Work - it will be done shortly

I. This is a Divine Work - the God of peace

1. God is the accomplisher of this work

It is very important that we understand who’s work this is!
This is not our work!
This is not something accomplished in our own strength, or in our flesh!

1) This work of God was promised in Genesis 3:15. This prophecy contained in the Curse has a developmental fulfillment involving four "stages" in its fulfillment. [note 2]

2) This work of God was secured in the Temptation, and on the Cross by Christ (cp. Mt. 4:10; Jn. 12:31-32; Eph. 1:22; Col. 2:14-15; Rev. 12:5, 10).

3) This work of God goes on at the present time within the Body of Christ (Rom. 16:20; Eph. 6:12-13).

4) This work of God will continue with Satan’s incarceration in the abyss (Rev. 20:3).

5) This work of God will culminate in Satan’s defeat in open warfare at the end of the Millennium, following which he will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever (1 Cor. 15:25; Rev. 20:10).

2. God is characterized as a God of Peace in this work

This contrast between God as a God of peace, and as the Warrior defeating our ultimate foe may seem out of place to us. Peace is an important concept in Scripture, but it is not peace at any price, or peace, peace when there is no peace. It is not a peace of compromise with evil, or surrender to it. Ultimate peace, which the Bible calls reconciliation is brought about by the power of God, and by His power alone, and where He does not reign, there can be no peace. God's peace is not the peace of pacifism, but the peace of victory in warfare, a peace that is earned, bought and paid for, and delivered to us a gift of His grace.

God is the giver of peace, the God of Peace, and no one will have His peace whom He had not given it to. It cannot be bought or earned by His creatures. It is a gift communicated by His Spirit.

It is common to find this characterization of God in Pauline benedictions and elsewhere in the New Testament:

Rom. 15:33 - Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
1 Cor. 14:33 - For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
2 Cor. 13:11 - Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Phil. 4:9 - Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
1 Th. 5:23 - And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Th. 3:16 - Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
Heb. 13:20 - Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant

Jesus speaks to us of this peace - Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (Jn. 14:27) Do you have this peace? This is not a feeling! This is not a compromising resignation, as in: "I'm OK, you're OK, and that's OK." This is the peace of a personal relationship with God, solidly based on His truth, secured by the finished work of His Son, and communicated to us by His Spirit. It involves the removal of our enmity towards God, and our bondage to sin. This is made clear by the entirety of the book of Romans! Do not end this day without casting yourself upon the mercy of God, and surrendering yourself to Him as the absolute sovereign. Do not go on in a hopeless war against your Creator! To do so means that you are without hope and without Christ, yea, without hope because without Christ, as part of a lost and dying world! I say again, do you have this peace?

II. This is a Victorious Work - shall bruise Satan under your feet

1. The Nature of the Victory of this Divine Work - bruise Satan

The meaning of the word translated here as bruise is: "break, to break in pieces, shiver; to tread down; to put Satan under foot and (as a conqueror) trample on him; to break down, crush; to tear one's body and shatter one's strength" [note 3]

It is used in a literal sense in the following places in Scripture:

Mark 5:4 - Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. (Gerasenes, cp. Lk. 8:26-39; context = Mk. 5:1-20)
Mark 14:3 - And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
Luke 9:39 - And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. (The day after the Mount of Transfiguration)
John 19:36 - For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

It is used in a metaphorical sense in these passages:

Psalm 147:3 [LXX] - He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
Jeremiah 23:9 - Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.
Matthew 12:20 - A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Luke 4:18 - The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (Christ quoting Isaiah 61:1 [LXX], in the synagogue.) [note 4]
Rev. 2:27 - And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Satan will be utterly defeated, crushed, his power broken in pieces, his strength shattered by God!

2. The Completeness of the Victory of this Divine Work - under our feet

The imagery is that of the absolutely complete defeat of a foe.
It would not be remarkable if it said that Satan was bruised under Christ's feet, but when it is our feet, it should cause us to be amazed. We should revel in our participation in God's victory!

III. This is a Quick Work - shortly

This does not mean soon, rather, it means quickly.
In other words, it does not take God a long time to do this.
It is a speedy work.


This is how John Piper concluded his sermon on this passage:

"Paul: Thank you, Lord. You know that I would love for you to come back while I am still alive. I would love to be clothed with life rather than stripped of my body in death. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

The Lord: Paul, my dear servant, your desire for me and my quick return is a great honor to me. I would not want you to desire anything less. Finish this letter to the Romans and pray that those who come after you will have your same desire. And until then, never forget—and don’t let the people forget—when I come I will crush Satan under your feet. My grace be with you.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,His kingdom is forever." [note 5]

Note 1: Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, n.d.; 1977 reprint of Classic Commentary Library series 1956 ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan; from 1883 original: Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans), pg. 499 - "The term...shall bruise, is evidently an allusion to the ancient promise, Gen. iii. 15, which - strange to say - is referred to nowhere else in the N. T."

In addition to Godet and others who have recognized this verse's connection to Genesis, I must recognize Dr. O. Palmer Robertson's contribution. And, while I appreciate his recognition of this allusion, I must react to how he characterizes it in two places in his writings:

1. "In a similar manner, the curse pronounced soon after the fall of man was at the same time a commitment by the Almighty to redeem a people to himself. This commitment made to Adam in sin continues to have significance. Quite dramatically in his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul alludes to the covenantal commitment of God to guarantee the triumph of the seed of the redeemed over Satan. "And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Rom. 16:20; cf. Gen. 3:15). God’s word of commitment spoken first to the serpent has abiding significance today."
[Source: O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1980), pg. 44.]

My reaction: How is this a "commitment to Adam", when it is pronounced as a curse on the serpent? How is this a "covenantal commitment of God", unless some unknown covenant with the serpent is involved? It seems quite inconsistent to assume these things, and then to conclude "God's word of commitment spoken first to the serpent..."!!! It would seem unquestionable that it is a "word of commitment" spoken by God "to the serpent". However, how this becomes a "commitment to Adam", or "a covenantal commitment" seems to elude the warrants of sound exegesis.

2. "Romans 16:20 refers to the ultimate bruising of the head of the serpent under the Christian’s feet. The language clearly indicates the continuing significance of God’s covenant with Adam."
[Source: Robertson, op. cit., pg. 183.]

My reaction: What it "clearly indicates" may be nothing of the sort! What it "clearly indicates" is "the continuing significance" of God’s curse on the serpent, and the included prophecy/promise of Gen. 3:15! Covenantalists seem capable of connecting Biblical theological dots that do not exist! How God's curse on Satan becomes part of the covenant with Adam eludes the objective exegete, and seems to make Satan a party to that covenant! The curse of the pre-Fall Adamic covenant, if we may refer to it that way, was on Adam alone. The curses of the Mosaic covenant were on Israel for failure to comply with the stipulations of the covenant, i.e., for breach of covenant. There is no known covenant to which Satan is a party, therefore the curse on Satan may not be construed in a covenantal context, or at least in the context of any known Biblical covenant.

Note 2: J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, The Complete Guide to Scriptural Predictions and Their Fulfillment (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973), pp. 134-136, 153, 158, 542, 652, 656, and 658. Cp. also John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, I:14:18, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, in The Library of Christian Classics, gen. eds. John Baillie, John T. McNeill, and Henry P. Van Dusen (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), XX:177.

Note 3: Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (LaFayette, IN : Associated Publishers and Authors, 1981; also, 4th ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), s.v. suntribo.

Note 4: I believe I was in error when I delivered this sermon in that I referred to the word bruised at the end of this verse as being another occurrence of the same word found in Rom. 16:20. The only place the word occurs in Luke 4:18 is as a participle modifying heart which is then translated by the compound English word, brokenhearted. Even this occurrence is not found in modern translations not based on the Majority text due to textual variants found here. I neglected to mention this as well.

Note 5: "The God of Peace Will Soon Crush Satan Under Your Feet", by John Piper, sermon date: November 12, 2006; © Desiring God. Website: Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700. Used by permission.

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