Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Romans 8

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

Therefore now. Connecting with Romans 7:25. Being freed through Jesus Christ, there is therefore no condemnation now.

Condemnation [κατακριμα] . As ch. 5 16, sentence of condemnation. Who walk not, etc. The best texts omit to the end of the verse.

Verse 2

The law of the Spirit of life [ο νομος του πνευματος της ζωης] . The law, the regulative principle; the Spirit, the divine Spirit who inspires the law (compare Romans 7:14). Of life, proceeding from the life of Jesus and producing and imparting life. Compare John 16:15.

In Christ Jesus. Construe with hath made me free. Compare John 8:36.

Verse 3

What the law could not do [το αδυνατον του νομου] . Lit., the impossible (thing) of the law. An absolute nominative in apposition with the divine act - condemned sin. God condemned sin which condemnation was an impossible thing on the part of the law. The words stand first in the Greek order for emphasis.

In the likeness of sinful flesh. Lit., of the flesh of sin. The choice of words is especially noteworthy. Paul does not say simply, "He came in flesh" (1 John 4:2; 1 Timothy 3:16), for this would not have expressed the bond between Christ 's manhood and sin. Not in the flesh of sin, which would have represented Him as partaking of sin. Not in the likeness of flesh, since He was really and entirely human; but, in the likeness of the flesh of sin : really human, conformed in appearance to the flesh whose characteristic is sin, yet sinless. "Christ appeared in a body which was like that of other men in so far as it consisted of flesh, and was unlike in so far as the flesh was not flesh of sin" (Dickson). 42 For sin [περι αμαρτιας] . The preposition expresses the whole relation of the mission of Christ to sin. The special relation is stated in condemned. For sin - to atone, to destroy, to save and sanctify its victims.

Condemned. Deposed from its dominion, a thing impossible to the law, which could pronounce judgment and inflict penalty, but not dethrone. Christ 's holy character was a condemnation of unholiness. Construe in the flesh with condemned.

Verse 4

Righteousness [δικαιωμα] . Rev., ordinance. Primarily that which is deemed right, so as to have the force of law; hence an ordinance. Here collectively, of the moral precepts of the law : its righteous requirement. Compare Luke 1:6; Romans 2:26; Hebrews 9:1. See on ch. Romans 5:16.

The Spirit [πνευμα] . From pnew to breathe or blow. The primary conception is wind or breath. Breath being the sign and condition of life in man, it comes to signify life. In this sense, physiologically considered, it is frequent in the classics. In the psychological sense, never. In the Old Testament it is ordinarily the translation of ruach. It is also used to translate chai life, Isaiah 38:12; n'shamah breath, 1 Kings 17:17. In the New Testament it occurs in the sense of wind or breath, John 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hebrews 1:7. Closely related to the physiological sense are such passages as Luke 8:55; James 2:26; Revelation 13:15.


1. Breath, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

2. The spirit or mind of man; the inward, self - conscious principle which feels and thinks and wills (1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 1 Corinthians 7:34; Colossians 2:5).

In this sense it is distinguished from swma body, or accompanied with a personal pronoun in the genitive, as my, our, his spirit (Romans 1:9; Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Corinthians 16:18, etc.). It is used as parallel with yuch soul, and kardia heart. See 1 Corinthians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; and compare John 13:21 and John 12:27; Matthew 26:38 and Luke 1:46, Luke 1:47. But while yuch soul, is represented as the subject of life, pneuma spirit, represents the principle of life, having independent activity in all circumstances of the perceptive and emotional life, and never as the subject.

Generally, pneuma spirit, may be described as the principle, yuch soul, as the subject, and kardia heart, as the organ of life.

Romans 8:0:3The spiritual nature of Christ. Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 14:45; 1 Timothy 3:16.

Verse 5

A power or influence, the character, manifestations, or results of which are more peculiarly defined by qualifying genitives. Thus spirit of meekness, faith, power, wisdom. Romans 8:2, Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 4:13; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 1:17; 2 Timothy 1:7, etc.

These combinations with the genitives are not mere periphrases for a faculty or disposition of man. By the spirit of meekness or wisdom, for instance, is not meant merely a meek or wise spirit; but that meekness, wisdom, power, etc., are gifts of the Spirit of God. This usage is according to Old Testament analogy. Compare Exodus 28:3; Exodus 31:3; Exodus 35:31; Isaiah 11:2.

Verse 6

In the plural, used of spiritual gifts or of those who profess to be under spiritual influence, 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:12.

Verse 7

Powers or influences alien or averse from the divine Spirit, but with some qualifying word. Thus, the spirit of the world; another spirit; spirit of slumber. Romans 11:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Timothy 1:7. Where these expressions are in negative form they are framed after the analogy of the positive counterpart with which they are placed in contrast. Thus Romans 8:15 : " Ye have not received the spirit of bondage, but of adoption. In other cases, as Ephesians 2:2, where the expression is positive, the conception is shaped according to Old - Testament usage, where spirits of evil are conceived as issuing from, and dependent upon, God, so far as He permits their operation and makes them subservient to His own ends. See Jude 1:9:23; 1 Samuel 16:14-16, 1 Samuel 16:23; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Kings 22:21 sqq.; Isaiah 19:4.

Spirit is found contrasted with letter, Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6. With flesh, Romans 8:1-13; Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:24.

It is frequently associated with the idea of power (Romans 1:4; Romans 14:13, Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 2:4; Galatians 3:5; Ephesians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:7); and the verb ejnergein, denoting to work efficaciously, is used to mark its special operation (1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). It is also closely associated with life, Romans 8:2, Romans 8:6, Romans 8:11, Romans 8:13; 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 5:25; Galatians 6:8. It is the common possession of the Church and its members; not an occasional gift, but an essential element and mark of the christian life; not appearing merely or mainly in exceptional, marvelous, ecstatic demonstrations, but as the motive and mainspring of all christian action and feeling. It reveals itself in confession (1 Corinthians 12:3); in the consciousness of sonship (Romans 8:16); in the knowledge of the love of God (Romans 5:5); in the peace and joy of faith (Romans 14:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6); in hope (Romans 5:5; Romans 14:13). It leads believers (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18) : they serve in newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6) They walk after the Spirit (Romans 8:4, Romans 8:5; Galatians 5:16-25). Through the Spirit they are sanctified (2 Thessalonians 2:13). It manifests itself in the diversity of forms and operations, appearing under two main aspects : a difference of gifts, and a difference of functions. See Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 5:1, 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 4:4, Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

As compared with the Old - Testament conception, Paul 's pneuma "is the ruach of the Old Testament, conceived as manifesting itself after a manner analogous to, but transcending, its earlier forms. It bears the same characteristic marks of divine origin, of supernatural power, of motive energy in active exercise - standing in intimate relation to the fuller religious life and distinctive character and action of its recipients. But while in the Old Testament it is partial, occasional, intermittent, here it is general, constant, pervading. While in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, its forms of manifestation are diverse, they are expressly referred under the New to one and the same Spirit. While in the Old Testament they contemplate mainly the official equipment of men for special work given them to perform, they include under the New the inward energy of moral action in the individual, no less than the gifts requisite for the edification of the Church; they embrace the whole domain of the religious life in the believer, and in the community to which he belongs. The pneuma of the apostle is not the life - breath of man as originally constituted a creature of God; but it is the life - spirit of" the new creation "in which all things have become new" (Dickson).

With the relation of this word to yuch soul is bound up the complicated question whether Paul recognizes in the human personality a trichotomy, or threefold division into body, soul, and spirit. On the one side it is claimed that Paul regards man as consisting of body, the material element and physical basis of his being; soul, the principle of animal life; and spirit, the higher principle of the intellectual nature. On the other side, that spirit and soul represent different sides or functions of the one inner man; the former embracing the higher powers more especially distinctive of man, the latter the feelings and appetites. The threefold distinction is maintained chiefly on the basis of 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Compare Hebrews 4:12. Hebrews 4:43 On the distinction from yuch soul, see, further, on ch. 11 3.

Verse 13

Ye shall die [μελλετε αποθνησκειν] . The expression is stronger than the simple future of the verb. It indicates a necessary consequence. So Rev., ye must.

Mortify [θανατουτε] . Put to death.

Deeds [πραξεις] . Habitual practices. See on ch. Romans 7:15; John 3:21.

Verse 14

Sons [υιοι] . See on John 1:12; Matthew 1:1. There is an implied contrast with the Jewish idea of sonship by physical descent.

Verse 15

Spirit of bondage [πνευμα δουλειας] The Holy Spirit, as in Spirit of adoption. The Spirit which ye received was not a spirit of bondage. See ver. 4, under pneuma, 7.

Spirit of adoption [πνευμα υιοθεσιας] . The Spirit of God, producing the condition of adoption. Uioqesia adoption, is from uiJov son, and qesiv a setting or placing : the placing one in the position of a son. Mr. Merivale, illustrating Paul 's acquaintance with Roman law, says : "The process of legal adoption by which the chosen heir became entitled not only to the reversion of the property but to the civil status, to the burdens as well as the rights of the adopter - became, as it were, his other self, one with him... this too is a Roman principle, peculiar at this time to the Romans, unknown, I believe, to the Greeks, unknown, to all appearance, to the Jews, as it certainly is not found in the legislation of Moses, nor mentioned anywhere as a usage among the children of the covenant. We have but a faint conception of the force with which such an illustration would speak to one familiar with the Roman practice; how it would serve to impress upon him the assurance that the adopted son of God becomes, in a peculiar and intimate sense, one with the heavenly Father" (" Conversion of the Roman Empire ").

We cry [κραζομεν] . Of a loud cry or vociferation; expressing deep emotion.

Abba [αββα] . Compare Mark 14:36. A Syrian term, to which Paul adds the Greek Father. The repetition is probably from a liturgical formula which may have originated among the Hellenistic Jews who retained the consecrated word Abba. Some find here a hint of the union of Jew and Gentile in God. 45

Verse 16

Beareth witness with our spirit [συμμαρτυρει τω πνευματι ημων] . This rendering assumes the concurrent testimony of the human spirit with that of the divine Spirit. Others, however, prefer to render to our spirit, urging that the human spirit can give no testimony until acted upon by the Spirit of God.

Children [τεκνα] . See on John 1:12.

Verse 17

Joint - heirs. Roman law made all children, including adopted ones, equal heritors. Jewish law gave a double portion to the eldest son. The Roman law was naturally in Paul 's mind, and suits the context, where adoption is the basis of inheritance.

If so be that [ειπερ] . The conditional particle with the indicative mood assumes the fact. If so be, as is really the case.

Suffer with Him. Mere suffering does not fulfill the condition. It is suffering with Christ. Compare with Him - all things, ver. 32.

Verse 18

I reckon [λογιζομαι] . See on 1 Peter 5:12. It implies reasoning. "I judge after calculation made" (Godet). Compare Romans 3:28; 2 Corinthians 11:5; Philippians 3:13.

Verse 19

Earnest expectation [αποκαραδοκια] . Only here and Philippians 1:20. From ajpo away kara the head, dokein to watch. A watching with the head erect or outstretched. Hence a waiting in suspense. 'Apo from, implies abstraction, the attention turned from other objects. The classical student will recall the watchman in the opening of Aeschylus' "Agamemnon," awaiting the beacon which is to announce the capture of Troy.

Creature [κτισεως] . The word may signify either the creative act (as Romans 1:20), or the thing created (Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 4:13). See on 1 Peter 2:13. Here in the latter sense. The interpretations vary : 1. The whole unredeemed creation, rational and irrational. 2. All creation, except humanity. The point of difference is the inclusion or exclusion of humanity. The second explanation is preferable, the non - rational creation viewed collectively, animate and inanimate. Equivalent to all nature.

Waiteth [απεκδεχεται] . Only in Paul and Hebrews 9:28. The whole passage, with the expressions waiting, sighing, hoping, bondage, is poetical and prophetic. Compare Psalms 19:2; Isaiah 11:6; Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 55:12; Isaiah 65:17; Ezekiel 31:15; Ezekiel 37:0.; Habakkuk 2:11.

Verse 20

Vanity [ματαιοτητι] . Only here, Ephesians 4:17; 2 Peter 2:18. Compare the kindred verb became vain (Romans 1:21 note), and the adjective vain (1 Corinthians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:18). Vain is also used to render kenov (1 Corinthians 14:14, 1 Corinthians 14:58; Ephesians 5:6; James 2:20). Kenov signifies empty; mataiov idle, resultless. Kenov, used of persons, implies not merely the absence of good, but the presence of evil. So James 2:20. The Greek proverb runs. "The empty think empty things." Mataiov expresses aimlessness. All which has not God for the true end of its being is mataiov. Pindar describes the vain man as one who hunts bootless things with fruitless hopes. Plato (" Laws, "735) of labor to no purpose. Ezekiel 13:6," prophesying vain things [ματαια] , " things which God will not bring to pass. Compare Titus 3:9. Here, therefore, the reference is to a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends.

By reason of Him who hath subjected [δια τον υποταξαντα] . God, not Adam nor Satan. Paul does not use the grammatical form which would express the direct agency of God, by Him who hath subjected, but that which makes God 's will the occasion rather than the worker - on account of Him. Adam 's sin and not God 's will was the direct and special cause of the subjection to vanity. The supreme will of God is thus removed "to a wider distance from corruption and vanity" (Alford).

Verse 21

In hope because [επ ελπιδι οτι] , The best texts transfer these words from the preceding verse, and construe with was made subject, rendering oti that instead of because. "The creation was subjected in the hope that," etc. In hope is literally on hope, as a foundation. The hope is that of the subjected, not of the subjector. Nature "possesses in the feeling of her unmerited suffering, a sort of presentiment of her future deliverance" (Godet). Some adopt a very suggestive connection of in hope with waiteth for the manifestation.

Glorious liberty [ελευθεριαν της δοξης] . Better, and more literally, as Rev., liberty of the glory. Liberty is one of the elements of the glorious state and is dependent upon it. The glory is that in ver. 18. The Greek student will note the accumulation of genitives, giving solemnity to the passage.

Verse 22

For. Introducing the proof of the hope, not of the bondage. Groaneth - travaileth together [συστεναζει - συνωδινει] . Both only here in the New Testament. The simple verb wjdinw to travail, occurs Galatians 4:19, Galatians 4:27; Revelation 12:2; and the kindred noun wjdin birth - pang, in Matthew and Mark, Acts, and 1 Thessalonians 5:3. See on Mark 13:9; Acts 2:24. Together refers to the common longing of all the elements of the creation, not to its longing in common with God 's children. "Nature, with its melancholy charm, resembles a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears" (Schelling, cited by Godet).

Verse 24

By hope [τη ελπιδι] . Better in hope. We are saved by faith. See on 1 Peter 1:3.

Hope - not hope. Here the word is used of the object of hope. See Colossians 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:1; Hebrews 6:18.

Verse 26

Helpeth [συναντιλαμβανεται] . Only here and Luke 10:40, on which see note. "Lambanetai taketh. Precisely the same verb in precisely the same phrase, which is translated 'took our infirmities '," Matthew 8:17 (Bushnell).

As we ought [καθο δει] . Not with reference to the form of prayer, but to the circumstances : in proportion to the need. Compare 2 Corinthians 8:12; 1 Peter 4:13.

Maketh intercession for [υπερεντυγχανει] . Only here in the New Testament. The verb ejntugcanw means to light upon or fall in with; to go to meet for consultation, conversation, or supplication. So Acts 25:24, "dealt with," Rev., "made suit." Compare Romans 8:34; Romans 11:2; Hebrews 7:25.

Which cannot be uttered [αλαλητοις] . This may mean either unutterable or unuttered..

Verse 28

Work together [συνεργει] . Or, are working together, now, while the creation is in travail. Together refers to the common working of all the elements included in panta all things.

For good. Jacob cried, all these things are against me. Paul, all things are working together for good.

Verse 29

Did foreknow [προεγνω] . Five times in the New Testament. In all cases it means foreknow. Acts 26:5; 1 Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:17; Romans 11:2. It does not mean foreordain. It signifies prescience, not preelection. "It is God 's being aware in His plan, by means of which, before the subjects are destined by Him to salvation, He knows whom He has to destine thereto" (Meyer). 46 It is to be remarked :

1. That proegnw foreknew is used by the apostle as distinct and different from predestinated [προωρισεν] .

2. That, strictly speaking, it is coordinate with foreordained. "In God is no before." All the past, present, and future are simultaneously present to Him. In presenting the two phases, the operation of God 's knowledge and of His decretory will, the succession of time is introduced, not as metaphysically true, but in concession to human limitations of thought. Hence the coordinating force of kai also.

3. That a predetermination of God is clearly stated as accompanying or (humanly speaking) succeeding, and grounded upon the foreknowledge.

4. That this predetermination is to the end of conformity to the image of the Son of God, and that this is the vital point of the passage.

5. That, therefore, the relation between foreknowledge and predestination is incidental, and is not contemplated as a special point of discussion. God 's foreknowledge and His decree are alike aimed at holy character and final salvation.

"O thou predestination, how remote Thy root is from the aspect of all those Who the First Cause do not behold entire! And you, O mortals ! hold yourselves restrained In judging; for ourselves, who look on God, We do not known as yet all the elect; And sweet to us is such a deprivation, Because our good in this good is made perfect, That whatsoe'er God wills, we also will" DANTE, "Paradiso," 20, 130 - 138.

To be conformed [συμμορφους] . With an inner and essential conformity. See on transfigured, Matthew 17:2.

To the image [της εικονος] . See on ch. Romans 1:23. In all respects, sufferings and moral character no less than glory. Compare vers. 18, 28, 31, and see Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 14:49; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:3. "There is another kind of life of which science as yet has taken little cognizance. It obeys the same laws. It builds up an organism into its own form. It is the Christ - life. As the bird - life builds up a bird, the image of itself, so the Christ - life builds up a Christ, the image of Himself, in the inward nature of man.... According to the great law of conformity to type, this fashioning takes a specific form. It is that of the Artist who fashions. And all through life this wonderful, mystical, glorious, yet perfectly definite process goes on 'until Christ be formed' in it" (Drummond, " Natural Law in the Spiritual World ").

First - born [πρωτοτοκον] . See on Revelation 1:5. Compare Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:18, note.

Verse 32

Spared [εφεισατο] . Mostly in Paul. Elsewhere only Acts 20:29; 2 Peter 2:4, 2 Peter 2:5. Compare Genesis 22:16, which Paul may have had in mind. His own [ιδιου] . See on Acts 1:7; 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:20.

With Him. Not merely in addition to Him, but all gifts of God are to be received, held, and enjoyed in communion with Christ.

Freely give. In contrast with spared.

Verse 33

Shall lay - to the charge [εγκαλεσει] . Only here by Paul. Frequent in Acts. See Rom 19:38, 40; Rom 23:28, 29; Rom 26:2, 7. Lit., "to call something in one." Hence call to account; bring a charge against.

The following clauses are differently arranged by expositors. I prefer the succession of four interrogatives : Who shall lay? etc. Is it God ? etc. Who is He that condemneth? Is it Christ ? etc. 47

Verse 34

Rather [μαλλον] . "Our faith should rest on Christ 's death. but it should rather also so far progress as to lean on His resurrection, dominion, and second coming" (Bengel). "From the representations of the dead Christ the early believers shrank as from an impiety. To them He was the living, not the dead Christ - the triumphant, the glorified, the infinite, - not the agonized Christ in that one brief hour and power of darkness which was but the spasm of an eternal glorification" (Farrar, "Lives of the Fathers," 1. 14).

Verse 37

We are more than conquerors [υπερνικωμεν] . A victory which is more than a victory. "A holy arrogance of victory in the might of Christ" (Meyer).

Verse 38

Powers [αρχαι] . Angelic, higher than mere angels.

Things present [ενεστωτα] . Only in Paul and Hebrews 9:9. The verb literally means to stand in sight. Hence to impend or threaten. So 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:1; 1 Corinthians 7:26. Used of something that has set in or begun. So some render here. 48 Bengel says : "Things past are not mentioned, not even sins, for they have passed away." ===Romans 9:0


Luther says : "Who hath not known passion, cross, and travail of death, cannot treat of foreknowledge (election of grace) without injury and inward enmity toward God. Wherefore take heed that thou drink not wine while thou art yet a sucking babe. Each several doctrine hath its own reason and measure and age."

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 8". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/romans-8.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile