Verse of the Day

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pastor's Sermon Notes - February 25, 2007

Glory to the God of the Gospel
Romans 16:25-27

[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you
according to my gospel,
and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery,
which was kept secret since the world began
[26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets,
according to the commandment of the everlasting God,
made known to all nations for the obedience of faith
[27] To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.


A review of this sermon series on Romans [see Appendix A below]

A review of the significance of Romans

A consideration of the difficulties with this passage:

1. Textual criticism - 5 main variants, 15 different forms of these variants -

"In our view this demonstrates two reliable principles: (1) when the text of the New Testament has been tampered with in its transmission, the readings scatter like a flock of chickens attacked by a hawk, or even by a dog; and (2) every reading ever occuring in the New Testament textual tradition is stubbornly preserved, even if the result is nonsense." [footnote 1, see also Appendix B below]

2. Systematic Theology and the "mystery" - criticism of dispensationalism -

"Upon near completion of reading through Romans, my study was halted by a scripture that gave me the shock of my life, verses 25&26 of chapter 16....It became evident to me for the first time that those were O.T. scriptures and not N.T. ones that revealed the mystery....These verses confirmed that this present period of Paul’s preaching and the formation of the N.T. church was forecasted in O.T. prophecy. It is not something that was hidden in bygone eternity, soon to be revealed exclusively by Paul and borne out in only N.T. scriptures." [footnote 2, see also Appendix C below]

The Power and Wisdom of God in the Establishment of His People
The Power and Wisdom of God in the Preaching of Jesus Christ
The Power and Wisdom of God in the Ministry to the Nations

I. The Power and Wisdom of God in the Establishment of His People - 16:25a

Now to him that is of power to stablish you

1. What do we depend upon in our being established as a child of God?

Eph. 3:20 - Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
2 Tim. 1:9 - Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Titus 1:2 - In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Col. 2:2 - That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Jude 1:24 - Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

2. What does it mean for God to establish us?

Lk. 9:51 - And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
Lk. 16:26 - And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Lk. 22:32 - But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Acts 18:23 - And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
Rom. 1:11 - For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
1 Th. 3:2 - And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
1 Th. 3:13 - To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
2 Th. 2:17 - Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
2 Th. 3:3 - But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
Js. 5:8 - Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
1 Pet. 5:10 - But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
2 Pet. 1:12 - Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
Rev. 3:2 - Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3. How does He do this?

1) Primarily through the ministry of the Word of God by the Spirit of God within the Body of Christ - Lk. 22:32; Ac. 18:23; Rom. 1:11; 1 Th. 3:2

2) By His Spirit and His Word within us - 1 Th. 3:13; 2 Th. 2:17; Js. 5:8

3) Through trials! - 1 Pet. 5:10

II. The Power and Wisdom of God in the Preaching of Jesus Christ - 16:25b

according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ

1. What is the Gospel?

If the Gospel is not understood in the Book of Romans, it is not understood at all!

It is soon clear in Romans that the historical facts concerning the Person and Work of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-9) is only the "bare bones", the outline of the Gospel as its historical basis. The Gospel is much, much more than that, and, therefore, to preach the Gospel involves much, much more than that!

1 Cor. 15:3-6 - [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [5] And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: [6] After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Romans is the prime example of Apostolic teaching "fleshing out" the significance of Christ for the obedience of His people.

2. What is the connection between the Gospel and the power of God establishing us?

1 Cor. 1:17-2:12 - It is the foolishness of preaching! It is the "weakness" of God, and the "foolishness" of God shown, by this means, to be far wiser than the wise of this world, and much more powerful than any strength the world can muster!

III. The Power and Wisdom of God in the Ministry to the Nations - 16:25c-26

according to the revelation of the mystery,
which was kept secret since the world began,
But now is made manifest,
and by the scriptures of the prophets,
according to the commandment of the everlasting God,
made known to all nations for the obedience of faith

1. What was the mystery?

Mt. 13:35 - That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Rom. 11:25 - For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
1 Cor. 4:1 - Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Gal. 3:23 - But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Eph. 1:9 - Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Eph. 3:3-5 - How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Eph. 3:9 - And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph. 5:32 - This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Eph. 6:19 - And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Col. 1:26-27 - Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Col. 2:2 - That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Col. 4:3 - Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
1 Tim. 3:16 - And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
1 Pet. 1:20 - Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

The revelation of the mystery was:

1) kept secret - from when to when? - The Span of Secrecy

2) made manifest -how? - The Manifestation of the Mystery

3) made known: - The Knowledge of the Nations

(1) The Basis of the Knowledge - by - the scriptures of the prophets
(2) The Responsibility for the Knowledge - according to - the command of

(3) The Focus of the Knowledge - to - all nations
(4) The Intent/Result of the Knowledge - for - the obedience of faith

2. What are the scriptures of the prophets?

This is the Old Testament, but this does not mean that the mystery was revealed in the Old Testament as some suppose!!! What this does refer to is that the time would come when the mystery would be revealed to the Nations, that there would be a time in the future when God would expand His Kingdom to include all nations, and not just Israel.

3. What command of the everlasting God is being referred to here?

It may refer to the Great Commission in Mt. 28:18-20 - And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. [19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

It may also refer to the command of Christ to the Apostles during the period between the Resurrection and the Ascension in Acts 1:1-9.

4. What is the obedience of faith?

The command of the Gospel is to repent from our sin, turn from it, and be converted to God and His righteousness, to believe in our heart that God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and to confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior - Rom. 10:9-13 -

[9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [11] For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. [12] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. [13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

However, it does not, and can not stop there! Faith, in Scripture, and before God, is not a dead faith, nor merely a historical faith giving mental assent to the facts of the Gospel account of Christ and His finished work. It is a faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:6), a faith which issues forth in good works (Jas. 2:14-26), that God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph. 2:8-10). The obedience of faith ultimately involves the entire sanctification of the justified child of God.

Conclusion: - 16:27 -

To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

Rom. 11:36 - For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Gal. 1:5 - To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 - Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Phil. 4:20 - Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Tim. 1:17 - Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Tim. 6:16 - Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
2 Tim. 4:18 - And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Heb. 13:21 - Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Pet. 4:11 - If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Pet. 3:18 - But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Jude 1:25 - To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Rev. 1:6 - And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev. 4:11 - Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Soli Deo gloria!


[1] Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmanns Publishing Co., 1987), pg. 291.

[2] Gary George, "Exposing the Myth of Dispensationalism" (self-published pamphlet), pp. 6-7. To clarify any confusion that may result from my inclusion of this dear brother's quote let me add that I am very much in disagreement with both his understanding of the significance of this passage for the issue he addresses, and with his conclusion drawn from it. I remain a convinced, although progressive, dispensationalist!
Appendix A: A Review of the History of this Sermon Series - Preaching through Romans -

I began preaching through Romans at the request of the congregation at Wayside Gospel Chapel sometime around June of 1999. I estimate that I preached on Romans on the average of 37 times per year. This is arrived at by subtracting from the fifty-two Lord’s Days in a year: 1) two for Incarnation Day and Resurrection Day messages, and 2) thirteen for drill weekends and annual training with the National Guard. I am using that figure (37) for the following years: 2000, 2001, and 2002. I am estimating eighteen messages for the second half of 1999, and only thirty-four for 2003 due to an extra three week annual training with the National Guard that year. I have accurate records on hand for most of 2004, and estimate thirty-four messages that year also. I only preached twice in 2005, January 2nd, just prior to leaving for Camp Shelby, when I preached a message on Romans 14:13-15, titled The Mind of the Master, and June 5th, when I came home on block leave just prior to deployment to Iraq, when I preached The Ethics of the Kingdom on Romans 14:16-19. I preached on Romans twelve times in 2006 since resuming preaching, taking up this series again on September 10, 2006 with a message on Romans 14:20-23, Our Ethical Line in the Sand. The last five messages in this book series, including the one for this Lord’s Day, were preached in 2007.

Here is the breakdown by year as best I can estimate it at this time:

Year Sermons
1999 18
2000 37
2001 37
2002 37
2003 34
2004 34
2005 2
2006 12
2007 5

Total: 216 sermons (in apx. 6 years)
Total verses in Romans: 433
Average pace per sermon: 2.004629 verses

My sermon outline for the first message on Romans in 1999 was:

Title: The Gospel of God
Text: Romans 1:1-4
I. The Promise of the Gospel (1:2) - The Reality, Revealers and Record of the Promise
II. The Fulfillment of the Gospel (1:3-4) - The Identification, Incarnation, and Declaration of Jesus Christ
III. The Effect of the Gospel (1:1) - The Separation, Call, and Service of Christians
Appendix B: A Brief Bibliography on Text and Translation Issues With Romans 16:25-27 -

Robert P. Martin, Accuracy of Translation and the New International Version, The Primary Criterion in Evaluating Bible Versions (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), pp. 41-42, note 41 - on grammatical ambiguity in translation, eg., subjective vs. objective genitive in translating to knpugma Insou Xpistou in Romans 16:25.

Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (Des Moines, IA: The Christian Research Press, 1984), pg. 201 - "In the majority of the manuscripts this doxology is placed at the end of chapter 14. In the Latin Vulgate and the Textus Receptus it is placed at the end of chapter 16, and this is also the position it occupies in Aleph B C and D." Cp. pg. 200 - "The following are some of the most familiar and important of those relatively few Latin Vulgate readings which, though not part of the Traditional Greek text, seem to have been placed in the Textus Receptus by the direction of God’s special providence and therefore are to be retained. The reader will note that these Latin Vulgate readings are also found in other ancient witnesses, namely, old Greek manuscripts, versions, and Fathers." [Note: This author's conclusion does not appear to have any objective evidential support in the extant manuscripts.]

John William Burgon, The Revision Revised. Three Articles Reprinted From the ‘Quarterly Review’ (Paradise, PA: Conservative Classics, n.d.), pg. 143, from "The New English Translation", Quarterly Review (Jan. 1882) - Criticizing the RV trans. of Rom. 16:25, "kept in silence through times eternal", as no improvement over, or required correction of the AV.

Larry W. Hurtado, "The Doxology at the End of Romans," New Testament Textual Criticism, Its Significance for Exegesis: Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger, ed. Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), cited by: Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984), pg. 298, 251.

See also Sturz, op. cit., pg. 182 on 16:27, readings sophw thew [p46AABC pl V; WH] vs. thew sophw [DE d e]; and pg. 204 on 16:27, readings w [p46AACD pl V; [WH]] vs. omission [B 33 72 f sy Or] vs. autw [P 31 54 co Chr] . V indicates that "the reading is in Stephanus". "WH signifies that Westcott and Hort’s Greek Testament follows the particular reading." "[WH] indicates Westcott and Hort with some doubt about the reading." (Sturz, op. cit., pp. 138-139)

Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmanns Publishing Co., 1987) -
pg. 123 - uncial 0209 - "(category III, influenced strongly by V)" - contains Romans 16:25-27 in agreement with the Byzantine tradition
pp. 290-291, 296 - the textual "history" of Rom. 16:25-27, and the authors’ conclusion that the reading is secondary, and belongs in the apparatus rather than in the text, even if enclosed with brackets.

Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (third edition) (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1971), pp. 533-536, and 540.
Appendix C: A Brief Bibliography on the Issues Involving the Concept of the Mystery in Romans 16:25-27 -

Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel, New Covenant Theology: Description, Definition, Defense (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 2002), pg. 164, note 242.

Robert L. Saucy, The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational & Non-Dispensational Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), Ch. 6, "The Church and the Revelation of the Mysteries", pp. 143-173.

Craig A. Blaising & Darrell L. Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), pg. 270.

Darrell L. Bock in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional and Progressive Views, gen. ed. Herbert W. Batemen, IV (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999), pp. 81, 95-96, 117 (note 28), and 212 (note 2).

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