Who are the prophets of Romans 16:26?

WHO ARE THE PROPHETS OF ROMANS 16:26?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Romans 16:25-26 says: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith….” What are “the scriptures of the prophets” in verse 26? Are they the “Old Testament” Scriptures, the “prophetic Scriptures?” Who are these prophets? Are they “Old Testament” prophets? Let us look at God’s Holy Word for the answer!

The phrase “the scriptures of the prophets” (Romans 16:26), while commonly assumed to be the “Old Testament” prophets, actually refers to the prophets in the Church the Body of Christ. We read of them in Ephesians 4:7-12: “[7] But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. [8] Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. [9] (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? [10] He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) [11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ….”

Remember, after His ascension “far above all heavens,” Christ gave gifts to men in the Body of Christ—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (verse 11). These gifts were given during the Acts period. They would certainly not be the 12 Apostles or the Old Testament Prophets of Israel’s program, for these people received their spiritual gifts before the ascension, of course. Paul, according to Romans 11:13, would be the first apostle of Ephesians 4:7-12. There were other (secondary) apostles related to and in the Body of Christ. In addition, there were Body-of-Christ prophets, Body-of-Christ evangelists, Body-of-Christ pastors, and Body-of-Christ teachers. The prophets in the Body of Christ are also discussed in Ephesians 2:20, Ephesians 3:5, and 1 Corinthians 12:28-29.

The Body-of-Christ prophets evidently identified, assembled, and copied Scripture, as we read: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). In other words, these Body-of-Christ prophets were copying the whole Bible. “The scriptures of the prophets” would be all of the Bible, but more specifically, all the Bible in light of Pauline doctrine (that Pauline truth being “kept secret,” according to Romans 16:25, but now revealed through Paul’s ministry, verse 26).

God wants us to use the entire Bible, provided that we remember to use it “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)—understanding the mystery and keeping it separate from prophecy. Back to Romans 16:5-26: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith….” Notice the order in these two verses. God will “stablish,” or stabilize, us in the inner man using three steps of edification: (1) “My [or, Paul’s] gospel,” (2) “The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery;” and (3) “The Scriptures of the prophets.” This is actually how Paul’s epistles are laid out in the canon of Scripture.

Paul’s Gospel is laid out clearly in Romans, as well as in (the next three Books) 1 & 2 Corinthians and Galatians. The preaching of Jesus Christ according to the mystery would be the next three Epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. The Scriptures of the prophets would relate to Paul’s two Thessalonian epistles—since they deal with non-Pauline truths (prophecy) and how those non-Pauline truths are not to be combined with Pauline truths. The remaining four Pauline Books—1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—are the congregational/assembly doctrine. They are thus often called the “Pastoral Epistles.”

In light of 1 Corinthians 14:37, prophets in the Body of Christ identified, collected/collated, and copied the Scriptures. (In Israel’s program, a prophet was usually one who foretold the future; however, a Body-of-Christ prophet had a different role.) The Body of Christ prophets were not copying merely Paul’s epistles though. They were copying all of Scripture, allowing us to have manuscript copies of all 66 of the Bible Books even today. When Paul referred to prophecy in the two Books of Thessalonians, he was encouraging his audience to look at the non-Pauline Bible Books for further details. The Scriptures of the prophets allow us to appreciate/grasp all of the Bible: we see how the rest of the Bible fits with Paul’s epistles and how Paul’s epistles fit with the non-Pauline Bible Books. Remember, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and all of it is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16-17), provided we use it “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15).

CONCLUSION

“The scriptures of the prophets” of Romans 16:26 refers to all of the Bible Books in light of Pauline doctrine. The Body-of-Christ prophets identified, collected/collated, and copied all Bible Books into one group so they could all be studied in light of the final divine revelation given to Paul (see Colossians 1:25-29; cf. Ephesians 1:10-11). Now we can better understand what is going on with Romans 16:25-26 as a whole. Once we get beyond the basics of Christianity (Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace), then we can mature into the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery. When we come to that point in our spiritual maturity, then we can grasp how all of that relates to the rest of the Bible.

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHEN ROMANS 16:26 IS PERVERTED

In an attempt to diminish and/or deny Paul’s special revelations from Jesus Christ, some people (either deliberately or inadvertently) drop the conjunction “and” that precedes “by the scriptures of the prophets.” Not only is this erroneous teaching found in speech; people have actually changed the Greek and English Bibles because they did not know how to handle this dispensational passage. The modern English version manuscripts omit the Greek word te—the “and” in the KJV reading and by the scriptures of the prophets.” By doing so, they make the modern English versions say that Paul’s mystery (secret) was found outside of Paul’s writings. They say the “prophetic Scriptures,” or the “Old Testament” prophets, revealed the mystery. This is a flat-out lie, contradicting other verses such as those found in Colossians chapter 1 and Ephesians chapter 3. (Since they attack dispensational precepts—the fundamentals of proper Bible study—these perverted manuscripts and modern English versions are dangerous and should be avoided! Friend, you should stick with the King James Bible!)

Notice the following English versions and how they handle Romans 16:26 in a most dishonest manner. They cause their readers to conclude that the Apostle Paul’s teachings were not at all special or formerly hid in God. These translators had no idea what they were doing, and have completely destroyed the original meaning of Romans 16:26:

  • Amplified Bible: “but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the commandment of the eternal God, leading them to obedience to the faith,”
  • Contemporary English Version: “but now at last it has been told. The eternal God commanded his prophets to write about the good news, so that all nations would obey and have faith.”
  • Douay-Rheims American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “(Which now is made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the precept of the eternal God, for the obedience of faith,) known among all nations;”
  • English Standard Version: “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—“
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible: “but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—”
  • Living Bible: “But now as the prophets foretold and as God commands, this message is being preached everywhere, so that people all around the world will have faith in Christ and obey him.
  • The Message: “as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief,”
  • New Century Version: “It has been made clear through the writings of the prophets. And by the command of the eternal God it is made known to all nations that they might believe and obey.”
  • New International Version: “but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—”
  • New Living Translation: “But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him.”
  • New Revised Standard Version: “but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—”
  • Revised Standard Version: “but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—”

We read Romans 16:25-26 in the King James Bible again: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith….”

It is important that we note AND by the scriptures of the prophets” is the original and inspired reading. The mystery is not declared by the Old Testament prophets or by the “prophetic Scriptures.” We must understand that the mystery is revealed only by Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon (cf. Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-29). Romans 16:25-26 is saying that God desires to build us up with three elements: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) The preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) The Scriptures of the prophets. It is important that we not misread Romans 16:25-26. Combining points 2 and 3 into one thought—namely, ignoring Paul’s special ministry—is the reason why there is confusion among Bible versions, translators, teachers, preachers, and students.

Also see:
» What is dispensational Bible study?
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?

5 responses to “Who are the prophets of Romans 16:26?

  1. Pingback: An Eternal House in the Heavens #7 | 333 Words of Grace

  2. Shawn,

    Got to read carefully—carefully—then it becomes clear as you demonstrate.

    Your friend,

    Dick Miller

  3. Pingback: Are there modern-day apostles and prophets? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

  4. Pingback: What was “the epistle from Laodicea?” | For What Saith the Scriptures?

  5. Pingback: Can you explain 2 Timothy 4:13? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

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