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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Romans 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-39


The New Life in Cheist in relation to God and the Spirit

It was shown in Romans 5:12. that condemnation for the guilt of sin is done away by justification through faith in Christ. The question as to the power of sin then arose, answered by the doctrine of sanctification in Romans 6-8. In Romans 6 it is asserted that the union of the Christian with Christ is a new condition, which involves death with Him to sin and resurrection to newness of life. In Romans 7 it is made clear that there is no force in the Law to break the power of sin. Now, in Romans 8, St. Paul brings forward the truth of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which accompanies union with Christ, conquering sin and death in the Christian (Romans 8:1-11), and bearing witness that he is child and heir of God (Romans 8:12-17). Hence the Christian has such hope of glory that he can bear his sufferings (Romans 8:18-25), in which the Spirit helps him by intercession (Romans 8:26-27), and which are bringing about God's purpose of good (Romans 8:28-30). In the security of that purpose he triumphs (Romans 8:31-39).

1-11. The Christian is sanctified as well as justified. In Christ he receives the Spirit, who frees him from the power of sin and of death (Romans 8:1-2). The object of the death of Christ was not only to win pardon for man, but also to produce right character and conduct (Romans 8:3-4). This is essential, and is brought about by the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:5-9). The change means life, of spirit now and of body hereafter (Romans 8:10-11).

Paraphrase. '(1) The deliverance spoken of (cp. Romans 7:25) for those who are united to Christ (2) is brought about by the power of the life-giving Spirit, whom they received by union with Christ, which freed them from the power of sin and death. (3) The Law could not overcome sin, because man's fleshly nature could not respond to its demands. But God, by the incarnation and atonement of His Son, sealed the death-warrant of sin in the flesh, (4) with the object of producing in us that character and conduct which the Law requires, by enabling us to live by the rule of the renewed spiritual nature. (5) There are two states of life, the difference between which is wide. According as the fleshly or the spiritual nature is the ruling power, so are men engrossed either with fleshly or with spiritual things; (6) either they are in a state of separation from God, which ends in death both of soul and body, or they have joyful communion with God and a happy sense of reconciliation with Him. (7) Death must be the portion of the mind set on fleshly things, because such a mind is in a state of hostility to God, being rebellious against His Law. (8) They, therefore over whom the fleshly nature rules cannot be acceptable to God. (9) But you, who are in Christ, are not so. Not the fleshly, but the spiritual nature rules over you, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. And unless you have Him you are not Christ's, for it is by the Spirit that Christ comes to you. (10) But if Christ does dwell in you, although your body must die because of the curse of sin, your spirit has already risen into new life because you are accepted in Christ. (11) And the Spirit within you is a pledge that God will cause your bodies also to participate in Christ's Resurrection.'

1. Who walk, etc.] RV omits: probably borrowed from Romans 8:4.

2. Law of sin, etc.] cp. Romans 7:23, Romans 7:24.

3. Likeness of, etc.] Christ took real 'flesh,' i.e. human nature, cp. John 1:14, but without its sinfulness, cp. Hebrews 4:15. For sin] RV 'as an offering for sin.' Condemned sin in the flesh] (1) Christ proved, by a sinless human life, that sin is not necessary to human nature;(2) Christ made expiation for sin on our behalf;(3) Christ made it possible for us to die with Him to sin and rise with Him to newness of life, by union in love with Him, and by the power of the Spirit.

4. Righteousness] RV 'ordinance.'

5. Things of the flesh] i.e. things merely human: cp. Matthew 16:23 merely earthly: cp. Mark 4:19; Philippians 3:19 or absolutely sinful: cp. Galatians 5:19.

6. To be carnally minded.. spiritually minded] RV 'the mind of the flesh.. the mind of the spirit.'

7. Carnal mind] RV 'mind of the flesh.'

8. In the flesh] cp. Romans 7:5. Please God] cp. Malachi 3:4.

9. Dwell] cp. John 14:17. Spirit of Christ] The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, because He comes from the Son as well as from the Father. Also His Presence is in effect the Presence of Christ: cp. Romans 8:10 John 14:16.; Galatians 4:6.

12-17. Let us live in accordance with the high position which the Spirit testifies is ours, namely, that we are God's sons and heirs with Christ of glory.

Paraphrase. '(12) Such a destiny involves the duty (13) of putting to death the impulses of the fleshly nature, by submitting yourself to your renewed spiritual nature. If you do so, you will live eternally, (14) an amazing destiny, but yours as sons of God. For you are shown to be sons of God by your following the guidance of God's Spirit, (15) and by the testimony of your own spirits, which, when you became Christians, no longer regarded God with the slavish fear the Law produced, but received such a consciousness of sonship that the prayer of our hearts is “our Father.” (16) And this consciousness is caused by the Holy Spirit Himself, who thus unites with our own spirits in bearing witness that we are children of God. (17) Well, then, if we are God's children, we are heirs of His glory, and shall share it with Christ hereafter if we share in Christ's sufferings now.'

13. Shall die] RV 'must die,' i.e. spiritually.

Deeds of the body] i.e. so far as the body is not under the dominion of the spirit.

14. Sons] cp. Romans 8:16, 'children.' 'Children' denotes 'community of nature,' 'sons' denotes 'dignity of heirship' (Westcott): cp. John 1:12; Galatians 3:24.; Galatians 4:1.; The privilege of sonship must be appropriated by faithful obedience to become actual.

15. Adoption] cp. Galatians 4:5, Galatians 4:6. Abba, Father] cp. Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6. 'Abba' is an Aramaic word, meaning 'Father.' Probably Christ used it in the Lord's Prayer, and perhaps it came to be used as a divine name, 'Father Abba.'

17. Heirs] Under Roman law, 'a will that left the property away from the children was invalid' (Ramsay). If so be, etc.] cp. 2 Timothy 2:11., and Mark 8:34. Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 4:13. Christ is 'the Way'; the main features of His life must be reproduced in the lives of His people.

18-25. The glory to come will far outweigh the sufferings we must bear now. All creation is moving on through the mystery of pain to full redemption, our hope of which is so sure that we can wait in patience.

Paraphrase. '(18) I said we must suffer with Christ. Suffering belongs to this passing season, but it is not worth a thought in view of the coming glory (19) in which the sons of God will stand revealed. Even nature, animate and inanimate, eagerly expects that blessed future. (20) Although God subjected her to imperfection and decay, to further His purposes, it was not to be for ever. He gave her a sure hope (21) of future deliverance from the law of decay, and of sharing the freedom from all evil which God's children will have in glory. (22.) She groans, indeed, but in the birth-throes of a better order of things. (23) And even we Christians, though we have the Spirit as a foretaste of blessedness, groan under the weakness and imperfections of our bodies; but we await the full dignity of our sonship, when our bodies shall be delivered from death. (24) When we became Christ's we looked to the future for perfect happiness; we cannot expect to have it now. (25) But we have certain hope of it, and, therefore, wait and endure.'

18. In us] RV 'to usward.' 19, 20, 21. Creature] RV 'creation,' i.e. the irrational creation: cp. Genesis 3:17. St. Paul represents nature poetically, as feeling that dissatisfaction with its pain and failure which exists in man's mind. There was a general expectation among the Jews, based on such passages as Isaiah 65:17. that the Messianic times would usher in a renovation of nature. This expectation is taken up in the NT.: cp. Acts 3:19.; Colossians 1:20; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1. In what way it will be fulfilled is beyond our knowledge.

19. Manifestation] RV 'revealing': cp. 1 Corinthians 15:51.; 1 Thessalonians 4:16.;

20. Vanity] i.e. transitoriness, frustration: cp. Sirach 11:2. Him] i.e. God: cp. Genesis 3:17;

20, 21. Hath subjected, etc.] RV 'subjected it, in hope that the creation,' etc.

21. Glorious liberty] RV 'liberty of the glory.'

23. Firstfruits] cp. Leviticus 23:10; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13. Groan] cp. 2 Corinthians 5:2.;

24. We are saved] RV 'by hope were we saved'; better, 'in hope,' etc.: see on Romans 1:16. Hope that is seen] here 'hope' means that which is hoped for.

For what, etc.] RV 'for who hopeth for that which he seeth?'

25. Patience] i.e. patient endurance.

26-30. While the Christian endures his sufferings in hope, the Spirit within is praying for him, better than he can pray himself (Romans 8:26-27). Meanwhile he knows that his sufferings are helping to bring about that great and good purpose, in fulfilment of which God has brought him into a state of salvation (Romans 8:28-30).

Paraphrase. '(26) Thus we both groan and hope. We cannot pray definitely for the removal of our sufferings, because we do not know what is best. But the Spirit prays within us in inexpressible longings, (27) which God understands, and which are (as our words might not be) in accordance with His will. (28) And this we do know, that all things, even our sufferings, are helping to fulfil a plan by which God is bringing about good to them that love Him. We know this, because it was in pursuance of His purpose that He called them to become Christians; (29) and the whole course of their salvation is due to His purpose; by which in eternity He regarded them with favour, and appointed them to attain to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the eldest in a glorious family, (30) then, called them to be His, accepted them as righteous, and brought them to glory.'

26. Infirmities] RV 'infirmity,' i.e. 'our ignorance in asking.' What.. for] RV 'how we should pray': cp. Philippians 1:22.; Itself] RV 'himself'; spoken of as a Person and distinct from the Father.

27. Because] RM 'that.' Saints] i.e. God's people: see on Romans 1:7.

28. Called] see on Romans 1:6. According to his purpose] cp. Romans 9:11.

St. Paul does not say that Gods purpose is to save some and reject others, but 'that he might have mercy upon all' (Romans 11:32). In pursuance of this purpose first the Jews, and then Christians, specially Gentile Christians, were called to hold and spread the divine knowledge. Among those who had been called were those to whom the Epistle was addressed. St. Paul encourages them in their trials by the thought that God would not forsake those who had been so called by Him, and that, as to His favour, they were safe. On the other hand, he does not say that they could not rebel against God or forsake Him. On the contrary, he warns them against such presumptuous thoughts (Romans 11:20.).

29. Foreknow] For paraphrase cp. Psalms 1:6; Amos 3:2; Matthew 7:23. Did predestinate] RV 'foreordained': cp. Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11.

Conformed] i.e. in essential type: cp. Philippians 2:6; Image] cp. 1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2. Brethren] cp. Hebrews 2:10.

30. Did predestinate] RV 'foreordained.'

Glorified] That which to us is future, is already complete in God's mind: cp. Ephesians 2:4.

31-39. Since the Christian is the object of the divine love and work spoken of in the last section, he need fear no evil.

Paraphrase. '(31) We may, therefore, face the future triumphantly, for God is on our side, (32) and the love which sacrificed His own Son will withhold from us nothing. (33) God's chosen need fear no accuser. Since He has acquitted, (34) none can condemn them. Since Christ, in His death and life and glory, has proved His love for them, (35) neither suffering nor death can part us from that love. (36) Even though we be martyred, like the faithful few of old, (37) His love will make martyrdom a surpassing victory. (38, 39) In short, no power in the universe will be able to part us from the divine love Christ has for us.'

32. Spared] allusion to Genesis 22:16, where LXX has the same word.

33. Elect] i.e. chosen, practically = 'called.' It is God] cp. Isaiah 50:8.

34. Intercession] cp. Hebrews 7:25; 1 Timothy 2:1.

36. Quotation from Psalms 44:22.

38. Principalities, powers] Jewish titles of angels, here evil angels: cp. Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 3:22

39. In Christ] Christ's love is a manifestation of God's love.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Romans 8:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/romans-8.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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