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16. Personal Greetings
1I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church that is at Cenchreae: 2that ye receive her in the Lord, worthily of the saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever matter she may have need of you: for she herself also hath been a helper of many, and of mine own self. 3Salute Prisca and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, 4who for my life laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles: 5and salute the church that is in their house. Salute Epaenetus my beloved, who is the first-fruits of Asia unto Christ. 6Salute Mary, who bestowed much labor on you. 7Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me. 8Salute Ampliatus my beloved in the Lord. 9Salute Urbanus our fellow-worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10Salute Apelles the approved in Christ. Salute them that are of the household of Aristobulus. 11Salute Herodion my kinsman. Salute them of the household of Narcissus, that are in the Lord. 12Salute Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Salute Persis the beloved, who labored much in the Lord. 13Salute Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brethren that are with them. 15Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints that are with them. 16Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you. 17Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them. 18For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent. 19For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I rejoice therefore over you: but I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil. 20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 21Timothy my fellow-worker saluteth you; and Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. 22I Tertius, who write the epistle, salute you in the Lord. 23Gaius my host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the treasurer of the city saluteth you, and Quartus the brother. 24The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 25Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, 26but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith: 27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.
21. Timothy, etc. The salutations which he records, served in part to foster union between those who were far asunder, and in part to make the Romans know that their brethren subscribed to the Epistle; not that Paul had need of the testimony of others, but because the consent of the godly is not of small importance.
The Epistle closes, as we see, with praise and thanksgiving to God. It indeed records the remarkable kindness of God in favoring the Gentiles with the light of the gospel, by which his infinite and unspeakable goodness has been made evident. The conclusion has, at the same time, this to recommend it, — that it serves to raise up and strengthen the confidence of the godly, so that with hearts lifted up to God they may fully expect all those things which are here ascribed to him, and may also confirm their hope as to what is to come by considering his former benefits. 483483 This conclusion bears an evident reference to the point the Apostle had especially in view — the reconciling of the Jews and Gentiles. He connects the gospel with the ancient Scriptures, and mentions the gospel as being in unison with them. Then the Jews had no reason to complain. As in Romans 16:17 to 20 inclusive, he reproved the Gentiles who caused divisions; so in these verses his special object is to put an end to the objections of the Jews. — Ed. But as he has made a long period, by collecting many things into one passage, the different clauses, implicated by being transposed, must be considered apart.
He ascribes first all the glory to God alone; and then, in order to show that it is rightly due to him, he by the way mentions some of his attributes; whence it appears that he alone is worthy of all praise. He says that he only is wise; which praise, being claimed for him alone, is taken away from all creatures. Paul, at the same time, after having spoken of the secret counsel of God, seems to have designedly annexed this eulogy, in order that he might draw all men to reverence and adore the wisdom of God: for we know how inclined men are to raise a clamor, when they can find out no reason for the works of God.
By adding, that God was able to confirm the Romans, he made them more certain of their final perseverance. And that they might acquiesce more fully in his power, he adds, that a testimony is borne to it in the gospel. Here you see, that the gospel not only promises to us present grace, but also brings to us an assurance of that grace which is to endure for ever; for God declares in it that he is our Father, not only at present, but that he will be so to the end: nay, his adoption extends beyond death, for it will conduct us to an eternal inheritance.
The other things are mentioned to commend the power and dignity of the gospel. He calls the gospel the preaching of Jesus Christ; inasmuch as the whole sum and substance of it is no doubt included in the knowledge of Christ. Its doctrine is the revelation of the mystery; and this its character ought not only to make us more attentive to hear it, but also to impress on our minds the highest veneration for it: and he intimates how sublime a secret it is, by adding that it was hid for many ages, from the beginning of the world. 484484 The words are χρόνοις αἰωνίοις, rendered improperly by Hammond and others, from the eternal ages, or eternity. We find them preceded by πρὸ before, in 2 Timothy 1:9, and in Titus 1:2: “before the eternal ages,” could not be right rendering; nor is “before the world began,” as in our version, correct; for a reference in Titus is made to God’s promise. “In the times of the ages” is the rendering of Deza and of Macknight; and, in “ancient times,” is that of Doddridge and Stuart The same subject is handled in two other places, Ephesians 3:5, and Colossians 1:26: and the words used by him are “in other ages,” ἑτεραις γενεαῖς, and, “from ages and generations,” ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν Theodoret explained the terms by ἄνωθεν —-in past times; and Theophylact by πάλαι—formerly; and Schleusner by a similar word, olim.—Ed.
It does not indeed contain a turgid and proud wisdom, such as the children of this world seek; and by whom it is held on this account in contempt: but it unfolds the ineffable treasures of celestial wisdom, much higher than all human learning; and since the very angels regard them with wonder, surely none of us can sufficiently admire them. But this wisdom ought not to be less esteemed, because it is conveyed in an humble, plain, and simple style; for thus it has pleased the Lord to bring down the arrogance of the flesh.
And as it might have created some doubt how this mystery, concealed for so many ages, could have so suddenly emerged, he teaches us, that this has not happened through the hasty doings of men, or through chance, but through the eternal ordination of God. Here, also, he closes up the door against all those curious questions which the waywardness of the human mind is wont to raise; for whatever happens suddenly and unexpectedly, they think, happens at random; and hence they absurdly conclude, that the works of God are unreasonable; or at least they entangle themselves in many perplexing doubts. Paul therefore reminds us, that what appeared then suddenly had been decreed by God before the foundation of the world.
But that no one might raise a dispute on the subject, and charge the gospel with being a new thing, and thus defame it, he refers to the prophetic Scriptures, in which we now see, that what is fulfilled had been foretold; for all the Prophets have rendered to the gospel so clear a testimony, that it can in no other way be so fully confirmed. And God thus duly prepared the minds of his people, lest the novelty of what they were not accustomed
to should too much astonish them.
This clause is differently construed: some connect “prophetic Scriptures” with “manifested,” or made manifest. So Doddridqe and Stuart; but Beza, Pareus, and Macknight agree with Calvin, and connect the words with “made known” or proclaimed. The conjunetive τε after διὰ favors this construction; and διὰ means here “by the means,” or by the aid and sanction, “of the prophetic Scriptures.” Then the meaning is—”that the mystery, hid for ages, is now manifest, that is, by the gospel, and by means of the prophetic Scriptures, and consistently with the decree (ἐπιταγὴν) or ordination of the eternal God, is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” According to this view is the exposition of Calvin, which is no doubt correct.
But it is more consistent with the tenor of the latter part of this epistle, and with the other passages, such as Ephesians 3:4-6, and Colossians 1:26, 27, where he mentions the same mystery, to consider the reference here to be exclusively to the union of Jews and Gentiles, and not generally to the gospel, as Calvin and others have thought.
There is a grammatical difficulty in the last verse: the relative ᾦ is found before “glory.” Beza and others considered it redundant. The verse is literally as follows,—
27. To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.
It is omitted in a few copies; several copies have αὐτῷ, which would read better: but its genuineness is rejected by Griesbach and others. The ascription of praise is evidently given to God, as one who has contrived and arranged his dispensation of grace and mercy: and his wisdom here refers to the same thing, as in Romans 11:33. However mysterious may his dispensation appear to us with regard to the Jews and Gentiles, in leaving the latter for so long a time in ignorance, in favoring the former only in the first instance with a revelation of himself, and then in showing favor to the Gentiles, and in rejecting the Jews for a time, and afterwards restoring them — however mysterious all these things may appear, the Apostle assures us that they are the arrangements of the only wise God. — Ed.
If any one objects and says, that there is an inconsistency in the words of Paul, because he says that the mystery, of which God had testified by his Prophets, was hid throughout all the ages; — the solution of this knot is plainly given by Peter, — that the Prophets, when they sedulously inquired of the salvation made known to us, ministered, not to themselves, but to us. (1 Peter 1:12.) God then was at that time silent, though he spoke; for he held in suspense the revelation of those things concerning which he designed that his servants should prophesy.
Though it is not agreed among the learned in what sense he calls the gospel a hidden mystery in this place, and in Ephesians 3:9, and in Colossians 1:26; yet their opinion has most in its favor, who apply it to the calling of the Gentiles, to which Paul himself expressly refers in his Epistle to the Colossians. Now, though I allow this to be one reason, I yet cannot be brought to believe that it is the only reason. It seems to me more probable that Paul had also a regard to some other differences between the Old and the New Testament. For though the Prophets formerly taught all those things which have been explained by Christ and his Apostles, yet they taught them with so much obscurity, that in comparison with the clear brightness of gospel light, it is no wonder that those things are said to have been hidden which are now made manifest. Nor was it indeed to no purpose that Malachi declared that the Sun of righteousness would arise, (Malachi 4:2;) or that Isaiah had beforehand so highly eulogized the embassy of the Messiah. And lastly, it is not without reason that the gospel is called the kingdom of God: but we may conclude from the event itself, that then only were opened the treasures of celestial wisdom, when God appeared to his ancient people through his only-begotten Son, as it were face to face, all shadows having been done away. He again refers to the end, mentioned at the beginning of the first chapter, for which the gospel is to be preached, — that God may lead all nations to the obedience of faith
PRAISE FOR EVER TO
THE ONLY WISE GOD: