“Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27)
I am not quite sure why, but the writer of Romans sometimes writes in a rather confusing style. Very poetic, but confusing. My whole reflection today might just be an unpacking and explanation of what he is saying.
This is the last section of verses in the book to the Romans, so this is the concluding and closing remarks of the writer. The writer of Romans (or to be more concise, Paul) is identifying that it is God who can and does make believers stronger in their faith. Along with God, Jesus Christ also strengthens and directs believers in faith and worship. For a long time it seemed as if the message and word of God was mysterious, but now it is being proclaimed clearly and for all people. And because God and Christ have done these things, Paul says, theirs is the glory and honor forever.
For generations and generation people have prayed to God, and hoped that God heard their prayers. And they hoped that they heard the word of God correctly. When Christ came no longer did humanity wonder if God heard them and if they heard God correctly, because God-in-man Jesus was there among them. And in a way that humanity could feel reassured that God-in-man Jesus would understand them, because Jesus had grown up among them and shared in the experience of maturing in God and understanding. What had been unknown about God was made knowable through Christ. And Paul’s prayer, while dense in its wording, reminds his reader of that.
If before, through the words of the prophet, God’s people knew in part who they were praying to, when Jesus came to the earth they (and now we) can understand and know even more fully the God we pray to. And Paul’s hope and admonition has spread – through people of faith who have gone before us, we can understand through their writings and experience even more fully who God is. This is the God we pray to, and the God who heard the prayers of the people answering those prayers through the baby Jesus.
May you, beloved reader, pray to God this Advent and Christmas season, seeking God and seeing God through the coming of Jesus. Selah!