17. Now, I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
17. Obsecro autem vos fratres, ut observetis eos qui dissidia et offensiones contra doctrinam, quam vos didicistis, excitant; et ut declinetis ab illis.
18. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
18. Qui enim tales sunt, Christo Domino non serviunt, sed suo ventri; ac per blandiloquentiam et assentationem decipiunt corda simplicium.
19. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
19. Vestra quidem obedientia ad omnes permanavit: gaudeo igitur de vobis; sed volo vos sapientes esse ad bonum, simplices verb ad malum.
20. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
20. Deus autem pacis conteret brevi Satanam sub pedibus vestris. Gratia Domini nostri Iesu Christi sit vobiscum. Amen.
But observe, that he speaks of those who had been taught the pure truth of God. It is indeed an impious and sacrilegious attempt to divide those who agree in the truth of Christ: but yet it is a shameful sophistry to defend, under the pretext of peace and unity, a union in lies and impious doctrines. There is therefore no ground for the Papists to seek countenance from this passage, in order to raise ill-will against us; for we do not impugn and tear asunder the gospel of Christ, but the falsehoods of the devil, by which it has been hitherto obscured: nay, Paul clearly shows, that he did not condemn all kinds of discords, but those which destroyed consent in the orthodox faith; for the force of the passage is in the words,
We here see what that simplicity is which is commended in Christians; so that they have no reason to claim this distinction, who at this day count as a high virtue their stupid ignorance of the word of God. For though he approves in the Romans, that they were obedient and teachable, yet he would have them to exercise wisdom and judgment, lest their readiness to believe exposed them to impositions. So then he congratulates them, because they were free from a wicked disposition; he yet wished them to be wise, so as to exercise caution. 3
20. What follows,
1 The two words are
2 This he calls "faith" in Romans 1:8: so that obedience to the gospel is faith in what it declares. To believe is the special command of the gospel: hence to believe is the special act of obedience that is required; and he who believes is he who shall be saved. But this faith is that of the heart, and not of the lips; and a faith which works by love and overcomes the world, the mighty power of which we learn from Hebrew 11. -- Ed.
3 "Good" and "evil" in this clause, is beneficence and mischief. To be wise as to good, is to be wise in acts of kindness, in promoting good, as Beza seems to take it; and to be harmless or guileless, or simple as to evil, is to exercise no arts, by plausible speeches and flatteries, as was done by those referred to in Romans 16:17, in order to do mischief, to create divisions. The Apostle's object throughout seems to have been to produce unanimity between the Jews and Gentiles. Hence in the next verse he speaks of God as "the God of peace," the author of peace among his people; and he says that this God of peace would soon tread down Satan, the author of discord, the promoter of divisions and offenses; or, as most consider the passage, he prays that God would do this; for the future, after the manner of the Hebrew, is sometimes used by the Apostle as an optative. And indeed the verb is found in some copies in this mood (