Skip to Main Content

Romans: 8:12-25 Notes

Romans 8:12-25 - EXEGESIS:


12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

In verses 1-11, Paul contrasted those "who live according to the flesh" with "those who live according to the Spirit" (v. 5). Those who live according to the flesh are characterized by death (v. 6) and hostility to God (v. 7), but those who live according to the Spirit are characterized by life (v. 6). The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead will give life to those who live according to the Spirit (v. 11).

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after to the flesh" (v. 12). While Paul does not specify our indebtedness here, his meaning is implicit in verses 1-11. We are indebted to the Spirit, who gives us life. Life in the flesh gained us nothing, but life in the Spirit brought life.

"For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (v. 13). While Paul intends this flesh/Spirit dichotomy as a spiritual lesson, we see it manifested in another way every day. People who engage in fleshly excess-gluttony, drunkenness, promiscuous sex, or harmful drugs-suffer shortened lives. Paul tells us that people who live according to the flesh suffer an even more serious penalty-spiritual death. But there is hope. Those who "put to death the deeds of the body"-who refuse to allow themselves to be dominated by fleshly concerns-will live. While Paul does not use the phrase "eternal life" here, he implies it.

A person who engages in healthy nutrition and exercise might consider him/herself to be the antithesis of a person living according to the flesh, but that is not necessarily so. For many people, nutrition and exercise constitute the core of their belief and the focus of their hope-an alternate form of religion. Their church is a gym, and their altar a Nautilus machine. Their lives are focused on fleshly concerns, even if not on fleshly excess. Their understanding of salvation has to do with physical beauty, thinness, muscle tone, and longevity. Such people should not imagine that they are living according to the Spirit, because in reality they are consumed by fleshly concerns.

That is not to say that Christians should not engage in healthy practices such as good diet and exercise. Such practices constitute good stewardship, and are to be commended. However, the person whose hope is rooted in physical things (food, money, pleasure, fame, etc.), whether those things are healthy or not, is living according to the flesh, and Paul warns that such people will not gain spiritual life. Hopefully, people who live according to the Spirit will exercise and eat right, but will also practice spiritual disciplines such as worship, prayer, the reading of scripture, and service to God and neighbor-disciplines that bring them into communion with God and compliance with God's will. The center of their hope will not be physical health but relationship with Christ.


14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. 15 For you didn't receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God" (v. 14). In Israel's wilderness wanderings, God "went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night" (Exodus 13:21). Now it is the Spirit who provides that leadership (Wright, 593).

"For you didn't receive the spirit of bondage again to fear" (v. 15a). This mention of slavery brings Egypt to mind. It also brings to mind the strict discipline of Torah law-a discipline to which Jews feel obligated, but a discipline so rigorous as to inspire fear. Who, after all, can hope to keep the law in all its detail without significant failure? But Christ has freed us from slavery both to the law and to the sin that the law fails to prevent. Of course, Paul speaks elsewhere of Christians as slaves of obedience (6:16) or righteousness (6:19), but this is not fearful slavery. It represents freedom from sin.

"but you received the Spirit of adoption" (v. 15b). The person who is adopted into a family is placed into that family as a full member.

We Christians are God's adopted children. While "adopted" might seem to suggest a second-rate status, that is not so when God is the adoptive Father. I especially like the story of the mother of two children--one natural born and the other adopted. When someone asked, "Which child is adopted?" the mother gazed for a moment into the distance and then answered, "I can't remember."

"by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" (v. 15c). "Abba" is what a Jewish child calls his/her father-an intimate word like "Papa." Jewish people are sensitive about using God's name, lest they somehow use it wrongfully (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). The idea that anyone would address God so familiarly as "Abba" would astonish anyone raised in that tradition. However, Paul tells us that we are permitted this intimacy because we are children of God-not just God's people, but God's children.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (v. 16). If anyone should happen to question that relationship, the Spirit bears witness to it-bears witness "with our spirit." What does "our spirit" have to contribute here? What could the witness of "our spirit" add to the Spirit's witness? Simply this! Living as God's children and led by the Spirit, our lives take on a new character. People who see our good works "give glory to (our) Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). As we live in accord with our status as members of God's household, the witness of "our spirit" confirms the Spirit's witness that we are, indeed, God's children.

"and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ" (v. 17a). As children of God, adopted into God's family, we enjoy the full rights and privileges of sons and daughters. God does not treat adopted children as inferior, but makes us heirs-joint heirs with Christ, God's natural Son.

Israel thought of itself as God's heir (Deuteronomy 32:9) and the Promised Land as its inheritance. But now God extends family privileges to all those who live according to the Spirit-and expands the inheritance from a small patch of real estate in the Middle East to the kingdom of God.

"if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him" (v. 17b). Paul adds this qualifier. To be eligible for the glory associated with the inheritance, the Christian must be ready to share in Christ's sufferings. "As members of the same family we share in the trials of life as well as the benefits" (Mounce, 183).

It was Christ's suffering and death that set the stage for his exaltation in heaven (Philippians 2:5-11). Paul and many other Christians of his day experienced persecution-even martyrdom. In many parts of the world today, Christians are being persecuted. Even nations that pride themselves on tolerance have become increasingly hostile to Christians. While there is no virtue in seeking out persecution, we must be ready to face bravely it if it comes. We can be sure that our faithfulness in the face of persecution will not go unrewarded.


18 For I consider (Greek: logizomai) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us.

"For I consider" (logizomai). Logizomai is an accounting term having to do with determining the value of assets and liabilities. Accountants try to determine value accurately to assess the health of businesses. In like manner, Paul compares our present sufferings with our future glory, and determines that the glory far outweighs the suffering. Knowing this helps us-puts the ups and downs of life in perspective-keeps us from despair.

Of course, not all suffering is equal. One person might suffer because of his/her decision to serve as a missionary in a primitive or dangerous place. Another person might suffer as a consequence of his/her sins. The suffering of the missionary is obviously nobler, but the sinner's suffering can also be positive if it brings the sinner to his/her knees-if it spurs repentance-if it leads to rebirth. In other words, all suffering has the potential to move us in the direction of glory.


19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

"For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed" (v. 19). Paul personifies creation and pictures it as waiting with excitement and longing for the revealing of the children of God. By "creation," Paul means the whole created order. However, neither good nor evil angels would look forward to the revealing, because good angels have not suffered frustration and bad angels will be the losers at the unveiling. It is not just Christians who wait "with eager expectation"-but the whole of the created order (Morris, 321).

"For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope" (v. 20). At the fall, God not only cursed the serpent, woman, and man, but also cursed the ground as a part of human punishment. No longer do man and woman live in a garden in Eden, where grows " every tree... that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food," and where "a river went out of Eden to water the garden" (Genesis 2:9-10). Instead, we live in a world where ""it will yield thorns and thistles to you" and where "by the sweat of your face you will eat bread" (Genesis 3:18-19).

We might think of human despoilment as the problem here-and humans have certainly made a bad thing worse by poor stewardship-but that is not what Paul means here. He is speaking of the curse of God upon the cosmos at the beginning.

"that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (vv. 20b-21). We must not overlook these two words-"in hope." God's last word is not "curse" but "hope." God cursed the man and woman, but at the same time devised a plan for their restoration. God prepared a degraded habitat fit for a degraded humanity after the Fall, but God will restore the cosmos to its original Eden-like state to make it fit, after the redemption, for the redeemed children of God.


22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved (Greek: esothemen-from sozo) in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? 25 But if we hope for that which we don't see, we wait for it with patience.

"For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now" (v. 22). In verse 19, Paul said, "the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed." Now he tells us that the "revealing" will be a birth. Creation's discomfort is not the result of death pangs, as some people would have us believe, but birth pangs. Its' longing and groaning are hopeful signs-not reasons for despair.

"Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body" (v. 23). We share in creation's discomfort, even though we enjoy "the first fruits of the Spirit."

The phrase, "first fruits," would be familiar to Jewish readers and, presumably, to Roman Christians, even though many of them are Gentiles. Leviticus 23:10-11 requires Israelites to bring the first fruits of the harvest as an offering to the Lord. As any gardener knows, the first fruits are the most desirable part of the harvest, because we have waited so long for the first tomato or the first strawberries of the season. God always required the most desirable animals or produce as offerings.

But Paul is not talking here about the first fruits that we give to God but the first fruits that God gives to us-"the first fruits of the Spirit". Like the first fruits of an agricultural harvest, the first fruits of the Spirit constitute only a small part of the harvest, but point to a greater bounty yet to be received. Our groaning is occasioned by the fact that we have experienced the beginning of our "adoption" or "redemption," and long for the time when we will experience their full realization.

"For we were saved (esothemen-from sozo) in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees?" (v. 24). Paul says, "we were saved." Esothemen is aorist, denoting an action that has taken place rather than an ongoing action. However, Paul qualifies that by saying, "we were saved in hope." Then he goes on to remind us, "hope that is seen is not hope."

The idea here is that we have been saved-that is not in doubt-but we have not yet experienced the full force of that salvation. We are like the homeowner who has been told that her house is worth ten times what she paid for it. She knows that she has, at least on paper, entered the ranks of the affluent, but she does not yet feel affluent. She cannot take her equity to the store to make purchases unless she sells or mortgages her house, and she is not ready to do either of those things. Nevertheless, she enjoys knowing that her future has brightened because of the appreciation of her house, even if she cannot cash in on it quite yet. In like manner, we have been saved, even if we will experience the full force of that salvation only in the future-in eternity.

"But if we hope for that which we don't see, we wait for it with patience" (Greek: hypomone) (v. 25). The Greek word hupomons is related to the word for perseverance. It is the kind of patience that "keeps on keeping on" in the face of difficult circumstances.

Rom. 8:12-25 - Richison Commentary

v.12: Therefore, brethren, we are debtors-not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

Verses 12 to 13 argue for the personal obligation of those who are in the Spirit-they are to live daily in the power of the Holy Spirit.

12 Therefore,

The "therefore" shows the compelling conclusion of verses 5 to11-Christians have no further obligation to the flesh. They are to live according to the Spirit rather than the flesh. There is enormous privilege in Christian living in having the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in one's life. All that we have is from God, even the power to conquer sin in our lives. We do not have this power in ourselves without the Spirit.


Paul was clearly dealing with Christians in this section of Romans eight. This is the fourth time so far he used the term "brethren" in Romans.

we [including Paul himself] are debtors

The Christian has a negative and positive sphere of responsibility. We have an obligation to live under the control of the Holy Spirit and then the responsibility not to allow the flesh to dominate us:

Not to live according to the flesh

To live according to the Spirit

-not to the flesh [the sin capacity],

The Christian is not under obligation to subject himself to the tyranny or mastery of the flesh. The believer does not have to live on its terms. The Spirit is the countervailing force that makes the difference. This is a fact that is true of believers because they have the indwelling Holy Spirit in them.

to live according to the flesh.

The necessity of righteousness before God is absolute. We cannot separate our justification from our sanctification. Salvation provided freedom from the rule of the sin capacity over our lives. We do not have to be dragged back into a life of practicing sin devoid of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


We owe God a holy life.


Since Jesus went to the extent of Calvary for us and rose from the dead to give us new life and eternal life, we owe something to Him. We are debtors to God's plan of salvation in Christ. The flesh has no rights with the believer.

Privilege involves responsibility. When a person becomes a Christian, the flesh is not eradicated. There is a need to put the sin capacity to death operationally. Although the flesh is still ever present in believers, it has no rights with the believer. The Christian should refuse to follow the dictates of the sin capacity.

TI 2: 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,

Privilege includes responsibility. The privilege of being in the family of God involves obligation to live like a child of God. The sin capacity has lost all claims on us. The sin capacity will not robotically fall away when a person becomes a Christian. There is responsibility on the Christian to deal with sin in his life. The biblical way to deal with sin is to enter fellowship with the Spirit. Reliance on the active presence of the Spirit in our lives will introduce a dynamic of spiritual living.

All biblical obligations rest on blessings and promises already fulfilled by the Lord. We cannot live the Christian life without those provisions. Most New Testament epistles are based on this principle-first doctrine then application of principles from doctrine. We cannot live the Christian life until we understand God's revelation about how to do it.

v. 13a: For if you live according to the flesh [according to the dictates of the sin capacity] you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

13 For

The word "for" here is an explanation of verse 12. Liberation from ultimate death in eternity does not liberate us from dealing with the flesh in time.

if you live [present tense, continue to live] according to the flesh

The "if" (since) here indicates reality. It is a reality that if we succumb to the standards of the flesh we will die.

The switch to "you" from "we" indicates the real dangers of living according to the norm of the flesh. The "you" here are believers. If believers live with their horizons bound by the flesh, this is death.

Living here has to do with the Spirit-filled life, not salvation, and death is spiritual failure. Non-believers are already dead in trespasses and sin. A believer cannot lose his or her salvation:

Ro 8: 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Both life and death have two meanings:

Eternal life and spiritual life in time

Eternal death and spiritual death in time

you will [as a consequence] die [temporally];

The Greek indicates that the phrase "will die" is about to die, indicating the certainty of the corrupting process

of the flesh. The issue is a pressing one. This is the death of spiritual living. This kind of death is inevitable for those out of fellowship with God. As long as we continue in unconfessed sin, God will separate Himself from fellowship with us. The essential idea of death is separation. The subject here is not eternal death in hell but the death of the spiritual life. If we live according to the flesh we are on the point of dying spiritually in time. God does not view those walking in the flesh as dead but about to die spiritually.

"Die" here is dying to God. It is not possible to have fellowship with God if we live according to the standards of the flesh. This cannot be physical death because that is inevitable in any case.

Clearly, the believer is in view in this passage (v.12). The plural "you" here harks back to "brethren" in verse 12. It is possible for the truly regenerate to live according to the flesh (7:7-24; 8:1-12). In none of those passages will a believer forfeit eternal life if he lives according to the flesh; in fact, the opposite is stated in 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." The present tense "putting to death" involves ongoing struggle with sin and not with an event. Thus, the putting to death here is temporal rather than eternal.

The Bible presents various forms of death, not just eternal death in hell. Christians face physical death when they sin (1 Co 11:30; 1 Jn 5:16; Ja 5:19-20). Christians face temporal death in their fellowship with God when they sin (Ep 5:14).

To make death here refer to the second death in hell would violate everything the Spirit has argued to this point in the epistle. God does not give temporal life but eternal life at salvation.


God warns believers with a great red light that living under the sin capacity will result in time-based death of our spiritual lives.


Those of us who choose to walk by the sin capacity are on a fatal course of our spiritual lives in time. Although God addresses us as His people, we can still walk according to the norms of the flesh. This involves rejection of walking in the Spirit.

Many Christians need to awaken from temporal spiritual death.

Ep 5: 14 Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."

v. 13b: For if you live according to the flesh [according to the dictates of the sin capacity] you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


The opposite of living according to the standards of the flesh is living according to the Spirit, with equally true results.

if [and it is true] by the Spirit

The "if" indicates that it is true that Christians live by the Spirit. We cannot live the Christian life by self-effort. "By the Spirit" refers to the power of the Spirit. No one can overcome the corruption of the sin capacity by operation bootstraps but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. The putting to death of the flesh is to be done by the Spirit. The flesh and the Spirit are incompatible.

you put to death [present tense] the [mis]deeds of the body,

"Put to death" is in the present tense-"are putting to death." We must deal with the struggle with the flesh on an ongoing basis. Sustained effort is necessary to deal with the flesh. There is no one swooping answer to the flesh. This is something that must be done daily.

Ro 6: 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is necessary for the believer to put to death the sin capacity over and over again.

you will live [temporally in abundant life].

True living the life of God will occur when we deal with sin in our lives. We cannot live the life of the Spirit by allowing the flesh to control us. Those who deal with the sin issue in their lives hear the voice of their Savior (Jn 15:18). These people will enjoy holiness and the glory of the Christian life.


Christians keep eternal values in view because of the indwelling Spirit.


It is we who live the Christian life. We do not have the power in ourselves to execute that life. The goals we seek are the principles that rule us. Our objective is what gives us incentive. It determines how we live. It will influence our choices. If Jesus died for us, that should determine how we live. Privileges involve obligations.

Christians have a choice between "you will die" and "you will live." We must choose between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit. The necessity of holiness before God is absolute; we can never separate justification from sanctification.

Christians must deal with sin radically. It is not something we can play with. It is the energy of the Spirit, not the power of human choice, which enables the believer to deal with the flesh. If we do not kill sin, it will kill us.

Life in the Spirit and in the flesh is incompatible. The one precludes the other. There is a life that is death and there is a death that is life. Those out of fellowship can never enjoy their spiritual lives. They will exist like those without Christ.

It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Christian can resist sin. Our sin capacity sets its will against the Spirit and contrariwise the Spirit sets Himself against the flesh (Ga 5:17). Those who "walk" in the Spirit have a special dynamic in their lives for dealing with sin (5:18). The filling of the Spirit is when a believer is under the control of the Spirit (Eph 5:18). This kind of believer makes no provision for the sin capacity toward sinful lusts (Ro 13:14).

v. 14: For as many as are led [present tense-are being led] by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

This verse begins the subject of the glorification of the believer in eternity. We have an inheritance ahead. We receive an inheritance from God because we are His sons. Sons are heirs.

Romans 8:14-30 constitutes an elaboration of verses 9 to 11. Romans 8:14-17 is an exposition of verse 9, and Romans 8:18-30 is an exposition of verses 10 and 11.

The striking thought that we are the "sons of God" is at the basis of our walk with God. Our familial relation to Christ is the reason we live a life separated unto God.

14 For

The "for" here explains in different terms the idea of verse 13. Those who put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit will experience the dynamics of eternal life in time. These people truly represent their title as sons of God. The reason for the dynamic living of verse 13 is because believers are the "sons of God."

as many as [believers]

God admits no exception to those led by the Spirit of God.

are led [present tense, passive voice-are being led, allow themselves to be led] by the Spirit of God,

We overcome the flesh by the power of the Spirit. Dependence on the compelling force of the Spirit is at the heart of Christian living. True spirituality is the result of continual influence of the Holy Spirit on one's life. There is an implied willingness on the part of those who allow themselves to be led by the Spirit.

Leading here does not indicate guidance to determine the will of God for everyday decisions. The idea is the control or governing of the Spirit in daily living. The passive idea of "being led" (passive voice) suggests that the Holy Spirit is the primary Agent in Christian living. The believer's obedience is the result of the Spirit's work and not the cause of it. It is the nature of a Christian who wants fellowship with God to allow himself to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The leading of the Spirit here is not about decision-making but being influenced by the Holy Spirit with our choices. The Spirit is the dominant force in the life of a believer. Because of the believer's new identity with Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells him. This creates an entirely new influence on his life by the Holy Spirit. He becomes God's dynamic influence for spirituality.

these are sons of God.

The particular contribution of verse 14 is to explain that those governed by the Spirit are the sons of God, with

title to special privilege. It is because we are sons that God sends His Spirit to dwell in our hearts (Ga 4:6). The work of the Spirit is no option for a son.

The Greek word "sons" here indicates adult status with God. The indwelling Holy Spirit in every believer verifies the believer's status with God. The more mature we are, the more we are led by the Spirit.

Those who are led by the Spirit are true "sons of God," believers with legal status before God. Verse 16 will refer to "children," a Greek term indicating our birth relationship to God. But "sons" in verse 14 is a Greek term referring to adult family privileges.


Dependence on the Spirit is decisive for Christian living.


It is patent that those governed by the Spirit are the sons of God, sons of privilege. The nature of a son of God is that the Spirit leads or influences him. Believers have a new identity in Christ.

Being led by the Spirit is the same as walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:18-23). The Spirit-led life is a manifestation of sonship or privilege. The life as a son of God has its distinctive qualities.

Our position as sons of God comprises glorious dignity. Our divine birth places us in the status of royalty. This royalty allows for certain rights before God. We need to walk worthy of this calling (Eph 4:1; Co 1:10).

Those led by the Spirit are governed by the Spirit. They are not under the mastery of sin. It is inevitable that true Christians will be governed by the Spirit. This governance is not an absolute in every respect, but if there is no impact by the Spirit on a person whatsoever, then the person who claims to be a Christian probably is not. Christian motivation for living in the power of the Spirit comes from the dignity of being a son of God.

v. 15a: For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

Verses 15 and 16 validate the point in verse 14 that believers are God's children eternally.

15 For

This is the third verse in a row that introduces itself by a "for." Paul was in the process of elaborating what it means to be a "son." The "for" here harks back to verse 14. Verses 15 and 16 are an explanation of verse 14.

you did not receive [single, past event; aorist indicative]

The word "receive" harks back to the reception of the Holy Spirit from the Father constituting the beginning of the Christian life. This is the moment at which each person who became a Christian was marked as legally acceptable to God; it is the point at which believers are legally and irrevocably transferred into the status of sonship. It is an epoch event, an occasion that is no "spirit of bondage."

the spirit of bondage [slavery]

A "spirit of bondage" is a spirit that brings about slavery of the soul. Non-Christians are slaves to sin by attempting to gain God's approbation by works.


The coming of the Holy Spirit dispelled the spirit of slavery towards God. There is no way the indwelling Spirit in the believer brings him back to the legalism of the non-Christian state. Before salvation we were spiritual slaves, but after salvation we are free towards God.

Becoming a Christian does not put the believer into a legalistic system of slavery whereby he fears that he cannot measure up to the law or to God. There is no extrinsic code in that sense for the Christian life. The believer already has the status of acceptance with God because of the principle of "adoption" or sonship. Assurance of salvation comes from appreciation of what God has given.

to fear,

The "fear" here is the fear of abandonment. Children of God have no fear of God abandoning them. A true believer does not shrink from God in fear. Instead of a spirit of fear, the believer has the spirit of sonship or son-placing. The believer has been legally placed into an adult status in God's family. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (8:17). The seal of that adoption is the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Co 1:22; Ep 1:13).


Christians are free from slavish orientation to God because of the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


Christians do not live in a state of fear in reference to God. Instead of a servile, fearful spirit towards God, Christians have a filial attitude toward Him. We have a sense of relationship with God and are no longer outsiders to Him. More than that, we have status with Him. Our conscience is free from the attitude of slavish, legalistic attempts to please God by our own efforts.

There is always a tendency to revert back to the law as a system to please God. Wherever the church is subject to legalism, it is brought into slavery. There is always fear in legalism because of failure to measure up to a holy God.

2 Ti 1: 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Grace and justification mean nothing less than that a believer is free from the obligation to measure up to God's standards by his own means. We are indeed accepted in the Beloved (Ep 1:6).

Christians must know that, in the time of their greatest spiritual failure, the Lord is still faithful to them. They do not need to "fear" losing their salvation. We must draw on the promises of God when we enter into carnality and hit spiritual lows.

There is nothing we can do to lose our salvation. David, after he committed adultery and murder, did not lose his salvation, but he lost the "joy" of his salvation. He wrote Psalm 51 as a confession of these sins.

Ps 51: 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

v. 15b: For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

The latter part of this verse contrasts the legalistic approach to Christianity and that of a believer who rests in grace. We render our service to God as sons, not slaves.

but [strong contrast]

The word "but" here is a very strong contrast-on the contrary. In contrast to the slavery of trying to measure up to the law, the Christian has eternal status with God.

you received

Paul picked up the word "received" from the phrase "did not receive the spirit of fear" earlier in this verse. Every believer has received the Holy Spirit at the moment of believing in Jesus as his Savior.

the Spirit of adoption [sonship]

Our English word adoption refers to bringing into a family someone who was not born naturally into that family and making him legally a member of the family. That is not adoption in the New Testament. Biblical adoption means something different.

During the time of the New Testament, a father adopted a son born in his family and declared him an adult at age 14. During the first 14 years of his life, the son was under a tutor who managed his affairs by taking him to school and making sure he developed properly. The child wore a toga of youth. At his 14th birthday, the whole family would gather together to give him the toga of adulthood, the toga virilis. From this point the young man was deemed an adult. He now had the privileges of voting, managing money, choosing a wife (unless one was chosen for him), and entering military service for the first time. The community also regarded him as an adult. Thus, biblical adoption is when a naturally born child becomes an adult.

The Greek word "adoption" means to place as a son. The Holy Spirit places the believer into the status and position of sonship or adult privileges before God. This word occurs only five times in the New Testament and none in the Old Testament. True believers are "sons" already, not slaves as the previous phrase indicates.

The metaphor of adoption occurs only in the Pauline epistles (Ro 8:15, 23; 9:4; Ga 4:5; Ep 1:5). This is the process whereby God takes unworthy people and gives them high status with Himself. There is a double gulf between slavery to the law and sonship. Not only has the believer been freed from the slavery of the law to the status of being free but, in addition, God gave him something more than freedom-an adult son's status with God forever.

Ga 4: 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons...7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Ep 1: 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,


God adopted us into a new status at the point of salvation.

APPLICATION: God took us out of one family and placed us into another; He took us out of Adam's family and placed us in His own family. This is regeneration or spiritual birth. However, regeneration has to do with new life or a new nature, while adoption has to do with a new status.

Something unique happened to the child of God at the moment of his salvation. God gave the believer adult status with Himself. Biblical adoption always relates to positional truth. At salvation the Christian enters into union with Christ. God provides 33 things for the believer which gives him status quo. Note those 33 things here. God wants us to share in His very own estate. He receives us in the full sense of the idea. The work of Christ on the cross is complete in its fullest sense.

This does not mean the believer is spiritually mature at salvation. There is a need to grow up, but at the point of salvation we have the adult status with God.

The Christian has to have principles on a launching pad to readily deal with specific situations in his life. We can then apply a principle to a temptation at any moment. When we come to grips with a given principle, then God will bring it to our remembrance as a tool for fighting enticement to sin. If we do this often and regularly, we will mature in our faith and experience.

v. 8c: For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

by whom [the Holy Spirit] we cry out,

It is the Spirit who enables us to fervently pray. Christians can approach God on personal terms; we can talk to the Father as a son would. The words "cry out" indicate intensity.

"Abba [Aramaic for father], Father [Greek]."

The word "Abba" is Aramaic and the word "Father" is Greek. Both words mean the same thing. These are terms of personal relationship. They are family words. By using both terms Paul strengthens the cry to God the Father. This is recognition by the believer that he or she has privilege with God. God is personal, not some distant being who does not relate to His creatures.

PRINCIPLE: The Holy Spirit gives the believer special enablement to pray on the basis of our sonship.

APPLICATION: We take God at His word that we are His children. We are dearer to God than we realize. God is open to hear our cry. He is open because of our status as sons.

Ga 4: 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"

v. 16: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

There is a contrast between verse 15, where we give testimony to our new relationship with God, and verse 16, where the Holy Spirit bears witness with us.

Verse 16 shows how it is possible that believers can confidently reach out to God as their Father (v.14). The Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts by bearing witness with our spirit that we are God's children.

16 The Spirit Himself [emphatic] bears witness [joint-witness] with our spirit

The Spirit of God bears witness to God along with our spirit's witness about our salvation. This is double testimony that we are God's children. The double witness is true, independent of our emotions or subjectivity. The Spirit does not bear witness "to" our spirit but "with" our spirit. The Holy Spirit along with our spirit establishes something as true. A biblical principle is that the presence of two witnesses establishes a fact.

When a Christian prays, he does not pray alone. The Holy Spirit enters our prayer as well to enable us to pray effectively. No one less than the Spirit Himself bears witness with our "spirit." The phrase "bears witness with" comes from two words in the Greek: to testify and with. The Holy Spirit testifies together with Christians about the assurance of their salvation. The phrase "with our spirit" indicates that both the Holy Spirit and our spirit witness that we are God's children. We are not unaided in this, for the Holy Spirit directly gets involved with our prayer.

that we are children of God,

The Holy Spirit bears joint-testimony with us that we are the children of God. Not only are believers "sons" of God, but we are the "children of God." We are related to God by spiritual birth. We were once in an alien family separated from God, but now we are children who know our Father.

There is an agreement between the Holy Spirit and our human spirit that we are God's children. This is separate from and higher than something that comes subjectively from within us. It is certitude of the Holy Spirit's within our lives. On this direct testimony from the Holy Spirit rests the certainty of our convictions. God welcomes and assures us as a Parent in His family.

PRINCIPLE: The Christian has a double ground of assurance about his salvation.

APPLICATION: The Holy Spirit enables Christians to see themselves as true sons of God. The Spirit gives concurrent testimony with us that we have status with God. He brings to our conscience the certainty of God's promises in His Word. God has spoken or declared by promise that we can know for a fact that we are Christians.

v. 17: and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

This verse introduces the theme of the inheritance of the believer. The idea of inheritance flows out of the idea of sonship in the previous verses. Children by inference receive inheritance from their parents. An heir is someone who receives property or value from someone else.

17 and if [since] children,

Since Christians are "children" of God, they inherit prerogatives from God. This is a fulfilled condition in our souls from God; it is no possibility but rather a fact. The Holy Spirit bears testimony with our spirit that we belong to God's family.

then heirs-heirs of God

An heir is someone who receives an allotted possession by right of sonship. Christian heirship does not depend on the death of a progenitor. Christians share their inheritance with the One who never dies. All Christians will share Christ's inheritance.

Earthly children inherit their parents' estate. Each sibling is an heir, and the other siblings are co-heirs. Here Christians have a spiritual heritage from God. The source of this heritage is God Himself. It is His to give. He is not only the source of our inheritance, but He Himself is our inheritance.

Ps 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

Lam 3: 24 "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"

and joint heirs [co-heirs] with Christ,

Christians are co-heirs with Christ. We inherit His spiritual blessings. We are heirs by virtue of being joint-heirs with Christ. We cannot receive this inheritance apart from Christ. Our inheritance comes from our union with Christ in positional truth.

There is a difference between an heir and a joint-heir. A joint-heir means that each individual owns the whole. If a businessman dies and leaves the entire company to his three sons, all three sons fall heir to the entire company. The company in this case is not divided into three parts. Thus, everything that the Father gave to Christ is ours as joint-heirs with Him.

PRINCIPLE: Our spiritual position is a guarantee of our heredity.

APPLICATION: The assurance of Christians always has to do with positional truth. Christ is the heir of all things (He 1:2). Since heirship is based on sonship and we are identified with Christ in His heirship, this positional heirship demands that the Christian has eternal life.

Titus 3: 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Heirship thus means that believers share the destiny of Christ (Ep 1:11). This heirship is based on election (He 9:15) and grace (Ga 3:29). Heirship results in eternal security (1 Pe 1:4,5). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the down payment for the inheritance of that eternal security (Ep 1:14).

v. 17b: and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

if indeed [as is the fact] we suffer with Him,

Christianity involves more than privileges provided by God. It also involves suffering. Suffering unique to becoming a Christian will come our way. It is a fact that we must accept.

that [purpose] we may also be glorified together [with].

After sharing suffering in time, Christians will share eternity together with Christ in a glorified state. Suffering with Christ allows the believer to be "glorified with" Christ. "Glorified" describes the radiance of the eternal state with God. We lost this glory by Adam's fall, but we regain it by our association with Christ. Believers will participate in and enjoy God Himself. God is the portion of our inheritance and He is all-sufficient.

Justification is the beginning of salvation, and glorification is the end of salvation. Once God begins the salvation of a soul, He sees it to completion (8:38-39). There is a process of glorification and an ultimate glorification. As a Christian grows in Christ, God transforms him or her "from glory to glory" (2 Co 3:18). That is a ministry of the Holy Spirit in time on earth. Christians grow from one level of glory to a greater level of glory. This verse speaks of an ultimate glory, the glory of God's presence.

Note that glorification is not meaning glorified together but glorified "with." Christians will share in all things that belong to Christ. This will especially be true at His return.

PRINCIPLE: God will glorify the believer in eternity when He glorifies Christ in a unique sense in eternity.

APPLICATION: It should be of no surprise that the Christian will suffer; neither should it be a surprise that the believer will be jointly glorified with Christ. All Christians sooner or later will suffer for Christ. We live in a defiant world of paganism-the unbelief of those who deny God and His values. There is a price to pay for becoming a Christian. Yet, God is open to hear our prayer.

That Christians will suffer is a surprise to the health-and-wealth crowd. God does promise to meet our need (Ph 4:10ff), but He does not promise every Christian perfect health or abundant wealth in this life.

All this will result in a wonderful sequel-our joint glorification with Christ. This is more than being glorified, for we will share ("with") His glory. As the hymn says, "O that will be glory for me."

We have the honor of being glorified together with Christ. In addition to that, Jesus will accompany us in our glorification as our guarantee with the Father. That is of the highest sort of consolation. What an honor to us as individuals.

v. 18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

After introducing the subject of suffering, the Holy Spirit through Paul now turned to put the subject into perspective. The next section of Romans eight expands the subject of suffering to a series of consolatory themes and explanations of how believers can address adversity in their lives (8:18-30):

o The believer's future glory based on God's promises (8:18-25)

o Intercession of the Holy Spirit on our behalf (8:26-27)

o God's sovereignty and shielding the believer for eternity (8:28-30)

18 For

Verse 18 concludes the argument of the previous thesis (8:15-17), especially the subject of suffering in verse 17. Paul's argument in the previous verse was that suffering precedes glorification. This verse also sets up the notion that demonstrates the relationship of believers to all of creation (8:19-21).

I consider [calculate, compute, reckon]

The word "consider" means to calculate. This is not a word of doubt but, on the contrary, a process of reasoning that arrives at a firm conclusion or conviction by careful deduction. Paul made a deliberate calculation about the suffering of Christians. This is a definite statement of conviction and considered judgment of assurance.

PRINCIPLE: Christians need to make proper calculations about suffering under divine viewpoint.

APPLICATION: Paul viewed his sufferings of many persecutions for Christ's sake as worth the trouble. There is no comparison between the glory of heaven and the intensity of suffering. That is why Christians should endure suffering with a sense of hope. We see in this passage what the old hymn said: "Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!"

Christians should come to the same conviction as the apostle Paul about suffering. We do this by hanging in balance a scale with on one side the suffering in time and on the other side the glory God will reveal in us. The first is temporal and the second is qualitatively eternal. There is no question about the weight of one over against the other. No matter how severe our present sufferings, they will fade into insignificance at our future glory. God has reserved for us a weight of glory.

v. 18b: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

that the sufferings of this present time [season or kind of time rather than sequence of time]

Sufferings here in time are reversals common to the human race. The most shared of these are physical in

nature, such as disease. We also suffer from other things, such as mental anguish, natural disasters, and accidents. Most misery a Christian faces is self-induced.

Suffering for the Christian is only for time. There is no suffering for him in eternity. Time has a quantifiable duration; eternity is timeless. There is shortness to this temporal age from an eternal viewpoint.

2 Co 4: 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

From an eternal point of view, suffering for the Christian is exceedingly short. It is a drop in the bucket compared to eternity, and there will be no suffering in eternity. The purpose of suffering in time is to bless the believer.

are not worthy to be compared with the glory

"Worthy" carries the idea of like value. Suffering in time is not worthy to be compared with our future glorified state. There is insignificance to sufferings when we compare them to eternal glory. Sufferings are only for time but our glory is forever. The pain that we go through in the present is worthwhile in the light of eternal glory. This glory will reflect the glory of the Lord when He returns to earth at His Second Advent.

which shall be [about to be] revealed in us.

The words "shall be" or about to be indicate more than that something will happen in the future; rather, this event is destined to certain accomplishment. The Holy Spirit reveals no special time when this will happen. However, the idea is that Christians have certain prospect of glorification.

The revelation of our glorified state will be revealed to us and through us. Note that this phrase does not say that God will reveal the glory "to" us but "in" us (although "to" may be an alternative translation). This glory will enter us and envelop us to be revealed in us. We will be part of that glory. We will see it in each other.

The idea of "revealed" is unveiled, as in removal of a covering. We unveil a statute's covering after an artist works long and hard on it. Man's idea is that things evolve, getting better and better. God's idea is that, in a cataclysmic event, He will set things straight. He will dramatically unveil a glorious future at the Second Coming of Christ.

PRINCIPLE: There is no proportion between the finite and the infinite.

APPLICATION: Since there is no proportion between the finite and the infinite; there is no comparison between suffering in time and the joy of the glorified state in eternity. Suffering shrinks into insignificance when we look at it from the viewpoint of glorification. There is a qualitative difference between our suffering in time and our glorification in eternity.

If a Christian truly gets hold of the idea that this world is not our home but we are just passing through, it will

change his viewpoint completely. Present suffering will be put into perspective. We will see the entire creation on the tiptoe of expectancy as we look toward future glory. Our light affliction, which is just for a moment, and the eternal weight of glory are vastly two different things.

Our time on earth is miniscule in comparison with eternity, and the glory of life with God is qualitatively different from our experience in time. We cannot allow the difficulties of this life to minimize our hope of heaven.

2 Co 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

v. 19: For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

In Romans 8:19-27 we see three groanings:

o Personification of creation, 8:19-22

Christians, 8:23-25

o The Holy Spirit, 8:26-27

The groanings of all three are like that of a woman in childbirth who also looks forward to eventually embracing the child.

19 For

The "for" shows the interrelationship of suffering creation with the future revealing of the glorification of the

sons of God. The reason for this suffering was that man cast a curse on creation by his sinful fall (Ge 3:17-19) but that God will restore and glorify creation to a new state.

the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits

Creation (animate and inanimate) itself has an eager anticipation of glorification. This anticipation is a personification of creation; irrational creation is intimately related to the glorification of the sons of God. The idea is that the entire created world (except for those who reject the gospel) will be restored. This will happen at the return of Christ in His Second Coming. God will exhibit His glory at that time.

"Earnest expectation" is a triple compound Greek word that refers to waiting with pronounced anticipation and perseverance. The Christian should carry an attitude of readiness about Christ's coming and the glorification of believers. We need to be prepared for this great event.

"Earnest expectation" is an intense concept-creation strains in anticipation for a solution to the curse on creation. The word comes from three Greek words: from, head, and to watch. The idea is of a person watching with the head erect and out stretched. It is to lean forward with one's head to get a first glimpse of something anticipated. The material universe intensely concentrates on the potential glorification of believers at the Second Advent (not the Rapture).

This word was used in classical Greek of Aeschylus' Agamemnon for watchmen waiting for announcement of the capture of Troy. Every time the words "earnest expectation" are used in the Bible, they are used of Christ's return (here, vv. 23, 25; 1 Co 1:7; Ga 5:5; Ph 3:20; He 9:28).

for the revealing [by God] of the sons of God.

Revelation of the sons of God will occur when Christ comes for believers. When that happens, Christians will share the glory of Christ. That is when our bodies will be redeemed (8:23). Christians will be revealed with Christ in glory when they will be eternally separated from sin and their fallen nature:

Co 3: 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Since creation's curse was not its fault but fallen man's responsibility, creation will participate in the restoration of man to a glorified state. That is why creation strains its neck to see this event.

The anticipation here is not the Rapture but the glorification of believer and creation at the Second Coming. This is also when believers will receive their resurrection bodies.

PRINCIPLE: Creation itself eagerly anticipates the glorification of the sons of God.

APPLICATION: Creation stands on the tiptoe of expectancy to watch the glorification of the sons of God. There is a limit to "as far as the curse is found"; one day the curse will end. God with one fell swoop will reverse the curse.

In biblical viewpoint, man and creation are so bound together that man's sin brought a curse on the created order. The created order will therefore share the destiny of the sons of God. That is why creation waits for this event with eager longing. Future glory involves far more than just believers.

v. 20: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

20 For

The reason for the anticipation of creation of the glorification was that creation itself was subjected to "futility."

the creation was subjected [by God] to futility [emphatic-devoid of good results],

God judged not only man but creation itself because of man's sin. It was God, not Satan, who did this. "Futility" means purposelessness. Creation no longer measures up to the purpose for which it was originally created. The idea of "futility" is that creation has no use but is empty, hollow, and full of nothing. Creation lost its full purpose and became subject to decay and corruption. Diseased plants corrode the crop. Cancer invades the human body.

God originally created heaven and earth in perfection and pronounced it "very good." When sin entered into the world, it damned that perfection. When Adam sinned, God said, "Cursed is the ground for your sake." The world now is in a degraded condition. The heavens and the earth are polluted spiritually and otherwise. Creation is compelled to participate in this degradation. Creation fell from its original design. Disorganization prevails in the created order-how miserable the condition caused by man. God put this present creation under reservation for judgment:

2 Pe 3: 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

not willingly,

Creation did not voluntarily subject itself to futility like Adam did (Ge 3:14-19). It received a curse because of Adam's sin. The supreme will of God cursed creation because of man.

but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

God is the one who subjected creation in this matter. Creation had no choice in the matter but was under a decree from God because of the fall of man.

Creation's hope to be delivered from decay is not unrealistic, because God gave the promise of "hope." Hope is not a wish biblically but a confidence in future reality. "In hope" means literally upon the basis of hope. The hope of creation carries certainty like the hope of the believer.

PRINCIPLE: One day all the constraints of the curse will be removed.

APPLICATION: Creation is inseparably linked to the destiny of man. It will be a glorious day when God removes the curse from this world. We will see the full realization of the purpose and function of creation when that happens. All this will be shared with the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Creation does not currently fulfill the purpose that God gave it. It is devoid of its designed usefulness because it did not meet its original purpose. Man made a mess of creation. It is filled with weary rounds of repetitive purposeless actions.

Eccl 1:8 All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing.

v. 21: because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

21 because

The reason for the eager anticipation of creation is that it will also be delivered one day from the bondage of corruption.

the creation itself [emphatic] also will be delivered [set free by God]

The curse was not permanent. When God completes His program for the salvation of His people, He will deliver inanimate creation itself to its pristine state.

from the bondage of corruption [decay, degradation]

Present creation is in a state of entropy. All about us we see evidences of death and degradation. Men die, plants die, animals die. Death and decay are at work in this present world. Everything in the universe is becoming more disorganized and less purposeful (except where humans intervene). The original curse caused creation to enter into a state of corruption. One day in the future God will set creation free from corruption and decay. Even the bodies of Christians will no longer be worm food in that day. Creation will not share in the liberty of grace but it will share in the liberty of glory, the future renovation of creation.

into the glorious liberty [freedom] of the children of God.

There will come a time when all Christians will be liberated from sin, the sin capacity, and all physical limitations due to sin. Creation itself will share in the freedom of glorified children of God. God will renovate creation itself when Jesus comes at His Second Coming. This will have two stages. First, God will renovate the present cosmos at the Second Coming. Secondly, God will create a "new heaven and new earth" after the millennium (Re 21:1).

PRINCIPLE: One day the Lord will purge the entire universe of the curse by a great conflagration.

APPLICATION: One day God will renovate the present heavens and earth by a great conflagration. Although it will still be the same heavens and earth we presently experience, it will be a renewed heaven and earth.

2 Pe 3: 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Believers are even now "children of God," but these children have a future because Jesus bought and paid for them through redemption. Their bodies are presently marked with the scars of time, but those same bodies will be transformed. This corruptible will put on incorruption. That will be glory for believers. There will be no more death, no more pain, no more suffering.

v. 22: For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Not only does creation groan in its fallen state for future redemption (8:22), but Christians also groan for that day as well (8:23).

From verse 22 to 27 the word "groan" occurs three times. These groanings refer to three different objects:

Creation, v. 22

Believers, v. 23

The Holy Spirit, v. 26

22 For

Verse 22 is a conclusion to the preceding discussion on the curse of creation. We have in the next verses the proof of the Christian hope.

we know

Paul appealed to previous knowledge among the Romans. The Greek indicates a state of knowing from perception; it is common knowledge that creation is in trouble.

that the whole creation

There is no aspect of creation that is free from the pain of the consequence of sin.

groans and labors with birth pangs together [emphatic] until now.

In God's economy pain is not meaningless. The meaning of pain is something like childbirth. It is difficult to go through the pain but it brings the wonder of a baby into the world. Pain is a precursor to glorification (v. 21).

Up to the time that Paul wrote Romans, creation groaned in pain as a result of Adam's sin and the subsequent curse on creation. One day God will reverse the consequences of the fall and transform creation into something completely new. The entire created order waits for this event.

PRINCIPLE: The only reason creation suffers is because of the sin of man.

APPLICATION: Since creation suffers because of man's sin, the ultimate cure of man's sin is the final redemption not only of our souls but of everything that pertains to creation. This is the ultimate and final emancipation.

Christians do not experience meaningless pain but meaningful pain like that of childbirth. These are not death

pangs but birth pangs. This kind of pain is a precursor to glorification. Believers can endure temporary suffering by a glimpse of our future glory.

Presently Christians are aware of their limitations in this world. They do not groan in a selfish sense but with the insight that there is hope beyond the grave.

v. 23: Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Verse 23 has three metaphors that give substance to the believer's confidence of glorification:

Firstfruits of the Spirit

Adoption as sons

Redemption of our bodies

23 Not only that,

The words "not only that" indicate progression in Paul's argument. Not only does creation groan about the fall and its consequences on itself, but believers also groan about the consequences of sin upon themselves.

but we [emphatic-we ourselves] also who have the firstfruits [pledge] of the Spirit,

"Firstfruits" on a farm was the first harvest of ripened crops. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, the "firstfruits" was the first of the harvest that was offered to God. There will be more fruit to come. It is the first installment or foretaste of the greater harvest to come. There will be more harvest to come. We received the Holy Spirit at salvation, but we will reap the greater harvest at our glorification. The Spirit is the down payment or first installment for our glorification in the eternal state.

The groaning here is not that of unbelievers but that of believers, indicated by their having the Holy Spirit.

PRINCIPLE: The Holy Spirit is the first installment as a foretaste of the believer's glorification.

APPLICATION: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a promise that Christians will have an eternal harvest in glory. The Holy Spirit is a pledge that God will raise us from the dead. As an engagement ring involves a promise of a future wedding, so the indwelling Holy Spirit is God's promise to us of our future glorification.

No Christian is satisfied completely with the first sheaf of initial salvation; we anticipate the full harvest of our glorification. We have a foretaste of our ultimate salvation in our salvation when the Holy Spirit began to indwell us. It is proper to get homesick for heaven!

It is because Christians have the Spirit that they anticipate ultimate salvation of souls and even of creation itself. The Spirit Himself is God's first pledge to the believer of future salvation. The Holy Spirit is the firstfruits or pledge of both present and future redemption.

2 Co 1: 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Eph 1: 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The firstfruits of the Spirit is the down payment of certainty we have from God that we will receive our eternal inheritance. We groan until that day.

Firstfruits are the foretastes of heaven, a guarantee of our future there. God has made a pledge to us about this and He is faithful to His promise. The Father who imparted the beginning of salvation will finish our salvation to the full. This is enormously encouraging to believers who still live in time. It is encouraging because He will never break His promise.

v. 23b: Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

even we ourselves [very emphatic] groan within ourselves,

A "groan" is an utterance of pain. It is a deep sorrow at our present circumstances. In this passage "groan" refers to those of us who have no immediate prospect of deliverance from our personal pain. However, our pain is not permanent. There will come a day when we experience pain no more. Although God does not give a specific date about when this will happen, His promise stands.

Ps 32: 3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

Just like creation, believers groan because of pain in this world. The double use of "ourselves" is very emphatic. To "groan" is to experience deep sorrow at some circumstance. There is something more even to our salvation than we now experience. What we have now is real, but we look forward to something even better.

"Within" indicates the interior groaning of the believer who awaits redemption from the pain of life. This is not the province of unbelievers. It is strictly the domain of believers, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, to groan temporarily until the redemption of their bodies.

Christians find it difficult to bear the adversities of life. We groan because of susceptibility to sin. We have burdens difficult to bear. These groanings are within ourselves.

PRINCIPLE: Christians groan, not out of desperation, but in anticipation of future deliverance.

APPLICATION: There is no evidence of a partial or incomplete salvation in Scripture. The opposite is the case. No one that we read about in Scripture ever loses his or her salvation.

The groaning of the believer is the desire to obtain our blessed future and to be separated from the evils of this world. One day God will raise us from the dead. This is a redemption which the whole creation anticipates. In that day the Lord Jesus will save us body, soul, and spirit. This is the nature of our resurrection state.

v. 23c: eagerly waiting for the adoption.

"Eagerly waiting" is the same word used in verse 19 of creation's eager anticipation of glorification at the Second Coming. Paul will use this word again in Romans 8:25:

25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

The phrase "eagerly waiting" comes from three words: to watch, away, from. This is an intense idea whereby

we stretch our head away from our body to watch for our glorification, the ultimate redemption of our bodies. The idea is of passionate waiting with eagerness.

As we saw in a previous study in this chapter, "adoption" is literally placing as a son. This word describes the sonship of the believer or legal rights with God. We have these rights because we received the Holy Spirit (v. 15). Adoption here is the final phase of our adoption. God will not raise our bodies in their present state but in an entirely new state. Although we believers are already sons, we await the completion of our sonship at our glorification, the redemption of our bodies.

Adoption, then, in this case has to do with future adoption or permanent son-placing. This is the believer's legal relationship to God as an outcome of God's grace. We received the adoption at salvation (Ga 4:6-7; Ro 8:15) yet we still anticipate the final adoption in its fullness-the redemption of our bodies. We groan inwardly and wait eagerly for our redemption.

PRINCIPLE: Although our souls are redeemed, our bodies will be fully redeemed as well.

APPLICATION: Believers already have a status with God as adopted sons, but we do not yet have the full glorification of our status with God. Christians have already received the adoption positionally, but we will not receive complete benefits of adoption until we are in glory. Although our souls are redeemed, our bodies will be fully redeemed as well.

We should note that adoption includes much more than the redemption of our bodies. Future adoption is when God will recognize us as completed sons, whereas redemption of our bodies is when God will bestow upon us a glorified body without sin and the consequences of sin.

God seals our salvation by giving the indwelling Holy Spirit as the guarantor of our future with God in heaven. He does this by placing a seal on the believer. This seal is a mark of authority. Later in Romans eight, the Holy Spirit will develop the idea of the security of the believer even in much greater detail.

Eph 1: 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Eph 4: 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Note that Ephesians 4:30 says until "the day of redemption." God eternally seals our salvation until the believer is fully redeemed. The day of "the redemption of our body" is the day to which the Holy Spirit sealed us (Ep 4:30). This is the guarantee of our complete, fulfilled salvation; the reality of our resurrection is a stark, flat promise from God. All of this depends on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is waiting for us over there. God sovereignly controls time and the events of the universe. He directs everything toward the consummation of His purposes. He will never take His hand off of His purpose or decree. He will make us incorruptible, undefiled, and immortal on that day. He has already marked out that day for us, the day of the emancipation of our body.

v. 23d: the redemption

The word "redemption" describes release or freedom paid by a price or ransom. Redemption is the process whereby someone pays for the freedom of someone else. Jesus paid a ransom so that we will have a future with Him. We will obtain that redemption on the "day of redemption:"

Eph 1: 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Eph 4: 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Note that God said not merely "unto redemption" but "unto the day of redemption."

PRINCIPLE: God has guaranteed that we will be glorified with Him in heaven.

APPLICATION: God has made a pledge and guarantee that we will be with Him in glory. In order to do this He must reconstruct our bodies so that they are fit for heaven. Our current bodies are weak, susceptible to disease, and contain the sin capacity. Our reconstructed bodies will be just like the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus.

The believer's ransom is our glorification, the revelation of the sons of God (8:19), or "the glorious freedom of the children of God" (8:21). This will happen at the Rapture of the church (before the renovation of creation at the Second Coming). Our bodies will be translated and transformed at that time. It is the "day of redemption" for the believer (Eph 4:30). In that day God will liberate us from decay and futility. That will be a day of glory!! "Oh, that will be glory for me." This is the hope or confidence of the believer. God has indeed made a wonderful pledge to us. He put Himself on the line for this. We can, therefore, wait with eager anticipation for this.

This glorious truth demands service to the Lord (1 Co 15:58).

v. 23e: of our body [singular].

"The redemption" of the believer's body is the same as the glorification of the body when we will no longer have physical limitations (1 Co 15:42-54; 2 Co 5:1-5; Ph 3:20-21; 1 Th 4:13-18).

Redemption of the believer's body has to do with transformation from a mortal body to an immortal body (1 Co 15:42-44, 53-54). Our soul is presently completely saved; it is not in a process of salvation. However, the body is yet to be redeemed.

PRINCIPLE: Christians await the manifestation of the glorification of their bodies, the redemption from the grave.

APPLICATION: Christians wait for the final phase of their salvation, a material reality. Our bodies will be like the Lord Jesus'

physical body (Ph 3:20, 21; 1 Jn 3:2). Our body will be like the resurrected body of Jesus. People could observe His body (Jn 20:20; 1 Co 15:5-7). People touched Him (Lu 24:39). The Lord had a meal with his disciples (Jn 21:12). All this shows that He had a human body after His resurrection (Lu 24:29).

There are differences between a resurrected and a non-resurrected body. The resurrection body is not bound by the same physical laws that govern our bodies now. Jesus passed through closed doors (Jn 20:19). Our bodies will be with Christ (2 Co 5:8) and there will be a departing to Him (Ph 1:23).

1 Pe 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

For those who have died as Christians, presently their body is in the ground but their soul and spirit are in heaven. One day even our bodies will be resurrected and restored to their glorified state (1 Th 4:13,14,16). This will happen in a twinkling of the eye (1 Co 15:52-57). The words "spiritual body" in 1 Corinthians does not mean an intangible body without substance.

There will come a time when our body will be delivered from the grave. The grave will no longer hold it prisoner. This will be a great deliverance because it will be a perfect deliverance. Death will be swallowed up in victory. Believers will enter never-ending immortality and life with God. There is finality to this event. Jesus paid a complete price for the resurrection of our bodies. This is the day of the completion of our adoption when we will stand fully whole. This is the last act of Jesus as our Mediator.

One day our bodies will return to their original purpose. Although we can know something about "joy" in tribulation we that know something far better is coming. At last our bodies will be delivered from the dark implications of the fall.

Within the redemption of the cosmos the believer's body will be redeemed. Suffering of this present age is due to the fall of man. Redemption of creation and the believer's body has to do with the correction of the fall. The glory of the future for the believer is stupendous.

All of this depends on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is waiting for us over there.

v. 24: For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

This verse takes up the subject of the believer's hope. Those who respond by faith to the promise of the believer's glorification have hope.

24 For

The "for" here explains verse 23 by emphasizing that the hope is still future.

we were saved [at one point in the past] in this hope [state of hope],

Christians were saved, not are saved, in a state of hope or confidence in our future glorification. Being saved "in hope" is holding the prospect of ultimate salvation. Faith in Christ's death effected our salvation at one point in the past. At that point we placed our hope in the idea that our mortal bodies will be liberated from decay and death. Hope does not save us, but our salvation is characterized by hope.

PRINCIPLE: Christians live in a state characterized by hope.

APPLICATION: Our initial salvation was one of three phases. The first phase was the event whereby we became Christians. The second phase is progressive; that is, God is making us more like the Lord Jesus day by day. The third phase is our eternal glorification in heaven. The first phase was only the beginning. Our ultimate salvation is yet to come-that is why we groan presently. That hope is not uncertain but future.

1 Th 5: 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

Ti 3: 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

v. 24b: but hope that is seen is not hope;

Hope is opposite to what is seen. God provides an objective confidence in our future glorification, not a subjective hope. If we already possess hope, it can no longer be the object of our hope. That is a contradiction. We can only hope for something that is yet future. Our confidence is in something that is not in plain view. We hope for something presently unseen.

for why does one still hope for what he sees?

We do not hope for what we already have. The very idea of hope is an expectation of something yet future that will become a present reality. Hope that has arrived ceases to be the object of hope.

This phrase reminds us that the major or third phase of our salvation is yet future. This reminder gives us encouragement to persevere in the midst of trial. We are saved but not fully.

2 Co 4: 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

PRINCIPLE: As faith is necessary to appropriate salvation, so hope is required to take in future glorification.

APPLICATION: Our salvation came with wonderful operating assets, but there is still more to follow. Our salvation included justification, regeneration, positional truth, and positional sanctification, among many other things. Beyond that, we have progressive sanctification. Yet further, we have hope of complete glorification in eternity. There will come a time when all the problems of this present time will be eradicated.

Salvation of our souls does not mean that we will have easy lives. We live in a cursed world; therefore, we groan and long for ultimate glorification. We cannot expect to see in this life anything that approaches the glorified state. That is why hope is the watchword for the Christian in the present time.

1 Pe 1: 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

knowing God's promises stabilizes us over our circumstances. Focus on circumstance destabilizes the believer in time. The Christian who puts his focus on eternity has an attitude of confidence about the problems of life.

v. 25: But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

This verse is the opposite argument to what "is seen is not hope" of the previous verse. The two elements of hope (future hope and certainty) correspond to two dimensions of our attitude.

25 But if we hope for what we do not see,

Hope is something that we do not now see. If hope is already realized, it is no longer hope but a reality that is reached already.

we eagerly wait for it

Since our hope involves certainty, we eagerly expect what God is going to do for us in the future. By this we wait during the delay. Believers endure this interim struggle because we are sure of what lies ahead of us. The realization of the glorification of the believer is still future, albeit certain. What makes it certain is its content. We obtain our hope from God's promise in His Word. He promises the return of Christ, the resurrection of the body, and our gathering to Him in glorification. Since God cannot lie, we can count on His Word.

Hope expects something better than present circumstances. It is something that is anticipated with delight; it is no passive endurance.

PRINCIPLE: Hope is an expectation of something better than present circumstances.

APPLICATION: There is a difference between faith and hope. Faith brings promise into the present; hope accepts a future promise. Faith precedes hope and is the basis for our hope. Faith has promise as its present object, whereas hope regards the promise as future. Christians hope for eternal life because God made a promise to give it to us. Believing the promise produces expectation of result. Hope carries the idea of certainty of God fulfilling the promise; faith looks to the promise as a present possession. Believers "rejoice in the glory of God." We have "the full assurance of hope."

v. 25b: with perseverance [steadfastness].

Christians endure present trail with a sense of confidence about the future. We persevere because of what

God promised in His Word. Our hope is bound up with a promise not yet fulfilled. Perseverance is the basis of

waiting on the will of God or His providence about fulfilling the future for us.

Since hope is future, there is a necessity to patiently endure our present circumstances. Hope enables us to bear trial in order to reach our goal of glorification. This is no passive acceptance of our problems but an active confrontation with them. Steadfastness means nothing can derail our hope.

He 10: 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

PRINCIPLE: Hope triumphs over despair.

APPLICATION: A Christian's outlook isn't determined by the problems of the present time but by confidence in God's promises. On that basis we can wait for the glorification of our bodies with perseverance. Patient anticipation for our hope is the proper attitude. There might be a lengthy period between our hope and the realization of hope.

When we rest on the promises of God we have confidence in the object of Christian hope. The promises that relate to the future are absolute in God's viewpoint.

No Christian who is realistic about life expects this life to be easy and without problems. A child of God rests his or her hope on the absolute promises of God, not on the frailty and uncertainty of this life. We put our hope in God's promises that never fail. Future blessing is imperishable and permanent. Without hope Christians would live in despair. As long as hope is there, we will not give up the battle. This is why believers have perseverance in trial. That is why the Lord "endured" the cross:

He 12: 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.