PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Life in the Spirit||Freed From Indwelling Sin||God's Saving Act||Life in the Spirit||The Life of the Spirit|
|Life in the Flesh and in the Spirit|
|The Spirit and Adoption|
|Children of God|
|The Glory That is To Be||From Suffering to Glory||The Hope of Fulfillment||The Future Glory||Glory As Our Destiny|
|Human Weakness is Sustained|
|God Has Called Us to Share His Glory|
|God's Love||God's Everlasting Love||Our Confidence in God's Love||God's Love in Christ Jesus||A Hymn to God's Love|
READING CYCLE THREE
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary ,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. This chapter is the climax of Paul's argument begun in 1:18. It starts with "no condemnation" (legal standing) and ends with "no separation" (personal fellowship). Theologically, it moves from justification through sanctification to glorification (cf. vv. 29-30).
B. This is Paul's theological development of God's giving of His Spirit to believers (cf. John's presentation in John 14:12-31; 16:7-16). The Spirit is the agent of the passive verb in v. 14 that relates to the gospel becoming active in the lives of fallen humans. The Spirit will abide with them and in them and will begin to form Christ in them. Chapter 8 uses the term spirit, pneuma, over 21 times while it is totally absent in chapter 7 (as well as chapters 3-6 and occurs only three times in chapters 1-2; it is difficult to be certain when pneuma refers to the human spirit or the Holy Spirit).
C. In life there are two perspectives (personal worldviews), two lifestyles, two priorities, two paths (the broad way and the narrow way) that humans follow, here flesh or Spirit. One leads to death; the other to life. This has traditionally been called "the two ways" of OT wisdom literature (cf. Ps. 1 and Pro. 4:10-19). Eternal life, Spirit life, has observable characteristics (i.e., after the flesh vs. after the Spirit).
Notice Satan's obvious absence in this entire theological context (cf. Romans 1-8). He is not mentioned in Romans until 16:20. It is mankind's fallen Adamic nature that is in focus. This was Paul's way of removing fallen mankind's excuse (i.e., "the Devil made me do it!") of supernatural temptation for their rebellion against God. Mankind is responsible!
D. This chapter is very hard to outline because the thought is developed by weaving several threads of truth together in recurring patterns, but without contextual units.
E. Verses 12-17 inform the believer about a confident faith assurance
1. The first is a changed worldview and life style accomplished through the Spirit.
2. The second is that our fear of God has been replaced by a sense of family love by the Spirit.
3. The third is an internal confirmation of our sonship by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
4. The fourth is that this confirmation is even sure in the midst of this fallen world's problems and struggles.
F. Verses 31-39 are a court scene, which is a typical literary technique of OT prophets. God is the Judge; Satan is the prosecutor; Jesus is the defense lawyer (paraclete); the angels are the spectators; and believing humanity is under Satanic accusations (i.e., Job 1-2; Zechariah 3).
1. legal terms
a. against us (v. 31)
b. a charge (v. 33)
c. justifies (v. 33)
d. condemns (v. 34)
e. intercedes (v. 34)
2. prosecution, "who" (vv. 31,33,34 [thrice],35)
3. God's provision in Christ (vv. 32, 34b)
4. no separation from God
a. earthly circumstances (v. 35)
b. OT quote from Ps. 44:22 (v. 36)
c. victory (vv. 37,39)
d. supernatural circumstances or agents (vv. 37-39)
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:1-8
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
NASB"Therefore there is now"
NKJV, NRSV"there is therefore now"
NJB"the reason, therefore"
This relates backward to the previous context. Some see it relating to 7:24-25 but it seems best to take it back farther to 3:21-7:25.
▣ "no" "No" is first in the Greek sentence. It is emphatic, "no condemnation" to those in Christ (cf. vv. 1-3), and those who walk according to the Spirit (cf. vv. 4-11). Here are both sides of the new covenant.
1. it is a free gift in Christ
2. there is a lifestyle, covenantal response required
Justification (cf. 5:1-11) is both objective (indicative) and subjective (imperative). It is both a state and a lifestyle.
▣ "condemnation" This term katakrima is not used often in the Septuagint, but it reflects the curse of noncompliance in Deut. 27:26 (cf. Deut. 27:26 quoted in Gal. 3:10 where it is equal to the "curse"). This means "punishment following a judicial sentence." It is the legal, forensic opposite of justification. It is a rare term in Paul's writings (cf. 5:16,18) and used no where else in the NT.
The concept of condemnation first occurs with Satan accusing God's people of covenant violations and later non-Israelites like Job (cf. Job 1-2). But now believers have died with Christ to the law (cf. Romans 6) and, therefore, neither the law nor Satan have grounds for accusations.
The King James Version added to verse 1, "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." This phrase does not appear in many ancient Greek manuscripts in verse 1. The UBS4 gives it omission an "A" rating (certain). It does appear in v. 4. It is totally theologically inappropriate in v. 1, but fits perfectly in v. 4. Verses 1-3 are dealing with positional sanctification (indicative), while verses 4-11 deal with experiential sanctification (see Special Topic at 6:4) or Christlikeness (imperative, see note at 8:29). Notice the footnote on page 289 in William R. Newell's Romans Verse by Verse. (Moody, 1938).
"The Revised Version correctly omits "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." Since the King James translation, over 300 years ago, many, and the best, most accurate, ancient Greek manuscripts which we have, have been recovered; and earnest, godly men have gone steadily ahead with the tedious but fruitful work of correcting errors that had crept in copying. For, as we all know, we have not the original manuscripts of Scripture: God has been pleased to withhold these from creatures so prone to idiolatry as the sons of men.
We must close verse 1 with the words "in Christ Jesus," for four reasons: (1) The evidence of the Greek manuscripts is overwhelmingly in favor of the omission of the clause "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" from verse 1,-as the evidence is universally for including these words in verse 4, (2) Spiritual discernment also agrees, for the introduction of these words in verse 1 makes our safety depend upon our walk, and not upon the Spirit of God. But all in Christ Jesus are safe from condemnation, as is plainly taught throughout the epistles. Otherwise, our security depends on our walk, and not on our position in Christ. (3) The clause is plainly in proper place at the end of verse 4,-where the manner of the believer's walk, not his safety from condemnation, is described. (4) That the clause at the end of verse 1 in King James is a gloss (marginal note by some copyist) appears, not only from its omission by the great uncial manuscripts, Aleph, A, B, C, D, F, G; A, D (corr.); with some good cursives and ancient versions (see Olshausen, Meyer, Alford, J. F. and B., and Darby's excellent discussion in his Synopsis, in loc); but it also appears from the similarity of this gloss to like additions made through legal fear, found in other passages.
That God chose to have His Word translated and still authoritative is seen from the use in the New Testament of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Septuagint.
We should thank God for those devoted men who have spent their lifetimes in profound study of the manuscripts God has left us, and who have given us so marvelously perfect a translation as we have. We should distinguish such scholars absolutely and forever from the arrogant "Modernists" (or, in former days, the "Higher Critics"), who undertake to tell us what God ought to say in the Bible, rather than with deep humility seeking to find out what God has said" (p. 289).
▣ "for those who are in Christ Jesus" This characteristic phrase (i.e., a locative of sphere) of Paul's is equivalent to the modern expression "personal relationship." Paul knew, loved, served, and rejoiced in Jesus. The gospel is both a message to be believed, and a Person to be welcomed. The power to live issued from his relationship with the Risen Christ, whom he met on the Damascus Road (cf Acts 9). His experience with Jesus preceded his theology of Jesus. His experience issued not in a cloistered mysticism but in aggressive missionary service (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). To know Him is to serve Him. Mature Christianity is a message, a Person, and a lifestyle! (See note at 1:5)
8:2 "the law of the Spirit of life. . . the law of sin and of death" This could refer to
1. the contrast between the law of sin (cf. Rom. 7:10,23,25) and the new law of God (cf. Rom. 7:6,22,25)
2. "the law of love" (cf. James 1:25; 2:8,12) versus "The Mosaic Law" (cf. 7:6-12)
3. the old age versus the new age
4. old covenant versus the new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; the NT book of Hebrews)
This contrasting style is sustained.
1. the law of the Spirit of life in Christ vs. the law of sin and death, v. 2
2. according to the flesh vs. according to the Spirit, vv. 4 & 5
3. things of the flesh vs. things of the Spirit, v. 5
4. mind set on the things of the flesh vs. mind set on the things of the Spirit, v. 5
5. mind set on the flesh, vs. mind set on the Spirit, v. 6
6. in the flesh vs. in the Spirit, v. 9
7. body is dead vs. spirit is alive, v. 10
8. you must die vs. you will live, v. 13
9. not the spirit of slavery vs. the spirit of adoption, v. 15
The NASB Study Bible (p. 1645) has an interesting list on Paul's usages of the term "law" in Romans.
1. a controlling power, 8:2
2. God's law, 2:17-20; 9:31; 10:3-5
3. the Pentateuch, 3:21b
4. the whole OT, 3:19
5. a principle, 3:27
NJB"has set you free"
NKJV, TEV"had made me free"
Verses 2-3 are the theological message of chapter 6. There are several different pronouns which appear in the ancient Greek texts
1. "me" appears in manuscripts A, D, K & P
2. "you" appears in א, B, F & G
3. "us" appears later in an uncial manuscript, Ψ
The UBS4 compilers give "you" (singular) a "B" rating (almost certain). The UBS3 gave it a "D" rating (great difficulty).
Manuscript variants related to the pronouns "us," "you," or "me/we" are recurrent in Paul's writings.
8:3 "what the law could not do" The Mosaic Law is good and holy, but humanity is weak and sinful (cf. 7:12, 16). The verb here is really the adjective adunaton, which usually means "impossible" (cf. Matt. 19:26; Heb. 6:4,18; 10:4; 11:6), but it can mean "without strength" (cf. Acts 14:8; Rom. 15:1). The Law was incapable of providing deliverance (cf. Gal. 3:21). On the contrary, it only provided condemnation, death, and curse (cf. Galatians 3)!
▣ "weak as it was through the flesh" This is Paul's basic argument of chapter 7. The Law of God is good and holy, but sinful, fallen, rebellious mankind cannot perform its requirements. Paul, unlike the rabbis, emphasized the consequences of Genesis 3. Most rabbis attribute the instigation of evil into the world at Genesis 6.
▣ "God did: sending His own Son" What fallen mankind could not do under the Old Covenant, God did under the New Covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-36) through Jesus (cf. Isa. 53; John 3:16). Instead of external requirements God provided an internal Spirit and a new heart and a new mind. This New Covenant is based on repentance and faith in Christ's finished work, not on human performance (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). However, both covenants expect a new lifestyle of godliness (cf. Eph. 1:4; 2:10).
▣ "in the likeness of sinful flesh" This same truth is stated in Phil. 2:7-8. Jesus had a truly human body (but no sin nature, cf. Phil. 2:7-8; Heb. 7:26). He is really one with us. He was tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin (cf. Heb. 4:15). He understands us. He intercedes for us (cf. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24).
▣ "as an offering for sin" The italicized words are implied in NJB and in the footnote of NRSV. This same concept is stated in 2 Cor. 5:21 and 1 Pet. 2:24. Jesus came to die (cf. Isa. 53:4-6,10-12; Mark 10:45). Jesus' innocent (blameless) life became a sin offering (cf. John 1:29) for all humanity (cf. Heb. 10:6,8; 13:11).
▣ "He condemned sin in the flesh" Jesus' physical death accentuated and dealt with the problem of mankind's sin nature, not just individual acts of sin (as did the Mosaic Law). It was His life, death, resurrection, and ascension that accomplished God's eternal redemptive purpose (cf. Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29). He also showed us what humans can be and should be (cf. John 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:21).
8:4 This verse probably refers to the New Covenant (cf. Jer. 31:33 & Ezek. 36:26-27). It deals with two aspects of our salvation.
1. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Old Covenant and through faith in Him this righteousness is transferred to believers as a free gift apart from personal merit. We call this justification or positional sanctification.
2. God gives believers a new heart, a new mind, and a new spirit. We walk now in the Spirit, not in the flesh. This is called "progressive sanctification."
Christianity is a new covenant which has both rights (the gift of salvation) and responsibilities (Christlikeness, cf. 6:13).
The Jerome Bible Commentary (p. 315) makes the interesting grammatical comment that the present participle plus the mē particle denotes a conditional statement implying that an effective Christian life does not flow automatically from baptism. We as humans have a choice in salvation and a choice in Christlikeness! The Spirit leads and encourages but does not force compliance!
▣ "who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" This same contrast is found in Gal. 5:16-25. A judicial righteousness is to be accompanied by lifestyle righteousness. The new heart and mind of the New Covenant is not the basis of our salvation, but the result. Eternal life has observable characteristics (Matthew 7)!
8:5 Paul contrasts life in the "flesh" and in the "Spirit" in vv. 5-8 ("the deeds of the flesh," cf. Gal. 5:19-21 with "fruit of the Spirit," cf. 5:22-25). See full note at 8:2.
8:6 "the mind set on" Jews realized that the eyes and ears are the windows into the soul. Sin begins in the thought life. We become that which we dwell upon (cf. Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 4:8)!
Paul did not exactly follow the traditional rabbinical view of the two "intents" (yetzers) in humans. For Paul the good intent was not present in fallen creation, but from conversion. For Paul it was the indwelling Holy Spirit that started the internal spiritual conflict (cf. John 16:7-14).
▣ "life" This (zoē) refers to eternal life, new age life.
▣ "peace" This term originally meant "binding together that which was broken" (cf. John 14:27; 16:33; Phil. 4:7). See Special Topic: Peace at 5:1. There are three ways the NT speaks of peace:
1. the objective truth of our peace with God through Christ (cf. Col. 1:20)
2. our subjective feeling about being right with God (cf. John 14:27; 16:33; Phil. 4:7)
3. God, uniting into one new body, through Christ, both Jew and Gentile (cf. Eph. 2:14-17; Col. 3:15)
p class="flushParagraph"> 8:7-11 Paul described mankind apart from God in several ways.
1. hostile toward God, v. 7
2. not subject to God, v. 7
3. not able to please God, v. 8
4. spiritually dead which will result in eternal death, vv.10-11
See the parallel in Rom. 5:6, 8, and 10.
NASB, NRSV"the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God"
NKJV"the carnal mind is enmity against God"
TEV"people become enemies of God"
NJB"the outlook of disordered human nature is opposed to God"
Notice that this phrase is parallel to "the mind set on the flesh is death" of v. 6 and "those who walk according to the flesh" of v. 5. Notice, too, fallen human nature is both a mind set (worldview) and a lifestyle (cf. 7:5). See Special Topic: Flesh (sarx) at 1:3.
▣ "for it is not even able to do so" Fallen mankind not only does not choose to follow God, they are incapable of following God. Fallen mankind, unaided by the Holy Spirit, cannot respond to spiritual things (cf. Isa. 53:6; 1 Pet. 2:24-25). God must always take the initiative (cf. John 6:44,65). This does not rule out covenant choices, but it does clearly assert that humans are responders, not initiators.
8:8 "those who are in the flesh" Paul uses this phrase in two ways.
1. the physical body (cf. Rom.1:3; 2:28; 4:1; 9:3,5)
2. mankind's efforts apart from God (cf. Rom. 7:5; 8:4-5)
Here it is #2. It refers to rebellious, unbelieving humanity. See Special Topic: Flesh (sarx) at 1:3.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:9-11
9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
8:9 "if" There is a series of conditional sentences in vv. 9,10,11,13 (twice),17 (twice). They are all first class conditional sentences, which are assumed true from the writer's point of view or for his literary purposes. Paul was assuming his readers in the Roman church were Christians (cf. v. 9a).
▣ "the Spirit of Christ" Persons either have the Spirit and are, therefore, believers or they do not have the Spirit and are spiritually lost. We receive all of the Holy Spirit at salvation. We do not need more of Him; He needs more of us!
The phrases "the Spirit" of 9a; "the Spirit of God" of 9b, and "the Spirit of Christ" of 9c are all synonymous.
8:10 "if" This is a first class conditional (ei with an assumed indicative verb "to be"). Paul assumes his readers (i.e., the church at Rome) are
1. indwelt by Christ
2. have Christ in their midst
▣ "Christ is in you" The "you" is plural. The term "Christ" refers to the indwelling Son/Spirit (cf. John 14:16-17; Col. 1:27). People have the Son/Spirit or they are not Christians (cf. 1 John 5:12). For Paul, "in Christ" is theologically the same as "in the Spirit."
▣ "though the body is dead because of sin" Even Christians are going to die physically because of Adam's sin, a fallen world, and personal rebellion (cf. 5:12-21). Sin always runs its course. Spiritual death (cf. Genesis 3; Eph. 2:1) resulted in the physical death (cf. Genesis 5; Heb. 9:27, see note at 8:13). Believers live in both the new age of the Spirit (cf. Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16) and the old age of sin and rebellion (cf. vv. 21, 35).
▣ "yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness" There has been some disagreement among translations and commentators on whether "spirit" refers to the human spirit (cf. NASB, ASV, NIV, Williams, Jerusalem Bible), or the Holy Spirit (cf. KJV, TEV, REB, Karl Barth, C. K. Barrett, John Murray, and Everett Harrison).
The larger context expands our understanding of this brief phrase. Even those who have trusted Christ are still going to die because they live in a fallen world. However, because of the righteousness which comes through faith in Jesus they already have eternal life (cf. Eph. 2:4-6). This is the "already but not yet" tension of the Kingdom of God. The old age and the new age have overlapped in time.
▣ "Righteousness" In context this could refer to
1. the imputed righteousness (justification and positional sanctification) that comes through faith in Christ (cf. Romans 4)
2. the new life in the Spirit (progressive sanctification) which is the evidence of a redeemed life
See special topic at 1:17.
8:11 "if" See note at verse 9.
▣ "the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you" Which Person of the Trinity indwells believers? Most Christians would answer "the Spirit." This is certainly true, but in reality, all three Persons of the Trinity indwell believers.
1. the Spirit, John 14:16-17; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:14
2. the Son, Matt. 28:20; John 14:20,23; 15:4-5; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:27
3. the Father, John 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:16
This phrase is an excellent opportunity to show that the NT often attributes the works of redemption to all three persons of the Trinity.
1. God the Father raised Jesus (cf. Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34,37; 17:31; Rom. 6:4,9; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 1:1;Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:10)
2. God the Son raised Himself (cf. John 2:19-22; 10:17-18)
3. God the Spirit raised Jesus (cf. Rom. 8:11
This same Trinitarian emphasis can be seen in vv. 9-11.
▣ "will also give life to your mortal bodies" The verb is a future active indicative which points toward Resurrection Day. The resurrection of both Jesus and His followers is a crucial doctrine (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1ff; 2 Cor. 4:14). Christianity asserts that believers will have a bodily existence in eternity (cf. 1 John 3:2). If Christ was raised by the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-21), so shall His followers (cf. v. 23).
REB, NET"through His Spirit"
NRSV footnote"on account of His Spirit"
TEV"by the presence of His Spirit"
There is a manuscript variant related to the grammatical form of this phrase.
1. genitive, MSS א, A, C, Pc
2. accusative, MSS B, D, F, G
The UBS4 gives the genitive a "B" (almost certain) rating.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:12-17
12So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- 13for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
8:12 "So then" Paul continues to draw out the implications of his presentation of vv. 1-11.
▣ "we are under obligation" This is the other side of Christian freedom (cf. 14:1-15:13). This is the conclusion drawn from the discussion of sanctification in vv. 1-11, which is both positional (indicative) and progressive (imperative, see Special Topic at 6:4). It also clearly shows that believers still must struggle with the old fallen nature (i.e., 6:12,19; 7:7-24; 1 Cor. 6:18-19; Eph. 6:10-19). There is a choice to be made (initial faith) and continuing choices to be made (lifestyle faith)!
8:13 "if" There is series of conditional sentences in vv. 9,10,11,13 (twice), and 17 (twice). They are all first class conditional sentences, which are assumed true from the writer's point of view or for his literary purposes. Paul assumed his readers in the Roman church were Christians living by the Spirit. But there is a contingency (i.e., human cooperation).
▣ "you are living according to the flesh, you must die" Both verbals in v. 13 are present tense, which speaks of continual action. The Bible reveals three stages of death.
1. spiritual death (cf. Gen. 2:17; 3:1-7; Eph. 2:1)
2. physical death (cf. Genesis 5)
3. eternal death (cf. Rev. 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8)
The one spoken of in this passage is the spiritual death of Adam (cf. Gen. 3:14-19) that resulted in the physical death of the human race (cf. Genesis 5).
Adam's sin brought death into human experience (cf. 5:12-21). Each of us has chosen to participate in sin volitionally. If we choose to remain in it, it will kill us "eternally" (cf. Rev. 20:6, 14, "the second death"). As Christians we must die by a faith identification with Christ to sin and self and live to God (cf. Romans 6).
▣ "if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" Assurance of believers' salvation is validated or demonstrated by their Christian lifestyle (cf. the NT books of James and 1 John). Believers do not live this new life in their own effort, but by the agency of the Spirit (cf. v.14). However, they must daily yield themselves to His control (cf. Eph. 5:17-18; 6:10-18).
In this context "the deeds of the body" are seen as the life of the old sinful age (cf. Gal. 5:19-21). This is not a repudiation of the eternality of bodily existence (cf. 8:23), but the contrast between the indwelling Spirit (new age) and the continuing spiritual struggle with sin (old age).
8:14 "all who are being led by the Spirit of God" This is a present passive participle, which denotes continual guidance from the Spirit. The Spirit woos us to Christ (cf. John 6:44,65) and then forms Christ in us (cf. v. 29-30). There is more to Christianity than a decision. It really is an ongoing discipleship (cf. Matt. 28:19) that begins with a decision (cf. 10:9-13; John 1:12; 3:16). This does not refer to special events, times, or ministries, but daily activities.
▣ "sons of God" This plural phrase was used in the OT for angels and rarely for humans (see Special Topic online at www.freebiblecommentary.org ). The singular was used of Adam, Israel, her King, and the Messiah. Here it refers to all believers (cf. Gal. 4:6-7). In v. 14 the Greek term huioi (sons) is used, in v. 16, tekna (children). They are used synonymously in this context. Believers are no longer slaves but family members (cf. vv. 15-17; Gal. 4:7).
8:15 "a spirit" This verse, like v. 10, is ambiguous. It can refer to redeemed mankind's new spirit in Christ or the Holy Spirit. Both are found in verse 16.
There are several places in Paul's writings where this grammatical construction is used to describe what the Holy Spirit produces in the individual believer.
1. here "not a spirit of slavery," "a spirit of adoptions, v. 15
2. "a spirit of gentleness," 1 Cor. 4:21
3. "a spirit of faith (faithfulness), 2 Cor. 4:13
4. "a spirit of wisdom and of revelation," Eph. 1:17
5. "not a spirit of timidity," 2 Tim. 1:7
There are several places, especially in 1 Corinthians, where Paul uses pneuma to refer to himself (cf. 1 Cor. 2:11; 5:3,14; 7:34; 16:8; and Col. 2:5). In this context surely vv. 10 and 15 fit this category best.
▣ "of slavery leading to fear again" The characteristic of the old nature is fear (cf. Heb. 2:15). The characteristic of the new nature is described in vv. 14-17.
▣ "adoption as sons" Roman law made it very difficult to adopt, but once done, it was permanent (cf. Gal. 4:4-6). This metaphor supports the theological truth of the security of the believer (see Special Topic at 5:2). A natural son could be disinherited or even killed, but not an adopted one. This was one of Paul's favorite familial metaphors to describe salvation (cf. vv. 15, 23). John and Peter used another familial metaphor, "born again" (cf. John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3,23). For the full note see Galatians 4:5 online at www.freebiblecommentary.org .
▣ "Abba" This Aramaic term was what children called their fathers at home ("daddy" or "papa"). Jesus and the Apostles spoke Aramaic (cf. Mark 5:41; 14:36; 1 Cor. 16:22). Believers can now come to the Holy God by means of the blood of Christ, through the indwelling Spirit with a firm faith and family confidence (cf. Mark 14:36; Gal. 4:6). Isn't it amazing that fallen humanity can call God, Father, and that the eternal Holy One would desire this! See SPECIAL TOPIC: FATHER at 1:7.
8:16 "The Spirit, Himself" The Greek word for Spirit is neuter, therefore, KJV translated this as "the Spirit, itself," but the Spirit is a person; He can be grieved (cf. Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19), so "Himself" is a better translation. See Special Topic: The Personhood of the Spirit at 8:27.
▣ "testifies with our spirits that we are children of God" As noted in v. 13, one aspect of faith assurance is the believers' changed and changing lives (cf. the NT books of James and 1 John). Another aspect of assurance is that the indwelling Spirit has replaced the fear of God with family love (cf. 1 John 4:17-18). Note the RSV and NRSV translations and punctuation, "when we cry, Abba! Father! It is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirits that we are children of God" (cf. Gal. 4:6). This implies that the assurance comes when believers can call God, Father, by the Spirit.
The internal witness of the Spirit is not audible, but practical.
1. guilt over sin
2. desire to be like Christ
3. desire to be with the family of God
4. hunger for God's word
5. sense a need to do evangelism
6. sense a need for Christian sacrificial giving
These are the kinds of internal desires that provide a faith evidence of conversion.
Assurance of salvation has been turned into a denominational issue.
1. Roman Catholic theology denies the possibility of assurance in this life but bases confidence in one being a member of the "true" church
2. John Calvin (Reform tradition) based assurance on election (predestination), but one could not know for sure until after this life on Judgment Day
3. John Wesley (Methodist tradition) based assurance on a perfect love (living above known sin)
4. most Baptists have tended to base assurance on the biblical promises of free grace (but ignoring all the warnings and admonitions).
There are two dangers related to the NT paradoxical presentation of Christian assurance.
1. the overemphasis on "once saved, always saved"
2. the overemphasis on human performance in retaining salvation.
Hebrews 6 clearly teaches "once out, always out." Human effort (good works) does not keep believers saved (cf. Gal. 3:1-14). But good works are the goal of the Christian life (cf. Eph. 2:10). They are the natural result of meeting God and having the indwelling Spirit. They are evidence of one's true conversion.
Assurance is not meant to soften the Bible's call to holiness! Theologically speaking, assurance is based on the character and actions of the Triune God.
1. the Father's love and mercy
2. the Son's finished sacrificial work
3. the Spirit's wooing to Christ and then forming Christ in the repentant believer
The evidence of this salvation is a changed worldview, a changed heart, a changed lifestyle and a changed hope! It cannot be based on a past emotional decision that has no lifestyle evidence (i.e., fruit, cf. Matt. 7:15-23; 13:20-22; John 15). Assurance, like salvation, like the Christian life starts with a response to God's mercy and continues that response throughout life. It is a changed and changing life of faith!
▣ "testifies" This is another syn compound. The Spirit co-witnesses with the believer's spirit. Paul uses this compound term in 2:15; 8:16 and 9:1.
8:17 "if" There is a series conditional sentences in vv. 9,10,11,13 (twice), and 17 (twice). These are all first class conditional sentences which are assumed true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. Paul assumed his readers in the Roman church were Christian.
▣ In this verse there are three compound words using syn, which means "joint participation with"
1. believers share heirship with Christ
2. believers share sufferings with Christ
3. believers will share glory with Christ
There are more syn compounds in vv. 22 (twice), 26,28. Eph. 2:5-6 also has three syn compounds which describe the believer's life in Christ.
▣ "heirs" This is another family metaphor to describing believers (cf. 4:13-14; 9:8; Gal. 3:29). See Special Topic following.
▣ "fellow heirs" This is another sun compound. Paul coins many of these new terms in chapter 8 to emphasize the shared death and life of Christ and the believers.
1. co-heirs, v. 17
2. co-suffered, v. 17
3. co-glorified, v. 17
NASB, NKJV"if indeed we suffer with Him"
NRSV"if, in fact, we suffer with him"
TEV"for if we share Christ's sufferings"
NJB"sharing his sufferings"
Suffering is the norm for believers in a fallen world (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-2; 17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom.5:3-4; 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-19). Jesus set the pattern (cf. Heb. 5:8). The rest of this chapter develops this theme. See SPECIAL TOPIC: WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER? At 5:3.
▣ "glorified with Him" In John's writings whenever Jesus talked of His death, He called it "being glorified." Jesus was glorified by His suffering. Believers, positionally and often experientially, share Jesus' life events (cf. Romans 6). See Special Topic: Reigning in the Kingdom of God at 5:17-18.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:18-25
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
8:18 "consider" This is literally "add it up." This is a present middle indicative. Paul continues to consider the implications of Christian suffering. This was an accounting term for arriving at a carefully researched conclusion. This is a recurrent theme in Romans (see note at 2:3). Believers must live in the light of the spiritual truths they understand.
▣ "the sufferings" We get some idea of the sufferings involved in serving Christ from 1 Cor. 4:9-12; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; 6:4-10; 11:24-27; Heb. 11:35-38.
▣ "of this present time" The Jews believed that the history of the world was divided into two ages, the current evil age and the age of righteousness to come (cf. Matt. 12:32; Mark 10:30). The OT expected the coming Messiah to set up this new age of righteousness. However, the two comings of Christ, one as Savior (incarnation) and the second as Lord (Second Coming), caused the overlapping of these two ages. Believers live in the tension between "already" and "not yet" of the Kingdom of God. See Special Topic: This Age and the Age to Come at 12:2.
▣ "worthy. . .glory" Both of these terms are related to the OT concept of weight-heavy was valuable. "Worthy" was from a commercial term that meant "to weigh as much as." The Hebrew term "glory" was also from a root "to be heavy," in the sense of being valuable, like gold. See full note at 3:23.
The term "glory" in Paul's writings had an eschatological orientation (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-18). It referred to the splendor and power of the returning glorified exalted Christ (cf. Col. 3:4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at 3:23.
▣ "that is to be revealed to us" This passive (deponent) voice referred to the agency of God or the Spirit (cf. v. 20). Believers live in this life by faith not sight (cf. v. 24; 1 Cor. 2:9; 13:12; 2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1).
The word is used several times in Romans by Paul and emphasizes that truth is from God, not a discovery of humans.
1. the verb
a. 1:17 - the righteousness of God has been revealed (present passive indicative)
b. 1:18 - the wrath of God has been revealed (present passive indicative)
c. 8:18 - the coming glory to be revealed (aorist passive infinitive)
2. the noun
a. 2:5 - in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God
b. 8:19 - creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God
c. 16:25 - according to the revelation of the mystery
8:19 "the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly" The physical creation is personified as a person with an outstretched neck searching the horizon. Creation was negatively affected when Adam and Eve rebelled (cf. Gen. 3:17-19). All creation will ultimately be redeemed (except for rebellious angels, unbelieving humans, and their prepared place of isolation, cf. Bruce Corley and Curtis Vaughan, Romans, p. 95, footnote 46).
The verb "waits eagerly" (present middle [deponent] indicative) appears three times in this context.
1. v. 19 - creation waits eagerly for the new age
2 v. 23 - believers wait eagerly for new bodies
3. v. 25 - believers wait eagerly in hope of the new age
Paul uses this same verb in a similar sense in 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:20. The Second Coming is not a fearful event for believers, but a family reunion!
▣ "for the revealing" This term meant "to pull back the curtain" so as to disclose or inform. It is also the title of the last book of the New Testament, "the Apocalypse." The Second Coming is often referred to as a revelation or coming (cf. 1 Cor. 1:7-8; 1 Peter 17,13).
▣ "the sons of God" This was a common familial metaphor used to describe Christians (cf. 8:14,16). It speaks of God as Father and Jesus as His unique son (cf. John 1:18; 3:16,18; Heb. 1:2; 3:6; 5:8; 7:28; 1 John 4:9).
In the OT Israel was God's son (cf. Hosea 11:1), but also the King was God's son (cf. 2 Sam. 7). This concept was first mentioned in the NT in Matt. 5:9 (also cf. John 1:12; 2 Cor. 6:18; Gal. 3:26; 1 John 3:1,10; Rev. 21:7).
NRSV"for the creation was subjected to futility"
TEV"For creation was condemned to become worthless"
NJB"It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose"
This could be translated "vanity." It is used in several senses in the Septuagint-meaningless, worthless, useless, false gods (idols), and emptiness. All creation became useless for God's intended purpose (cf. Gen. 3:17-19; Isa. 24:3-8), but one day God will remove the curse of the Fall (cf. Rev. 22:3). This is not the world that God intended it to be!
▣ "but because of Him who subjected it, in hope" The verb is aorist passive and apparently refers to God (cf. NASB, NKJV, TEV). He subjected physical creation to futility
1. because of human rebellion
2. as an attempt to turn mankind to Himself (cf. Deuteronomy 27-29)
This purposeful futility will only be for a period of time (cf. Rom. 11:11-32). Redeemed humanity has a promised physical future (body and world).
God foreknew Adam's rebellion. He allowed it to occur and chose to work with a fallen mankind in a fallen world. This is not the world that God intended it to be. This is not the world it will one day be (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 21:1-3). See notes on "hope" at 5:2.
8:21 "creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption" Nature will be a part of eternity (cf. Isa. 11:6-10). Heaven is coming back to a recreated earth (cf. Matt. 5:18; 24:35; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 21:1). The future may well be a return to Eden's bliss; fellowship between God and mankind, individual to individual, mankind to animals, and mankind to the earth! The Bible begins with God, mankind, and the animals (i.e., Isa. 11:6-9) in fellowship and harmony in a garden setting (cf. Gen. 1-2) and the Bible ends in a similar way (cf. Revelation 21-22).
▣ "corruption" See Special Topic at 1:23.
▣ "into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" In v. 14 believers are called "the sons of God," in v. 16 "the children of God," and inv. 17 "heirs of God." In v. 18 the eschatological glory of God is revealed to believers. Now in 19 creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God because it will share their eschatological glory (cf. v. 21). This restoration of creation, and especially humans, will allow the original purpose of creation to be fulfilled-God and humanity (made in His image) in intimate fellowship.
8:22 "the whole creation groans" This is another of Paul's syn compounds, "groan together with." He must have coined many of them. Possibly he was alluding to Jer. 12:4,11 (cf. Deut. 27-29), where the land of Israel mourns because of the desolation caused by human sin.
Notice that "groaning" is mentioned three times in this context.
1. creation groans (present active indicative) for the coming of the new age, v. 22 (cf. vv. 19-21)
2. believers groan for their full and complete salvation (i.e., a new body, cf. 2 Cor. 5:2,4), v. 23
3. the Spirit who gives Himself as the first fruit of the new age also groans (prays for, present active indicative) believers, v. 26
▣ "suffers the pains of childbirth" In Jewish circles this concept was often called "the birth pains of the new age" (cf. Mark 13:8). The dawn of the new day of righteousness will not be without problems. The moral and spiritual conditions of this fallen planet will become worse and worse (cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; and also note the seven seals, trumpets, and bowls of Revelation 5-18). However, the pains of childbirth are pains of hope and joy in the coming birth, so too, the new age!
8:23 "we ourselves. . .we ourselves. . .ourselves" The pronouns are emphatic and repeated.
▣ "the first fruits of the Spirit" This term (aparchē) is theologically analogous to "the seal of the Spirit" in 2 Cor. 1:22; and "the pledge of the Spirit" in 2 Cor. 5:5; and Eph. 1:14.
The first fruits in the OT were a promise of the harvest to come. They symbolized God's ownership of all the harvest (i.e., Deut. 26:1-11). The Spirit is the first fruits of the new age, as Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20). Believers, as God's children, even now experience something of the joys of heaven by means of the Holy Spirit who dwells with them and in them. This is the "already" but "not yet" tension of the overlapping of the two Jewish ages. Believers are citizens of heaven and dwellers on earth!
▣ "we ourselves, groan within ourselves" This seems to refer to the dialectic tension between "the already" and "the not yet" of the overlapping of the two Jewish ages (see Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth, pp. 145-148). The Kingdom of God is present but not consummated. Believers have resurrection life, yet they are still going to die physically (cf. II Cor. 5:2-4). We are saved from sin but we still struggle with sin (Romans 7; Eph. 6:10-18).
▣ "waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons" Adoption is Paul's favorite familial metaphor for salvation (cf. v. 15). Believers' salvation is a process that starts with an initial decision of repentance and faith and develops into a growing Christlikeness. Believers will not be fully saved until Resurrection Day (cf. v. 30 and 1 John 3:2).
The term "adoption" is omitted in some Greek manuscripts (cf. MSS P46, D, F, G, and some Old Latin versions. However, it is included in א, A, B, C, some Old Latin, the Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian versions. The UBS4 rates its inclusion as "A"(certain).
▣ "the redemption of our body" This term means "to buy back." This concept was used in the OT to describe someone being set free from slavery by a relative (go'el). It came to be used metaphorically for God's deliverance of fallen mankind from the slavery of sin. The price paid was the sinless life of the incarnate Son. See Special Topic at 3:24.
Christianity, like Judaism (cf. Job 14:14-15; 19:25-26; Dan. 12:2), asserts that believers will have a physical (though not necessarily humanoid, cf. 1 Cor. 15:35-49) body in eternity. Believers' spiritual bodies will be perfectly prepared for life in the new age, life in intimate fellowship with God.
8:24 "in hope we have been saved" This is an aorist passive indicative. As v. 23 refers to our future salvation, v. 24 refers to our past salvation through the agency of the Spirit. The NT used several verb tenses to describe salvation (see Special Topic at 10:4).
1. aorist, Acts 15:11 (Rom. 8:24; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5; and Rom. 13:11 combine the aorist with a future orientation)
2. perfect, Eph. 2:5,8
3. present, 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:2; 2 Cor. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:21; 4:18
4. future (in verb tense or contextual inference), Rom. 5:9,10; 10:9; 1 Cor. 3:15; Phil. 1:28; 1 Thess. 5:8-9; Heb. 1:14; 9:28.
Therefore, salvation begins with an initial faith decision and issues in a process of lifestyle faith that will one day be consummated in sight (cf. 1 John 3:2).
8:25 "hope" See Special Topic below.
▣ "with perseverance" This term hupomonē was also used in 5:3 and 15:4-5. Believers' salvation is in the process of maturity and will one day be consummated. Perseverance (cf. Rev. 2:8,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7) is the needed biblical balance to the overemphasis on "initial salvation." Most biblical truths (i.e., Eastern Literature, see Special Topic at 3:27) are expressed in dialectical, tension-filled pairs.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:26-27
26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
8:26 "in the same way" This links the Spirit's ministry of intercession with "the groaning and hoping" mentioned in vv. 18-25.
▣ "the Spirit also helps" This is a present middle (deponent) indicative. The verb has a double compound, syn (cf. v. 28) and anti. It s best translated "take hold with." This term is found only here and in Luke 10:40. The whole Triune God is for believers. The Father sent the Son to die on mankind's behalf (cf. John 3:160, and He now also intercedes for us (cf. v. 34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1). The Spirit brings fallen mankind to Christ and forms Christ in them (cf. John 16:8-15). However, the verb "helps," which meant "to take hold of with someone," implied that believers also have a part in an appropriating the Spirit's help (intercession).
▣ "weakness" This noun is used by Paul in several senses (BAGD, p. 115).
1. bodily weakness or sickness, 2 Cor. 11:30; 12:5,9,10; Gal. 4:13; 1 Tim. 5:23
2. human situation, 1 Cor. 15:43; 2 Cor. 13:4
3. figure for
a. timidity, 1 Cor. 2:3
b. judgment, Rom. 6:19
c. lack of religious insight, Rom. 8:26
The verb is used in similar ways.
1. bodily weakness, Phil. 2:26-27; 2 Tim. 4:20
2. human situation, Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 11:21; (note Matt. 8:17; quote of Isa. 53:4)
3. figure for
a. religious or moral weakness, Rom. 14:2; 1 Cor. 8:11-12
b. weak in faith, Rom. 4:19; 14:1
c. fainthearted and fearful, 2 Cor. 11:29
Remember context determines meaning within a semantic parameter. Lexicons only list the possible connotations and usages.
▣ "the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" Believers groan in their fallenness and the Spirit groans in intercession for them. The Spirit within the redeemed prays for them, and Jesus at the right hand of God also prays for them, (cf. vv. 27,34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1). This intercession empowers the believer to pray (cf. v. 15; Gal. 4:6). This passage in context does not refer to the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, but the Spirit's intercession to the Father on believers' behalf.
NASB, NRSV"too deep for words"
NKJV"which cannot be uttered"
TEV"that words can not express"
NJB"that cannot be put into words"
This word is the common word for "speaking," "language" (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1) with the alpha privative. It occurs only here in the NT. Another form of the word is used in Mark's Gospel for dumb/mute people (cf. 7:37; 9:17,25).
▣ "intercedes" See Special Topic: Paul's Use of Huper Compounds at 1:30.
8:27 "He who searches the heart" This was a recurrent theme in the OT (cf. 1 Sam. 2:7; 16:7; 1 Kgs. 8:39; 1 Chr. 28:9; 2 Chr. 6:30; Ps. 7:9; 44:21; Pro. 15:11; 20:27; 21:2; Jer. 11:20; 17:9-10; 20:12; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8). God truly knows us and still loves us (cf. Psalm 139).
▣ "He intercedes for the saints" The Spirit's tasks were clearly spelled out in John 16:2-15. One of them is intercession.
The term "saints" was always plural except in Phil. 4:21where it also referred to all believers. Christians are members of the family of God, the body of Christ, the new temple built from individual believers. This is a needed theological balance to western (American) individualism. See SPECIAL TOPIC: SAINTS at 1:7.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:28-30
28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
8:28 "And we know" This verb (oida) occurs four times in this context.
1. believers know that all creation groans (v. 22)
2. believers do not know how to pray (v. 26)
3. the Father knows the hearts of humans and the mind of the Spirit (v. 27)
4. believers know that all things work together for good (v. 28)
NASB, TCNT"God causes all things"
TEV, NIV"in all things God works"
The textual question is how many times does "Theos" (or "Theon") appear in this verse?
There is no manuscript variant related to the phrase "to those who love God," but there is a variant related to the phrase "all things work together for good."
1. Some manuscripts add "ho Theos" after the verb, P46, A, B, 81, and some Coptic and Ethiopian versions.
2. Most manuscripts omit it, א, C, D, F, G, and the Vulgate, Peshitta, Armenian versions. The UBS4 rates its omission as "B" (almost certain).
The NASB includes it to stress the point of divine activity. It is possible from the context that the Spirit's agency is indented (cf. v. 27; NEB, REB).
▣ "to work together for good" This is present active indicative. This is another compound with syn (cf. v. 26). Therefore, it literally means "all things continue to work in cooperation with one another for the good." This is a difficult concept in a world of evil and suffering (two helpful books on this subject is The Goodness of God by Wenham and Hannah Whithall Smith, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life). The "good" here is defined in v. 29 as "conformed to the image of His Son." Christlikeness, not prosperity, fame or health, is God's unalterable plan for every believer.
▣ "to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" These are two present active participles. These are two conditions which continue to allow the believer to view life, regardless of the circumstances, in a positive light (cf. v. 15). Again notice the twin covenantal aspects of human freedom ("love") and God's sovereignty ("called").
The term "purpose" in connection to God's eternal plans is found in Rom. 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; and 2 Tim. 1:9. God has an eternal redemptive plan for fallen humanity. See SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at 1:5.
8:29-30 The verbs in these verses are all aorist active indicatives. They form a chain from before time until time is no more. God knows us and is still for us and wants us to be with Him. This is a corporate, not individual, context. The final act of glorification is still future, but in this context it is stated as an accomplished event.
8:29 "foreknew" Paul used this term twice, here and 11:2. In 11:2 it referred to God's covenant love for Israel before time. Remember that the term "know" in Hebrew related to intimate, personal relationship, not to facts about someone (cf. Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5). Here it is included in a chain of events (cf. vv. 29-30). This term is linked with predestination. However, it must be stated that God's foreknowledge is not the basis of election because if that were so, then election would be based on fallen humanity's future response, which would be human performance. This term was also found in Acts 26:5; 1 Pet. 1:2,20 and 2 Pet. 3:17.
▣ "predestined" The terms "foreknow" (proginōskō) or "predestine" (proorizō) are both compounds with the preposition "before" (pro) and therefore, should be translated "to know before," "to set bounds before," or "mark off before."
The definitive passages on predestination in the NT are Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14 and Romans 9. These texts obviously stress that God is sovereign. He is in total control of all things, including human history. There is a preset divine redemption plan being worked out in time. However, this plan is not arbitrary or selective. It is based not only on God's sovereignty and foreknowledge, but on His unchanging character of love, mercy and undeserved grace.
We must be careful of our western (American) individualism or our evangelical zeal coloring this wonderful truth. We must also guard against being polarized into the historical, theological conflicts between Augustine versus Pelegius or Calvinism versus Arminianism.
Predestination is not a doctrine meant to limit God's love, grace, and mercy nor to exclude some from the gospel. It is meant to strengthen believers by molding their worldview. God is for all mankind (cf. John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). God is in control of all things. Who or what can separate us from Him (cf. Rom. 8:31-39)? Predestination forms one of two ways to view life. God views all history as present; humans are time bound. Our perspective and mental abilities are limited. There is no contradiction between God's sovereignty and mankind's free will. It is a covenantal structure. This is another example of biblical truth given in dialectical tension (see SPECIAL TOPIC: EASTERN LITERATURE at 3:27. Biblical doctrines are usually presented from different perspectives. They often appear paradoxical. The truth is a balance between the seemingly opposite pairs. We must not remove the tension by picking one of the truths. We must not isolate any biblical truth into a theological system unrelated to a specific context.
It is also important to add that the goal of election is not only heaven when we die, but Christlikeness now (cf. Eph. 1:4; 2:10)! We were chosen to be "holy and blameless." God chooses to change us so that others may see the change and respond by faith to Him in Christ. Predestination is not a personal privilege but a covenantal responsibility!
▣ "to become conformed to the image of His Son" This is a major truth of this passage. This is the goal of Christianity (cf. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:118; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 4:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:3; 1 Pet. 1:15). Holiness is God's will for every believer. God's election is to Christlikeness (cf. Eph. 1:4), not a special standing. The image of God which was given to humanity in creation (cf. Gen. 1:26; 5:1,3; 9:6) is to be restored (cf. Col. 3:10). See note at 8:21 and SPECIAL TOPIC: CALLED at 1:6.
▣ "that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" In Psalm 89:27 "first-born" is a title for the Messiah. In the OT the first born son had preeminence and privilege. The term was used in Col. 1:15 to show Jesus' preeminence in creation and in Col. 1:18 and Rev. 1:5 to show Jesus preeminence in resurrection. In this text believers are, through Him, brought into His preeminence!
This term does not refer to Jesus' incarnation, but to Him as the head of a new race (cf. 5:12-21), the first in a series, the trail blazer of our faith, the channel of the Father's blessing to the family of faith! See Special Topic below.
8:30 "glorified" God is often described in the Bible by the term "glory." The term came from a commercial root word that meant "heavy" and by implication, valuable, like gold. See Special Topic at 3:23. Theologically God is redeeming fallen mankind through a series of steps listed in vv. 29-30. The last step is "glorification." This will be the believers' complete salvation. It will occur on Resurrection Day when they are given their new spiritual bodies (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-58) and are united fully with the Triune God and each other (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 John 3:2).
Often the process mentioned in vv. 29-30 is put into theological categories.
1. justification, v. 30 - freed from the penalty of sin (adoption, heirs, vv. 16-17)
2. sanctification (i.e., "conformed to the image of His Son"), v. 29 - freed from the power of sin (Christlike living)
3. glorification, v. 30 - freed from the presence of sin (i.e., heaven)
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:31-39
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
8:31 "What then shall we say to these things" This was a favorite phrase with Paul which reflects his diatribe form of presentation (cf. 3:5; 4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 9:14,30). This question relates to the previously given truths. It is uncertain how far back it refers. It could refer to 3:21-31 or 8:1 or 8:18. Because of the use of "therefore" in 8:1 and the context, 8:18 is probably a good guess.
▣ "If" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. Amazing, amidst all our struggles with sin, God is for us!
▣ "who is against us" The pronoun "who" is repeated in vv. 33,34,35. It refers to Satan (who is not mentioned by name until 16:20). This paragraph, from 31-39, is using the OT literary technique of the Prophets, a court case (cf. Micah 1, 6). YHWH takes His people to court for spiritual adultery. It is an allusion to Isa. 50:8-9.
Notice the legal terms: "against," v. 31; "a charge," v. 33; "justifies," v. 33; "condemns," v. 34; and "intercedes," v. 34. God is the Judge. Christ is the defense lawyer. Satan is the prosecuting attorney (but he is silent). Angels fill the court room as observers (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; Eph. 2:7; 3:10).
8:32 "He who did not spare His own Son" God the Father has given fallen mankind His best. He will not leave believers now nor give them less (cf. John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). How off target is the concept of a vindictive OT God and a loving Jesus! This ultimate gift is reflected in God's statement to Abraham in Gen. 22:12, 16. The rabbis used this OT passage to support the doctrine of substitutionary atonement for Abraham's seed.
▣ "but delivered Him over for us all" The word "all" in this text is significant. Jesus died for the sins of the world (cf. Luke 2:10-11; John 3:16; 4:42; 11:51; 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). It reflects the Adam-Christ typology of 5:12-21. Jesus' death solved the sin problem. Now it is a "believe and receive" problem.
▣ "freely give us all things" This verb is from the Greek root for grace. "All things" refers to v. 17. See note at 3:24.
8:33-34 "charge. . .justifies. . .condemns. . .intercedes" These are all legal terms. Verses 31-39 are a court scene in heaven. This may be an allusion to Isaiah 50:8-9.
8:33 "God's elect" Jesus is God's elect man for all humans (Barth). The clearest and fullest passages on this truth in the NT are Eph. 1:3-4 and Rom. 9:14-26. The Father chose Jesus to choose all mankind. Jesus is God's "yes" to fallen mankind's "no!"
8:34 This verse lists several reasons why there is "no condemnation" (cf. v. 1).
1. He died
2. He was raised
3. He is at God's right hand
4. He intercedes for believers
Jesus' death paid the penalty for our sin (cf. Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45; II Cor. 5:21). Jesus' resurrection shows the Father's acceptance of the Son's ministry and gives hope (the first fruit of those who are asleep) in the face of persecution and death. Jesus' glorification at the Father's right hand and intercession for believers gives them courage to fight the good fight of faith.
▣ "right hand of God" This is an anthropomorphic metaphor (see Special Topic at 1:18). God does not have a physical body. He is "spirit." This metaphor speaks of the place of power, authority and preeminence. Paul does not use the expression often (cf. Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1). Paul may have been quoting an early Christian creed in v. 34 (cf. Phil. 2:6ff.; 1 Tim. 3:16).
▣ "intercedes" Jesus' ministry continues. Jesus intercedes for us (cf. Heb. 4:4-16; 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1) as does the Spirit (vv. 26-27). This is from the term paraclete, which is used of the Spirit in John 14:16 and of the Son in 1 John 2:1. This is another allusion to the suffering servant song (cf. Isa. 53:12).
8:35 "the love of Christ" This is either subjective or objective genitive. This can either be (1) Christ's love for believers or (2) believers love for Christ. Number 1 fits this context best (and 2 Cor. 5:14) because believers' love for Christ comes and goes, but Christ's love for us is sure and stable.
There is a Greek manuscript variant connected with this phrase.
1. One ancient Greek text has "the love of God" (cf. MS א).
2. One ancient manuscript combines them together, "the love of God in Christ" (cf. MS B).
3. The UBS4 compilers give "the love of Christ" and "A" rating (certain). It appears in MSS C, D, F, G, and most Old Latin versions and the Vulgate and Peshitta.
▣ "shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution" Christians will have problems in this world, but neither these problems nor the evil powers can separate them from God. See SPECIAL TOPIC: TRIBULATIONs at 5:3.
8:36 This is a quote from Ps. 44:22. In this Psalm God is called on to give deliverance to His hurting people.
NASB"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer"
NKJV"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors"
NRSV"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors"
TEV"No, in all these things we have complete victory through him"
NJB"these are the trials through which we triumph"
This was an intensified form of the term "conquer." Paul must have coined this term (huper + nikaō). This is a wonderful mixed metaphor, "conquering sheep." Believers are conquerors through Christ (cf. John 16:33; 1 John 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4). See Special Topic: Paul's Use of Huper Compounds at 1:30.
▣ "through Him who loved us" This pronoun can refer to the Father or the Son.
8:38 "I am convinced" This is a perfect passive indicative, meaning "I have been and continue to be convinced."
▣ "angels" The rabbis thought that the angels were jealous of God's love and attention to mankind and, therefore, were hostile to them. The Gnostic false teachers asserted that salvation was only available by secret passwords through hostile angelic spheres or eons (cf. Colossians and Ephesians).
George Eldon Ladd has a good summary of the terms used by Paul for angels in his book A Theology of the New Testament:
"Paul refers not only to good and bad angels, to Satan and to demons; he uses another group of words to designate ranks of angelic spirits. The terminology is as follows:
'Rule' [arche], 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; Col. 2:10
'Rulers' [archai; RSV, "principalities'], Eph. 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:15; Rom. 8:38
'Authority' [exousia], 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; Col. 2:10
'Authorities' [exousiai; RSV, "authorities"], Eph. 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:15
'Power' [dynamis], 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21
'Powers' [dynameis], Rom. 8:38
'Thrones' [thronoi], Col. 1:16
'Lordship' [kyriotes; RSV, "dominion"], Eph. 1:21
'Lordships' [kyriotetes], Col. 1:16
'World rulers of this darkness,' Eph. 6:12
'The spiritual (hosts) of evil in the heavenlies,' Eph. 6:12
'The authority of darkness,' Col. 1:13
'Every name that is named,' Eph. 1:21
'Heavenly, earthly, and subterranean beings,' Phil. 2:10" (p. 401).
There is not direct biblical information about how the fallen angels of the OT relate to the demonic of the NT. Many assume they are identical. In Jewish apocalyptic literature, however, the demonic are the spirits of the Nephilim of Genesis 6, who were half angel and half human. Their bodies were destroyed in the flood, therefore, they seek embodiment! This is only speculation. The Bible does not answer all of our questions about origins. Its purpose is mankind's redemption, not their curiosity!
▣ "principalities. . .powers" This refers to (1) the evil angelic or demonic forces of this age (cf. Eph. 2:2; 6:12; 1 Cor. 15:24; Col. 1:16) or (2) possibly the impersonal structures of the fallen world (religion, government, education, medicine, etc.) that allows fallen mankind to be independent of God (cf. Hendrickus Berkhoff, Principalities and Powers). See note at 13:1.
8:39 "height, nor depth" These terms were used for the apogee and perigee of stars, that were believed to be gods who controlled human's lives (astrology). Later they became technical terms in the heresy called Gnosticism for the eons or angelic levels between the holy god and the lesser god who formed sinful matter.
▣ "any other created thing" This is literally "creature of another kind" (heteros). The context demands that this is a further reference to angelic powers. The distinction between the Greek preposition heteros, another of a different kind, and allos, another of the same kind, were becoming obsolete in Koine Greek, but this context still shows some distinction.
▣ "neither. . .nor. . .will be able to separate us from the love of God" What a tremendous statement of assurance. This chapter starts with no condemnation and ends in no separation. No one can take the believer's salvation. However, one must respond both initially (cf. 3:21-31) and continually (cf. chapters 4-8). The Spirit is the key, but there is a mandated conditional covenantal response. Repentance and faith are required (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21), as are obedience and perseverance!
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. How is chapter 8 related to chapter 7?
2. If there is no condemnation, what does sin affect in the life of the believer?
3. Does the Spirit or Jesus indwell believers (v. 9)?
4. How was nature affected by man's sin (vv. 19-22)? Will nature be a part of heaven (cf. Isa. 11:6-10)?
5. How does the Spirit pray for us (vv. 26-27)? Does this refer to "speaking in tongues?"
6. How can the Bible say all things work for good in such an evil world (v. 28)? Define "good" (v. 29).
7. Why is sanctification left out of the chain of theological events in vs. 30?
8. Why are vv. 31-39 said to be a court scene?
9. List the four things verse 34 asserts about Jesus.
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