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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Romans 8



Other Authors

D. VIII. The nature of the power and of the working of the New Life explained

Verse 1

1. ἄρα. So, after this exposition, it becomes clear.

νῦν. As things now are, under the new dispensation.

κατάκριμα. In Christ there is no penal state following upon a verdict of condemnation, because in Christ men are acquitted (justified); cf. Romans 5:16 n.

τοῖς ἐν Χρ. . Those whose relation to GOD is determined by their union with Christ. Χρ. . always in this order after ἐν and εἰς (unless Galatians 3:14).

Verses 1-11

1–11. The power is the indwelling spirit.

[1] It follows from this examination of man’s state under law, that in our present state, as effected by GOD, those who are made one with Christ Jesus are not under penalties. [2] For the new condition brought by the Spirit, which animates the new life we received on being united with Christ Jesus, liberated us once for all from the former tyranny. [3] GOD‘s law, barely declaring His will, could not do this because it was undermined by means of the flesh. But GOD Himself did the work of liberation, first, through His Son incarnate triumphing over sin even in the flesh, [4] and secondly and consequently through His Son in us, fulfilling the claim of law by conduct on the lines of spirit not of flesh. [5] It was in fact just this reinforcement of man’s spirit which was needed, in the antagonism of spirit and flesh, to overcome the limitations of the latter and to bring it under the power of the spirit. [9] That work has now been done in Christians: GOD’S Spirit dwells in them, because if they are Christ’s they possess Christ’s Spirit, which implies that their bodies are dead for all purposes of sin, their spirits a living power in the body for all purposes of righteousness, [11] for all purposes, because they are thus strengthened by the same Power which raised Christ Jesus from death, and will put life into their bodies, in themselves doomed to death, because it is GOD’S Spirit dwelling in them.

This section then brings out the nature of the power of the Gospel in contrast with the description of the powerlessness of law. That power in fact is the power of the life of the Risen Lord in the Christian, bringing to bear upon the human spirit the whole moral and spiritual force of the Spirit of GOD Himself.

Verse 2

2. ὁ γὰρ νόμος τ. πν. κ.τ.λ. The life in Christ Jesus is the new life of and in men, Christ’s life in them, their life in Christ. This life has its instrument or vehicle, as it were, in the new spirit that is in men, new, because the result of their spirit being in union with and invigorated by Christ’s Spirit (Romans 8:9). This new or renewed spirit has its own law regulating its true condition, just as the old spirit had (Romans 7:21): and this law is embodied in the life and character of Christ; its first utterance is justification by faith which at once liberates a man from the tyranny of sin and death and dictates a corresponding manner of life; cf. n. on Romans 6:16-23. It is very remarkable that S. Paul should use this word νόμος to express any condition of the new life: it at least shows how far he is from having worked out a complete technical vocabulary. “He is using ν. here in the sense of Torah which is very much wider than ν. as ordinarily interpreted.” J. H. A. Hart. In τ. πν. τ. ζ. there is a reference to Genesis 2:7 : this is a new creation; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

ἐν Χρ. . Closely with ζωῆς; the whole phrase describes the ‘new man.’

ἠλευθέρωσεν. Sc. as soon as it came into action. Cf. Romans 6:4; Romans 6:8; Romans 6:11.

ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου τ. . κ. τ. θ. Either [1] the law imposed by sin, cf. Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25, or [2] the law which gave sin its opportunity, cf. Romans 7:11. The first is more in accordance with usage in c. 7; yet it obliges us to take νόμος in a different sense from Romans 8:3.

Verse 3

3. γὰρ explains the method of liberation.

τὸ ἀδύνατον. For abstract ἀδυνασία: cf. τὸ γνήσιον, 2 Corinthians 8:8; τὸ δοκίμιον, James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7 (?); τὸ χρηστὸν, supra Romans 2:4; cf. Blass, p. 155 = the incapacity, ineffectiveness, lack of power. The construction is pendent; cf. Blass, p. 283.

τοῦ νόμου. Here clearly of the law of GOD as apprehended by man.

ἐν ᾧ ἠσθένει = the quality by which it was in a state of weakness, brought to that weakness (by sin) by means of the flesh; cf. Romans 7:14 n. ἠσθένει = constantly proved weak.

ὁ θεὸς. The whole action described is the action of GOD.

τὸν ἑ. υἱὸν. “The emphatic ἑαυτοῦ brings out the community of nature between the Father and the Son, cf. Romans 8:32, Colossians 1:13,” S. H. Add to ‘nature’ mind and purpose.

πέμψας. In this connexion only here and in Ev. Joh.

ἐν ὁμ. σ. ἁμ. Cf. Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:17. ὁμ. does not mark unreality but suggests a difference; cf. Romans 5:14, Romans 6:5 n. The difference here is indicated by the addition of ἁμ. The σάρξ, which He assumed never admitted the tyranny of sin, though it included the capacity for temptation and sin. In these words S. Paul touches the very nerve of the Passion, and indicates the supreme act of the divine Love. See Moberly, Atonement and Personality, c. 6.

σ. ἁμαρτίας = human nature as it is under the dominion of sin. This phrase comes most near to describing flesh as in itself sinful; but that misunderstanding has already been fully guarded against.

περὶ ἁμαρτίας. περὶ = in the matter of, to deal with. ὑπὲρ = on behalf of. But the distinction between these prepositions is obscured in the Greek of this time. ὑπὲρ is never used with the sing. (sin as sin) but only with the plural (men’s sins): περὶ with both. It is probable that in περὶ ἁμαρτίας there is a direct allusion to the sin-offering; cf. Leviticus 4 et passim; Hebrews 10:6 alibi (cf. Hebrews 10:26); but the reference is also wider.

κατέκρινε τὴν ἁμ. Condemned it, gave a verdict against it in its claim upon man: it was just this effective condemnation which law had been unable to compass.

ἐν τῇ σαρκί. With κατέκρινε = in His flesh; cf. Romans 6:1-10, esp. 6, 7, 10. This parallel shows the reference to be primarily to the Crucifixion (cf. Romans 7:4); but the whole Incarnate Life showed the victorious power over sin which culminated in the Death and Resurrection, and constituted a verdict against sin’s claim to man’s nature. The whole was one act of redemption of the flesh, i.e. of human nature: it is that act in all its bearings which is in question here, in contrast with τὸ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου.

Verse 4

4. ἵνα. The object of the sending and the condemnation of sin.

τὸ δικαίωμα, the righteous claim of the law. The law as GOD‘s revealed will has a claim over man: the same act which repudiated the claim of sin provided for the fulfilment of the claim of the law. Law and sin are here conceived as litigants for the ownership of man.

ἐν ἡμῖν. Not ὑφ' ἡμῶν: in us as renewed in Christ.

τοῖς μὴ κ.τ.λ. Not = if we walk, but in us in the character of men whose principle of conduct is regulated not by flesh but by spirit. A summary description of the true life of man, seen and made possible in Christ.

κατὰ σάρκακατὰ πνεῦμα. This antithesis at last becomes explicit, and is developed in Romans 8:5-8. In Romans 7:25 the antithesis was νοῦς and σάρξ; here, when it is more a question of the roots of action, it is πνεῦμα and σάρξ.

Verse 5

5. γὰρ. Explains how walking after spirit leads to the fulfilment of the claim of law, by a series of contrasted clauses.

οἱ γὰρ κατὰ σάρκα ὄντες. Those who take flesh for their standard of reference and line of action.

τὰ τῆς σαρκὸς φρονοῦσιν. φρονεῖν τά τινος = to adopt a man’s interests as your own, to side with him, be of his party: so here, not = have fleshly thoughts (σαρκικὰ φρονοῦντες), but side with the flesh, make its aims, characteristics and interests their own; cf. Matthew 16:23 |[152], Mark 8:33 only. It is just this giving flesh its wrong place in the mutual relation of the elements of man’s nature which makes it the instrument of sin.

Verse 6

6. τὸ φρόνημα. Almost = the policy, the leading idea, of the flesh when isolated and uncontrolled, i.e. of man as merely earthly. Only in this chapter.

Verse 7

7. τὸ φρ. τῆς σαρκὸς ἔχθρα εἰς θεόν. As before, it is the flesh as usurping and absorbing man’s whole interest which is in question, not the flesh in general.

Verse 8

8. οἱ ἐν σαρκὶ ὄντες, those whose being is wholly involved in flesh, not = those who are living in this passing life.

Verse 9

9. ὑμεῖς δὲ. Spirit, not flesh, is even now the atmosphere and inspiration of the Christian life.

ἐν πνεύματι. The human spirit (as shown by the contrast with σάρξ), which, in Christians, has become the channel or vehicle on and in which the divine Spirit works, πν. is that element in human nature by which man is capable of communion with GOD and that communion reaches its culminating point when it is mediated by the life in and of Christ: then the Spirit of GOD not only speaks to or influences occasionally but dwells in the human spirit; and this is re-created, becomes new, as the spirit of the life in Christ Jesus; of. John 3:34. Cf. S. H.

πνεῦμα θεοῦ |[153] πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ |[154] Χριστός. Cf. Acts 2:33; supra, i. 4; Romans 8:5; infra, 14. The Spirit is the Spirit of GOD because He is sent from GOD: He is the Spirit of Christ, because He comes as representative of Christ, and brings the living power, the life of the ascended Lord, into human lives: so as the result of His action Christ Himself dwells in man. See Moberly, op. cit[155] pp. 197 ff.

εἴπερ, if, as is admitted: an appeal to the acknowledged character of Baptism; cf. Romans 6:1 ff. It is important to note that in all these sentences, no new teaching is being given, but appeal made to established truth.

εἰ δέ τις κ.τ.λ. To be a Christian is to have Christ’s Spirit; not merely to have a spirit like Christ’s. Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

οὐκ. cf. Moulton, p. 171; Blass, p. 254.

Verse 10

10. εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν. The converse of ἐν Χριστῷ; the consequence of having Christ’s Spirit.

διἀ ἁμαρτίαν = for the sake of, for the purposes of sin. Cf. Mark 2:27; 1 Corinthians 11:9; Blass, p. 132.

τὀπνεῦμα ζωἠ. The spirit is not merely alive, but a principle of life in the man; under its power the body too is alive.

διὰ δικαιοσύνην. For the purposes of righteousness; cf. 4.

Verse 11

11. εἰ δὲ κ.τ.λ. Develops the thought implied in 10 that the body, too, even now is quickened by the new life; it has become a ὅπλον δικαιοσύνης, Romans 6:13.

τὸ πν. τ. ἐγ. The resurrection of Jesus is a measure and warrant both of the will and of the power of the Spirit of GOD, to bring life into what is dead. Cf. Romans 4:24 and Romans 5:6; Romans 5:10-11.

ζωοποιήσει. Cf. Romans 6:8. The reference is not to the final resurrection, but to the present spiritual quickening of the whole man, the foretaste of that. The future is used, because a condition has to be fulfilled by man, πίστις; cf. Romans 6:11 (with 8).

τὰ θνητὰ σώματα. Your bodies, dead though they be; cf. Romans 7:24 and Romans 7:4.

The whole context seems to be decisive in favour of this line of interpretation. The section (Romans 8:1-11) balances the preceding section (Romans 7:7-25). There the inability of the law by itself to produce the higher spiritual life was shown; and the argument dealt primarily and mainly with human life as it is now. Here the whole object is to show that the Gospel provides just such a power as law lacks, a power, that is, to revive and renew the human spirit so as to enable it to mould and master the whole life. The life and death spoken of are the spiritual life and death already described; the raising is the present liberation of the spirit which affects the body also, making it too serve its true ends and live its true life. The raising of Jesus is a proof both of the will and character and power of that Spirit, which operated then and operates now through the risen Life communicated now to man; cf. Romans 6:2-11. The future resurrection is not referred to; but it is of course implied as a consequence of the whole relation thus described between GOD and man. Cf. closely 2 Corinthians 4:10-11; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:14-16. The thought of the future resurrection life becomes explicit in Romans 8:17. As. Romans 5:1-11 argued that if GOD so loved us as to give His Son to die for us, He must love us enough to complete His saving work in us through His Son; Song of Solomon 8:1-11 argues that if GOD had power and will to raise Jesus from the dead, He must have power and will to raise us in and through His Son from the death of sin.

Verse 12

12. ἄρα οὖν covers the whole argument from Romans 8:12 and proceeds to conclusions as to Christian conduct; but this purpose is interrupted by the thought of the Spirit and the wide bearings of the relation of sonship to GOD. The subject of Christian conduct is resumed in c. 12. Here the main character of the Christian life is expounded.

ὀφειλέται. Still debtors, but under a new allegiance. Cf. Galatians 5:3; Matthew 18:21; Luke 7:41.

Verses 12-39

12–39. The interpretation of the character and obligations of human life, under the power of the indwelling Spirit, in relation to creation and to GOD.

[12] If then all this is true, that our spirit in its warfare with the flesh is reinforced by GOD’s Spirit, our life intimately dependent upon Christ living in us through that Spirit, then the duty of the Christian is clear; it is a duty not to the flesh but to the spirit, not to live as the flesh dictates, but to live as the spirit dictates, bringing through a fleshly death to a spiritual life all the doings and farings of the body; [14] only so, as always answering to the leading of the Spirit, do we act up to our character as sons of GOD—a character which has replaced that of slaves, which enjoins a free appeal to the Father’s love and answers to the inner testimony of His Spirit acting upon ours—[17] only so, do we claim as children our share of the life of GOD in Christ, a share of present suffering as the means to a share in the future glory. [18] For we cannot disregard this character of fleshly death, of present sufferings: nor should we try to do so: they are the stamp placed upon creation to mark its vanity, its transitory character, its merely preliminary and preparatory quality: corruption in nature and in man is the evidence of a redemption now working through the breaking up of present conditions and one day to be manifested in the establishment of a glorious freedom: [23] our adoption to sonship is inchoate but incomplete, and a strain and trial now of mortal nature: hope is its inspiration: patience and endurance its condition: the joy and glory it points to are incomparably greater than the trials and troubles of the present.

[26] Corresponding to this present condition of our nature is the activity of the Spirit helping our infirmity, by supplementing our ignorant and feeble prayers with His indescribable intercessions known in their fullest meaning only to GOD, [28] to us known only as the incontestable labours of GOD Himself in carrying out His purpose for the creatures of His love, through the whole wonderful progress from the first idea He formed of them as to be sharers in the character of His Son, through His determination, call, justification, to that final consummation, in which He brings them to the full concrete realisation of His glory.

[31] And as our ultimate comfort and joy we reflect that all this unspeakable procedure rests upon the firm foundation of GOD’S love—instanced by His not sparing His own Son: that act shows that He can grudge nothing to us in the fulfilment of His purpose—no voice can be raised against us, no judgment delivered, when His voice and judgment have been declared in Christ, dead or rather risen from death, throned at GOD’S right hand, interceding for us. [35] Christ in His love has passed through all the possibilities of human experience in bodily and spiritual pain: they cannot separate us from Him. He has faced and subjugated all the most tremendous facts and forces and conditions and influences under which man is placed: they cannot separate us from Him. And to say that is to Bay, that nothing can separate us from the love of GOD which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Note the refrain Romans 5:11; Romans 5:21, Romans 6:23, Romans 7:25, Romans 8:11 (alibi), 39. This section sums up the bearing of the whole preceding argument upon the character and relations of human life: and ends in the sublime assertion of the Love of GOD as the spring and root of all GOD’S dealings with man, as revealed in the Gospel. Then out of the very heart of this overwhelming joy springs the tremendous problem of Israel’s rejection of the Love of GOD (cc. 9–11).

Verse 13

13. μέλλετε ἀποθνήσκειν. The periphrastic future of the durative present—you will continue in or be in a state of death; ἀποθανεῖσθε = you will die, of the single event; cf. Moulton, p. 114; Burton, § 72. Consequently the reference is the same as in Romans 7:10-11.

θανατοῦτε. Sc. διὰ ἁμαρτίαν, Romans 8:10; the durative present. Cf. νέκρωσις, 2 Corinthians 4:10; νεκροῦν, Colossians 3:5, ct[157] aor. Romans 7:4. τὰς πράξεις τοῦ σώματος, in a bad sense, because of the |[158] κατὰ σάρκα, and in antithesis to πνεῦμα: the body’s practices independent of spirit are bad.

Verse 14

14. ὅσοι γὰρ. You must do this, for only if so led by GOD’S Spirit, are you true sons.

Verse 15

15. ἐλάβετε. Again an appeal to baptism.

πάλιν. Though still δοῦλοι in a true sense (cf. Romans 6:18-19; Romans 6:22) the spirit in which they serve is not a spirit of slavery but of sonship.

πν. υἱοθεσίας. Cf. τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐ., Galatians 4:6. It is a spirit of sonship because it is the effect of the Spirit of His Son; cf. 9.

υἱοθεσίας = the status of sons by adoption, sonship by adoption; cf. 23, Romans 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:6 only. It is the right of son and heir, given out of the natural order, as in the ease of Jacob. cf. Deissmann, Bibelstudien II. pp. 66, 67; the stress here is of course on the sonship, not on the way it came; cf. Hebrews 12:7.

ἐν ᾧ κ.τ.λ. Corresponds to εἰς φόβον of the preceding clause—not slaves to a master but sons to a Father: the reference seems to be direct to the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ as the norm of Christian prayer, the new basis of appeal to GOD.

Ἀββά ὁ πατήρ. Cf. Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6. The repetition is not merely for interpretation, but for emphasis; of. S. H., Lft ad Gal. l.c[159], Chase, Texts and Studies, I. 3, p. 24.

ὁ πατήρ. Nom. for voc. (not merely a Hebraism; of. Moulton, pp. 70, 235).

Verse 15-16

15, 16. Parenthetic, enforcing the description of Christians as sons.

Verse 16

16. αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα κ.τ.λ. The absence of a conjunction suggests that this is, in some sort, an explanation of the preceding phrases (rather than an analysis of the consciousness, as S. H.). If this be so, then the idea is that the Spirit, which mates man’s spirit a spirit of sonship, by inspiring this cry of man’s spirit joins in testifying to the true relation to GOD.

τέκνα θεοῦ. Cf. Philippians 2:15; otherwise only in Joh.; cf. esp. 1 John 3:2. On the other hand Joh. never uses υἱοὶ θεοῦ of men (cf. Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35; Luke 20:36; Revelation 21:7; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:5 f.; here 14, 19, Romans 9:26 (qu.); Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:6-7 only). υἱός rather describes the dignity and privilege of the son, τέκνον the sharing in the life of the father; cf. Westcott, Epp. Joh., pp. 120, 121. So here τέκνα is substituted, as the ground of κληρονομία, because the main thought here is of the life possessed by Christians, not of the privilege.

Verse 17

17. Continues the thought of 15 and so the explanation of ζήσεσθε: if children we share the life.

κληρονόμοι. The son has a part in the possessions of the father; cf. Galatians 4:1 f.

κληρονόμοι θεοῦ. Only here (n. Galatians 4:7 διὰ θεοῦ): the idea of hereditary succession is not applicable: the O.T. usage of κληρονομία for ‘sanctioned and settled possession’ (cf. Hort, 1 Peter, p. 35) suggests that the meaning here is ‘possessors,’ possessors of GOD = possessors of the divine life (of. 2 Peter 1:4); and this agrees with the use of τέκνα. Then

συνκλ. δὲ Χριστοῦ marks the condition of our possession; we are so possessors only as sharing with Christ, by His life in us.

εἴπερ κ.τ.λ. S. H. suggest that there is a reference to a current Christian saying; cf. 2 Timothy 2:11. See above, Romans 6:9.

συνπάσχομενσυνδοξασθῶμεν. These are the two essential characters of the divine life as revealed in Christ and, by union with Him, in man; suffering under the present conditions, ‘glory,’ or unhampered revealing of the life, when present conditions are done away in the future state. This truth is most fully worked out in 2 Corinthians 3:7-10; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:7 to 2 Corinthians 5:10. In that Ep. the sufferings themselves are declared to be the natural expression now of the life of Christ in us, as they were in the case of Jesus, and in them the ‘glory’ is even now present and seen; so that the present life of suffering presents a gradual growth in ‘glory’ (ib[160], Romans 3:18). The full and free manifestation is reserved for the future state, but it is the object of the present state, and already discernible in it; cf. also 1 Peter 4:13. The συν. in each case marks the result of sharing the life of Christ. συνδοξ. the aorist, and the next verse, show that the reference is to the future revelation. N. that the fundamental idea of δόξα is manifestation in act or character, esp. of GOD manifested in Christ and in the lives and character of Christians; cf. Philippians 3:21; 2 Corinthians 8:23.

Verse 18

18. λογίζομαι γὰρ. The reference to δόξα in Romans 8:17 leads to the consideration of all that is involved in that final and full manifestation of GOD.

οὐκ ἄξια κ.τ.λ. Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17 f. ἄξιαπρός, no exact parallel to this use: = are of no weight in comparison with: = οὐδενὸς ἄξια; cf. Plato, Gorg. p. 471E, qu. S. H. For the use of πρὸς = compared with, judged by the standard of, cf. Galatians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 3:4; Kuhring, De praep. Gr. p. 22.

μέλλουσαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι. A periphrasis for fut. part, but emphasising the certainty of the event, ἀποκ. aor. refers to the final revelation; cf. Galatians 3:23, 1 Peter 5:1.

εἰς ἡμᾶς. Cf. ἐπί, Romans 1:18; ἐν, Galatians 1:16 : εἰς implies the shedding of the glory upon us from an external source: for the thought cf. 2 Corinthians 5:2.

Verses 18-26

18–26. In the preceding verses the thoughts worked out in 2 Cor. l.c[161] have been summarised. In these verses the Apostle includes a wider range of thought, characteristic of Eph. and Col. Man’s present state is shown to have its analogy in the whole material creation, which is all undergoing a vital change, from the transitory and perishable to the eternal and spiritual. The connexion between man and creation lies in his physical nature; the full redemption of this nature, when it is brought under the complete control of the spirit by the life of GOD communicated through Christ, will also be the liberation of all the physical creation from the limitations under which it now lies. The whole conception is difficult but sublime in the extreme. It is based upon the idea that the living GOD must in the end bring His whole creation to be, in its parts and degrees, a perfect manifestation of His own character and life. Cf. Ephesians 3:9-10; Colossians 1:16 ff.

Verse 19

19. γὰρ introduces the expression of the wide range of the future revelation.

ἀποκαραδοκία. Philippians 1:20 only, Lft. The subst. seems not to be found elsewhere = concentrated expectation (cf. ἀποβλέπειν).

τῆς κτίσεως. Of the physical creation, cf. Giff. The renovation of nature was part of the Jewish Messianic hope. It is essentially the hope of the restoration of the state of nature before the Fall, when the earth was cursed for man’s transgression. Cf. S. H. p. 210, ref. Isaiah 65:17-25, Enoch 45:4, Schürer E.T. II. 2, p. 172 f. The remarkable, and perhaps unique, feature here is the suggestion of an almost conscious participation of nature in the ‘larger hope’; and the interpretation in this sense of its movements and strife and waste. If we are right in understanding the passage so, it is an anticipation of a very modern kind of sympathy. cf. Edersheim, 2. p. 441; Stanton, J. and Chr. Mess., 310 f., 350 f.

τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τ. . τ. θ. Cf. Luke 2:32; Luke 2:35; 2 Thessalonians 2:3 f. only, of persons other than divine. It is the climax of the φανέρωσις described in 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18, when the veil shall be removed, all the disturbing influences of earthly conditions and judgments, and the true sons of GOD stand out in their true light. That manifestation will bring the ‘new heavens and the new earth,’ to which all the strife and movements of nature tend.

Verse 20

20. τῇ γὰρ ματαιότητι = the purposelessness, futility which the world of nature exhibits, until the conception of nature is itself brought under the larger conception of GOD’S eternal providence.

ὑπετάγη. Prob. ref. Genesis 3:17-18.

διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα = for the purposes of Him who so subjected it; cf. on Romans 5:10, Hebrews 2:10. S. Paul here connects the actual condition of nature with the Fall, as he does the actual condition of human nature in c. 5., no doubt in dependence on Genesis 3:17.

ἐφ' ἑλπίδι with ὑπετάγη. The subjection to vanity is a commonplace: the novelty here lies in the vision of hope.

Verse 21

21. ὅτι καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ κτ. Not man only but the natural creation with him will be set free.

τῆς δ. τῆς φθ. = τῆς ματαιότητος. N. the echo, but in a different sense, in 2 Peter 2:19. φθορά, in St Paul chiefly or always physical, in 2 Pet. generally moral, occurs only in Ro., 1 Co., Gal., Col. and 2 Peter.

ἐλευθερία. Cf. Galatians 4:23 f.

τῆς δόξης τ. τ. τ. θ. δόξα almost = ἀποκάλυψις, but describes the character revealed rather than the process of revealing: = the true character manifested fully, )[162] φθορά, 1 Corinthians 15:42.

τέκνων, ‘children,’ as one in character with GOD in Christ, of. above 17.

Verse 22

22. οἴδαμεν. The appeal to common experience.

συνστ. καὶ συνωδ. συν. not with man, but throughout all its parts, members and organisms. The cpds only here; for ὠδίν. cf Matthew 24:8; the thought is of the pangs of birth = ἐφ' ἑλπίδι κ.τ.λ.

Verse 23

23. καὶ αὐτοὶ. We Christians, though we have the earnest of the Spirit and of freedom, ourselves still find our body in bondage, not yet fully emancipated.

τὴν ἀπαρχὴν τ. πν. ἀπ. only here in this connexion; cf. ἀρραβών, Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:5 : and cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 for a fuller expression of this thought.

υἱοθεσίαν. Cf. 15; Ephesians 1:5. υἱὸς marking privilege rather than nature, υἱοθεσία = putting into that position of privilege; to privilege character must be brought to correspond; consequently the word suggests a process, and may be used either of the beginning of the process (Romans 8:15) or of the end as here, or of the whole (Eph. l. c[163]); cf. Westcott on Eph. l. c[164]

τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν. Cf. on Romans 3:24. This word too indicates a process, not a finished act; cf. Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14. Here and Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30 it is used to name the object for which the Spirit is given. So 1 Corinthians 1:30 Christ is our ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις. The simple verb is used of the beginning of the process, 1 Peter 1:18; cf. Hebrews 9:12. The fundamental texts are Matthew 20:28; |[165], Mark 10:45. N. Ephesians 1:10 connects man’s redemption and the destiny of creation, as here.

τοῦ σώματος ἡ. The body: because [1] the body had become the seat of sin and death (Romans 7:24, Romans 8:11): [2] it is through the body that man is connected with the physical creation. The redemption of the physical organism of man’s life has a far-reaching effect upon all related physical creation; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:21.

Verse 24

24. γὰρ. These clauses explain the στενάζομενἀπεκδεχόμενοι.

τῇ γὰρ ἐλπίδι. “Hope gives a definite shape to the absolute confidence of faith. Faith reposes completely on the love of GOD. Hope vividly anticipates that GOD will fulfil His promise in a particular way” Westcott, Hebrews 10:23; cf. Hort, 1 Pet. p. 86; cf. Galatians 5:5; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. For the connexion with ἐσώθημεν, 1 Peter 1:3 (with Hort’s note (p. 34), “The new order of things is represented as in a manner all one great, all-pervading hope”).

The article = this hope, namely of the redemption of the body; cf. Romans 7:25. The dative can hardly mean ‘by this hope’ but ‘in this hope’; cf. S. H. Salvation, as ἀπολύρωσις and υἱοθεσία, is a process, and it begins with faith, on man’s part, and is carried on in an atmosphere or condition of hope, the hope of complete redemption.

ἐλπὶς δὲ. Hope implies a fulfilment still future, and that demands the expectancy of a steady endurance.

Verse 25

25. δι' ὑπομονῆς = in a condition of endurance, . is steady resistance to adverse influences; and this is the peculiar Christian temper under present conditions; cf. Hebrews 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Revelation 14:12; for διὰ cf. Romans 2:27, Romans 14:20.

Verse 26

26. ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ κ.τ.λ. As hope is the link of fellowship between man and creation, so the attitude of hope wins the help of the Holy Spirit, it is the link of fellowship in action between GOD and man.

τὸ πνεῦμα. Picks up and expands the hint of Romans 8:16. N. that the Spirit here is definitely represented as in a reciprocal relation to the Father which we can only describe as personal.

συναντιλαμβάνεται. Cf. Luke 10:40; = puts His hand to the work in cooperation with us. The work as shown by Romans 8:16 and the following sentences is prayer as the first expression of the character of sonship.

τῇ ἀσθενείᾳ ἡ. = with us in our weakness. Weakness associated with hope necessarily falls to prayer. In that action the Spirit helps. ἀσθ. = all in ourselves that makes it hard to endure.

γὰρ. Introduces explanation of our weakness.

τὸ τί προσευξ. Cf. Blass, p. 158. The groaning (of Romans 8:23) finds no adequate or formulated expression: we know we are in want but how to express our need in particular we know not; it utters itself in a cry of appeal (Romans 8:16): and in that cry we are conscious that the Spirit joins in terms inexpressible by us, but intelligible to Him whose Spirit He is. The Father understands the Spirit framing the utterance of the children.

ὑπερεντ. only here; cf. Romans 8:35. στεναγμοῖς, cf. Acts 7:34. ἀλαλήτοις, only here; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:4.

Verse 27

27. ὁ δὲ ἐραυνῶν τὰς καρδίας. Cf. Revelation 2:23; Psalms 7:10; Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Corinthians 2:10. The point seems to be that GOD’S knowledge of the hearts of men and their needs enables Him to understand the particular line (τὸ φρόνημα) of the Spirit’s intercession which is uttered with and through man’s spirit; cf. Acts 15:8; Acts 1:24; Luke 16:15; Galatians 4:6.

ὄτι, ‘that.’ κατὰ θεὸν = after the standard and measure of the character of GOD, not with the imperfection of human utterance.

ὑπὲρ ἁγίων = on behalf of men who belong to GOD, (so |[166] κατὰ θεόν), and therefore in pursuance of His will for them.

Verse 28

28. The thought passes from man’s striving in prayer with the help of the Spirit, to GOD’S constant activity for man, to promote that good, which is the object, even when unexpressed or inexpressible, of the children’s prayer.

οἴδαμεν, of an acknowledged fact of experience or conviction.

τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι τ. θ. The true temper of childhood, answering to and counting on the ἀγάπη of the Father; cf. Romans 8:35; Romans 8:39. The fundamental attitude on both sides now comes to the front. The dat. = for: see next note.

πάντα συνεργεῖ. συν. is intr. (Mark 16 [20]; 1 Corinthians 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1; James 2:22) = helps, so Herm. Sim. v. 6. 6; πάντα is the ‘inner accusative’ = helps in all ways, gives all needed help; cf. Blass, p. 90; cf. Polyb. XI. 9. 1, πολλὰ συνεργεῖν τὴν ἁρμογὴν τῶν ὄπλων εἰς τὴν χρείαν. S. H. qu. Test. xii. Patr. Issach. 3; Gad 4 where συν. = ‘help’ simply. Chrys. and Theodorus seem to make it tr., taking GOD for subject and referring πάντα to apparently adverse circumstances. Origen takes πάντα for subj. but makes it refer to GOD’S action described in Romans 8:29 f., Philocal. (Robinson) p. 229.

[ὁ θεὸς.] Whether we read this or not, we should supply it as subj. to συν. The whole point of Romans 8:28-30 is that GOD gives active help, etc. To make πάντα subj. introduces a quite alien thought, unless with Origen it is strictly referred to Romans 8:29 f.

εἰς ἀγαθόν, tr. for their good.

τοῖς κατὀ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν. πρόθεσις = purpose, of man (Acts 11:23; Acts 27:13; 2 Timothy 3:10), of GOD (Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9), describes the whole purpose of GOD for man, which results in the call. It is shown in its elements or stages in Romans 8:29-30. The call falls into the lines of the purpose and is conditioned by it alone. Cf. v[167] of Prayer of Manasseh 1:13, of GOD Ephesians 1:10 (alibi supra Romans 3:25).

Verse 29

29. ὄτι because, explains πάντα συνεργεῖ, the whole long process of GOD’S good will to man, a will which is act.

οὔς. The consideration is confined, here, to Christians = τοῖς ἀγ. τ. θ. as His children. The aorists throughout refer to the definite acts of GOD which have come within their experience.

προέγνω. ἔγνων in the Bible, when used with a personal object, implies not mere knowledge, but recognition of the object as in personal relation to the subject; the first act, if we may say so, of GOD’S mind towards man, which then develops in acts of will. Jeremiah 1:5; cf. Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:5; Exodus 33:12; Exodus 33:17. So here, Romans 11:2; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20 (see Hort) = recognition, previous designation to a position or function. Here = the recognition of them as children, a recognition formed in the eternal counsels of GOD cf. Matthew 7:23; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 13:12.

προώρισεν. Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:11; in all these passages refers to that character which GOD meant men to have by being brought into union with Him through Christ. So here, of GOD’S provision of a certain relation or character which should be, therefore, men’s true character, and should be gained by conformity to the character of Christ. The thought is not of determining something which in consequence could not be otherwise, but of drawing the lines of a true destiny, which still required further conditions for fulfilment; cf. Philippians 2:12-13, and note on Romans 1:4.

συμμόρφους κ.τ.λ. = to share in the character which is exhibited in His Son, as Incarnate. συμμ., cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 3:10, where the character is described as in process of development; and so perhaps Galatians 4:19. In Philippians 3:21 the reference is to the consummation of the process. εἰκών, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49, 2 Cor. l.c[169], ct[170] supra Romans 1:23. The reference is to the true human character seen in Jesus, the Incarnate Son: man is meant to make that character his own under his present conditions by gradual growth, for complete achievement in the end. τοῦ υἱοῦ because it follows upon the relation of children. Consequently the likeness is also a likeness of GOD of. Colossians 3:10; Wisdom of Solomon 2:23, and there is an underlying reference to Genesis 1:26.

εἰς τὸ εἶναι α. That He, as firstborn, might have many brethren. GOD’S purpose is to people His household with children, brothers of the Son.

πρωτότοκον. Cf. Luke 2:7; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 1:5; for a kindred idea cf. Hebrews 2:10. On the word cf. Lft on Col. l.c[171] The question whether πρ. is used in reference to the eternal nature of the Son, or to His resurrection, does not arise here; as the stress is on ἐν π. ἀδ., not on πρ. The word, however, is an important link with Col.

Verse 30

30. ἐκάλεσεν. Of the stage in which GOD’S purpose is first made known to the individual, in the call to be a Christian heard and, in this case, obeyed. A favourite idea in S. Paul and S. Peter; cf. Romans 1:1; Romans 1:7.

ἐδικαίωσεν. Justified sc. in answer to faith, as they are οἱ ἀγαπῶντες τ. θ.

ἐδόξασεν. This is generally taken to refer to the final glory of the future state, cf. 19. But the aorist is a difficulty, and is not satisfactorily explained. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:11 show that even under present conditions there is conferred upon Christians a ‘glory’ or manifestation in them of GOD, which is plain to those who have eyes to see. It is the ‘glory’ of the regenerate life in Christ, the manifest working in them of the Spirit, the earnest and promise of that future state. This passage is full of the ideas of 2 Corinthians 3:4 to 2 Corinthians 4:12, and we may therefore without hesitation interpret ἐδόξασεν by the help of that passage; cf. John 12:23; John 17:1 : and n. 1 Peter 2:12 (for the effect upon others) and esp. above Romans 3:23 n.; so = συμμόρφους κ.τ.λ. 29.

Verse 31

31. εἰ ὁ θεὸς κ.τ.λ., as is shown by the above enumeration.

Verses 31-39

31–39. The confidence inspired by this evidence of the love of Christ and GOD. The love which is the ground of the whole relation of GOD to man is shown in its intensity [31], and its power as revealed in Christ (34, 35 a): then the consequences are drawn (35 b–39).

Verse 32

32. ὅς γε κ.τ.λ. N. the piling up of emphasis—ἰδίουπάντωντὰ πάντα. For ἰδίου cf. 3 τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱόν.

Verse 33

33. κατὰ ἐκλεκτῶν θ. Against men whom GOD has chosen: the bare words give tremendous emphasis.

θεὸς ὁ δικαιῶν. In the face of GOD’S acquittal, the condemnation of the world is as nothing; cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9 f.; 2 Corinthians 2:16; cf. Isaiah 50:8-9.

Verse 34

34. Χρ. . The whole process of the Son’s action in redemption, from the Incarnation to the Ascended Life, is given in the succession of forcible phrases: in them His love is shown.

Verse 35

35. θλίψις κ.τ.λ. External circumstances, however desperate in seeming, cannot separate.

Verse 36

36. ἕνεκεν σοῦ κ.τ.λ. Psalms 44:22.

Verse 37

37. διὰ τοῦ ἀγ. . Romans 8:35, n. aorist.

Verse 38

38. θάνατος κ.τ.λ. None of the spiritual powers or influences which beset men’s lives can separate; cf. Psalms 102 [103] 11 f., 138 [139] 7 f. Behind all the powers, conditions, influences, is GOD in His name of love.

Verse 39

39. τῆς ἀγάπης τ. θ. τ. . Χρ. . τ. κ. . The full phrase sums up the whole argument from Romans 1:16.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Romans 8:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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