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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 8



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Verses 1-13

Romans 8:1-13. The New Man in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1. "Therefore now"—sin's captive escapes! "No condemnation": Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20, Romans 7:14-24 was all condemnation! "Those in Christ Jesus"; see Romans 6:3-11.

Romans 8:2. "The law of the Spirit" (cf. "law of faith," Romans 3:27*) . . . "emancipated me (cf. Romans 6:18) from the law of sin and death" (Romans 5:12-14*, Romans 7:5; Romans 7:22; Romans 7:24).

Romans 8:3 f. "Through the mission of Christ God has inflicted on sin the condemnation which the law, disabled by the flesh, endeavoured vainly," and did it "in that" very "flesh" which was sin's stronghold (Romans 6:6, Romans 7:18, etc.).—"Likeness of sinful flesh" signifies a life incarnate but sinless; the elliptical "(sacrifice) for sin" (see Lev., passim) adds the Atonement to the Incarnation (see Romans 4:25, Romans 5:6-11; also Hebrews 5:3; Hebrews 10:6, where the phrase reappears): together they wrought God's judgment upon sin, in such a way "that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us," etc. God's holy law, after all, gets its own (cf. Romans 3:31); while our sin is condemned, we pass through justification into a new life of righteousness under the Spirit's rule.—"The (Holy) Spirit" appeared incidentally in Romans 5:5; Romans 8 is the chapter of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 8:5-8 contrasts "the spiritual with "the carnal walk" in their respective "temper" (mind), and their issue, "death," in contrast with "life and peace" (cf. Romans 6:23, Romans 5:1). Death results from "the fleshly mind," because it "is enmity toward God, insubordination to His law," and consequent "incapacity to please Him" (Romans 8:7 f.; Psalms 90:7-9; Psalms 92:9, etc.).

Romans 8:9. Those in whom "the Spirit of God dwells" (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16)—the vital element common to Head and members (cf. Romans 9:6 with 1 Corinthians 6:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12 f., Ephesians 4:3-6)—have escaped this fatal condition.—In ch. 6 faith, here the Spirit, identifies men with Christ.

Romans 8:10 f. "The body" too will share in this redemption. For the present, the "living spirit" (cf. Romans 6:10 f.) inhabits a "moribund body; righteousness" characterises the one, while "sin dooms the other. But the "resurrection of Jesus" promises, "the indwelling Spirit" guarantees, "life" even to "the mortal body" (cf. Romans 8:23, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13 f.).—Read, in Romans 8:11, "because of His Spirit" (mg.).

Romans 8:12 f.—On the above grounds, you recognise "no obligation to the flesh," but only "to the Spirit," by whose aid you "must put to death" those "doings of the body" (cf. Romans 6:6, Romans 7:18-24, Colossians 3:5) the practice of which meant "death" for you (cf. Romans 2:6, Ephesians 2:1). See pp. 811f.

Verses 14-17

Romans 8:14-17. So Christian men stand toward life and death (Romans 8:1-13); how toward God?

Romans 8:14. "Justified" (Romans 8:3-5) and "sanctified" (Romans 8:6), they are Sons and Heirs of God, while they "are led by God's Spirit."

Romans 8:15 f. "Christ's spirit of sonship" replaces "the old spirit of servitude engendering fear" (cf. Romans 2:8 f., also Hebrews 2:15; Hebrews 10:28; Hebrews 10:31, and 1 John 4:18). "Adoption" (sonships with a different application in Romans 9:4) is borrowed from Roman and Greek law, denoting affiliation from another family or status—"no longer a bondman but a son" (Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5). The cry of the adopted—"Abba" = Father! in the mother-speech of Jesus (Mark 14:36), caught, like Amen, from the lips of Palestinian believers—sounds as the voice of Another within as (cf. Romans 8:9; Romans 8:26 f.). "The Spirit Himself" sustains the testimony of consciousness (cf. Romans 2:15, Romans 9:1) "to the effect that we are children of God." The witness of "our spirit" lies in the knowledge of our spiritual transformation (see Romans 8:1-9, also Romans 5:1-11, and Romans 6).—Sons in rank and dignity, children in affinity and endearment (cf. 1 John 3:1 f.).

Romans 8:17. "And consequently heirs, sharing the inheritance of Christ," the Son of God—"provided that we share His sufferings" (see Galatians 4:5-7, Ephesians 1:14; also John 15:18-21, 1 Peter 4:12 f.). Cf. p. 811.

Verses 18-27

Romans 8:18-27. The Birth-Pangs of Immortality.

Romans 8:18. These "present sufferings" are "light beyond comparison, in view of the glory awaiting us at the coming revelation." "The destined glory" is hidden under a fleshly veil (see Romans 8:10, Philippians 3:21, Colossians 3:3 f.; also 1 John 3:2).

Romans 8:19; Romans 8:22. With this mystery "all creation is pregnant, in strained expectancy awaiting the revelation of the sons of God, sighing and groaning in travail-pains."

Romans 8:23. Though "sons of God," having "the Spirit as a first-fruit" of our estate, we "await a" further "adoption," viz. "the redemption of our body" (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30).

Romans 8:20 f. "From no will of its own, the creation has been blighted and baulked—with hope, however, that it will be delivered from its bondage to decay," to share "the liberty" and shine in "the glory of God's children." This apocalypse brings the world of Nature, as Romans 5:12-21 brought the world of History, into the scope of Christ's redemption.

Romans 8:24 f. "We are far from seeing" this "emancipation" (cf. Hebrews 2:8); but "hope" forecasts "the not-seen" and sustains endurance.

Romans 8:26 f. Meanwhile "our weakness" is helped through "prayer" prompted by "the" indwelling Spirit."—"In like fashion moreover": for "the Spirit's speechless sighings" are in concert with the sighings of our hearts and of creation around us (Romans 8:22 f.). Paul and his readers discern a Mind beneath their own consciousness (cf. Romans 8:16), prompting inexpressible heavenward longings. God interprets "the Spirit's pleadings on the saints' behalf," for He is their source. True prayer is the mystic utterance, Divinely prompted, of the soul of man and nature.

Verses 28-39

Romans 8:28-39. The Christian Assurance.

Romans 8:28. One thing "we do know, that all goes well for those that love God"—including their worst sufferings (Romans 8:18; cf. Romans 5:3-5).

Romans 8:29 f. This assurance rests on God's manifest purpose toward them—a "purpose" disclosed in five successive steps: "foreknowledge, pre-ordination, call, justification, glorification." The foreknowledge covers everything about the persons concerned; God never acts by guess (cf. Romans 3:3, Romans 11:29). The predestination aimed at "the conforming" of the chosen "to the image of God's Son, so that the Firstborn may be surrounded with many brothers"; God designed that all those marked out for salvation should share His Son's likeness and be of His family. With this object "He called them" into His Son's fellowship (1 Corinthians 1:9); on their obeying that call, "He cleared them of past sin, and shed His glory on them." "Glorified" is past in tense (future in Romans 8:18): despite humiliation, it is glorious to be sons of God (see Romans 8:14-17; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18, John 17:22, etc.): the father's kiss was justification for the Prodigal Son, the robe and ring were glorification.

Romans 8:31-34. The believer's justification, the corner-stone of his security, supports the challenge of these verses. All goes to show that "God is for us"—it matters nothing "who is against us"; cf. Psalms 118:6. That God is for us He showed by the sacrifice of "His own Son"—having given Him, "He can withhold nothing!" (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:21). "Who is going to impeach God's elect? when God justifies, will anyone dare to condemn?"—If any should, there stands "Christ Jesus to speak for us, He that died—but, more than that, was raised from the dead and is now at God's right hand."

Romans 8:35-37. From his present security the Christian looks on to the eternal future: the Love that bled for him on the Cross, and pleads for him on the throne, is his in deathless union (Romans 8:35; Romans 8:39; cf. Romans 5:5; cf. Romans 5:8; also Galatians 2:20, John 10:28 f.).—"Affliction, distress," etc., resembling the cruel martyrdom of OT saints, tend to "separate" Christians now (cf. Romans 8:18) "from Christ's love," suggesting doubts of His sympathy or power to aid. "Nay, but in all these things we gain a surpassing victory," etc.; God's assured love silences the contradictions of life.

Romans 8:38 f. Paul defies all conceivable separators: "death" and "life," "things present" and "future," "height" and "depth," represent the opposites of condition, time, and space. "Angels" are supernatural potencies, "principalities" the highest angels, "powers" being elsewhere coupled with these (Ephesians 1:21, Colossians 1:16*)—so here in AV the exacter order of RV associates "powers" with time and place; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:8, Ephesians 6:12.—The passage has the lilt of Hebrew poetry; it was penned in a rapture, like Romans 11:33-36.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 8:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

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