Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(a) Therefore means because of what God has done (see Rom. 7:25).
Many churchgoers are burdened with guilt and condemnation. They’re stuck in Romans 7 when they ought to be in Romans 8. They’re under law when they should be under grace. They’re walking after the old ways of the flesh when they might be frolicking in the new ways of the Spirit.
(b) Now means right now, today, this minute. You can be free from condemnation now. How? By believing that God is for you and not against you (Rom. 8:31).
(c) No condemnation means no accusation can be made against those who are in Christ Jesus and have been made right with God (Rom. 8:33).
The ministry of law brings condemnation, but the ministry of grace removes condemnation. The law judges the sinner, but grace justifies the sinner.
Some may say, when I stop sinning I will have no more condemnation. But that’s old covenant thinking. In the new covenant, we start from the place of no condemnation and the result is we are empowered to stop sinning. “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
(d) In Christ Jesus. Adam’s disobedience brought condemnation and death for those in Adam, but Christ’s obedience brings life and justification for those in Christ.
The word union does not appear in many English Bibles, but our union with the Lord is mentioned hundreds of times in scripture. It is found in the phrases like “in Christ Jesus,” “with Christ,” “God with us,” and “Christ in you.” The gift of no condemnation is one of many blessings that are experienced as a result of being in union with Christ.
See entry for Union.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
(a) The law… the law. Paul used legal metaphors because he was speaking to those who processed new revelation through legal lenses (Rom. 7:1). He was saying, “A change of government requires a change of law. In Adam, you were governed by the law of sin and death. In Christ, you are governed by the law of the Spirit of life.”
(b) The law of the Spirit of life refers to the rule or influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is being led by the Spirit instead of being ruled by sin (Rom. 6:14, 18). It is walking in step with the spirit instead of walking after the flesh. When we yield to the life-giving Spirit, we reap abundant life (Rom. 8:13).
Those who have surrendered to Christ have submitted to a different government. You were a slave to sin, now you are a slave to righteousness (Rom. 6:17–18). You were under law, now you are under grace (Rom. 6:14). You were subject to the law of sin and death, now you are governed by the law of the Spirit of life. This changes everything. Formerly, when you sinned, you were condemned by the law as a sinner. Now when you sin, you do not reap the condemnation of the law, but the righteous affirmation of the life-giving super-interceding Spirit of grace. Certainly, there are consequences to sinning, but punishment and condemnation are not among them. Nothing can separate you from God’s righteous love.
(c) Set you free. Just as a bird can fly free of gravity, we can live free of sin’s downward pull.
In Christ we are no longer captive to our lusts and appetites. The heavy weight of the law that once crushed us has been removed. Unburdened and unbound, we have nothing to prove and everything to live for.
(d) The law of sin and of death refers to the rule or influence of sin (see entry for Rom. 7:23).
Sin is like a force of nature pulling you down into the Adamic life of independent living. It does this by appealing to our flesh. In contrast, the Holy Spirit calls you to live from your true identity as a beloved child of God. The Spirit elevates you to a life of intimacy and union with the Lord.
For as long as we inhabit a fallen world wearing fleshly suits, we will feel the tug of sin. But by the grace of God we can rise above the flesh pits of earth and soar on the heights of our Father’s favor. The Bible calls this walking after the spirit.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
(a) The Law refers to the law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.
(b) What the Law could not do was remove the curse of sin and death and make you righteous and holy. The law can do a lot of things. It can inflame sin highlighting your need for grace. But the law cannot elevate you to the kind of life that God wants for you.
(c) Weak as it was through the flesh. The law is weak in the sense that it cannot make imperfect people perfect (Heb. 7:19). The law is good but it can’t make you good.
(d) God did. Here is the gospel in two words. What you didn’t do, God did. The law demanded that you do the impossible and you failed. But what you couldn’t do, God did. God rescued you from the prison of sin and set your feet on solid ground.
(e) Sending His own Son. God sent Jesus because he wants us to know how much he loves us (John 3:16). He’s not interested in condemning us or treating us as our sins deserve. His desire is to rescue every one of us, from the best of us to the worst of us. The Father’s heart of love beats for the whole world.
(f) The likeness of sinful flesh. Jesus was not a sinful son of Adam, but he came to earth disguised as one. The virgin-born man from heaven entered the prison of sin dressed like any other prisoner.
(g) As an offering for sin. The word offering appears in italics indicating it has been added in some Bible translations. A literal reading is Jesus was sent for sin or on account of sin. He came to deal a blow to the tyrant who had enslaved humanity (see entry for Rom. 6:14).
(h) He condemned sin in the flesh. Jesus bore our sins in his body (1 Pet. 2:24) and on the cross God dealt with them once and for all.
God condemned sin. The Amplified Bible says he subdued, overcame, and deprived sin of its power. Consider Sodom and Gomorrah. Those cities were wiped off the face of the earth, and no trace of them remains. What God did to those cities is what he did to sin. (The word condemned in Romans 8:3 is the same word Peter uses to describe what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet. 2:6).) On the cross, God condemned and obliterated sin once and for all. Because all sin has been condemned, a just God can no longer condemn you for your sin.
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
(a) The requirement of the Law. The paradox of the law is those who try to keep it can never succeed (see Romans 7), while those who trust in Jesus can never fail (Romans 8).
(b) Might be fulfilled in us. When we walk in step with the Spirit we keep the law without any conscious effort. The law is fulfilled in us, and not by us as we allow Jesus the Righteous One to express his righteous life through us.
(c) Do not walk according to the flesh. Those who do not rely on themselves (see next verse).
(d) The flesh… the Spirit. The flesh and spirit refer to the physical and spiritual realms respectively. In context, the flesh describes our connection with the physical world while the spirit refers to our connection with the Holy Spirit.
(e) Walk … according to the Spirit. To walk in step with the spirit means being mindful of the things of the spirit (see next verse).
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
(a) According to the flesh. To walk according to the flesh means being mindful of natural things, what we see, hear, touch, etc., and ignorant of spiritual things. It is leaning on our own strength and understanding instead of trusting in God.
We tend to equate fleshly living with bad behaviour, but even good people walk after the flesh. A moral man who takes pride in his law-keeping performance is just as fleshly or carnal as any “sinner.” Seduced by his own goodness, such a man may even be further from the kingdom of God than the proverbial tax collectors and prostitutes (see entry for Matt. 21:31).
(b) The things of the flesh are the things which are valued in the world such as human effort, reputation and accomplishments. See entry for The Flesh.
(c) According to the Spirit. To walk according to the spirit means being mindful of spiritual things – what God has said and is now saying, what God has done and is now doing. It is trusting in the Lord instead of relying on yourself. See entry for Gal. 5:25.
(d) The things of the Spirit are the things of God (Matt. 16:23). They are the things above, unseen and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18, Col. 3:2).
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
(a) Mind set. What you think about reveals your focus, shapes your character, and determines your destiny.
(b) The mind set on the flesh is primarily conscious of self and self-preservation. “What do I want, how will I get it, and how will it make me look?” The fleshly mindset is limited to the natural realm and looks no further than what it can see and understand.
(c) Is death. A mind focused on self can never experience the true life that comes from God.
Paul is not threatening the believer with death. He is reminding us that carnal living has consequences. Offer your members to sin, and you’ll become a slave to sin (Romans 6). Put yourself under law, and you’ll reap misery and condemnation (Romans 7). The paths of license and legalism both lead to the same dead end (see the entry for Rom. 8:13).
If you are experiencing failure, death and despair in your life, it may be that your mind is set on fleshly things. Instead of looking to the Lord, you are concerned with the cares and worries of life. The remedy is to make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Rom. 13:14). In other words, change your mindset. Lay aside the old self, put on the new self, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph. 4:22–24).
(d) The mind set on the Spirit puts God in the center of all things. It desires to know what God thinks. It asks, “What does God say in this situation?”
(e) Life and peace. Walking in step with the spirit releases the whole shalom life that God intends for us.
Religion says the good life is obtained by denying self and saying no to sin. But this is the way of the flesh. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day said no to sin daily, yet they remained joyless and miserable. True happiness is not about saying no to sin, but saying yes to Jesus. When we live out of our union with the Author of Life, the result is a life of righteousness, peace, and joy.
(f) Peace. If your mind is full of worldly concerns – your physical appearance, political intrigue, magazine gossip, job security, the doctor’s report – you will be anxious and depressed. But fill your mind with your Father’s good thoughts towards you and you will be free and at peace.
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
(a) The mind set on the flesh. The self-conscious mind (see previous verse).
(b) Hostile toward God. Hostile means opposed or incompatible (Gal. 5:17). The way of the flesh has nothing in common with the way of the spirit. One is natural; the other spiritual. One walks by sight; the other by faith.
Someone who is mindful of natural things cannot accept the things of God because such things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). God’s revelation is received in our spirits.
Some say a mind that is hostile to the things of God is proof of original sin, but Paul is simply contrasting two ways to walk. We can set our mind on carnal concerns or we can fix our minds on the things of the spirit (see previous verse).
An example may help: When Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was good to eat, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom, she was leaning on her own understanding and trusting in her own judgment. She was walking according to the flesh and acting contrary to God’s wishes. She did this even though she had no experience with sin. With her God-given mind and freedom Eve chose the wrong path and went astray. You don’t need to invent a sin gene to account for Eve’s transgression. The lusts of the flesh and the lies of the serpent will suffice.
Further reading: “Why original sin is unbiblical”
(c) The law of God in this context refers to the will of God as revealed in his word. It should not be equated with the law of Moses. See entry for Romans 7:22.
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
(a) Those who are in the flesh can be distinguished from those who are in the Spirit. The former are unbelievers disconnected from the life of Christ (Rom. 8:5), while the latter have the Spirit of God within them (Rom. 8:9). To be in the flesh is to be held captive in a fallen world.
(b) Cannot please God. Those who turn a deaf ear to the sweet Holy Spirit while filling their minds with the trivial concerns of this world bring no pleasure to God. Existing only in a world they can see and touch they are oblivious to the things of God. They are faithless and without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
(a) You are not in the flesh. You are not an unbeliever.
We have been contrasting two ways to walk: according to the flesh or spirit (Rom. 8:5–7). Now Paul contrasts two kinds of people: those who are in the flesh and those who are in the Spirit (see next verse).
Although it is possible for a believer to walk in the old ways of the flesh, you are not in the flesh. When the Galatians turned their focus away from the spirit and onto the law, they were walking in the flesh. But God did not cast them out of his family.
(b) If indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. The Spirit of Christ dwells in all who have called upon the name of the Lord.
Once upon a time, you were apart from the Lord and lacking the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14–15). But the moment you responded in faith to the call of God, you were placed in Christ by the Holy Spirit. “God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30, GNB). You are not a believer because you keep the rules or go to church. The distinguishing characteristic of a Christian is the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Your identity is defined by your spiritual DNA.
(c) Dwells in you. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go but he dwells or abides in you forever (John 14:17). Your body is his holy habitation (see entry for 1 Cor. 6:19).
When you sin, the Holy Spirit dwells in you. When you walk after the old ways of the flesh, he dwells in you. No matter what happens, you belong to God, and nothing can separate you from his love.
(d) If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ. If anyone is an unbeliever.
The unbeliever’s problem is they are alienated or spiritually disconnected from God. Everyone has a spirit, but not everyone is connected to the Spirit of Christ (see entry for Col. 1:21).
(e) He does not belong to Him. The self-reliant life have no room for Christ. “I belong to no one. I need no help.” Those who reject the Good Shepherd are not numbered among his sheep.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
(a) If Christ is in you. If you have the Spirit of Christ, Christ is in you (see previous verse).
Some say God inhabits all of us. Paul would not have agreed. Only those who receive by faith the Spirit of Christ can say that Christ is in them.
(b) The body… the spirit. Your body connects you to the world where sin resides (Rom. 5:13); your spirit connects you to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17).
(c) Dead because of sin. Our mortal bodies remain subject to death and decay on account of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12). Although our spirits are one with the Lord, we are still waiting for the redemption of our bodies. See entry for Romans 8:23.
(d) Spirit is alive. Jesus gives us life and that life comes to us through our spirits.
You are a spiritual being inhabiting a mortal body or earthsuit. While our bodies age and die, you won’t die because you are one with the Lord. Your spirit was joined to his the moment you responded to his call in faith.
(e) Because of righteousness. You will never fully enjoy the life God has for unless you receive the gift of his righteousness.
Formerly, we were sinners on death row. But having been justified by God, we can rule and reign with Christ here and now (Rom. 5:17). But if you do not know that you are 100 percent righteous in Christ, you will have trouble receiving from God. Your life will swing between faith and flesh, and you will be up and down.
This is why Paul spends so much of Romans 8 preaching the good news of righteousness. You need to know that God is for you, he accepts you, and he has justified you (Rom. 8:31ff). When you allow these truths to take root in your heart, then you really live.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
(a) The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus. Who raised Jesus? Paul sometimes says God the Father raised him (Rom. 6:4, Gal. 1:1) but here he says the Spirit raised him. It was a team effort. The Spirit knows the will of God and executes that will (Rom. 8:27).
(b) Will also give life to your mortal bodies. The abundant life Christ offers is not for the distant future but can be experienced here and now.
Our flesh is too weak to be godly, but the Spirit helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26). He empowers us to live holy and righteous lives and stay free from sin. He provides healing for our hurts, and comfort for our troubles. He gives us grace to forgive the unforgivable and love the unlovable. He delivers us from harmful habits and destructive mindsets.
(c) Your mortal bodies; see entry for Romans 6:12.
(d) His Spirit who dwells in you; see entry for Romans 8:9.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—
(a) Brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren typically refers to Christian brothers and sisters, and that is the case here (see Rom 1:7). Those in Christ can choose to live according to the flesh or the spirit. Those outside of Christ remain in the flesh and have no choice but to live according to the flesh.
(b) We are under obligation, not to the flesh. We owe nothing to our old way of life.
Sometimes your old life will come calling and invite you out for old times’ sake or to pay back some perceived debt. There is no debt. Don’t look at your old self with any sense of obligation or nostalgia. The rotten life you had as a prisoner of sin has no appeal for the one who has been set free. Your only “obligation” is to make the most of the freedom that Jesus purchased for you. So live large and live well so that others may see that there is more to this life than feeding the flesh.
(c) To live according to the flesh means being mindful of natural things, what we see, hear, touch, etc., and ignorant of spiritual things. It is leaning on our own strength and understanding instead of trusting in God. See entry for Romans 8:5.
for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
(a) According to the flesh; see entry for Romans 8:5.
(b) You must die. The selfish life is a dead-end street because self-preservation invariably leads to self-destruction. The one who tries to save his life shall lose it (Matt. 16:25).
Walking after the flesh is like building with sand. Any success you have will be fleeting and buried by the passage of time. Even if you make it to the top, you will find nothing there, because life is more than accomplishments and the accumulation of stuff (Luke 12:15). Worse, the selfish life leads to conflict and dissension (Gal. 5:15). Selfish people quarrel; selfish marriages fail; selfish societies wage war.
We live in a me-first world where the pursuit of power and status corrupts those who make it to the top and destroys those who don’t (Gal. 6:8, Php. 3:18–19).
(c) But if. You have a choice. You can follow the old paths of the flesh or walk in the new way of the spirit.
(d) By the Spirit. To live or walk by the spirit means being mindful of spiritual things. See entry for Rom. 8:5.
(e) Putting to death. To walk by the spirit is to give no thought to the ways of the flesh.
Just as we reckon ourselves dead to sin, we don’t indulge the flesh. When our flesh barks with illegitimate desire, we ignore it. We have better food to eat and higher pleasures to pursue.
Some read these words as though Paul was preaching self-denial in the sense of going without or abstaining from things we enjoy. But this sort of self-denial is unbiblical and carnal. (To deny self in a Biblical sense means trusting Jesus and not leaning on your own strength and understanding.) As always, Paul is exhorting us to walk in the new way of the spirit. We let go of the inferior to take hold of something better. See entry for Gal 5:24.
(f) The deeds of the body or the deeds of the flesh are those things we do to grasp, claw, and get our way. It’s striving to make a name for ourselves and defending our rights. It’s seizing power and building empires. See entry for Gal. 5:19.
(g) You will live. You will enjoy real life.
The carnal life is nasty, brutish, and empty. In contrast, the spirit-led life is abundant, healthy, and beautiful. It is the life we were made for (John 6:63, Rom. 8:6, 11, Gal. 6:8, 1 John 2:17).
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
(a) Led by the Spirit of God. We are led by the Spirit when we look to the Lord as our source and supply. “What does God want? What does he say?” When we make this our habit, we are acting like mature sons of God.
(b) Are sons of God. Only those who are filled with the Spirit can be led by the Spirit, and those who have the Spirit are the children of God.
In context, Paul is saying remember who you are. You are sons of God, so live like it. Live in step with the spirit and don’t come back under the yoke of law.
(c) Sons. Someone once said, “The Son of God became a Son of Man so the sons of men might become the sons of God.”
Why sons and not children of God. In one sense there is no difference. If you are one, you are the other. But Paul is thinking in terms of Roman adoption (see next verse), and in the Roman world sons enjoyed special privileges. Whether you are a male or female, all the privileges of adoption are yours in Christ.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
(a) A spirit of slavery is behind the demonic attractions of license and legalism. The licentious spirit says, “If it feels good, do it,” while the legalistic spirit says, “If it makes you good, do it,” but both leave you enslaved and fearful.
(b) Leading to fear again. Fear and anxiety are the fruit of walking after the flesh. The law-keeping legalist worries, “have I done enough?” while the licentious sinner wonders, “how could God forgive me?” Both are insecure and neither has any peace regarding the future.
(c) Adoption as sons. You are no longer a slave but an adopted son with all the rights and privileges that entails.
When we think of adoption, we think of small children in orphanages, but in Roman times powerful men adopted young men to make them their heirs. At the time of Christ’s birth, the Roman world was ruled by a man who had been adopted in this manner. As a young man, Gaius Octavius was adopted by his famous uncle Julius Caesar. With Caesar’s name, estate, and legions, Gaius was put on a fast track to royalty. We know him today as the emperor Augustus.
This is the sort of adoption that Paul has in mind here. As adopted sons we inherit a new name and all the resources of heaven (Rom. 8:17). Truly, we are destined to reign in life through Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:17).
(d) Sons; see previous verse.
(e) We cry out in unison with the Spirit that God is our Father (Gal. 4:6). He is not a judge to fear or a distant and capricious deity. He is our Father who hears the cries of his children and strides across the heavens to help us (Deu. 33:26).
“We cry” suggests a boldness that comes from familiarity. “Father, I need you!” There is nothing timid in the petition of a child who knows she is dearly-loved by her Father.
(f) Abba is the Aramaic word for father. It is a word of familial intimacy, not unlike Papa (which is how the Message Bible translates it). Abba is also a word uniquely associated with prayer. On each of the three occasions Abba appears in the Bible, it is in the context of crying out to God in prayer (Mark 14:36, Gal. 4:6).
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
(a) The Spirit Himself testifies. The world will label and diminish you, but the Holy Spirit will always seek to reveal your true identity.
You are a dearly-loved child of the Most High. When you know who your Father is, you will know who you are and you will have the confidence to live a great life unencumbered by fear. You will bring your cares and concerns to your Father, because if it matters to you it matters to him.
(b) Testifies with our spirit. Spiritual truth is received in our spirits.
The Holy Spirit can communicate with us a hundred different ways – through the Bible, a sermon, a poem, a movie, a song, a thought, and through the wonders of creation – but his words are always received in our spirits. When the Spirit of truth speaks, our spirits resonate testifying that his words are true (John 16:13).
(c) Children of God. Although God is the Father of all (Acts 17:29, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 3:15), the phrase children of God usually refers to believers. See entry for Children of God.
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
(a) Heirs of God. To be an heir of God is to be an heir of all things (Rom. 8:32). There is no place in the universe that falls outside your inheritance. God told Abram “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Gen. 15:1). God gives us himself and when you have him you have everything else besides.
Those who see themselves as servants instead of sons have trouble receiving from God. Like the elder brother in the parable, they’re working like slaves and they expect God to reward them for their faithful service. They don’t hear the Father say “Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Not will be yours but is yours.
If we Christians knew how rich we are in God, we would stop slaving for wages and asking for skinny goats. Instead, we would thank God for every blessing and privilege that is ours in Christ. And then we would tell others the good news so that they too could join the party.
(b) Fellow heirs with Christ. In Christ we are heirs of God himself (Rom. 8:17), heirs of the kingdom (Col. 1:12, James 2:5), heirs of the earth (Matt. 5:5, Rom. 4:13), heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), heirs of eternal life (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:17, Eph. 1:14, Tit. 3:7), heirs of God’s promises (Heb. 6:12, 17), heirs of blessed and gracious life (Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:7, 9), and heirs of all things (John 17:10, Heb. 1:2, Rev. 21:7). See entry for Inheritance.
(c) With Christ. What a wonderful affirmation of our unbreakable union with the Lord. The believer has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:20, 3:3), been raised and made alive with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:1), is heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27), and hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). See entry for Union.
(d) If indeed we suffer with Him. Since Christ is not suffering, to suffer with him could be read as identifying with Christ’s work on the cross. If we share in his sufferings, meaning we believe that Christ died for us and rose again, we are fellow heirs and will be glorified with him.
(e) Be glorified with Him. If we have been baptized with him into his death and buried with him, then we can be sure we have been raised with him and glorified with him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The sufferings … the glory. Just as the pain of labor is inferior to the joy that accompanies the birth of a child, the trials and tribulations of this life are nothing in comparison to the radiant beauty and splendour that will be revealed in us.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
(a) The anxious longing. Creation watches and waits with great anticipation.
This is a poor translation since there is no word here that means anxious. The original word (apokaradokia) means watching with intense anticipation. It is an eager and earnest expectation that is meant here (Rom. 8:25). We await the Lord’s return with eagerness, not anxiety.
(b) Creation implies the created order – the animal kingdom, the biosphere, and everything God made. Although this word is sometimes translated as creature (e.g., Rom. 1:25), from the context it’s clear that Paul is referring to the world and everything in it.
The immediate consequences of Adam’s sin was the ground became cursed (Gen. 3:17, 5:29). The ground represented that part of the earth where humans dwelled. Neither the air nor the sea was cursed. But by the time we get to Noah, humanity’s sin is affecting the birds of the air (Gen 6:7) and by the time we get to Romans it is affecting the whole created order.
(c) The revealing of the sons of God. This prophecy will not be fully fulfilled until Jesus returns in glory (1 John 3:2), but there is also a sense that creation is blessed when the sons of God are revealed now.
The sons of God are kingly problem solvers who bring heavenly solutions to bear on earthly problems. They bless those around them by releasing the resources of heaven in response to earthly needs. They exercise influence by taking people places no one has ever been. Through creative expression in the arts, sciences, business, and politics, the sons of God bring the culture of heaven to earth.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
(a) Creation; see previous verse.
(b) Creation was subjected to futility. Adam’s sin affected the whole world. The word for futility mans vanity, uselessness, or frustration. The world has been held back from its glorious potential on account of humanity’s sin.
(c) Him who subjected it. It was Adam’s doing.
Who is the “Him” in this passage? Is it Adam or God? The capital H indicates the translators’ preference and many commentators would agree. “God executed the sentence for Adam’s sin.” But Paul said sin and death entered the world through the man Adam (Rom. 5:12). All the harm that has been done to our earthly home can be traced back to the arrival of sin. When humanity opened the door to sin, the result was, and continues to be, death and destruction.
(d) In hope. There is hope for the world. Creation will be set free from the curse of sin (see next verse). Just as Adam’s sin affected the whole world (think extinctions, pollution, catastrophic events), Last Adam’s redemption will bring deliverance to the whole created order (restoration, harmony).
Religion teaches that our fallen world will ultimately burn and be destroyed, but earth is our God-given home (Ps. 115:16). Jesus prayed, “Let your will be done here as it is in heaven.” God’s plan is not to shift humanity to heaven, but to bring heaven to earth.
that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
(a) Creation; see entry for Romans 8:19.
(b) Slavery to corruption. On account of sin, the physical world is subject to death and decay. Humanity, of course, was totally responsible for this.
After the Fall of Man, we went from being rightful rulers of Planet Earth to terrifying occupants. Gold told Noah and his sons that the fear and terror of them would fall on creation (Gen. 9:1–3). Before the Fall we didn’t eat animals (Gen 1:29, 2:9). After Noah we ate anything that moved “Arise, kill and eat!” Makes you wonder how we got along with the animals before Noah. Maybe it was the easiest thing in the world for Noah to call them into the ark.
Gone was the harmony of Eden.
(c) Set free… freedom. God is in the business of making all things new (Rev. 21:5). Just as we are being set free from captivity to sin, so too is creation being liberated by the curse of sin. God gave us a beautiful home, we ruined it, but God is restoring it.
(d) The children of God are those who have received Jesus. Believers, in other words. See entry for Children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
(a) Creation; see entry for Romans 8:19.
(b) Creation groans and suffers. Adam’s sin corrupted the entire created order. To this day, humanity’s sin continues to unleash destruction on the world. Creation groans with the pain of childbirth as it awaits the glorious revelation of the sons of God.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
(a) Also we ourselves, along with the rest of creation, are waiting for the full revelation of the sons of God.
(b) Having the first fruits of the Spirit. Our spirits have been awakened and joined to the Holy Spirit who is a pledge or deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 5:5). We are complete in Christ, but there is more to come. We await the redemption of our bodies.
(c) We ourselves groan or murmur or sigh with expectation akin to pregnancy as we await our resurrection bodies (2 Cor. 5:2, 4).
(d) Waiting eagerly; see entry for Romans 8:25.
(e) Adoption as sons; see entry for Romans 8:15.
(f) Sons. We are already sons of God, but we are still waiting the full revelation of our status as sons, something that will happen when we are clothed with glory.
(g) The redemption of our body. One day we will be untouchable by sin.
Our earthly bodies connect us to a world ravaged by sin. Through our natural senses, we are exposed to the seductions of sin, and our mortal bodies remain subject to death and decay (Rom. 6:12, 8:10). But when he returns, the Lord “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Php. 3:21). We will get new and glorious bodies where sin will have no access at all.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
(a) Hope comes from the God of hope (see entry for Rom. 15:13).
You’ll never walk by faith unless you’re walking by hope, and you’ll never walk in hope unless you’re walking in your Father’s love. Faith, hope, and love go together, but the greatest of these is love. Without the Father’s love, there is no hope. But when you know his love, you will be full of hope.
(b) We have been saved. Elsewhere Paul writes of the hope of salvation (1 Th. 5:8) and the hope of eternal life (Tit. 1:2, 3:7), as though our salvation wasn’t a done deal. But since this hope is based on the unbreakable promises of God, Paul can speak of our salvation in the past tense, as he does here. If God has saved you, you are well and truly saved.
(c) Hope that is seen is not hope. Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is a rope that links us to a truth not yet experienced.
There is no greater Truth to which you can affix your hope rope than Daddy-God himself. At one time we were “without hope and without God,” but “on him we have set our hope” (Eph. 2:12, 2 Cor. 1:9–10).
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
(a) What we do not see. Our flesh relies on our natural senses, including sight, but our spirit sees with the eyes of hope. Hope is knowing and relying on the word and character of God.
(b) With perseverance. Hope gives us strength and helps us endure. If you’re going through hardships, you need hope. If you’ve heard a bad report, hold onto your hope. When your hope rope is hitched to truth, there’s nothing you can’t endure.
Those who have been disappointed may be tempted to view hope as a bad thing. But the quality of your hope depends on the truth to which it is linked. Put your hope in frail people, and you will be disappointed. But if you put your hope in God, he will never let you down.
(c) We wait eagerly. In his eschatological parables Jesus told stories of masters, noblemen, and bridegrooms being gone “a long time” (Matt. 24:48, 25:5, 25:19). Since Jesus has been gone a long time, he exhorts us to “be like servants waiting for their master” (Luke 12:36). The need to wait is echoed by the epistle writers. “Wait eagerly for our adoption as sons” (Rom 8:23); “We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom 8:25); “We eagerly await a Savior” (Php. 3:20); “Be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits…” (Jas. 5:7); “Wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 1:21).
Jesus and every New Testament writer spoke of the need to wait patiently and eagerly for the Lord’s return. We are to be watchful and ready, but we are not to put life on hold. Plant trees and raise families, and do whatever God put you on this earth to do. Invest, build, dig deep and go long. Let your light shine so others may praise your Father in heaven.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
(a) The Spirit also helps. You have a great Helper to go with your good hope.
The Holy Spirit is not a fault finder who condemns you for your mistakes. He is the Comforter and the Encourager who gives us grace in our hour of need.
(b) Helps our weakness. The Holy Spirit helps us when we are broken, discouraged, clueless, in despair, infirm, weary, and ailing. For our greatest need, we have a great Helper.
(c) We do not know how to pray as we should. We pray based on our limited understanding of our circumstances, but the Holy Spirit has the complete picture. He helps us to pray for things we don’t yet know or see.
(d) The Spirit Himself intercedes for us. The Holy Spirit powerfully speaks up for us.
(e) Intercedes. The original word is a compound word made up of the words huper and entugchano. The second word means intercede; the first word means hyper or over or super. The Holy Spirit is a super-interceder. When we pray with our little voices; he thunders with his mighty voice.
(f) With groanings too deep for words. The Holy Spirit prays on our behalf “with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance” (to quote the Message Bible). The word for groanings literally means sighs.
and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(a) He who searches the hearts. God knows our hearts better than we do. The One who knitted us together knows our deepest desires and longings.
(b) Knows what the mind of the Spirit is. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are on the same page.
Left to our own devices, we would pray spotty prayers based on incomplete knowledge. But the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with a perfect understanding of what is best for us. He brings aligns our needs and desires with the will of God.
(c) Intercedes. The original verb means to entreat. The Holy Spirit pleads for and speaks up for the saints. The Holy Spirit is not half-hearted about this. As Paul indicates in the previous verse, he is a super-interceder.
The Holy Spirit is in your corner. When life pushes you around, the wonderful Holy Spirit stands up and speaks up because he cares for you. You can trust him to lead you in the path of life.
(d) According to the will of God. The Holy Spirit helps you pray.
The will of God is incomprehensible to the natural mind (1 Cor. 2:14). But the Holy Spirit knows God’s will and he will reveal it to you through your spirit. When we walk in our natural understanding, we miss the path. But when we walk in step with the Spirit, we can be confident that we are walking according to God’s will.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
(a) God causes all things. Some believe God is the ultimate cause of all things and is therefore responsible for all the evil in the word. “God gave me cancer.” “God took my baby.” This is poor exegesis. Paul has just spent several chapters linking death (in all its forms) with sin and sin with the actions of humanity.
Further reading: “Is God the author of evil?”
(b) God causes all things to work together for good. God’s got this. You can be confident that the Great Redeemer can take the broken shards of your life and make something beautiful.
When the children of Israel came to an impassable sea, they thought it was the end, but it was not the end. When Jesus hung on the cross, the disciples thought it was the end, but it was not the end. When trials and troubles come our way, the temptation is to think, “This is the end.” But it is not the end. Even when you take your final breath, it is not the end.
We all go through trials and tribulations, but you can be confident that God will bring good out of your bad situation. Joseph was sold into slavery and Moses was a fugitive. Their lives were over, except God had other plans. What men meant for evil, God repurposed for good.
(c) All things. There is no situation that is beyond the reach of God’s super-abounding grace.
All things includes bad days, sinning weeks, and backslidden months. To the Christian who has lost her hope, her way, and her faith, God says, “We are not done. Things will work out.” God never robs us or makes us sick, but he works through our hurts to bring us to a good place.
(d) To those who love God. Believers.
(e) Those who are called according to His purpose. Believers.
If you are in a bad place, have a confident expectation that you will see the goodness of God. Pray with the aid of the Holy Spirit for God’s redemptive purposes to come to pass in your life. Don’t be a doubting believer who never resists the devil, but submit to God with the confidence that he will raise you up (Jas. 4:7).
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
(a) Those whom He foreknew. God knew in advance who would respond to his call and be saved.
(b) Predestined means predetermined. It does not mean that God chooses some and rejects others. It means God had a plan (Eph. 1:5).
The original word for predestined (proorizo) is made up of two words: pro, meaning fore, and horizo, meaning horizon or boundary. The God who sees the end from the beginning knew who would respond to his call. Before time began he wrote their names in the Book of Life (Rev. 13:8).
(c) Conformed to the image of His Son. The Father’s purpose is that you will be like Jesus. In many respects, you are already just like Jesus. You are as holy, righteous and pleasing to God as he is. “As he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). But one day we will be glorified like Jesus, and clothed with immortality.
(d) The firstborn. Just as first Adam was the first human, last Adam is the firstborn of the new creation. He was the first to die and be raised to new life. (Lazarus and others were merely resurrected to the life they had before.)
Jesus is also known as the firstborn of creation (Col. 1:15), and the firstborn of the dead (Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5).
(e) Many brethren or many sons of God. God wants a big family and the bigger the better
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
(a) Predestined; see previous verse.
(b) He called. God calls everyone to repentance (Acts 17:30), and every believer has heard the call of God. Some church folk like to say they found God, but it is more accurate to say they responded to his call.
In the first half of Romans, Paul highlights the call of God. “You are the called of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:6), “called as saints” (Rom. 1:7). God’s call goes out to both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 9:24–26). But in the second half of Romans, Paul highlights our call to God. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). The Lord abounds in riches for all who call on him (Rom. 10:12), but how will they call if they have not heard (Rom. 10:14)? Believers are those who, having heard the call of God, call to God and are saved.
(c) Justified. God’s call goes out to the ends of the earth, and those who respond in faith are justified or made right with God. See entry for Rom. 3:28.
(d) He also glorified. God elevates us from the miry clay to the heavenly seat. He changes us from lost orphans to adopted sons and co-heirs with Christ.
To glorify means to honor, magnify, and celebrate. Just as it is the delight of the Son to glorify the name of the Father (John 12:28), it is the Father’s delight to glorify his children. God’s plan is for you to shine!
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
(a) What then shall we say to these things? In other words, how should we respond to this good news?
The good news makes a number of startling claims: God sets us free from sin and death (Rom. 8:2), he raises us from the dead (Rom. 8:11), and he adopts us as sons and makes us his heirs (Rom. 8:17). What are the implications of this wonderful news? Paul is about to tell us.
(b) God is for us. Some fear that God is against us, but the gospel declares that he is for us. He is totally committed to your success.
The Message Bible puts it like this: “With God on our side like this, how can we lose?” When you know you can’t lose, it gives you confidence to take great risks. You’ll walk into the lion’s den with a holy swagger and face the furnace without fear. “God is with me. I will not be burned.”
Sons and daughters who are supercharged by their Father’s favor shine like stars (Php. 2:15). Elevated by his love they mount up with wings like eagles.
Further reading: “Acceptance elevates us”
(c) Who is against us? Paul unpacks the significance of the gospel with the greatest set of rhetorical questions ever asked. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Well, no one, obviously. This is not to say we won’t encounter opposition, but those who set themselves against God’s kids are picking a fight they cannot win.
When the Pergamene Christians were facing persecution, Jesus revealed himself as the Lord with a sharp double-edged sword (Rev. 2:12). He was saying, “I am greater than those who oppose you.” Satan and his minions cannot undo what God has done. Nor can your sins diminish your Father’s grace (Rom. 5:20). Nothing in life or death can separate you from his love (Rom. 8:39).
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
(a) Did not spare His own Son. Jesus is the proof that God loves us unconditionally and without any regard for what we have done. While we were sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
(b) Delivered Him over for us all. Jesus is not merely the Jews’ Savior, but the Savior of the whole world (1 John 4:14). This announcement was a radical departure from Jewish understanding and came from Jesus himself (John 3:16–17).
(c) Freely give. These two words are based on a Greek word (charizomai) which means to show favor or kindness. This word is closely related to the word that means grace (charis). All of God’s gifts come to us freely by grace. A God who gives us his greatest treasure – his Son – will withhold nothing from us. Every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
(d) All things. Paul’s letter to the Romans could be called the Christmas Epistle because it’s full of gifts. In this letter we learn that righteousness is a gift (Rom. 5:17), eternal life is a gift (Rom. 6:23, 8:11), and God’s favor is a gift (Rom. 5:16). Everything you will ever need your Father generously provides.
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
(a) Who will bring a charge? Any accusations against you come from one of three sources: your conscience, the devil, or graceless religion. You can be sure that no accusation comes from the One who is for you and justifies you.
(b) Charge. The original word (egkaleo) is a verb that appears seven times in scripture, usually in connection with the religious Jews bringing trumped up charges against Paul.
(c) God’s elect are the believers.
The word for elect means chosen. “Many are called, but few are chosen,” said Jesus (Matt. 22:14). God’s call goes out to all but not all respond. Those who do are called the elect or the chosen. “For you are a chosen generation” (1 Pet. 2:9).
In a manner of speaking, the chosen choose themselves. But since the Lord initiates the call, it’s accurate to say we are God’s chosen. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). Paul is saying, “Who would dare to bring an accusation against those God chooses?”
(d) God is the one who justifies. God is in the justifying business, not the judging business (John 3:17). He doesn’t condemn you for being wrong, but he removes all your sin and makes you righteous.
God’s throne is a place of grace, not judgment (Heb. 4:16). Should any accusations against you come before God, you can be confident that a mighty Advocate will speak in your defence (see next verse).
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
(a) Who is the one who condemns? Since God is for you, no one can condemn you or bring a successful charge against you (Rom. 8:1, 33). You are eternally unpunishable and uncondemnable.
(b) Christ Jesus … who died. If Jesus died for you, you can be sure he loves you and will defend you against all accusations.
(c) Who was raised. Since Jesus died to free us from sin, his resurrection from the dead proves the success of his mission. Christ’s resurrection is the proof that you have been made right with God (Rom. 4:25).
(d) At the right hand of God. You have a good Friend in high places. The Son shares his Father’s throne; see entry for Matt. 22:44.
(e) Who also intercedes for us. Jesus is our great high priest who intercedes or speaks to God on our behalf (Heb. 4:15, 7:25).
Jesus does not need to intercede for us when all is going well; he defends you when you sin. The Good Shepherd deals gently with his straying sheep (Heb. 5:2). But when those sheep come under accusation, our Lord reveals himself as our Righteous Advocate and defender (see entry for 1 John 2:1).
(f) Intercedes; see entry for Romans 8:27.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(a) Who will separate us from the love of Christ? No one can come between you and Christ’s love for you. If all the lawyers of the world were to present undeniable evidence of your wrongdoing and wretchedness, Jesus would still love you. If you were the only sinner who ever lived, he would still go to the cross for you. The Good Shepherd will always come for the one lost sheep.
(b) Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as there is no who there is no what that can come between you and the love of Christ. “Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture” (to quote the Message Bible).
Just as it is written,
“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
(a) Just as it is written. Paul quotes Psalm 44:22.
(b) Death all day long. The picture Paul paints is of the bleakest suffering such as he experienced from time to time. In his correspondence with the Corinthians, Paul said his trials taught him to rely on God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:8–9). Here in his letter to the Romans, he will draw another lesson (see next verse)
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
(a) In all these things. In all these trials and hardships that we face.
(b) We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. A better translation might be “we are more than conquerors.” The original word (hupernikao) is a compound word that literally means hyper-victory. God does not merely give us the victory; he gives us a glorious, overwhelming hyper-victory. With God on your side, who can stand against you?
Some translations say we are more than conquerors. A conqueror has to fight to get the victory, but we are more than conquerors because Christ has won the war. Because of Jesus, we don’t have to fight. We simply stand on the victory that Christ has accomplished on our behalf. Jesus the Overcomer has done the hard work; our part is to receive the benefits and say, “Thank you, Lord!”
You may say, “I’m a cancer survivor,” or “I’m a victim of domestic abuse/depression/anxiety.” Those enemies don’t define you because you are more than a conqueror. You are not a rape victim; you are a daughter of the Most High. You are not a struggling addict; you’re a son of the King. Learn to see yourself as God sees you. It is only with a proper sense of identity that we can overcome in life’s trials
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers…
I am convinced means I am confident, certain, and fully persuaded beyond all doubt. You can be 100 percent convinced about God’s love for you.
If you have lost your way, God does not abandon you; he rescues you. If you have stumbled in sin, God does not condemn you; he justifies you. If you are going through trials, God does not leave you; he reveals himself to you. He says, “Though you walk through the fire, I am with you. Though you make your bed in the depths, I am with you” (Ps. 139:8, Is. 43:2). Truly nothing can separate us from the eternal grip of our Father’s love (John 10:29).
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Which is in Christ Jesus. All the grace, kindness and love of God are all lavished upon us in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:4, Eph. 2:7). See entry for Philemon 1:6.
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- Romans 8:1
- Romans 8:2
- Romans 8:3
- Romans 8:4
- Romans 8:5
- Romans 8:6
- Romans 8:7
- Romans 8:8
- Romans 8:9
- Romans 8:10
- Romans 8:11
- Romans 8:12
- Romans 8:13
- Romans 8:14
- Romans 8:15
- Romans 8:16
- Romans 8:17
- Romans 8:18
- Romans 8:19
- Romans 8:20
- Romans 8:21
- Romans 8:22
- Romans 8:23
- Romans 8:24
- Romans 8:25
- Romans 8:26
- Romans 8:27
- Romans 8:28
- Romans 8:29
- Romans 8:30
- Romans 8:31
- Romans 8:32
- Romans 8:33
- Romans 8:34
- Romans 8:35
- Romans 8:36
- Romans 8:37
- Romans 8:38
- Romans 8:39