The NRSV’s notes on the text of today’s Romans reading attest to the difficulty of deciding how Paul ended this unique letter. Early manuscripts may put v.20b in its present location or after v.23 or after v.27. Both vv.17-20a and vv.25-27 have been identified as possible interpolations. That said, the text as we have it is the text to which the reader appends “The Word of the Lord.”
Romans 1-11 closed with a sort of hymn and doxology (11:33-36); 16:25-27 give us a second doxology. Both focus on God’s wisdom, incommensurate with our own. It’s both ironic and appropriate that they occur in this letter, which, of all Paul’s letters, skates closest to attempting to scrutinize God’s inscrutable ways.
And here in the doxologies what might seem theological abstractions and the very existential meet: it’s precisely God’s wisdom that we count on, counting on God to wisely thread the (moving) needle between God’s sovereignty and our freedom, between God’s commitments to justice and redemption. We need God to make good on the commitments to Israel, because this is the God who’s made equally weighty and risky commitments to us.
“To bring about the obedience of faith” (v.26), echoing “to bring about the obedience of faith” with which the letter started (1:5). We’re not in the grandstands, but on the field, and in God’s wisdom (?!) we also factor into the fulfillment of God’s dreams. “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev. 26:12).