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The Doxologies of the New Testament Epistles (2)

H A Barnes, Bromborough


"The Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom 1.25)

In this, the shortest of his doxologies, Paul spontaneously seeks to right the wrong done to God the Creator, who had not been glorified by the post-deluvians (Rom 1.21) who had "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image" (v.23), and had "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator". God is praiseworthy even though man's degenerated view of Him was so poor. Paul obviously felt very stirred by this injustice and sought immediate redress in this short doxology. Oh that we too could speak up when God's name is so diminished!

"Christ…is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom 9.5)

This doxology is a clear declaration of the deity of Christ and follows the statement of the Lord's earthly descent from "the fathers", e.g. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Paul is then quick to assert the deity of the Lord Jesus in clear, unambiguous terms. This is as definite as another of Paul's statements of His deity - "the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit 2.13). To say that He is "over all" would in itself be proof enough of divinity, but we have the added declaration that He is God. Hence, in every sense He deserves the description of "blessed for ever".

"Him…to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom 11.36)

Paul is finishing the section of his epistle on God's sovereign dealings with Israel, and has just exclaimed, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (v.33). He says this is indisputably true because, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things" (v.36). That is to say everything originated in Him, exists through Him, and is on its way to a consummation with Him (cp. Col 1.16-17; 1 Cor 8.6; Eph 3.9). Paul is so uplifted by this truth - that He is the God of creation, history, and the end times - that he spontaneously declares: "to whom be glory for ever. Amen".

"To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen" (Rom 16.25-27)

Paul ends his masterly epistle with this wonderful doxology. Glory is ascribed to the God who is able to firmly establish his readers in spiritual things through the glad tidings, the preaching and the prophetic Scriptures; who is uniquely the only wise God; whose wisdom, which had worked out such a great salvation, has been extolled previously as "the depth of the riches both of the wisdom…of God" (Rom 11.33). We are reminded of Christian ground, however, when we are told that the glory was being ascribed "through Jesus Christ". This is always the avenue of praise and thanksgiving for the Christian (Rom 1.8; 7.25; 15.17).

"God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Gal 1.4-5)

Paul has just spoken about "our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world" (vv.3-4), who had done this "according to the will of God and our Father", i.e. perfectly in accord with His will. Paul is so delighted with this statement that he makes it the reason for this brief, unexpected doxology, for it is to this God and our Father, who so planned our salvation and deserves the glory, that eternal glory belongs.

"Now…Unto him be glory in the church by [through] Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph 3.20-21)

Having just prayed the most exalted prayer on behalf of his readers, Paul reassures them that God can answer such prayers, since He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (v.20). This reassurance comes in the form of a doxology, since to God, who can do so much for the saints, alone belongs the glory. This glory, as we have seen above, is rendered "through Christ Jesus" as the route, but now we also learn that true praise can only be rendered "in the church", that is to say among and by true believers. This will be one occupation of the church "unto all generations of the age of ages" (JND).

"Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Phil 4.20)

Paul has just stated that "my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (v.19). That is to say, the God of his experience (my God), who had never let him down, was now able to supply any needs of the Philippians that might have arisen from their sacrificial giving to him, a gift that had been "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God" (v.18). This God was Paul's Father, whom he now takes the opportunity to praise, and to whom he ascribes glory. He is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1.3), who is "blessed for evermore" (2 Cor 11.31), and He is the "One God and Father of all" (Eph 4.6) who is especially for us "our God and Father" (see also 1 Thess 3.13 and 2 Thess 2.16), tenderly caring for us in all our needs. "Our God and Father" is the source of our grace and peace, as Paul reminds us at the beginning of all his epistles (Rom 1.7; Philem v.3).

"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Tim 1.17)

"This noble doxology is a burst of gratitude for God's grace to Paul" (Robertson's NT Word Pictures). We note that the expression "King eternal, immortal, invisible" is unique, while the phrase "God only wise" or "only wise God" is found elsewhere, but only here in this context does honour precede glory. Paul has just placed himself as first in the lists of sinners, "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious" (v.13), and examples (vv.15,16), and now in great appreciation exults in the highest ascription of praise to the God who had shown him such great mercy, owning Him as "the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God" (JND).

"Our Lord Jesus Christ…the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords…to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen" (1 Tim 6.14-16)

This doxology, like the last considered, is worded slightly differently in that no glory is mentioned, but the same honour and power attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ are found in a later doxology (Rev 5.13 - original Greek words time and kratos). At Christ's second coming to earth, "It will be manifest to all the world what is already revealed to faith, that, in the Person of Christ, God is revealed as the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the One who, in the majesty of His Deity, alone has essential immortality, and who dwells in inaccessible light" (Hamilton Smith).

"The Lord…to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (2 Tim 4.18)

The Lord Jesus had been very precious to Paul under the most trying circumstances. When all forsook him at his trial, "the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me", and he believed that until his work was done "the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom" (vv.17,18). It is this Lord whom he then spontaneously praises in the doxology as the One who can control every circumstance for His glory. This is the last of Paul's inspired writings, and it ends with this delightful doxology. 

To be continued.


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