The Glory of the Gospel
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”
The Apostle draws his monumental letter to a conclusion with a doxology. The word doxology stems from the Greek doxa meaning glory. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines a doxology as “A short formula of praise to God.” This is a common method by which New Testament Epistles are brought to a close (Hebrews 13:20-21, Jude 24-25). In the Roman doxology, however, we observe striking parallels with the introduction to the letter. It is as if the words come full circle as the epistle is concluded. The needs for strengthening (1:11), the Gospel in the Old Testament (1:2) and the extension of the Gospel to the nations (1:5) are the themes with which he began. The most prominent aspect of this doxology, however, is the centrality of the Gospel. I am convinced that Paul is showing us that God is glorified through the Gospel.
1: The Definition of the Gospel
What does Paul mean by the Gospel? In keeping with the tone of the letter, the Gospel is the great truth that the Apostle has expounded. Justification by Faith (4-5), Sanctification as the logical outcome of Justification (6-7) and Assurance of our Justification and Adoption are all themes that lie at the heart of the Gospel (8).
2: The Consolidation through the Gospel
It should interest us to know that the Gospel is not only used by God to convert sinners but it is also a means of consolidating saints. An interest in the Gospel and its truth is vital for our own spiritual well being.
3: The Proclamation of the Gospel
God uses the Gospel for our edification when it is proclaimed. This proclamation of the Gospel is the “preaching of Jesus Christ”. The Gospel is not the teaching of intellectually stimulating theories, nor the stirring of human emotions but the declaration of Jesus Christ who lies at heart of God’s redemptive purpose. If Christ is not presented there is no Gospel. Interestingly Paul describes the message as “my Gospel”. He had been separated unto the Gospel (1:1) and was charged with the message. Therefore he was duty bound to preach Christ faithfully.
4: The Revelation by the Gospel
The Gospel is here described as “the revelation which was kept secret since the world began.” The word mystery in the New Testament does not denote a riddle which is almost impossible to solve. Rather a mystery in the New Testament is a revealed secret. It is only after the resurrection of Christ that the secret, which was God’s redemptive purpose, was revealed through the ministry of the Apostles.
5: The Manifestation of the Gospel
This revealed secret is manifest for every generation through the inspired Word of God. Why, however, did Paul state that that this secret is manifest through the writings of the prophets whenever he previously wrote that it was hidden since the world began. The Gospel is apparent in the Old Testament through the types and the prophecies. Nevertheless Christ is there like a stranger wrapped in a thick veil. The prophets were aware of this and searched diligently for the truth. We are able to observe the Gospel today in clarity from the Old Testament through the light shining from the New Testament (1 Peter 1:10-12). The phrase “by the commandment of the everlasting God” teaches us that Gospel is of divine origin. It began in the eternal counsels God’s mind and has been revealed to and for a guilty world.
6: The Distribution of the Gospel
It is the intention of God that this message should be spread around the world to all nations. The Church has been entrusted with this message in order that the world might be won for Jesus Christ. The words “obedience of faith” show that evangelism must appeal to the minds and wills of men and women urging them to obey God by acting in faith and giving their lives to him.
7: The Function of the Gospel
The purpose of this wonderful news, the greatest message ever to be proclaimed or heard, is the glory of God. In particular the Gospel glorifies the wisdom of God, “To God only wise be glory…”. Where the justice of a holy God and the mercy of a loving God seemed to be poles apart, wisdom found a way to reconcile both through the blood of the cross (Psalm 85:9-10). This God of wisdom, however, is glorified particularly “through Jesus Christ”. He lies at the heart of the Gospel because He is our mediator, the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). God cannot be known apart from Christ neither can God be praised except through the person of his only begotten Son. This is the glory of the Gospel, the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2nd Cor 4:6).