Romans 16:20
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) The God of peace.—We can well understand how the Apostle, in the midst of “fightings without and fears within,” should look forward with joyous confidence to the time when both for him and his readers all this turmoil and conflict would give way to “peace.” The reference seems to be to his near expectation of the Messiah’s return, and with it the final victory of the faith. The Romans have not begun to feel the bitterness of divisions as yet; he foresees a time when they will do so. but beyond that he foresees a further time when all will be hushed and quelled, and the Great Adversary himself for ever overthrown.

Bruise.—With reference to Genesis 3:15.

The grace. . . .—The more correct reading of the benediction is simply. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you, the other words being omitted. The four principal Græco-Latin Codices omit the benediction here altogether and insert it in Romans 16:24, where it also appears in the Received text, though wanting in MSS. of the best type.

Romans

A CRUSHED SNAKE

Romans 16:20
.

There are three other Scriptural sayings which may have been floating in the Apostle’s mind when he penned this triumphant assurance. ‘Thou shalt bruise his head’; the great first Evangel-we are to be endowed with Christ’s power; ‘The lion and the adder thou shalt trample under foot’-all the strength that was given to ancient saints is ours; ‘Behold! I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy’-the charter of the seventy is the perennial gift to the Church. Echoing all these great words, Paul promises the Roman Christians that ‘the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.’ Now, when any special characteristic is thus ascribed to God, as when He is called ‘the God of patience’ or ‘the God of hope,’ in the preceding chapter, the characteristic selected has some bearing on the prayer or promise following. For example, this same designation, ‘the God of peace,’ united with the other, ‘that brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,’ is laid as the foundation of the prayer for the perfecting of the readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews in every good work. It is, then, because of that great name that the Apostle is sure, and would have his Roman brethren to be sure, that Satan shall shortly be bruised under their feet. No doubt there may have been some reference in Paul’s mind to what he had just said about those who caused divisions in the Church; but, if there is such reference, it is of secondary importance. Paul is gazing on all the great things in God which make Him the God of peace, and in them all he sees ground for the confident hope that His power will be exerted to crush all the sin that breaks His children’s peace.

Now the first thought suggested by these words is the solemn glimpse given of the struggle that goes on in every Christian soul.

Two antagonists are at hand-grips in every one of us. On the one hand, the ‘God of peace,’ on the other, ‘Satan.’ If you believe in the personality of the One, do not part with the belief in the personality of the other. If you believe that a divine power and Spirit is ready to help and strengthen you, do not think so lightly of the enemies that are arrayed against you as to falter in the belief that there is a great personal Power, rooted in evil, who is warring against each of us. Ah, brethren! we live far too much on the surface, and we neither go down deep enough to the dark source of the Evil, nor rise high enough to the radiant Fountain of the Good. It is a shallow life that strikes that antagonism of God and Satan out of itself. And though the belief in a personal tempter has got to be very unfashionable nowadays, I am going to venture to say that you may measure accurately the vitality and depth of a man’s religion by the emphasis with which he grasps the thought of that great antagonism. There is a star of light, and there is a star of darkness; and they revolve, as it were, round one centre.

But whilst, on the one hand, our Christianity is made shallow in proportion as we ignore this solemn reality, on the other hand, it is sometimes paralysed and perverted by our misunderstanding of it. For, notice, ‘the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet.’ Yes, it is God that bruises, but He uses our feet to do it. It is God from whom the power comes, but the power works through us, and we are neither merely the field, nor merely the prize, of the conflict between these two, but we ourselves have to put all our pith into the task of keeping down the flat, speckled head that has the poison gland in it. ‘The God of peace’-blessed be His Name-’shall bruise Satan under your feet,’ but it will need the tension of your muscles, and the downward force of your heel, if the wriggling reptile is to be kept under.

Turn, now, to the other thought that is here, the promise and pledge of victory in the name, the God of peace. I have already referred to two similar designations of God in the previous chapter, and if we take them in union with this one in our text, what a wonderfully beautiful and strengthening threefold view of that divine nature do we get! ‘The God of patience and consolation’ is the first of the linked three. It heads the list, and blessed is it that it does, because, after all, sorrow makes up a very large proportion of the experience of us all, and what most men seem to themselves to need most is a God that will bear their sorrows with them and help them to bear, and a God that will comfort them. But, supposing that He has been made known thus as the source of endurance and the God of all consolation, He becomes ‘the God of hope,’ for a dark background flings up a light foreground, and a comforted sorrow patiently endured is mighty to produce a radiant hope. The rising of the muddy waters of the Nile makes the heavy crops of ‘corn in Egypt.’ So the name ‘the God of hope’ fitly follows the name ‘the God of patience and consolation.’

Then we come to the name in my text, built perhaps on the other two, or at least reminiscent of them, and recalling them, ‘the God of peace,’ who, through patience and consolation, through hope, and through many another gift, breathes the benediction of His own great tranquillity and unruffled calm over our agitated, distracted, sinful hearts. In connection with one of those previous designations to which I have referred, the Apostle has a prayer very different in form from this, but identical in substance, when he says ‘the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.’ Is not that closely allied to the promise of my text, ‘The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly’ ? Is there any surer way of ‘bruising Satan’ under a man’s feet than filling him ‘with joy and peace in believing’ ? What can the Devil do to that man? If his soul is saturated, and his capacities filled, with that pure honey of divine joy, will he have any taste for the coarse dainties, the leeks and the garlic, that the Devil offers him? Is there any surer way of delivering a man from the temptations of his own baser nature, and the solicitations of this busy intrusive world round about him, than to make him satisfied with the goodness of the Lord, and conscious in his daily experience of ‘all joy and peace’ ? Fill the vessel with wine, and there is no room for baser liquors or for poison. I suppose that the way by which you and I, dear friends, will most effectually conquer any temptations, is by falling back on the superior sweetness of divine joys. When we live upon manna we do not crave onions. So He ‘will bruise Satan under your feet’ by giving that which will arm your hearts against all his temptations and all his weapons. Blessed be God for the way of conquest, which is the possession of a supremer good!

But then, notice how beautifully too this name, ‘the God of peace,’ comes in to suggest that even in the strife there may be tranquillity. I remember in an old church in Italy a painting of an Archangel with his foot on the dragon’s neck, and his sword thrust through its scaly armour. It is perhaps the feebleness of the artist’s hand, but I think rather it is the clearness of his insight, which has led him to represent the victorious angel, in the moment in which he is slaying the dragon, as with a smile on his face, and not the least trace of effort in the arm, which is so easily smiting the fatal blow. Perhaps if the painter could have used his brush better he would have put more expression into the attitude and the face, but I think it is better as it is. We, too, may achieve a conquest over the dragon which, although it requires effort, does not disturb peace. There is a possibility of bruising that slippery head under my foot, and yet not having to strain myself in the process. We may have ‘peace subsisting at the heart of endless agitation.’ Do you remember how the Apostle, in another place, gives us the same beautiful-though at first sight contradictory-combination when he says, ‘The peace of God shall garrison your heart’ ?

‘My soul! there is a country

Far, far beyond the stars,

Where stands an armed sentry,

All skilful in the wars.’

And her name is Peace, as the poet goes on to tell us. Ah, brethren! if we lived nearer the Lord, we should find it more possible to ‘fight the good fight of faith,’ and yet to have ‘our feet shod with the preparedness of the gospel of peace.’

‘The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet’; and in bruising He will give you His peace to do it, and His peace in doing it, and in still greater measure after doing it. For every struggle of the Christian soul adds something to the subsequent depth of its tranquillity. And so the name of the God of peace is our pledge of victory in, and of deepened peace after, our warfare with sin and temptation.

Lastly, note the swiftness with which Paul expects that this process shall he accomplished.

I dare say that he was thinking about the coming of the Lord, when all the fighting and struggle would be over, and that when he said ‘God shall bruise him under your feet shortly,’ there lay in the back of his mind the thought, ‘the Lord is at hand.’ But be that as it may, there is another way of looking at the words. They are not in the least like our experience, are they? ‘Shortly!’-and here am I, a Christian man for the last half century perhaps; and have I got much further on in my course? Have I brought the sin that used to trouble me much down, and is my character much more noble, Christ-like, than it was long years ago? Would other people say that it is? Instead of ‘shortly’ we ought to put ‘slowly’ for the most of us. But, dear friend, the ideal is swift conquest, and it is our fault and our loss, if the reality is sadly different.

There are a great many evils that, unless they are conquered suddenly, have very small chance of ever being conquered at all. You never heard of a man being cured of his love of intoxicating drink, for instance, by a gradual process. The serpent’s life is not crushed out of it by gradual pressure, but by one vigorous stamp of a nervous heel.

But if my experience as a Christian man does not enable me to set to my seal that this text is true, the text itself will tell me why. It is ‘the God of peace’ that is going to ‘bruise Satan.’ Do you keep yourself in touch with Him, dear friend? And do you let His powers come uninterruptedly and continuously into your spirit and life? It is sheer folly and self-delusion to wonder that the medicine does not work as quickly as was promised, if you do not take the medicine. The slow process by which, at the best, many Christian people ‘bruise Satan under their feet,’ during which he hurts their heels more than they hurt his head, is mainly due to their breaking the closeness and the continuity of their communion with God in Jesus Christ.

But, after all, it is Heaven’s chronology that we have to do with here. ‘Shortly,’ and it will be ‘shortly,’ if we reckon by heavenly scales of duration. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. ‘The Lord will help her, and that right early.’ ‘The Lord is at hand.’ When we get yonder, ah! how all the long years of fighting will have dwindled down, and we shall say ‘the Lord did help me, and that right early,’ and though there may have been more than threescore years and ten of fighting, that, while we were in the thick of it, did not seem to come to much, we shall then look back and say: ‘Yes, Lord, it was but for a moment, and it has brought me to the undying day of Eternal Peace.’16:17-20 How earnest, how endearing are these exhortations! Whatever differs from the sound doctrine of the Scriptures, opens a door to divisions and offences. If truth be forsaken, unity and peace will not last long. Many call Christ, Master and Lord, who are far from serving him. But they serve their carnal, sensual, worldly interests. They corrupt the head by deceiving the heart; perverting the judgments by winding themselves into the affections. We have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. It has been the common policy of seducers to set upon those who are softened by convictions. A pliable temper is good when under good guidance, otherwise it may be easily led astray. Be so wise as not to be deceived, yet so simple as not to be deceivers. The blessing the apostle expects from God, is victory over Satan. This includes all designs and devices of Satan against souls, to defile, disturb, and destroy them; all his attempts to keep us from the peace of heaven here, and the possession of heaven hereafter. When Satan seems to prevail, and we are ready to give up all as lost, then will the God of peace interpose in our behalf. Hold out therefore, faith and patience, yet a little while. If the grace of Christ be with us, who can prevail against us?And the God of peace - The God who promotes peace; Romans 15:33.

Will bruise - The "language" here refers to the prediction in Genesis 3:15. It here means to "subdue, to gain the victory over." It denotes Paul's confidence that they "would" gain the victory, and would be able to overcome all the arts of those who were endeavoring to sow discord and contention among them.

Satan - The word "Satan" is Hebrew, meaning originally "an accuser, a calumniator," and then "an enemy." It is given to the prince of evil spirits from this enmity to God and human beings. He is here regarded as the "author" of all attempts to promote discord in the church, by whomsoever those attempts were made. Hence, they who attempt to produce divisions are called "his ministers;" 2 Corinthians 11:15. God would disappoint their malignant purposes, and promote the prevalence of peace.

The grace - The favor; the mercy, etc. The Lord Jesus is the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6; compare Luke 2:14; John 14:27), and this expression is "a prayer" to him, or an earnest wish expressed, that the design of his coming might be accomplished in promoting the prevalence of order and peace; compare 1 Corinthians 16:23; Revelation 22:21.

20. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly—The apostle encourages the Romans to persevere in resisting the wiles of the devil with the assurance that, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, they are "shortly" to receive their discharge, and have the satisfaction of "putting their feet upon the neck" of that formidable enemy—symbol familiar, probably, in all languages to express not only the completeness of the defeat, but the abject humiliation of the conquered foe. (See Jos 10:24; 2Sa 22:41; Eze 21:29; Ps 91:13). Though the apostle here styles Him who is thus to bruise Satan, the God of peace," with special reference to the "divisions" (Ro 16:17) by which the church at Rome was in danger of being disturbed, this sublime appellation of God has here a wider sense, pointing to the whole "purpose for which the Son of God was manifested, to destroy the works of the devil" (1Jo 3:8); and indeed this assurance is but a reproduction of the first great promise, that the Seed of the woman should bruise the Serpent's head (Ge 3:15).

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen—The "Amen" here has no manuscript authority. What comes after this, where one would have expected the epistle to close, has its parallel in Php 4:20, &c., and being in fact common in epistolary writings, is simply a mark of genuineness.

And, &c.: q.d. And to encourage you to be watchful, I dare promise you shall be successful.

The God of peace; so he is called, Romans 15:33.

Shall bruise Satan under your feet: the word signifies to bruise by treading: it imports the conquest that the Lord gives his people over Satan and all his wicked instruments, that divide, seduce, or oppress his people; the promise is that they shall overcome him and them; they shall deal by Satan and his agents, as Joshua and his captains did by those five kings, Joshua 10:24: see Revelation 22:11. This promise plainly bears upon the first grand promise, in Genesis 3:15, that Jesus Christ, the Seed of the woman, should bruise the head of the serpent; for it is by virtue of his bruising the head of Satan, that he is subdued and brought under our feet. The seed of the woman, in their own persons, as well as in their representative, shall bruise the serpent’s head.

Shortly, or suddenly; though now he rage, yet ere long he shall be thrown down. Some refer this to the day of judgment: others, to the time of Constantine, who overthrew idolatry; and that it is not only a promise, but a prophecy also of the conversion of the Roman empire. There are that think that the apostle doth comfort here the believing Romans, by telling them, that the dissensions raised amongst them by means of Satan’s malice and subtlety, should be shortly quenched and reconciled; and that it was effected partly by this Epistle, and partly by the apostle’s labours afterwards amongst them.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you: as he began this Epistle with wishing them grace and peace, so he ends it. He had said, Romans 15:33,

The God of peace be with you; and here he saith: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. He was once and again shutting up his Epistle, but having more room and time, he makes some short additions and supplements, as it is usual with those that write epistles. This salutation he was wont in the end of every Epistle to write with his own hand, 2 Thessalonians 3:17. It is repeated, Romans 16:24. Hereby he intimates the necessity of the grace of Christ, therefore he prayeth for it again and again. See Poole on "Romans 1:7". And the God of peace,.... See Gill on Romans 15:33;

shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Some read this by way of wish or prayer, "may the God of peace bruise"; so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and the Alexandrian copy; but others as ours, as a promise, or as expressive of the apostle's faith and hope in this matter; and which he mentions to encourage the members of this church to be upon their guard, and make head against these false teachers; since in a little time they might be assured of victory over Satan and these his emissaries: as it is before suggested, that the methods these men used to beguile weak minds were much like those that Satan used when he attacked our first parents, so here is a manifest allusion to what was said by way of threatening to him, "it", the woman's seed, "shall bruise thy head", Genesis 3:15; and which has had its accomplishment in Christ, who has not only destroyed the works of the devil, but him himself, and spoiled his principalities and powers, and bruised him and them under his feet, when he led captivity captive; and though, for the trial of the graces of his people, Satan is permitted to attack them in various shapes, yet in a short time he will be bruised under their feet, as he is already under their Lord and master's. The apostle refers not so much to his coming among them in a short time, when he might hope and believe that he should be an instrument of crushing these men Satan made use of, of quelling the contentions they raised, and putting a stop to the divisions they made, and under the influence, and by the assistance of the God of peace, restore them to their former peace and tranquillity, though it is a sense not to be despised; much less does he refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was to be in a very short time, when the crucifiers of Christ and the persecutors of the saints would have the wrath of God come upon them to the uttermost, since these Romans had no great and immediate concern with them; nor does he regard the spread of the Gospel in the Gentile world, whereby Satan fell as lightning from heaven, and was cast out of the idol temples, for this was greatly fulfilled already: but rather he refers to the time of Constantine, when Satan's seat at Rome was overturned, when he was cast down from his throne and trampled under feet, who had deceived the whole world, the whole Roman empire, when the Gospel triumphed over its secret and open enemies, profane persecutors, and perfidious teachers, over idolatry and superstition on the one hand, and error and heresy on the other, though this did not last long; wherefore some have thought the apostle refers to the latter day, when Satan shall be bound a thousand years, or to the last of all, when he shall be for ever under the feet of the saints, and never be able to give them any more trouble; and this the apostle might say would be shortly, since the second coming of Christ was expected to be quickly: yea, this may be applied to the case of every believer now, and be for his encouragement to be vigilant and on his guard against Satan, to resist him, repel his temptations, and oppose his emissaries; since he may assure himself he shall be more than a conqueror over him through Christ, that has loved him, and that in a very little time, when death comes, and he shall enter into the joy of his Lord, where he will be out of the reach of Satan, and unmolested by him.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, Amen: to enable you to abide by the truth; to mark and avoid the authors of sects, and causes of divisions, and offences; to oppose error and defend truth; to keep from falling, to stand against every assault of Satan, and to bear up under every temptation of his; to get the victory over him, and to preserve them safe to the kingdom and glory of Christ.

{4} And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

(4) We must fight with a certain hope of victory.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 16:20. Encouraging promise; hence συντρίψει is not with Flatt to be taken as optative, contrary to linguistic usage, nor is the erroneous gloss of the reading συντρίψαι (A, 67**, Theodoret, Oec., Jer., Ambros., Rup.) to be approved.

Paul regards the sectaries, because they are servants not of Christ, but of their belly (Romans 16:18), as organs of Satan (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:15); hence his figurative expression of the thought, founded on Genesis 3:15 : “The God of peace will grant you (when the authors of division appear amongst you) shortly the complete victory over them.”

As Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης (pacificus) God appears in contrast to those ποιοῦντες τὰς διχοστασίας (Romans 16:17). Comp. on Romans 15:33.

The bruising of Satan and treading him under feet takes place in God’s power; hence ὁ Θεὸς κ.τ.λ. Comp. 1Ma 3:22 (and Grimm in loc.), Romans 4:10, et al.

ἡ Χάρις κ.τ.λ.] The grace of our Lord, etc.; therewith, as with the usual concluding blessing of his epistles, Paul would close. But he has as yet delivered no special greetings from those around him at Corinth, whether it be that they are now for the first time entrusted to him, or that he now for the first time observes that he has not yet mentioned them in what precedes (as after Romans 16:16). This induces him now further to add Romans 16:21-23 after the conclusion already written down in Romans 16:20; then to repeat the above blessing in Romans 16:24; and finally, after recalling anew all which he had delivered to the Romans, in a full outburst of deeply moved piety to make the doxology, Romans 16:25-27, the final close of the entire letter.Romans 16:20. ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης: used here with special reference to αἱ διχοστασίαι. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33. συντρίψει τὸν Σατανᾶν: divisions in the Church are Satan’s work, and the suppression of them by the God of peace is a victory over Satan. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14 f. There is an allusion to Genesis 3:15, though it is doubtful whether Paul found anything there answering to συντρίψει. The LXX has τηρήσει. ἐν τάχει: cf. Ezekiel 29:5; Deuteronomy 28:20. The false teachers may come and cause dissension, but it will not be long till peace is restored. ἡ χάρις κ.τ.λ. This benediction can hardly be supposed to belong only to Romans 16:17-20. It rather suggests that some copies of the epistle ended here; possibly that Romans 16:1-20 (for there is another benediction at Romans 15:33) were originally an independent epistle.20. the God of peace] See on Romans 15:33. Here the sacred Title seems to refer to the miseries of the strife (“divisions and offences”) attendant on false doctrine. The God of Peace would be with those who, by clinging to the holy Truth once delivered, held fast to true unity.

shall bruise Satan, &c.] The very first promise of Redemption (Genesis 3:15,) is doubtless here referred to.—The “Enemy who soweth tares” had been already “bruised” by the Redeemer, in His triumphant work; and that victory would be, in due time, realized in the personal (“under your feet,”) triumph over sin and death, and final deliverance from all trial, of each of His followers.

shortly] In the eternal “Day,” so near at hand, (Romans 13:11-12,) when all “enemies shall be made the footstool” of Messiah, and of His saints through Him.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.] It may be that St Paul was about to close the Epistle here. If so, we may suppose that the request of the Christians round him to add their greetings gave him occasion to add the few remaining sentences. But may not this benediction be specially connected with the immediate context? Q. d., “You have a battle to fight against the assaults of error. It will soon be over; and meantime may your Lord’s grace be with you in the strife.”—The “Amen” should be omitted.Romans 16:20. Δὲ, but) [not and, as Engl. Ver. has it)] The power of God, not your prudence, will bring it to pass.—τῆς εἰρήνης, of peace) an antithesis to seditious, Romans 16:17, see 1 Corinthians 14:33.—συντρίψει) the future, shall bruise Satan, when he shall bruise His apostles [viz. those breeders of divisions, Romans 16:17-18.]—τὸν Σατανᾶν, Satan) the sower of strifes. Once in the course of this whole epistle he names the enemy, and nine times altogether in all his epistles, he calls him Satan; six times, the devil. Scripture indeed treats of God and Christ directly; of Satan and Antichrist indirectly.—ὑπό τοὺς πόδας, under your feet) Ephesians 6:15. Every victory achieved by faith is the cause of new grief to Satan.—ἐν τάχει) speedily, which refers to the beginnings of bruising [Satan, viz.] in the case of sudden danger [a sudden assault by him.]—ἀμήν) The transcribers very often added this word to prayers, although here almost all the copies are without it. Baumgarten however defends it.[171]

[171] Rec. Text has it in opposition to ABCD(Λ)G Vulg. and almost all versions.—ED.Shall bruise (συντρίψει)

See on Mark 5:4; see on Luke 9:39.

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