| Back to Home Page | Back to Book Index |


Romans Chapter Eight


Romans 8

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those which are in Christ Jesus" (chap. 8). He does not here speak of the efficacy of the blood in putting away sins (all-essential as that blood is, and the basis of all the rest), but of the new position entirely beyond the reach of everything to which the judgment of God applied. Christ had indeed been under the effect of the condemnation in our stead; but when risen He appears before God. Could there be a question there of sin, or of wrath, or of condemnation, or of imputation? Impossible! It was all settled before He ascended thither. He was there because it was settled. And that is the position of the Christian in Christ. Still, inasmuch as it is by resurrection, it is a real deliverance. It is the power of a new life, in which Christ is raised from the dead, and of which we live in Him. It is-as to this life of the saint-the power, efficacious and continued, and therefore called a law, by which Christ was raised from the dead-the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus; and it has delivered me from the law of sin and death which previously reigned in my members, producing fruit unto death. It is our connection with Christ in resurrection, witness of the power of life which is in Him, and that by the Holy Ghost, which links the "no condemnation" of our position with the energy of a new life, in which we are no longer subject to the law of sin, having died to it in His death, or to the law, whose claims 'have ceased also necessarily for him who has died, for it has power over a man as long as he lives. Christ, in bearing its curse, has fully magnified it withal. We see, at the end of Ephesians 1, that it is the power of God Himself which delivers; and assuredly it had need be so-that power which wrought the glorious change-to us this new creation.

This deliverance from the law of sin and death is not a mere experience (it will produce precious experiences); it is a divine operation, known by faith in His operation who raised up from the dead, known in all its power by its accomplishment in Jesus, in the efficacy of which we participate by faith. The difficulty of receiving it is that we find our experience clashing with it. That Christ has put away my sins, and that God has loved me, is a matter of simple faith through grace. That I am dead is apt to find itself contradicted in my heart. The process of chapter 7 must be gone through, and the condemnation of sin in the flesh seen in Christ's sacrifice for sin, and I alive by Him judging sin as a distinct thing (an enemy I have to deal with, not I), in order to have solid peace. It is not all that Christ has put away our sins. I live by Him risen, and am linked with this husband, and He being my life-the true "I" in me, I can say that I have died because He has. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." If so, I have died, for He has; as one taken into partnership has the advantages belonging to that acquired, before he was taken into it. That this is so is evident according to verse 3. God has done it in Christ, the apostle says; he does not say "in us." The result in us is found in verse 4. The efficacious operation, by which we reckon ourselves dead, was in Christ a sacrifice for sin. There sin in the flesh was condemned. God has done it, for it is always God, and God who has wrought, whom he brings forward in order to develop the gospel of God. The thing to condemn is indeed in us; the work which put an end to it for our true conscious state before God, has been accomplished in Christ, who has been pleased in grace, as we shall see, to put Himself into the position necessary for its accomplishment. Nevertheless, through participation in the life that is in Him, it becomes a practical reality to us: only this realisation has to contend with the opposition of the flesh; but not so as that we should walk in it.

One other point remains to be noticed here. In verse 2, we have the new life in its power in Christ, which sets us free from the law of sin and death. In verse 3, we have the old nature, sin in the flesh, dealt with, condemned, but in the sacrifice for sin in which Christ suffered and died, so that it is done with for faith. This completes the deliverance and the knowledge of it.

The key to all this doctrine of the apostle's, and that which unites holy practice, the christian life, with absolute grace and eternal deliverance from condemnation, is the new position entirely apart from sin, which death gives to us, being alive in Christ now before God. The power of God, the glory of the Father, the operation of the Spirit, are found acting in the resurrection of Christ, and placing Him, who had borne our sins and been made sin for us, in a new position beyond sin and death before God. And by faith I have part in His death, I participate in this life.

It is not only satisfaction made by Christ for sins committed, and glorifying God in His work-the basis, indeed, of all-but the deliverance of the person who was in sin, even as when Israel was brought out of Egypt. The blood had stayed the hand of God in judgment; the hand of God in power delivered them for ever at the Red Sea. Whatever they may have been, they were for that time with God who had guided them to His holy habitation.

Moreover, the first verses of this chapter sum up the result of God's work with regard to this subject in chapters 5:12 to the end, 6 and 7: no condemnation for those who are in Christ; the law of the Spirit of life in Him delivering from this law of sin and death; and that which the law could not do God has done.

It will be remarked that the deliverance is from the law of sin and death: in this respect the deliverance is absolute and complete. Sin is no longer at all a law. This deliverance, to one who loves holiness, who loves God, is a profound and immense subject of joy. The passage does not say that the flesh is changed-quite the contrary; one would not speak of the law of a thing which no longer existed. We have to contend with it, but it is no more a law; neither can it bring us under death in our conscience.

The law could not work this deliverance. It could condemn the sinner, but not the sin while delivering the sinner. But that which the law could not do-inasmuch as it required strength in man, while on the contrary he had only strength for sin-God has done. Now it is here that Christ's coming down among us, and even unto death, is set before us in all its importance-His coming down without sin unto us and unto death. This is the secret of our deliverance. God, the God of all grace and of glory, has sent Him who was the eternal object of His delight, His own Son, in whom was all the energy and divine power of the Son of God Himself, to partake of flesh and blood in the midst of men, in the position in which we all are; ever in Himself without sin, but-to go down to the depth of the position in which we were, even to death-emptying Himself of His glory to be a man, "in the likeness of sinful flesh," and being a man humbling Himself unto death, in order that the whole question of sin with God should be decided in the person of Christ, [1]; when in the likeness of sinful flesh He was made sin for us-"for sin," as it is expressed (that is, a sacrifice for sin). He undertook to glorify God by suffering for that which man was. He accomplished it, making Himself a sacrifice for sin; and thus, not only our sins have been put away, but sin in the flesh (it was the state of man, the state of his being; and Christ was treated on the cross as though He were in it) has been condemned in that which was a sacrifice of propitiation for the sinner.

The Son of God-sent of God in love-has come, and not only has He borne our sins, but (He having offered Himself up freely to accomplish His will, whose will He was come to do, a spotless victim) God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. He has placed Himself, ever without sin (in Him it was grace and obedience), in the place in which our failure in our responsibility here below had set man, and, made in the likeness of men, died to glorify God in respect of sin, so that we are discharged by the cross from the burden on the conscience of the sin that dwells in us. He takes on Himself before God the whole charge of sin (but according to the power of eternal life and the Holy Ghost that was in Him)-offers Himself as a victim for it. Thus placed, He is made sin; and in His death, which He undergoes in grace, sin in the flesh is totally condemned by the just judgment of God, and the condemnation itself is the abolition of that sin by His act of sacrifice-an act which is valid for every one that believes in Jesus who accomplished it. We have died with Him and are alive through Him. We have put off the body of the flesh, the old man; we have become dead to the law by the body of Christ, our old man crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be annulled. I have no doubt that the full result will be the putting of sin out of the whole scene of heaven and earth, in that new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. But here I speak of the state of conscience in respect of the glory of God.

What a marvellous deliverance! What a work for the glory of God! The moral import of the cross for the glory of God is a subject which, as we study it, becomes ever more and more magnificent-a never-ending study. It is, by its moral perfection, a motive for the love of the Father Himself with regard to Jesus. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again."

What a perfect work for putting away sin from the sight of God (setting before Him in its stead that perfect work itself which removed the sin) and for delivering the sinner, placing him before God according to the perfect abolition of the sin and the value of that work in His sight! It is possible we may have known the forgiveness of sins before we go through Romans 7, and some have said that chapter 3 comes before chapter 7. But the subjects are quite distinct. In the first part we have God dealing in grace with the sinner as guilty for his justification, and that part is complete in itself: "we joy in God." The second part takes up what we are, and experiences connected with it; but the work of chapter 7 is always essentially legal, the judgment of what we are, only hence in respect of what is in us, not of what we have done-struggle, not guilt. The form of experience will be modified. The soul will say, I hope I have not deceived myself, and the like. But it is always law, and so the apostle gives it its proper character in itself.

The practical result is stated in verse 4: "In order that the righteousness of the law," its just requirement, "might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." We are perfect before God in Christ without any righteousness by the law; but, walking according to the Spirit, the law is fulfilled in us, although we are not subject to it. He who loves has fulfilled the law. The apostle does not go farther in fruits of righteousness here, because the question was that of subjection to the law and man's fulfilling it. Grace produces more than this as in Ephesians, Colossians, and elsewhere, reproduces the character of God, not merely what man should be for God, but what Christ was. But here he meets the question of law, and shews that in walking by the Spirit we so fulfil it.

In this new nature, in the life of resurrection and of faith, that which the law demands is accomplished in us because we are not under it, for we walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. The things now in opposition are the flesh and the Spirit. In fact the rule, from the yoke of which as a system we are set free, is accomplished in us. Under the law sin had the mastery; being set free from the law, that law is fulfilled in us. [2] But it is the Spirit working in us and leading us which characterises our position. Now this character (for it is thus the apostle presents it) is the result of the presence, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in us. The apostle supposes this great truth here. That is to say, writing to Christians, the fact (for it was a fact that is in question here) of the presence of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is treated as a well-known fact. It publicly distinguished the Christian as the seal and mark of his profession. The individual knew it for himself; he knew it with regard to the assembly. But in the latter aspect, we leave it aside here, for Christians individually are the subject. They had the Spirit; the apostle everywhere appeals to their consciousness of this fact. "After that ye believed ye were sealed." "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" etc. It is the individual moral effect, extending, however, to the resurrection of the body, which is here spoken of. The two things are connected: the acknowledged fact of the presence of the Holy Ghost; and the development of His energy in the life, and afterwards in the resurrection of the believer. This had been seen in Christ; resurrection itself was according to the Spirit of holiness.

We come then now into the practical effect, in the Christian on earth, of the doctrine of death with, and life through, Christ, realised by the dwelling in us of the Holy Ghost who has been given us. He is distinct, for He is the Spirit, the Spirit of God; nevertheless He acts in the life, so that it is practically ourselves in that which is of the life of Christ in us.

We will examine the apostle's teaching briefly on this subject.

He introduces it abruptly, as characterising the Christian-"us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Those who are after the flesh desire the things of the flesh; those after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. It is not a question here of duty, but of the sure action of the nature according to which a person subsists; and this tendency, this affection of the nature, has its unfailing result-that of the flesh is death, that of the Spirit is life and peace. Because the affection of the flesh is enmity against God. It has its own will, its own lusts; and the fact that it has them makes it not subject to the law of God-which, on the contrary, has its own authority-and the flesh cannot, indeed, be subject; it would cease to exist if it could be so, for it has a will of its own which seeks independency, not the authority of God over it-a will which does not delight either in what the law requires. Therefore those who are in the flesh, and who have their relationship with God as living of this nature, of this natural life, cannot please God. Such is the verdict on man, living his natural life, according to the very nature of that life. The law did not bring him out thence: he was still in the flesh as before. It had a rule for man, such ashe is as man before God, which gave the measure of his responsibility in that position, but which evidently did not bring him out of the position to which it applied. So that man being in the flesh, the workings of sin were, by means of the law itself, acting to produce death.

But the principle of the believer's relationship with God is not the flesh but the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in us. It is that which characterises our position before God. In His sight, and before Him, we are not in the flesh. This, indeed, supposes the existence of the flesh, but having received the Holy Ghost, and having life of the Holy Ghost, it is He who constitutes our link with God. Our moral existence before God is in the Spirit, not in the flesh or natural man.

Observe here, that the apostle is not speaking of gifts or manifestations of power, acting outside us upon others, but of the vital energy of the Spirit, as it was manifested in the resurrection of Jesus and even in His life in holiness. Our old man is reckoned dead; we live unto God by the Spirit. Accordingly this presence of the Spirit-all real as it is-is spoken of in a manner which has the force rather of character than of distinct and personal presence, although that character could not exist unless He were personally there. "Ye are in Spirit, if so be that Spirit of God dwell in you. [3] The emphasis is on the word God, and in the Greek there is no article before Spirit. Nevertheless it plainly refers to the Spirit personally, for it is said "dwell in you," so that He is distinct from the person He dwells in.

But the force of the thing is this: there is nothing in man that can resist the flesh or bring man out of it; it is himself. The law cannot go beyond this boundary (namely, that of man to whom it is addressed), nor ought it, for it deals with his responsibility. There must be something which is not man, and yet which acts in man, that he may be delivered. No creature could do anything in this: he is responsible in his own place.

It must be God. The Spirit of God coming into man does not cease to be God, and does not make the man cease to be man; but He produces divinely in the man, a life, a character a moral condition of being, a new man; in this sense, a new being, and in virtue of the cleansing by Christ's blood. He dwells-Christ having accomplished the work of deliverance, of which this is the power in us-in the man, and the man is in Christ and Christ in the man. But having thus really a new life, which has its own moral character, the man is, as such, before God; and in His sight, what he is in this new nature inseparably from its source, as the stream from the fountain; the believer is in the Spirit, the Holy Ghost being in consequence of Christ's work active in, and the power of, the life He has given. This is the Christian's standing before God. We are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in us. There is no other means. And it is indeed the Spirit of Christ-He in the power of whom Christ acted, lived, offered Himself; by whom also He was raised from the dead. His whole life was the expression of the operation of the Spirit-of the Spirit in man. "Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." It is the true and only link, the eternal reality, of the new life in which we live in God.

We have to do with reality. Christianity has its realisation in us in a conformity of nature to God, with which God cannot dispense, and without which we cannot enjoy or be in communion with Him. He Himself gives it. How indeed can we be born of God, unless God acts to communicate life to us? We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. But it is the Spirit who is its source and its strength. If any one has not the Spirit of Christ, if the energy of this spiritual life which was manifested in Him, which is by the power of the Spirit, is not in us, we are not of Him, we have no part in Christ, for it is thus that one participates in Him. But if Christ is in us, the energy of this spiritual life is in Him who is our life, and the body is reckoned dead; for if it have a will as being alive, it is nothing but sin. The Spirit is life, the Spirit by whom Christ actively lived; Christ in Spirit in us is life-the source of thought, action, judgment, everything that constitutes the man, speaking morally, in order that there may be righteousness; for that is the only practical righteousness possible, the flesh cannot produce any. We live only as having Christ as our life; for righteousness is in Him, and in Him only, before God. Elsewhere there is nothing but sin. Therefore to live is Christ. There is no other life; everything else is death.

But the Spirit has yet another character. He is the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from among the dead. This God did with regard to the Christ. If the Spirit dwells in us, God will accomplish in us that which He accomplished in the Christ, [4] because of this same Spirit. He will raise up our mortal bodies. This is the final deliverance, the full answer to the question, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"

Observe here, that the Spirit is designated in three ways: the Spirit of God, in contrast with sinful flesh, with the natural man, the Spirit of Christ, the formal character of the life which is the expression of His power (this is the Spirit acting in man according to the perfection of the divine thoughts); the Spirit of Him that raised up the man Christ from among the dead. Here it is the perfect and final deliverance of the body itself by the power of God acting through His Spirit. Thus then we have got the full answer to the question, "Who shall deliver me?" We see that christian life in its true character-that of the Spirit, depends on redemption. It is by virtue of redemption that the Spirit is present with us.

In verses 10, 11, we have present death to flesh and sin, and actual resurrection; only, since there is nothing but sin if we live of our own natural life, Christ being in us, our life, we reckon even now, while still living, our body to be dead. This being the case, we have that which was seen in Christ (chap. 1:4)-the Spirit of holiness and resurrection from the dead. We should observe how (thus far according to the force of the expression, "the Spirit is life") the Person of the Spirit is linked with the state of the soul here, with the real life of the Christian. A little lower down we find Him distinct from it. We understand this: for the Spirit is truly the divine Person, but He acts in us in the life which He has imparted. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Thus it is indeed the Spirit who produces practical righteousness, good thoughts; but He produces them in me so that they are mine. Nevertheless I am entirely dependent, and indebted to God for these things. The life is of the same nature as its source according to John 3, but it is dependent; the whole power is in the Spirit. Through Him we are dependent on God. Christ Himself lived thus. Only the life was in Him, and no sin in the flesh to resist it: whereas, if God has given us life, it remains always true that this life is in His Son. "He that hath the Son hath life." And we know the flesh lusts against the Spirit, even when we have it.

But to proceed with our chapter. The apostle concludes thus exposition of the spiritual life, which gives liberty to the soul, by presenting the Christian as being thus a debtor, not to the flesh, which has now no longer any right over us. Yet he will not say directly that we are debtors to the Spirit. It is indeed our duty to live after the Spirit; but if we said that we are debtors, it would be putting man under a higher law the fulfilment of which would thereby be yet more impossible to him. The Spirit was the strength to live, and that through the affections which He imparts-not the obligation to have them If we live after the flesh, we are going to die; but if by the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live. The evil is there, but strength is there to overcome it. This is the effect according to the nature of God and of the flesh. But there is another side of the subject-the relationship which this presence and operation of the Spirit gives us towards God Instead then of saying "legal debtors to the Spirit," the Spirit Himself is our power, by which we mortify the flesh and thus are sure of living with God; and we are the sons of God, being led of the Spirit. For we have not received a spirit of bondage to be again in fear (that was the condition of the faithful under the law), but a Spirit that answers to our adoption to be sons of God, and this is its power-a Spirit by which we cry, "Abba,

The apostle again connects the Spirit of God in the closest union with the character, the spirit, which He produces in us, according to the relationship in which we are placed by His grace in Christ, and of which we are conscious, and which in fact we realise by the presence of the Holy Ghost in us: He is in us a Spirit of adoption. For He sets us in the truth, according to the mind of God. Now as to the power for thus, as to its moral reality in us, it is by the presence of the Holy Ghost alone that it takes place. We are only delivered from the law and the spirit of bondage in that the Spirit dwells in us, although the work and the position of Christ are the cause. This position is neither known nor realised except by the Spirit, whom Jesus sent down when He had Himself entered into it in glory on high as man. [5] But this Spirit dwells in us, acts in us, and brings us in effect into this relationship which has been acquired for us by Christ, through that work which He accomplished for us, entering into it Himself (that is, as man risen).

The apostle, we have seen, speaks of the Spirit in us as of a certain character, a condition in which we are, because He instils Himself into our whole moral being-our thoughts, affections, object, action; or, rather, He creates them; He is their source; He acts by producing them. Thus He is practically a Spirit of adoption, because He produces in our souls all that appertains to this relationship. If He acts, our thoughts, our affections, act also; we are in the enjoyment of this relationship by virtue of this action. But having thus identified (and it could not be otherwise) the Holy Ghost with all that He produces in us, for it is thus that the Christian knows Him (the world does not receive Him because it does not see Him, nor know Him; but ye know Him because He is with you, and dwells in you: precious state!)-when the Holy Ghost Himself is the source of our being and of our thoughts, according to the counsels of God in Christ and the position which Christ has acquired for us-the apostle, I repeat, having spoken of the Spirit as characterising our moral existence, is careful to distinguish Him as a person, a really distinct existence. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. The two things are equally precious: [6] participation in the Spirit, as the power of life by which we are capable of enjoying God, and the relationship of children to Him; and the presence and authority of the Spirit to assure us of it.

Our position is that of sons, our proper relationship that of children. The word son is in contrast with the position under the law, which was that of servants; it is the state of privilege in its widest extent. To say the child of such an one, implies the intimacy and the reality of the relationship. Now there are two things which the apostle lays open-the position of child and its consequences, and the condition of the creature in connection with which the child is found. This gives occasion for two operations of the Spirit-the communication of the assurance of being children with all its glorious consequences; and His work of sympathy and grace in connection with the sorrows and infirmities in which the child is found here below.

Having thus completed the exposition of the child's condition, he ends this account of his position in Christ with a statement of the certainty of the grace-outside himself-in God, which secures him in this position, and guards him, by the power of God in grace, from everything that could rob him of his blessing-his happiness. It is God who gives it him, and who is its Author. It is God who will bring to a good end the one whom He has placed in it. This last point is treated in verses 31-33. Thus in verses 1-11, we have the Spirit in life; in verses 12-30, the Spirit as a power acting in the saint; in verses 31-33, God acting for, not in, us to ensure our blessing. Hence, in the last part, he does not speak of sanctification.

The first point then we have to touch on in this second part is, that the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of the family of God. That is to say, that as the Holy Ghost (acting in us in life, as we have seen) has produced the affections of a child, and, by these affections, the consciousness of being a child of God, so He does not separate Himself from this, but, by His powerful presence, He bears witness Himself that we are children. We have this testimony in our hearts in our relationship with God; but the Holy Ghost Himself, as distinct from us, bears this testimony to us in whom He dwells. The true freed Christian knows that his heart recognises God as Father, but he knows also that the Holy Ghost Himself bears His testimony to him. That which is founded on the word is realised and verified in the heart.

And, if we are children, we are heirs-heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Glorious position in which we are placed with Christ! And the witness of this is the first part of the Spirit's personal office; but this has its consequences here, it has its character here. If the Spirit of Christ is in us, He will be the source in us of the sentiments of Christ. Now in this world of sin and of misery Christ necessarily suffered-suffered also because of righteousness, and because of His love. Morally this feeling of sorrow is the necessary consequence of possessing a moral nature totally opposed to everything that is in the world. Love, holiness, veneration for God, love for man, everything is essential suffering here below; an active testimony leads to outward suffering. Co-heirs, co-sufferers, co-glorified-this is the order of christian life and hope; and, observe, inasmuch as possessors of the whole inheritance of God, this suffering is by virtue of the glorious position into which we are brought, and of our participation in the life of Christ Himself. And the sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

For the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. Then shall its deliverance come. For, if we suffer, it is in love, because all is suffering around us. The apostle then explains it. It is our connection with the creature which brings us into this suffering, for the creature is subjected to misery and vanity. We know it, we who have the Spirit, that all creation groans in its estrangement from God, as in travail, yet in hope. When the glory shall set the children free, the creature will share their liberty: it cannot participate in the grace; this is a thing which concerns the soul. But glory being the fruit of God's power in outward things, even the creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption and partake in the liberty of the glory. For it is not the Will of the creature which made it subject (it has none in that respect); but it was on account of him who subjected it, on account of man.

Now the Spirit, who makes us know that we are children and heirs of glory, teaches us by the same means to understand all the misery of the creature; and through our bodies we are in connection with it, so that there is sympathy. Thus we also wait for the adoption, that is, the redemption of the body. For as to possession of the full result, it is in hope that we are saved; so that meanwhile we groan, as well as understand, according to the Spirit and our new nature, that all creation groans. There are the intelligence of the Spirit, and the affections of the divine nature on the one side; and the link with fallen creation by the body, on the other. [7] Here then also the operation of the Holy Ghost has its place, as well as bearing witness that we are children and heirs of God with Christ.

It is not therefore creation only which groans, being in bondage to corruption in consequence of the sin of man; but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit-which God has given in anticipation of the accomplishment of His promises in the last days, and which connects us with heaven-we also groan, while waiting for the redemption of our body to take possession of the glory prepared for us. But it is because the Holy Ghost who is in us takes part in our sorrow and helps us in our infirmities; dwelling in us, He pleads in the midst of this misery by groans, which do not express themselves in words. The sense of the evil that oppresses us and all around us is there; and the more conscious we are of the blessing and of the liberty of the glory, the more sensible are we of the weight of the misery brought in by sin. We do not know what to ask for as a remedy; but the heart expresses its sorrow as Jesus did at the grave of Lazarus-at least in our little measure. Now this is not the selfishness of the flesh which does not like to suffer; it is the affection of the Spirit.

We have here a striking proof of the way in which the Spirit and the life in us are identified in practice: God searches the hearts-ours; He finds the affection of the Spirit, for He, the Spirit, intercedes. So that it is my heart-it is a spiritual affection, but it is the Spirit Himself who intercedes. United to the creature by the body, to heaven by the Spirit, the sense which I have of the affliction is not the selfishness of the flesh, but the sympathy of the Spirit, [8] God. What a sweet and strengthening thought, that when God searches the heart, even if we are burdened with a sense of the misery in the midst of which the heart is working. He finds there, not the flesh, but the affection of the Spirit; and that the Spirit Himself is occupied in us, in grace, with all our infirmities: What an attentive ear must God lend to such groans!

The Spirit, then, is the witness in us that we are children, and thereby heirs; and He takes part in the sorrowful experience that we are linked with creation by our bodies, and becomes the source of affections in us, which express themselves in groans that are divine in their character as well as human, and which have the value of His own intercession. And this grace shews itself in connection with our ignorance and weakness. Moreover, if after all we know not what to ask for, we know that everything works together under God' [9] (v. 28).

This brings in, thirdly, another side of the truth-that which God does, and that which God is for us, outside ourselves, to assure us of all blessing. The Holy Ghost is life in us; He bears witness to our glorious position; He acts in divine sympathy in us, according to our actual position of infirmity in this poor body and this suffering creation; He becomes, and makes us, the voice of this suffering before God. All this takes place in us; but God maintains all our privileges by that which He is in Himself. This is the last part of the chapter, from verse 28 or 31 to the end. God orders all things in favour of those who are called according to His purpose. For that is the source of all good and of all happiness in us and for us.

Therefore it is, that in this beautiful and precious climax, sanctification and the life in us are omitted. The Spirit had instructed our souls on these points at the beginning of the chapter. The Spirit is life, the body dead, if Christ be in us; and now He presents the counsels, the purposes, the acts, the operation of God Himself, which bless and secure us, but are not the life in us. The inward reality has been developed in the previous part; here, the certainty, the security, in virtue of what God is and of His counsels. He has foreknown His children, He has predestinated them to a certain glory, a certain marvellous blessing, namely, to be conformed to the image of His Son. He has called them, He has justified them, He has glorified them. God has done all this. It is perfect and stable, as He is who willed it, and who has done it. No link in the chain is wanting of all that was needful in order to bind their souls to glory according to the counsels of God.

And what a glory! what a position-poor creatures as the saved are-to be conformed to the image of the Son of God Himself! This, in fact, is the thought of grace, not to bless us only by Jesus, but to bless us with Him. He came down even to us, sinless, in love and righteousness, to associate us with Himself in the fruit of His glorious work. It was this which His love purposed, that we should have one and the same portion with Himself; and this the counsels of the Father (blessed be His name for it!) had determined also.

The result of all for the soul is, that God is for us. Sweet and glorious conclusion, which gives the heart a peace that is ineffable, and rest that depends on the power and stability of God-a rest that shuts out all anxiety as to anything that could trouble it; for if God be for us who can be against us? And the way of it shuts out all thought as to any limit to the liberality of God. He who had given His Son, how should He not with Him give us all things? Moreover, with regard to our righteousness before God, or to charges which might be brought against the saints, as well as with regard to all the difficulties of the way, God Himself has justified: who shall condemn? Christ has died, He has risen, and is at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us: who shall separate us from His love? The enemies? He has already conquered them. Height? He is there for us. Depth? He has been there; it is the proof of His love. Difficulties? We are more than conquerors: they are the immediate occasion of the display of His love and faithfulness, making us feel where our portion is, what our strength is. Trial does but assure the heart, which knows His love, thatnothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus. Everything else is the creature, and cannot separate us from the love of God-a love of God, which has entered also into this misery of the creature, and gained the victory for us over all. Thus the deliverance, and liberty, and security of the saints by grace and power are fully brought out.

We have thus in three ways God's being for us unfolded: in giving, justifying, and no possible separation. Two triumphant questions settle the last two points, on which the heart might easily raise questions. But the two questions are put:-Who shall condemn? Who shall separate? Who shall condemn when God Himself justifies? It is not said justified before God. God is for us. The second is answered by the precious fact that in all that might seem to do so, we have seen, on the contrary, His love proved. Besides it is the creature which might tend to separate, and the love is the love of God. The beginning of verse 34 should be read with 33.

We have advanced here to a fuller experimental state than in chapter 5, following on what unfolds the exercises of a soul learning what it is in itself, and the operation of the law, and what it is to be dead with Christ, and to be alive through and associated with Him, and coming out, as in Him before God, with the consciousness of God for it. But there is in chapter 5 more of the simple grace of God, what He is in His own blessed nature and thoughts, as above sin, towards the sinner. We have the Christian's place more fully with God here, but what God is simply in grace more fully in chapter 5. Chapter 5 is more what God is thus known through the work of Christ; chapter 8 more our place in Christ before Him. Blessed to have both!


[1] The reader will understand that Jesus could take this position and be made sin, precisely because He was Himself absolutely exempt in every way from it. The power of resurrection in Christ dead was the power of holiness in Christ living. It was also the power of that love which He displayed while living, and which we know in perfection in His death. He was the just object of divine delight.

[2] Abstracting the flesh, the life by which we live is in fact Christ. He is our life, and, as to life, what we are before God is that by which we live here. Our life is hid with Christ in God, and Christ is our life down here. And therefore it is that John-who had displayed Christ as being this life-can say, "he that is born of God cannot sin, because he is born of God." It is the same Christ in us and in heaven. Practically this life is developed in the midst of the opposition of the flesh. Our weakness-guilty weakness-comes in, and it is quite another thing.

[3] Note here, we are said to be in Christ in the beginning of the chapter, and in the Spirit here: so to have the Spirit of Christ, and then "if Christ be in you"; because it is by the Spirit we are in Christ. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit (compare John 14). And this gives its true character to our life and place before God. In Christ and Christ in us constitutes, in many places in scripture, the christian position, known too by the Holy Ghost dwelling in us (compare John 14).

[4] Observe here, that Jesus is the personal name of Christ. Christ though it became so, is properly a name of position and office-the Anointed. He who raised up the Christ will quicken the bodies of those connected with Him.

[5] Though ever walking as Son down here of course, and that not merely when publicly entering on His ministry and proclaimed such, as we know from what happened in the temple when He was about twelve years old. Indeed we are sons before we receive the Spirit of adoption. It is because we are sons the Spirit of the Son is sent into our hearts (Gal. 4). But Christ, entering into the full place of glory as man, according to the purpose of God through His work, received (Acts 2) the Spirit so as to confer it on us and associate us with Him there.

[6] We shall see, farther on, that the Epistle to the Colossians speaks only of life: the Ephesians, of the Holy Ghost.

[7] In this how much more perfect (all in Him was absolute) was the sympathy of Christ! For though capable of sympathy as truly a man, He was not linked in His own state with the fallen creation, as we are. He felt for it, a true man, but as man born of the Holy Ghost; we as above the flesh and by faith not in it, still in fact are linked with it in the earthen vessel we are in.

[8] "The will of" should not be inserted here.

[9] Here read in the text, "but we know." "We know not what to ask for as we ought, but we do know that everything works together for our good."

── John DarbySynopsis of Romans


Romans 8

Chapter Contents

The freedom of believers from condemnation. (1-9) Their privileges as being the children of God. (10-17) Their hopeful prospects under tribulations. (18-25) Their assistance from the Spirit in prayer. (26,27) Their interest in the love of God. (28-31) Their final triumph, through Christ. (32-39)

Commentary on Romans 8:1-9

(Read Romans 8:1-9)

Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their walk; the flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? For which of these do we make provision, by which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any commandment fully. And the law, besides outward duties, requires inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of sin by the sufferings of his Son in the flesh, that the believer's person might be pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine justice, and the way of salvation opened for the sinner. By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers, which answers the intention of the law. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our plans and contrivances? Are we most wise for the world, or for our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead, 1 Timothy 5:6. A sanctified soul is a living soul; and that life is peace. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself. The carnal man may, by the power of Divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; that must be broken and driven out. We may know our real state and character by inquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or not, ver. 9. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Having the Spirit of Christ, means having a turn of mind in some degree like the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and is to be shown by a life and conversation suitable to his precepts and example.

Commentary on Romans 8:10-17

(Read Romans 8:10-17)

If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall endure for ever. The righteousness of Christ imputed, secures the soul, the better part, from death. From hence we see how much it is our duty to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If any habitually live according to corrupt lustings, they will certainly perish in their sins, whatever they profess. And what can a worldly life present, worthy for a moment to be put against this noble prize of our high calling? Let us then, by the Spirit, endeavour more and more to mortify the flesh. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit brings a new and Divine life to the soul, though in a feeble state. And the sons of God have the Spirit to work in them the disposition of children; they have not the spirit of bondage, which the Old Testament church was under, through the darkness of that dispensation. The Spirit of adoption was not then plentifully poured out. Also it refers to that spirit of bondage, under which many saints were at their conversion. Many speak peace to themselves, to whom God does not speak peace. But those who are sanctified, have God's Spirit witnessing with their spirits, in and by his speaking peace to the soul. Though we may now seem to be losers for Christ, we shall not, we cannot, be losers by him in the end.

Commentary on Romans 8:18-25

(Read Romans 8:18-25)

The sufferings of the saints strike no deeper than the things of time, last no longer than the present time, are light afflictions, and but for a moment. How vastly different are the sentence of the word and the sentiment of the world, concerning the sufferings of this present time! Indeed the whole creation seems to wait with earnest expectation for the period when the children of God shall be manifested in the glory prepared for them. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which has come upon the creature by the fall of man. There is an enmity of one creature to another. And they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. Yet this deplorable state of the creation is in hope. God will deliver it from thus being held in bondage to man's depravity. The miseries of the human race, through their own and each other's wickedness, declare that the world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received the first-fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations. Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God. It has brought on the woes of earth; it has kindled the flames of hell. As to man, not a tear has been shed, not a groan has been uttered, not a pang has been felt, in body or mind, that has not come from sin. This is not all; sin is to be looked at as it affects the glory of God. Of this how fearfully regardless are the bulk of mankind! Believers have been brought into a state of safety; but their comfort consists rather in hope than in enjoyment. From this hope they cannot be turned by the vain expectation of finding satisfaction in the things of time and sense. We need patience, our way is rough and long; but He that shall come, will come, though he seems to tarry.

Commentary on Romans 8:26,27

(Read Romans 8:26,27)

Though the infirmities of Christians are many and great, so that they would be overpowered if left to themselves, yet the Holy Spirit supports them. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for; as a sanctifying Spirit, works and stirs up praying graces; as a comforting Spirit, silences our fears, and helps us over all discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.

Commentary on Romans 8:28-31

(Read Romans 8:28-31)

That is good for the saints which does their souls good. Every providence tends to the spiritual good of those that love God; in breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, and fitting them for heaven. When the saints act out of character, corrections will be employed to bring them back again. And here is the order of the causes of our salvation, a golden chain, one which cannot be broken. 1. Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. All that God designed for glory and happiness as the end, he decreed to grace and holiness as the way. The whole human race deserved destruction; but for reasons not perfectly known to us, God determined to recover some by regeneration and the power of his grace. He predestinated, or before decreed, that they should be conformed to the image of his Son. In this life they are in part renewed, and walk in his steps. 2. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. It is an effectual call, from self and earth to God, and Christ, and heaven, as our end; from sin and vanity to grace and holiness, as our way. This is the gospel call. The love of God, ruling in the hearts of those who once were enemies to him, proves that they have been called according to his purpose. 3. Whom he called, them he also justified. None are thus justified but those that are effectually called. Those who stand out against the gospel call, abide under guilt and wrath. 4. Whom he justified, them he also glorified. The power of corruption being broken in effectual calling, and the guilt of sin removed in justification, nothing can come between that soul and glory. This encourages our faith and hope; for, as for God, his way, his work, is perfect. The apostle speaks as one amazed, and swallowed up in admiration, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The more we know of other things, the less we wonder; but the further we are led into gospel mysteries, the more we are affected by them. While God is for us, and we keep in his love, we may with holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness.

Commentary on Romans 8:32-39

(Read Romans 8:32-39)

All things whatever, in heaven and earth, are not so great a display of God's free love, as the gift of his coequal Son to be the atonement on the cross for the sin of man; and all the rest follows upon union with him, and interest in him. All things, all which can be the causes or means of any real good to the faithful Christian. He that has prepared a crown and a kingdom for us, will give us what we need in the way to it. Men may justify themselves, though the accusations are in full force against them; but if God justifies, that answers all. By Christ we are thus secured. By the merit of his death he paid our debt. Yea, rather that is risen again. This is convincing evidence that Divine justice was satisfied. We have such a Friend at the right hand of God; all power is given to him. He is there, making intercession. Believer! does your soul say within you, Oh that he were mine! and oh that I were his; that I could please him and live to him! Then do not toss your spirit and perplex your thoughts in fruitless, endless doubtings, but as you are convinced of ungodliness, believe on Him who justifies the ungodly. You are condemned, yet Christ is dead and risen. Flee to Him as such. God having manifested his love in giving his own Son for us, can we think that any thing should turn aside or do away that love? Troubles neither cause nor show any abatement of his love. Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough. All other hazards signify nothing. Alas, poor sinners! though you abound with the possessions of this world, what vain things are they! Can you say of any of them, Who shall separate us? You may be removed from pleasant dwellings, and friends, and estates. You may even live to see and seek your parting. At last you must part, for you must die. Then farewell, all this world accounts most valuable. And what hast thou left, poor soul, who hast not Christ, but that which thou wouldest gladly part with, and canst not; the condemning guilt of all thy sins! But the soul that is in Christ, when other things are pulled away, cleaves to Christ, and these separations pain him not. Yea, when death comes, that breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it carries the believer's soul into the nearest union with its beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him for ever.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Romans


Romans 8

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.

There is therefore now no condemnation — Either for things present or past. Now he comes to deliverance and liberty. The apostle here resumes the thread of his discourse, which was interrupted, Romans 7:7.

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.

The law of the Spirit — That is, the gospel.

Hath freed me from the law of sin and death — That is, the Mosaic dispensation.

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:

For what the law — Of Moses.

Could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh — Incapable of conquering our evil nature. If it could, God needed not to have sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh - We with our sinful flesh were devoted to death. But God sending his own Son, in the likeness of that flesh, though pure from sin, condemned that sin which was in our flesh; gave sentence, that sin should be destroyed, and the believer wholly delivered from it.

Verse 4

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

That the righteousness of the law — The holiness it required, described, Romans 8:11.

Might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit — Who are guided in all our thoughts, words, and actions, not by corrupt nature, but by the Spirit of God. From this place St. Paul describes primarily the state of believers, and that of unbelievers only to illustrate this.

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.

They that are after the flesh — Who remain under the guidance of corrupt nature.

Mind the things of the flesh — Have their thoughts and affections fixed on such things as gratify corrupt nature; namely, on things visible and temporal; on things of the earth, on pleasure, (of sense or imagination,) praise, or riches.

But they who are after the Spirit — Who are under his guidance.

Mind the things of the Spirit — Think of, relish, love things invisible, eternal; the things which the Spirit hath revealed, which he works in us, moves us to, and promises to give us.

Verse 6

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

For to be carnally minded — That is, to mind the things of the flesh.

Is death — The sure mark of spiritual death, and the way to death everlasting.

But to be spiritually minded — That is, to mind the things of the Spirit.

Is life — A sure mark of spiritual life, and the way to life everlasting. And attended with peace - The peace of God, which is the foretaste of life everlasting; and peace with God, opposite to the enmity mentioned in the next verse.

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.

Enmity against God — His existence, power, and providence.

Verse 8

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

They who are in the flesh — Under the government of it.

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.

In the Spirit — Under his government.

If any man have not the Spirit of Christ — Dwelling and governing in him.

He is none of his — He is not a member of Christ; not a Christian; not in a state of salvation. A plain, express declaration, which admits of no exception. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!

Verse 10

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

Now if Christ be in you — Where the Spirit of Christ is, there is Christ.

The body indeed is dead — Devoted to death.

Because of sin — Heretofore committed.

But the Spirit is life — Already truly alive.

Because of righteousness — Now attained. From Romans 8:13, St. Paul, having finished what he had begun, Romans 6:1, describes purely the state of believers.

Verse 12

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

We are not debtors to the flesh — We ought not to follow it.

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.

The deeds of the flesh — Not only evil actions, but evil desires, tempers, thoughts.

If ye mortify — Kill, destroy these.

Ye shall live — The life of faith more abundantly here, and hereafter the life of glory.

Verse 14

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

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God — In all the ways of righteousness.

They are the sons of God — Here St. Paul enters upon the description of those blessings which he comprises, Romans 8:30, in the word glorified; though, indeed, he does not describe mere glory, but that which is still mingled with the cross. The sum is, through sufferings to glory.

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.

For ye — Who are real Christians.

Have not received the spirit of bondage — The Holy Ghost was not properly a spirit of bondage, even in the time of the Old Testament. Yet there was something of bondage remaining even in those who then had received the Spirit.

Again — As the Jews did before.

We — All and every believer.

Cry — The word denotes a vehement speaking, with desire, confidence, constancy.

Abba, Father — The latter word explains the former. By using both the Syriac and the Greek word, St. Paul seems to point out the joint cry both of the Jewish and gentile believers. The spirit of bondage here seems directly to mean, those operations of the Holy Spirit by which the soul, on its first conviction, feels itself in bondage to sin, to the world, to Satan, and obnoxious to the wrath of God. This, therefore, and the Spirit of adoption, are one and the same Spirit, only manifesting itself in various operations, according to the various circumstances of the persons.

Verse 16

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

The same Spirit beareth witness with our spirit — With the spirit of every true believer, by a testimony distinct from that of his own spirit, or the testimony of a good conscience. Happy they who enjoy this clear and constant.

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.

Joint heirs — That we may know it is a great inheritance which God will give us for he hath given a great one to his Son.

If we suffer with him — Willingly and cheerfully, for righteousness' sake. This is a new proposition, referring to what follows.

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.

For I reckon — This verse gives the reason why he but now mentioned sufferings and glory. When that glory "shall be revealed in us," then the sons of God will be revealed also.

Verse 19

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

For the earnest expectation — The word denotes a lively hope of something drawing near, and a vehement longing after it.

Of the creation — Of all visible creatures, believers excepted, who are spoken of apart; each kind, according as it is capable. All these have been sufferers through sin; and to all these (the finally impenitent excepted) shall refreshment redound from the glory of the children of God. Upright heathens are by no means to be excluded from this earnest expectation: nay, perhaps something of it may at some times be found even in the vainest of men; who (although in the hurry of life they mistake vanity for liberty, and partly stifle. partly dissemble, their groans, yet) in their sober, quiet, sleepless, afflicted hours, pour forth many sighs in the ear of God.

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,

The creation was made subject to vanity — Abuse, misery, and corruption.

By him who subjected it — Namely, God, Genesis 3:17; 5:29. Adam only made it liable to the sentence which God pronounced; yet not without hope.

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.

The creation itself shall be delivered — Destruction is not deliverance: therefore whatsoever is destroyed, or ceases to be, is not delivered at all. Will, then, any part of the creation be destroyed? Into the glorious liberty - The excellent state wherein they were created.

Verse 22

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

For the whole creation groaneth together — With joint groans, as it were with one voice.

And travaileth — Literally, is in the pains of childbirth, to be delivered of the burden of the curse.

Until now — To this very hour; and so on till the time of deliverance.

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.

And even we, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit — That is, the Spirit, who is the first-fruits of our inheritance.

The adoption — Persons who had been privately adopted among the Romans were often brought forth into the forum, and there publicly owned as their sons by those who adopted them. So at the general resurrection, when the body itself is redeemed from death, the sons of God shall be publicly owned by him in the great assembly of men and angels.

The redemption of our body — From corruption to glory and immortality.

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?

For we are saved by hope — Our salvation is now only in hope. We do not yet possess this full salvation.

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.

Likewise the Spirit — Nay, not only the universe, not only the children of God, but the Spirit of God also himself, as it were, groaneth, while he helpeth our infirmities, or weaknesses. Our understandings are weak, particularly in the things of God our desires are weak; our prayers are weak.

We know not — Many times.

What we should pray for — Much less are we able to pray for it as we ought: but the Spirit maketh intercession for us - In our hearts, even as Christ does in heaven.

With groanings — The matter of which is from ourselves, but the Spirit forms them; and they are frequently inexpressible, even by the faithful themselves.

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.

But he who searcheth the hearts — Wherein the Spirit dwells and intercedes.

Knoweth — Though man cannot utter it.

What is the mind of the Spirit, for he maketh intercession for the saints — Who are near to God.

According to God — According to his will, as is worthy of God. and acceptable to him.

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.

And we know — This in general; though we do not always know particularly what to pray for.

That all things — Ease or pain, poverty or riches, and the ten thousand changes of life.

Work together for good — Strongly and sweetly for spiritual and eternal good.

To them that are called according to his purpose — His gracious design of saving a lost world by the death of his Son. This is a new proposition. St. Paul, being about to recapitulate the whole blessing contained in justification, (termed "glorification," Romans 8:30,) first goes back to the purpose or decree of God, which is frequently mentioned in holy writ. To explain this (nearly in the words of an eminent writer) a little more at large:-When a man has a work of time and importance before him, he pauses, consults, and contrives; and when he has laid a plan, resolves or decrees to proceed accordingly. Having observed this in ourselves, we are ready to apply it to God also; and he, in condescension to us has applied it to himself. The works of providence and redemption are vast and stupendous, and therefore we are apt to conceive of God as deliberating and consulting on them, and then decreeing to act according to "the counsel of his own will;" as if, long before the world was made, he had been concerting measures both as to the making and governing of it, and had then writ down his decrees, which altered not, any more than the laws of the Medes and Persians. Whereas, to take this consulting and decreeing in a literal sense, would be the same absurdity as to ascribe a real human body and human passions to the ever-blessed God. This is only a popular representation of his infallible knowledge and unchangeable wisdom; that is, he does all things as wisely as a man can possibly do, after the deepest consultation, and as steadily pursues the most proper method as one can do who has laid a scheme beforehand. But then, though the effects be such as would argue consultation and consequent decrees in man, yet what need of a moment's consultation in Him who sees all things at one view? Nor had God any more occasion to pause and deliberate, and lay down rules for his own conduct from all eternity, than he has now. What was there any fear of his mistaking afterwards, if he had not beforehand prepared decrees, to direct him what he was to do? Will any man say, he was wiser before the creation than since? or had he then more leisure, that he should take that opportunity to settle his affairs, and make rules (or himself, from which he was never to vary? He has doubtless the same wisdom and all other perfections at this day which he had from eternity; and is now as capable of making decrees, or rather has no more occasion for them now than formerly: his understanding being always equally clear and bright, his wisdom equally infallible.

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.

Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated conformable to the image of his Son — Here the apostle declares who those are whom he foreknew and predestinated to glory; namely, those who are conformable to the image of his Son. This is the mark of those who are foreknown and will be glorified, 2 Timothy 2:19. Philippians 3:10,21.

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.

Them he — In due time.

Called — By his gospel and his Spirit.

And whom he called — When obedient to the heavenly calling, Acts 26:19.

He also justified — Forgave and accepted.

And whom he justified — Provided they "continued in his goodness," Romans 11:22, he in the end glorified - St. Paul does not affirm, either here or in any other part of his writings. that precisely the same number of men are called, justified, and glorified. He does not deny that a believer may fall away and be cut off between his special calling and his glorification, Romans 11:22. Neither does he deny that many are called who never are justified. He only affirms that this is the method whereby God leads us step by step toward heaven.

He glorified — He speaks as one looking back from the goal, upon the race of faith. Indeed grace, as it is glory begun, is both an earnest and a foretaste of eternal glory.

Verse 31

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

What shall we say then to these things — Related in the third, fifth, and eighth chapters? As if he had said, We cannot go, think, or wish anything farther.

If God be for us — Here follow four periods, one general and three particular. Each begins with glorying in the grace of God, which is followed by a question suitable to it, challenging all opponents to all which, "I am persuaded," etc., is a general answer. The general period is, If God be for us, who can be against us? The first particular period, relating to the past time, is, He that spared not his own Son, how shall he not freely give us all things? The second, relating to the present, is, It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? The third, relating to the future, is, It is Christ that died - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

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?

He that — This period contains four sentences: He spared not his own Son; therefore he will freely give us all things. He delivered him up for us all; therefore, none can lay anything to our charge. Freely - For all that follows justification is a free gift also.

All things — Needful or profitable for us.

Verse 33

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

God's elect — The above-cited author observes, that long before the coming of Christ the heathen world revolted from the true God, and were therefore reprobated, or rejected. But the nation of the Jews were chosen to be the people of God, and were therefore styled, "the children" or "sons of God," Deuteronomy 14:1; "holy people," Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; "a chosen seed," Deuteronomy 4:37; "the elect," Isaiah 41:8,9; 43:10; "the called of God," Isaiah 48:12. And these titles were given to all the nation of Israel, including both good and bad. Now the gospel having the most strict connexion with the Books of the Old Testament, where these phrases frequently occur; and our Lord and his apostles being native Jews, and beginning to preach in the land of Israel, the language in which they preached would of course abound with the phrases of the Jewish nation. And hence it is easy to see why such of them as would not receive him were styled reprobated. For they no longer continued to be the people of God; whereas this and those other honourable titles were continued to all such Jews as embraced Christianity. And the same appellations which once belonged to the Jewish nation were now given to the gentile Christians also together with which they were invested with all the privileges of "the chosen people of God;" and nothing could cut them off from these but their own wilful apostasy. It does not appear that even good men were ever termed God's elect till above two thousand years from the creation. God's electing or choosing the nation of Israel, and separating them from the other nations, who were sunk in idolatry and all wickedness, gave the first occasion to this sort of language. And as the separating the Christians from the Jews was a like event, no wonder it was expressed in like words and phrases only with this difference, the term elect was of old applied to all the members of the visible church; whereas in the New Testament it is applied only to the members of the invisible.

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.

Yea rather, that is risen — Our faith should not stop at his death, but be exercised farther on his resurrection, kingdom, second coming.

Who maketh intercession for us — Presenting there his obedience, his sufferings, his prayers, and our prayers sanctified through him.

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?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ — Toward us? Shall affliction or distress - He proceeds in order, from less troubles to greater: can any of these separate us from his protection in it ; and, if he sees good, deliverance from it?

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.

All the day — That is, every day, continually.

We are accounted — By our enemies; by ourselves. Psalms 44:22.

Verse 37

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

We more than conquer — We are not only no losers, but abundant gainers, by all these trials. This period seems to describe the full assurance of hope.

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,

I am persuaded — This is inferred from the thirty-fourth verse, in an admirable order: - Neither death" shall hurt us; For "Christ is dead:" "Nor life;" 'is risen" Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers; nor things pre - sent, nor things to come;" "is at the right hand of God:" "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature;" "maketh intercession for us." Neither death - Terrible as it is to natural men; a violent death in particular, Romans 8:36.

Nor life — With all the affliction and distress it can bring, Romans 8:35; or a long, easy life; or all living men.

Nor angels — Whether good (if it were possible they should attempt it) or bad, with all their wisdom and strength.

Nor principalities, nor powers — Not even those of the highest rank, or the most eminent power.

Nor things present — Which may befal us during our pilgrimage; or the whole world, till it passeth away.

Nor things to come — Which may occur either when our time on earth is past, or when time itself is at an end, as the final judgment, the general conflagration, the everlasting fire.

Nor height, nor depth — The former sentence respected the differences of times; this, the differences of places. How many great and various things are contained in these words, we do not, need not, cannot know yet.

The height — In St. Paul's sublime style, is put for heaven.

The depth — For the great abyss: that is, neither the heights, I will not say of walls, mountains, seas, but, of heaven itself, can move us; nor the abyss itself, the very thought of which might astonish the boldest creature.

Nor any creature — Nothing beneath the Almighty; visible enemies he does not even deign to name.

Shall be able — Either by force, Romans 8:35; or by any legal claim, Romans 8:33, etc.

To separate us from the love of God in Christ — Which will surely save, protect, deliver us who believe in, and through, and from, them all.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Romans


Rom. 8:1~2

This passage tells us that, though the law of sin and death keeps a Christian from living the kind of life God wants him to live, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death.

In the same way, the law of gravity acts to keep a plane from flying. But when a plane reaches a certain speed, the law of aerodynamics takes over and frees the plane from the effects of gravitational force.


Rom. 8:28

All afternoon a little boy tried to put together his birthday gift from his father, a picture puzzle. Some of the pieces were bright, some dark, some seemed to go together, others seemed to fit nowhere. Finally, frustrated and exhausted and with nothing to show for his efforts, the boy gathered the pieces, put them in the box, and gave it to his dad. “I can’t do it,” he explained. “You try it.”

To his amazement, his father assembled the entire puzzle in a few minutes. “You see,” he said, “I knew what the picture was like all the time. I saw the picture in the puzzle, but you saw only the pieces.”

Paul tells us here that God causes all things to work together for good. Those “all things” are the pieces. He then tells us how they work together for the good—according to God’s purpose. That is the picture. Are you perplexed and frustrated over this event or that happening in your life? Do not take the situation out of God’s hand and try to work it into your own design. God made the picture your life is composed of, and he will complete it—if you will let him.


Rom. 8:28  Accidents

When a cowboy applied for health insurance, the agent routinely asked if he had had any accidents during the previous year. The cowboy replied, “No. But I was bitten by a rattlesnake, and a horse kicked me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while.” The agent said, “Weren’t those accidents?” “No,” replied the cowboy, “They did it on purpose.”

The cowboy realized that there are no such things as “accidents.” How much more so should the Christian who understands the sovereignty of God have the same attitude.


Chapter 8. Life Through the Spirit

The Mind of Sinful Man
The Mind Controlled by the Spirit

I. Live in Accordance with the Spirit

  1. The Release of the Spirit
  2. The Strength of the Spirit
  3. Sons of God

II. Co-heirs with Christ

  1. Present Suffering and Future Glory
  2. The Creation Groans
  3. The Redemption of Bodies

III. The Unseparable Love

  1. Love of the Holy Spirit
  2. Love of the God Father
  3. Love of Christ
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Eight General Review
1) To appreciate the place the Holy Spirit has in the lives of
2) To notice the power to overcome sin which is available in Christ
3) To realize the extent of God's love toward us
In chapter seven, Paul described the dilemma of a man who becomes a 
prisoner of the law of sin which is in the members of his body.  In 
the last few verses, Paul made reference to the hope of liberation 
made possible by God through Jesus Christ.  In this chapter, Paul
amplifies on the freedom from sin found in Christ.
First, for those in Christ who are walking according to the Spirit, 
there is no condemnation for sin, for the death of Christ for sin has 
set us free from the law of sin and death by fulfilling the 
requirement of the law (1-4).  Second, by setting our minds on the 
things of the Spirit and not the flesh, we are able to enjoy life and 
peace, pleasing God (5-8).  And third, we now enjoy the indwelling of 
the Spirit of God, by whom we can put to death the deeds of the body 
and enjoy both present and future blessings as the children of God 
The blessings of being God's children are enlarged upon in the rest of 
the chapter.  Our present sufferings mean nothing in view of our 
ultimate redemption and revealing for which we eagerly and patiently 
wait (18-25).  We have the privilege of the Holy Spirit and Jesus 
interceding for us when we pray, which assures that all things will 
work together for good for those called according to God's purpose 
(26-30).  Finally, as God's elect we have the assurance that nothing 
can tear us away from God's love and that in all things we are more 
than conquerors through Him who loved us (31-39).
      1. Available to those in Christ, made possible by the law of the
         Spirit of life (1-2)
      2. An accomplishment not attained by the Law, but by the death of
         Christ (3-4)
      1. To those who set their minds on the things of the Spirit, not
         the flesh, pleasing God (5-8)
      2. To those who have the indwelling Holy Spirit (9-11)
      3. To those who by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body
      4. To those thus led, who are the children of God and joint heirs
         with Christ (14-17)
      1. Present sufferings don't even compare (18)
      2. The whole creation eagerly awaits for the revealing and
         glorious liberty of the children of God (19-22)
      3. We also eagerly wait with perseverance for this hope (23-25)
      1. Helps in our weakness as we pray (26a)
      2. By interceding for us as we pray (26b-27)
      1. For those who love God, called according to His purpose (28)
      2. For such, whom God foreknew, He will carry out His ultimate
         purpose (29-30)
      1. God, who spared not His own Son, is on our side (31-33)
      2. Christ, who died for us, now intercedes for us at God's right
         hand (34)
      3. Through such love we are more than conquerors over all things
law of the Spirit of life - 1) possibly an expression referring to the
                            Gospel; or, 2) the law (principle)
                            involving the life-giving Spirit who aids
                            those in Christ to become free of the "law
                            of sin and death" in their members
                            (cf. 7:23 with 8:11-13)
the Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Him - various
   references to the Holy Spirit
the creation - various explanations are often given:  1) all of
               mankind; 2) only the saved; 3) the whole physical
               creation placed under the curse (Ge 3:17; 8:21;
               Re 22:3), using the kind of language found in Ps 98:7-9;
predestined - predetermined; note carefully in v. 29 that it is based
              upon "foreknowledge" (cf. 1 Pe 1:2), and that which is
              predetermined is WHAT those in Christ are to become, not
              WHO are to be in Christ
elect - chosen; according to 1 Pe 1:2, this election is based upon
        God's foreknowledge, not some arbitrary choice
intercedes - to make a petition on behalf of another; used of the Holy
             Spirit in v. 26-27 (interceding as a "translator"?), and
             of Christ in v. 34 (interceding as "defense counsel"?)
1) List the main points of this chapter
   - In Christ There Is Freedom From Sin (1-17)
   - Blessings Of Being Children Of God (18-39)
2) What is the main difference between the "law of Moses" and the "law
   of the Spirit of life"? (2-4)
   - The Law of Moses could not set one free from the "law of sin and
3) What is the result of setting your mind on the things of the flesh?
   On the things of the Spirit? (6)
   - Death; life and peace
4) Do the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the
   Christian? (9-11)
   - Yes
5) How can we assure that we will continue to live spiritually? (13)
   - By putting to death the deeds of the body with the help of the
6) List briefly the blessings of being the children of God (14-39)
   - One day we will be glorified together with Christ
   - We have the help of the Holy Spirit
   - All things ultimately work for our good
   - Nothing can separate us from God's love

--《Executable Outlines


Life Through the Spirit

The Mind of Sinful Man

The Mind Controlled by the Spirit


I.  Live in Accordance with the Spirit

1.    The Release of the Spirit

2.    The Strength of the Spirit

3.    Sons of God

II.Co-heirs with Christ

1.    Present Suffering and Future Glory

2.    The Creation Groans

3.    The Redemption of Bodies

III.       The Unseparable Love

1.    Love of the Holy Spirit

2.    Love of the God Father

3.    Love of Christ

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament