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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Romans 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Romans 8:1. There is, &c. — As a further answer to the objection mentioned Romans 3:31, that the doctrine of justification by faith made void the law, the apostle here proceeds, with great feeling and energy, to display the many powerful motives which that doctrine, as explained in the preceding chapters, suggests, for engaging both the understanding and the affections of believers to a continued pursuit of holiness. The first motive which he mentions is that contained in this verse, that now, under the new dispensation of the covenant of grace, namely, that of the Messiah, there is no condemnation to true believers, who walk as he here describes, although they may not observe the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. “This greatest of all considerations the apostle begins with, after having pathetically described the terror of the awakened sinner arising from his consciousness of guilt, because if mercy were not with God, he could neither be loved nor obeyed by men.” There is therefore now — In respect of all that has been advanced, since things are as has been shown; no condemnation — From God, either for things present or past. He now comes to speak of deliverance and liberty, in opposition to the state of guilt and bondage described in the latter part of the preceding chapter; resuming the thread of his discourse, which was interrupted, Romans 7:7. To them which are in Christ Jesus — Who are united to Christ by a lively faith in him, and in the truths and promises of his gospel, and so are made members of his mystical body. “The phrase, to be in Christ, saith Le Clerc, is often used by Paul for being a Christian; which observation he borrowed from Castalio, who renders it, Christiani facti; [being made Christians;] but if either of them mean only Christians by profession, or by being only members of the Christian Church, this will by no means agree with this place, or any other of like nature; since freedom from condemnation, and other benefits conferred upon us through Christ, will not follow our being Christians in this sense, but only upon a lively faith in Christ, our union to him by the Spirit, and our being so in him, as to become new creatures, according to Romans 8:9 : If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his; to 2 Corinthians 5:17, If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; and to Galatians 5:24, They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” — Whitby. Who walk not after the flesh — Who are not governed, as to their dispositions and actions, by those appetites which have their seat in the flesh, or by worldly views and interests, or by the dictates and motions of the natural corruption, which in some degree may yet remain in them: but after the Spirit — Namely, the Spirit of God; that is, who are not only habitually governed by reason and conscience, enlightened and renewed by God’s Spirit, but who follow the drawings, exercise the graces, and bring forth the fruits of that Spirit, Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:22-23 : where see the notes.


Verse 2

Romans 8:2. For the law of the Spirit of life — That is, the doctrine of divine grace in the gospel, accompanied with the quickening, commanding influence of the Holy Spirit, hath made me free from the law of sin and death — That is, not only from the Mosaic dispensation, which, if relied on for justification, left men under the guilt and power of sin, and condemned them to the second death; but also and especially from the law, or constraining power of sin itself, which is attended with spiritual death, and, if not removed, brings men to death eternal. In other words, “The Spirit of Christ, giving me a new life, is now another law, or rule of my actions, freeing me from the motions and power of sin, to which I was subject while under the [Mosaic] law, and from the death to which that law subjected me; or, the gospel, attended with the Spirit, hath wrought this freedom in me.” So Whitby. The gospel, or covenant of grace, may be fitly termed the law of the Spirit, or a spiritual law; and that not only as it reaches to the spirit of man, but is such a law as gives spiritual life, or is the ministration of the Spirit, and of life, 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:8; being accompanied with a divine power, which communicates spiritual life to the soul here, and prepares it for eternal life hereafter. It is observable, that the person who speaks in the foregoing chapter is introduced here as continuing the discourse, and showing the method in which his deliverance from the body of sin and death, mentioned Romans 7:25, was accomplished. And what is affirmed concerning him, is intended of other believers also. Here, therefore, we have a second motive to holiness, namely, that under the new covenant sufficient assistance being given to all who in faith and prayer apply for it, to free them from the law of sin and death, they cannot excuse their sins by pleading the strength of their sinful passions, or the depravity of their nature.


Verse 3-4

Romans 8:3-4. For what the law could not do το γαρ αδυνατον του νομου, what was impossible to the Mosaic law, whether moral or ceremonial; that is, that freedom from the guilt and power of sin, and from spiritual and eternal death, which it could not minister; in that it was weak through the flesh — Through the depravity and infirmity of our fallen nature, which it was incapable of remedying or conquering. “The law was not weak or defective in itself. Its moral precepts were a perfect rule of duty, and its sanctions were sufficiently powerful to enforce obedience in those who were able to obey. But it was weak through the depravity of men’s nature, which it had neither power to remedy nor to pardon; and so could not destroy sin in men’s flesh. These defects of law are all remedied in the gospel; wherein pardon is promised to encourage the sinner to repent, and the assistance of the Spirit of God is offered, to enable him to believe and obey.” — Macknight. Accordingly it follows, God, — (Supply δυνατον εποιησε, hath made feasible, or hath done, namely, what the law could not do;) sending his own Son ιδιον υιον, his proper Son, his Son in a sense in which no creature is or can be his son; in the likeness of sinful flesh — Christ’s flesh was as real as ours, but it was like sinful flesh, in being exposed to pain, misery, and death: and for sin — The expression, περι αμαρτιας, here rendered, for sin, appears, from Hebrews 10:18, to be an elliptical phrase for προσφορα περι αμαρτιας, an offering for sin. The Son of God was sent in the likeness, both of sinful flesh, and of a sin-offering. He was like the old sin-offerings in this, that whereas they sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, he, by making a real atonement for sin, sanctifieth to the purifying of the spirit. Condemned sin in the flesh — That Isaiah , 1 st, Manifested its infinite evil, by enduring extreme sufferings, to render the pardon of it consistent with the justice and holiness of God, and the authority of his law. 2d, Gave sentence that its guilt should be cancelled, its power destroyed, and believers wholly delivered from it. And, 3d, Procured for them that deliverance. The sins of men, being imputed to, or laid on Christ, Isaiah 53:6, by his free consent, (he being our surety,) were condemned and punished in his flesh; and no such remarkable condemnation of sin was ever effected before, or will be again, unless in the condemnation of the finally impenitent to everlasting misery. But the apostle here seems rather to speak of the condemnation of sin, not in the flesh which Christ assumed for us, but in our persons, or in us while we are in the flesh. Now in this sense, it must be acknowledged, it was condemned in some measure under the law, as well as under the gospel; “for under the law there were many pious and holy men; but sin was condemned in their flesh, not by any power inherent in, or derived from, the law: their sanctification came from the grace of the gospel, preached to them in the covenant with Abraham, Galatians 3:8, darkly set forth in the types of the law.” That the righteousness of the law — The holiness it requires, described Romans 8:5-11, might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit — Who are guided in our intentions and affections, words and actions, not by our animal appetites and passions, or by corrupt nature, but by the Word and Spirit of God. Love to God and man is the principal thing enjoined in the moral law, and is accounted by God the fulfilling of that law, Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8. It must be observed, however, that “the righteousness of the law to be fulfilled in us, through the condemnation of sin in the flesh, and through our not walking according to the flesh, is not perfect obedience to [the moral law, or] any law whatever; [except that of faith and love;] for that is not attainable in the present life: but it is such a degree of faith and holiness, as believers may attain through the influence of the Spirit. And being the righteousness required in the gracious new covenant, made with mankind after the fall, and fully published in the gospel, that covenant, and the gospel in which it is published, are fitly called the law of faith, Romans 3:27; and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:2; and the law of Christ, Galatians 6:2; and the law of liberty, James 1:25; and the law foretold to go forth out of Zion, Isaiah 2:3; and the law for which the isles, or Gentiles, were to wait, Isaiah 42:4.” — Macknight. From this place Paul describes primarily the state of believers, and that of unbelievers, only to illustrate this.


Verses 5-7

Romans 8:5-7. For — Or rather, now; they that are after the flesh — The apostle having, Romans 8:1, described those to whom there is no condemnation, as persons who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, to prevent all mistakes in such an important point, here informs us what he means by walking after the flesh, and after the Spirit. The former, he says, is to mind the things of the flesh; that is, as the word φρονεω signifies, to esteem, desire, and delight in them; namely, the things that please and gratify our senses and animal appetites and passions, or our corrupt nature, namely, things visible and temporal; the things of the earth, such as pleasure, (of sense or imagination,) the praise of men, or the riches of this world, — to set our thoughts and affections upon them. But they who are after the Spirit — The persons intended by that expression; mind — Think on, relish, love; the things of the Spirit — Things invisible and eternal; the things which the Spirit hath revealed, or which he works in us, moves us to, and promises to give us. For — Or rather, now, as the particle γαρ should be rendered; to be carnally minded is death. The original expression, το φρονημα σαρκος, is literally, the minding of the flesh, the preferring and pursuing its interests; is death — A sure mark of spiritual death, and the way to death everlasting. “My whole employment,” said even a heathen, (Socrates,) who yet was not fully assured of a future and everlasting life, “is to persuade the young and old against too much love for the body, for riches, and all other precarious things, of whatsoever nature they be; and against too little regard for the soul, which ought to be the object of their affections.” But to be spiritually minded φρονημα πνευματος, the minding the Spirit, that is, the setting our thoughts and affections on spiritual things; is life and peace — A sure mark of spiritual life, and the way to life everlasting; and attended with peace, namely, peace with God; opposite to the enmity mentioned in the next verse; and the peace of God, which is the foretaste of life everlasting. In this verse, therefore, the apostle sets before us life and death, blessing and cursing; and thereby furnishes us with a third motive to holiness: all who live after the flesh shall die eternally, but all that live in a holy, spiritual manner shall obtain eternal life. Reader, to which of these art thou in the way? Because, &c. — Here the apostle assigns the reason of the doctrine contained in the foregoing verse; the carnal mind — As above described; is enmity against God — Against his holiness, his justice, his truth, his power and providence, his omniscience, his omnipresence, and indeed against all his attributes, and even against his existence. For the carnal mind would wish that God had not the perfections which he possesses; that he were not present in all places, acquainted with all things; so holy as to hate sin, so just as to be determined to punish it; so mighty as to be able to do it, and so true as certainly to fulfil his threatenings, as well as his promises; and, in fact, that there were no such Being. For it is not subject to the law of God — To the moral law in general; not even to the first and great commandment of it, which indeed comprehends all the commands of the first table, namely, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.; that is, Thou shalt be spiritually minded; shalt set thy affections on God, and things divine and heavenly; a law this, to which those who are carnally minded, and continue so, in the nature of things neither are nor can be subject.


Verse 8

Romans 8:8. So then, &c. — The inference to be drawn from the principles just laid down, is, they that are in the flesh — In the sense explained in the preceding verses, and especially Romans 7:5, where see the notes; they who are under the government of the flesh, of their animal appetites and passions, or of their corrupt nature; they who are carnally minded; cannot please God — Namely, while they continue so, or, till they be justified and regenerated. He means, they are not in a state of acceptance with God; nor do their ways, their tempers, words, and works, please him, whatever ceremonial precepts they may observe. An important and alarming declaration this, which it concerns all the professors of Christianity maturely to consider and lay to heart; and particularly those who content themselves with a form of godliness, without the power; with an attendance on outward ordinances, and the use of the external means of grace, and give themselves no concern either about the remission of their past sins, or the renovation of their sinful nature; but remain earthly and sensual in their desires, cares, and pursuits, or carnally minded, which is death.


Verse 9

Romans 8:9. But ye — Who are vitally united to Christ, who are in him, by living faith, and new creatures; are not in the flesh — Not in your unpardoned, unrenewed state, not carnally minded; but in the Spirit — Under his government, and spiritually minded, and therefore are accepted of God, and approved of by him; if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you — For wherever he dwells, he reigns, regenerates the soul, and makes it truly holy. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ — Thus residing in him, and governing him, whatever he may pretend; he is none of his — Not a disciple or member of Christ; not a Christian; not in a state of salvation. A plain, express declaration, which admits of no exception. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.


Verse 10-11

Romans 8:10-11. And if Christ be in you — Namely, by his Spirit dwelling in you: where the Spirit of Christ is, there is Christ: the body is dead το μεν σωμα νεκρον, the body indeed is dead, devoted to death; for our belonging to Christ, or having Christ in us, does not exempt the body from undergoing the sentence of death passed on all mankind; because of sin — Heretofore committed; especially the sin of Adam, by which death entered into the world, and the sinful nature derived from him; but the Spirit is life — The soul is quickened and made alive to God; and shall, after the death of the body, continue living, active, and happy; because of righteousness — Now attained through the second Adam, the Lord our righteousness. But — Rather, and, for the apostle proceeds to speak of a further blessing; as if he had said, If you have Christ in you, not only shall your souls live after the death of the body in felicity and glory, but your bodies also shall rise to share therein; for we have this further joyful hope, that if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus — Our great covenant head; from the dead, dwell in you; he — God the Father; that raised up Christ from the dead — The first-fruits of them that sleep; shall also quicken your mortal bodies — Though corrupted and consumed in the grave; by his Spirit — Or on account of his Spirit; which dwelleth in you — And now communicates divine life to your souls, and creates them anew.


Verse 12-13

Romans 8:12-13. Therefore, brethren — As if he had said, Since we have received such benefits, and expect still more and greater, we are debtors — We are under obligations; not to the flesh — Not to our animal appetites and passions; we have formerly given them more than their due, and we owe our natural corruption no service; to live after the flesh — The desires and inclinations of which we ought not to follow; but we are under an indispensable obligation to be more and more holy. Or, as Dr. Doddridge paraphrases the verse, “Since it is certain the gratifications of the flesh can do nothing for us like that which will be done at the resurrection; and since all present enjoyments are mean and worthless when compared with that; here is a most substantial argument for that mortification and sanctity which the gospel requires. And it necessarily follows that we are debtors to the Spirit, which gives us such exalted hopes, and not unto the flesh, that we should live after the dictates, desires, and appetites thereof.” “To be a debtor,” says Dr. Macknight, “is to be under a constraining obligation, Romans 1:14. The apostle’s meaning is, Since men are under the gracious dispensation of the gospel, which furnishes them with the most powerful assistances for correcting the depravity of their nature, and for performing good actions, they are under no necessity, either moral or physical, to gratify the lusts of the flesh, as they would be, if, in their present weakened state, they had no advantages but what they derived from mere law,” the law of Moses, or law of nature. “Further, we are under no obligation to live according to the flesh, as it offers no pleasures of any consequence to counterbalance the misery which God will inflict on all who live according to it.” For if ye — Though professing Christians, and even eminent for a high and distinguishing profession; live after the flesh — Be governed by your animal appetites, and corrupt nature; (see on Romans 8:4-9;) ye shall die — Shall perish by the sentence of a holy and just God, no less than if you were Jews or heathen. But if ye through the Spirit — Through his enlightening, quickening, and sanctifying influences, and the exercise of those graces which by regeneration he has implanted in your souls; do mortify — Resist, subdue, and destroy; Gr. θανατουτε, make dead; the deeds of the body — Or of the flesh, termed, Galatians 5:19, the works of the flesh: and including, not only evil actions, but those carnal affections and inclinations, whence all the corrupt deeds arise, wherein the body or flesh is concerned; ye shall live — The life of faith, love, and obedience, more abundantly here, and the life of glory hereafter. Here we have the fourth motive to holiness: the Spirit of God dwelling in believers, to enable them to mortify their corrupt passions and tempers.


Verses 14-16

Romans 8:14-16. For as many as are led, guided and governed, by the Spirit of God — As a Spirit of truth and grace, of wisdom and holiness; they are the sons of God — That is, they stand related to God, not merely as subjects to their king, or servants to their master, but as children to their father; they are unspeakably near and dear to God, being spiritually begotten of him, and partaking of his nature. See on John 1:12. For ye — Who are real Christians; have not — Since you believed on Christ with a living faith; received the spirit of bondage — A servile disposition, produced by the Spirit of God convincing you that you are in a state of guilt and wrath; again — Such as you had formerly, before your conversion; to fear — Condemnation and wrath from God, which you knew you had merited, and therefore to fear him with a servile fear, and death with a fear producing torment. But ye have received the Spirit of adoption — An assurance of your reconciliation with and filial relation to God, through the influence of the Spirit of Christ, Galatians 4:6; producing in you such confidence toward God in approaching him, as dutiful children feel toward a loving father. Whereby — By which Spirit; we — All and every believer; cry — The word, χραζομεν, denotes a vehement speaking, with desire, confidence, constancy; Abba, Father — The latter word explains the former. By using both the Syro-Chaldaic and Greek words, the apostle seems to point out the joint cry both of the Jewish and Gentile believers; who, in consequence of that assurance of God’s favour, and adoption into his family, with which their minds were filled, since they had received the gospel, felt that disposition of reverence for, confidence in, and grateful love to God, which is here properly termed the Spirit of adoption: that is, the spirit of children. We may observe here, that both the spirit of bondage to fear, or servile spirit, and the Spirit of adoption, or filial spirit, as above explained, are produced by one and the same Spirit of God, manifesting itself in various operations, according to the various circumstances of the persons; first causing them to see and feel themselves to be in bondage to the guilt and power of sin, to the world, to Satan, and obnoxious to the wrath of God; and then assuring them of their deliverance therefrom, and of their reception into the favour and family of God, as his sons and daughters. The Spirit itself αυτο το πνευμα, the self-same Spirit, whereby we cry. Abba, Father; beareth witness — Greek, συμμαρτυρει τω πνευματι ημων; witnesseth together with our spirit — Or our enlightened and renewed conscience, by his internal and gracious operation, giving us to know and feel with assurance, gratitude, and joy, that we are the children of God — By special adoption and regeneration. For it is by his influence, and his alone, that we can know the things that are freely given to us of God, namely, what they are, their nature and excellence, and that they are ours, 1 Corinthians 2:12. And hence this Spirit is said to be the seal of our sonship, and the earnest of our inheritance in our hearts, 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30. Happy they who enjoy this testimony clear and constant! Some, by the testimony spoken of in this verse, understand the extraordinary or miraculous gifts of the Spirit. These undoubtedly were a divine testimony to the mission of Christ, and the truth of the gospel; but certainly (according to our Lord’s own declaration, that many, whom he never acknowledged to be his, would say to him in the day of judgment, that they had prophesied and cast out devils in his name, &c.) they are not a satisfactory proof of the truth of any one’s grace, the reality of his conversion, or of his being a child of God. Accordingly this apostle testifies, 1 Corinthians 13:2, If a man have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and have such miracle-working faith, as to be able to remove mountains, that, with respect to real religion, he is nothing, if he have not love, namely, to God and man.


Verse 17-18

Romans 8:17-18. And if children, then heirs — Those that are really the children of God by adoption and grace, are not only under his peculiar direction, protection, and care, and shall be supplied with all things which God sees will be good for them; not only have they free liberty of access to God, and intercourse with God, as dutiful children have access to, and intercourse with, their father; but they are heirs of God — Heirs of the heavenly inheritance, and by the redemption of their bodies, being made immortal like God, they shall enjoy that inheritance. See note on 1 Peter 1:3. And joint-heirs with Christ — Entering into his joy, Matthew 25:21; sitting down on his throne, Revelation 3:21; partaking of his glory, John 17:22; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 15:49; and inheriting all things, Revelation 21:7, jointly with him who is heir of all things, Hebrews 1:2. Only it must be observed, he is heir by nature, we by grace. If so be that we suffer with him — Willingly and cheerfully for righteousness’ sake: that is, we shall enjoy these glorious and heavenly blessings, provided we be willing, not only to deny ourselves all prohibited carnal gratifications, and to govern our lives by his precepts, but also to suffer with him whatever reproach, infamy, persecution, and other injuries we may be called to undergo, in conformity to him, for the honour of God, and the testimony of a good conscience; that we may be also glorified together — With him, which we cannot be in any other way than by suffering with him: he was glorified in this way, and so must we be. Here the apostle passes to a new proposition, on which he enlarges in the following verses; opening a source of consolation to the children of God in every age, by drinking at which they may not only refresh themselves under the severest sufferings, but derive new strength to bear them with fortitude. For I reckon, &c. — Here the apostle gives the reason why he now mentions sufferings and glory. When that glory shall be revealed in us, then the sons of God will be revealed also. That the sufferings of this present time — How long continued and great soever they may be; are not worthy to be compared — Or to be set in opposition to, or contrasted with, (as the original expression, αξια τα παθηματα προς την μελλουσαν δοζαν, evidently implies,) the glory which shall be revealed in us — Which we shall then partake of, and the nature and greatness of which we shall then, and not before, fully understand. For it far exceeds our present most elevated conceptions, and can never be fully known till we see each other wear it. These privileges are a fifth motive to holiness.


Verse 19

Romans 8:19. For the earnest expectation, &c. — “This and the following verses,” says Dr. Doddridge, “have been generally, and not without reason, accounted as difficult as any part of this epistle. This difficulty has perhaps been something increased, by rendering κτισις creation in one clause, and creature in another. To explain it as chiefly referring to the brutal or inanimate creation, is insufferable; since the day of the redemption of our bodies will be attended with the conflagration which will put an end to them. The interpretation, therefore, by which Dr. Whitby and others refer it to the Gentile world, is much preferable to this. But, on the whole, I think it gives a much sublimer and nobler sense, to suppose it a bold prosopopœia, by which, on account of the calamity sin brought and continued on the whole unevangelized world, it is represented as looking out with eager expectation, for such a remedy and relief as the gospel brings; by the prevalence of which human nature would be rescued from vanity and corruption, and inferior creatures from tyranny and abuse. If this be allowed to be the meaning of these three verses, the gradation in the twenty-third will be much more intelligible than on any other scheme that I know.” The paragraph is understood in nearly, if not altogether, the same sense by Locke and Macknight, who advance divers convincing reasons to show that it is the true mode of interpretation; which accordingly is here adopted. The earnest expectation — The word αποκαραδοκια, thus rendered, as Mr. Blackwall observes, signifies the lifting of the head and the stretching of the body, as far as possible, to hear and see something very agreeable, or of great importance. It is therefore fitly used here to denote very great earnestness of desire and expectation; of the creature — That is, of mankind in general, which the word κτισις, in the language of Paul and of the New Testament, frequently signifies, and especially, says Locke, the Gentile world. See Colossians 1:23; Mark 16:15; compared with Matthew 28:19; waiteth απεκδεχεται, looketh for, as the same word is translated, Philippians 3:20); the manifestation αποκαλυψιν, revelation; of the sons of God — That happy time when God shall appear more openly to avow them, and that reproach and distress shall be rolled away, under which they are now disguised and concealed. “Though the Gentiles in particular knew nothing of the revelation of the sons of God, the apostle calls their looking for a resurrection from the dead, a looking for that revelation; because the sons of God are to be revealed, by their being raised with incorruptible and immortal bodies. Further, it is here insinuated that the pious Gentiles comforted themselves under the miseries of life, by that hope of immortality, and of the resurrection, which they entertained. At the fall, God declared his purpose of rendering the malice of the devil, in bringing death on the human species, ineffectual, and therefore gave mankind not only the hope of a future life, but of the resurrection of the body, as the apostle intimates, Romans 8:21. And that hope, preserved in the world by tradition, may have been the foundation of the earnest desire of the Gentiles here taken notice of.” — Macknight. Or rather the passage, as Doddridge observes, is to be considered as a prosopopœia, as is observed on Romans 8:19.


Verse 20-21

Romans 8:20-21. For the creature was made subject to vanity — Mankind in general, and the whole visible creation, lost their original beauty, glory, and felicity; a sad change passed on man, and his place of abode; the whole face of nature was obscured, and all creatures were subjected to vanity and wretchedness in a variety of forms. “Every thing seems perverted from its intended use: the inanimate creatures are pressed into man’s rebellion; the luminaries of the heaven give him light by which to work wickedness; the fruits of the earth are sacrificed to his luxury, intemperance, and ostentation; its bowels are ransacked for metals, from which arms are forged, for public and private murder and revenge; or to gratify his avarice, and excite him to fraud, oppression, and war. The animal tribes are subject to pain and death through man’s sin, and their sufferings are exceedingly increased by his cruelty, who, instead of a kind master, is become their inhuman butcher and tyrant. So that every thing is in an unnatural state: the good creatures of God appear evil, through man’s abuse of them; and even the enjoyment originally to be found in them is turned into vexation, bitterness, and disappointment, by his idolatrous love of them, and expectation from them.” — Scott. “Vanity,” says Macknight, “denotes mortality or corruption, Romans 8:21, and all the miseries of the present life. These the apostle expresses by vanity, in allusion to Psalms 89:47, where the psalmist, speaking of the same subject, says, Why hast thou made all men in vain? The truth is, if we consider the noble faculties with which man is endowed, and compare them with the occupations of the present life, many of which are frivolous in themselves, and in their effects of short duration, we shall be sensible that the character which Solomon has given of them is just: Vanity of vanities! all is vanity. And if so excellent a creature as man was designed for nothing but to employ the few years of this life in these low occupations, and after that to lose his existence, he would really be made in vain.” Not willingly — Mankind are not made mortal and miserable on account of their own offence, or the personal misconduct of those who are most deeply affected with it; but by him who subjected them — Namely, God; who, for the offence of the first man, adjudged them to this state of suffering and vanity, Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:29. In hope, &c. — Nevertheless, they were not by that sentence doomed always to remain subject to that vanity and misery; but a ground of hope is afforded; because, οτι, that, the creature itself — Namely, mankind especially; shall be delivered ελευθερωθησεται, shall be set free; from the bondage of corruption — From the state of vanity and misery by which they now abuse themselves, and the inferior creatures, and from the mortality, the dread of which made them subject to bondage all their lives. Into the glorious liberty of the children of God — The glorious freedom which the children of God partly enjoy, and shall enjoy more fully, when all the former things are passed away. It is certain the whole creation would be made inconceivably more happy than it is, if that blessed dispensation by which we are introduced into God’s family, and taught to do our utmost to diffuse good to all around us, were universally to prevail. But the bondage of corruption, being here opposed to the freedom of the glory (as the words ελευθεριαν της δοξης literally signify) of the children of God, must especially signify the destruction of the body by death, and the continuation of it in the grave, and of course the freedom of the glory must signify its resurrection and immortality. When this is effected, “Satan, sin, death, misery, and all wicked creatures, will be consigned to hell; and the rest of God’s creation will appear glorious, pure, beautiful, orderly, and happy; in every respect answering the end for which it was formed, and in nothing abused to contrary purposes. See Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:1-4. The sufferings of animals, though very many and grievous, yet being unfeared and transient, are doubtless overbalanced by their enjoyments; and to infer an individual resurrection of all or any of them from this passage, is surely one of the wildest reveries which ever entered into the mind of a thinking man. The happy effects produced by the gospel, when extensively successful, even in this present world, may be considered as earnests of the glorious scene of which the apostle speaks: but the general resurrection, and the state which follows, were especially, and indeed exclusively meant, for then only will the children of God be manifested as such, and be separated from all others.” — Scott.


Verse 22

Romans 8:22. For we know that the whole creation — Ever since the first apostacy of our nature from God; groaneth — Suffers a variety of miseries; and travaileth συνωδινει, literally, is in the pains of childbirth, to be delivered from the burden of the curse; until now — To this very hour, and so on to the time of deliverance. “According to some commentators, the words πασα η κτισις denote the whole creatures of God, animate and inanimate, which, as they were cursed for the sin of the first man, may, by a beautiful rhetorical figure, be represented as groaning together under that curse, and earnestly wishing to be delivered from it. Such figures indeed are not unusual in Scripture. See Psalms 96:12; Psalms 98:8. Nevertheless, Romans 8:21, where it is said that the creature itself shall be delivered, &c., into the glorious liberty of the children of God; and the antithesis, Romans 8:23, not only they, but ourselves also, show that the apostle is speaking, not of the brute and inanimate creation but of mankind, and of their earnest desire of immortality. For these reasons, and especially because (Mark 16:15) preach the gospel, παση τη κτισει, means, to every human creature, I think the same expression in this verse, and η κτισις in the preceding verses, signify mankind in general, Jews as well as Gentiles. The same expression, also, Colossians 1:23, signifies every human creature.” — Macknight.


Verse 23

Romans 8:23. And not only they — The unenlightened and unrenewed part of mankind; but we ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit — Because first-fruits signify the best things of their kind, some think that the apostles, and such as possessed the most excellent spiritual gifts, are spoken of in this passage. But as the privileges described Romans 8:24-26 equally belong to all, it seems more probable that the apostle speaks of believers in general, who had the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on them as first-fruits, or as the earnest of those greater virtues and spiritual endowments, which they shall enjoy in heaven. Even we groan within ourselves — Under many remaining imperfections, and a variety of miseries; waiting for the adoption — For the public and open display of our adoption; to wit, the redemption of our body — From dust and death to glory and immortality, when our heavenly Father shall bring us forth before the eyes of the whole world, habited and adorned as becomes his children. Persons who had been privately adopted among the Romans, were often brought forth into the forum, and there publicly owned as the sons of those who had adopted them. So at the general resurrection, when the body itself is redeemed from death, the sons of God shall be publicly owned by him in the great assembly of men and angels. Thus our Lord, Luke 20:26, terms those who shall be accounted worthy to obtain the heavenly world, the children of God, because they are the children of the resurrection; they being hereby manifestly shown to be his children. The apostle therefore had good reason to call the redemption of our body from death, the adoption. Besides, it is that by which the saints are enabled, as the children of God, to inherit the kingdom of their Father.


Verse 24-25

Romans 8:24-25. For we are saved by hope — That is, our salvation is now only in hope; we do not yet possess the full salvation; but hope that is seen is not hope — Hope here, by a usual metonymy, is put for the object of hope; and in Scripture, to see, often signifies to enjoy, and sometimes to suffer. The meaning here is, the thing hoped for, when actually enjoyed, is no longer the object of hope. But if, or since, we hope for that we see not — That is, which we do not enjoy; then do we — Naturally and usually; with patience wait for it — Especially if the object of our hope be very excellent and necessary for us, attainable by us, and assured to us in this way. Thus, if our hope of the heavenly inheritance, valuable beyond all we can express or conceive, be strong and lively, it will produce in us a patient waiting till God’s time be come to put us in possession of it, and in the mean while will render us willing to bear the intervening troubles contentedly.


Verse 26-27

Romans 8:26-27. Likewise the Spirit, &c. — Besides the hope of future felicity and glory, which our holy profession administers to us for our support and comfort amid all the difficulties of our Christian course, we have moreover this important privilege, that the Holy Spirit of God helpeth our infirmities — The word αντιλαμβανεται, here rendered helpeth, literally expresses the action of one who assists another to bear a burden, by taking hold of it on the opposite side, and bearing it with him, as persons do who assist one another in carrying heavy loads. Dr. Doddridge here interprets the clause, the Holy Spirit lendeth us his helping hand under all our burdens or infirmities. The word ασθενειαις, translated infirmities, signifies weaknesses and diseases, primarily of the body, but it is often transferred to the mind. Our understandings are weak, particularly in the things of God; our faith is weak, our desires and prayers are weak; of which last particular Ambrose interprets this expression here; an interpretation which seems to be confirmed by what follows in the text. For we know not what we should pray for — Of this Paul himself was an example, when he prayed thrice, it seems improperly, to be delivered from the thorn in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Much less are we able to pray for any thing which we see needful for us, as we ought — That is, with such sincerity, humility, desire, faith, fervency, importunity, perseverance, as ought to attend all our prayers, at least for spiritual and eternal blessings. But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us — In our hearts, even as Christ does in heaven, guiding our minds to suitable petitions, and exciting in them correspondent affections, and even inspiring us with that intense ardent of holy desire, which no words can express, but which vent themselves in unutterable groanings, the matter of which is from ourselves; but as they are excited in us by the Holy Spirit, they are therefore here ascribed to its influence. The expression, στεναγμοις αλαλητοις, however, is literally, not unutterable, but unuttered groanings. The apostle having observed, Romans 8:22, that every creature groaneth to be delivered from vanity and corruption; also having told us, Romans 8:23, that they who have the first-fruits of the Spirit groan within themselves, waiting for the redemption of the body; he now assures us, that these secret groanings and vehement desires, especially under the pressure of affliction, proceed from the influence of the Divine Spirit, and therefore are not fruitless. And he that searcheth the hearts — Wherein the Spirit dwells and intercedes; knoweth — Though man cannot utter it; what is the mind — τι το φρονημα, what is the desire, or intention, of the Spirit — Namely, of his Spirit, in thus influencing our minds, all the secret emotions and workings of which he reads and perfectly understands; for he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God — In a manner worthy of him, and acceptable to him.


Verse 28

Romans 8:28. And we know — Though we do not always know particularly what to pray for as we ought, yet this we know, that all things — Namely, that occur in the course of divine providence, such as worldly losses or gains, poverty or riches, reproach or commendation, contempt or honour, pain or ease, sickness or health, and the ten thousand changes of life; work together — Strongly and sweetly, in a variety of unthought-of and unexpected ways; for spiritual and eternal good to them — Who, being justified by faith, and having peace with God, and access into a state of favour and acceptance with him, sincerely love him, having beheld what manner of love he hath bestowed upon them, 1 John 3:1; or who have known and believed the love that he hath to them, and therefore love him who hath first loved them. “It is so plain,” says Dr. Doddridge, “from the whole context, that the apostle only speaks of providential events, and it is so evident that the universal expression all is sometimes to be taken in a limited sense, that it must argue, I fear, something worse than weakness to pretend that sin is comprehended in the apostle’s assertion.” This observation is as important as it is just: for sin, which is a real and positive evil, an evil of the worst kind, a moral evil, and an evil which is the source of all other evils, can, in itself considered, in no case whatever work for good. What may and does work for good with respect to it, is the punishment or chastisement of it, repentance for it, and the forgiveness of it. But providential dispensations, such as those just referred to, and especially those that are of an afflictive nature, may, and if received in a spirit of faith, humility, resignation, and patience, and used aright, assuredly will, work for our spiritual and eternal good. For whether they be considered, 1st, As the chastisements of our heavenly Father, by being chastised for our faults we are amended: or, 2d, As trials of our grace; being thus exercised, it is proved to be genuine, and increased. See on chap. Romans 5:4. Or, 3d, As purifying fires, they tend to purge us from our corrupt passions and lusts, as gold and silver are purified from their dross in the fire; and to cause us, who are naturally earthly, sensual, and devilish, to die to the world and sin, and become heavenly, holy, and divine. They tend, therefore, through the grace of God, without which they can do nothing, to increase our holiness and conformity to our living Head; and whatever increases these, must increase our happiness here and hereafter, especially hereafter. To which may be added, that God will as assuredly reward us in a future state for our sufferings in this life, if patiently endured, as for our labours faithfully and perseveringly performed. Hence even Plato, a heathen, could say, “Whether a righteous man be in poverty, sickness, or any other calamity, we must conclude that it will turn to his advantage, either in life or death.”

Observe, reader: these things we, true believers in Christ and his gospel, know, — but on what ground? 1st, On the ground of the divine perfections, particularly God’s infinite wisdom, power, and love, which are all engaged for the good of his people. For as these dispensations do not happen to us by chance, but by the permission or appointment of Him who numbers the hairs of our head, and without whom a sparrow falleth not to the ground, his wisdom cannot but know what is best for us, his love must have our good in view; and what his wisdom sees will be for our good, and his love designs, his power permits or appoints to happen to us. 2d, On the ground of the relations in which he stands to us; not only as our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, but as our Friend, Father, and Husband, in Christ Jesus; all which relations lay a solid foundation for our expecting good, and only good at his hand, though sometimes afflictive good. 3d, On the ground of his faithful declarations and promises, particularly this by his inspired apostle. 4th, On that of the nature of things; the providential dispensations which are painful and distressing to us, being evidently calculated to mortify our inordinate attachment to things visible and temporal, to crucify our corrupt inclinations, and raise our thoughts and affections to another and a better state of existence. 5th, On the ground of observation and experience: we have seen trials, troubles, and afflictions of various kinds, to have a good effect upon others, and if we be the true disciples of Jesus, we have proved their salutary influence upon our own souls.

To them who are, οι κλητοι, the called according to his purpose — Or determination, of bestowing the title and privileges of sons on all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who turn to him in true repentance and faith, and obey him sincerely; or, as it is expressed Romans 8:29, are really conformed to the image of his Son; who indeed imitate the faith and obedience which the Son of God showed while he lived on the earth, as a man. This purpose, or determination, God made known to man in his covenant with Abraham. See on Romans 8:30. The words called and elect, or elected, frequently occur in the New Testament, and in some places one of them, as here and 1 Peter 1:2, is put for them both. But in some passages they are distinguished the one from the other, as having different meanings; as where our Lord says, Many are called, but few chosen, or elected; and 2 Peter 1:10, where that apostle exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. The meaning of both expressions is explained 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, where the Apostle Paul tells the believers at Thessalonica, that God, from the beginning, namely, of his preaching the gospel to them, had chosen them to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto, adds he, he called you by our gospel. By which words we learn, 1st, That they had been called by the gospel, namely, accompanied by divine grace, to believe the truth, and receive the sanctification of the Spirit. 2d, That in consequence of their obeying this call, and thereby making their calling sure, βεβαιαν, firm, a glorious and blessed reality, they were chosen, or elected, namely, to be God’s people, or children; a chosen generation, and a peculiar people, 1 Peter 2:9 : and now they had only to make their election sure, by being faithful unto death, in order to their obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. These, and only these, are the persons who truly love God, and therefore to whom all things work together for good. This is the sixth motive to holiness.


Verse 29

Romans 8:29. For whom he did foreknow — As truly repenting, believing, and obeying the gospel; he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son — That is, it was his foreappointment, or predetermination, will, and pleasure, that as Christ was, they should be in this world, 1 John 4:17, namely, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, Hebrews 7:26; that they should have in them the mind that was in him, and should walk as he walked. But the word προοριζω, is literally, prius definio, to define, or describe beforehand; and may be understood of God’s foretelling, by the Old Testament prophets, that the disciples of the Messiah, when he came, should resemble him, and of their describing them as persons conformed to him. Thus interpreted, the meaning of the verse will be, Whom he foreknew he also described beforehand, as being conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren — That is, the head and captain of all the adopted children of God, among whom he will for ever shine, distinguished from them all in rays of peculiar glory. Observe, reader, a conformity to Christ’s image in spirit and conduct, is the mark of all those who are foreknown, and will be glorified.


Verse 30

Romans 8:30. Moreover, whom he did predestinate — Or describe beforehand by his holy prophets, as persons who should resemble the Messiah; them, in due time, he also called — By his word and Spirit; and whom he called — When obedient to the heavenly calling, Acts 26:19; he also justified — Accounted righteous, pardoned, and accepted; and whom he justified, provided they continued in his goodness, Romans 11:2; he, in the end, glorified — The apostle does not affirm, either here or in any other part of his writings, that precisely the same number of persons are called, justified, and glorified. He does not deny that a believer may fall away and be cut off, between his special calling and his glorification, Romans 11:22. Neither does he deny that many are called who are never justified. He only affirms that this is the method whereby God leads us, step by step, toward heaven. He glorifies none whom he does not first justify, and indeed also sanctify: and he justifies none who are not first called, and obedient to the call. He glorified — The apostle speaks as one looking back from the goal, upon the race of faith, love, and obedience. Indeed grace, as it is glory begun, is both an earnest and a foretaste of eternal glory.


Verse 31-32

Romans 8:31-32. What shall we then say to these things — Related in the third, fifth, and eighth chapters, or conclude upon this review? Surely we may courageously defy all our enemies, and say, If God — Who hath all power in himself, and all the events of time and eternity under his direction; be for us — Our sure, never-failing, everlasting friend, engaged for our salvation and happiness in time and in eternity: or rather, since God is for us; for “ ει here, is not a conditional particle; for that would imply doubting. But it stands for επει, since, and is an affirmation.” As if he had said, Since God has manifested so much love to us as to call us by the gospel to repentance, faith in his Son, and new obedience; to incline and enable us to obey the call, and to justify, adopt, regenerate, and constitute us his children; who can be against us — What real hurt can the world, the devil, or all his instruments, do us by all our sufferings from them? We who were called when we were averse; justified when we were guilty; sanctified when unholy; shall, we have reason to hope, be in due time glorified, though now despised, oppressed, and persecuted. Can any or all our enemies, whether visible or invisible, with any success, oppose our enjoying the inheritance of the children of God, with the other blessings promised to the seed of Abraham? He that spared not his own Son — Greek, ιδιου υιου, his proper Son; so the expression properly signifies, being much more emphatical than αυτου, his, or his own: as it is likewise John 5:18, he said also that God was, πατερα ιδιον, his proper Father. Christ is called God’s proper Son, to distinguish him from others who are sons of God by creation, or by adoption, or by office, (in which sense magistrates are termed God’s sons,) that is, by some temporal dignity. But delivered him up — To ignominy, torture, and death; for us all — For every human creature, 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9. How shall he not with him also freely give us all things — Which he sees would promote our salvation, or be subservient to our true happiness, in time or in eternity? After having given us a gift of infinite value, because it was necessary for us, and we could not otherwise be redeemed and saved, will he deny us smaller blessings, which, though inferior, are nevertheless closely connected with our redemption and salvation? After having delivered up to extreme sufferings one infinitely near and dear to him, to preserve us from everlasting and unspeakable torment, shall he, is it reasonable to suppose that he will, withhold from us any thing needful for life or godliness; especially any thing, the withholding of which would obstruct the attainment of the end for which God’s Son was so delivered up?

“To man the bleeding cross has promised all:

The bleeding cross has sworn eternal grace;

Who gave his Son, what gift shall he deny?”

“No argument was ever addressed to creatures capable of being persuaded and obliged, equal to this. For while it convinces the understanding, it raises every tender and devout feeling in the heart, and is a continual source both of hope and gratitude.”


Verse 33-34

Romans 8:33-34. Who shall lay any thing to the charge — Any matter of guilt, which should bring them into condemnation, or shall bring an accusation against God’s elect — That is, against true believers, who have so received Christ (John 1:12) as to have obtained the privilege of becoming God’s children, and who only have the title of God’s elect in the New Testament, God having chosen such, and only such, for his people, instead of the disobedient Jews, whom he rejected for their unbelief. See note on Romans 8:28-30. To explain this a little further, in the words of a writer, quoted here by Mr. Wesley: — “Long before the coming of Christ, the heathen world revolted from the true God, and were therefore reprobated, or rejected. But the nation of the Jews were chosen to be the people of God, and were therefore styled, the children, or sons, of God, a holy people, a chosen seed, the elect, the called of God. And these titles were given to all the nation of Israel, including both good and bad. Now the gospel, having the most strict connection with the books of the Old Testament, where these phrases frequently occur; and our Lord and his apostles being native Jews, and beginning to preach in the land of Israel, the language in which they preached would, of course, abound with the phrases of the Jewish nation. And hence it is easy to see, why such of them as would not receive him were styled reprobated. For they no longer continued to be the people of God: whereas this, and those other honourable titles, were continued to all such Jews as embraced Christianity. And the same appellations which once belonged to the Jewish nation, were now given to the Gentile Christians also, together with which they were invested with all the privileges of the chosen people of God; and nothing could cut them off from these, but their own wilful apostacy. It does not appear that even good men were ever termed God’s elect, till above two thousand years from the creation. God’s electing, or choosing, the nation of Israel, and separating them from the other nations, who were sunk in idolatry and all wickedness, gave the first occasion to this sort of language. And as the separating the Christians from the Jews was a like event, no wonder it was expressed in like words and phrases: only with this difference, the term elect was of old applied to all the members of the visible church, whereas, in the New Testament, it is applied only to the members of the invisible,” to truly spiritual Christians, possessed of the faith working by love. It is God that justifieth — Acquits them from condemnation, and accounts them righteous; and his power and authority are supreme over all creatures: he can and will answer all objections against them, and pronounce them absolved now, and at the day of final judgment. To justify, here, being opposed to laying a charge, or bringing an accusation, against God’s people, must be understood in the forensic sense; for a judicial acquittal from that of which the justified persons were accused, and from all the consequences which would have followed if they had not been acquitted. Who is he that condemneth? — What is his authority or power; he can but be a creature; and surely no creature, man or angel, can frustrate the Creator’s sentence. On what ground can any one accuse or condemn them? Is it on that of their past guilt, or their present remaining depravity? It is Christ that died — Namely, to expiate the former, and to procure for them grace to mortify and destroy the latter. Yea rather, that is risen again — For their justification, now and at the day of judgment; who is even at the right hand of God — Exalted to the highest degree of honour and power, even to the government of the universe; and that for this very end, to protect them against their enemies, deliver them from the guilt and power of their sins, and confer upon them his regenerating, sanctifying Spirit. The apostle seems here to allude to Psalms 110:1, where the empire of the Messiah, after his resurrection, is foretold. Christ, who died to save God’s people, and who, since his resurrection, governs the world for their benefit, will neither condemn them himself, when he sitteth in judgment upon them, nor suffer any other to condemn them. Who also maketh intercession for us — By presenting to his Father his obedience and sufferings, whereby, as our surety, he hath made satisfaction for our sins, and by manifesting his desire and will, in his prayers offered for us, that we should be made partakers of all the blessings procured by his sacrifice, and by presenting our prayers sanctified, and rendered acceptable through him. Dr. Doddridge, following Augustine, reads and interprets these clauses interrogatively, thus: Who shall lodge any accusation, &c. Is it God? What! he who himself justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Is it Christ, whom we know to be appointed as the final Judge? What! doth he condemn, who died to expiate our guilt, and rescue us from condemnation? Yea rather, who is risen again? Shall he undo the purposes of his death and resurrection? He who is now at the right hand of God, where he appears under a quite contrary character, and is also making intercession for us; and therefore, far from accusing us, appears ready to answer all accusations brought against us, and to frustrate all the designs of our enemies? But, as Macknight observes, the common translation, at least of the first clause, is better, as it avoids the impropriety of representing God as an accuser at the tribunal of his Son. Besides, it is fully as emphatical as the other. God having declared his purpose of justifying his believing and obedient people through faith, will any one, after that, presume to bring any accusation against them?


Verses 35-37

Romans 8:35-37. Who shall separate us — By saying τις, who, the apostle personifies the things he is going to mention, namely, affliction, &c.; from the love of Christ — Toward us? By this, some understand the love which we bear to Christ. But to separate us from our own love, seems an unusual expression. Even this, however, may be included thus; — What creature or occasion shall cause us to withdraw our love from him, and consequently cause him, in any degree, to withdraw his love from us? Shall tribulation? or affliction, as θλιψις is generally rendered; or distress?

στενοχωρια, perplexity, when we know not which way to turn ourselves. The former word, according to Esthius, signifies sickness and other bodily evils; whereas the latter rather means trouble of mind, arising from doubtful and perplexing straits and difficulties. He proceeds in order from less troubles to greater. Can any of these separate us from his protection in the trial, and (if he sees good) deliverance from it? The sword is here put for a violent death. As none can imagine that Christ would love his faithful servants less for enduring such extremities for his sake, the text must of necessity be intended to express the apostle’s confidence, that his love to his people, illustrated already in so glorious a manner, would engage him to support them under all their trials, by vital communications of divine strength. As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day — That is, every day, continually: we are accounted — By our enemies, by ourselves; as sheep for the slaughter — The Psalm from which this quotation is taken, is thought by some to have been written during the Babylonish captivity, when the Jews suffered great persecution for their religion: but at other times also the Jews were exposed to a variety of evils from their conquerors, on account of their adherence to the worship and service of the true God. See note on Psalms 44:22. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors — We are not only no losers, but abundant gainers by all these trials. The original expression, υπερνικωμεν, signifies to obtain a great victory. “The victory which the people of God obtain over their persecutors is of a very singular nature. It consists in their patient bearing of all the evils which their persecutors inflict upon them, and that through the assistance of Christ, and in imitation of his example. For by suffering in this manner, they maintain his cause in spite of all opposition, and confound their persecutors.”


Verse 38-39

Romans 8:38-39. For I am persuaded, &c. — This period describes the full assurance of hope, and the inference is made in admirable order; neither death — Terrible as it is to natural men, a violent death in particular; nor the fear of it, Romans 8:36; nor life — With all the affliction and distress it can bring, Romans 8:35; or a long, easy life, and the love of it; or all living men; nor angels — Whether good (if it were possible they should attempt it) or bad, with all their subtlety and strength: nor principalities, nor powers — Not even those of the highest rank, or of the most eminent power. “Because angels are distinguished from principalities and powers, Beza and some others are of opinion that powers in this passage, as Luke 12:11, signify the persecuting rulers and potentates of the earth, who endeavoured to make the first Christians renounce their faith. But as evil angels, in other passages of Scripture, are called principalities and powers, and as the apostle rises in his description, it is probable that he speaks of these malicious spirits, the inveterate enemies of mankind; and that he calls them principalities and powers, by a metonymy of the office, or power possessed, for the persons possessing it.” — Macknight. Nor things present — Difficult as they are, or such as may befall us during our pilgrimage, or till the world passeth away; nor things to come — Extreme as they may prove; that is, future sufferings, or things which may occur, either when our time on earth is past, or when time itself is at an end, as the final judgment, the general conflagration, the everlasting fire. The apostle does not mention things past, because they have no influence on the mind, unless so far as the like things are either hoped or feared. Nor height, nor depth — The former sentence respected the differences of times; this respects the differences of places. How many, great, and various things are contained in these words, we do not, need not, cannot know yet. The height, in St. Paul’s sublime style, is put for heaven; the depth for the great abyss: that is, neither the heights, I will not say of walls, mountains, waves of the sea, but of heaven itself, can move us; nor the abyss itself, the very thought of which might astonish the boldest creature. Or his meaning may be, Neither the height of prosperity, nor the depth of adversity can move us. Nor any other creature — Above or beneath, in heaven, earth, or hell: nothing beneath the Almighty. In this general clause the apostle includes whatever else could be named, as having any influence to separate believers from the love of God, exercised toward them through Christ: shall be able — Either by force, Romans 8:35, or by any legal claim, Romans 8:33, &c., to separate us from the love of God in Christ — Which will surely save, protect, and deliver us, who believe, and persevere so to do, in and through, and from them all.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 8:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/romans-8.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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