Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What is the Mystery of Romans 16:25-26?

Here's Brian Kelson's latest installment in his series on the mysteries of Romans 16 and Ephesians 3, but I'm also posting it here as a stand-alone piece as it has some interesting tidbits in it:

The distribution of the Old Testament in Paul's letter to the Romans is informative. First of all, the huge volume of the Law and prophesy confirms Paul's words spoken many years later;And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Act 26:6-7 
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Act 26:19-20 
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. Act 26:22-23 
Twice in this Acts statement, Paul re-affirms it was still Jew first as it was in Romans, but how can we escape the plain truth that Paul was saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come? This must include the mystery of Romans 16 which was written before this statement.
The mystery of Romans 16 was kept secret, that is silent in the Scriptures yet the Scriptures contained it; it was never hidden in God as the Ephesians Mystery.
There is no doubt that certain things of the Old Testament scriptures were made much clearer in the writings of the New and when we consider elements of Paul's gospel, given him by direct instruction from the Lord, we see some wonderful examples of this. Take this feature as a case in point. When Paul wrote to the Galatians he mentioned this:  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Gal 3:8-9 
The Scripture which foresaw this is part of the original sevenfold blessing given to Abraham when called to depart out of his country, namely Gen. 12:1-3. It is not so evident that the great truth of justification by faith through grace upon all people is contained in that blessing but the Lord knew it was so and revealed that truth to Paul. Paul's use of the promised seed in Gen. 15:5 expounded to mean Christ and those of faith is another example of truths not so evident originally but which are more fully expounded by revelation of God, see Gal. 3:16, 29; Roms. 4:13 & amp; 16. We thus realize that Paul spoke the truth when he said, very late in Acts,  that he was saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come. So in what way does the distribution of OT quotes through Romans help us determine the mystery of chapter 16?
From Roms. 1:1 through to 4:22 there are 23 OT references.
From Roms. 4:22 through to 8:35 not one OT reference can be found.
From Roms. 8:36 to 16:27 another 47 OT references.
It is difficult to accurately count the OT references as those who have attempted to do so will know that Paul will combine snippets of prophesy. Needless to say, the variance in those three sections is significant. But here is the amazing thing, Roms. 4:22 through to 8:35 which is void of OT references is about an OT character, Adam.
Adam is mentioned 18 times from Gen. 2:19 through to 5:5. He is next mentioned in Deut. 32:8, Jos. 3:16, 1Chron. 1:1 and Job 31:33. These are the only references to Adam in the Old Testament and not one of them expounds the typology; the foreshadowing of Messiah contained in him. No wonder Paul cannot refer to the OT in the matter of Adam in this regard.
In the New Testament, Luke mentions Adam in the Lord's genealogy, 3:38, Jude identifies Enoch as the 7th from Adam, 1:14, but Paul most of all writes about Adam, Roms.5:14, 1Cor. 15:14, 22, 45, 1Tim. 2:13 and 14.
To Paul alone was given the truth that Adam was a figure of Him that was to come. Paul alone writes that in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive. It is Paul who writes that Adam was a living soul but in wonderful contrast, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit or a life-giving Spirit.
Returning to Roms. 16:25-27 we remember that the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the  revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began had a goal in view.
A. Roms.16:25-27   to Him, power to stablish, my gospel,               ESTABLISH
                        preaching of Jesus Christ acc'g to revelation of mystery,
                        kept secret (silenced) since the world began,
                        but now manifested and by Scriptures of prophets,
                        commandment of everlasting God,
                        all nations for obedience of faith,                        OBEDIENCE
That goal was to stablish them and bring forth the obedience of the faith of all nations and in the section void of OT references we find two great contrasts, the disobedience of Adam and the OBEDIENCE of Christ and the resulting consequences.

Rejoicing with you in the mystery of Ephesians and Colossians.
For previous lessons in this series go to 


Joe Dokes said...

1. I don't see how the Romans 16:25 secret could have been "hidden in plain sight" (so to speak) in the O.T. Scriptures when Paul says it "in times of the ages having been kept secret." That would seem to predate, and so preclude, God's giving of His Word to the Jews, further suggesting it was NEVER revealed before God gave it through Paul. Possible?

2. Is there a reason why the "prophetic scriptures" (literal) attesting to the revealed 16:25 secret cannot be the NT era's inspired preaching and letters, including Paul's own, as further attested to as of God by signs and wonders?


Deborah Collins said...

Hi, again, Joe! Thanks for your questions.

Let's take #2 first because herein lies the crux of the matter. Paul declares that this mystery is now made manifest by "the scriptures of the prophets." That indicates that there are scriptures that at least hint at this particular mystery. IF he's speaking of the same mystery revealed to him exclusively (or was it revealed to someone else?), then which NT "prophetic scriptures" (besides Paul's post-Acts letters) make that particular mystery manifest? Peter's? John's? Hebrews? It's common sense to look to the OT prophetic scriptures that Paul quotes from in Romans about 70 times to underscore this point he's making in Romans 16. So, the answer to #1 would be, no, this particular mystery of Christ, the second Adam, was something veiled from their understanding until Paul revealed its meaning in his Acts letters, particularly Romans where Paul uses its power to stablish his hearers (with "spiritual gifts," Rom. 1:11) in the obedience of faith in hope of gaining the kingdom on earth, which is the focus of Romans.

My understanding of the Acts & post-Acts divide has helped me to avoid dragging future truths from Ephesians and Colossians back into letters Paul wrote to churches that were looking for an earthly hope as promised in the OT to Israel, and which would ultimately also include Gentiles that believed (Isaiah 60:3).

Deborah Collins said...

Joe, I'd like to send you two pdf's outlining Romans if you would be willing to send me an email at

Thank you for your interest in right division of the scriptures, and particularly of Paul's letters!