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Song of Solomon
Romans 8 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- There is then no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
- For a new law - the law of the Spirit of life - is introduced into their being, by virtue of which they are freed from their old state of bondage to the law of sin and death.
- And this because of what God himself did for mankind in
Son, Christ, who, in our very flesh, and in behalf of mankind, did what man himself was powerless to do - triumphed over sin and condemned it.
- And in us too (united to him by faith, and having spiritually died and risen again with him) the requirement of the Law is fulfilled, so that it forfeits its claim to condemn us now; but only on this condition in ourselves, that we walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- For there are two
in us still, of the flesh as well as of the Spirit; the one tending to death and the other to life; and it is only those who give themselves to the latter that can share in the life to which it tends.
- And you
give yourselves to this, if you are true Christians; if the Spirit of Christ dwells in you, without which you are not his.
- So our condition is this: We have within us the Spirit, which is life; but we have the body clinging to us still, which is death-stricken because of sin.
- But if the Spirit of him who raised up Christ from the dead be in us, he will quicken our mortal bodies too, delivering us at last, through the same vivifying Spirit, from all lingering power of death over us.
- The conclusion is (as has been insisted on all along), that we are bound, as Christians, in our present lives, to live, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- If we do not, then (notwithstanding our redemption) we must needs die - yea, die the death beyond the grave (whatever it may be), which is the doom of sin; but if we do, then we shall live - yea, live at last (as the sequel shows to be implied) in the eternal life of Christ with God.
- For the Spirit you received when you became Christians was one of sonship; our habitual earnest cry of "Abba, Father," expresses our feeling of it; the Spirit still witnesses with our spirit that we are God's children; and sonship implies heirship - heirship with Christ, through our union with whom we feel ourselves to be sons; and, if we have to share in his sufferings now, this only unites us the more to him, and fits us the more for our inheritance of eternal life with him.
- For what of all these present sufferings, these present drawbacks to the full triumph of the
in you, these present evidences that the
still clings to you? They are nothing to the destined glory; they are not worth consideration in comparison with it.
- And, after all, these present drawbacks are but our inevitable share in the condition of imperfection under which all creation, as we see it now, is labouring. The whole world presents to us the picture of an ideal not realized, but ever yearned for. All we can say about it is that it has pleased God to subject it for a time to vanity and the bondage of corruption, but so as to leave hope alive.
- And we too, while in this mortal body, must needs share in this universal groaning; but, having already the firstfruits of the Spirit - the earnest already of a diviner life - we especially yearn all the more for deliverance, and expect it hopefully.
Verses 24, 25.
- When we entered on our state of salvation as Christians, it was in hope; our essential condition became then one of hope, which is incompatible with present attainment of our hope; we must, therefore, needs endure and waif, bearing these present trials.
Verses 26, 27.
- And if our trials are great, and we know not ourselves what relief to pray for, we have the comfort of believing that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us within ourselves by inspiring all these unutterable yearnings, which he that searcheth the heart knows the meaning of, and will answer according to the mind of the Spirit who inspired them.
- We know, too, that all things, even all these present trials, far from harming us, work together for good to them that love God, being called according to his purpose.
Verses 29, 30.
- Yes, called according to his purpose; here is a further ground of hopeful assurance. For his having called us to be Christians at all, and justified us through faith, shows that it was his eternal purpose in so calling us, to conform us to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren; and that so we, being thus made his brethren, might inherit with him. In short, his having preordained us to our present state of salvation carries with it his preordaining us also to its end and purpose, which is glory.
- If God be thus for us, who can be against us? He who has already given up his own Son for us all will surely grant us all. And, if God has chosen us, who shall arraign us? God himself, who already justifies us? No. Christ, who died, rose again, ascended to the right hand of God, and now intercedes for us? No. And against them what other power can possibly prevail?
- Certainly not these present trials and calamities, however severe; though "we are killed all day long, and are appointed as sheep for the slaughter." Through Christ, who so loved us as to share them, we are conquerors all the more by means of them.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free
hath made me
; the aorist refers to the time when the Christian became possessed of the Spirit of life in Christ) from the law of sin and death. Here is a distinct contrast to the state described in vers. 14, 23 of ch. 7, and a realization of what was yearned for in ver. 24, "the law of sin and of death" being evidently "the law of sin in the members" previously spoken cf. The
, before in captivity to this law, is now freed from it. And how? Not by its becoming a different
; not by a change of the constituent elements of human nature; but by the introduction of a new law - the law of the Spirit of life - which has emancipated the
from its old unwelcome thraldom. In virtue of this new law, introduced into my being, I am now free to give my entire allegiance to the law of God.
, be it observed, is here again used in a sense different from its usual one, and we thus have a still further
, in addition to those defined in the note after
. The designation of this new law is in marked opposition to that in which the
was before said to be held; we have
in opposition to
, and the
in opposition to the
, as well as
in opposition to
is, in fact, the Divine Spirit, taking possession of what is
(now at length brought into view) in the
, making him partaker in the Divine
, and able to serve God
The expressions used bring out strikingly one essential distinction between Law and Gospel, viz. that the principle of the former is to control and discipline conduct by requirements and threats; but of the latter to introduce into man's inner being a new principle of life, whence right conduct may spontaneously flow. Coercion is the principle of the one; inspiration of the other. An illustration may be found in the treatment of disease - on the one hand by attempted repression of specific ailments, and on the other by imparting a new vitality to the system, which may of itself dispel disease. It is shown next how this new state of freedom has been brought about. First, by what God in Christ has done for us apart from ourselves; the subjective condition in ourselves being introduced at the end of ver. 4,
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
For what the Law could not do
(this is certainly what is meant by
ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου
in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
The Law could not deliver from the domination of sin; it was weak for such a purpose (cf.
Hebrews 7:18, 19
) but this not through any defect in itself but as having to work through our sinful flesh which refused obedience. And it was not the office of law to regenerate; it could only command and threaten. Hence the deliverance came, and could only come, from God himself (and this in accordance with the grand idea of the whole Epistle, expressed by the phrase, "the righteousness of God"); and so he sent
his Son essentially - in a sense in which none of us can be called sons, himself Divine. The whole drift of the passage, as well as
, requires this conception); and he sent him into the very sphere of things that required redemption, that by actual participation in it he might personally redeem it; for he sent him in likeness of our "flesh of sin." It is not said
in flesh of sin
; for that might imply sin in Christ's individual humanity: but, on the other hand, "in likeness" (
) does not imply docetism, as though Christ's humanity were not real; for stress is evidently laid on the fact that it was in our actual human flesh that he "condemned" sin. The phrase appears to mean the same as what is expressed in
and Hebrews 4:15:
Ὤφειλε κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι
Πεπειραμένον κατὰ πὰντα κααθ ὁμοιότητα
. The addition of
"adds to the how the wherefore" (Meyer). Both this and the preceding expression are most naturally and intelligibly connected with
; not, as some say, with
comes suitably after the former verb, as denoting the occasion and purpose of the sending (cf.
περὶ τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ
in the LXX.) we find
θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν καὶ
ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας
, where the expression signifies offerings for sin; and in
προσφορὰ περὶ ἁμαρτίας
. The correspondence of phrase here suggests decidedly the idea of the purpose of
being intended to be expressed by it, though it does not follow that
is used here substantively as it seems to be in
. But in what sense are we to understand
) sin? We observe first that the verb appears to be suggested by
in ver. 1, the connection being that formerly sin condemned us, but now sin itself has been condemned; that is (as Meyer expresses it), deposed from its rule in the flesh - "jure sue dejectum" (Calvin). (Perhaps similarly,
ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου κέκριται
.) One view of the force of
(found in Origen, and taken by Erasmus and others), that it denotes the
of sin endured by Christ vicariously on the cross, is not only not obvious, but inconsistent also with
ἀδύνετον τοῦ νόμου
preceding; for what the Law could not do, was not to punish sin, but to deliver from it. Nor is there, further, anything in the language used to confine the condemnation of sin, in whatever sense intended, to the atonement made for it on the cross itself. It was in the whole mission of the Saviour (expressed by
) that sin was "condemned;" and the idea may include his triumph over it in his human life no less than the penalty paid for it on the cross in behalf of man. "In the flesh" (connected with
, not with
) does not mean Christ's own flesh, but human nature generally. He represented man, having become for our sake the Soul of man; and we share his triumph over
, made in our very human flesh, when we are baptized into his death, and become thereupon partakers of his resurrection. This idea, ever present to St. Paul's mind, is expressed in the next verse, where our own appropriation of the condemnation of sin in Christ is declared.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
That the ordinance
, rather than
, as in the Authorized Version. The word is
. It Occurs elsewhere in the New Testament,
; and in a like sense often in the LXX.; also, though with a difference of meaning,
Romans 5:16, 18
of the Law may be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit
. This, then, is the purpose of Christ's victory over sin - that the requirement of the Law in us too may be fulfilled; which evidently means more -than that his victory may be
us, on the ground of our faith only, while we remain as we were. The expression,
, and also the condition appended at the end of the verse, imply that the "Spirit of life" must so dominate over the flesh in ourselves that the Law may forfeit its claims over us. The sinful propensions of the flesh remain in us still (as the verses that follow distinctly show); but the Spirit that is in us is strong enough to overcome them now (cf.
). It does not follow from this that any Christians will actually avoid all sin, or that they can be accepted
their own performance: to say this would be to contradict other Scripture (cf.
1 John 1:8
); and Paul confessed himself to be not already perfected (
). But perfection, through Christ who lives in them, is put before us as, at any rate, the aim of the regenerate (cf.
); and by actual and progressive holiness they are to show that their union with Christ is real. His Spirit within them must, at any rate, give a new direction and tone to their characters and lives.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
These verses are added for explanation and enforcement of the condition demanded at the end of ver. 4; pressing the fact that "the infection of our nature" - "the lust of the flesh, called in Greek
(Art. 9.) - with its antagonism to the Law of God, and its deadly tendency, remains even in the regenerate, and that hence we are still in danger of succumbing to it; but that if we do - unless the Spirit within us prove in practice the stronger power - the condition required for our individual redemption is not fulfilled.
οἱ ἐν σαρκὶ ὄντες
, in ver. 7, evidently does not mean those who are still in the body, but the same essentially as
οἱ κατὰ σάρκα
in ver. 5;
denotes the element in which they live (see verse following). The
which connects ver. 8 with the foregoing has its
, not its
, in the Authorized Version, though not strictly equivalent, seems sufficiently to express the general idea.
For to be carnally minded
death; but to be spiritually minded
life and peace.
Because the carnal mind
enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But
, as in the Authorized Version)
if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his
. That is - Though I imply the possibility of even the baptized being still in the flesh, so as to be unable to please God, this is certainly not
condition; if, indeed (as is surely the case), your conversion was a reality, so that you have become really Christ's; for the Spirit of Christ (which is the Spirit of God) of necessity
(so as to be the ruling power) in all such as are really his (cf
1 Corinthians 3:16
). We observe here how "the Spirit of Christ" is identified with "the Spirit of God," so as to imply the essential Deity of Christ, and also to lend support to the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Ghost (cf.
1 Peter 1:11
). Observe, too, how persistently and continually the apostle presses his protest against antinomian abuse of the doctrine of grace, with which he began this section of his Epistle, at ch. 6:1, He never loses sight of it; it pervades the whole. If St. Paul, especially in this Epistle, is, on the one hand, the great exponent of the doctrine of justification by faith only, he is, on the other, no less the persistent preacher of the necessity of works. Sanctification is continually pressed as the necessary result, as well as evidence, of justification. He only shuts out human works from the office of justifying.
And if Christ
in you, the body
dead because of sin; but the Spirit
life because of righteousness.
Verses 10, 11.
if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ
denotes the human person of our Lord;
his office, fitly used here in connection with the thought of his resurrection ensuring ours. Some readings give
from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies, through his Spirit that dwelleth in you
. These verses have been variously understood. It has been supposed by some that ver. 10 continues the thought of ver. 9; "the body" (
) meaning the same as "the flesh (
),and dead (
, or lifeless with respect to the power of sin that was in it (cf.
ἵνα καταργηθῇ τὸ σῶμα τῆς
). Thus the meaning of the first clause of ver. 10 would be, "If Christ be in you, the body of sin in you is dead; but you are alive in the Spirit." Decisive objections to this view are,
that the word
by itself is not elsewhere used as an equivalent to
, but as denoting our mere
organization. This statement is consistent with the metaphorical application of the word sometimes in a different verse, as in
, above quoted, and in
. Observe also
τὰ θνητὰ σώματα ὑμῶν
in ver. 11, which can hardly be taken but as expressing what is intended here;
with the accusative (
διὰ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν
) cannot be forced out of its proper meaning of "
of," which, according to the view we are considering, would be unintelligible;
that ver. 11, which is obviously connected in thought with ver. 10, cannot well be brought into tune with it according to the view proposed. All is made clear, in view both of language and of context, by taking these two verses as introducing a new thought, which is carried out afterwards in ver. 18, viz. that of the drawback to the full enjoyment and development of our spiritual life owing to the mortal bodies which clothe us now and the purpose is to bid us believe in the reality of our redemption, and persevere in correspondent life, notwithstanding such present drawback. Thus the idea is that, though in our present earthly state the mortal body is death-stricken in consequence of sin (
) - subject to the doom of Adam, that extended to all his race (cf.
, etc.) - yet, Christ being in us now, the same Divine Spirit that raised him from the dead will in us too at last overcome mortality. cf.
1 Corinthians 15:22
, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (
, the same word as in ver. 11 here); and compare also all that follows in that chapter. This view of the meaning of the passage before us is strongly confirmed by our finding, in
2 Corinthians 4:7-5:6
, exactly the same idea carried out at length, with a correspondence also of the language used. The frail, mortal, ever-dying earthen vessels, in which we have now the treasure of our life in Christ, are there regarded as crippling the expansion of our spiritual life, and causing us to "groan, being burdened" (cf. in the chapter before us, ver. 23,
); but the very consciousness of this higher life within him, yearning so for an adequate and deathless organism, assures the apostle that God has one in store for him, having already given him "the earnest of the Spirit." And this seems to be what is meant hereby "shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." As to particular expressions in the verses before us,
, applied to "the
," may be taken to mean
infected with death, and doomed to it
1 Corinthians 15:31
2 Corinthians 1:9
2 Corinthians 4:10
, given as the reason for the Spirit being life, may be explained with reference to the essential conception of
throughout the Epistle, as God's
, revealed in Christ, and made over to man as the remedy of human sin. Before carrying out the thought peculiarly suggested by the last two verses (as is done at ver. 18), the apostle now draws a conclusion (expressed by
) from what has been so far said, so as to press the more the obligation of a spiritual
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Verses 12, 13.
So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; for if ye live after the flesh, ye must
, expressing here a result that must; follow. The Authorized Version has "shall;' not distinguishing the force of the phrase from that of the simple future
die; but if by the Spirit ye do mortify
do to death
, or make to
, so as to correspond to the die preceding)
the deeds of the body, ye shall live
. Here "the body" (
) must be taken in the same sense as in vers. 10, 11. True, the "deeds" spoken of are, in fact, those of
; but the body is regarded as the organ of the lusts of the flesh, and it is fitly named here in connection with the thought of the preceding verses. The word translated. "deeds" is
, denoting, not single acts, but rather
the general outcome in action of fleshly lusts using the body as their organ.
, viewed in connection with
in ver. 11, seem to point ultimately to the result hereafter of the two courses of life denoted: but not, it would seem, exclusively; for our future state is constantly regarded by the apostle as the continuance and sequence of what is begun in us already - whether of life in Christ now unto life eternal, or of death in sin now unto death beyond the grave. The general idea may be stated thus: If ye live after the flesh, the power in you to which you give your allegiance and adhesion will involve you in its own doom, death; but if ye live after the Spirit, you identify yourselves with the Spirit of life that is in you, whereby you will be emancipated at last even from these your mortal bodies, whose doings you already slay.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the Spirit of adoption, wherein we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him
. In ver. 14 is introduced a further ground for the assertion in ver. 13,
; viz. the felt
to God of those who have so received his Spirit as
practically actuated) by it. We say "felt" because, though in this verse the sonship is alleged as a fact, yet, in the following verses (15,16) the inward experience of true Christians is appealed to as evidence of such sonship. Then, in ver. 17, the thought is carried out, that
, and hence a share in the glorified eternal life of Christ. (This conclusion makes further evident what was meant to be implied above in the expression
.) "When, after your conversion," the apostle would say, "ye received the Spirit, it did not inspire you with the fear of slaves, but with filial love and trust. And this you know also is the feeling that we give vent to in the congregation, when we cry out [
, denoting emotional utterance], Abba, Father." This last expression is given by St. Mark as our Lord's own in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). We may conclude that the Aramaic word
was the one used by him, and heard by St. Peter, who is said to have been St. Mark's informant in the composition of his Gospel; the equivalent Greek word,
, having been added originally by the evangelist in explanation (cf.
and Mark 7:34 for similar instances of St. Mark giving Christ's own expressions, with their Greek equivalents). Afterwards it may be further supposed that the Greek-speaking Christians came to use the whole phrase, as it had been delivered to them, in their own devotions, as representing our Lord's own mode of addressing the Father, and so as expressing peculiarly their union with Christ, and their filial relation to God in him. It is probable also, from the way St. Paul here introduces the expression (
, changing from the second to the first person plural), that it was in customary use, perhaps at some special parts of the service, in congregational worship. It occurs once more in a passage closely corresponding with the one before us, and which should be studied in connection with it (
). It is to be observed how, in ver. 17, the idea of our sonship now, and consequently of our being
with Christ, leads up to a resumption of the now prevailing thought of our present condition in the mortal body being no bar to our final inheritance of life. It is our being as yet in these mortal bodies that is the cause of our present suffering; but he also was in the body, and he also so suffered; and our sharing in his sufferings really unites us the more to him, and the more ensures our final inheritance with him (cf.
2 Corinthians 1:5, 7
). The apostle introduces next a deep and suggestive view, both in explanation of our now being subject to suffering, and in confirmation of our expectation of future glory notwithstanding. He points to nature generally, to God's whole creation, so far as it is under our view in this mundane sphere, as being at present "subject to vanity," and, as it were, groaning under some power of evil, which is at variance with our ideal of what it should be, and from which there is a general and instinctive yearning for deliverance. Our present sufferings - all those drawbacks to the full enjoyment of our spiritual life - are due to our being at present in the body, and so forming part of the present system of things. But that general yearning is in itself significant of a deliverance; and so the sympathetic witness of nature confirms the hope of our higher spiritual yearnings, and encourages us to endure and wait. Such is the general drift of the passage, continued to the end of ver. 25. Particular thoughts and expressions will be noticed in the course of it.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with
, that we may be also glorified together.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time
to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Verses 18, 19.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.
(So, as in the Revised Version, or
upon us, as
Tyndale and Cranmer, rather than
, as in the Authorized Version. The expression is
, and the idea is of Christ appearing in glory, and shedding his glory on us, cf.
1 John 3:2
For the earnest expectation of the creature
waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God
. "Revelatur gloria: et tum revelantur etiam filii Dei" (Bengel). God's sons will be revealed as being such, and glorified (cf.
1 Corinthians 4:5
1 John 3:2
, in this verse and afterwards, has been variously understood. The word properly means
, and is so used in ch. 1:20; but usually in the New Testament denotes what has been created, as, in English,
Sometimes, where the context limits its application, it denotes
; or it may be used for an individual creature (cf.
). Where there is nothing to limit its meaning, it must be understood of the whole visible creation, at any rate in the world of man. Thus in
2 Peter 3:4
. And so here, except so far as the context limits it; for see especially
πᾶση ἡ κτίσις
in ver. 22. It is, indeed, apparently so limited to the part of creation of which we have cognizance at present; for see
in ver. 22, which denotes a known fact. But is there any further limitation, as many commentators contend? Putting aside as untenable, in view of the whole context (see especially ver. 23), the view of those who understand the new spiritual creation of the regenerate to be meant, we may remark as follows:
includes certainly all
, not excepting the regenerate.
Καὶ ἡμεῖς αὐτοὶ
in ver. 23 means that "we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit" are included, not that we are a class apart.
is included too. So general a term as
πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις
could not surely have been used if man only had been meant. And it is obviously true that the whole sentient creation, as well as man, has a share now in the general suffering. To the objection that the irrational creatures cannot be conceived as sharing in the "hope" and "earnest expectation" spoken of, it may be replied that, so far as it seems to be implied that they do, it may only be that the apostle, by a fine
, conceives them as feeling even as the human mind feels concerning them. But, further, conscious hope and expectation does not seem, if the language of the passage be examined, to be distinctly attributed to them. All that is of necessity implied is that they share in the groaning from which we crave deliverance.
Inanimate nature too
included in the idea, it also seeming to share in the present mystery of evil, and falling short of our ideal of a terrestrial paradise. Tholuck appositely quotes Philo as saying that all nature
. It may be that St. Paul had in his mind what is said in Genesis of the cursing of the ground for man's sake, and of the thorns and thistles; and also the pictures found in the prophets of a renovated earth, in which the desert should rejoice and blossom as the rose. Calvin comments on the whole passage thus: "Omissa expesitionum varietate, hunc locum accipio, nullum esse elementum, nullamque mundi pattern, quae non, veluti praesontis miseriae agnitione tacta, in spem resurrectionis intenta sit." Again, "Spem creaturis quae sensu carent ideo tribuit, ut fideles oculos aperiant ad conspectum invisibilis vitae, quamvis adhuc sub deformi habitu lateat."
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected
Verses 20, 21.
For the creature
, as before)
was subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it in hope. Because
in hope that
also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God
. The aorist
("was subjected") seems to imply that the present "vanity" and "bondage of corruption" were not inherent in the original Creation, or of necessity to last for ever. Thus the assertions of
: and 31, stand unshaken, viz. that in the beginning God created all things, and that all at first was "very good." The ideas, resorted to in order to account for existing evil, of matter (
) being essentially evil, and of a
, other than the Supreme God, having made the world, are alike precluded. It might serve as an answer to the argument of Lucretius against a Divine origin of things-
"Nequaquam nobis divinius esse paratam
Naturam rerum, tanta star praedita culpa"
Why the "creature" was thus "subjected" is not here explained. No solution of the old insoluble problem of
τοθὲν τὸ κακὸν
is given. All that is, or could be, said is that it was
διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα
, meaning God. It was his will that it should be so; this is all we know; except that we find the beginning of evil, so far as it affects man, attributed in Scripture to human sin. But he so subjected his creation
This expression may refer to the
, or to the never-dying hope in the human heart; to either or to both. The latter idea is expressed in the myth of Pandora's box. Further, the creature is said to have been so subjected "not willingly" (
). No sentient beings acquiesce in suffering; they resent evil, and would fain flee from it. Man especially unwillingly submits to his present bondage. When in ver. 21 the hope is expressed of the creature (or creation) itself being eventually freed from the present bondage of corruption, it may be that the human part of creation only is in the writer's eye; but it may be also (there being still no expressed limitation of the word
) that he conceives a final emancipation of the whole creation from evil (cf.
1 Corinthians 15:23-27
2 Peter 3:13
). But if so, it is not said that the peculiar glory of the sons of God will extend to all creation, but only that all will be freed into the freedom of their glory; which may mean that the day of the revelation of the sons of God in glory will bring with it a general emancipation of all creation from its present bondage. Such a great final hope finds expression in the verse -
"That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off Divine event,
To which the whole creation moves."
) The present condition of things is in ver. 20 denoted by
, and in ver. 21 by
τῆς δουλειάς τῆς φθορᾶς
. The first of these words is the equivalent in the LXX. of the Hebrew XXX, which means properly "breath," or "vapour," and is used metaphorically for anything frail, fruitless, evanescent, vain. It is often applied to idols, and it is the word in Ecclesiastes where it is said that "all is vanity" (cf. also
Psalm 39:5, 6
). It seems here to denote the frailty, incompleteness, transitoriness, to which all things are now subject. "
sonat frustatio, quod creatura interim non assequatur quod utcunque contendit efficere" (Erasmus).
intimates corruption and decay.
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Verses 22, 23.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only so, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body
. The present unwilling subjection of the whole visible creation to evil is here still more forcibly expressed, and spoken of as being what is known - a subject of experience to all who observe and think; and it is added that this state of things continues still - it is "until now." The yearned-for deliverance has not yet come; and therefore we should not be surprised if we too, the regenerate, while in the body, are not yet exempt from our share in the universal groaning. For we have but the
of the Spirit as yet, not its full triumph; cf. "the
of the Spirit" (
2 Corinthians 1:22
), and "the
of our inheritance " (
). Its being said that we still wait for our adoption as sons is not inconsistent with other statements (as in
, and above, ver. 14, etc.), to the effect that we are already adopted, and are already sons; for
here denotes the final realization of our present sonship, when the sons of' God shall be
(ver. 19). Similarly, our redemption (
) is here regarded as future. In one sense we are redeemed already; in another we await our redemption,
the full accomplishment thereof. It is the consummation called by our Lord
), and by St. Peter,
2 Peter 3:13
, and Revelation generally. "Of our body" seems to be added with reference to what has been seen above as to our present "mortal bodies" being both the organs of the lust of the flesh and the hindrances to the proper development of our inward spiritual life.
And not only
, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption,
, the redemption of our body.
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Verses 24, 25.
hope we were saved
are saved, as
in the Authorized Version. The aorist
in ver. 15, points to the time of conversion. The dative
, which has no preposition before it, seems here, to have a
sense; for faith, not hope, is that
we are ever said to be saved. The meaning is that when the state of salvation was entered upon, hope was an essential element in its appropriation. A condition, not of attainment, but of hope, is therefore the normal condition of the regenerate now; and so, after shortly pointing out the very meaning of hope, the apostle enforces his previous conclusion, that they must be content at present to wait with patience.
But hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it
. Now comes in a further thought, and a very interesting one.
But if we hope for that we see not,
do we with patience wait for
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Verses 26, 27.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for what we should pray for as we ought we know not: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because
he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God
. Here, then, is a further source of help and comfort to Christians under present trials. Of themselves they know not what relief to crave. St. Paul himself knew not what to pray for as he ought, when he asked for removal of his thorn in the flesh; if left to themselves, their long waiting and their manifold perplexities might damp their hope; but a Helper beyond themselves comes in to succour them, viz. the Holy Spirit himself, who intercedes (
) for them. But how? Not as the Son intercedes for them, apart from themselves, at the mercy-seat; but within themselves, by inspiring them with these unutterable (or,
) groanings; and they are conscious that such deep and intense yearnings are from the Divine Spirit moving them, and teaching them to pray. They may not still be able to put their requests of God into definite form, or even express them in words; but they know that God knows the meaning of what his own Spirit has inspired. This is a deep and pregnant thought. Even apart from the peculiar faith and inspiration of the gospel, the internal consciousness of the human soul, with its yearnings after something as yet unrealized, affords one of the most cogent evidences of a life to come to those who feel such yearnings. For ideals seem to postulate corresponding realities; instinctive longings seem to postulate fulfilment. Else were human nature a strange riddle indeed. But Christian faith vivifies the ideal, and intensifies the longing; and thus the prophecy of internal consciousness acquires a new force to the Christian believer; and this all the more from his being convinced that the quickening of spiritual life of which he is conscious is Divine. The psalmist of old, when he sang, "As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God," felt in these ardent though inarticulate pantings a presage of fulfilment of his "hope in God." So the devout Christian; and all the more in proportion to the intenseness and definiteness of his yearnings, and his conviction that they are from God.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what
the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to
the will of
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, to them that are called according to his purpose
. A still further reason for endurance. Not only do these inspired groanings strengthen our hope of deliverance; nay, also
(whether from God's Word, or inspired conviction, or experience of their effects) that these very trials that seem to hinder us are so overruled as to further the consummation to them that love God (cf. above,
, etc.); and at the end of the verse there is added, as introducing a still further ground of assurance,
; the significance of which expression is shown in the following versos, which carry out the thought of it.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate
conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Verses 29, 30.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. And whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified
. Thus is introduced the doctrine of predestination. This is indeed a principal passage on which theological theories with regard to it have been built. It, with the context, is the basis of the definition of predestination in Art. 17. It is, therefore, of great importance to consider carefully what the apostle here really says, and appears most obviously to mean; it being the duty of the expositor to pay regard to this only, in view of the language used, the way it is introduced, and any cognate passages that may throw light upon it. We may observe, in the first place, that it is plain that more is spoken of here than
election, or predestination to a state of privilege, which is the subject especially treated in ch. 9.
predestination is in view; and this not to gospel privileges only, but also carrying with it the result of glory. But it still remains to be seen whether such predestination is regarded as
irrespective, with regard to its final result, of the
of man's use of grace given; and, if so, whether
irrespective of the Divine foreknowledge of what men would be, and themselves deserve. The Calvinistic view is that God from all eternity, of the mere good pleasure of his will, selected certain persons out of mankind to be the heirs of glory; the Arminian is that he foresaw from all eternity who would, in the exercise of their own free-will, respond to his purpose, and, in virtue of such foreknowledge, preordained them to glory. It is hardly necessary to consider whether there is any countenance given to the view that predestination ensures salvation, however a man may live; the obligation of actual holiness in Christians being (as we have seen) so strongly insisted on all along. If, then, the Calvinistic theory should appear to be supported, it must be with the proviso that predestination of necessity carries with it the grace of
in good works, or at any rate a true conversion before the end, as well as final glory. Let us, in the first place, observe the way in which St. Paul introduces the subject, so as better to understand his drift. He has been speaking of the trials and imperfections of the present life, and urging his readers not to be discouraged by them, on the ground that, if they continue to "live after the Spirit," these things will by no means hinder, but rather further, the final issue. To strengthen this position he introduces the thought of God's eternal purpose; in effect thus: Your being in the state of grace in which you now feel yourselves to be, is due to God's eternal purpose to call you to this state, and thus in the end to save you. It is impossible that the circumstances in which he places you now, or any power whatever, should thwart God's eternal purpose. But it is not of necessity implied by anything that is actually said that the persons addressed might not themselves resist the Divine purpose. In fact, their own perseverance appears to be presupposed already, and they have been urged to it all along, as though their use of grace depended on themselves. Hence the apostle in this passage does not really touch the theoretic questions that have been raised by theologians, his purpose being simply the practical one of encouraging his readers to persevere and hope. We may now examine the successive expressions in the passage, and see what they imply. In ver. 28 the context shows
to have especial reference to external circumstances of trial, and not at all to men's own sins. Calvin, commenting on it, quotes St. Augustine as saying, "Peceata quoque sua, ordinante Dei providentia, sanctis ideo non nocere ut potius corum saluti inserviant;" but while he assents to this proposition, he denies, with truth, that any such meaning is intended here. It may be observed, in passing, that Augustine's proposition, though it sounds strange, may, in a certain sense, be accepted as true: "We must continually err in order to be humble; our frailty and sins are the tools that God uses" (General Gordon's 'Letters to his Sister,' p. 371). Further,
cannot be understood as limiting
τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι τὸν Θεὸν
, as though among those that love God only some are "the called;" nor can
be understood as limiting
, as though even of the called not all are called with the purpose of saving them. Only a preconceived idea could surely have suggested such an interpretation of the verse. In ver. 29 (
bearing the sense of "to determine," as well as of "to know")
may possibly mean "predetermined" rather than "foreknew." Elsewhere in the New Testament, when used of men, it has the latter sense (
2 Peter 3:17
). When used of God, it may, as here, have either meaning (cf.
1 Peter 1:20
); but in the text last referred to the first meaning seems more probable. So also of
1 Peter 1:2
. The distinction would not be of much importance but for the fact that the sense of "foreknew" has been pressed in support of the Arminian view; viz. that Divine predestination was consequent on the Divine foreknowledge of what men would be. It would not, indeed, really prove this view, since it might only mean that God knew beforehand the objects of his intended mercy. Calvin, though translating
, strongly rebuts the Arminian inference, saying, "Insulsi colligunt illi, quos dixi, Deum non alios elegisse nisi quos sua gratia dignos fore praevidit." Again, "Sequitur notitiam hanc a bene placito pendere, quia Deus nihil extra seipsum praeseivit quos voluit adoptando, sod tantum signavit quos eligere volebat.'
(which might, perhaps, be better rendered
, which is its proper meaning, so as to avoid the necessary idea of irresistible destiny which is commonly associated with the word
) must be taken, not absolutely, but in connection with
. That the elect should in the first place be "conformed to the image of Christ" is all that is, here at least, denoted as preordained by God. The expression,
συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος
, may be understood, from the preceding context, to refer, primarily at least, to participation in Christ's sufferings (cf.
). Coming to ver. 30, we find the following sequence:
eternal foreknowledge (or eternal purpose),
preordination to fellowship with Christ,
calling (to acceptance of the gospel),
(4) means the participation in God's
, the passing into a "state of salvation" through faith in baptism. But what is meant by
(5) has been a subject of discussion. Some, in view of the aorist, not future, tense of the verb, understand it of
, regarded as participation in the
of the Divine holiness. Others, in view of the significance of the word itself, understand future glory, the aorist being accounted, for by the apostle's taking in one view the whole process of salvation with its final result, which is contemplated as accomplished. Perhaps both ideas are included, present sanctification being regarded as the commencement and earnest of the full glory to be revealed in "the sons of God" hereafter. In any case, we are not bound by what is here said to conclude that final glory of necessity follows the previous stages. For the apostle may be only setting forth the process and result when grace is not resisted. But certainly he implies that, when the result is glory, all is to be traced, not to man's initiation or deservings, but to Divine grace, and the Divine purpose of mercy from eternity. In the remainder of this chapter the apostle rises into a strain of glowing eloquence, into a very song of triumph, in view of the assured hope of faithful Christians. Faithfulness, be it once more observed, is presupposed throughout the passage, which is quite wrongly understood as encouraging confidence in any on the ground of their conviction that they are certainly, even in spite of themselves, predestinated to glory: it only encourages perseverance in spite of trial on the ground of our feeling that, if we do persevere, we cannot fail, because God is on our side, and it is his eternal purpose to save us.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
What shall we then say to these things? If God
for us, who
What shall we then say to these things?
, meaning "with respect to," not "against ").
If God be for us, who can be against us?
, in opposition to
: who - what adverse power - can there possibly be, stronger than God?).
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all
(evidently not for the elect only, but for all mankind; cf. on Romans 5:18),
how shall he not with him also freely give us
grant us of his free grace)
, corresponding to
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect!
(Not, of course, meaning that the elect, in virtue of God's choice of them, cannot, though sinful, be charged with sin; but that no possible adversary - again
- can be conceived as arraigning those whom God himself accepts as justified. Observe that the word here is
as in ver. 28. Cf.
Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσι κλητοὶ
ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί
. Many may be
to a state of salvation, but not all of them
finally, as fulfilling the purpose of their calling.) It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. A different punctuation of these two verses is preferred by some, and seems more natural and more forcible; thus: Who
shall charge God's elect? God who justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Christ who died?
etc. A similar answering a question by asking another is found below in ver. 35. The further thought is thus implied that, if neither God charges, nor Christ, the Judge, condemns, who can do either? The apostle next goes on to say that, there being none to charge and condemn us at last, so also there is none that can
us from our state of acceptance now. For who or what can possibly prove stronger than Christ's love, which has called us to it? The enumeration that follows of things that might possibly be supposed to remove us shows again that it is not our own sins, but external circumstances of trial, that are being viewed all along as powerless to hinder our salvation.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?
God that justifieth.
he that condemneth?
Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
i.e. the love of Christ to
us, and in the same sense "the love of God" below; cf.
τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντος ἡμᾶς
in ver. 37
). Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter
. (This quotation of
may be introduced as showing that such trials have ever been the lot of God's servants, and did not separate the saints of old from God.)
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors
- we not only conquer in spite of them; we conquer all the more because of them; cf.
, etc., and
through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall he able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord
. In these two concluding verses the thought is distinctly extended from
of trial to all
, human or superhuman, that may be conceived as assaulting us through them, or in any way opposing us. But it is still adverse powers and influences, not our own failure in perseverance, that are in view. It is not necessary to define what is exactly meant by each of the expressions in these verses. Enough to say that what is meant is, that nothing whatever, in heaven or earth, or under the earth, can thwart God's good purpose for us, or separate us from his love. The following paraphrastic summary of this important chapter, free from the encumbrance of notes, may help to a clearer perception of its drift and sequence of thought: -
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Verses 38, 39.
- For I am persuaded that no powers or circumstances whatever, external to ourselves, will ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, or consequently bar our attainment of our final inheritance.
Additional Note on ver.
The view given above of St. Paul's intention and meaning is by no means meant as ignoring the essential mystery of predestination, however regarded. Divine omnipotence combined with omniscience on the one hand, and human free-will on the other, seem indeed to human reason to be incompatible ideas; yet we are compelled to entertain both - the one on the ground, not only of scriptural teaching, but also of our conception of the Divine Being; the other on the ground, not only of our conception of Divine justice, but also of our own irresistible consciousness, and of scriptural teaching too. Such difficulty of reconciliation between two apparently necessary ideas is not peculiar to theology; philosophy has it too; and there are necessitarians among philosophers, as well as predestinarians among theologians, equally contradicting man's irresistible consciousness of having the power of choice. We can only regard the conflicting conceptions as partial apprehensions of a great truth which as a whole is beyond us. The apparent contradiction between them may be due to the failure of finite beings to comprehend infinity. They have been compared to two parallel straight lines, which, according to geometrical definition, can never meet, and yet, according to the higher mathematical theory, meet in infinity; or we may take the illustration of an asymptote, which from a finite point of view can never possibly touch a curve, and yet, in analytical geometry, is found to cross it at an infinite distance. For the practical purposes of life both ideas may be entertained; and it is only human attempts to reconcile them in theory, or to escape the difficulty by denying free-will altogether, that have given rise to the endless controversies on the subject. It is important to observe how St. Paul, though he distinctly intimates both conceptions (as he must needs do as a preacher of God's truth in all its aspects), and though his allusions to predestination have been made a main support of Calvinistic views, never really propounds a theory. When he alludes to the subject, it is with a practical purpose; and when (as in this chapter) he speaks of God's predestination of believers to glory, his purpose is to encourage them to persevere in holiness on the ground of their assurance of God's eternal purpose concerning them, the essential human conditions being all along supposed to be fulfilled (see also note on Hebrews 6:16-20, in 'Pulpit Commentary').
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Courtesy of Open Bible
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