Today’s passage marks the beginning of the final component of Paul’s letter to the Romans—the Apostle’s concluding doxology. Having finished his theological and practical exposition of the gospel, and having extended personal greetings to the Romans from himself and his associates, Paul concludes this majestic epistle with a word of glory to God.
Paul’s concluding doxology recalls many of the major themes of his letter, no doubt in order to make sure that readers do not forget the important emphases of the epistle. The Apostle begins by noting that the Lord is the one “who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 16:25). You will recall that Paul began his letter with his desire to encourage—strengthen—the Roman Christians, which he would do once he finally reached the city (1:11–12), and now he notes that if any strengthening is to come, it will be through God, who alone brings strength to His people.
This strengthening, however, does not occur apart from the use of means, and the means through which the Lord strengthens His people is through Paul’s gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ (16:25). No strength can come apart from the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation. We can be strong only in the Lord (Pss. 18:2; 31:24), but we cannot take refuge in our Creator until peace with Him is established. Only Christ Jesus can establish peace between God and sinners, and when we believe the gospel message that Christ alone is our righteousness, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).
All this takes place through the revelation of the mystery that was once secret but is now disclosed through the prophets and proclaimed to the nations (16:25–26). Here we have a concise but thorough presentation of salvation history, a history assumed throughout Romans. Under the old covenant, the truth of justification in Christ alone was taught in types and shadows, but now with the advent of Jesus and the Apostolic proclamation of the gospel, what was always there in the prophets is now seen with full clarity. Israel was called to bless the world by giving birth to the Messiah who unites Jew and Gentile in one body because there is no other way to stand before God except clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
God strengthens through the gospel, according to what the prophets foretold, in order to bring about the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26). All that the Lord has done is so that we might trust in Him alone and then serve Him in gratitude for His great salvation.