“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27 NKJV).
A doxology is a statement of praise and honor towards and / or about God. The word derives from the Greek word “doxa” meaning “brightness, splendor, and radiance.” In its verbal form it is often rendered “to praise, honor, magnify, or glorify.”
Casual readers of the Bible may be unaware of the many doxologies which are part of its text such as that which is cited at the beginning of this article. These are formal statements of praise containing many doctrinal and theological themes which add significantly to our understanding of the nature and identity of God.
When one takes the gospel of Jesus Christ into cultures based on other religions with other gods or pantheons of divinity, the question of our God’s identity becomes critical. Just as Paul struggled to distinguish between his “unknown God” before the very religious, but pagan, Greeks (Acts 17:22-34), we also must make clear to our audiences that it is not enough to simply believe that gods exist, or to add another name to a long list of beings to worship.
The God whom we worship demands our exclusive allegiance and seeks to be known by us in all of his wisdom, might, and glory. Reading these doxologies carefully helps our understanding. I invite you to consider the following characteristics of God which are given in Romans 16:25-27.
- He is the Redeemer (25a). Paul states that God is “able to establish you.” In this context “establish” is equivalent to “redeem” or “save.” In Romans the apostle has already shown that all accountable humans are estranged from God through sin (Romans 3:23). We all are fallen, without hope, and under condemnation. But God can change that. Most importantly, only God can change that.
- He is the keeper of mystery (25b). God knew from before creation what mankind would need, and what he himself would do to meet that need. His knowledge is complete and perfect. There is nothing that he does not know.
- He is the revealer of secrets (26). God is not selfish with his knowledge or inordinately proud and jealous of it as was charged by the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5). God began to announce his intentions hundreds of years before his son Jesus came into the world, revealing them through prophets whom he inspired.
- He is everlasting (26b). God has always been and will always be. He is “The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, . . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). It is a truism that “the only thing constant is change.” God is the exception to that rule. He never changes and never ceases to be other than he has always been.
- He is the only source of true wisdom (27). As ancient Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Again, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). Jesus taught “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul simply affirms, “to God, alone wise” (Romans 16:27).
Classic scholars describing the attributes or characteristics of God included his perfect wisdom by the word “omniscient.” It is typically defined as “all-knowing” but includes more than simply the total awareness of facts or truth. God’s wisdom is practically applied. He not only knows all things but understands them and applies them perfectly to any and all situations.
A human scholar might be able to describe all the chemical and botanical characteristics of the coffee bean, but not know how to brew a cup of coffee. That is never the case which God. He knows the answers to all of the major questions — “What? When? Who? How? Why?” Because of his wisdom he solves every problem troubling the human race. We can trust his knowledge.
Of course there are many other attributes of God not considered in this text. He is also all-powerful, all-loving, and all-present. These qualities give us confidence that he knows what to do, is able to do it, and is willing to act on mankind’s behalf. Our faith is well-founded if placed in the only “true and living God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Mike explores the wisdom of God in his book about the suffering of Job, In Search of Perfection.