Romans 16:27
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
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(27) To God.—Our English translation has evaded the difficulty of this verse by leaving out two words. The Greek stands literally thus, “To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever.” “To whom,” if it refers to God, as it is decidedly more probable that it was intended to refer, is ungrammatical. If it is inserted, the words “To him that is able . . . to God, the only wise,” are left without government. This might, indeed, under ordinary circumstances be got over, as such broken constructions are frequent with St. Paul, but it is somewhat different in the last solemn words of an Epistle, and would be especially so if this doxology were composed by itself separately from the rest of the Epistle. There would not then be the usual excuse of haste; and for so short a passage it may be doubted whether the Apostle would even employ an amanuensis. The difficulty is heightened when we ask what is meant by the phrase, “through Jesus Christ.” Separated, as it would then be, from the ascription of glory, and joined to “the only wise God,” it would seem to be impossible to get any really satisfactory sense out of it. “To God, who through Christ has shown Himself as the alone wise,” is maintained, but is surely very forced. Our conclusion then, prior to the evidence, would be that there was a mistake in the reading, and that the words “to whom” had slipped in without warrant. And now we find that a single uncial MS., but that precisely the oldest and best of all the uncials, the Codex Vaticanus, with two cursives, omits these words. The suspicion would indeed naturally arise that they had been left out specially on account of their difficulty. But this is a suspicion from which on the whole, the Vatican MS. is peculiarly free. And, on the other hand, it is just as natural to assume that another common cause of corruption has been at work. Doxologies so frequently begin with the relative, “To whom be glory,” &c., that the copyist would be liable to fall into the phrase, even in places where it was not originally written. The probabilities of corruption may therefore be taken to balance each other, and it will seem, perhaps, on the whole, the most probable solution that the relative has really slipped in at a very early date, and that the English version as it stands is substantially right. There are some exceptions to the rule that “the more difficult reading is to be preferred,” and this is perhaps one.

The subscription in its present form hardly dates back beyond the ninth century. The earliest form of subscription up to the sixth century was simply “To the Romans.”

16:25-27 That which establishes souls, is, the plain preaching of Jesus Christ. Our redemption and salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, are, without controversy, a great mystery of godliness. And yet, blessed be God, there is as much of this mystery made plain as will bring us to heaven, if we do not wilfully neglect so great salvation. Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel, and the Sun of Righteousness is risen on the world. The Scriptures of the prophets, what they left in writing, is not only made plain in itself, but by it this mystery is made known to all nations. Christ is salvation to all nations. And the gospel is revealed, not to be talked of and disputed about, but to be submitted to. The obedience of faith is that obedience which is paid to the word of faith, and which comes by the grace of faith. All the glory that passes from fallen man to God, so as to be accepted of him, must go through the Lord Jesus, in whom alone our persons and doings are, or can be, pleasing to God. Of his righteousness we must make mention, even of his only; who, as he is the Mediator of all our prayers, so he is, and will be, to eternity, the Mediator of all our praises. Remembering that we are called to the obedience of faith, and that every degree of wisdom is from the only wise God, we should, by word and deed, render glory to him through Jesus Christ; that so the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be with us for ever.To God only wise - The apostle here resumes the doxology which had been interrupted by the parenthesis. The attribute of "wisdom" is here brought into view, because it had been particularly displayed in this plan which was now revealed. It evinced, in an eminent degree, the "wisdom" of God. That wisdom was evinced in devising the plan; in adapting it to the renewing of the heart; the justification of the sinner; his preservation, guidance, and sanctification; and in the manner in which the divine attributes had all been seen to harmonize. All this the apostle had illustrated in the previous parts of the Epistle; and now, full of the convictions of this wisdom, he desires that all the praise and honor should be to God. The "tendency" of the plan is to promote his glory. The "obligation" on all who are benefitted by it is to give him praise.

Be glory - Praise; honor.

Through Jesus Christ - By means of the work which Jesus Christ has performed; through him now as mediator and intercessor in the heavens.

The subscription, "written to the Romans," etc. is evidently added by some other hand, but by whom is unknown. Paul assuredly would not write this to inform the Romans that it was sent by Phebe, whom he had just commended to their kindness. It has been shown, moreover, that no reliance is to be placed on any of the subscriptions to the Epistles. Some of them are known to be false. By whom they were added is unknown. In this case, however, the fact which it states is correct, that it was written from Corinth and sent by Phoebe.

27. To God, &c.—"To the only wise God through Jesus Christ, be"—literally, "to whom be"; that is, "to Him, I say, be the glory for ever. Amen." At its outset, this is an ascription of glory to the power that could do all this; at its close it ascribes glory to the wisdom that planned and that presides over the gathering of a redeemed people out of all nations. The apostle adds his devout "Amen," which the reader—if he has followed him with the astonishment and delight of him who pens these words—will fervently echo.

On this concluding section of the Epistle, Note, (1) In the minute and delicate manifestations of Christian feeling, and lively interest in the smallest movements of Christian life, love, and zeal, which are here exemplified, combined with the grasp of thought and elevation of soul which this whole Epistle displays, as indeed all the writings of our apostle, we have the secret of much of that grandeur of character which has made the name of Paul stand on an elevation of its own in the estimation of enlightened Christendom in every age, and of that influence which under God, beyond all the other apostles, he has already exercised, and is yet destined to exert, over the religious thinking and feeling of men. Nor can any approach him in these peculiarities without exercising corresponding influence on all with whom they come in contact (Ro 16:1-16). (2) "The wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove"—in enjoining which our apostle here only echoes the teaching of his Lord (Mt 10:16)—is a combination of properties the rarity of which among Christians is only equalled by its vast importance. In every age of the Church there have been real Christians whose excessive study of the serpent's wisdom has so sadly trenched upon their guileless simplicity, as at times to excite the distressing apprehension that they were no better than wolves in sheep's clothing. Nor is it to be denied, on the other hand, that, either from inaptitude or indisposition to judge with manly discrimination of character and of measures, many eminently simple, spiritual, devoted Christians, have throughout life exercised little or no influence on any section of society around them. Let the apostle's counsel on this head (Ro 16:19) be taken as a study, especially by young Christians, whose character has yet to be formed, and whose permanent sphere in life is but partially fixed; and let them prayerfully set themselves to the combined exercise of both those qualities. So will their Christian character acquire solidity and elevation, and their influence for good be proportionably extended. (3) Christians should cheer their own and each other's hearts, amidst the toils and trials of their protracted warfare, with the assurance that it will have a speedy and glorious end; they should accustom themselves to regard all opposition to the progress and prosperity of Christ's cause—whether in their own souls, in the churches with which they are connected, or in the world at large—as just "Satan" in conflict, as ever, with Christ their Lord; and they should never allow themselves to doubt that "the God of peace" will "shortly" give them the neck of their Enemy, and make them to bruise the Serpent's head (Ro 16:20). (4) As Christians are held up and carried through solely by divine power, working through the glorious Gospel, so to that power, and to the wisdom that brought that Gospel nigh to them, they should ascribe all the glory of their stability now, as they certainly will of their victory at last (Ro 16:25-27). (5) "Has the everlasting God … commanded" that the Gospel "mystery," so long kept hid but now fully disclosed, shall be "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Ro 16:26)? Then, what "necessity is laid upon" all the churches and every Christian, to send the Gospel "to every creature!" And we may rest well assured that the prosperity or decline of churches, and of individual Christians, will have not a little to do with their faithfulness or indifference to this imperative duty.

The ancient subscription at the end of this epistle—though of course of no authority—appears to be in this case quite correct.

The second attribute in the description of God, is his wisdom; he is said to be

wise, and

only wise. See the like, 1 Timothy 1:17 Judges 1:25. So he is said to be only true, John 17:3, and to be the only Potentate, 1 Timothy 6:15, and only to have immortality, 1 Timothy 6:16. And this doth not exclude the wisdom of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but the wisdom of the creatures. He is said to be only wise, because none is as wise as he, and all the wisdom of others is from him; the wisdom of men and angels is but a ray from his light. Again, he is said to be only wise, because he is originally wise; his wisdom is of himself; yea, his wisdom is himself.

Be glory through Jesus Christ for ever: here he ascribes eternal glory to God. You had the same before, Romans 11:36. Only here is added, through Jesus Christ, to show that our praise and thanksgiving is accepted of God through him: see Romans 1:7 Ephesians 3:20,21.

Amen: this word is six times before used in this Epistle; Romans 1:25 Romans 9:5 11:36 15:33 16:20,24. It is a Hebrew word, but retained in all languages. It cannot be translated without losing much of its weight. It may be taken three ways:

1. As a name, and so it is a name of Christ, Revelation 3:14.

2. As an adverb: so it is used in the beginning of speech, and signifies verily; or in the end of speech, and so it notes assent. Therefore it was used of old by the Jews, not only at prayer, but at all the sermons and expositions of their rabbins, to testify that they assented and agreed to all that they taught: see 1 Corinthians 14:16.

3. As a verb; and so it is as much as: So be it, having the nature of a prayer: hence Jeremiah said Amen to the prophecy of Hananiah, though false, concerning the sudden return from the Babylonish captivity, to show how earnestly he desired it might be so, Jeremiah 28:6.

Written to the Romans from Corinthus, (and sent) by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.

This was not added by the apostle Paul, nor by Tertius his amanuensis, but by a later and unknown hand; yet there is nothing in the Epistle itself, nor in any ancient or modern writer, that may induce us to question the verity thereof.

To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ,.... This may be understood of God the Father, who is the only wise God, originally, essentially, and infinitely; though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit; and whose infinite wisdom appears in the works of creation and providence, in redemption and salvation by Christ, and in the whole scheme of the Gospel so largely commended in the foregoing verses: and the glory of all is displayed in, and to be given to him through Christ as Mediator; as the glory of his power and wisdom, particularly mentioned, who is the wisdom of God and the power of God; and the glory of the Gospel, of which Christ is the sum and substance; and the glory of salvation by him, and indeed of all his perfections; which is most illustriously manifested in it, in the contrivance, impetration, and application of it; and this glory is to be ascribed to him

for ever, throughout the endless ages of eternity, as it will be by angels and men; to which the apostle sets his

Amen, as wishing that so it might be, and as firmly believing that so it will be: the subscription of the epistle runs thus, "written to the Romans from Corinthus", and sent "by Phebe, servant of the church at Cenchrea": which though it is not in every copy, nor are the subscriptions at the end of the epistles always to be depended upon; yet this seems to be a right and true one, both with respect to the place from whence, and the person by whom it was sent, as well as with respect to the persons to whom it is inscribed, of which there is no doubt.

To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Romans 16:27. Μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χ.] to be closely connected (without a comma after Θεῷ): to the through Jesus Christ only wise God, i.e. to the God who through Christ has shown Himself as the alone wise, so wise, that in comparison with Him this predicate can be applied to no other being (comp. Luke 18:19; John 17:3; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2Ma 1:25), the absolutely wise. Comp. Plato, Phaedr. p. 278 D; Diog. Laert. i. 12; Philo, de migr. Abr. I. p. 457. 4. The connection: “to the alone wise God be the glory through Christ” (Pesch., Chrysostom, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Morus, van Hengel, and several others), is inadmissible because of , which indeed is omitted by Beza and Grotius after the Complut. edition, but is critically so certified (it is wanting merely in B) that it can only appear to have been omitted with a view to relieve the construction; although Rückert also sees himself forced to omit it, and Ewald (comp. Märcker, p. 8), while retaining the , so translates as if it ran ᾧ διὰ Ἰ. Χ. ἡ δόξα. Thus, too, Hofmann connects the words, seeking through the dative μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ to bring them into government with ὀφείλομεν, Romans 15:1 (see on Romans 16:25-27). Instances of such a prefixing of parts of sentences having an emphasis before the relative are found, indeed, in the Greek writers (Schaefer, App. ad Dem. IV. p. 462; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaedr. pp. 238 A, 363 A; comp. on Acts 1:2); yet in the N. T. we have no passage of this kind (wrongly Hofmann adduces 1 Peter 4:11, Hebrews 13:21, as bearing on this); and it would not be easy to perceive any special reason why Paul should have so uniquely laid stress on διὰ Ἰ. Χ.

The description of God, begun on the side of His power in Romans 16:25, passes over at the conclusion of the doxology into the emphasizing of His wisdom, to which the representation of the gospel as ἀποκάλυψις μυστηρίουγνωρισθέντος involuntarily led him in a very natural process of thought; for so long as the mystery was covered by silence, the wisdom of God in its highest potency was not yet brought to light,—a result which took place by the very means of that ἀποκάλυψις. Comp. Romans 11:32-34. This at the same time applies against Reiche, who believes μόνῳ σοφῷ to be unsuitable here and to be taken from Judges 1:25 var. (the spurious addition σοφῷ, Judges 1:25, as also in 1 Timothy 1:17, has manifestly flowed from our passage).

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] i.e. through the appearance and the whole work of Jesus Christ. Thereby God caused Himself to be practically recognised as the alone wise. Comp. Romans 11:33 ff.; Ephesians 3:8 ff. Similarly, in Judges 1:25, διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ κ.τ.λ. is connected, not with the following δόξα, but with the preceding σωτῆρι ἡμῶν. Too narrowly, Fritzsche limits διὰ Ἰ. Χ., in accordance with Colossians 2:3 (but see in loc.), to the contents of His teaching. It is precisely the facts which bring to light the wisdom of the divine measures in the execution of the plan of redemption through Christ,—the death and the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus (Romans 4:24-25, Romans 8:34, et al.),—that form the sum and substance of the conception of our διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

] In the lively pressure of the great intermediate thoughts connected with the mention of the gospel, Romans 16:24-25, the syntactic connection has escaped the apostle. Not taking note that τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ and the resumptive μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ are still without their government, he adds, as though they had already received it at the beginning of the over-full sentence (through χάρις δὲ τῷ δυναμένῳ κ.τ.λ. or the like), the expression—still remaining due—of the praise itself by means of the (critically certain) relative, so that now the above datives are left to stand as anacoluthic. Comp. Acts 24:5-6, and the remark thereon. See also Winer, p. 528 [E. T. p. 710]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 252. Others, indeed, think that Paul allowed himself to be induced by the intermediate thoughts to turn from the doxology to God at first designed, and to direct the tribute of praise to Christ instead, the Mediator and Revealer of the wisdom of God, so as thereby mediately to praise God Himself. See especially Philippi, also Reithmayr, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Tholuck (doubtfully). Such doxologies as if to God, are found addressed to Christ doubtless in Hebrews 13:21, 2 Timothy 4:18, Revelation 1:6, and later in Clement et al., but in the really apostolical writings nowhere at all (see on Romans 9:5); and that Paul here still, even after the intermediate observations, retained the idea of praising God, so that must accordingly be referred not to Christ, but to God, is quite clearly proved by the resumptive μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ. For a formally quite similar anacoluthon[56] in the doxology, see Martyr. Polyc. 20: τῷ δυναμένῳ πάντας ἡμᾶς εἰσαγαγεῖν ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι κ. δωρεᾷ εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ βασιλείαν διὰ τοῦ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ μονογενοῦς Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ᾧ ἡ δόξα, τιμὴ, κράτος, μεγαλωσύνη εἰς αἰῶνας.

ἡ δόξα] sc. εἴη, not ἘΣΤΊ, according to 1 Peter 4:11 (Hofmann), where the connection is different and ἜΣΤΙΝ must be written (Lachm.), and its emphasis is to be noted. The article designates the befitting honour, as in Romans 11:36.

[56] For the suggestion that in this passage from the Martyr. Polyc. τῷ δυναμ. is dependent on the preceding ἐκλογάς (Hofmann), is simply a violent and very unsuitably devised evasion. Dressel has the unbiassed and correct punctuation.

Romans 16:27. μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ: this description of God suits all that has just been said about His great purpose in human history, and the hiding and revealing of it in due time. The true text in 1 Timothy 1:17 has no σοφῷ. The absence of the article here indicates that it is in virtue of having this character that God is able to stablish the Romans according to Paul’s Gospel. ᾧ ἡ δόξα: it is impossible to be sure of the reading here. If be omitted, there is no grammatical difficulty whatever: glory is ascribed to God through Jesus Christ, through Whom the eternal purpose of the world’s redemption has in God’s wisdom been wrought out. But its omission is almost certainly a correction made for simplification’s sake. If it be retained, to whom does it refer? (1) Some say, to Jesus Christ; and this is grammatically the obvious way to take it. But it seems inconsistent with the fact that in τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ and μόνῳ σοφῷ θεῷ Paul wishes unequivocally to ascribe the glory to God. And though it saves the grammar of the last clause, it sacrifices that of the whole sentence. Hence (2) it seems necessary to refer it to God, and we may suppose, with Sanday and Headlam, that the structure of the sentence being lost amid the heavily-loaded clauses of the doxology, the writer concludes with a well-known formula of praise, ᾦ ἡ δόξα κ.τ.λ. (Galatians 1:15, 2 Timothy 4:18, Hebrews 13:21). This might be indicated by putting a dash after Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The thread is lost, and the writer appends his solemn conclusion as best he can.

27. to God only wise] So certainly; though the Gr. equally allows the rendering to the only wise God. But the assertion of His glory as the Only (absolutely) Wise Being is far more in harmony with the height and fulness of the language here, than the assertion that among all Divinities, real or supposed, He only is wise.—The eternal Wisdom is here emphasized because the Gospel is its supreme expression. See especially the profound words of Ephesians 3:10, and 1 Timothy 1:17 (with its connexion). Cp. also “Christ … the wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:24.—In Jude 25, the word “wise” is probably to be omitted.

be glory, &c.] The lit. order and rendering of the remaining words is—through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen. Here the construction becomes involved by the use of the relative, “to whom;” and this is equally so whether the relative refers to God or to Christ. That it refers to God seems to be proved, (1) by the opening words of Romans 16:25, which lead us to expect, through the whole passage, an ascription of praise to the Father; (2) by the name of Christ occurring in a phrase (see next note) which indicates His mediatorial work, as the Channel through which praise rises to the Father.

through Jesus Christ] Meyer connects these words closely with the phrase “to God only wise,” and explains them to mean that the absolute Wisdom of God acts and is revealed through Jesus Christ. But this, though in itself eternally true, involves a grammatical construction sufficiently peculiar to recommend the more obvious one which takes the words “through Jesus Christ” to refer to the Son of God as our Channel of thanks and praise. Cp. ch. Romans 1:8.—We now explain the abrupt construction (see last note) as if St Paul had fully written, “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you, &c., we give thanks; even to God Only Wise, through Jesus Christ; to whom (i.e. to God) be the glory for ever.”

The construction of this Doxology is remarkable not only in itself, but in the fact that it was evidently left unaltered by St Paul and his friends. No various reading of the least importance occurs throughout it.

for ever. Amen] See on Romans 1:25, and on Romans 11:33, &c. Justly does the great Epistle end with the highest of all thoughts, the Glory of God everlastingly manifested and confessed. Amen, so be it.

The Subscription

Written to the Romans, &c.] Lit. To the Romans [i.e. The Epistle to the Romans] was written from Corinth, by means of Phœbe the servant of the Cenchrean church. This ancient “Subscription” is no doubt true to fact. In this it differs from those appended to 1 Cor., Galat., 1 Tim., which are contradictory to the contents of the respective Epistles; and from those appended to Thess. and Titus, which are difficult to be reconciled with the contents.

These “Subscriptions” (to St Paul’s Epistles) are said to be the work of Euthalius, a Bishop of the fifth century. They thus possess an antiquarian interest, but no historical authority. (See Scrivener’s Introduction to the Criticism of the N. T., ed. 1874, p. 60.)

Romans 16:27. Σοφῷ) to the wise) The wisdom of God is glorified by means of the Gospel in the Church, Ephesians 3:10; who is of power [able] Romans 16:25, and to the wise [both predicated of God], are joined together in this passage, as 1 Corinthians 1:24, where Christ is said to be the power of God and the wisdom of God.—, to whom) is put for αὐτῷ, to Him. So ὧν, ch. Romans 3:14; comp. 2 Timothy 3:11; Acts 26:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6, note, LXX., Isaiah 5:28. There would be a hiatus in the sentence without a pronoun.[174]—Ἀμήν, amen) and let every believing reader say, Amen.[175]

[174] ACD(Λ) Hilary and Vulg. read . B the oldest MS. omits it. Lachm. suggests we should adopt this omission and read with the Vulg. no τε between διὰ and γραφῶν and γνωρισθέντι, ‘cognito,’ for γνωρισθεντος. “To the only-wise God who is made known through Jesus Christ.” Else he conjectures that if we retain τε, , and γνωρισθέντος, we must read χάρις after Θεῷ, “To the only-wise God be thanks through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory,” etc.—ED.

[175] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 3: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bryce, Trans.) (117–198). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Verse 27. - To God only wise, through Jesus Christ, be glory for ever. Amen. The great preponderance of ancient authorities, including all uncials but B, have "to God only wise." But the intended sense is not affected by the insertion, the ascription of glory being still to the only wise God, and not to Jesus Christ. Otherwise there would be no sequence to τῷ δυναμένῳ and μόνῷ σοφῷ Θεῷ. "In the lively pressure of the great intermediate thoughts connected with the mention of the gospel, vers. 25, 26, the syntactic connection has escaped the apostle" (Meyer)

Romans 16:27To whom

God, who, through Christ, appears as "the only wise."

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