Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Our Advent passage today is a grammarian’s delight. These final verses in the book of Romans make up one long, convoluted sentence packed full of subordinate clauses, just waiting for someone to unpack in a sentence diagram.
For those who shudder at this thought, these verses can be summed up with a simple: To God be glory!
In these past weeks of Advent, we’ve waited with great anticipation for the birth of the Christ child and for the light that has already come. As we get ready to transition from Advent to the story of Christ’s birth and the Christmas season, this passage gives us a beautiful overview of the entire Biblical story and God’s plan for salvation.
It’s like a book or movie review with spoilers.
As controversial as this might sound, I love spoilers. In fact, to the annoyance of my family members, I often look up what’s going to happen in a book or TV show or movie. Rather than taking away from my enjoyment, I argue that knowing the ending actually enriches my overall experience as a reader or viewer.
Our passage today reminds us that though we are still waiting and stumbling in the darkness, we know the end of the story. Everything we need for salvation and a righteous life has been given to us in Christ. What was once a mystery and previously hidden has now been revealed and made known to all nations. Christ has fulfilled the law through his life and death; faith in Him allows us to be righteous before God.
Paul’s words remind us of who we are and what we are called to do as participants in God’s redemption story. During this season of Advent and beyond, when the brokenness in our world and in my own life seems overwhelming, I need this simple reminder again and again.
To God be glory!
Dr. Deborah Van Duinen is the Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Associate Professor of Education at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.