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Romans 16:25-27

This week’s passages are all about turning the world upside down. From the king who thinks he can build a house for God, only to be reminded that it is God who built a house for him (2 Samuel 7) to Mary’s song of the powerful brought down while the lowly are lifted up. With a few words, Paul’s benediction to his letter to the Christians in Rome also portrayed an upside-down world (or right-side-up, depending on your point of view!)

The benediction is bookended with a phrase: “Now to God…be the glory forever! Amen.” A lot of theology is packed between those bookends.

Starting with verse 25, “To God who is able to strengthen you.” Paul opens with a nod to God’s power, which is imparted unto his people. In the city at the heart of the Roman Empire, a city that surely felt the incredible power of Caesar at every turn, Paul reminded the Christians of who was truly powerful. While kings and rulers may reign for a time, God reigns for eternity. And it is this power that empowers the Christians. Paul deftly dethroned Caesar with a single phrase that put the power right back in God’s hands to be extended to the Christians.

This empowerment is through the good news and proclamation of Jesus Christ. Earlier in Romans, Paul wrote at length about the incredible message of Jesus Christ crucified. Again, this is another upside-down message. This story of death is good news, not to be hidden but proclaimed. It is Jesus’ power over death that enables the Roman Christians to stand, to be “more than conquerors.”

Paul opened the book of Romans with discussion about God’s revelation to humanity, and here he revisits that theme: the “revelation of the mystery,” the “secret,” “now disclosed.” This is no esoteric gospel, limited to the wealthy or the wise. This is good news for all of humanity. What was secret and hidden has been turned upside down and is now revealed and disclosed.

This secret is revealed through the prophetic writings. Is Paul referring to the Old Testament prophets? To his own prophetic writings? Maybe both.[1] Throughout the book of Romans, Paul drew heavily on Old Testament themes, characters, and scriptures to expound his arguments. This final benediction reminded the Christians