The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Romans 8

Rom 8:1

THEREFORE: A reference back to Rom 7:25, or even perhaps to Rom 5:1,2.

NOW: That is, in this age, since Christ's death and resurrection. In contrast to man's condition in Adam (Rom 5:12) and under the Mosaic law (Rom 7:10,11).

NO CONDEMNATION: Signifies 'to pronounce sentence against', as would a judge. A point stressed again in v 34. "Sin" is condemned (v 3), so that those "in Christ" will not be condemned!

What, precisely, does Paul mean when he says there is now, for us in Christ, no condemnation? Two representative answers might be given: (a) "There is a present freedom, certainly, but not from the death inherited from Adam; for that will as assuredly send us into the grave, if the Lord delay his coming, as if we had never heard of the gospel. The freedom we have, is freedom from our sins as obstacles to a future life, and from our alienship as an obstacle to future incorporation in the glorified house of God" (RR, The Resurrection to Condemnation, p 23). (b) "We believe that in baptism there is a transition from a state of alienation in Adam to a state of citizenship in Christ, and that through it we shall ultimately be freed from the physical effects of Adam's sin -- mortality. We are not personally responsible for Adam's personal sin, and are not therefore baptized for it in that sense; but federally we are all under Adam's sin and are baptized to remove the condemnation which came thereby, and to place us in Christ reconciled to God... Adamic condemnation brings a physical disability inherited from Adam. We are freed from this federal condemnation and reconciled to God at baptism, but we are not freed from physical disability till the change of body" (Thomas Williams, "Adamic Condemnation", from Selected Works, pp 450,451).

If these brethren were resurrected and brought into the same room today and asked the question, "Is there now no condemnation to those in Christ?", they would give the same answer. Robert Roberts would say, "Yes. The real condemnation is removed by the forgiveness of sins. For those in Christ a process of deliverance is begun, which will only be finished when our bodies are glorified."

And Thomas Williams would reply, "Yes, I agree. Our full and absolute deliverance is prospective. But we must remember that baptism removes us from a state of alienation to one of reconciliation to God. In this sense (of a renewed relationship with God) we are freed from condemnation with Adam even now." A detailed look at the remainder of Rom 8 will give the fullest picture of "no condemnation... in Christ" in all its aspects.

WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS: Who are those "in Christ"? It must be stated that being "in Christ" means much more than being dependent upon Christ, or being a follower of Christ. Being "in Christ" is nothing less than a union with him. We should be in Christ as he is in us, and (awesome as it may seem) as he is in his Father (Joh 14:19,20). The profoundly beautiful symbol of the true vine and its branches abiding in one another provides an insight into the picture. It should go without saying, then, that those truly "in Christ" are only those who walk after the spirit, and not after the flesh (vv 1,4).

It must be emphasized that our ultimate salvation is not assured, but is conditional. (Proof-texts for this, such as Rom 2:6,7 and 1Co 9:27, are but two among many.) No person instructed in the first principles of Truth could ever wish to deny such a fundamental doctrine. But, having admitted this, we should still find room for this doctrine of "no condemnation". What, after all, does it really mean?

The central theme of Paul's letter to the Rom is justification by faith: believers are declared righteous; they are made righteous; they have righteousness imputed or reckoned to them through their faith in Christ and his redemptive work. This, then, is justification by faith. It is equally true, as James was at pains to show, that our faith is demonstrated by our works, and that therefore we are also justified by our works. Somehow, perhaps as a healthy reaction to the evangelical 'orthodox' doctrine of 'faith alone' and 'only believe!', we Christadelphians have come to lean quite heavily toward the 'works' side of the scale. In doing this we risk the danger of teaching (by unintended implication if not by word) that our salvation is in our hands alone; that what we do will guarantee us salvation, and, conversely, that God is just waiting to condemn us for one shortcoming.

This is just not so. Some have labored under a forlorn assumption, a fatalistic attitude, a mumbling, downcast pessimism best expressed by the sad admission: "I am not good enough to get into the kingdom." It is precisely here that we must ask ourselves, Do we really believe Rom 8:1? Let us not water it down as a mere legal or prospective justification. It is much more. It is now, and it is real. And all of Rom 8 enhances the view that, for the believer, justification and righteousness and sonship are present possessions, provided the believer remains truly "in Christ".

The KJV adds: "who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit". This phrase is omitted by some manuscripts. It is usually suggested that it is borrowed from v 4, where it rightly appears. Properly understood, the verse reads as well without it. If it be allowed to stand, it should be read, not as a limiting factor to the whole verse, but as a definition of "those in Christ Jesus".

Rom 8:2

THROUGH CHRIST JESUS: The 'place' where Paul was liberated by the "principle of the spirit-life".

THE LAW: Or "principle": the Gr is "nomos" (translated "law" in the AV), which signifies system, operation, or procedure.

THE SPIRIT OF LIFE: Or "spirit-life". The conjunction of these two words anticipates the main theme of vv 5-11.

SET ME FREE: Or "liberated", reltd to the word in v 21. The "principle of the spirit-life", as displayed by Christ, has liberated us from the ruling impulses of the "flesh". While it is true that "the clogging effects of human nature hinder the full expression of the life the believer now tries to live" (CRom 81) (which is what Paul tells us in Rom 7), nevertheless in a very real sense we are free. We are free from worry; we are free from fear. Now we do not have to serve the flesh. We can choose to follow Christ. Of the effect of freedom from condemnation Paul wrote more particularly: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again" (2Co 5:14,15). And, more succinctly: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

Those who have died with Christ in baptism have thereby been rid of the condemnation that attached to their former lives. They have become "new creatures". Instead of bondage there is now freedom; instead of condemnation, justification. It is all part and parcel of the new life with a new Lord.

While walking through the forest one day, a man found a young eagle who had fallen out of his nest. He took it home and put it in his barnyard where it soon learned to eat and behave like the chickens. One day a naturalist passed by the farm and asked why it was that the king of all birds should be confined to live in the barnyard with the chickens. The farmer replied that since he had given it chicken feed and trained it to be a chicken, it had never learned to fly. Since it now behaved as the chickens, it was no longer an eagle.

Still it has the heart of an eagle," replied the naturalist, "and can surely be taught to fly." He lifted the eagle toward the sky and said, "You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth your wings and fly."

The eagle, however, was confused. He did not know who he was, and seeing the chickens eating their food, he jumped down to be with them again.

The naturalist took the bird to the roof of the house and urged him again, saying, "You are an eagle. Stretch forth your wings and fly."

But the eagle was afraid of his unknown self and world and jumped down once more for the chicken food. Finally the naturalist took the eagle out of the barnyard to a high mountain. There he held the king of the birds high above him and encouraged him again, saying, "You are an eagle. You belong to the sky. Stretch forth your wings and fly."

The eagle looked around, back towards the barnyard and up to the sky. Then the naturalist lifted him straight towards the sun and it happened that the eagle began to tremble. Slowly he stretched his wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared away into the heavens.

It may be that the eagle still remembers the chickens with nostalgia. It may even be that he occasionally revisits the barnyard. But as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to lead the life of a chicken.

Rom 8:3

WEAKENED: "Astheneo" signifies to be weak, feeble, or ill (cp Rom 5:6). This weakness is not in the law itself, but in those who endeavor to keep it (see v 26, "our weaknesses").

THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL MAN: "Likeness" is the Greek "homoioma": see Lesson, "Homoioma" (likeness).

The KJV has "the likeness of sinful flesh". The NIV and AV, "the likeness of", sb omitted as unnecessary to the sense. The word "homoioma", was added by Paul to indicate Christ's complete identity with our nature, but its presence in the text has been used by many to suggest only a partial and imperfect "likeness". "Flesh of sin" is the more literal rendering of the AV's "sinful flesh".

TO BE A SIN OFFERING: The same as the RSV margin; this is permissible, and certainly fitting in the context. (The Greek is "peri hamartias".)

SIN IN SINFUL MAN: Or, as NIV mg and AV, "sin in the flesh". It was "sin" which was condemned (a reference back to the allegory of 'King Sin' in Rom 6:12-14,16-18). "In the flesh" describes the 'place' or the 'arena' where 'King Sin' was condemned by Christ.

It was necessary that Christ should challenge and defeat "Sin" in the arena where it reigned supreme, that is, in the flesh. "The crucifixion of Christ as a declaration of the righteousness of God and a condemnation of sin in the flesh, exhibited to the world the righteous treatment of sin. It was as though it was proclaimed to all the world, when the body was nailed to the cross: This is how condemned human nature should be treated according to the righteousness of God; it is fit only for destruction. The shedding of the blood was the ritual symbol of that truth; for the shedding of the blood was the taking away of the life. Such a declaration of the righteousness of God could only be made in the very nature concerned; a body under the dominion of death because of sin. It would not have been a declaration of the righteousness of God to have crucified an angel or a new man made fresh from the ground. There would have been confusion in such an operation" (RR, Blood of Christ 21).

The teaching of v 3 as to the identity of Christ's nature with ours is matched by a parallel passage from Hebrews: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14). The equation of "sin" in Rom 8:3 and "the devil" in Heb 2:14 is quite useful in any Scriptural exposition of the Devil and Satan.

" 'Sin in the flesh' is that spirit or principle of disobedience native by inheritance in all men including Christ. It is an evil principle which can never be satisfied according to law. Extending to every part of the flesh, it is the cause of all the evil we do and the disease we suffer. It has the power of death which is its wages (Rom 6:23), and became a fixture in the flesh through the first transgression. By one man's disobedience many were made sinners (Rom 5:12). The flesh is therefore sinful flesh or flesh full of sin because it is impregnated with this evil principle as defiling as the sentence (Gen 3:19) passed in Eden, becoming a physical law of our first parents' being, and together with the death penalty is spoken of in Rom 8:2, as the law of sin and death. In the flesh therefore dwelleth no good thing (Rom 8:17,18).

"In the beginning our first parents were free from death and the law of sin was not in their members. If the spirit or principle of disobedience, the law of sin, works in the children of disobedience (Eph 2:2) how came it there? The answer is that transgression caused its appearance and fixation in the flesh. How was this done? Through serpent suggestion accepted and acted upon becoming a law of sin, a bias or inclination to oppose law, a spirit or principle of disobedience, diabolos within, that which causes to pass over the line of law drawn by God between good and evil" (FGJ, Ber 13:226).

"The word sin is used in two principal acceptations in the Scripture. It signifies in the first place the transgression of law, and in the next it represents that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh which has the power of death, and it is called sin because the development or fixation of this evil in the flesh was the result of transgression. Inasmuch as this evil principle pervades every part of the flesh the animal nature is styled sinful flesh, that is flesh full of sin; so that sin in the sacred style came to stand for the substance called man. In human flesh dwells no good thing (Rom 8:17,18), and all the evil a man does is the result of this principle dwelling in him" (Elp 113). (See Lesson, Sin, how was Christ made?)

" 'Metonymy' is not an alternate to reality. It does not mean mere shadow and type. It is simply the extension of one term to include a related aspect of the same entity. To say something is called something 'by metonymy' doesn't brush it away as a fact. The dictionary definition of 'metonymy' is: 'The use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute, or with which it is associated.' Sin, literally and primarily, is transgression of God's law. That is the root meaning, from which others flow. The term 'sin' is scripturally extended by the process called 'metonymy' (extending a name to include a related thing) to include the evil, corrupt, death-bringing principle in every cell and particle of human flesh -- the diabolos -- that causes all diseases and death and disharmony with God: and which normally (unless there is direct Divine interference, as in the unique case of Christ) will inevitably bring forth its fruits of actual transgression.

"This evil principle in the flesh is both the result of sin, and the cause of sin, and therefore the Scriptures go to the root of the matter, and give the name 'sin' to it (just as they call hate, 'murder'; and lust, 'adultery') -- and they deal with all sin as an inseparable totality.

"Actual transgression, and the evil principle that Paul calls 'the Law of Sin in the members', (or 'Sin in the flesh', or the diabolos) -- are inseparable parts of the total sin constitution that Christ came to destroy and abolish. Therefore the Scriptures, which deal with roots and realities, and not mere superficial appearances, gives the same name to all: SIN.

" 'Metonymy' is not a magic word to change a Yes to a No, or a fact into not a fact. It is simply a description of a process, illustrated in this case by the Scriptures grouping together everything to do with sin under the name Sin.

"When you see 'metonymy', just remember 'another name' -- that's what it means -- and in this case, a scriptural, God-given name. To say it is 'metonymy', doesn't change the fact that God (the Supreme and All-Wise Authority) gave the name 'SIN' to the evil principle in all human flesh" (GVG).

"When Paul speaks of Jesus as coming 'in the likeness of sinful flesh' (or flesh of sin), or 'in the likeness of men' [Phi 2:7], he cannot be understood as meaning that Jesus' make-up resembled these things, but was in reality different. In both cases he clearly means that, though our human nature left to itself had failed to overcome sin, when God sent His own Son born in the same human nature the victory was achieved. That the Lord's fleshly nature was that of Adam after he fell, is seen in the fact that he offered up prayers 'with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death: and was heard in that he feared. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.' [Heb 5:7,8]

"There is no need to rush to the Lord's defense as though there were any discredit to him in having been born with a nature prone to sin. This was his lot, which he accepted and overcame. Far greater was the triumph of battling against sin in a body where a fallen nature was entrenched, than would have been the case had he commenced in innocence with a human nature unspoiled by heritage from Adam. And far greater was his brotherhood in affliction, and now in mediation, with his brethren, when we acknowledge that he conquered that very nature, with all its urge to turn away from God, which we know in our own consciences so well. There is real meaning in the words 'to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself' [Heb 9:26] when this is acknowledged; and in the fullest possible sense he destroyed the devil through death on the cross when, after the pattern of the serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness [Joh 3:14; Num 21:9], he finally put away the power of sin from himself, and became the priest who can lead us in ultimate victory over the same power" (CMPA, For Whom Christ Died). [See Lesson, "Homoousios" (of the same substance).]

See Lesson, Jesus destroys the devil.

Rom 8:4

THE RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW: The law of Moses righteously required death as a punishment for sin. All men have sinned (Rom 3:23), and death has passed upon all men (Rom 5:12). The law of Moses, being holy and just and good (Rom 7:12), righteously required death as a punishment for sin (Rom 8:4).

IN US: Not 'by us', but "in us" by Christ. The requirement of death has been satisfied by Christ on our behalf, if we are truly "in Christ" (v 1). This righteous requirement was satisfied by Christ for those in him. None of us is, naturally speaking, righteous (Rom 3:10). But we all may be declared righteous through Christ's obedience (Rom 5:19), coupled with our faith (Rom 5:1) in his blood (Rom 5:9). But still the "walk" is required (Rom 8:4), not to 'earn' salvation but to demonstrate our faith in Christ's monumental work of redemption.

WHO DO NOT LIVE ACCORDING THE SINFUL NATURE BUT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT: But still the "walk" is required (Rom 8:4), not to 'earn' salvation but to demonstrate our faith in Christ's monumental work of redemption.

Rom 8:5

Vv 5-11: The order of verses in this first part of Rom 8 is significant: first, "no condemnation" (vv 1-4), and only then the mind and life of the spirit (vv 5-11). The Scriptural order is not: "We live righteously so that we will not be condemned." Rather it is: "We are justified. Our condemnation is removed. Therefore we must, we will, now live righteously!"

MINDS: "Phroneo" indicates the mind, with mental and moral emphasis; not mere animal instinct.

SINFUL NATURE... SPIRIT: Better, "flesh" and "spirit", as in AV. The new way of life, the way of justification, is described as a life inclined towards the "spirit". It has. been well said that "In these verses the apostle takes up and expands the ideas involved in the statement of v 4. By giving the words a different meaning from that of Paul, much needless difficulty has been found in them. The doctrine that the Holy Spirit is a person is responsible for much confusion. So also is the idea that 'spirit' refers to an immortal soul within man. Others, limiting the meaning of the word 'spirit' to the power of God, look for a present indwelling of that power, and with such a belief in their minds have been led to mistake the excitement of an emotional assembly for the operation of the power of God. But the context always helps us to fix the meaning of the words used. Every occurrence of the word in vv 5-11 has the same meaning. As 'flesh' does not describe the material body, but denotes the thoughts and ways in which flesh expresses itself, so 'spirit' indicates that mental and moral development which has its ultimate source in God, Who is Spirit, and Who has revealed His purpose by His power, which is also called Spirit" (CRom 86).

As v 5 makes clear, inclination of one's life in one direction or the other does not happen miraculously or by chance. The inclination is the result of consciously setting one's mind upon a set of principles and a course of life. So Paul elsewhere exhorts us: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col 3:1,2).

Rom 8:6

THE MIND CONTROLLED BY THE SPIRIT IS LIFE AND PEACE: In v 6 Paul tells us what we must already know, indeed, what is supremely self-evident. And yet it bears repeating, often and forcefully, precisely because we can never, as we are now constituted, be fully free of the flesh's influences: "The mind of the flesh is DEATH, but the mind of the spirit is LIFE." The first, and simplest, way to understand this passage is to read "is" as "leads to".

"Paul makes it very clear in these words that there are two ways of living, two kinds of character and disposition, the natural and the spiritual; and further, that one leads to death and one to life. One way takes no effort, no knowledge, no ability. It is just acting naturally, pleasing ourselves, doing what we want to do, following nature. Because men's interests and capacities and backgrounds differ, the way of the flesh takes a wide range of courses, some far worse than others; some, in fact, very good and commendable from a natural point of view. But all come under the general heading of the will of the flesh, and all end in eternal death at last. The other way is to realize, from the Word of God, that the whole range of the way of the flesh, from worst to best, leads only to death, and to thankfully accept the life-giving way of the Spirit. This way involves setting the whole life to the task of learning and applying the instructions God has given, and constantly seeking His help in absorbing and fulfilling them; constantly examining ourselves: our hearts, our motives, our desires" (GVG, "Mortify the Deeds of the Body", Ber 58:270).

In another sense, however, it may be said that the mind of the flesh is death, even now, and that the mind of the spirit even now is life. Paul wrote elsewhere that the woman who lives "in pleasure", foolish, selfish, and self-seeking, is dead while she lives (1Ti 5:6). The whole world that lives at enmity with God is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1,5). And John says that he who loves not his brother is abiding in death (1Jo 3:14). Conversely, the words of Jesus describe those who exemplify the spirit-life: "He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Joh 5:24; cp 1Jo 5:11-13). So powerfully and certainly is our redemption pictured!

"Keep telling yourself that, over and over. It is vital! It is for your life. To be fleshly-minded takes absolutely no effort, no study, no thought. It not only just comes naturally -- it comes powerfully, and almost irresistibly. To be spiritually-minded is the very opposite. It does take great effort, and study, and thought. And even that's not enough. It takes constant prayer and constant Divine help. It will never come naturally just by being in the Truth, and 'doing the readings', and 'attending the meetings'. Baptism of itself is a passport to nothing except a glorious opportunity to give ourselves joyfully to God, and be accepted by Him. To be spiritually-minded is a constant struggle, a constant self-examination and self-discipline, a constant refreshing and re-cleaning in the water of the Word and the blood of the Lamb. But it alone is 'life and peace', intensity of Life forevermore, and perfect peace now and forever, to the depth of the soul" (GVG).

Rom 8:7

THE SINFUL MIND IS HOSTILE TO GOD. IT DOES NOT SUBMIT TO GOD'S LAW, NOR CAN IT DO SO: The contrasting life styles of "flesh" and "spirit" are also considered by Paul in some detail in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 5:16-25). The spirit-life requires certain actions; it is a "walk" (v 16; cp Rom 8:4). The two ways of life are "contrary" to, or at "enmity" with, one another (v 17; cp Rom 8:7). The "flesh" is characterized by "works" (v 19), as it is in Romans by "wages" (Rom 6:23), such as a slave (Rom 8:15) would hope to receive. But the spirit-life is characterized by "fruit" (Gal 5:22) and a "gift" (Rom 6:23), such as sons would expect by virtue of their position (Rom 8:14-16). In these simple contrasts may be seen the diametrically opposite qualities and standards of the "flesh" and the "spirit".

HOSTILE: "Exthra" (AV "enmity") is used also in the LXX of Genesis 3:15 -- the enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

IT DOES NOT SUBMIT: Gr "hupotasso": a military term, meaning to rank under, or to be subordinate.

Rom 8:8

THOSE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE: The Gr is, simply, "IN the flesh", which is a proper rendering of vv 8,9, judged simply on the Greek words alone. But the context and meaning require that "in the flesh" means, not "having human nature", but (as in vv 5-7) having a mind "inclined towards the flesh". In the same way Paul writes of the time "when we were in the flesh" (Rom 7:5) as though that state had been left behind, while, of course, in the literal sense it has not... yet.

Rom 8:9

Vv 9-11: "Paul uses many phrases in this chapter synonymously to add emphasis to what he is saying. In v 9, the 'spirit of God' is equivalent to the 'spirit of Christ' in the same verse, and simply 'Christ in you' in the next. In Phi 2:5, the apostle declares, 'Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.' Likewise in Col 3:16, he admonishes the believers to 'let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom', and in Eph 3:17 'that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith'. To allow the word of Christ to dwell in us is, in effect, to receive the spirit of Christ, for in John 6:63, Jesus announced: 'the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life' " (Richard Stone, "The Spirit of Christ", Tid 23:9:13).

To summarize vv 9-11, we are "inclined toward the spirit" if: (a) the spirit of God, (b) the spirit of Christ, (c) Christ, and (d) the spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead... dwell in us. Other passages from Paul's writings show that it is the Word, and the mind, of Christ and God which must dwell in us. When God's inspired Word is allowed free rein in our minds, and our lives, then God's "power" is there (Rom 1:16,17), a power which is unto salvation. Then God and His Son are dwelling with us, and we with them (Rom 8:9-11).

ARE CONTROLLED NOT BY THE SINFUL NATURE: Lit, "are NOT in the flesh", but see v 8n.

Vv 9-13: If we are already dead to sin, why the exhortation?

Rom 8:10

IF CHRIST IS IN YOU... YOUR SPIRIT IS ALIVE BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: The believer, whose life is inclined towards God's Spirit-Word, is both "dead" and "alive" at the same time. By baptism into Christ he has become dead to his former way of life, "dead to sin" (Rom 6:2), and dead to "the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal 5:24). By that same baptism, and the compelling influence it has upon the devout mind, the believer becomes truly "alive" for the first time -- "alive" to righteousness, walking in "newness of life" (Rom 6:4), being himself "a new creature" (2Co 5:17). The life which he now lives in Christ is a 'spiritual' life, a life lived on a different plane of existence. It is lived in the presence, and recognized to be in the presence, of God.

Rom 8:11

IF THE SPIRIT... IS LIVING IN YOU... HIS SPIRIT... WHO LIVES IN YOU: "The idea of the dwelling together of God and man has a long Scriptural background; it does not arise in the New Testament, as for the first time, with a special mystical meaning understood only since Pentecost. There is, in fact, no inherent mystical meaning to the word 'dwelling' itself; it is used frequently in both Testaments in describing the relationship between God and His people. It is an ordinary 'family' word in English, and the equivalent words in Hebrew and Greek carry much the same ordinary, household meaning as does the English word. Dwelling means living in the same house or household as another; the implication in Scripture is that those who dwell together belong to the same family -- even when one of the dwellers is God Himself, or His Son" (Ray Walker, "Romans: The Indwelling Spirit", BS 7:5:148,149).

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Rom 8:12

Vv 12-17: The Law of Moses not only condemned man, as was seen in Rom 7, it also enslaved him. The work of Christ removes the condemnation (Rom 8:1), replacing it with justification unto righteousness. And it also frees us so that, no longer slaves, we may become sons (v 15).

This section (vv 12-17) can thus be seen to follow logically from the previous one (vv 5-11). In the continuation of the parable employed by Paul in Rom 6, those who lived lives inclined toward the flesh (Rom 8:5,8) were the slaves of Sin. Sin was personified as a mighty king who exacted absolute obedience from his servants, and in the end rewarded them with death (Rom 6:16-23). But, as Paul goes on, Christ has come into the 'slave market', and has redeemed us, or bought us out of that market. (This is the exact significance of the Greek exagorazo, translated "redeem(ed)" in Gal 3:13; 4:5.) Now, he says, we need no longer live lives of fear and degradation (Rom 8:15). Now we have become slaves of Christ, and slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:16,18,22), which is equivalent to sonship (Rom 8:15,17).

THEREFORE: Referring back to vv 5-11. Living according to the dictates of the mind of the flesh can only be expected to earn death. Therefore there is no reason to follow such a course.

Rom 8:13

IF BY THE SPIRIT YOU PUT TO DEATH THE MISDEEDS OF THE BODY, YOU WILL LIVE: The AV has "mortify". Christ by his sacrifice "condemned sin in the flesh" (v 3). Those in Christ imitate his work by carrying out that sentence of death against the sin in their own flesh.

"Take pleasure in being holy, pure, clean, godly. It is much more satisfying and enjoyable than being dirty, once the mind is properly enlightened and adjusted. The natural man is dirty in all his thoughts and operations; 'dirty' from God's point of view, for all is of the flesh, from top to bottom -- and the natural works of the flesh are all uncleanness. Man is like an untaught small child, loving mud and filth. To the human point of view, some natural works of the flesh seem more perverted than others, because natural man as a society has, from age to age, certain self-imposed and varying 'standards' -- largely as a result of some faint residue of light from original divine instructions. Greece and Rome had lost all this, and were vile. 'Christianity' brought a glimmer back to society, at least on the surface, up to recent times. Today 'standards' of decency and morality are practically non-existent: and mankind is rapidly going back to total filth and defilement. But to God, these natural distinctions of society are minor. To Him, ALL that is natural is unclean. He calls man out of the natural filth to the wholesome joy and beauty and glory of true, clean, eternally-satisfying holiness. Those who truly try it are ceaselessly thankful for their redemption, and appalled at what they formerly approved" (GVG).

Rom 8:14

THOSE WHO ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT: This must be considered synonymous with "inclined toward the spirit" (v 5), "the mind of the spirit" (v 6), and the "indwelling" of the spirit -- either of God or Christ (vv 9-11).

SONS OF GOD: Greek "huios", sons, or daughters, with special reference to the relationship with the parent. Jesus was the Son (huios) of God (v 3). Those who are guided by His spirit are sons of God. God "gave up" His own Son, Jesus, for us all (v 32), so that we might be revealed as His sons also (v 19). This word for "son" is related to "huiothesis", "sonship" (AV "adoption") (vv 15,23).

Cp Luk 3:22 with Luk 4:1.

Rom 8:15

THAT MAKES YOU A SLAVE: Lit, "of slavery". "Slavery" = "douleia", from a root word meaning 'to bind'. That which binds, or enslaves, a person.

SONSHIP: "Huiothesis", from "huios" (son) and "thesis" (to place or set). The bestowal of a legal relationship, common under Roman law, as distinct from the relationship of birth. In Gal 4:5 those who are under the law are redeemed from the law to receive the gift of "sonship". In Eph 1:5 we have been "predestinated" unto sonship (AV "adoption"). Under Roman law "huiothesis" meant the severing of all past connections, becoming a 'new man', having a new family, the cancellation of all debts, and the right of inheritance.

The figure of speech may be heightened as we imagine an eastern bazaar, meeting-place of the ancient world, the center of commerce, entertainment, news, opinions, and social intercourse. And, always, there is the slave-market, with its auction-block. As one approaches, the brutality, the callousness, and the fear, can be felt, and seen. Here are women destined to be slaves to the basest passions of other men, and men doomed to lifelong slavery to satisfy the greed of their fellow men. Here are wasted, broken lives, dashed hopes, families soon to be torn apart forever. The slave-market -- parable of our own world.

Into this scene comes a man who is obviously apart. Striding up to one man, he speaks forcefully: "I have bought you; come, follow me!" There are no chains, no threats, no blows. Just a simple command.

The disciple follows the man through the streets and the crowds until they reach the house of his Father. The disciple is given a place far surpassing the slave quarters he had known before. And, then, he has scarcely cast himself down to rest before the man is back again. He has brought water to wash the disciple's feet, and a new clean garment. He has brought healing oil to soothe the cruel wounds inflicted by the former master, Sin. "Now you are as I am", he says; "you are no longer a slave. You are now a son in my Father's house."

A lifetime of fear and hate is washed away, miraculously, and in its place is the cry of a man set free: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Gal 4:6,7).

This is the change, then, implicit in the Greek word "huiothesis", a word very inadequately translated "adoption". The RSV (followed here) more correctly renders it as "sonship". "Adoption" gives the unfortunate idea, to modern minds at least, of a distinctly second-class relationship. It is a word which in no way does justice to the blessed state to which God has elevated us. In one sense there is, of course, only one "only begotten" Son. But in a broader sense we are all "begotten" by the Word of God to be His sons, and no son of God is 'second class'. But then again, in the very fullest sense, there is only one Son of God, for we are all sons only in that we have become part of the body of Christ.

The "sonship" and inheritance delineated by Paul is based upon the Roman law. Jewish law did not permit daughters to inherit along with sons; the firstborn son received double. But under Roman law sons and daughters all inherited equally, and adopted sons and daughters were treated like the others. To this Paul alluded: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:27-29).

John Carter has expressed himself similarly upon this contrast between slaves and sons: "At our baptism we did not enter a household as slaves to serve with fear. 'Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants... but I have called you friends' (John 15:14,15). And how often God says to His children: 'Fear not.' As the child takes the hand of its father in the dark, and finds courage in the sound of the parent's voice, sometimes not knowing that the parent shares the fear, so with perfect confidence the child of God may trust the Father in heaven; much more so knowing that all circumstances are subject to His control. 'God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind' (2Ti 1:7)" (CRom 90).

ABBA: Aram "father". Esp a name by which God was addressed in prayer. Only 3 times in NT text: Mar 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6. But this Aramaic term may lie behind numerous refs to God as Father where only the Gr "Pater" is given in the NT.

See Article, Abba, Father.

FATHER: The Greek word "Pater", a more formal expression, signifying respect and a mature appreciation of the family relationship, such as grown offspring might most commonly use.

Abba and Pater (Rom 8:15) epitomize, respectively, affection and respect. This joint title (the two appear together as well in Mark 14:36 and Gal 4:6) expresses a fullness that neither word alone can. There is Abba, the love and trust that a little child (teknon: vv 16,17,21) feels for a father, an intimate and tender affection. And there is the Pater of an adult son or daughter (huios, huiothesis: vv 14,15,19,23,29), the intelligent apprehension of the status and dignity due to the Head of the family. The combination of Hebrew and Greek words suggests also the mixed character of the Divine family: "neither Jew nor Greek... ye are all one in Christ" (Gal 3:28) (HPM, "Our Father Who art in Heaven", Log 23:44).

The cry of "Father" gives a sublime and vastly satisfying meaning to Rom 8:31-33: "If God be for us, who can be against us? He Who did not hold back even His own Son, but gave him up for us all, how could He fail to give us graciously, along with Christ, all things? Who will bring any charge against God's chosen ones? Will God? God, Who pronounces us righteous?" There is assurance almost beyond expression to be found in these words, by those who are still wracked with fear. What do we have to fear? God is our Father, and He is for us! He loved us so much that He purposefully gave up His own Son in death on our behalf. Will the One Who has gone so far in love for us turn back now? Will He bring charges against us at a judgment seat, when He has already taken steps, painful, sacrificial steps on His part, to remove our condemnation (v 1), and declare us righteous (v 33)? To ask such questions is to know the answers.

The love of the Father for us as dear children is vividly portrayed by the prophet Hosea: "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt... I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms... I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love... How shall I give thee up...?" (Hos 11:1,3,4,8). How, indeed, shall the Eternal Father give up His children, who cry to Him, in the name of tenderness and affection and deepest respect, "Abba, Father"?

Rom 8:16

THE SPIRIT HIMSELF: First, we may notice the more common explanation, from a Christadelphian standpoint, as fairly represented by the following: "The Spirit-Word within us develops an emotional regard for the Father (1Jo 4:19) as true sons, which will reflect in our actions the Image of Him, and therefore witness that we are sons. The Spirit-Word and its reflection in us, mutually witness to our sonship. Moffatt renders this verse: 'It is this spirit, testifying along with our own spirit that we are the children of God' " (PE Pickering, Expository Notes on Romans 176).

In my opinion there is more to the verse than this, and it is not far-fetched to consider that "the Spirit itself" (AV) or "the Spirit himself" (NIV) refers to Christ. (The rendering "itself" in the AV is solely due to the neuter gender of the noun "pneuma". So if in fact "pneuma" refers to Christ then the pronoun gender may be changed to "himself" quite legitimately.)

There are other instances of Christ being clearly referred to as "the Spirit":

  1. When Paul wrote that "the Spirit speaketh expressly" of a latter-day apostasy (1Ti 4:1-3) he most probably had in mind Christ's great prophecy on the Mount of Olives (esp Mat 24:4,5,10-12,24).
  2. The messages to the seven ecclesias in Asia are sent from the one described variously as holding the seven stars in his right hand (Rev 2:1), having been dead and yet now being alive (v 8), the "Son of God" (v 18). But they are also described as "what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev 2:7,11,17,29, etc).
  3. Paul refers to Christ, after his resurrection and glorification, as a "quickening (ie life-giving) spirit" (1Co 15:45). The reasoning behind this suggestion, and the explanation for an apparent circumlocution, is this: From where does the Christlike "spirit" come? It is no nebulous thing, created out of the air. It is demonstrated in the life of Christ himself. His exemplary life, even viewed 'second-hand' by modern disciples through the pages of Scripture, has an awesome power to change their lives. However and wherever that spirit or mind of Christ is truly manifested through others, it is still Christ himself who influences us. He is, therefore, in a sort of Biblical shorthand, "the Spirit himself".
(If this still seems difficult to accept, consider v 26n.)

TESTIFIES WITH: "Sunmarturei": to agree, or testify, along with. The first of 4 "with" words, words of partnership and sharing, in this verse and the next -- indicative of what Christ shares with his brothers and sisters.

WE ARE GOD'S CHILDREN: God's DEAR children! "Teknon", from a root word meaning 'to bear'; that which is born, a baby, a dear child. This word appears also in vv 17,21. Not just a future hope, but a present reality: 1Jo 3:2; 5:1; Rom 8:1,2; Gal 3:26; 4:6.

Rom 8:17

CO-HEIRS: "Sunkleronomoi", one of three words in this verse alone expressive of a joint relationship between Christ and the saints.

SHARE IN HIS SUFFERINGS: "Sumpascho" -- all one word in the Greek.

SHARE IN HIS GLORY: "Sundoxasthomen" -- again, one word in the Greek. "Doxa" signifies the honor resulting from a high opinion of another; to be correctly held in great esteem. It is used very often of God and His works. God's glory becomes Christ's glory and finally, in measure, our glory also.

These are but some of the 'with' words in Rom 8, that testify of what we are and what we do jointly with Christ. This sharing with Christ gives all the weight to Paul's arguments and exhortations throughout this lofty chapter. It is not enough that believers suffer; they must suffer WITH Christ: there must be a conscious, intelligent understanding and imitation of him. It is not enough that the saints will one day be glorified; they must be glorified WITH (and through and because of) Christ, otherwise there is no meaning. So this expresses how "the Spirit himself" testifies along with our "spirit" (singular, because all true believers share the same spirit) that we are all (all TOGETHER, Christ and us!) God's dear children.

Rom 8:18

Vv 18-25: The order of Paul's presentation continues to be important. To recapitulate: First of, all, he describes the gift of God: no condemnation (vv 1-4). Therefore believers should live righteous, or "spirit"-directed, lives (vv 5-11). Again, we are no longer slaves, but now sons (vv 12-17). Therefore we are required to endure present sufferings because of frailty, and to 'labor' as participants in a new "birth" (vv 18-25).

The change must be followed by the challenge. Carefully, logically, Paul lays the doctrinal foundation before he makes the moral appeal. Here is what God has done for you; now, this is what you must do for God. We are God's "sons" (v 14), and no longer "slaves" (v 15). We need not "fear" any more (v 15). Now we can come into God's presence through Christ, to cry "Abba, Pater" (v 15). Christ himself shares with us our sonship, our inheritance, and our future glory (v 17).

SUFFERINGS: Thus linking together this and the preceding verse.

OUR PRESENT SUFFERINGS: But all this necessitates that "we share in his sufferings" (vv 17,18). This is not an 'elective', or an option; it is a 'required subject'. Our exalted position now requires that we faithfully endure present sufferings in preparation for future glory. Our trials enable us to know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings (Phi 3:10), to "complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col 1:24, RSV), to comfort others who themselves are afflicted (2Co 1:3-7), and to trust in God alone rather than ourselves (2Co 1:9).

Whatever form our individual sufferings may take, they cannot be ignored. The victorious life in Christ does not rule out sufferings; rather, it necessitates them. They must be faced rationally, examined, and accepted. But no matter how severe they seem now, they are not to be compared with the future glory (Rom 8:18). Here is the key to the faithful endurance of our trials. In the same measure as our sufferings increase, our hope in the future glory must increase also. Rather than complain to God because of our trials, we must rejoice and thank Him (Rom 5:3), realizing that He is doing us a benefit. That which reminds us most firmly of our own weakness serves to draw us nearer to the only One Who is truly strong. Helpless children we may be, but we have a wise and loving and omnipotent Father: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust... the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them" (Psa 103:13,14,17,18).

GLORY: A glory to be shared with Christ (v 17) because we are ALL God's dear children (v 21).

REVEALED: "Apokalupto", an uncovering, as in the drawing aside of a veil. Refers often to the return of Christ (Luk 17:30; 1Co 1:7; 2Th 1:7; 1Pe 1:7,13; 4:13).

Hebrews 2
Romans 8
7. "A little lower than the angels"
20. Subjected to frailty
9. "Suffering of death, crowned with glory"
17,18,21. Present sufferings... future glory
10. "By whom are all things"
19-22. The new creation
10. "Bringing many sons unto glory"
14,16,17,30. Sons... share in glory...
13. "Children"
16,17,21. God's dear children
14. Christ partook of the same flesh and blood
3. God sent His Son in the flesh of sin
14. "Him that had the power of death"
2,3. The principle of sin and death... sin in the flesh
15. "Fear of death... subject to bondage"
15,21. Spirit of slavery... flesh... slavery of decay

This section (vv 18-25) concludes with two more 'with' words (cp vv 16,17), descriptive of the fellowship and sharing between Christ and those in Christ. "Sustenazo" (sighing together) in v 22 anticipates the 'sighing' of Christ ("the Spirit himself") of v 26. "Sunodino" (to give birth together) in v 22 speaks of the joint efforts, in heaven and on earth, for the final 'birth' of the one new man, the redeemed body of Christ. It is a great comfort to know that in our individual travail (Rom 7:4) and in our travail for one another (Gal 4:19), Christ sighs and groans and travails with us.

Rom 8:19

THE CREATION: "Ktisis", both the act of making (especially by God), and that which is made. The word can refer to the creation of the world and everything in it (Mar 13:19; Rom 1:20,25), or to mankind alone (Mar 16:15), or to the new spiritual" creation" in Christ (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:15; 4:24; Col 1:15; 3:10).

What is the "creation" of vv 19-22, which endures present sufferings (vv 18,22) in eager longing for future glory (vv 19,21)? The correct answer to this question is crucial to the understanding of this section. The most common view is succinctly expressed in the following quotations: (a) "By a very striking and impressive personification, Paul in these verses represents creation as looking and waiting for the culmination of the Divine plan... There is incompleteness about man's world that cannot be the end of God's purpose with it. And just as Isaiah, in his picture of millennial peace, says that the wild creatures 'shall not hurt in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (Isa 11:9), so Paul attributes to creation an expectation of this time of restoration which is bound up with the manifestation of the sons of God. And as it was subjected by God to its present vanity, not of its own will or fault, but because of man's sin, so it will experience a deliverance from its bondage and share the liberty pertaining to the glory of the children of God" (CRom 92). (b) "It is the whole creation which unconsciously yearns for the manifestation of the sons of God to bring release from the present evil" (PE Pickering, Rom 179).

But I would strongly favor a second possible interpretation, as outlined in the following: "Now it does not seem to me that the 'creation' which groans and travails is the whole earth. Redemption has never been a general thing. It has always been conditional on the acceptance of suffering and death, and those who refuse to accept this have no part in redemption. They do not travail, because they have no seed of God within them. They are never born again. It seems to me that the 'creation' which has groaned and travailed throughout all ages is the new creation of God which has always existed alongside the old creation, and has waited in faith, 'earnestly expecting' for the final revelation of the resurrection birth. It contains men of faith of all ages, but none of the seed of the serpent, to whom travail means nothing" (Ray Walker, "Suffering and Glory", BS 8:1:4. This idea has also been suggested and elaborated upon by HA Whittaker in an unpublished study of Rom 8:19-22).

Following the lead of this second suggestion, we should allow Paul to interpret himself as to the meaning of "ktisis" (creation) in this passage under consideration. Putting aside Rom 8, most of the other occurrences of "ktisis" and its related verb ("ktizo") in Paul's writings (11 out of 18) clearly pertain to the new, or spiritual, "creation". (And a few of the other instances, not so obviously relevant, may be better interpreted along these lines also.) And they do so in ways very much parallel to his usage in Rom 8:

  1. 2Co 5:14-19: "If one man has died for all, then they are all 'dead'. Henceforth they live unto him who died for them, being new creatures (or a new 'creation'); behold, all things are become new." In language reminiscent of Rom 8 Paul speaks of God in Christ reconciling unto Himself those who had been separated, and thereby beginning to bring order back to a frail, futile world. That this second "creation" is patterned after the first is clearly shown by the larger context: "God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:6).
  2. Gal 6:15: "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (RSV). This is in a context that includes 'sowing to the flesh' and 'sowing to the spirit' (v 8; cp Rom 8:5-13).
  3. Eph 2:1-10: In a passage with extended and extensive parallels to Rom 8, Paul speaks of Christ as the creator: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (v 10). The phrase "unto good works" is a telling connection with our study. It defines the purpose for which we have been created. This is the correct order: salvation is not "of (from, or out of) works" (Eph 2:9), but it is "unto (for) works" (v 10). Works are not the means of salvation, but the result of the influence of the gospel message of salvation. Thus, in Rom 8, the "no condemnation" and "liberty" (vv 1,2) logically precede the walking after the spirit (vv 5-11).
  4. Eph 4:22-24: The "old man" with his corrupt way of life must be put off. We must be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Rom 8 words), so as to put on the "new man", who is created ("ktizo") after the image of God's Son (Rom 8:29).
  5. Col 1:15-18: Christ is the "image" and the "firstborn" (the language of Rom 8:29) of every creature (v 15), because all are created in him (v 16). This must be the "new creation", since Christ is "before all", and all are made out of him (v 17). These expressions are explained by the more literal ones of v 18: "he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead." And the broader context -- "redemption and forgiveness" (v 14), "reconcile" (v 20) -- makes plain that here is a creation involving personal salvation.
  6. Col 3:9,10: "Ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created ('ktizo') him."
That this interpretation fits the text of Rom 8 is self-evident. While Scriptural language can be highly figurative, there is no reason in any given text to take it to be more figurative than necessary. And so to speak of all natural creation, inanimate and animate, godless as well as godly, waiting with eager longing, and sighing as in childbirth, and hoping for the revelation of God's sons, is clearly to stretch figurative speech to the breaking point. (It is, of course, not disputed that all creation will benefit from the removal of the Edenic curse. But that is a different matter.) Also, to say that inanimate creation has been subject to frailty "not willingly" (or "not by their own choice") is a practically meaningless selection of words. And when it is realized that vv 19-22 elaborate upon vv 16-18, where the present sufferings and future glory pertain of course to God's dear children, the case should be considered proven.

WAITS: "Apekdechomai" occurs three times in this section (here, and vv 23,25). It signifies eager expectation, and generally has clear reference to the return of Christ (1Co 1:7; Gal 5:5; Heb 9:28).

TO BE REVEALED: "Apokalupsis", related to the word in v 18. The AV "manifestation" obscures this connection.

Rom 8:20

SUBJECTED TO: Gr "hupotasso", a military term meaning to rank under. Since the mind of the flesh was not "subject to" God's principles (v 7), all mankind has been "subjected to" frailty.

FRUSTRATION: "Mataiotees" signifies 'empty as to results'. Various possible translations are "frailty", "vanity" (AV), "futility" (RSV), and "frustration" (NIV), all of which have some merit. The vanity, or frailty, of mankind is the subject of Ecc 1:2,13,14, etc.

The word "frailty" of v 20 establishes immediate links between Rom 8 and the garden of Eden: in both there are condemnation (Rom 8:1); "subjection" of all creation, but especially of Adam and Eve (God's 'spiritual' creation); and travail in childbirth (cp Gen 3:16 with Rom 8:22). Links with the Preacher's description of the "vanity" of human life are also obvious (Ecc 1:2-14).

THE ONE WHO SUBJECTED IT: Of course it is God who has subjected the new creation to vanity or frailty. It is just possible, however, that Paul may be referring to Adam, whose sin was the first cause of man's fall and subjection.

IN HOPE...: The first words of a phrase that continues unbroken into the next verse.

Rom 8:21

LIBERATED: The contrast with "subjected to" of v 20. The new creation has been liberated from the principle of sin and death (v 2) and will be liberated from the slavery of decay.

BONDAGE: "Slavery": The same word as v 15. The new creation has been delivered from the "slavery" of the spirit or mind (v 15; AV, "spirit of bondage"), and will be delivered from the "slavery" of the flesh.

FREEDOM: Or "liberty": The same root word as "liberated" in vv 2,21.

THE GLORIOUS FREEDOM: More literally, in the Greek, "the liberty of the glory". "Glory": The "liberty" of v 2 is from sin and death (that is, prospectively or legally, by a change in relationship with God), but it does not include the liberty of glory (which can only come with immortality: vv 17,18,30). This "glory" is still in the future, though we can be so assured of it that it may be spoken of in the past tense (v 30).

CHILDREN: Or "DEAR children": "Teknon" (vv 16,17). By becoming "dear children" believers also become heirs (v 17).

Rom 8:22

GROANING: To groan or sigh, either with grief or compassion. Similar words appear in vv 23,26. The word here is "sustenazo", 'to sigh together with', another example of the sharing, or 'with' words (cp vv 16,17). Believers may "sigh" (ie, here; v 23; Acts 7:34; 2Co 5:2,4), even as Christ "sighed" (Mar 7:34; 8:12) and still sighs (Rom 8:26).

CHILDBIRTH: Gr "sunodino" signifies 'to give birth together'. Appears only this once. "Odino" by itself refers to labor in childbirth, sometimes figuratively: Mat 24:8 ("sorrows"); Acts 2:24 ("pains"); 1Th 5:3 ("travail"); and Gal 4:19,27 ("travail").

Rom 8:23

NOT ONLY SO, BUT WE OURSELVES, WHO HAVE THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT...: "Even we who have experienced the firstfruits of the Spirit-power": Even Paul and the apostles and those first-century believers blessed with Holy Spirit gifts were not thereby freed from the same urgent longing as their other brethren, a longing for full experience of the Holy Spirit in immortality.

"The strongest objection which can be made to the interpretation now being argued for [ie, that 'creation' in this passage refers to the 'NEW creation': GB] rests on the italicized word in v 23: 'and not only THEY, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit...', as though a distinction is implied between the 'creation' already spoken about and 'ourselves'. Instead, read: 'And not only so, but ourselves also...' now with special reference to the ecclesial leaders endowed with special Holy Spirit gifts for the guidance of the church. Read thus, the words become an intensification of the argument already developed, as though Paul is now saying: Not only is the entire Church of Christ filled with this intense longing for deliverance, but even those who are most spiritual and have already tasted the powers of the world to come are filled with this same eager expectation of the coming day of deliverance; indeed, they most of all!" (HAW, in an unpublished study).

OUR ADOPTION AS SONS: "Perfect sonship": that is, the completion of the process of being made "sons" of God. The "spirit" of sonship ("huiothesis") of v 15 is not the same thing as the perfection of sonship here, which is only realized in the release of the body from every effect of sin and death.

REDEMPTION: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See Lesson, Redemption.

Rom 8:24

IN THIS HOPE: "Hope": "Elpis", "elpizo" -- the happy anticipation of good; the factual ground upon which the hope is based; and or the object upon which the hope is fixed. Coupled with the resurrection (Acts 23:6), the promise to the fathers (26:6,7), Israel (28:20), the gospel (Col 1:23), the glory of God (Rom 5:2), the appearing of Christ (Tit 2:13), salvation (1Th 5:8), and eternal life (Tit 1:2; 3:7).

WE WERE SAVED: This salvation is an ongoing process: begun when the gospel message is heard; advanced in baptism; further advanced in a patient, hopeful 'working out'; and finally completed in "the release of our bodies" (v 23).

What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the rope, another man, himself... or all of them?

Rom 8:26

Vv 26-30: The threads of thought leading into this section are clear. If we suffer with Christ, being conformed now to the pattern of his life, then we will also be glorified with him (vv 17,18). In this we hope, and our continuance in this hope, through the vicissitudes of life, develops patience (vv 19-25). Now, in this section, Paul gives his readers various reasons and encouragements to endure faithfully whatever trials befall them. The reasons are three: (1) Christ our intercessor shares our trials with us, understands our weaknesses, and powerfully intercedes for us with the Father (vv 26,27). (2) No matter what happens to those who live in hope, they can be assured that their experiences are designed by God for their ultimate good (v 28). (3) The greatest reason of all: God has marked us out for glory (vv 29,30).

THE SPIRIT... THE SPIRIT HIMSELF": Cp v 16. RV, RSV, and NIV all agree with translating as "himself" here.

HELPS US: "Sunantilambanetai": to take hold of a heavy burden together with others so as to assist them. "Shares with us". The prefix ("sun") marks this as another one of the 'together', or 'with', words (vv 16,17,22), identifying what Christ shares with us. The identical word is used in Luke 10:40, where Martha requests Jesus to bid her sister Mary to "help" her. This word suggests a partnership in work; there is no encouragement of passivity here. Christ has promised to help us bear our burdens, but not to do everything for us.

WEAKNESSES: "Astheneia"; same root as "weak" (v 3). The identical word is used in Mat 8:17 (cp Mar 7:34; 8:12), where Christ's healing of the sick fulfilled the prophecy of Isa 53:4: "He took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses".

INTERCEDES: "Entunchano": to meet, to fall in with, to talk to. Appears with "huper" (in this verse only) to signify 'to speak with one on behalf of another'. Of the six occurrences of "entunchano" three are in Rom 8 (vv 26,27,34), and the others are Acts 25:24; Rom 11:2; and Heb 7:25.

GROANS: "Sighs of compassion": Related to "sighs" in v 22 and "sigh" in v 23. Christ's "sighs" are compared with those of the believers.

THAT WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS: Or "in words we cannot hear": "alaletois" (literally, 'not spoken') is poorly translated by the AV, "which cannot be uttered". Not necessarily inarticulate words or sounds, but rather speech that cannot be uttered to us, since it passes only between Christ and God. Cp the thoughts in 2Co 12:4: "unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter"; and John 12:28,29: "Then came there a voice from heaven... The people... said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him."

It should be noted that other writers have taken decidedly different views on the "Spirit" in this verse referring to Christ: (a) "The 'new man', when in suffering, approaches the Father in prayer. But for what shall he pray? For the suffering to be removed? Or for strength to endure? In his groaning he asks, after the example of Jesus, 'Now is my soul troubled: and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I to this hour. Father, glorify thy name' (John 12:27). 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt' (Mat 26:39). And God that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, that he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. God sees within, discerning the motives, and therefore knows the mind of the saint that amidst the conflict what is desired is that God's will be done" (CRom 94). (b) "Our understanding of these two verses Rom 8:26,27 is paraphrased as: 'Likewise the omnipresent, omniscient Spirit of God assists us where we are inadequate, for when we do not have the capability to correctly express our deep-felt desires and yearnings toward God, those very deep feelings are conveyed to the Father and Son through the agency of God's omnipresent Spirit -- even though those feelings have never been formulated in words.' The divine spirit-power is the agency of communication and through it the Father and Son know the mind, the attitude, the disposition, the desires of the one who is seeking to draw nigh unto them" (KG McPhee, "The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Man (11)", Adv 97:44).

These two quotations fairly represent one view of vv 26,27, a view rather labored and difficult to sustain, as the second writer admits: "It is not altogether clear what was intended by these words (ie, vv 26,27)". The difficulties in accepting this view are:

  1. If by "the Spirit" Paul means the Holy Spirit, then it appears that Jesus has been replaced, or at least joined, by a second mediator and intercessor.
  2. Clearly in v 27 Jesus (not God) is the one who searches our hearts (cp Rev 2:23).
  3. How can the Holy Spirit be said to "share with us our weaknesses"? But Christ of course does this very thing (see Heb 4:15; 5:2; where the same word, "astheneia", applies to him).
Most modern versions render "the Spirit himself" (RV, RSV, NIV, NEB) instead of "the Spirit itself", and there seems to be no textual reason why the newer rendering should not be allowed. (As in Rom 8:16, "itself" is explained by the neuter gender of the original Greek word "pneuma".) The only problem in this translation would be the implicit support for the personality of the Holy Spirit, and the belief in a three-person 'Trinity'. But when it is perceived that "the Spirit" may refer to Christ, the "himself is perfectly natural.

Reasons for the second view, that "the Spirit himself refers to Christ, are as follows:

  1. V 26 would then closely match v 16, already considered above. Each verse also contains one of the "with" words (cp vv 17,22) -- expressive of those experiences believers share with Christ.
  2. Christ is called "Spirit" in other NT passages, such as 1Co 15:45. It is to this verse John Thomas refers when he writes of Christ, who "as the Quickening Spirit, makes intercession for (believers) according to the Divine Will -- Rom 8:26,27" (Eur 2:356).
  3. In the letters to the seven ecclesias in Asia Minor (eg, Rev 2:7) Christ refers to himself repeatedly as "the Spirit".
  4. V 26, in which "the Spirit" intercedes for believers, is parallel to vv 27,34, where Christ is undoubtedly the intercessor (CCW, "The Spirit Who Maketh Intercession"; Xd 41:501). Christ is the one and only intercessor (Heb 7:25; 1Ti 2:5,6) (AHN, "The Evangelical Revival: Sharing God's Guidance", Xd 118:85). The Holy Spirit can no more be the intercessor for believers than can the mythologized Virgin, 'Mary, Mother of God'.
  5. The "sighs of compassion" are a reflection of Christ's humanity and intense fellow-feeling with us: "And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech... and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him... Be opened" (Mar 7:32-34); "And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit" (Mar 8:11,12).
Now the phrase "groans that words cannot express" ("with groanings that cannot be uttered": AV) becomes perfectly clear: "The Greek word 'alaletos'... does not here refer to inarticulate speech on the part of the intercessor, but to the fact that we ourselves are not able to know or repeat what is said, since the communication is not between God and ourselves but between God and Christ 'who maketh intercession for us', 'when we know not what we should pray for as we ought' " (AHN, Xd 118:86).

In all of the above we must recognize a great sustaining comfort and hope. Now Christ speaks to God for us, although we cannot hear him, although we know not precisely what words pass between them. There can be no greater assurance than this, of salvation for those who love God. Truly there are unnumbered comforts bestowed upon us, of which we can never be aware this side of the Kingdom. Cast "all your care upon Him; for He careth for you" (1Pe 5:7).

"As the priest arranged upon the altar the sacrifices of men, so our Lord rearranges our feeble utterances so that they are in accordance with the will of God -- if in faith we pray through him" (CT).

Rom 8:27

HE WHO SEARCHES OUR HEARTS: This can only be Christ: "All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts" (Rev 2:23).

THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT: Compare vv 5,6,7. Christ knows the mind of the Spirit because it is, after all, his mind!


IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD'S WILL: While continuing and amplifying Paul's thoughts of the previous verse, v 27 offers also another point worth exploring. Christ's intercession for us is always "according to God's will". It is noteworthy that it is not God's will that His dear children escape all sufferings. (This may be the idea behind "we do not know for what we should pray" -- that is, whether we should pray for deliverance from trials, or for strength to endure them.) It may be that He wills that we be spared certain sufferings, but it may just as well be, in individual cases, as He chooses, that we endure extreme trials. So we must leave it to Christ, acting in unison with the Father, for he searches our hearts, he knows our limitations, and he knows our potentials.

How often do we pray, "Father, let me be an instrument of Thy will"; and then add, as a private aside, "But, please, Lord, don't let it hurt too much!". Rather should we pray, courageously, in the words of our hymn:

"Should Thy wisdom, Lord, decree
Trials long and sharp for me,
Pain or sorrow, care or shame --
Father, glorify Thy name!"

In this we would more nearly follow the examples of Christ, who in a dark garden, with tears on his cheeks, prayed, "Not my will, but Thine be done"; and Paul, beset by a thorn in the flesh, who prayed for deliverance, but then learned that God's strength is perfected in man's weakness (2Co 12:7-10).

Rom 8:28

IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen 1:31) -- the physical "good" of His physical "creation" prefigures the spiritual "good" of His spiritual "creation". Cp other refs to "creation" in vv 19-23.

IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS: "God" should be the subject, as in the NIV; not passively, "all things work" (AV), but actively, "God works in all things" (thus also RSV). The "all things" include "our present sufferings" (vv 17,18), detailed in v 35.

ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE: This purpose is outlined in the two verses that follow.

Having established that Christ intercedes for us, but that intercession does not always produce our physical and material comfort, Paul now stresses that in all things, even sufferings (vv 17,18,35), God works for our good (v 28). This we believe and accept, or otherwise we will be like the seeds planted in shallow earth, and at the first blast of summer 'heat' we will wither away. So Paul, following his own advice, was able to write: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken... though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2Co 4:8,9,16,17).

Do we believe this? Can we presume to live as did Paul? Do we ever grumble, or doubt, or worry, or despair? If we do then we must, as did Paul, look at Christ crucified. It is only through patient bearing up under our trials that we will ever come to know "the fellowship of his sufferings" (Phi 3:10), and this we must know. What a privilege it is to suffer with Christ (Rom 8:17)! It is both a proof of our family relationship (Heb 12:7,8) and a guarantee of our future glory (Rom 8:17,18).

"Always think positively. You cannot always control your circumstances. But you can control your own thoughts. There is nothing either good or bad, only your thinking makes it so. Things seem to turn out best for those people who can make the best out of the way things turn out. It is not the situation, it's your reaction to the situation. The reality of your life may result from many outside factors, none of which you can control. Your attitude, however, reflects the ways in which you deal with what is happening to you. Life at any time can become difficult. Life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how you adjust yourself to life. What you see in your mind is what you get out of life" (MT).

"Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, 'It is I, be not afraid.' He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, 'If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could fall to me if God ordains it.' 'We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.' The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the scalpel have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, 'Send me what Thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from Thee; never came there an ill portion from Thy table to any of Thy children' " (CHS).

Rom 8:29

Vv 29,30: The last section (vv 29,30) provides an outline of God's purpose referred to in v 28. God's purpose with those who love Him consists of five steps: (1) foreknowledge, (2) predetermination, (3) calling, (4) justification (or declaring righteous), and (5) glorification.

The first four, already realities for believers now, guarantee the fifth and final step (vv 17,18,21). All this may be said without meaning to imply there is no chance of 'falling away', for there is. But believers must learn to dwell as much as possible on the positive aspects. Only such an attitude will sustain us through the trials and doubts that inevitably buffet us. Only such a positive attitude can do justice to the love of God shown in His great work for our salvation. Against the backdrop of His supreme mercy, fear and despair are nothing but affronts to Him who has repeatedly told us, "Fear not".

HE ALSO PREDESTINED: "He determined beforehand": AV "predestinate". The Greek "proorizo" signifies to set bounds, or ordain, beforehand. It appears only here and in v 30; Eph 1:5,11; Acts 4:28; and 1Co 2:7.

LIKENESS: "Eikon" involves the two ideas of representation and manifestation. Used of a coin (Mat 22:20; Mar 12:16; Luk 20:24); an idol or statue (Rom 1:23; Rev 13:14,15; 14:9). The sons of Adam bear his image (1Co 15:49). Christ bears the image of God (1Co 11:7; 2Co 4:4; Col 1:15). And we hope to bear the image of Christ (1Co 15:49; Col 3:10).

FIRSTBORN: "Prototokos": from "proto" (first) and "tikto" (to bear). May mean earliest as to time, or preeminent as to position. Christ is the "firstborn" from the dead (Col 1:18; Rev 1:5) -- in the sense of realizing all that resurrection was intended to achieve -- and the "firstborn" of the new creation (Col 1:15).

We probably all have a pretty good idea what "predestination" is NOT. It is NOT "eternal security"; it is NOT "once saved, always saved". But... the question here is: What DOES it mean? Consider the following:

FOREKNEW: From Gr "proginosko" = to know in advance. Cp 1Pe 1:18-20: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen (sw: proginosko) before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." Note the Passover connection.

Finally, it must be asked, What is "predestination"? We may be sure that, whatever is expressed by this word, it should not rule out or neutralize the free will of individuals to choose and obey. Any exhaustive attempt to balance what appear, on the surface, to be contradictory concepts will probably be dull at best and confusing at worst. I propose to avoid this as much as possible by referring to a couple of summarizing statements and then passing on.

"God predestinates to eternal life those who become conformable to the heavenly family likeness presented in Christ Jesus. When we come to consider the plan upon which the principles of predestination are worked out we shall see that only such as do become conformable to Christ's image can rightly be considered as coming within the scope of predestination, and therefore should any enter its initial stages and become abortive, they drop out of the apostle's idea of foreordination.

"Those predestinated in Paul's survey in Rom 8 are said to love God and are called according to His purpose; and it is upon this principle their glorification is assured. It is most important we should keep this in mind, or we can never understand the principle of predestination. It is this fact that is omitted in the doctrine which contends that men are born to eternal life or eternal damnation" (GS Sherry, "Whom He Did Foreknow", Xd 72:209,210).

"How did God predestinate? By establishing the way, the truth, and the life; the line and demarcation that we must follow... In God's purpose man is predestinated upon the basis of God's will and man's character. We are informed in Eph 1:5: 'Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will'...

"Without our own volition or mind or disposition, in working out our own salvation? NO! This very epistle (Ephesians), like all the epistles, is full of instruction concerning what we must do to obtain salvation, and warning against what we must put aside if we would escape rejection. This is meaningless according to the common view of 'predestination'.

"It is clear... that the predestination of which Paul speaks is dependent upon faithful conformity with the way of life of which he speaks. God alone knowing the end from the beginning" (WJ Pickford, "Predestination", Ber 53:32).

PREDESTINED: From Gr "proorizo" = to mark out, or set a limit (ie, horizon, where the sky stops) in advance. This is the blood of the Passover lamb, which marked out, or put a limit upon, the work of the Destroying Angel. Those who had faith sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. In doing so they were marked out ahead of time (Exo 12), and were saved out of Egypt, while all around them others -- the other "firstborns" (see this very verse for a "firstborn" connection!) perished (including the firstborn of Pharaoh: Rom 9:17)! Other Passover connections with context: Rom 8:32 (Gen 22: ram, offering), Rom 8:36 (Psa 44:22: sheep to be slaughtered).

The same word (proorizo) occurs in Eph 1:5,11 -- where the righteous are "sealed" (separated for special use, marked out) in Eph 1:13. Also, the same word occurs in Acts 4:28 and 1Co 2:7.

Of course, the "proorizo" is the really interesting Greek word here. "Pro" = before, ahead of time. And "horizo" (like the English "horizon") marks the point, or line, beyond which the sun cannot go, that is, the line of demarcation between earth and sky.

So, in Old Testament times, how did God "mark out", ahead of time, an absolute line of differentiation between one group of people and another? One answer (maybe the best answer?) is at the first Passover in Egypt, when the blood of the Passover lamb -- painted on the door posts and lintels of the houses of (some) Jews in Egypt -- saved them from death when God sent His destroying angels out to kill all the firstborns.

Was this "predestination" done by God solely? Of course not. The Jews had to CHOOSE whether they would put the blood on their houses, AND whether they would remain in the house during the night. They had to act in faith upon the principles, and promises, which God had given them. If they did, then they were "predestined" (marked out beforehand) to be spared, to be saved, while all around them were perishing.

And, of course, they had to continue to remember God and His promises, and continue to keep the Passover, as a reminder of what God had done for them, and -- presumably -- as an act of faith in the greater "Passover lamb" to come, who would truly take away the sins of the world.

But it was still God's "predestination" in the first place. 'I have marked out a place where you will be safe from the death that will be visited upon the world. That place is one of absolute security. But... you need to go there, do what I say, and -- above all -- remain there! Otherwise, you will not be "marked out" for My Glory!'

Rom 8:30

JUSTIFIED: "Declared righteous": So translated to emphasize the link with vv 4,10,33. Christ by his death fulfilled in us the righteous requirement of the law (v 4), so that we might live spirit-lives of righteousness (v 10).

GLORIFIED: A glory we will share with Christ (v 17); a glory not to be compared with our present sufferings (v 18); a glory reserved for God's dear children, when they have escaped the slavery of decay (v 21). This glory is spoken of here in the past tense, not because it is a present possession, but because its future possession has been assured for us by the work of God in Christ.

Conclusion: The key idea of this section (vv 26-30) is this: God has marked us out for glory. He has taken all the steps necessary for our salvation. There is now no condemnation. We are free, we are sons, we are dear children! Paul purposefully disregards the possibility of failure, and concentrates solely upon the glorious steps of salvation, building to a climax in the final section of Rom 8 (vv 31-39).

Nothing stands between us and eternal glory except our own loss of faith: not our sins, for they are forgiven; not our nature -- shared with Christ, it can (and will) be changed in a moment; not the law -- it was satisfied in the death of Christ; and not our trials, for they are specially designed by our Father for our benefit.

With these exalted, and exalting, assurances Paul prepares his readers to be " 'super-conquerors' through him who loved us".

Rom 8:31

Vv 31-39: "What can we add to all this?" In this chapter, so far, we have already seen acquittal from sin, justification, freedom from slavery, sonship, the hope of a "new creation" in glory, Christ our intercessor, and the assurance that God works in all things for our ultimate glory. In the conclusion the Spirit in Paul draws together all these golden threads into a confession of faith; the personal profession of hope and trust which is the foundation and core of every believer's life. Here is where I stand. I can do nothing else. May God help me.

IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?: Paul is now completely and passionately convinced of his salvation and ours. All creation is being divided into two camps, and we, who are in Christ, are on the winning side. As has been pointed out before, Paul is not here contradicting his statements elsewhere (ie Rom 2:7 and 1Co 9:27) to the effect that salvation is conditional on "well doing" and that we can become "castaways". But rather, he is purposefully unmindful of the possibility of failure, for he is concentrating solely on the glories of salvation.

This is the Scriptural viewpoint, and it can scarcely be stressed too much. As Christadelphians we must resist the un-Biblical idea expressed in the simple-minded phrase 'once saved -- always saved', as well as the blindly optimistic supposition that 'Christ has done it all'. But the danger arises that too much effort expended disproving these assertions, to ourselves and others, will trap us finally in an impotent pessimism and a paralyzing fear. To this we might add our brother's thoughts, similarly expressed: "We may be in danger, because of our constant recognition of the difficulties of the way and of the possibility of failure in the day of Christ, of conceiving the idea that the bestowal of the reward must necessarily be a matter of grave concern and even of hesitating doubt. We need have no such fears. The Scriptures assure us that if we succeed in overcoming there will be no limitation of Divine graciousness in the reward of faithfulness. 'Fear not little flock', says Christ to his disciples, 'for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.' What encouragement to greater endeavor do these gracious words supply. Do we sometimes think, even if we allow the possibility of success in the day of Christ, of ourselves being grudgingly admitted to the Kingdom 'by the skin of our teeth'? Peter has a higher conception of the Divine grace and lifts our earthbound thoughts to a loftier plane: 'For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly unto the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' There is no limit to God's grace: no suggestion of frugality or economy: these belong to men, not to the Creator of heaven and earth" (FWT).

For those who do not believe, or have turned away from their faith, the Judgment Seat will be a true "courtroom", where one's sins are offered in evidence and judgment (condemnation) is passed.

But for those who believe (no matter how well or how feebly they have served their Master -- the desire and the commitment is accepted for the actions, surely!), for those who have truly believed, who have truly had faith... there will be no "charge" against them. (Perhaps, if sins are actually remembered, it will be temporary and for "instructional" purposes only.) Instead, the one who might bring such charge of condemnation (God Himself) sits on the bench prepared to "justify" them (i.e., pronounce them righteous, or acquitted, or not guilty).

In fact, you might say, the whole "trial" has been "rigged". First, there is no prosecuting attorney. Secondly, the Judge (God Himself) has appointed His own Son, whom He loves more than anyone or anything else, as the special defense attorney.

Or, put another way, as Paul writes, who will "condemn" them? Will there be a "prosecuting attorney" ready to produce evidence to condemn them? No! Instead, Christ, who might have filled that role, will instead be "interceding" for them. There IS no prosecuting attorney; look, that seat is empty! And the One who might have sat there has instead taken over the role of defense attorney. Now he is pleading, to a sympathetic Judge (His own Father) -- the mitigating circumstances that negate the sins of the "defendant". Let's read the transcript of that trial; here's his final argument: "Your Honor, whatever this woman did or did not do that fell short of Your glory, she believed in You through Me. In that faith she cast herself upon Your mercy, and trusted in Your promises. She followed my example, and did what she could, given the limitations of the nature she possessed, and the body of weakness which she lived in. Now, Father, she leans upon Me for what she could not do. I personally vouch for her love, and her sincerity. She's part of our family too! For my sake, O LORD, and for the glory of Your Holy Name, in Your great mercy and Your everlasting love, declare this My sister and Your daughter 'righteous'! "

And He will!

"Who has not felt the effect of cheering words in times of danger and distress? Sometimes, alas! they are nothing more than words, because the speaker of them is a man, and speaks perhaps against hope, for the mere sake of preventing despondency, without power in his hand to alter evil. But consider the cheer contained in a divine summons to 'fear not.' 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' He knows we are prone to fear. He knoweth our frame; He remembereth we are dust. He knows we can only see things as they appear to mortal sense, and not as they are to His all penetrating eyes. He knows that the cloud and the immensity and the silence appear greater to our feeble faculties than He appears who fits all, holding even the ocean in the hollow of His hand. He knows we walk by faith and not by sight, and He knows that, though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. Therefore He recognizes the tendency of our poor hearts to flutter and quail, and He says, 'Fear not' " (WP 24).

Rom 8:32

HE WHO DID NOT SPARE HIS OWN SON, BUT GAVE HIM UP FOR US ALL: Paul presents one of the greatest assurances of God's concern for our salvation. If God gave us His only-begotten Son, how could He possibly hold back anything? The greatest possible gift assures all the lesser ones that follow. This verse is in fact a conscious reference to God's commendation of Abraham in the offering of his son Isaac: "because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son..." (Gen 22:16). In the LXX the phrase is virtually identical (WAbr 108). This suggests the astounding thought that here Abraham is typical of God Himself, in that his sacrifice of Isaac prefigured the Father's sacrifice of His only Son. Abraham and his son both participated in the offering (surely this is the significance of Gen 22:6,8: "they went both of them together"). Thus Abraham suffered along with (perhaps even more than) Isaac in the anticipation of the sacrifice. But the outcome of their dedication was the promise of blessing to all nations (vv 17,18).

The analogy, then, is that God participated in the offering of His Son (Isa 53:10; Acts 2:23). And though, in a sense, it was His "pleasure" to do so, nevertheless the effort involved a sacrifice and an affliction on His part. Here is a side of God's character hinted at in such passages as Isa 63:9: "In all their afflictions He was afflicted." The ultimate act of sacrificial love from God's viewpoint was portrayed by Abraham on the human level. And we have been privileged to see it! Finally, completing the parallel, this was all done so as to bring blessing upon others -- the blessing of eternal life (Joh 3:16).

Can God sorrow? Can God feel pain? Can God be compassionate? Can He love? The Greek 'gods' supposedly sat on Mount Olympus, mocking and scorning poor feeble men. But the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, is no such God. He is, simply, a Father; a Father who piteously loves His children, finding boundless joy in their smallest faltering steps toward understanding and obedience of Him; a Father Who has provided and will provide all things we shall ever need for our salvation.

ALONG WITH HIM: That is, along with Christ. "Sunauto", the last of the 'sharing' references (cp vv 16,17,22,26,29)

GRACIOUSLY: "Freely" in AV. Without receiving an appropriate recompense.

Rom 8:33

Vv 33,34 take us into a courtroom. In similar OT scenes both Jews and Gentiles found themselves lacking at God's bar of justice (Isa 41:21-24; 43:8-11; 45:20,21). Here, of course, the position of all men before God is portrayed, without Christ: "under sin... and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:9,23). But another event has altered the scales. Another man has now stood before the Divine Judge of all the earth. "For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?" (Isa 50:7-9).

In these verses (Rom 8:33,34) we stand with Christ. As none could condemn him, so none will condemn us (v 1). God will not condemn us (v 33), because He it is who has arranged all things (including the death of His beloved Son) for our benefit. Christ will not condemn us (v 34), because to do so would be to deny the value of his own blood, and to act contrary to all he has previously done, and all he is doing now as an intercessor.

There is no doubt that, if we were judged solely on the basis of our own deeds, we would all fail, and fail miserably. The omniscient eye of God has caught each of us "in the very act". But the only man who can righteously condemn us, being himself without sin, refuses to do so. "Neither do I condemn thee." "There is therefore now no condemnation" (Rom 8:1).

Rom 8:34

WHO IS HE THAT CONDEMNS?: "For those who do not believe, or have turned away from their faith, the Judgment Seat will be a true "courtroom", where one's sins are offered in evidence and judgment (condemnation) is passed.

But for those who believe (no matter how well or how feebly they have served their Master -- the desire and the commitment is accepted for the actions, surely!), for those who have truly believed, who have truly had faith... there will be no "charge" against them. (Perhaps, if sins are actually remembered, it will be temporary and for "instructional" purposes only.) Instead, the one who might bring such charge of condemnation (God Himself) sits on the bench prepared to "justify" them (i.e., pronounce them righteous, or acquitted, or not guilty).

In fact, you might say, the whole "trial" has been "rigged". First, there is no prosecuting attorney. Secondly, the Judge (God Himself) has appointed His own Son, whom He loves more than anyone or anything else, as the special defense attorney.

Or, put another way, as Paul writes, who will "condemn" them? Will there be a "prosecuting attorney" ready to produce evidence to condemn them? No! Instead, Christ, who might have filled that role, will instead be "interceding" for them. There IS no prosecuting attorney; look, that seat is empty! And the One who might have sat there has instead taken over the role of defense attorney. Now he is pleading, to a sympathetic Judge (His own Father) -- the mitigating circumstances that negate the sins of the "defendant". Let's read the transcript of that trial; here's his final argument:

"Your Honor, whatever this woman did or did not do that fell short of Your glory, she believed in You through Me. In that faith she cast herself upon Your mercy, and trusted in Your promises. She followed my example, and did what she could, given the limitations of the nature she possessed, and the body of weakness which she lived in. Now, Father, she leans upon Me for what she could not do. I personally vouch for her love, and her sincerity. She's part of our family too! For my sake, O LORD, and for the glory of Your Holy Name, in Your great mercy and Your everlasting love, declare this My sister and Your daughter 'righteous'! "

Rom 8:35

Vv 35-37: Simply put, the OT is not the NT. Several points might be made in this regard: the basic difference between OT and NT is that, in the OT, God was in process of setting up His Kingdom, and this involved clearing away the "debris" -- ie, fighting a real war, if and when necessary, against the enemies of that kingdom... so as to secure the Kingdom of God itself. And His servants -- Joshua, David, etc -- were to be ready to fight, and kill, for that Kingdom. There will come a time, probably quite soon, when God will be ready to set up His Own Kingdom on earth again... and when that time comes, then His servants WILL surely fight, and WILL surely destroy His (note: 'His', not necessarily the same as 'their') enemies, at His command. (How exactly we will "fight" I do not know: hand-to-hand, armed with a sword? using the power of the Holy Spirit to call down fire from heaven? some other way? We shall surely see.) But in the meantime (and the "meantime" is, essentially, all the time between the first Kingdom of God being dissolved, and the final Kingdom of God being set up)... in the meantime -- ie, in the "Christian" or NT era, Christ's followers do not fight. Their "warfare" is against their own sinful natures -- where they should be as ruthless as possible; in that "battle", surely it is right for them to call upon their God to help them in any way to "destroy" that enemy. (As Pogo of comics fame put it, 'We have met the enemy, and he is... US!') So... ask God to help you "kill" that "enemy" (even "kill him dead"!). But leave that other "warfare" strictly alone for the present time. And I would suggest: Don't even lick your lips -- or whet your appetite -- at the "wonderful" prospect of destroying your enemies... just now! When the time comes, it may not be as much fun as you think!

The beauties of this passage are manifold: (1) First of all, no hardship (no matter how severe) can separate us from the love of Christ. Do we need to rage against even the "sword" that may kill us? No... because we have the love of Christ, which is stronger than death! (2) Even if we are lined up and slaughtered like sheep... then we are only walking in the footsteps of our Master, who was the Passover lamb led to slaughter. And he opened not his mouth to protest, but committed himself totally into his Father's care, asking forgiveness for his murderers. Stephen did the same, as he was being stoned at the instigation of that vicious killer... Saul of Tarsus! Where would we be if Stephen had prayed for vengeance on his enemies, and if God had listened? (I suppose we wouldn't be reading Romans today, for one thing.) (3) But... the best: "In all these things (i.e., persecution and danger and death) we are more than conquerors!" How CAN we be greater than a conqueror? There is only one thing greater than conquering your enemy, and that is converting your enemy to be your friend, bringing him over to your "side"! The love of Christ is strong enough to do that. Thereby you have not only "destroyed" your enemy, but you have also gained another friend at the same time. "Go, and do thou likewise!"

THE LOVE OF CHRIST: Some mss have "the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus", but that is probably borrowed from v 39.

TROUBLE: "Thlipsis" -- pressure, affliction, or "trials".

HARDSHIP: "Distress". "Stenochoria" -- narrowness of place, anguish of mind.

PERSECUTION: "Diogmos" -- to be pressured or pursued.

FAMINE: Gr "limnos".

NAKEDNESS: "Poverty": "gumnos" -- lit, nakedness.

DANGER: "Kindunos" -- appears eight times in 2Co 11:26 ("perils").

SWORD: "Machaira" -- an assassin's dagger, or short sword, probably referring to executions.

Rom 8:36

"FOR YOUR SAKE WE FACE DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED": Cited from Psa 44:22. What is there about a psalm from the days of Hezekiah that bears upon Paul's subject here? The psalm was set in the time of Sennacherib's invasion, a time of severe testing for all Israel, including the faithful remnant. 'Why do we suffer?' they were asking (Psa 44:9); 'we have not forgotten Thee' (v 17). V 21 brings the answer: God was searching their hearts (cp Rom 8:27); their trials were for their development and benefit. And thus the answer, and the key, is in Psa 44:22: "For Thy sake are we killed." Not even undeserved suffering can separate us from God. Though we be "counted as sheep for the slaughter", still there was one who above all others suffered undeservedly, and he was the lamb led to the slaughter (Isa 53:6,7). If so for him, then it must be also for us. If we suffer with him, we will also be glorified with him (Rom 8:17,18).

Rom 8:37

NO, IN ALL THESE THINGS WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US: No! Paul cries. Nothing can separate us from Christ's love. In all our trials we are "super-conquerors" through him who loved us (v 37). Through Christ we have won a victory which is more than a victory. We do not just overcome, or outlast, or 'muscle through' our trials with a superhuman strength. Instead, we live as though our trials are not our adversaries, as though they are something entirely different. Our 'enemies' become our 'allies' when we recognize God's providential hand in all our lives. And so we use, and God uses, each experience of our lives, no matter how painful for the present, for our ultimate benefit. The "all these things" of v 37 are simply the "all things" of v 28, working together for our good. In measure as we see this, and understand it, and embrace it, we purge out all fear and doubt from our lives, and allow the mind of Christ to develop in us.

MORE THAN CONQUERORS: "Hupernikao", from "huper" (over, or above) and "nikao" (to overcome). Those who are surpassingly, abundantly victorious. The word appears only here.

LOVED: The aorist verb tense indicates one past act; one great, all-surpassing act of love.

Rom 8:38

Vv 38,39: The last two verses express with minute precision the full assurance of faith which is, or should be, the possession of those who have been declared righteous in Christ. No physical condition, no power of any sort, no dimension of time or space, no other part of God's ("new"?) creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ. We must believe this.

And what if Paul were writing to us today? What would he say? Here, in this beautiful chapter, he has surely left us in the twentieth century a message too, and a guideline: neither depression, nor recession, nor inflation, nor bankruptcy, nor unemployment, nor race riot, nor crime in the streets, nor cancer, nor heart disease, nor arthritis, nor diabetes, nor old age, nor nuclear holocaust, nor multinational terrorism can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here is the victorious life in Christ. Do we have the courage to live it? Let us find those stumblingblocks in our lives, those delusions, which hinder us and leave us in the mire of fear and uncertainty. And let us put them firmly and irrevocably to the side, and choose this instead. If we do, the Father Who cannot forget us, and the Son who has engraved us on the palms of his hands, will rejoice at our faith, and will justify us from all iniquity.

I AM CONVINCED: "Absolutely convinced": the AV "persuaded" is not strong enough; neither is the NIV "convinced". The Greek expresses full assurance, absolute conviction.

Rom 8:39

ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION: "Any other creation": In the four previous instances of "ktisis" (creation) in Rom 8, the spiritual, or new, creation was intended (vv 19-22). Perhaps then, this is a reference to other parts of God's new creation, as if to say that not even our own brethren can do anything to separate us from Christ.

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