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What is the meaning of "prophetic writings"? We should bear in mind that a prophet
was not confined to revealing future events. He was a forth-teller as well as being a
foreteller. This phrase must not be confined to such books as Daniel or the Revelation.
There is a sense in which all the Scripture can be classed as prophetic writings, making
known the mind and will of God (II Pet. 1: 20, 21). As there were N.T. prophets as well
as O.T. ones, the title "prophetic writings" could be applied to the New Testament as well
as the Old Testament.
Let us state what the mystery of Rom. 16: cannot mean. (1) It cannot refer to the
gospel of grace and salvation for this was never hidden, but made known "by His
prophets in the holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1: 2), i.e. the O.T. (2) It cannot refer to the
blessing of the Gentile with the Jew, for this likewise had been revealed in the O.T.,
namely that "all families of the earth" should be blessed through Abraham's seed
(Gen.xii.1-3). It must refer to truth not previously revealed.
There are those who look on the doxology of Rom. 16: as superfluous to the epistle
as a whole. But the structure of the epistle is defective without it (see Vol. LI, p.83).
The doxology balances chapter 1::
Rom. 1: 1 - 17
Rom. 16: 25 27
The gospel of God . . . concerning His
The preaching of Jesus Christ, kept silent
Son Jesus Christ our Lord, promised afore
in age times, now made known through
by prophets in the holy Scriptures.
Grace . . . from God our Father
Praise to the eternal and only wise God
To the end ye may be established
To Him Who is able to establish you
The power of God unto salvation
To Him Who is of power
Righteousness revealed . . .
Revelation of a mystery
as it is written
Scriptures, the prophets
Professor F. F. Bruce says:
"there is in the doxology a recognizable echo of dominant themes of the opening
salutation; in particular the mention of the scriptures of the prophets recalls `which He
had promised afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures' and make known to all nations
`for the obedience of faith' is practically a repetition of `for obedience of faith among all
nations' (1:5). This rounding off of the epistle on the same note as was struck at its
commencement suggests the author himself" (Epistle to the Romans, p.282).
We come back to our original question, what is this secret, hushed since age-times
commenced, but now made known through prophetic writings? The answer must be
made from the Scriptures themselves and we believe the best explanation is given by
Charles H. Welch in his exposition, Just and the Justifier. He writes:
"The mystery of Rom. 16: is not said to be related to a period `before age-times', but
`silenced in age-times'. This theme is the secret of the central section of Romans
(chapters 5:-8:) and its subject is Adam, not Abraham; man, not Israel or Gentile; the
law of sin, not the law of Sinai; the dominion of sin and death, not the domination of
Canaanites or Babel."