Romans Chapter 8

1    Consequently, now there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to flesh, but according to Spirit.

ουδεν αρα νυν κατακριμα τοις εν χριστω ιησου μη κατα σαρκα περιπατουσιν αλλα κατα πνευμα

“Consequently” – because the man who is in Christ has been released from the Law, he is no longer a law-breaker. And if he is no lawbreaker, he shall not suffer condemnation as a lawbreaker. God knows than men are flesh; He understands that we have an inherent struggle with temptation because the draw of the flesh is intrinsic and strong. But in Christ, God has made provision not only for the outcome of our failure in the atonement by Christ, but a provision of strength in His provision of the Spirit to lead, teach, and comfort us on our journey through this world. This provision makes it possible for “those in Christ” to escape condemnation – our penalty has been paid, and our account is cleared, so that we can live lives led by the Spirit of God, without fear of destruction because we err as we walk.

Paul wrote “now” to the saints in Rome. “Now” there is no condemnation to those in Christ. He did not write that there “will not be” condemnation, or “to those who succeed to remain in Christ”, but “now” “there is” no condemnation “to those in Christ”. “In Christ” is expressed as a present-tense reality to his readers. The sentence plainly affirms that those who are presently in Christ are “now” protected from condemnation; atonement is accomplished, the saint of God is free “now”. We are not waiting for some future date or event that will release us from a holding pattern from which we could have escaped or fallen out of formation; we have received the freedom from condemnation in the present tense if we are in Christ. If we are now free, we are assured that we will remain free, because our freedom was gained by Christ’s blood, received by our faith, and preserved by God Himself until the day we experience its fullness.[1]Faith that does not endure is not faith; but true faith is defined as the complete confidence in the object of that faith; when we possess complete confidence in Christ our Saviour, He shows Himself completely worthy of it, in His faithfulness and power to preserve us alive until the consummation.

The second phrase of this sentence, “who walk not according to flesh, but according to Spirit”, is understood as either referring to a specific, qualified group among ‘those in Christ Jesus’, or as being a descriptor of those who are indeed ‘in Christ Jesus’.  Which of these two understanding can be correct hinges on a doctrine of salvation, namely whether it is possible for someone who is in Christ Jesus to suffer condemnation because of their failure to ‘walk according to Spirit’, as well as the doctrine of whether someone who is truly born again is able to live a sinful life.

It is generally believed that Arminianism affirms that true born-again Christians can lose their salvation; some denominations considered to be Christian maintain that one can lose their salvation based on their actions, whereas some say that a true Christian can ‘disown’ or renounce Christ, and fall away from a true faith, thereby losing their salvation. The Calvinist camp insists that no Christian can lose salvation, because God appointed each individual person to salvation before ever creating the world, and therefore that person will both certainly become saved, and be completely unable to lose what God has ordained them to acquire. Moreover, a generally-accepted precept of Calvinism maintains that, notwithstanding salvation, human beings are ‘bound to sin’, are powerless to resist sin, so the Christian can expect to live the rest of his life with the ‘old man’ as Paul calls it, battling successfully with the ‘new man’ as two natures struggle for dominance over the individual.

Paul’s words regarding the ‘old man’ and the ‘new man’ are each found in three verses, in two of which he is pointedly contrasting the difference between the individual prior to salvation and the same person after he has been born again. He also uses the phrase “new creation” in two other verses in reference to the condition of a person who has been saved:

Ro 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man (καινος kainos), so making peace;

Eph 4:22-24: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Col 3:9-10 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new (neon), which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him …”

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ga 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

The words used in all instances of “old man” are παλαιος ανθρωπος – palaios anthropos. Palaios is a common word for ‘old’, and can mean ‘worn out’ or even ‘worse for wear’.

Two of the three references for ‘new man’ are extended from Paul’s references to putting off the ‘old man’ and its sins. Interestingly, the words used in Eph 2 & 4 are καινον ανθρωπον – kainon anthropon – which clearly means an human which is entirely new. Kainos means new in the sense of having been recently or freshly made, or of a new sort, or something that has no prior edition, as it were; whereas the word in Colossians 3 is neon, which is used in reference to one recently born, or youthful, or something that is brand new.

In these six passages, Paul has stated that the ‘old man’ was crucified with Christ, that his Christian audience had ‘put off the old man’ and ‘put on the new’, which new is renewed in knowledge according to the image of God who created him, and that if they had indeed ‘heard Christ’, they had put off that old man which is corrupt, and put on the new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness according to God. In 2 Corinthians, he has also affirmed that anyone who is “in Christ” is a new creation, that the old is dead, and all has become new, and in Galatians, he explains to them that nothing profits or benefits a man but being made a new creation, obviously in Christ.

The pivotal point in each of these passages is that a true believer of Jesus Christ, who has been born again through faith in His blood shed for their sins, has been made into something completely different from what they had been, to the extent that what had been previously was dead – gone, and without any further life – and replaced by what God has made new “in righteousness and true holiness”. A Christian is no longer what he was once before, and that change is a miraculous change caused by the Holy Spirit Whom God gives to everyone who repents of sin and receives Christ Jesus the Lord in faith.[2]

Furthermore, both Old and New Testaments are full of God speaking directly and through Christ’s apostles that His children are to live lives of righteousness and holiness, that we are not powerless against temptation, but are to resist it and do what is right,[3] which is the specific message of several of the six examples. Based on the testimony of Scripture throughout the New Testament, corroborated with the Old Testament prophecies that God would pour out His Spirit upon His children, and place His Spirit into those who love Him, expressly to direct us into truth and righteousness,[4] and that the saint of Christ has been made totally fresh, new creature by God,[5] and that we are called to resist sin and live rightly, we are obligated to reject any suggestion that a Christian is incapable of living as God has called us to live, as being a lie, and detest it as the excuse it has been made for why professing Christians of the modern day continue to follow the worldliness and wickedness in the society around them instead of withdrawing from those practices and embracing the righteousness that Christ died to restore.

Regarding the claim that Christians – true, born-of-the-Spirit Christians – could live lives of sin that cost them their salvation, Paul’s letter to the Galatians makes very clear that our salvation was not gained by our actions, nor is it maintained by our actions. The basis of salvation is the fact of the forgiveness of our sins because of Christ’s death on the cross. We are not innocent of sin because of faith in Christ; when we stand in judgment, our records will show our guilt. What has changed for us is not that we become clean of our sin, but that Christ washes us from that filth,[6] and covers us with His righteousness, so that we may be freed. The penalty of our sins is covered by Christ’s blood,[7] applied to the register of those who receive Him.[8] While the Christian is unlikely to live a completely sin-free life from the moment of new birth until physical death, we will not live a life of sin, [9] what times we do fall into sin, Christ’s forgiveness will cover those as we repent them. We will not become separate from Christ through sin, because “he who is born of God does not continue in sin.”

Finally, for the proposition that a Spirit-born Christian could fall from their faith, renounce Christ, and lose salvation, the meaning and nature of ‘faith’, of ‘salvation’ make this proposition absurd.

Faith is the possession of confidence in the object that receives our ‘faith’. Doubt is the opposite of faith, and cannot, by definition, co-exist in the same person toward the same object; either I possess confidence in that person or quantity, or I doubt it, but I cannot both trust and doubt. Jesus told the disciples that the ‘size’ of their faith didn’t matter; they only had to trust and not doubt, and they would see miraculous events.[10] The point of Paul’s extensive discussion of Abraham’s faith was that Abraham believed God and did not doubt, because of which Abraham saw and did great things. Abraham did not live a totally sin-free life: he lied several times, and he even second-guessed God regarding his own safety in Egypt, which means in other matters, Abraham’s faith was not sound. God did not repudiate Abraham for these transgressions, or for his weakness; he continued as a man approved by God, whose example was recorded for all generations.

Once we believe God, we learn of ourselves that we are guilty of many sins, that all men are likewise guilty, and that life in this world will be affected by these two truths. God did not promise Christians that we would have an easy life, or abundance of goods, or any other material benefit whatsoever; rather Jesus made a point of warning His disciples, and His apostles after Him continued the warning, that in this world, Christ’s saints would endure hardships, sometimes even to torture and death, but that nothing could separate us from Him. If a person, who professes faith in Christ – which means that they believe God for all that He has said – comes to doubt God when life doesn’t follow the path they desired or expected, it is reasonable to conclude that they never trusted God in the first place. Whatever they did expect from God was different from what God told us to expect, and when their faulty expectations are unmet, they abandon the God from Whom they had hoped for things He had never promised. **Need to deal with “now” in the original clause**

2    For the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of the sin and of the death.

ο γαρ νομος του πνευματος της ζωης εν χριστω ιησου ηλευθερωσεν με απο του νομου της αμαρτιας και του θανατου

The “law of the Spirit” is life in Christ; when we live according to the Spirit, we have life in Christ. The “law of sin and of death” is simple: those who sin shall die. Law brings condemnation, because broken law brings guilt, and guilt brings condemnation. Just as the principle of justice is established such that all who sin must die, the principle of grace is firmly established by the Spirit of God that all who are in Christ Jesus shall live in Him.

3      For the inability of the Law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness (homoiomati – same appearance) of flesh of sin, and concerning sin, condemned the sin in the flesh:

το γαρ αδυνατον του νομου εν ω ησθενει δια της σαρκος ο θεος τον εαυτου υιον πεμψας εν ομοιωματι σαρκος αμαρτιας και περι αμαρτιας κατεκρινεν την αμαρτιαν εν τη σαρκι

Laws depend on both the willingness and the performance of them on the part of the people for whom they are written. As Paul described himself agreeing that the Law was good, and desiring to fulfill it, but failing to do so consistently, he described everyone of us who might likewise agree – we are willing to follow ‘the rules’, and we will work to perform what is right, but as Paul found himself doing other than what was right according to the Law, we likewise would and do find ourselves failing in some areas and requirements; the Law cannot make us do what is right; it can only express the ‘ought’; the ‘do’ depends on humans, and humans don’t ‘do’ consistently no matter how much we may want to.

Paul speaks repeatedly of ‘the flesh’; the make-up of humans is of spirit contained in a body of flesh. Our minds and emotions are influenced by the desires that come from our physical bodies; desires that can feel more ‘real’ to us than those related to God Whom we cannot see. Even we who know and love the Lord can find ourselves more strongly drawn to our fleshly desires than to the Lord and His glory, and far too often, when that happens, we succumb to the temptation and surrender to our flesh. It is that very weakness that dooms us to failure as regards any law, and doomed the nation of Israel and individual Jews, to the violation of the Law given by God upon their demand. They believed that they would perform those works that God would require, but in reality it was not going to happen that way, because people just don’t succeed at perfect compliance with ‘rules’. Because anything other than perfect compliance is law-breaking, certain failure means certain condemnation and certain death. The problem remains regardless of the preferences of the heart, because the flesh with its desires will always contest against the righteousness of the Spirit if those desires do not match up with perfection.

Moreover, when we live to serve the flesh, we are not living in or for the Lord. The flesh becomes our god, and once again, even if our actions are not of themselves wrongful, our motivations are sinful, and we are again dead in our sin – if the law to which we are bound is that law which defines sin, and brings death.

But God sent Jesus in human flesh, in which He would experience all the urges and desires of human flesh, and understand the inclinations of a regular man. He was born to a Jewish maiden, under the Law of Israel, the same rules that condemned every Jew born after it was given. He appeared to all eyes as an ordinary man; nothing remarkable about Him, as Isaiah had prophesied, to set Him apart from His fellow countrymen. Nothing except that He lived according to Spirit rather than according to flesh. Jesus demonstrated the perfect performance of life under the divine direction of the Spirit of God, showing that it is possible, in the power of that Spirit, to master the flesh and be free of sin. If by the Spirit of God, it is possible for a human being to live by the Spirit, to master the flesh, and be free of sin, then sin cannot be excused in the flesh as something we cannot avoid. Christ came for sin, because we are all guilty. He came in flesh to live as a man apart from sin. And He came to provide the necessary covering for the sin of all of us, because every one of us has ultimately failed to fulfill the requirements of any law, and we are all therefore under the same condemnation of death that held the nation of Israel captive for so long.

4    that the righteousness (justice?) of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who are walking, not according to flesh, but according to (in accord with) Spirit.

ινα το δικαιωμα του νομου πληρωθη εν ημιν τοις μη κατα σαρκα περιπατουσιν αλλα κατα πνευμα

The righteousness of the Law is found, not so much in the following of the precepts – the Pharisees were very good at that practice – but in the motivation for following them. God’s admonition of Israel was that their heart was far from Them. [11] Indeed, the Pharisees obligated their fellow Israelites to observe such stringent “laws” that it was impossible for even the well-meaning among them to bear up under the load.  But this burden was never what God desired or required of His people. Rather, He wanted a heart that trusted and loved Him. He wanted His people to listen to Him, to want Him for Himself, and to know Him.[12]

The difficulty for many people is to realize that, an effort to perform a set of actions in order to please God tends to be a work of the flesh; we tend to feel better about ourselves when we are able to claim accomplishment of things we consider to be important, worthy, or meritorious; we like to feel good about ourselves. But anytime we do something to satisfy ourselves, it is a work of flesh.

When we walk according to the Spirit of God, we no longer simply ‘follow rules’, but are led to do those things that are consistent with the character and desire of God. We have the communion with God that Jesus spoke about in His prayer to the Father before His death: “… You, Father, in Me and I in You, that they may be one in Us … I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfect in one…”[13] When we live in this communion with Christ and the Father, we receive leading from God through the Holy Spirit – we don’t need a list because our reasons and choices are conditioned by our interaction with the Lord we love.

If we are in communion with God, we are also submitted to God as God. Only when we are submitted to God do we walk according to the Spirit, and when we have submitted to God we have performed that for which God has imputed righteousness to men throughout all history: believe God. When we believe God, we receive the righteousness that would apply if we had fully and completely succeeded in following any law God had established. Paul wanted his Jewish readers to understand clearly that God’s standard of righteousness can only be met through something beyond the Law issued to Moses; that only through true faith in the true God could a man hope to be considered righteous, and the consequence and evidence of that faith is the life lived by His Spirit.

5    For they who are according to flesh regard (consider, concern themselves with) that of the flesh; yet those according to Spirit, that of the Spirit.

οι γαρ κατα σαρκα οντες τα της σαρκος φρονουσιν οι δε κατα πνευμα τα του πνευματος

This statement is very clear; anyone living according to the fleshly, or natural, inclinations, concerns themselves with natural, fleshly matters. But anyone living by the Spirit of God concerns themselves with what pertains to the Spirit.

6      For the disposition (consideration, minding) of the flesh is death; but the disposition (minding, consideration) of the Spirit is life and peace.

το γαρ φρονημα της σαρκος θανατος το δε φρονημα του πνευματος ζωη και ειρηνη

The natural world is destined for destruction. The body is destined to die. If we occupy ourselves with natural, fleshly concerns, we occupy ourselves with death. Eternity is not about flesh; we cannot gain everlasting life by serving material things. Remember what Paul wrote earlier: to whatever we subject ourselves, we make ourselves its slave. If we prioritize natural concerns, we have made flesh our slave-owner, and live to its service – a total waste of time, since the flesh shall perish, and all our wasted lives with it.

But if we live our lives with Christ as our master, the Holy Spirit as our guide and teacher, we live by the Spirit of God and will continue into eternal life. When we have Christ, and know the Father, we have peace because Christ has made peace with God on our behalf, and eternity for us is everlasting life in the presence of the living God! Our lives are fruitful to eternity when they are lived in the Spirit.

7      Because that the consideration of the flesh (being fleshly-minded) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither is it able,

διοτι το φρονημα της σαρκος εχθρα εις θεον τω γαρ νομω του θεου ουχ υποτασσεται ουδε γαρ δυναται

We will only follow the Spirit of God if we give ourselves over to Him, and commit our minds and hearts to spiritual things rather than the natural inclinations or concerns of the flesh. As Jesus taught that we cannot serve two masters, while His specific reference had been monetary gain, the principle extends to anything; we either serve God or we serve something else.

The Jew would proclaim himself of the people of God because he has The Law. But as long as his mind was disposed toward the flesh, it was no more subject to the Law than if he had not been a Jew or believed in a foreign god. To a certain extent, this is Paul’s climax: God had not given a Law to the nation of Israel when He called them as His people, and He did not give them a Law when He met them at Mount Sinai, until they refused Him, and insisted that He give them a code to follow, communicated to them by a man of whom they could afford to not be afraid (or so they believed). They were not interested in God as God, but only wanted to ensure that they did not commit some violation of a cosmic standard that would get them in trouble with the cosmic power.[14] They had been too strongly influenced by the pagan nations around them; appease the deities so they don’t afflict you, and get on with your life. They didn’t understand that they could not live for the purpose of following rules, nor live to please their desires, nor to satisfy their desire to feel justified in themselves; the mind set on its own things is by definition set apart from God’s. To be self-willed is to oppose God, and to oppose God is to set one’s self as His adversary. A mind set on its own things is not subject to God’s Law – neither the written Law of Moses nor the spiritual law of life in Christ. The Jews in Paul’s audience needed to be completely clear that they could not be God’s people by following rules, even those listed in that code, because their minds were opposed to God; you can’t be under Someone Whom you resist by extension of what you dedicate your attention to.

8    Yet those being in flesh are not able to please God.

οι δε εν σαρκι οντες θεω αρεσαι ου δυνανται

Because being fleshly-minded makes a person opposed as an enemy to God, being unable to be subject to God, that person who is in the flesh is unable to please God. It is impossible to please someone Whom you disregard, dishonour, or disobey, all of which describe the person who is fleshly-minded. The Jewish Christians needed to understand that it would never have been possible to please God by following the Law if their hearts and minds were not set upon the spiritual priorities of God. “Follow the rules, stay out of trouble, and live my life” simply doesn’t measure up to the desire and requirement of God to live in loving, faithful communion with God, led by the Spirit of God “into all truth”.

They had forgotten that God had created mankind in God’s image, to enjoy fellowship with God forever. Nothing less than God’s purpose for our existence could possible please God; how could He ever be pleased with a compliant but distant humanity? Consider the illustration of a marriage in which the two people carry all the practical responsibilities of the home, and treat each other pleasantly, and ‘do everything right’, but completely lack the intimate and personal relationship that marriage should describe. They have an excellent business relationship, but marriage is supposed to be far deeper than business. So it is with God.

God used the language of marriage to describe His intended relationship with Israel, God’s “wife”, and the same marriage terms and illustrations are used in reference to Christ and the church as His bride. God desires from His people the excellence of a perfect marriage, with each spouse fully committed and submitted to the other in love, as Paul describes in Ephesians 5.[15] Anything less is not ‘good enough’.

9      But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any has not (the) Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him.

υμεις δε ουκ εστε εν σαρκι αλλ εν πνευματι ειπερ πνευμα θεου οικει εν υμιν ει δε τις πνευμα χριστου ουκ εχει ουτος ουκ εστιν αυτου

If being bad is not good, and being good is not good enough, Paul’s audience was left with the question: How then can we please God? The answer is not rooted in what we do, but in who we are. If the Spirit of God lives in us, we are in Spirit rather than flesh. If the Spirit of Christ does not live in someone, they do not belong to Christ.

The truth inherent to Paul’s statement, which is directed to all believers and not limited to some special class among believers, is that the Spirit of God lives in us if we belong to Jesus Christ. Every true Christian of any background, has received the same Holy Spirit that was given to the first Christians. As Paul describes in letters to other communities, the Holy Spirit is given to all saints, as our ‘guarantee’ of the promise God gave in Jesus Christ to resurrect us to everlasting life [16]; in fact, Jesus told His disciples that the Spirit of truth was with them before His crucifixion, and would be in them later.[17]

From Paul’s words, then, we see that all true Christians have the Spirit of God living in us, and anyone in whom the Spirit of God dwells is in Spirit and not in flesh. We are freed from the death that is the flesh, we do not live to serve natural, fleshly priorities, and we are able to please God because we are, by definition, subject to God with His Spirit living inside us. This truth applies to all Christians; it is an universal reality.

Paul reinforces this fact with his second statement: anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. All Christians therefore must have the Spirit of Christ; either we have the Holy Spirit or we are not Christians. There is no third option.

But this brings a sobering reality: the ‘many’ who say “Lord, Lord”, whom Christ “never knew”, are those who do not belong to Christ.[18] We know that these have never known the Christ they profess because if He had never known them, they were never one of His. They are, like those who make no profession, among the lost souls condemned to everlasting punishment, and like those who reject, need to hear the true gospel, the message of salvation that comes only through faith in the person and work of Christ.

But, as those who lack the Holy Spirit do not belong to Christ, we in whom the Holy Spirit lives do belong to Christ. We belong to Him; He owns us,[19] having bought us with the price of His blood.[20] Having purchased the condemned from the effect of our crimes, with the price of His own blood shed through execution as a criminal, Jesus Christ covered our sins completely, freeing us from the death sentence we were under, and ‘purchasing’ us for Himself. To belong to Jesus Christ is to belong to God. While God had complete right to all creation by virtue of having created, in purchasing us back who were enslaved to sin, God has brought us into His own kingdom, into His own house, under His direct authority and exercise of power. He has given us the Holy Spirit as the confirmation of the promise that He will, along with Jesus Christ, raise us from the dead and bring us into eternity with Him. His promise is not conditional upon anything after salvation; all the conditions are met in the salvation in Christ. We are secure in Him when we are owned by Him because the house of the Master is secure against the thief, and the security is demonstrated by the ‘seal’ of the covenant, applied to the redeemed, which is the Holy Spirit living in us.

If His role is to lead us into all truth, guide and convict us of what is right and wrong, remind us of what Christ had said, empower us to demonstrate Christ to the world, to comfort us, and glorify Christ in us, then we have no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit will fail to protect us from any influence that could damage our faith. If Christ shed His blood to buy us back from Satan’s plot to destroy us, why would we doubt that, having received Him as our Lord, and been adopted by His Father, invested with the Holy Spirit, that They would lack the power to keep us from harm, and protect us from anything that could steal our faith? We are not secure because of some great ability of our own, but because, having trusted a perfect Object, we become the property of that perfect Object, Who will not permit Their house to be pillaged by the enemy.

10  But if Christ is in you, the body is dead through sin; yet (the?) spirit is life through righteousness.

ει δε χριστος εν υμιν το μεν σωμα νεκρον δι αμαρτιαν το δε πνευμα ζωη δια δικαιοσυνην

The body of the Christian will still die, but our spirit will live into eternity with Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers that when he would be ‘absent from the body’ he would be present with the Lord’.[21] Our righteousness, imputed through Christ, buys us life with Christ when our bodies are dead and gone.

11    But if the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He Who raised up Christ from the dead shall make live (verb) also your dying (mortal) bodies through His Spirit living in you.

ει δε το πνευμα του εγειραντος ιησουν εκ νεκρων οικει εν υμιν ο εγειρας τον χριστον εκ νεκρων ζωοποιησει και τα θνητα σωματα υμων δια το ενοικουν αυτου πνευμα εν υμιν

Moreover, just as God raised Jesus’ body from the dead, He will raise our dead bodies by the same Spirit Who lives in us while we are in our bodies. We not only trust God for our spirits into eternity, but that we will experience the resurrection of the dead just as our Lord Jesus was raised from the dead. This is the most amazing anticipation, and in some ways hard to fathom, but Paul was very careful to ensure there was no doubt as to his meaning when he wrote to the Corinthians; he carefully explained both the meaning and the necessity of the resurrection of the dead. Some people propose a figurative meaning, suggesting that we are living a ‘resurrection life’ now in our flesh while on earth. While it is true that we live a qualitatively different life when the Holy Spirit lives in us, Paul’s careful words in 1 Corinthians 15 are consistent with Christ’s answer to the Sadducees, who denied that there is a resurrection.[22] Very clearly, we are told that our bodies will be raised on the last day, as Christ’s was raised, but will be different in that we will no longer be subject to decay. Paul used terms like “spiritual body”, and “glorified body”, [23] and we know that different ones failed to recognize the resurrected Christ when first they saw Him, suggesting that there is something visible about the change that altered His appearance, and will likely also alter ours, but we know far less about this than some people pretend to know. Even John, the beloved apostle of Christ, professed that we do not know what we will be like, other than that we shall be like Christ.[24] Whatever the details, we look forward to a wonderful day when our bodies will be raised, and we will rejoice forever in the presence of the Lord God.

12  Consequently then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, so that we live according to flesh.

αρα ουν αδελφοι οφειλεται εσμεν ου τη σαρκι του κατα σαρκα ζην

We owe someone, but we don’t owe ‘the flesh’, which can only get us into trouble and bring us death, so we have no reason to prioritize or satisfy its inclinations.

13    For if you live according to flesh, you are about to die; but if you to (by?) spirit put to death the practices of the body, ye shall live.

ει γαρ κατα σαρκα ζητε μελλετε αποθνησκειν ει δε πνευματι τας πραξεις του σωματος θανατουτε ζησεσθε

Paul repeats that living according to the natural, fleshly inclinations is certain death: you are going to die. Not ‘you might die’, or ‘you should die’, but you will die.

Rather than suffer death because of a pursuit of fleshly impulses, those impulses can be destroyed by living in the Spirit, and if we do so, we will live. A careless reading of this line can suggest that avoiding physical things and doing ‘spiritual things’ brings life, but having followed the entire presentation requires the recognition that living according to the Spirit is not first of all what we do, but who we are, and Who lives in us. The result is actions that are consistent with the nature of Him Who lives in us, but the result is not the cause. We cannot achieve everlasting life by anything we do; this is part of what we are obligated to recognize and accept in order to receive the righteousness that God imputes to those who believe Him. Attempting to perform in a way to be approved by God is to try to establish our own righteousness, rather than rely upon and receive the righteousness that can only come from God, which is perfect and without flaw.

In fact, we understand from Paul’s letter that living by the Spirit means that ‘the practices of the body’ – in other words, our deeds – cease to be our measuring point. Deeds kill, faith brings life. Living by the Spirit completely replaces the life of works, so that we no longer attempt to live according to what we might ‘do’ at all, but what we do is led by whatever the Spirit may give us at any time, whether specific (go here, do this) or general (love others, don’t sin).

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

οσοι γαρ πνευματι θεου αγονται ουτοι εισιν υιοι θεου

All who are led by the Holy Spirit are adopted children of the heavenly Father. If we receive that sonship through faith, then we are wasting our time to try to gain or retain it through anything we do.

Consider the freedom that we truly have: having believed God about all things, we are now called to live as His children, being taught and led by His Spirit, apart from either material or natural concerns, or of ‘trying to be good’.

15    For you received not spirit of slavery again into fear; but you received (the) Spirit of adoption (literally: sonship, or son-placement), in which we cry, “Abba, the Father.”

ου γαρ ελαβετε πνευμα δουλειας παλιν εις φοβον αλλ ελαβετε πνευμα υιοθεσιας εν ω κραζομεν αββα ο πατηρ

Paul’s Jewish audience was enslaved to the threat of death or exile from Israel to those who failed to perform the Law, for the ‘man who does them shall live by them.’ Fear of consequences is a poor motivating reason to do what is right.

Also, under sin, we all were slaves, owned by a master that would drive us and work us, to our own hurt. Jews were slaves under the Law to performance standards and failure that must bring condemnation; we all have been slaves to sin because of its power to drive us. Under grace, all who believe Him become children of a loving heavenly Father, Who calls us into a family relationship and provides us the Spirit that is given only to those whom He calls His children. In place of fear, caused by the sure exercise of justice to death, we may freely call upon the living God Who has adopted us as His children and is ready and willing to hear us address Him as Father.

16    The same Spirit (or “The Spirit itself – auto to pneuma) itself witnesses together to (with?) our spirit, that we are children of God;

αυτο το πνευμα συμμαρτυρει τω πνευματι ημων οτι εσμεν τεκνα θεου

That Spirit given to us by God is He Who confirms to us that we are God’s children. We have that confirmation on the best of authority: the living God Himself – therefore we have nothing to fear.

While it is possible for human parents to disown their children, including adopted children, God does not disown His children. Theoretically, if we were to deny Christ, He would likewise deny us, but the reality of the new birth, in which the old ‘what we were’ dies and is replaced with what has been ‘made new’, the reality that we have been bought from sin and death into ownership – literally enslavement to – God in Christ, with the price of Christ’s blood, that the basis of our new birth and transformation is our belief of God, and the consequence and assurance of that faith is the in-dwelling Holy Spirit, to suggest that a saint of Christ could ever deny our Lord is to deny the transformation that brings us beyond our flesh and into His Spirit, as Paul already affirmed: “But you are not in flesh if it is that Christ is in you; and if anyone is not in Christ, he is not His.” If we are His, we are in Him, and if we are in Him, He is in us. If we are in Him and He in us, we have fellowship with the Father, and we are not in the flesh, and are therefore safe from the peril of falling away. While we were apart from Christ, He called us to Himself.[25] Once we belong to Him, we are kept by Him, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and in union with the Father in heaven; we are not available to be lost when we are held in the hand of the almighty God, who will not permit us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure.[26]

17    Yet if children, also heirs; heirs indeed (men) of God, yet joint-heirs of Christ (“of Christ” modifies “joint-heirs”); if it is that we suffer together (sumpaschomen) that also we should be glorified together.

ει δε τεκνα και κληρονομοι κληρονομοι μεν θεου συγκληρονομοι δε χριστου ειπερ συμπασχομεν ινα και συνδοξασθωμεν

4841 συμπασχω sumpascho     from 4862 and 3958 (including its alternate); v          AV-suffer with 2; 2

1) to suffer or feel pain together

2) to suffer evils (troubles, persecutions) in the like manner with another

3958 πασχω pascho pas’-kho; v    AV-suffer 39, be vexed 1, passion + 3588 1, feel 1; 42

1) to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo

1a) in a good sense, to be well off, in good case

1b) in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight

1b1) of a sick person

Children inherit what the parents leave for them. The Father does not die, rather He dispenses His riches among His children when we die. We are heirs ‘indeed’ – the Greek word men, which means certainly, or for sure. What is the wealth we inherit from the Father?

For one thing, we inherit the divine quality of eternal life; we will die no more. Inherent to eternal life is the freedom from all the effects of decay that plague us in this world: sickness, injury, fear, pain, sin, and every other condition that brings a negative experience of life on earth. All of these will be replaced forever with the completeness of God’s state of eternal being, which was that perfect physical state in which He created our first parents. Our bodies will be glorified – we do not fully know what that means because Christ’s apostles did not fully know,[27] but if as John says, we shall be like Him, it will be wonderful.

We also inherit the kingdom of God.[28] Now again, we have not been given many details about what that will be like or what we will do. What we do know is that Christ is King of Kings, and that the Father’s kingdom is ruled by our loving God. We know that nothing evil, harmful, or hurtful is permitted inside of His kingdom, and therefore we will have peace, joy, and beauty forever into eternity. Whatever else might characterise our experience, we are assured that all will be good and wonderful without the least blemish.

The greatest inheritance is that of a heavenly Father. We will spend eternity in close communion with the Father Who loved us in such a way that Christ was purposed before our sin, sent after our sin, to die for our sin, and raise us with Him to everlasting life. We will spend eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ, Who loved us enough to willingly come to this earth, to don a fleshly human form, to suffer the ignominy of a criminal’s death, the agony of a most cruel torture and execution for crimes He did not commit, the insubordination of mortal men whom He had created, and the confer every benefit of all of His suffering onto we who are guilty of every offense, including as Paul opened, refusing to acknowledge God as God or be thankful for what God had done in creating us for Himself.

And we will spend eternity with the Holy Spirit, Who took residence inside each of us in order to protect and keep us for His holy purpose, direct and empower us to live a godly life, and carry us to the consummation of our redemption.

All this we inherit as children of our heavenly Father and joint heirs with Christ our redeemer. So what if we suffer here because of our faith? If indeed we suffer together with Christ – for Christ suffered for us long before any of us has suffered for His name, as Peter wrote: “… the just for the unjust…”[29] – we know that our suffering is temporary, and that our faith will be rewarded ultimately in our being glorified together with Christ in eternity, because our inheritance includes our precious Saviour, our gracious Father, and our faithful Comforter and Guide.

18    For I reckon that the sufferings (pathemata – emotions) of the present time are not worthy toward (compared with) the glory about to be (mellousan – something expected/anticipated; something about to happen; from root melo meaning care or take care) revealed in us.

λογιζομαι γαρ οτι ουκ αξια τα παθηματα του νυν καιρου προς την μελλουσαν δοξαν αποκαλυφθηναι εις ημας

Paul does not suggest that we will not suffer, nor that our suffering is mild or insignificant; we know that he endured exquisite pain in beatings, stonings, and other abuses, as well as the fear of death, the pain of abandonment, the isolation of prison. By no means did Paul suggest that the saint’s suffering may be insignificant. What he does insist, having suffered in the manner he had many times through his ministry, is that none of those sufferings, however severe, merit being considered when we know that the glory of God will be revealed not only to us, but in us when we receive the fullness of our redemption.

19    For the earnest expectation (ie: eager anticipation; premonition) of the creation awaits the revealing (literally “uncovering”) of the sons of God.

η γαρ αποκαραδοκια της κτισεως την αποκαλυψιν των υιων του θεου απεκδεχεται

It is not completely obvious to the world which individuals belong to that group identified as ‘the sons of God’, but as time progresses, and new saints are born, the members of the family are made known to those around them. Now Paul appears to be personifying the natural world, rather than limiting his comment to the humans in the world. When Adam sinned, the entire planet was affected by the consequence of his wrong. God ‘cursed the ground’ for the sake of Adam;[30] it became soil for weeds and nasty plants, ceased to produce the abundance of food and beautiful things without hard work, and over time, everything began to decay and die. While the material world does not ‘anticipate’ anything, the restoration of that material world awaits the full and final redemption of all those who will receive Christ, when He comes and restores His kingdom.

20    For the creation was subjected to vanity, not voluntarily (or by choice), but through Him who subjected it, in hope (expectation),

τη γαρ ματαιοτητι η κτισις υπεταγη ουχ εκουσα αλλα δια τον υποταξαντα επ ελπιδι

God imposed corruption upon His creation. Whereas Adam made a conscious decision to rebel against God’s clearly-expressed command, effectively volunteering himself to die, the rest of the system was innocent of Adam’s sin. Yet God subjected the entire system to the same influence of decay and death, anticipating (hoping toward) that day when all things would be made new.

Adam knew that violation of God’s instruction would result in death. God clearly and firmly told him that “in the day that you eat [from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], dying you shall die.” As soon as we possess knowledge, we become accountable for what we know and how we interact with it. If we choose to act in such a manner as to incur previously-affirmed negative consequences, we have opted for that outcome, whether or not we are happy about it when it occurs. If I choose to place my hand in the fire when I possess the prior knowledge that I will burn my hand, I have chosen to burn my hand. Adam knew he would incur death by disobeying God’s prohibition, so by choosing to disobey, Adam volunteered to die.

21    that also the creation itself shall freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

οτι και αυτη η κτισις ελευθερωθησεται απο της δουλειας της φθορας εις την ελευθεριαν της δοξης των τεκνων του θεου

“in hope” – the sure expectation – that the creation itself shall also be freed from the slavery of corruption. God will restore the universe after exercising final judgment. At that time, a ‘new heavens and new earth’ will be raised from the old, and death will have lost its power. Decay will no longer occur, no one will ever die, and God’s purpose for His creation will be realized for eternity: faithful saints will live in communion with God in a ‘very good’ universe that never again suffers the effects of decay.

22  For we have seen (are aware, recognize) that the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now.

οιδαμεν γαρ οτι πασα η κτισις συστεναζει και συνωδινει αχρι του νυν

The language Paul uses in this verse – ‘groaning and travailing (struggling) in pain’ – gives the impression of a creation in agony. We must remember that, while God made provision for what He knew would occur, His purpose for His creation was not decay and death, but vibrant, everlasting life. The wastedness of the consequence of Adam’s sin, and humanity’s continued rebellion, is an un-natural invasion into God’s perfect order, causing chaos and distress where order and peace should reign.

23    Yet not only (it, or “that”), but also ourselves, having the first-fruit of the Spirit; also we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption (lit: sonship): the redemption (lit: loosening from; deliverance) of our body.

ου μονον δε αλλα και αυτοι την απαρχην του πνευματος εχοντες και ημεις αυτοι εν εαυτοις στεναζομεν υιοθεσιαν απεκδεχομενοι την απολυτρωσιν του σωματος ημων

The latter part of Paul’s phrasing: “awaiting sonship; the loosening from of our body” sounds rather like Paul is answering his own agonizing question from the last verse of chapter 7: “Who shall save me from the body of this death?” As though bringing his argument fully back to that crucial question, Paul concludes here that we groan in ourselves as we long for that day when we are truly sons of God, and released from ‘the body of this death’ that so plagues us when we desire to do what pleases God while struggling with the temptations of the flesh.

We who know Christ, who have the understanding that this sort of life is not ‘how it is supposed to be’, that perfect  is what God desired for us, and corrupt is what we live, are likewise grieved by the situation around us, and urgently longing to receive the fullness of the restoration that we are waiting for with confidence. Like a child anticipating a special occasion, we feel that we ‘can hardly wait’.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of what we wait for.[31] Because we live in bodies of flesh which will continue until our days on this earth are over, and which are weak to temptation because they are flesh, we need more than our own power to overcome our natural inclination to satisfy our natural desires. Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would be given as a gift to all who receive Him.[32] The receipt of the Holy Spirit is the first indication, or ‘fruit’ of our salvation; He comes to live in us while we are here, to keep us until that day when God receives us from the earth either in death or at the last day. He is the first evidence of an eternal truth, that we are anticipating the fulfilment of Christ’s redemption: our sonship to God and the resurrection of our bodies from mortal, corruptible cases to immortal, incorruptible glorious, bodies comparable to that which Christ wears now.[33]

24    For to expectation (sure anticipation) we were saved; but expectation being seen is not expectation, for what anyone sees, why also is he expecting it?

τη γαρ ελπιδι εσωθημεν ελπις δε βλεπομενη ουκ εστιν ελπις ο γαρ βλεπει τις τι και ελπιζει

The passage translates: “For to hope we were saved, but hope being seen is not hope, for what one sees, why does he also – or still – hope for it.” But this generation uses the word ‘hope’ in a sense of wishful thinking; we ‘hope’ we might have some satisfaction of some desire. But the Greek word translated as “hope” in English has no sense of uncertainty.  ελπις elpis – means to anticipate with confident expectation. We aren’t counting against odds, or doubting, but waiting with certainty for something that we do not yet have, but are certain that we shall have it at some time.

Our salvation is based on faith; we must believe that God is, and we must believe what God says, if we are to receive His covering for our sin. God has said that He would  justify the ungodly through faith, forgiving our sins because Christ died to cover that penalty, and that we would be raised from the dead as Christ rose from the dead, to live eternally with God. These are the things we must believe in order to be reconciled to God, and if we believe them, we know that we shall have them, even if we cannot mark the date on the calendar when it will fully come to pass. When we were saved, we were saved from certain death, to certain life, but to receive the fullness we must wait. If we  received the entire promise immediately, we could not say we were ‘hoping’, or anticipating, because we would already possess the fullness of what was promised; there would be nothing more to wait for.

But we know that, as long as we live in this flesh, on this world full of sin, that we have to wait; there is more to come. God will not – cannot – bring about His resurrection before all that brings wickedness has been destroyed. Only when the world has been renewed, and sin has been removed forever, will God then bring His people back to live forever in the fullness of holiness and peace. Until then, we wait in anticipation of that glorious day.

25  But if what we don’t see, we hope for (expect; anticipate with certainty), with endurance we wait to receive it.

ει δε ο ου βλεπομεν ελπιζομεν δι υπομονης απεκδεχομεθα

When we expect with certainty something which we have not already received, we wait patiently to receive it, because we are certain that we shall receive it. We do not lose heart because we are confident of the outcome. Being patient does not mean we are not eager, or that we may not wish to have already received or achieved the thing we are waiting for; Paul was honest in his expression that he desired to be “absent from the body and present with the Lord”.[34] His words earlier that refer to the saints “groaning” as we wait, are a reflection of the longing we have to be freed from our mortal bodies, freed from the temptations and consequences of sin, and free in the eternal presence of our loving Saviour in that paradise which is both His kingdom and His dwelling place, in which nothing corrupting will be permitted ever more.[35]

26    Yet similarly also the Spirit helps our infirmities: for what we should pray according to what is binding, we don’t know, but the Spirit itself makes intercession over us with groanings unspoken. (may mean not to be spoken, or cannot be spoken, but literally translates “unspoken”)

ωσαυτως δε και το πνευμα συναντιλαμβανεται ταις ασθενειαις ημων το γαρ τι προσευξωμεθα καθο δει ουκ οιδαμεν αλλ αυτο το πνευμα

Paul appears to say here that a saint of God can come to a place where we do not know how to pray. His statement is in the context of our anticipation of the resurrection of the body in immortality, and we need to consider his statement in the context in which he made it. How do we endure, and how do we do so successfully, living according to the Spirit as Paul has written that we must? We are supplied by a God of which the Holy Spirit, living in us, petitions the Father on our behalf when we are at a loss for how to pray.

It is interesting that Paul uses the same word ‘groanings’ to describe the intercession made by the Spirit on our behalf. Just as we “groan” as we await the full realization of all that God has done for us in Christ, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf with the Father with “groanings”; He longs to have us right in the place of God’s perfect will at all times, perfectly fulfilling the life of Christ in us, to which we are called.

27    And He Who searches the hearts knows what (is) the mind (disposition; thinking) of the Spirit that, in accord with God, intercedes for the saints

ο δε ερευνων τας καρδιας οιδεν τι το φρονημα του πνευματος οτι κατα θεον εντυγχανει υπερ αγιων

The Father knows what we think before we share it with Him, and He certainly knows what the Holy Spirit thinks at any and every point in time, because they are in perfect unity. As Christ glorified the Father, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ in His church.[36]  The three work in perfect unity, following the lead of the Father in matters of the church[37], so that the intercession of the Holy Spirit for the saints of God is always in accordance with God’s desire for His children.

28    Yet we know (recognize; perceive, see) that to the lovers of God, all is working together into good to those being called, (adj) according to purpose (lit: to the ones according to purpose called being)

οιδαμεν δε οτι τοις αγαπωσιν τον θεον παντα συνεργει εις αγαθον τοις κατα προθεσιν κλητοις ουσιν

The Spirit of God intercedes for His saints according to God, which is our assurance that what the Spirit has prayed on our behalf will fit God’s purpose for us and in us.

Everything works together for good of the lovers of God, according to God’s purpose that, whom He foreknew, He also fore-ordained as conformed to the image of Christ, in order that Christ might be the first-born among many siblings. God’s purpose is to re-establish His original intentions for His creation, including humanity being restored to the clear image of God. Lovers of God are called according to God’s purpose to restore His image in us by reshaping us into the image of Jesus Christ, and bringing us into the family of God as adopted children. If God’s purpose is sure, then no matter what may happen in this world, or to a saint, it will ultimately work to fulfill that holy purpose.

This does not mean that all things that happen will be good, nor that everything that happens to us is good because of its consequence. It does not mean that God purposed that bad things happen, or that He purposed the ones that do happen to those who love God. What Paul has assured us rather, is that God will work our good out of all that does happen, regardless of the quality of the events themselves, because He will work it all towards His ultimate goal for us of becoming the image of Christ on earth, as He intended we be from the beginning.

Some people are falsely led to believe that once a person receives the Lord Jesus, they become immune to the negative consequences of living in a fallen world of sinful people, and this is simply not true. We live among men, we live on a ground that is cursed because of Adam’s sin. We cannot avoid experiencing the consequences of those general conditions, nor the effects of the choices of both those who live around us and our own choices as well, past and present. Ideas have consequences; men are as their hearts are, and we have all been faithless, self-willed, and otherwise unrighteous at different points in time. Our actions have consequences, others’ actions have consequences, and we all affect others with whom we interact, to bring about situations that are troublesome to people who may not have themselves done anything to affect those situations. We are not prevented from those consequences by coming to Christ, but we are assured that, as God’s purpose is confirmed by His word, and His purpose is to conform us to the image of Christ in order to make us as children of God, that we will experience that outcome through all the situations and consequences however caused, and whatever nature they may be.

Verse 28 refers to ‘those being called’. The question to answer is: “What or to what are ‘those’ being called?” As we see in v 29, the people to whom Paul refers – the saints of Christ – are called according to the purpose which is that those who are foreknown by God were also predestined to be moulded into the image of Christ, so that He would have first-born status among many siblings. The calling is to a purpose that God had established prior to the calling, which includes a new character and a new status in relationship to God.

29    that whom He foreknew, also He predestined (lit: foresees) conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

οτι ους προεγνω και προωρισεν συμμορφους της εικονος του υιου αυτου εις το ειναι αυτον πρωτοτοκον εν πολλοις αδελφοις

4309 προοριζω proorizo   from 4253 and 3724; v         AV-predestinate 4, determine before 1, ordain 1; 6

1) to predetermine, decide beforehand

2) in the NT of God decreeing from eternity

3) to foreordain, appoint beforehand

4253 προ pro                a primary preposition;          AV-before 44, above 2, above  …  ago 1, or ever 1; 48

1) before

3724 οριζω horizo        from 3725; v     AV-determine 2, ordain 2, as it was determined + 2596 + 3588 1, declare 1, limit 1, determine 1; 8

1) to define

1a) to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing) 1b to determine, appoint

1b1) that which has been determined, acc. to appointment, decree

1b2) to ordain, determine, appoint

3725 οριον horion hor’-ee-on  from a derivative of an apparently primary horos (a bound or limit); n  AV-coast 10, border 1; 11

1) boundaries

1a) for a region, district, land, territory

Verse 29 continues the compound sentence begun in verse 28: “…all is working together to good to the ones being called, according to purpose that whom He foreknew, also He predestined (foresaw) conformed to the image of His Son.”

God knows everything knowable; He knows the “thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts”. Every aspect of our lives is completely open to the view of God;[38]  there is nothing about us that surprises Him or happens without His anticipation. God knows who does believe, and who will believe throughout eternity.

God’s sovereign purpose for His creation was to have an human family ‘made in the image of God’. Humanity’s wilful sin impaired the image of God in us, but God’s purpose had not changed. As God anticipated Adam’s choice to violate God’s clearly-expressed prohibition against consuming the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God knew that offense would initiate a perpetual condition of human failing that would suppress the clear reflection of God’s image in human beings. We were designed to display God’s righteousness, purity, wisdom, beauty, and all other beneficial attributes of the God after Whose image we were formed, but because of sin, we display unrighteousness, corruption, foolishness, depravity, and all manner of rottenness, obscuring the image God intended us to reflect. But God’s purpose had not changed.

When God effected in ‘eternity past’ His solution to the damage caused by man’s sin, He purposed at that time to restore the image of God in those who would respond to His call in faith. As Christ is the Son begotten of the Father in purity and goodness, and truth, those who would receive Christ in faith would be reborn by the Spirit of God to bear the image of Christ in the world, displaying the righteousness of God through Him, and restoring man to God’s original purpose.

When Satan moved to lure Adam away from God, he maligned God’s character by suggesting that God had misinformed Adam, or at the very least, acted to deny Adam some benefit without which Adam would suffer some important loss. Satan attacked the very nature of God, and sought to elevate himself to God’s place in God’s creation, including lordship over God’s image-bearer. If Satan could entice God’s man to rebel, he through man could turn all creation against its Creator.  The impression of God displayed by God’s man would be one of an impotent or unworthy regent, incapable of controlling or compelling His prize possession to communion, and unable to protect him from destruction, because a truly just Regent would be obligated to justice. The reflection of God borne by a fallen humanity would be an ugly, dysfunctional, and non-valuable being that did not merit attention, never mind loyalty. If God could appear to be nothing, Satan might succeed at commanding worship of himself from God’s creation, effectively taking God’s place over His domain.

But God is sovereign, and Satan had no power to know how God would overcome  him, nor to resist God’s justice and wrath. God would not surrender His purpose to Satan’s attack – one might argue that God could not do so, because a righteous Sovereign would be obligated to exercise His highest power to execute justice.

Moreover, God is both sovereign and all-powerful in His creation; His purpose cannot be subjected to the whims or wiles of an antagonist, but is protected and secured by the nature and character of God Themselves. God foresaw Satan’s lies, Eve’s foolishness, Adam’s rebellion and consequent corruption, and God predetermined with His foresight how He would preserve His purpose for His creation through the plan He prepared to redeem fallen humanity from the death brought about by sin, and restore those redeemed to the fullness of God’s original purpose as image-bearers of the living and true God. He predetermined to reshape the redeemed among men into the image of His only-begotten Son, that we would now bear the image the Son of God, becoming sons of God ourselves when we receive the fullness of His redemption.

30    Yet whom He predestined, these also He also called; and whom He called, these also He justified; whom yet He justified, these also He glorified.

ους δε προωρισεν τουτους και εκαλεσεν και ους εκαλεσεν τουτους και εδικαιωσεν ους δε εδικαιωσεν τουτους και εδοξασεν

“… all is working together to good to the called ones, according to purpose that whom He foreknew, also He predestined (foresaw) conformed to the image of His Son. Yet whom He predestined [to be conformed to the image of His Son], [God] also called …. and justified …. and glorified.”

God predestined to conform all those whom He foreknew would receive Christ, into the image of Christ, and adopt them as children of God in Christ. In order for anyone to benefit from these appointments, it is necessary first that they come to believe Christ and receive Him and His atonement. But how will anyone ever do so? Why would anyone think of such a proposition as the perfect Son of God coming to take their death penalty for their own sin? There would be no reason for any person to think up such an absurd proposition on their own. Only by God making Himself known to a person, and then making them know His offer of mercy could anyone come to think of such an otherwise preposterous suggestion.

The Calvinist quotes John 6:44, that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him, to insist that each person must have a special compelling invitation from God the Father, and a special moving of God toward Himself, against the very nature, thought, preference, interest, or desire of that individual. But the verse makes no such claim, and Jesus repudiated it Himself in John 12:32, when He affirmed that, “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all toward Myself.” God desires all men to be saved [39], and is the Saviour of all men, particularly of the faithful [40], such that He caused His grace to appear to all men [41], by sending the Light of the world to give light to all men.[42] God through the Holy Spirit, convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.[43] This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in “the world”, and consistent with Paul’s earlier comments that men know God but don’t prefer to acknowledge God as God, that men also know what is right and wrong, and know that believing God is key to being right, because God has revealed Himself through many means to each person, and will reveal Himself to everyone who seeks Him truly.[44] The lost man’s problem then, is not that God did not call him, but that having been called by the very fact of Christ’s having been ‘lifted from the earth’, he is not willing to come to Christ to receive that salvation.

Moreover, the Calvinist limits Paul’s words in this verse to refer only to those individuals who do receive salvation, as being those whom God calls, but that is to impose upon the text. All of Paul’s words in this portion are limited to those who are saved: those led by the Spirit of God (v 14), who have the Spirit of Christ (v 10-11), who are the children of God (v 14-17), who groan in anticipation of the redemption of our bodies (v 18-25), for whom the Spirit intercedes (v 26-27), are those for whom all is worked for good toward God’s purpose of conforming all to the image of His Son. The context of his presentation applies to the saints, whom Paul affirms in verse 29 to have been previously known by God, previously appointed to be changed into Christ’s image, and to have been called by God, justified by God, and glorified by God. None of his comments refer to the unsaved, nor do they imply anything pertaining to the unsaved; but are specific to the saved. God did call every saint, God did justify every saint, God did glorify every saint.

The implications of Paul’s words for the security of the saints must be appreciated. God knew from eternity past, who would heed His call and receive His Son. Prior to time, God then preordained what He would do in and with the lives of those who would be saved. If God knew in advance who would be saved, and justified and glorified them, then each person who receives that salvation has also already been justified. If we are justified before God, we no longer have sin to account for; we are as clear before the eternal judge, and if we are clear of guilt, we are not condemned. If we are not condemned, then we are free. We cannot go from being declared just on the basis of our faith toward God, then become unjust again, if God knows from eternity that we will believe Him.

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

τι ουν ερουμεν προς ταυτα ει ο θεος υπερ ημων τις καθ ημων

The inventory is long: Christ is in us, if we are in Him. If Christ is in us, we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. If we are in the Spirit, the spirit is life and our bodies will even be made alive by His Spirit living in us. We have become children of God, which the Spirit of God witnesses to us for our assurance. As children, we are heirs of God jointly with Christ, and we along with all creation will be delivered from the bondage to corruption into the fullness of everlasting life. This is our sure expectation, not just wishful thinking, because God Who knew from the beginning all that would happen, made provision from the beginning, and purposed from the beginning that He would re-establish the image of God in those whom He knew would receive His atonement, ensuring His purpose through the calling of those who would repent in faith, justifying to free from the penalty of sin, and glorifying to bring about the fullness both of the restoration of the creation and the restoration of the image of God.

God has done all this for His saints, for His church, His bride. If God, against Whom every one of us has sinned, gave Himself with such freedom and liberality for the sake of all who would receive Him, who in all creation could possibly be against us? And if any in creation are against us, why would we care, if God is for us? God, the triune Creator of all that is, Who know all that can be known throughout all eternity, Who possess the power to create and destroy, to cover and reveal, to cause life and to prevent it, is that same God Who has extended Themselves in ‘condescension’, not only to created humanity, but to sinful created humanity, in love and grace to cover our sins and enable us to be redeemed – literally bought back – from condemnation and death. This God has provided our redemption free of cost to us, at His sole expense, requiring only that we turn from sin to God, believe and receive Him. He demands no further payment by us, no ‘balance due’ that we must render prior to receiving the benefit offered.

If this God, Who have done all this for Their saints, is for us, as They most clearly have done, then what opposition can we possibly have, and even if we do have thousands of enemies – and we know we shall have many earthly foes – what do a thousand enemies mean compared to God being on our side? And if God is for us, how then shall we live? In fear of man? In fear of suffering? In fear of loss, or struggle, or pain? In fear of kings, or soldiers, or laws, or demons? What can of these do against us when God is for us?

32    Surely Who spared not His own Son, but for us all gave Him up, how shall He not also, together with Him, the all to us graciously grant?

ος γε του ιδιου υιου ουκ εφεισατο αλλ υπερ ημων παντων παρεδωκεν αυτον πως ουχι και συν αυτω τα παντα ημιν χαρισεται

The Father offered His most precious; His Beloved [45], surrendering Him to all the pain, the shame, and to death, for our sake. His perfect Son. The Son Whom He loved, Who is the expression of the Father to the human race,[46] God the Father received as the offering, the sacrifice given to pay the penalty for our sins, to cover the debt of every man who would receive Him. God the Father did not hesitate, nor relent at the last minute to spare His Son Jesus the suffering of all that His atonement would entail in order to provide men with the opportunity and ability to be forgiven of sin and raised from the dead. [47]

If God did not hesitate at this tremendous sacrifice for the sake of His church, it is inconceivable that He would then fail to also give to us all those things for which He gave His Son for us. Consider what a waste and a travesty it would be for Christ to humble Himself in human flesh, to receive the abuses of His own created men, to be treated as a criminal by those whom He could justly condemn for the same, and to endure an horrible death, only for the Father to withdraw His hand and the benefits He had previously determined to provide to all who are in Christ. If He would relent His decision to grant eternal life and restored image of God, as heirs in the family of God, there would be no point in Christ coming, nor dying. If nothing could be gained, or only a temporal gain achieved, no suffering or dying of the Regent would be necessary. If God was not going to follow through with His original plan for the redemption of humanity, He would never have permitted the death of His Son. To allow the temporal dishonour of His co-Regent while revoking His expressed purpose for having permitted the offense, would be a supreme act of divine dishonour of the second person of the godhead by the first. God is righteous, just, and pure; such frivolous subjection of Christ to disgrace without purpose would violate the very character and nature of the Father. Thus it could never be; and we can be completely assured that what God purposed, God will bring about in His creation.

33    Who shall accuse (call out) against chosen (elekton; adj. pl) of God? God is justifying. (vb pres. part as noun – – justifier)

τις εγκαλεσει κατα εκλεκτων θεου θεος ο δικαιων

If anyone accuses God’s saints, they speak against God’s judgment, because to be a saint of God, by definition means that God has justified us; we are free from accusation, because we have been justly freed.

34    Who is the condemner? Christ, the one Who died; yet rather also is risen, and who is in the right hand of God, and Who intercedes for us.

τις ο κατακρινων χριστος ο αποθανων μαλλον δε και εγερθεις ος και εστιν εν δεξια του θεου ος και εντυγχανει υπερ ημων

God alone has jurisdiction over condemnation, and Christ by His self-sacrifice placed Himself in the seat of judge. Only Christ shall speak condemnation against the guilty, but Christ died for the guilty, covering our sentence. Christ rose again to open the prison door of death. Christ sits “in the right hand of God”, the place of the advocate before the bench, Who then pleads our case against condemnation, standing between us and divine judgement.

The same Christ who has jurisdiction to condemn is the same Christ Who stands in the gap for us, pleading our case to the judge. Christ is judge, but Christ is also defence attorney. How can we lose? Christ would have to deny His own blood, and defeat His own defence! Because of Christ, everyone who is in Christ cannot lose; we cannot suffer condemnation, but as Christ confirmed, we have ‘passed from death to life.”[48]

We should carefully consider Paul’s words in these two verses. Who shall accuse against God’s chosen? God justifies the accused. Who is the one who condemns? Only Christ may condemn, yet He has pleaded our case and set us free.

When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we will not stand there in our own righteousness. All saints, as all other men, have many offenses of which we may be rightly accused before the Father; if it were otherwise, we would have no need of Christ to save us. If the enemy comes against us with accusations of those things which we have done wrong, in the strictest sense, we are guilty. If the list of our wrongs is read out, we will be crushed with shame before the eyes and ears of the sovereign God Who created us. We do not stand before God without fault; He cannot proclaim our praise to the court, and where we may have fooled others here, there will be no hiding what we are really like from whoever is present in the gallery. If we are judged according to our works, we will be found guilty and must be condemned.

But, when we are presented as guilty criminals, filthy with sin before a pure and holy God, the “one Who died; yet rather is also risen” will stand up on our side to present Himself as our ransom. We do not know the relationship between what we experience in time and what God experiences outside of time; what we do know is that Christ has covered our sin by His death on the cross, and when our sins are presented to God for judgment, our sentence has already been served by Christ, Who will declare us ‘bought with the precious blood’ which He shed on our behalf, so that we belong to Him,[49] and therefore we will walk free.

35    What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

τις ημας χωρισει απο της αγαπης του χριστου θλιψις η στενοχωρια η διωγμος η λιμος η γυμνοτης η κινδυνος η μαχαιρα

Some say Paul’s question refers specifically to salvation. Others maintain that it specifically does not refer to salvation. If we avoid the error often committed of separating a sentence from the rest of the passage, and follow from Paul’s previous words, he has spent several paragraphs assuring the saints of our condition before God and our place in God’s household, if we are in Christ and indwelt of the Holy Spirit. If we possess these conditions, then we do not suffer from the alternative condition of being dead because of the flesh. We are sons of God, we have received the spirit of adoption, and we have assurance of the expectation of the fulfilment of God’s redemption at the appointed time, because God purposed what He would do in the lives of those who are saved. The assurance of our condition and position before God has been established beyond doubt in Paul’s previous comments, so when we reach his question, “What shall separate us from the love of Christ”, we must recognize that “we” is limited to those of whom Paul has been speaking, which are the saints of God, whom Paul has already demonstrated to be secure in their salvation. So while Paul did not ask, “What can separate us from the salvation of Christ, “we” who are in Christ are beloved of God and Christ, and that will never change. As God works all to the good of we who love God, called to the purpose of being conformed to the image of His Son, “all things” include the negative things Paul lists: affliction and distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword. God loves us at all times, including when we endure the greatest trials. As Paul already explained, they do not draw us apart, but rather God loves us in them, and works them to our benefit.

Just as God would not surrender His only begotten Son to a criminal’s death for our sins only to refuse to apply His death to our account, or to deny to us the intended benefit of having our sentence served by another – our freedom from that sentence of death – so also, having not spared His Son for our sake, He will not stop loving us. Paul earlier wrote that God commended His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The nature of the love of God is toward the sinful rebel, to the extent of submitting Himself to tremendous loss in order to free us from our own consequences. Such self-sacrificial love, that would surrender Himself to death is not going to disappear, or be withdrawn, or fade away because of the negative effects of living in a sin-damaged world.

The Jew under the Law knew that blessings from God were associated with obedience to the Law, while disobedience would result in increasing struggles and losses.[50] A Jewish Christian might be at risk of wrongly believing that the consequence of having received and trusted his Messiah should be earthly peace and prosperity, as were promised to Israel under the legal covenant given through Moses, and therefore also conclude that as a Christian, if he endured these harsh sufferings, he had not performed sufficient goodness, that God was angry with him, had withdrawn His approval, and no longer loved him. But nothing could be further from the truth; in fact Jesus assured His first disciples that trouble would attend the life of a saint in this world; they could count on it. And they should never be surprised to be rejected by those who also refused Christ; this was not a sign of rejection by God, but a symptom of living in a sin-damaged world and belonging to the true God Whom those who would afflict them had chosen to reject.[51]

36    According as it has been written, ‘On account of You, we are being killed the whole day; we are accounted as sheep of slaughter.’

καθως γεγραπται οτι ενεκα σου θανατουμεθα ολην την ημεραν ελογισθημεν ως προβατα σφαγης

Paul here quotes Psalm 44, in which David proclaims his trust in God rather than human power or implements. The psalm appears to contradict itself, because it changes between vv 8 and 9. In v 9, David laments that God has surrendered “us” to their enemies, and to the the reproach and maltreatment of those around them, even though those to whom the passage refers insist that they have neither forgotten God nor dealt falsely with His covenant. (v 17-8). But Paul’s application of verse 22 indicates that Paul either recognized David’s words as prophetic in regards to the church, or wanted to demonstrate how the situation for the church would compare to that of the Israelites, who were and continue to be hated specifically because they are God’s initial covenant people. Because God called them to and for Himself, they are despised. Because Christ has brought the saints to Himself, we will likewise be hated and persecuted by those who hate Christ.

The Bible abundantly warns Christ’s church that we are liable to be rejected, persecuted, and even killed for the sake of His name. These warnings are written by prophets and apostles – people whom we know were secure in their place in God’s kingdom, and completely embraced by His love – and they were written to ordinary people collected under each of the two covenants, so that all would know and expect that there would be a social price to pay for being faithful to Christ. God didn’t warn us that He would abandon us in this situation; rather He warned us so that we would be prepared in our hearts and minds, and be confident that our position with God was the reason for the hardship. God provided the assurance in advance of the trial, so that those who had trusted would not be susceptible to wrongly believing that the trial was the evidence that God had now rejected them or us.[52]

37  No, in all these we are more than conquering through Him Who loved us.

αλλ εν τουτοις πασιν υπερνικωμεν δια του αγαπησαντος ημας

No! Paul emphatically denies the loss of God’s love, no matter what life may bring to us. We are more than conquering. How does one ‘more than conquer’? To conquer is to overcome an adversary, or to have victory over some challenge. In Christ, we are not simply victorious over the problems and struggles that attend life in the natural world; we have defeated the eternal spiritual “problem” of condemnation for sin, and everlasting exile from God’s kingdom. We have not only won a battle; we have gained eternity with God and Christ.

38    For I have been persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come (lit: expected; pending),

πεπεισμαι γαρ οτι ουτε θανατος ουτε ζωη ουτε αγγελοι ουτε αρχαι ουτε δυναμεις ουτε ενεστωτα ουτε μελλοντα

Paul is persuaded that nothing material or immaterial, past, present, or future, has the power to come between the saints of Christ and the love of our God. While Paul’s phrasing presents a subjective assessment, it is not taking liberty to suggest that, as the apostle from whom we have received the greatest portion of written record, and the greatest exposure to Christian doctrine, that if Paul is ‘persuaded’ of something pertaining to the relationship of the saint to our God, there is good reason to receive Paul’s belief as correct and reliable.

Death cannot separate us from God’s love; death is inevitable, and the power of death is what Christ came to defeat. Our bodies will die, but we will be raised again just as Christ was raised; death does not separate us from God’s love. In fact, we could argue that it releases us to the greater experience of that love when we find ourselves in God’s heaven and enjoying everlasting life in His grace.

We are not separated from the love of God by remaining on the earth in our ‘tent’ of flesh. We cannot see God, but He is with us always[53]; He continues to keep us, teach us, and lead us by His Holy Spirit while we are “absent from the Lord”.

There is no spiritual power greater than God. There is no material power greater than God. If God has promised to love those who love Christ, [54] there is nothing the devil, the government, our enemies, or anyone else can do to come between us. As Paul emphasized, if God did not spare His only-begotten Son, but offered Him up to die for our sins while we were guilty, God’s promise to love all who love Christ, and to remain with all who love Christ is founded on that same great love that gave Christ for our sins.

Nothing that is, and nothing that may yet be, can come between us and the Lord Who bought us, the Spirit Who indwells us, or the Father Who provided us with His grace.

39    Nor height, nor depth, nor any other (lit: different) creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ουτε υψωμα ουτε βαθος ουτε τις κτισις ετερα δυνησεται ημας χωρισαι απο της αγαπης του θεου της

A “creature” is a created thing. Every created thing is subject to God. As Paul proclaimed, if God is for us, who can be against us? If God is faithful, and will not abandon His children or go back on His word, there is nothing else in the universe with the power to come between us and our God. Nothing is greater than God, therefore nothing can interfere with God, nor thwart anything God establishes or does. As Paul wrote in another letter, “I know Whom I have believed, and have been persuaded that He is able to keep (guard) that which I have committed to Him against that day.”[55]

“that which I have committed” à 3866  paratheken  (n) – what I have given over or laid down to Him

Paul was not concerned with his physical well-being, and he was not referring either in this part of his letter to the Romans, nor in his letter to Timothy, to Christ’s guarding of Paul’s physical body. While Paul did certainly entrust his physical welfare to God, his hope was not in the temporal things of the flesh, including physical wellness or comfort, but in the spiritual things of eternity: everlasting life. Paul knew that his life in Christ was not maintained by Paul; rather he had entrusted his soul to the Saviour Who died for him, and was completely confident in the ability of his Saviour to protect Paul’s eternal life until the day when he would come to the full realization of everything that eternal life will mean for each believer.

[1] 2 Timothy 1:12

[2] Acts 8:15; Acts 10:45; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Luke 11:13; Eph 1:13, 4:30

[3] 1 Corinthians 10:13

[4] Romans 8:14

[5] 1 Peter 1:18-23

[6] 1 John 1:7

[7] 1 John 2:1; Zechariah 13:1; Eph 1:7

[8] John 1:12

[9] 1 John 3:6; 5:18

[10] Matthew 11:23, 21:21; Romans 4:20; James 1:6-8

[11] Isaiah 29:13; cf Matthew 15:8

[12] Psalm 40:6; 1 Samuel 15-22; Jeremiah 7:21-22; Hosea 6:6

[13] John 17:21-23

[14] Deut 5:

[15] Ephesians 5:15-33

[16] Ephesians 1:13

[17] John 14:16

[18] Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Corinthians 13:5

[19] 1 Cor 6:19-20;

[20] 1 Peter 1:18-19; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:14

[21] 2 Cor 5:7-8

[22] Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8

[23] Philippians 3:21; 1 Cor 15

[24] 1 John 3:2

[25] John 12:32

[26] 1 Corinthians 10:13

[27] 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21

[28] 1 Cor 6:9-10;15:50; Galatians 5:21 – these verses tell who shall not inherit the kingdom of God, but the reason and context of Paul’s words in each require that someone does inherit the kingdom, described by characteristics contrasted to those who he says do not do so. Because his audience in Galatians is Gentile, and most of the Corinthian audience is likewise Gentile, we can be certain that Jesus words in Matthew 25:34, while spoken to a Jewish audience, do not limit the kingdom to Jews.

[29] 1 Peter 3:18

[30] Genesis 3:17

[31] 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13, 4:30

[32] John 7:38-39; Acts 2:38, 10:45; Hebrews 6:4; 1 John 4:13

[33] Philippians 3:21; 1 Cor 15:49; 1 John 3:2

[34] 1 Cor 5:8

[35] Revelation 21:27

[36] John 16:14

[37] John 16:13, 15; 17:8; 12:49-50

[38] Hebrews 4:12; Heb 4:13S

[39] 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9

[40] 1 Tim 4:10 – bearing in mind that there is one Saviour and no other; no man is saved by any other than Jesus Christ cf. Acts 4:12

[41] Titus 2:11

[42] John 1:9

[43] John 16:8

[44] Jeremiah 29:13; Isaiah 55:6; Amos 5:4-6; Zephaniah 2:3; Luke 11:10; Psalm 119:2;

[45] Isaiah 5:1; Matthew 3:17

[46] Matthew 11:27; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3

[47] Matthew 26:53

[48] John 5:24

[49] 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Cor 6:19-20

[50] Leviticus 26; Deut 28; Malachi 2:2

[51] John 15:18; 1 John 3:13; John 16:33

[52] Matthew 24:25

[53] Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:15

[54] John 14:23

[55] 2 Timothy 1:12