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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Romans 8



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Verse 1

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Ver. 1. There is therefore now] Now, after such bloody wounds and gashes, chronicled Romans 7:1-25. Though carried captive, and sold under sin, yet not condemned, as might well have been expected. This the apostle doth here worthily admire.

No condemnation] Non una condemnatio; ουδεν κατακριμα, not one condemnation. There is none in heaven, God doth not condemn them: none on earth, their own heart and conscience doth not condemn them: no word, no commandment, no threatening. An unbeliever shall have a double condemnation; one from the law which he hath transgressed, and another from the gospel, which he hath despised: as a malefactor, that being condemned and dead in law, rejecteth his prince’s pardon. But it is otherwise with those that are in Christ Jesus. The law cannot condemn them, because they have appealed: the gospel cannot, because they have believed. God will "cast out condemnation for ever," as one renders that place, Matthew 12:10, εως αν εκβαλη εις νικος την κρισιν. (Lud. de Dieu.)

Verse 2

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Ver. 2. For the law of the Spirit] That is, Christ revived and risen hath justified me. {See Trapp on "Romans 4:25"}

Verse 3

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Ver. 3. It was weak through the flesh] Which was irritated by the law, and took occasion thereby.

In the likeness of sinful flesh] Christ condescended to our rags, sordes nostras induit, took our passions and infirmities natural, but not sinful. He was in all things like unto us, but in sin: as the brazen serpent was like the fiery serpents, but only it had no sting.

Verse 4

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Ver. 4. Might be fulfilled] In us applicative, in Christ inhaesive.

Verse 5

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Ver. 5. Do mind the things] For want of a better principle. The stream riseth not above the spring.

Verse 6

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Ver. 6. To be carnally] The quintessence of the flesh’s wittiness, or rather wickedness, φρονημα.

Verse 7

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Ver. 7. Because the carnal mind] The best of a bad man is not only averse, but utterly adverse to all goodness. Homo est inversus decalogus, Job 11:12, an ass’s foal for rudeness, a wild ass’s for unruliness.

Neither indeed can be] Spiritual arguments to a carnal heart are but warm clothes to a dead man. He hath brought a miserable necessity of sinning upon himself: his soul and all the powers thereof being but the shop of sin; his body and all the parts thereof tools of sin; his life and all his actions of both soul and body a trade of sin.

Verse 8

8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Ver. 8. Cannot please God] Their best works are but dead works, saith the author to the Hebrews; but silken sins, saith Augustine. Lombard citeth that Father, saying thus, Omnis vita infidelium peccatum est: et nihil bonum sine summe bone. The whole life of unbelievers is sin: neither is there anything good without the chiefest good. Ambrose Spiera, a Popish postiller, censureth this for a bloody sentence, Crudelis est illa sententia, Harsh is that opinion, saith he.

Verse 9

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Ver. 9. He is none of his] As the merchant sets his seal upon his goods, so doth God his Spirit upon all his people, Ephesians 1:13.

Verse 10

10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Ver. 10. The body is dead] Death to the saints is neither total, but of the body only, nor perpetual, but for a season only, Romans 8:11.

Verse 11

11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Ver. 11. Your mortal bodies] As he hath already quickened your souls.

Verse 12

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

Ver. 12. Not to the flesh] We owe the flesh nothing but stripes, nothing but the blue eye that St Paul gave it. It must be mastered and mortified. Drive this Hagar out of doors, when once it grows haughty.

Verse 13

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Ver. 13. If we live after the flesh] We must not think to pass E coeno ad Caelum, from the mire to heaven, to dance with the devil all day, and sup with Christ at night, to fly to heaven with pleasant wings. Beetles love dunghills better than ointments; and swine love mud better than a garden; so do swinish people their lusts, better than the lives of their souls. At Paris ut vivat regnetque beatus, Cogi posse negat. (Horat.) That carnal cardinal said, that he would not part with his part in Paris for Paradise.

But if ye mortify the deeds, &c.] Either a man must kill here, or be killed, Aut fer, aut feri, as Queen Elizabeth often sighed and said to herself concerning the Queen of Scots. Valentinian the emperor dying, gloried about one victory above the rest, and that was his victory over the flesh. Inimicorum nequissimum devici, carnem meam, said he. Be always an enemy to the devil and the world, but specially to your own flesh, said Robert Smith, martyr, in a letter to his wife. Surely, as the Prince of Orange said to his soldiers at the battle of Newport when they had the sea on the one side and the Spaniards on the other; If, saith he, you will live, you must either eat up these Spaniards, or drink up this sea; so must men either eat up their fleshly lusts, or drink of the burning lake: Fire and brimstone shall be else the portion of their cup, Psalms 11:6.

Verse 14

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Ver. 14. For as many as are led] As great men suffer their sons to go along with them, but set tutors to overlook and order them; so dealeth God by his; the Spirit leadeth them into all goodness, righteousness, and truth, Ephesians 5:9, and fetcheth them again in their wanderings.

Verse 15

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Ver. 15. The spirit of bondage] δουλειας, as 2 Timothy 1:7, δειλειας. The law will convince the judgment; but it is the gospel that convinceth the lust and the affection, and so sendeth us to treat with God as a Father, by fervent prayer. The Spirit is here called a "spirit of bondage;" because by the law he enlighteneth a man to see his bondage and slavery to sin and Satan, and his subjection to God’s wrath and vengeance.

Verse 16

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Ver. 16. Beareth witness] What an honour is this to the saints, that the Holy Ghost should bear witness at the bar of their consciences.

Verse 17

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Ver. 17. And if sons, then heirs] All God’s sons are heirs; not so the sons of earthly princes. Jehoshaphat gave his younger sons great gifts of silver, of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah; but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn, 2 Chronicles 21:3. God’s children are all higher than the kings of the earth, Psalms 89:27.

Verse 18

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

Ver. 18. Are not worthy to be, &c.] Heaven will pay for all; hold out therefore, faith and patience. When Saul had the kingdom, some despised him, but he held his peace, though a man afterwards froward enough. What is a drop of vinegar put into an ocean of wine? What is it for one to have a rainy day, who is going to take possession of a kingdom? Pericula non respicit martyr, coronas respicit, saith Basil A Dutch martyr feeling the flame to come to his beard, Ah, said he, what a small pain is this to be compared to the glory to come! Luther said he would not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible. What then would he take for the glory that it revealeth? St Paul useth a word here that signifieth (upon a good account justly cast up, and the matter well weighed) to conclude, resolve, and determine, as Romans 3:28; Romans 6:11, λογιζομαι. The globe of the earth is, as mathematicians compute, 21,000 miles in compass, and above: yet compared to the greatness of the starry sky, it is but as a centre or little prick to the circle, to which it beareth no proportion; much less do our afflictions to heaven’s happiness.

Verse 19

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Ver. 19. For the earnest expectation] Gr. "The intent expectation of the creature expecteth:" a Hebrew pleonasm, {a} and also a metaphor either from birds that thrust a long neck out of a cage, as labouring for liberty; or else from those that earnestly look and long for some special friends coming, as Sisera’s mother, who looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, "Why is his chariot so long in coming?" 5:28.

{a} Superfluity, redundancy, excess; something superfluous or redundant. ŒD

Verse 20

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Ver. 20. Subject to vanity] The creature is defiled by man’s sin, and must therefore be purged by the fire of the last day; as the vessels that held the sin offering were purged by the fire of the sanctuary.

Verse 21

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Ver. 21. Because the creature itself] See Mr Wilcox’s discourse upon these words, printed, together with his Exposition of the Psalms, Proverbs, &c., in folio. The creature is said to be subject to vanity and bondage of corruption, 1. As corruptible. 2. As teachers of men, and they will not learn; so that they lose their labour. 3. As they are instruments of man’s punishment. 4. As they are forced to serve wicked men’s turns and uses, who have no peace with the creature, and should have no service from them.

Verse 22

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Ver. 22. The whole creation groaneth] Even the very heavens are not without their feebleness and the manifest effects of fainting old age. It is observed that since the days of Ptolemy, the sun runs nearer the earth by 9976 German miles, and therefore the heavens have not kept their first perfection.

And travaileth] How Mr Bradshaw pitied the poor beast he rode on, and said, that men take too much liberty in killing and misusing some contemptible creatures, see in his Life by Mr. Clark, p. 130.

Verse 23

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Ver. 23. The firstfruits] Which the creatures have not, and yet they groan: how much more we!

The redemption] Our full and final deliverance.

Verse 24

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

Ver. 24. For we are saved by hope] Hope is the daughter of faith, but such as is a staff to her aged mother.

Verse 25

25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Ver. 25. Then do we with patience] Religious men find it more easy to bear evil than to wait till the promised good be enjoyed, Hebrews 10:36. The spoiling of their goods required patience; but this more than ordinary.

Verse 26

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Ver. 26. Helpeth our infirmities] Lifts with us and before us in our prayers. Or helpeth us as the nurse helpeth her little child, upholding it by the sleeve. ( συναντιλαμβανεται. Beza.)

For we know not what, &c.] The flesh with her murmurings maketh such a din that we can hardly hear the voice of the Spirit, mixing with the flesh’s roarings and repinings, his praying, sighs, and sobbings.

But the Spirit itself] Prayer is the breath of the Spirit, who doth super expostulate for us, υπερεντυγχανει, inditing our prayers. We cannot so much as suspirare, a sigh unless he do first inspirare, breathe out a sigh for sin, if he breathe it not into us.

With groanings that cannot be uttered] He that would have unspeakable joy, 1 Peter 1:8, must by the Spirit stir up unutterable groanings.

Verse 27

27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Ver. 27. Knoweth the mind, &c.] Quomodo enim non exauditur spiritus a patre, qui exaudit cum patre? (Augustine.)

Verse 28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Ver. 28. All things work together] Not affliction only (as some would here restrain it), but sin, Satan, all. Venenum aliquando pro remedio fuit, saith Seneca. Medici pedes et alas cantharidis, cum sit ipsa mortifera, prodesse dicunt. The drinking of that wine wherein a viper hath, been drowned cureth the leprosy. The scorpion healeth his own wounds, and the viper (the head and tail being cut off), beaten and applied, cureth her own biting. God changeth our grisly wounds into spangles of beauty, and maketh the horrible sting of Satan to be like a pearl pin, to pin upon us the long white robe of Christ, and to dress us with the garment of gladness.

Verse 29

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ver. 29. Conformed to the image] In holiness, say some; in glory, say others; in affliction, is the apostle’s meaning. Art not thou glad to fare as Phocion? said he to one that was to die with him. (Plut. in Apophtheg.) May not Christ better say so to his co-sufferers?

Verse 30

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Ver. 30. Them also he called, &c.] If ye feel not faith (said that holy martyr), then know that predestination is too high a matter for you to be disputers of, until you have been better scholars in the school house of repentance and justification, which is the grammar school wherein we must be conversant and learned, before we go to the university of God’s most holy predestination and providence.

Them he also justified] Vocation precedeth justification. Deus iustificat fide iam donatos, sicut damnat prius indurates. (Cameron.)

Them he also glorified] That is, he keepeth them glorious by his glorious Spirit, even in this life, from impenitent sin, and maketh them stable and constant in godliness.

Verse 31

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Ver. 31. What shall we say then?] q.d. Predestination, vocation, justification, glorification? What things be these? We cannot tell what to say to these things, so much we are amazed at the greatness of God’s love in them. A brave conclusion of the whole disputation concerning justification by faith alone.

If God be for us, &c.] Maximilian the emperor so admired this sentence, that he caused it to be set in chequer work upon a table, at which he used to dine and sup, that having it so often in his eye, he might always have it in mind also.

Verse 32

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Ver. 32. He that spared not] Qui misit unigenitum, immisit spiritum, promisit vultum, quid tandem tibi negaturus est? saith Bernard. Nihil unquam ei negasse credendum est, quem ad vituli hortatur esum, saith Jerome.

Verse 33

33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

Ver. 33. Who shall lay anything] This is that confident interrogatory of a good conscience, επερωτημα, 1 Peter 3:21.

It is God that justifieth] Some read it questionwise thus, Shall God that justifieth? No such matter. And if the judge acquit a prisoner, he cares not though the jailor or fellow prisoners condemn him; so here.

Verse 34

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Ver. 34. Who is he that condemneth?] To the sentence of death he opposeth Christ’s death.

Who is even at the right hand] And as Christ is at the right hand of his Father, so is the Chruch at the right hand of Christ, Psalms 45:9, a place of dignity and safety.

Verse 35

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Ver. 35. Who shall separate us] Who shall separate me? saith the Syriac.

Verse 36

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Ver. 36. We are killed all the day] In Diocletian’s days 17,000 Christians are said to have been slain in one month. In the Parisian massacre 30,000 in as little time, and within the year 300,000.

As sheep to the slaughter] That lamentable story of the Christians of Calabria that suffered persecution, A. D. 1560, comes home to this text. For being all thrust up in one house together, as in a sheepfold, the executioner comes in, and among them takes one, and blindfolds him with a muffler about his eyes, and so leadeth him forth to a larger place, where he commandeth him to kneel down. Which being done, he cutteth his throat, and so leaveth him half dead; and taking his butcher’s knife and muffler all of gore blood, he cometh again to the rest, and so leading them one after another, he despatcheth them, to the number of 88, no otherwise than doth a butcher kill his calves and sheep.

Verse 37

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Ver. 37. We are more than conquerors] What is that? Triumphers, 2 Corinthians 2:14. We do over overcome; because through faith in Christ we overcome before we fight, and are secure of victory. {a} And again, "we are more than conquerors," because we gather strength by our opposition (as that giant that fought with Hercules is fabled to do, by his falling to the earth), we conquer in being conquered. The tormentors were tired in torturing Blandina: and, We are ashamed, O emperor; the Christians laugh at your cruelty and grow the more resolute, said one of Julian’s nobles to him.

{a} υπερνικωμεν Super superamus. Super vincimus.

Verse 38

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Ver. 38. For I am persuaded] Or, I am sure by what I have heard out of God’s word. {a} He that hath this full assurance of faith goes gallantly to heaven. What (saith the world) should a rich man all? The Irish ask such, What they mean to die? But I wonder more at such as have the riches of full assurance, yea, that have but the assurance of adherence, though not of evidence, what they mean to walk heavily. Mr Latimer says that the assurance of heaven is the desert of the feast of a good conscience. There are other dainty dishes in this feast, but this is the banquet.

{a} πεπεισμαι, scil. Ex verbi praedicatione efficaci ut indicat tacite hoc verbo. Beza.

Verse 39

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ver. 39. For the love of God] viz. Wherewith he loved us. For he loveth his own to the end, and in the end, John 13:1. See the note there. The wife of Camerarius heard Sarcerius interpreting this text and Romans 8:35; thus, and was much comforted after a sore conflict. (Joh. Manlii, loc. com.)


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 8:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

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