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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 8

 

 

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Verses 1-39

3. THE GOSPEL THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION.

In this third division of the doctrinal part of the Epistle, the Apostle presents the gospel as ‘the power of God unto salvation,’ setting forth how God’s power becomes efficient in men, as the result of gratuitous justification. Death is shown to be connected with Sin, and Life with Righteousness.

Chap. 5 treats of the immediate result of justification, peace with God (Romans 5:1-11) enforced by the parallel and contrast between the relations to the first and second Adam (Romans 5:12-21). Chaps. 6-7 treat of the moral results of justification; namely, sanctification. Stated more generally: chap. 5 treats of the effect upon the feeling (peace); chaps. 6-8 upon the will (holiness). As, however, the Apostle has shown the need of justification by faith from the guilt of all, so he proves the need of sanctification by the gospel method from the failure of the law to sanctify (chaps, 6, 7), before passing to the positive statements of chap. 8 (There is therefore good ground for the view which regards chaps. Romans 3:21-25. as treating of justification, and chaps. 6-8 of sanctification.) But the course of thought is not that of a formal treatise; the letter follows to a great extent the order of Christian experience, taking up difficulties as they are presented in the Christian life. Even the parallel and contrast between Adam and Christ, in chap. Romans 5:12-21, is not an exception; for thus the connection between sin and death, and righteousness and life is set forth in its most extended form; grace is shown to abound, and the gratuitous nature of justification enforced for the comfort of the believer. Moreover this apparent digression is but a more pronounced example of what occurs in well-nigh every section of the Epistle. Chap. 6 takes up an objection, which constantly recurs: will not this abounding grace allow men to continue in sin? Paul answers, that Christians have a fellowship of life with Christ, are dead to sin and dedicated to God. Moreover, they are thus freed from the law (chap. Romans 7:1-6). This thought suggests another objection (as constantly recurring as the previous one); will not freedom from the law lead to continued sin? The Apostle, in reply, defends the spirituality of the law (chap. Romans 7:7-12), but shows that it is not the power of God unto salvation (chap. Romans 7:13-25). In the experience he portrays, the prominent distinction is between law and grace, not sin and grace. This part of the Epistle, so far from being adapted for Jewish readers only, or for that age alone, is the part which touches our experience most closely. The antithesis between law and grace is one constantly felt; the Christian is in constant danger from legalism; and few have learned to sympathize with the joyous utterances of chap. 8 without having proved in their own case that the law as a means of sanctification leads to wretchedness (chap. Romans 7:24), quite as truly as it fails to justify. Chap. 8 presents the work of the Spirit over against the failure of the law, showing the happy condition of the justified man, in the freedom of the new life, the consciousness of adoption and the assurance of future glory.


Verses 1-39

3. Moral Results of Justification; those Justified by Faith live a New Life in the Spirit.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation; through it the will is affected, and thus is accomplished morally what the law could not do, namely, the sanctification of those born sinners. But just here the greatest objection is raised to the doctrine of free salvation; and with this objection the Apostle begins his discussion: —

I. The gospel method of grace does not lead to sin but to holiness; chap. 6

(1.) Because of what is necessarily involved in the new life (Romans 6:1-11); (2.) those who partake of this new life are dead to sin and dedicated to God (Romans 6:12-23).

II. The relation of Christians to the law: it is in itself just and good, but powerless to sanctify; chap. 7

(1.) Believers are freed from the law (Romans 7:1-6), but (2.) this does not prove that the law is sin; for, as it has been proven that it cannot justify, it now appears that though holy it cannot make sinners holy (Romans 7:7-25).

III. The sanctifying work of the Spirit, the free life in the Spirit over against the life in the flesh; chap. 8 (see further analysis there).


Verse 1

Romans 8:1. There is therefore now, at this time. ‘Therefore’ sums up what precedes. But the exact connection is disputed. It may be joined either (1.) with the thanksgiving, at the beginning of Romans 8:25; (2.) or with the whole of Romans 8:25; (3.) or with the entire preceding section. With the view we have taken of the previous description, it seems best, to connect it with the thanksgiving. Meyer finds ‘now’ explained in Romans 8:2, ‘now that Christ has freed me.’ This is really taking up the thanksgiving again. Some, who refer the preceding experience to the regenerate, explain thus: ‘Although I am thus divided in service, still, being in Christ Jesus, there is now therefore,’ etc.

No condemnation. ‘No’ is in emphatic position. Some confine this to the act of Justification at the beginning of the Christian life, but it is better to refer it to the state of justification which culminates in final acquittal and glory. For here the Apostle is treating of those who are in Christ Jesus, and the context points to the Spirit’s work of sanctification.

In Christ Jesus. In vital union with Him; the phrase being a deeply significant one; comp. John 15:1-7; Ephesians 1:23.

The clause: ‘who walk not,’ etc., is to be rejected, being probably taken from Romans 8:4. This addition weakens the Apostle’s statement, by making the walk appear as the ground of ‘no condemnation.’


Verses 1-17

1. The Life in the Spirit contrasted with the Life after the Flesh.

The Christian is free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), because he is freed from the law of sin (Romans 8:2), a result which the law could not accomplish, but which is accomplished by God through Christ (Romans 8:3-4). Hence he lives according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh, for the former life is true life, the latter is death, and those who are in this condition cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8). The test of true spiritual life is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the pledge of the resurrection of our bodies (Romans 8:9-11). Therefore we ought not to live after the flesh, but through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body (Romans 8:12-13), being sons of God (Romans 8:14), having the witness of the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15-16), and thus assured of the future glory which will follow the present suffering in fellowship with Christ (Romans 8:17).


Verses 1-39

3. THE LIFE IN THE SPIRIT OVER AGAINST THE FAILURE OF THE LAW THE GOSPEL AS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO PRESENT SALVATION FROM SIN.

This chapter is ‘the climax of the Epistle’ (Tholuck). The gospel is a present power unto salvation; the law has proven a failure, both in justifying (chap. 3) and in sanctifying men (chap. 7), but those who are in Christ Jesus, not only are justified, but also have a new life in the Holy Spirit. Hence Meyer gives as the theme of the chapter: ‘the happy condition of a man in Christ.’ Hodge prefers the heading: ‘the security of the believer.’ — The whole chapter may be summed up thus: the life in the Spirit leads to fellowship with Christ in suffering and glory (Romans 8:1-17); in this fellowship of suffering we have three grounds of encouragement insuring our blessedness, attesting our security (Romans 8:18-30); the believer has nothing to fear, for nothing can separate him from the love.


Verse 2

Romans 8:2. For introduces the proof that there is ‘no condemnation.’

Law of the Spirit of life. ‘Law’ is here to be taken in its wide sense, the principle, ruling power, etc. The reference is not to the moral law, or the Mosaic law, or to the law of the mind, nor yet to the gospel as a system, but to the new principle of living which comes from the working of the Holy Spirit, here called the Spirit of life, because it gives life, works life in us.

In Christ Jesus. This should be joined with what follows. The deliverance took place in virtue of union to Him who fulfilled the law and delivers from its bondage.

Freed me. The reference is to a single act; not, however, to justification, but to the first act of ethical emancipation which attends it, because the Spirit then begins its work. The whole verse refers to what occurs in the man who is in Christ Jesus.

The law of sin and death. Not the Mosaic law, as those hold who refer ‘law of the Spirit of life’ to the gospel system, but rather, as chap. Romans 7:23-25 indicates, the old principle of sin which held us captive, and which had ‘death,’ spiritual and eternal, as its consequence. It is this consequence which is denied in Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation, not only because in Christ Jesus we have the ground of full justification, but because, at our justification, in virtue of our union with Christ, we receive from the Holy Spirit a new principle of life, an act of emancipation occurs, which has as its development and consequence progressive sanctification.


Verse 3

Romans 8:3. For what the law could not do; lit, ‘the impossible (thing) of the law.’ The Mosaic law is certainly meant. What was impossible for the law to do, God did, i.e., condemned sin, etc. This is better than to explain: ‘in view of the powerlessness of the law.’

Because it was weak through the flesh. Its weakness has been proven by the experience of chap. 7, and this was ‘through the flesh,’ for this depraved nature was the means of setting forth its weakness.

God sending his own Son. It was by sending Him, that He accomplished what was impossible for the law. ‘His own Son,’ preexisting before He was sent, and that too as Son, in a specific sense.

In the likeness of the flesh of sin. Notice the careful wording of this description of the humanity of Christ. The characteristic of ‘flesh,’ i.e., our ordinary human nature, is ‘sin;’ in the ‘likeness’ of this the Son of God appeared. He was entirely human, hence we do not find here, ‘in the likeness of flesh’; He was entirely sinless, hence He was not ‘in the flesh of sin,’ but only ‘in the likeness of the flesh of sin.’

And for sin, or, ‘on account of sin.’ Some would restrict this clause to expiation for sin, ‘for a sin-offering’; but this seems a forced interpretation of the words. The idea of expiation is of course included, but the reference is more general: ‘in order by expiating sin to destroy it’ (Philippi).

Condemned sin in the flesh. This was what the law could not do. ‘Sin’ has the article in the original, pointing to the ‘sin’ on account of which the Law of God was sent into the world.—‘In the flesh’ is to be joined with ‘condemned,’ referring to the human nature which Christ has in common with us. It seems objectionable to take it in the ethical sense, or to apply it only to the human nature of Christ ‘Sin had tyrannized over us in our flesh, as the seat of its empire; and by our flesh, as its instrument and weapon. But God used our flesh as an instrument for our deliverance, and for the condemnation of sin, and for the establishment of His own empire in us’ (Wordsworth). As the Apostle is treating of the emancipation from the power of sin (Romans 8:2), it is unnecessary to confine this condemnation of sin in the flesh to the expiation of Christ. By sending Christ God condemned sin entirely, both as to its punitive and polluting effects. The one great act by which sin was condemned in the flesh was the death of Christ, and this expiating act was the delivering act which should destroy the power of sin. For while the law could, to a certain extent, condemn and punish sin, what was utterly impossible for it was the removal of sin. Those in Christ have in the fact of His death the ground of pardon and the pledge of purity. The removal of sin is the end to be accomplished, as the next verse shows.


Verse 4

Romans 8:4. That the righteousness of the law. The word ‘righteousness’ is that used in chap. Romans 5:16; Romans 5:18, in the sense of ‘righteous verdict,’ or, ‘righteous act,’ and in Luke 1:6; chaps. Romans 1:32, Romans 2:26, in the sense of ‘ordinance,’ i.e., righteous requirement. We explain it here as meaning ‘that righteous act (viewing all the acts as forming a unity) which meets the requirements of the law.’ Some would refer this to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the ground of our justification, but according to our view of the whole passage it means the actual holiness of the believer.

Might be fulfilled. The fulfilment is wrought by God, who sent his Son (Romans 8:3) and who sends His Spirit to fulfil this purpose of His grace.

In us; not, ‘among us,’ nor, ‘through us,’ nor yet, ‘on us,’ but, ‘in us.’ This points to actual holiness; most of the other interpretations grow out of the reference to justification. The ideal aim of the Christian life is set forth.

Who walk, etc. ‘Who are of such a kind as walk,’ etc. This part of the verse is an explanation of the character of those in whom the fulfilment takes place, and neither the result, nor the cause of what precedes.

Not according to the flesh. Here, and in the rest of the section, ‘flesh’ has its strict ethical sense (see Excursus at close of chap. 7).

According to the Spirit, i.e., the Holy Spirit, as in Romans 8:2; Romans 8:5. Others explain: the spiritual nature imparted by the Holy Spirit (the renewed nature); the subjective spiritual life-principle. Here especially any subjective sense is inappropriate, for ‘he walks according to the Spirit, who follows the guidance, the impelling and regulating power (Romans 8:2), of the Holy Spirit’ (Meyer). A reference to the human spirit alone is preposterous, in view of the Pauline anthropology.


Verse 5

Romans 8:5. For they, etc. In chap. 7 the contrast was between the workings of the law and the flesh in the same person; in Romans 8:5-8 the Apostle contrasts two classes of persons; snowing why the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in one class, and cannot be in the other.

That are cording to the flesh. The same idea as in Romans 8:4, but under a slightly different aspect: walking according to the flesh pointing to the outward life; being according to the flesh, to the carnal state.

Mind the things of the flesh; they think of, care for, strive to obtain, those things which belong to the ‘flesh,’ which includes all that gratifies the depraved heart; ‘not merely sensual things, but all things which do not belong to the category of the things of the Spirit’ (Hodge).

The things of the Spirit, those things which belong to the Holy Spirit.


Verse 6

Romans 8:6. For the mind of the flesh. Explanation of Romans 8:5. The word ‘mind’ corresponds with the verb ‘mind’ in the last verse; it is that which embodies the thinking, caring, striving; the disposition, we might call it

Is death; amounts to death. ‘Death is here conceived of as present (comp. 1 Timothy 5:6; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5), not merely as a result, but as a characteristic mark, an immanent definition of the carnal mind’ (Philippi).

The mind of the Spirit. Here also the Holy Spirit; the minding, striving, which comes from the Holy Spirit.

Life and peace. ‘Life’ is to be taken in its full sense, in contrast with ‘death;’ ‘peace ‘is added, probably to prepare for Romans 8:7, where ‘enmity’ is introduced.


Verse 7

Romans 8:7. Because the mind (same word as in Romans 8:6) of the flesh. Proof that the mind of the flesh is death (Romans 8:6); in Romans 8:10-11, it is proved that the mind of the spirit is life and peace, though that is implied here.

Enmity against God. This is equivalent to death.

For introduces an illustration and evidence of this enmity.

Doth not submit itself to the law of God. This fact, already set forth in the previous description of man (chap. Romans 1:11) and of the work of the law (chap. 7), shows that the enmity is not latent, but active.

Neither indeed can it. ‘For it is not even possible for it’ (Meyer). Paul declares that the cause of non-submission to the law of God, which is a proof of enmity to God, is the fact that the mind of the flesh has no ability to produce this submission, being essentially antagonism to God. Possibility of conversion and ability to believe are not under discussion; these imply the death of the flesh as a ruling principle.


Verse 8

Romans 8:8. And. Not, ‘so then,’ but a simple continuation of the thought of Romans 8:7.

They that are in the flesh. Substantially the same as: ‘they that are according to the flesh’ (Romans 8:5), but stronger, and presenting a better contrast to the full gospel phrases: ‘in Christ’ ‘in the Spirit’

Cannot please God, because of the character of the mind of the flesh. By this negative expression, ‘it is said, in a mild way, that they are objects of Divine displeasure, children of wrath’ (Lange).


Verse 9

Romans 8:9. But ye, etc. The Apostle now turns to the other class, spoken of in Romans 8:5, gladly using direct address, for ‘ye’ is emphatic in the original.

If so be. This conditional form is ‘an indirect incitement to self-examination’ (Meyer), and does not imply special doubt.

The Spirit of God dwell in you. In the previous clause the ‘Spirit’ is represented as the element in which they live; here as the indwelling power which enables them to live in this element. This change of figure is quite common in the New Testament language respecting the Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit is here meant ought not to be doubted. ‘In you’ must not be weakened into ‘among you.’

Now if. This is a pure hypothesis, and does not imply that such was the case.

Hath not the Spirit of Christ. There is no better evidence of careless reading of the Scripture than the frequent use of this clause as if it referred to the temper or disposition shown by Christ. It means the Holy Spirit which belongs to, or proceeds from, Christ, this designation Ming adopted to prove the truth that those who have not this Spirit are ‘none of Christ’s.’ The whole passage has an important bearing on the doctrine of the Trinity, especially as related to Christian experience. It must be admitted that such statements generally have reference to the economy of grace, but they form the basis for the doctrinal statements of the Church. This text has therefore been a proof text for the Western doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son (filioque. Synod of Toledo A. D. 589). This was the final contribution to the doctrinal statement of the Trinity. The Greek Church admits that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Son as well as the Father, out denies that He proceeds eternally, or, metaphysically, from the Son. The sending belongs to the economical Trinity; the eternally proceeding, to the ontological Trinity.

Ha is none of his. He does not belong to Christ, perhaps implying that the Spirit unites the members of the mystical body of Christ to their Head, and that without this Spirit such union does not exist.


Verse 10

Romans 8:10. But if Christ is in you. Not doubt, but rather a suggestion that this is the case; in contrast with the latter part of Romans 8:9. Notice that the indwelling of the Spirit of God, having the Spirit of Christ, belonging to Christ, having Christ in us, are only varied expressions of the same great fact. The underlying basis of the mystical union of Christ and the believer is the yet more mysterious unity of the Persons of the Godhead.

The body is dead. This refers to the certain fact of physical death, since Romans 8:11 takes up this thought. Every other interpretation gives to ‘body’ an ethical sense, which seems unwarranted; all the more because the word ‘dead’ is not that corresponding with ‘death,’ as used by the Apostle in the wide sense.

Because of sin. Not because of the special sins of the body, nor because the body is the source and seat of sin, but because the body has shared in the results of sin, and thus becomes a prey to physical death. It will ultimately share in the full blessings of redemption (Romans 8:11).

But the spirit is life. Not the Holy Spirit, but the renewed human spirit, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. This is suggested by the entire context. ‘Life,’ not ‘alive,’ as if to give a more extended meaning to this side of the contrast. Hence we may include spiritual life, here and hereafter, the life eternal, beginning now.

Because of righteousness. Some refer this to the imputed righteousness, but while this, as the basis of the life, is not to be excluded, the whole argument points to actual righteousness of life, inwrought by the Holy Spirit, in virtue of union to Christ.


Verse 11

Romans 8:11. But if, etc. The body will indeed die, but despite this grace will triumph even over physical death; even the body that must die will ultimately fully share in redemption, at the resurrection, through the indwelling Holy Spirit

Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, etc. This expression has a demonstrative force here: the fact that the indwelling Spirit is the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is a pledge that the spiritual quickening will be followed by the physical quickening.

Will quicken even your mortal bodies. This is most naturally referred to the final resurrection of the body; for, although ‘quicken’ might of itself include something already begun, the word ‘even’ (or, ‘also’) seems to limit it to the bodily resurrection. This truth of revelation is so important, and so distinctive, that it deserves the emphasis thus given to it. ‘Even’ the body which here succumbs to the effects of sin, shall be quickened; the victory of redemption will be complete when this occurs.

Through, or, ‘on account of,his Spirit that dwell-eth in you. It is difficult to decide between the two readings. The Sinaitic manuscript supports ‘through,’ and has turned the current of opinion in favor of that reading. As early as the latter part of the fourth century the variation was introduced into a controversy respecting the Divinity of the Holy Spirit ‘Through’ would point to the fact that the Holy Spirit which is now working moral renovation in us will be the Agent in completing the triumph in the resurrection of the body. ‘Because of’ may include this thought, but would refer mainly to the indwelling Spirit as the pledge of the resurrection. If this Spirit now dwells in the body of the believer, that body will not be left unredeemed. In either case, the reference seems to be to the final resurrection, rather than to any present moral quickening. This passage moreover indicates that the ‘spiritual body’ spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:44, is a body prepared for the human spirit entirely renovated by the Holy Spirit


Verse 12

Romans 8:12. Therefore, or, ‘so then,’ as the phrase is usually translated; here introducing an exhortation based upon the previous statement: because the indwelling of the Spirit involves such glorious results.

We are debtors, not to the flesh. ‘Flesh’ is here used in the ethical sense; the antithesis is suggested indirectly in Romans 8:13. ‘Not’ applies to the following clause also: to live after the flesh. The truths of Romans 8:10-11 imply that we are under obligation not to do this, but on the contrary to live after the Spirit. Strictly rendered, this clause is one of design, in order to live after the flesh.


Verse 13

Romans 8:13. For, etc. If you lived thus, you would not fulfil the glorious destiny announced in Romans 8:10-11. Hence this is a proof of Romans 8:12.

Ye shall die, are about to die. Death in the fullest sense is here meant, not eternal death alone, and certainly not physical death, which comes to all men; comp. Romans 8:10.

But if ye by the Spirit; the Holy Spirit, the agent of this process.

Put to death the deeds of the body. ‘Deeds, or, ‘practices,’ has usually a bad sense in the New Testament, while the ‘body’ is here regarded as the organ of sin, having evil practices which the Holy Spirit enables us to put to death, to exterminate. The term ‘body,’ is not equivalent to ‘flesh,’ here or elsewhere.

Ye shall live. ‘Not are about to live; this life being no natural consequence of a course of mortifying the deeds of the body, but the gift of God through Christ; and coming, therefore, in the form of an assurance, “ye shall live,” from Christ’s Apostle’ (Alford).


Verse 14

Romans 8:14.

For as many as, etc. This introduces the reason why we ‘shall live,’ indicating again that the mortifying (Romans 8:13) is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Led by the Spirit of God; continuously and specially moved by the Spirit, in their whole life. ‘The passive form expresses its complete dominion, without at the same time denying the voluntary being led on the part of the human will’ (Lange).

These are sons of God. These, and none other. In the Epistle to the Galatians there is a similar line of argument, but with more of a polemical purpose; yet even here there is an implied contrast with the Jewish notion that by birth they were entitled to this sonship.


Verse 15

Romans 8:15. For ye did not receive. The fact that they are ‘sons’ is now proven from their Christian experience at conversion.

The spirit of bondage, etc. The latter part of the verse most naturally refers to the Holy Spirit, but many find a difficulty in this clause, if such a reference be accepted. But the difficulty is only apparent, as the following paraphrase shows: ‘The Spirit ye received was not a spirit of bondage, but a Spirit of adoption.’ The Apostle does not suggest that the Holy Spirit could be a spirit of bondage, but emphatically denies this. This view is confirmed by the difficulties which attend the other explanations. To interpret: a slavish spirit, a filial spirit, is not only weak, but contrary to the New Testament use of the word ‘spirit.’ To refer it to the subjective spirit of the renewed man disturbs the antithesis.

Again to fear. ‘In order again to fear,’ ‘Again,’ as in the native condition, when fear was the motive of religious life. This applies to Gentile, as well as Jewish, Christians. All unchristian religiousness is in principle legalism, which is a bondage; and bondage produces fear.

But ye received the Spirit of adoption. The repetition is for solemn emphasis. They received the Holy Spirit; this Spirit was not that of bondage, to make them fear, but of adoption, leading to the joyful cry ‘Abba, Father.’ They were sons of God, not by birth, but by reason of grace numbering them among His children; the particular reference being to the method by which they became sons, rather than to their sonship.

Wherein, not strictly, ‘whereby,’ but in the fellowship of the Spirit of adoption, we cry, Abba, Father. ‘Abba’ is the Syrian name for ‘Father,’ to which Paul adds the equivalent Greek term. ‘It seems best to regard this repetition as taken from a liturgical formula, which may have originated among the Hellenistic Jews, who retained the consecrated word “Abba,” or among the Jews of Palestine, after they became acquainted with the Greek language. The latter theory best explains the expression as used Mark 14:36.’ Riddle, in Lange, Galatians (chap. Romans 4:6, a parallel case). Some add the notion of affectionate address in ‘Abba’; others find a hint of the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ


Verse 16

Romans 8:16. The Spirit itself; the Holy Spirit

Beareth witness with, or, ‘to,’ our spirit, our renewed spirit, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. But it is doubtful whether we should render ‘with, or, ‘to.’ The former sense necessarily involves the latter (the converse is not true), and is somewhat preferable grammatically. This implies a twofold witness: of the Holy Spirit, and also of our renewed spirit. If it be asked, to whom is the witness borne? the answer is to the man himself, who needs both so long as he is here and disturbed by doubt and sin. The clause is an important one, in warranting an assurance of salvation, and also in marking the distinction between the Holy Spirit and our spirit.

That we are children of God. This is what is testified, and for such assurance we may seek, however fanaticism has perverted the passage. ‘That the world deny any such testimony in the hearts of believers, and that they look on it with scorn and treat it with derision, proves only that they are unacquainted with it; not that it is an illusion’ (Stuart).


Verse 17

Romans 8:17. And if children, also heirs. Comp. the similar, but fuller statement in Galatians 4:7.

Heirs of God. The kingdom of glory is their inheritance. ‘As He Himself will be all in all, so shall His children receive with Him, in His Son, everything for an inheritance; 1 Corinthians 3:21, etc.’ (Lange).

And joint-heirs with Christ. The Roman law made all children (adopted ones included) equal heritors; but the Jewish law gave a double portion to the eldest son. Hence a discussion has arisen as to the exact reference in this clause. The Roman law would be naturally in the Apostle’s mind when addressing Romans, and suits the context, where adopted sonship is the basis of inheritance. The other view emphasizes the mediation of Christ, through whom we inherit

If so be, etc. This is the order, not the reason, of obtaining full salvation (Calvin). There is a latent admonition in the conditional form: ‘if so be.’ On the sharing in these sufferings, comp. Colossians 1:24.

That we may be also glorified with him. This is God’s purpose, not ours; in our case it is a result. ‘He who would be Christ’s brother and joint-heir, must bear in mind to be also a joint-martyr and joint-sufferer; not feeling Christ’s sufferings and shame after Him, but with Him, as Romans 8:10; Romans 8:32-33, declare’ (Luther). The sufferings are needed to prepare us for the glory. We suffered as He suffered, but He suffered for our sake, and we suffer for our own good; we are glorified as He is glorified, but He was glorified or His own sake, and we for His sake. His sufferings were penal, ours are purifying; His glory was His own, ours is a gift of grace.


Verse 18

Romans 8:18. For. This connects the verse with the whole thought culminating in Romans 8:17 (see above), and not with ‘glorified’ alone.

I reckon. No doubtful calculation is implied; comp. chap. Romans 3:28. Alford paraphrases: ‘I myself am one who have embraced this course, being convinced that.’

Insignificant in comparison with. This paraphrase gives the correct sense; ‘not worthy’ is more literal, but objectionable as suggesting the idea of merit, which is foreign to the course of thought.

The glory which shall be revealed. At the end of ‘the present time,’ when full redemption comes with the coming of the Lord.

In us. In us and upon us, or, ‘to usward,’ as the phrase is rendered in Ephesians 1:19. Of this glory Christians are the subjects, the possessors, and the centre also, for Romans 8:19-23 represent the creation as sharing in it.


Verses 18-39

2. GROUNDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT, ATTESTING THE BELIEVER’S SECURITY.

The life in the Spirit involves fellowship with Christ in suffering and glory (Romans 8:17). The sufferings are present, while the glory is yet future; but we are encouraged by the conviction that the glory will far outweigh the sufferings; the longing of the creation is an intimation that it will share in the full glorification which awaits us, and which we should wait for in patient hope (Romans 8:18-25). A further ground of encouragement is found in the sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit, interceding for us, and that too according to the will of the heart-searching God (Romans 8:26-27). Finally ‘we know that all things work together for good’ to Christians, designated as those who love God, and on the other hand as the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Their security rests upon His plan of salvation (Romans 8:29-30) on His love as proved by the saving facts of the gospel (Romans 8:31-34) on the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-37). The chapter closes with a triumphant expression of the Apostle’s personal confidence (Romans 8:38-39), forming a striking, appropriate, and triumphant conclusion to one of the most precious passages in the word of God.


Verse 19

Romans 8:19. For the patient expectation. The idea is not of anxiety, but of a constant and persistent awaiting; the word translated ‘patient expectation’ being derived from one which means ‘to expect with uplifted head.’ This verse confirms the thought of Romans 8:18, by indicating the greatness of the future glory which the creation awaits, probably its certainty also.

Of the creation. The main question respects the exact reference of the term, which must be the same throughout the passage. (The E. V. makes an unnecessary variation by using both ‘creature’ and ‘creation’ to translate the same Greek word.) Undoubtedly the Apostle means the things created, not the act of creation, but how much is included?

EXPLANATIONS. 1. The entire universe without any limitation. But this does away with the contrast to ‘sons of God,’ and involves incorrect inferences.

2. Inanimate creation. This avoids some difficulties, but, by shutting out all intelligent creatures deprives the passage of its most appropriate application.

3. Humanity alone, either as a whole, or with limitations. This seems too restricted. Further, if Christians are included, the contrast with ‘sons of God’ is done away; but if non – Christian humanity alone is meant, it is singular that Paul should choose the word ‘creation’ rather than the common term ‘world.’

4. All creation except humanity. This limitation has much in its favor, (a.) Believers are evidently excluded; (b.) mankind as a whole do not have this expectation; (c.) man is not unwillingly subject to vanity (Romans 8:20); (d.) Romans 8:21 points to the fulfilment of the expectation (but see below, where it is taken as giving the purport of the hope). On the other hand, man is the head of creation, and it seems unnatural to exclude him; man is, on his physical side, part of the material creation; if that be referred to, it seems arbitrary to exclude him from it.

5. ‘The material world surrounding man’ (Tholuck). But this is open to the same objections as (2.) and (4.).

6. The whole creation, rational as well as irrational, not yet redeemed, but needing and capable of redemption, here opposed to the new creation in Christ and in the regenerate. The children of God appear, on the one side, as the first-fruits of the new creation, and the remaining creatures, on the other, as consciously or unconsciously longing after the same redemption and renewal. This explanation seems to be the most correct one. It most satisfactorily accounts for the expressions: expectation, waiting, groaning, not willingly (Romans 8:20), and the whole creation (Romans 8:22). The whole creation, then, looks forward to redemption; all natural birth, to the new birth. As all that is created proceeded from God, so it all, consciously or unconsciously, strives after Him as its final end. What shows itself in nature as a dim impulse, in the natural man, among the heathen, and yet more among the Jews, under the influence of the law, comes to distinct consciousness and manifests itself in that loud cry after deliverance (chap. Romans 7:24), which Christ alone can satisfy; and then voices itself in happy gratitude for the actual redemption (Schaff in Lange, Romans). This view differs from (4) in including man in his fallen condition, as the head of the longing creation under the bondage of corruption. His material body shares in this corruption, and his unregenerate soul responds with an indefinite longing, yet too often uses its power over the body to stifle the inarticulate desire of the physical nature. In any case the degradation of sin is fearfully manifest; the natural man is less alive to the ‘hope’ in which creation has been subjected (Romans 8:20) than nature itself.

Is waiting, continues to wait.

The revelation of the sons of God. The final revelation of Christ’s glory is here spoken of as that ‘of the sons of God.’ Thus the Apostle expresses his deep sense of the fellowship of believers with Christ. This revelation will snow them as the sons of God, and in the glory then to be revealed (Romans 8:18) the creation will share.


Verse 20

Romans 8:20. For the creation was made subject, i.e., by God, in consequence of the fall of man (see close of the verse).

To vanity. It became empty, lost its original significance. This does not necessarily imply a change in matter corresponding to the fall of man, but that as a result of the fall the whole creation fell away from its original design; it is probable that thus its development was checked, and it became a prey to corruption (Romans 8:21).

Not willingly. The subjection to vanity was, therefore, not a self-subjection, but by reason of him who subjected it. The reference is to God, not to Adam: (1.) the verb is passive, implying that the subjection was intentional, which could not be true of Adam; (2.) The will of God was the moving cause, but the expression: ‘by reason of him’ (rather than ‘through him’) reverently removes this supreme will of God to a wider distance from corruption and vanity (comp. Alford). Hence we object to the interpretation: the creature submitted itself to vanity, etc.

In hope. Resting on hope. This is to be joined with ‘was made subject,’ rather than with ‘subjected it.’ Another view makes the previous part of Romans 8:20 parenthetical, joining ‘in hope’ with Romans 8:19; this has much to recommend it, but can scarcely be insisted upon.


Verse 21

Romans 8:21. That the creation itself also. This view of the connection seems preferable to that of the E. V. (The Greek word means either ‘that,’ or ‘because.’) We thus have the purport of the hope, what is hoped. The phrase ‘the creation itself’ is repeated in contrast with ‘children of God.’ To attribute such a hope to the creation is in accordance with the thought of the entire passage.

From the bondage of corruption. The bondage which consists in corruption. The corruption results from the vanity to which the creation was subjected; it is borne ‘not willingly,’ and hence is termed ‘bondage.’

Into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Not only delivered from bondage, but transferred into this freedom, which consists in, or at least results from, a share in the glory of the children of God. The word ‘glory’ is prominent, and hence the rendering ‘glorious liberty’ is unfortunate. The ‘glory’ is that spoken of in Romans 8:18, it will appear at the ‘revelation of the sons of God’ (Romans 8:19); in it the creation delivered from corruption will share. If the reference here were to the longings of heathen humanity alone, and not also to those of nature, Paul would have spoken more distinctly of the future conversion of the Gentiles.


Verse 22

Romans 8:22. For we know. Here, as in chaps. Romans 2:2; Romans 3:19; Romans 7:14, and Romans 8:26; Romans 8:28, the Apostle appeals to the consciousness of Christians, rather than to the consciousness of all men. If Romans 8:21 be taken as the purport of the hope, then this is a proof of the existence of the hope, and not of ‘the bondage of corruption.’ ‘For if that hope of glorious deliverance had not been left to it, all nature would not have united its groaning and travailing until now. This phenomenon, so universal and so unbroken, cannot be conduct without an aim; on the contrary, it presupposes as the motive of the painful travail that very hope, toward the final fulfilment of which it is directed’ (Meyer).

Groaneth together. The word ‘together’ must be repeated to bring out the sense. It refers to the common groaning of the whole creation, and should not be explained as ‘together with us’; this idea is first brought out in Romans 8:23.

Travaileth in pain together. The reference to birth-pangs suggests a new form of nature, to which this pain is the necessary preliminary.

Until now, i.e., the present moment; the idea of unbroken duration is the prominent one. There is no reference to some point of time in the future.


Verse 23

Romans 8:23. And not only so. Not only is this true, that the whole creation, etc.

But even we ourselves. There are a number of slight variations in the Greek, but in any case a repetition of ‘ourselves’ brings out the correct emphasis. The reference is to Christians, possibly to the Christians of that time (see below). Even Christians who are highly privileged unite with creation in its groaning.

Though we have, etc. This rendering is both more forcible and more grammatical.

The first-fruits of the Spirit. ‘First-fruits, as a pledge of a full harvest. Explanations: (1.) The early Christians have the first fruits of the Spirit; the full harvest will be the impartation of the Spirit to all Christians; (2.) what we now possess is but ‘first-fruits,’ the harvest will be the full outpouring in the future; (3.) the first-fruits of our redemption consist in the possession of the Holy Spirit. The reference to full glorification at the close of the verse makes (2.) slightly preferable; (3.) is the least probable view.

Even we ourselves groan within ourselves. Though we have the first-fruits of the Spirit, our salvation is incomplete; the groaning is internal and intense.

Waiting for the adoption. ‘Awaiting the fulness of our adoption’ (Alford). We are already adopted children (Romans 8:14-17), but the outward condition corresponding to this new relation is not yet complete.

The redemption of our body. The redemption is not complete until the body is redeemed: then we shall have the full blessing of adoption. The explanation: ‘redemption from our body,’ is altogether incorrect, for the whole current of thought in this chapter places emphasis upon the glorification of the body at the coming of Christ (comp. Romans 8:11). The mention of the body confirms the view of ‘creation’ which refers it to material existences also; for the groaning in ourselves respects that part of our being which is most akin to the material creation.


Verse 24

Romans 8:24. For we were saved. The tense points to the time of conversion.

In hope, or, ‘for hope’; either rendering is preferable to ‘by hope.’ The fact of salvation placed us in a condition of which hope was a characteristic Luther: ‘We are indeed saved, yet in hope.’ ‘Inasmuch as the object of salvation is both relatively present and also relatively future, hope is produced from faith and indissolubly linked with it; for faith apprehends the object, in so far as it is present; hope, in so far as it is still future’ (Philippi).

Now hope that is seen, etc. By these self-evident statements about ‘hope,’ the Apostle leads his readers up to the thought of Romans 8:25, which is both an encouragement and an exhortation.

Why doth he still hope for! Some good authorities omit the word we translate ‘still’ (literally’ also,’ ‘even’), thus giving the sense: why doth he hope (at all)? We prefer the other reading: why does he still hope, when there is no more ground for it?


Verse 25

Romans 8:25. With patience we wait for it. Literally, ‘through,’ but it here indicates a characteristic of the waiting.’ Patience,’ as usual, suggests the notion of enduring constancy. Because the Christian hopes for a glory yet to be revealed (Romans 8:18), he awaits it perseveringly, which even the creation patiently expects; his patient endurance of the present sufferings has one strong motive in this hope.


Verse 26

Romans 8:26. Likewise the Spirit also. This is the second ground of encouragement. ‘Likewise’ introduces that which takes place at the same time, and in correspondence with what precedes: to our patient human waiting is added the help of the Divine Spirit. It is now generally conceded that the personal Holy Spirit is referred to.

Helpeth our weakness. The best manuscripts give the noun in the singular number: ‘weakness’ is a better translation than ‘infirmity.’ The verb means ‘to lay hold of in connection with’; the Spirit helps our weakness, in bearing the burden spoken of in Romans 8:23, in awaiting final redemption. The reference is not to weakness in prayer alone, nor is our weakness the burden which the Spirit helps us bear.

For introduces an illustration of our weakness, showing how the Spirit helps us.

We know not, etc. This refers to our continued state of ignorance, not to special seasons.

What we should, etc. This includes also ignorance of ‘how’ to pray ‘as we ought:’ ‘it is not absolutely and altogether unknown to us what we ought to ask, but only what is necessary to ask according to the given circumstances’ (Meyer).

But the Spirit itself. This phrase brings into prominence the Holy Spirit as the Intercessor, who knows ‘what we should pray for.’

Intercedeth for us. The phrase answering to ‘for us’ is omitted, according to the best authorities, but the verb of itself implies this.

With groanings which cannot be uttered. The adjective here used may mean (1.) unutterable; (2.) unuttered; (3.) not speaking; the first sense is much to be preferred. Care should be taken not to weaken the expressions to the unutterable longings of the human spirit, nor on the other hand to refer it to the Holy Spirit independently of us. The Holy Spirit is here spoken of in His saving work in us: while dwelling in us He makes intercession thus,’ Himself pleads in our prayers, raising us to higher and holier desires than we can express in words, which can only find utterance in sighings and aspirations’ (Alford).


Verse 27

Romans 8:27. But he who searcheth the hearts. Though the groanings are unutterable, God understands their meaning. The Old Testament frequently describes God as omniscient by language of this kind (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 7:10, etc.).

The mind of the Spirit. This is an object of knowledge to the heart-searching God, though it may be but partially recognized by us in our weakness.

Because, or, ‘that,’ etc. The word may have either sense; but the former seems more appropriate here. The latter makes the verse quite tame. Some explain: He approves what is the mind of the Spirit, because, etc. This is unnecessary. The ground of the perfect knowledge is the fact that He pleadeth (a slightly different word from ‘intercedeth,’ Romans 8:26) for the saints according to the will of God, in harmony with the Divine will. Hence what we cannot utter, because we do not know what to pray for as we ought, what the indwelling Spirit in its pleadings cannot articulately utter through us, is known to God, because in accordance with His will. ‘We may extend the same comforting assurance to the imperfect and mistaken verbal utterances of our prayers, which are not themselves answered to our hurt, but the answer is given to the voice of the Spirit, which speaks through them, which we would express, but cannot’ (Alford).


Verse 28

Romans 8:28. And we know. Comp. references under Romans 8:22. Here the context unmistakably indicates that this is an expression of Christian experience.

All things. All events, even afflictive ones (Romans 8:35), indeed all created things (Romans 8:38-39). Some ancient manuscripts insert ‘God’ in this clause, giving the sense: ‘God works all things together, etc. But the insertion can readily be accounted for; it gives a correct explanation of what is here implied, and the word ‘God’ would naturally be taken from the context (In the Greek’ to them that love God’ comes first)

Work together. The usual sense: cooperate, combine to produce the result, is preferable. Others explain: ‘contribute,’ ‘help,’ work together with Christians.

For good. For their advantage, including their eternal welfare.

To them that love God. In emphatic position in the original. This distinguishes the class referred to; and is not in itself the main reason of their security. ‘The love of believers for God is therefore not the ground of their confidence, but the sign and security that they were first loved of God’ (Lange).

Who are the called. Some would explain: ‘who are called,’ which would be equivalent to ‘since they are called,’ but it seems more in accordance with grammatical usage to take the phrase as a description of Christians from another point of view: ‘as being those who are the called.’ The context shows that the call has been accepted, and hence that this is not a general expression for hearing the invitations of the gospel.

According to his purpose. The call is in accordance with the purpose (comp. Romans 8:29-30); the former becomes a fact we can perceive, the latter we cannot perceive, but receive as a fact, for all things cannot work together for good to them that love God, unless God has a purpose, with which what occurs accords. It should be remembered that to limit the efficacy of His purpose is to deny freedom to Him, in our anxiety to maintain our own freedom. If our hearts rest on HIM, in hope and trust and love, then we know that in order thus to rest, we must feel that He is infinitely free, strong, and right, as well as loving. The difficulty which arises in reconciling God’s sovereignty and man’s free will confronts us whenever we accept the existence of a Personal God, and is not peculiar to Christianity, much less to some one school of Christian theology.


Verses 28-39

Romans 8:28-39. The third ground of encouragement; the Christian has nothing to fear, for nothing can separate him from the love of God (see analysis above).


Verse 29

Romans 8:29. This verse and the next prove the statement of Romans 8:28, showing how the calling agrees with God’s purpose, forming part of His plan; the successive steps of the unfolding of this purpose are indicated, up to the certain glorification of the chosen ones. The whole matter is stated as presenting the objective ground of confidence of believers. The other side is not touched upon, and no attempt is made to solve the great problem of reconciling the two. Those read aright here, who seek to learn for their comfort what God has done for them in eternity. How He did these successive acts is beyond our comprehension; why He did them can be answered in this world only by the responsive love of the believer’s heart. But precisely because the Apostle is pressing the objective, Divine side of our salvation, we should not attempt to depart from the obvious sense of his words in order to attempt to accommodate his language to that phase of the subject he is not discussing.

Whom he foreknew, he also foreordained. ‘Predestinated’ is quite accurate, but ‘foreordained’ preserves the correspondence with the previous verb which is found in the Greek. God knew beforehand certain individuals of our race, and those He destined beforehand, etc. The foreknowledge precedes the foreordaining, is its ground as it were (although strictly speaking, there is no before nor after in the eternal God). Hence we must not confound the two, nor apply them to other than the same individuals; nor should we depart from the obvious sense of ‘foreknew’ by explaining it as meaning ‘approve’ (introducing the idea of foreseen faith). Such a thought is, moreover, entirely foreign to the context. Of course, the foreknowledge differs from God’s ‘prescience of which all men and all events are the objects’ (Hodge), but it does not of itself include the idea of selection, though closely connected with it here. The beginning of the whole plan is in the good pleasure of God: He foreknew certain persons as those whom He would destine unto salvation, and those He foreordained. That they would believe is also included in His plan, but it is precisely this subjective ground of salvation which the Apostle does not even name in this entire section.

To be conformed to the image of his son. Some limit this to conformity to Christ in having a glorified body, but the whole context favors a wider reference to ‘that entire form, of glorification in body and sanctification in spirit, of which Christ is the perfect pattern, and all His people shall be partakers’ (Alford). Some include a present partaking in His sufferings and moral character. While this may be implied (for the thought of suffering is not remote, Romans 8:18; Romans 8:31, etc.), it must not be made the main idea. Predestination is more than predestination to holiness through suffering; though attempts have been made to represent this as the only predestination that is defensible.

That he might be. The final purpose of the predestination, is concerning Christ; comp. Ephesians 1:4-5.

The first-born among many brethren. First in order of time, as well as chief in rank; comp. Colossians 1:15. The purpose of grace began in Him, even as His glory is its end. Some place the emphasis upon ‘firstborn’; others upon ‘many brethren’; but because the end of the foreknowledge and foreordaining is the glory of Christ in His people, equal emphasis rests on both; nothing can separate the first-born and His many brethren.


Verse 30

Romans 8:30. Them he also called. This certainly means more than the general invitation to believe and accept the gospel, since the series of gracious acts here announced does not include all who are thus invited. The call is effectual, is inseparably linked with predestination and justification in the unfolding of God’s gracious purpose. But the term is not identical with ‘effectually called,’ for the latter phrase emphasizes those subjective aspects which are left out of view here. The Apostle is not detailing our experience, but the acts of God which secure our salvation.

Them he also justified. Here, as elsewhere, accounted righteous. Only those who believe are justified, but as throughout the subjective side is not presented. The whole passage is for the comfort of those who believe.

Them he also glorified. Not ‘them he also sanctified,’ which we might have expected. This would turn our thoughts upon ourselves, disturbing the rhetorical climax quite as much as it weakened the sense of security in God’s grace, which it is the Apostle’s design to strengthen. Moreover, the past tense is chosen to present the matter as necessary and certain, so much so that it can be spoken of as already accomplished. While we may include here successive steps by which believers are led to their final and complete glorification, that end is the prominent thought, and the certainty of its accomplishment gives the triumphant tone to what follows.


Verse 31

Romans 8:31. What then shall we say? In chaps. Romans 3:5; Romans 4:1; Romans 7:7; Romans 9:14, this form introduces an inference which the Apostle opposes; here and in chap. Romans 9:30, one he accepts.

These things; i.e., set forth in Romans 8:29-30. What we should say is to echo the language of the rest of the chapter, which presents in glowing language the certainty of salvation as based upon the acts of God’s love in the facts of redemption.

If God is for us, who is against us? This rendering is more literal. That God is for us, has already been shown (Romans 8:29-30); there is but one answer. But it is easier to accept the logic and admire the rhetoric of the passage, than to take the proper encouragement from it


Verse 32

Romans 8:32. He who, etc. This is an answer to the question of Romans 8:31; but as the great historical facts of the gospel now come into view, there is an advance in thought. The peculiar form of the original might be paraphrased: He who even, or, indeed.

Spared not. The negative side of what is positively stated in the next clause.

His own son. This points to the only begotten Son (comp. Romans 8:3, where a similar expression occurs), to give emphasis to the display of love. Some find a contrast to adopted sons, but this is not necessarily involved.

Delivered him up. The entire humiliation may be included, but the special reference to death is obvious; comp. chap. Romans 4:25.

For us all; all believers, since this class is referred to throughout. On the phrase, comp. chap. Romans 5:6-8.

How shall he not, etc. An argument from the greater to the less; comp. chap. Romans 5:9-10.

With him also. Some join ‘also’ with the verb, but in any case the fact that the gift of Christ for us is the gift of Christ to us, forms the basis of the conclusion.

Freely give us all things. Give as a matter of grace or favor, all those things already indicated in Romans 8:26-30, everything created that can work for good to us as those who are the objects of the love of God in Christ. This is the middle term which binds the two sides presented in Romans 8:28 : ‘those who love God;’ ‘who are the called according to his purpose.’


Verse 33

Romans 8:33. Who shall bring any charge against. The term used is a legal one, and suggests an accusation resulting in condemnation.

God’s elect. Those referred to throughout, especially in Romans 8:28-30, thus designated to confirm the security of believers. Only believers can with any propriety find comfort in the thought, and even they should be careful not to rest their faith upon a decree of election rather than the personal Saviour.

It is God that justifieth, or, ‘God is the justifier.’ If the common punctuation be accepted, this is the proof that no one can successfully accuse. If taken as a question, it is only a more rhetorical form of the same proof: ‘Shall God who justifieth?’ Meyer’s view, however, makes it the basis of the statement of Romans 8:34 : since it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?


Verses 33-35

Romans 8:33-35. The main point open to discussion is respecting the punctuation of these verses. (1.) The E. V. gives answers as well as questions in Romans 8:33-34. (2.) Others find two questions in each of these verses; so Augustine and many ancient and modern commentators. 3. Meyer joins together the latter part of Romans 8:33-34, with the first clause of Romans 8:34-35 respectively: ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who shall condemn? Christ (Jesus) is He that died, etc., who also maketh intercession for us; who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ This view has much to recommend it, and is at least, preferable to the second one.


Verse 34

Romans 8:34. Who is he that condemneth? See above.

It is Christ Jesus. The weight of evidence apparently favors the insertion of ‘Jesus.’ We may paraphrase: ‘Christ Jesus is the one who died,’ etc.

Died, etc. The four great saving facts about Christ Jesus are here mentioned in order: His death, resurrection, ascension, and continued intercession. The usual view presents these facts as a proof that Christ will not condemn us. (The interrogative form would be: Shall Christ Jesus who died, etc.). Meyer’s view bases upon them the question of Romans 8:35, proving that nothing can separate us from His love.

Yea, rather. Not His death alone, but His death followed by His resurrection gives security.

Risen again, or, ‘was raised,’ some good authorities adding ‘from the dead.’ There is about the same amount of evidence against inserting ‘even’ before ‘at the right hand of God.’

Maketh intercession, or, ‘pleadeth,’ as we render it in Romans 8:27. To the three great past facts is added one which is present and abiding. Comp. Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1. The fact is undoubted, and its pertinence in the Apostle’s argument obvious, whatever view be taken of the connection.


Verse 35

Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Christ’s love to us, rather than our love to Him, or even our sense of His love to us. Still the separation .must refer to possible hindrances in its gracious effects upon us; hence the separation would include a failure to feel His love to us. If we connect the question with Romans 8:34, we may paraphrase thus: ‘Christ Jesus is the very one who died to atone for our sins; yes, more than this, He is the one who was raised from the dead for our justification (chap. Romans 4:25); it is He who sits at the place of power lovingly ruling the world for our sake; He it is who is pleading on our behalf; how then can any one, or anything, separate us from His love?’ The questions which follow suggest what might seem to threaten such separation.

Tribulation, or anguish, as in chap. Romans 2:9; the former referring to outward trial, the latter to the inward sense of it. ‘First of all believers are pressed into anxiety by the world. Then there comes persecution itself, which drives them out to famine and nakedness; the end is peril, the danger of death, and sword, death itself’ (Lange). There seems to some such climax. In those days these very things threatened; in our day the dangers are different, but none the less real and quite as often disturbing our sense of Christ’s love to us.


Verse 36

Romans 8:36. As it is written. From Psalms 44:22, quite exactly in the words of the LXX. The whole Psalm refers to the sufferings of God’s people, and the verse, even if not directly prophetic, is typical of the treatment the world bestows on God’s children. The special point proven by the quotation is the danger of the ‘sword,’ since to this extremity persecution had gone in the case of the saints of old.

We were accounted, etc. Because thus reckoned as sheep destined for slaughter, they were killed all the day long.


Verse 37

Romans 8:37. Nay; literally, ‘but.’ Some connect this with Romans 8:35, making Romans 8:36 parenthetical, but this is not necessary, for the course of thought is unbroken, and this verse is antithetical to both Romans 8:35-36.

In all these things; just mentioned.

We are more than conquerors. A single word in the Greek: ‘over conquer;’ we are over-victorious. This tone of triumph is not selfish, for the abounding victory is through him who loved us. That the reference is to Christ, appears from the context Romans 8:35 (comp. Romans 8:39); from the tense used, which points to one crowning act of love (comp. chap. Romans 5:6; Galatians 2:20), His death on the cross. Since His love conquered death, even in death we cannot be separated from His love, but are more than conquerors.


Verse 38

Romans 8:38. For I am persuaded. In thus expressing his own triumphant conviction, the Apostle not only sums up what precedes, but goes further. The list here given exceeds the previous one; not only so, but to the great facts of God’s purpose, and the gracious facts of Christ’s work, there is added the subjective side, the personal confidence of the Apostle himself.

Neither death, nor life. ‘Death’ is named first, probably because of the reference in Romans 8:36, and the natural antithesis is ‘life.’ Dying or living, we are the objects of this love. It is altogether incorrect to explain: ‘neither anything dead nor anything living.’

Nor angels, nor principalities. This second pair refers to angelic beings; the latter term to a higher order. Comp. Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:15. The insertion at this point of the phrase ‘nor powers,’ which should be placed at the close of the verse, shows that the early transcribers so understood the passage. But it is difficult to determine whether we should understand good angels, or bad, or both. To refer the one term to the former, and the other to the latter, is both abrupt and arbitrary; to leave the evil spirits unnoticed in such a catalogue would seem strange- Hence, we may refer both terms to both classes, in the wide hypothesis the Apostle here conceives.

Nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers. Instead of continuing the arrangement by pairs, the Apostle now gives two sets in threes, ‘in such a way, that to the two which stand contrasted, he adds a third of a general character’ (Meyer). The first and second terms point to vicissitudes of time, the third to earthly powers of any kind. This seems to be the only sense of ‘powers,’ which is in accordance with the position assigned it by the best authorities.


Verse 39

Romans 8:39. Nor height, nor depth. The idea of space is now substituted for that of time; but it is difficult to define the exact reference. The most probable one is: heaven and hell; though heaven and earth, happiness and unhappiness, honor and shame, lofty and lowly, have been suggested. It is doubtful whether any specific definition is required.

Nor any other created thing. Whatever created being has not been previously included, is included here. The phrase seems to sum up rather than merely to supplement what precedes. The tone of the whole passage justifies the language of Meyer: ‘The attempt to bring the collective elements named in their consecutive order under definite logical categories leads to artificialities of exposition, which ought not to be applied to such enthusiastic outbursts of the moment’

The love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is not to be distinguished from ‘the love of Christ’ (Romans 8:35), since it is rather a fuller statement of the same love. ‘God is the original fountain, Christ the constant organ and mediating channel of one and the same love; so that in Christ is the love of God, and the love of God is the love of God in Christ’ (Meyer). Since God is above every created thing, since this love is ours, this completes the demonstration of the security of the believer. With this triumphant expression the Apostle closes his exposition of the main theme: the Gospel is to every one that believeth the power of God unto salvation: this it could not be if anything could separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Erasmus: ‘Cicero never said anything more eloquent.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 8:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-8.html. 1879-90.

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