First rebuttal argument, 6:1-8:39

4. Freedom in the Spirit, 8:1-39

Excursus: a) The hope of future glory


In developing the fourth part of his first rebuttal argument against the nomist critique, Paul digresses by explaining, in more detail, the glory that comes through suffering, v17. The justified believer, no longer facing condemnation, defeat or separation from God, will be plagued with sin and the troubles of this world, as they press toward the full appropriation of the covenant privileges promised the true people of God. Yet, "all things work together for good for those who love God", so suffering inevitably leads to glory.


i] Context: See 8:1-17. Verses 18-30 serve as a digressio (digression, excursus) of Paul's fourth refutio (rebuttal argument) against the nomist critique of his thesis.

Dumbrell is not alone when he suggests that the passage "provides the consummation of Romans 1-8. We are introduced by its contents to the great goal of biblical salvation and to the total significance of the advent of the reign of God, the content of the gospel."

Yet, although Paul weighs into his subject with majestic prose, it is best that we view this passage as a digression / excursus - the development of a particular thought raised in his fourth rebuttal argument against the nomist critique, 8:1-17. Fitzmyer nicely identifies this structural move: "Paul has terminated his description of the new Christian life empowered by the Spirit. Now he calls upon three things to assure the Christian that what he has just described is indeed a reality. Three things bear testimony to this new existence: the groaning of material subhuman creation in travail, v18-23, the hope that Christians have, v24-25, and the Spirit itself, v26-27/30." Paul concludes his argument with a hymnic / poetic passage about the love of God realised in the person of Jesus Christ, v31-39.


ii] Background: The Nomist heresy 1:8-15.


iii] Structure: Suffering furthers hope instead of suppressing it:

Proposition: Troubles lift us up where we belong, v18:


The groan of creation, v19-22:

It shares in our hope, v19;

It yearns for freedom, v20-22.

The groan of mankind / believers, v23-24.

We yearn, having tasted the first-fruits, v23;

We yearn because hope is not yet, v24.

Exhortation: Wait patiently, v25.

The groan of the Spirit, v26-27;

The Spirit aids us and interceding on our behalf.

Assurance in the face of trouble, v28-30;

"In all things God works for the good of those who love him."


iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.


v] Interpretation:

Haldane says of this chapter, it "presents a glorious display of the power of Divine grace, and of the provision which God has made for the consolation of His people." Paul moves, in v18-30, to compare the present existence of believers with the future glory that awaits. There is difficulty in the present, but this cannot be compared with the coming glory, v18. The whole of God's creation groans as it awaits that glorious day when the sons of God begin their rule with Christ, v19-22. Along with creation, believers groan, yearning for that day of glory, v23-25. Even the Spirit groans as he empathises with us in our struggle, v26-27. Yet, through all the troubles of life, God's purposes are none-the-less being worked out for those who have put their trust in him. "No matter what the circumstances, that purpose will not be overthrown, and it culminates in final glory", Morris, v28-30.


The sovereign will of God in election: Some argue that in v28-30 Paul teaches "the effectual call" - the second point of Calvinism, resolved at the Synod of Dort in 1619, namely, God's choice of certain individuals for salvation before the foundation of the world).

I would argue that within the wider context, especially chapters 9-11, we see that Paul is not arguing for the divine choice of individuals for salvation, but rather the sovereign choice of a righteous line who obtain a righteousness that comes from God out of faith and who thus, stand approved before God, sharing in the blessings of his glory. This righteous line, this "remnant chosen by grace", is an inclusive people united to the messiah. Christ himself is the faithful child of God, the righteous one; he is Israel, the people of God; he is God's faithful remnant. In Christ, this remnant, this righteous line, is broadened to include those who stand with Abraham, and like him, rest in faith on the faithfulness of God. Through faith, Israel stands as God's "elect" "remnant", and through faith we Gentiles, the "wild olive shoot", are grafted into the remnant of Israel. This is a product of "God's mercy", of his grace, appropriated through faith.

Entry into the called-out chosen people of God, the remnant, the new Israel, is not a matter of God's sovereign selection of individuals for salvation, but rather a response of faith in the faith / faithfulness (the atonement) of Christ, a response to an invitation. "It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved", Rom.10:10.

This issue is anything but settled, and I can give personal testimony to this fact, given the so many stimulating debates I have had with reformed brothers and sisters - most of whom are now in glory. I look forward to resuming the debate, or should I say, having it settled!


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes for 8:18-25, 26-27, 28-30.

Text - 8:18

God's "redemptive purpose in the travail of history", Hunter, v18-30. i] Introduction - Suffering on the path to glory, v18. Paul expands the idea of suffering touched on in v17, by noting that the present sufferings of God's people can in no way compare with the wonders that we are destined to experience in the day of Christ's return.

gar "-" - for. Possibly transitional, here introducing a theological declaration (TH) and therefore setting up a new paragraph, but more likely expressing reason, introducing a logical connection to v17, "for", REB. The conjunction gar, "for", is repeated in the following verses to establish logical steps in the argument.

logizomai pres. "I consider" - I think, calculate, reckon. Underlining "strong assurance and not doubt", TH.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul considers to be true.

tou nun kairou gen. "present [sufferings]" - [the sufferings] of the present time. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "sufferings", "the sufferings which we are presently experiencing", although Harvey suggests that it is verbal, subjective. "Present age", rather than "present moment", Morris.

axia adj. "worth" - [are not] worthy ...... balance, offset. Predicate adjective.

proV + acc. "comparing with" - toward = to be compared with. A rare use of this preposition, "in comparison with", BDF, although as a comparative, the preposition is usually followed by a genitive.

mellousan (mellw) pres. part. "that will ....." - the coming, being about, inevitable [glory]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting glory; "for I think that the sufferings of the present time in no way offset (lit. balance) the coming glory which is destined to be revealed in us."

apokalufqhnai (apokaluptw) aor. pas. inf. "to be revealed" - to be revealed. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the participle "being about", although Harvey suggests that it is epexegetical.

eiV hJmaV "in us" - to, toward us. The RV, "to us-ward", gives the usual directional sense of the preposition, possibly local, as NIV, "in us", Cranfield, even "bestowed upon us", Schreiner, but probably better expressing purpose / end-view, "for us"", REB. Indicating who will be transformed, but possibly something more, in the sense of transformed both outwardly and inwardly.


ii] The groan of creation, v19-22. "Paul holds here to the Jewish belief that there was a very close connection between the fate of man and the fate of the created universe", Best. The creation suffers due to human sin, but at the same time, will be set free from its burdens when humanity is set free.

gar "for" - As noted above, here used to establish logical steps in the argument.

thV kristewV (iV ewV) gen. "the creation" - [the anxious desire] of creation [awaits the unveiling of the sons of god]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive / verbal, subjective. The word is used of humans, sub-humans, nature, inc. heavenly powers, angels... The creation possesses a bias toward the culmination of all things, but is it the whole of creation, or just nature?

hJ .. apokaradokia (a) "waits [in eager expectation]" - the anxious desire. Paul is saying that nature / creation possesses an innate desire in its makeup, a kind of bias. This desire, or bias, apekdecetai, "entails an eager looking forward to, an expectant waiting for" ("on tiptoe", Phillips) the unveiling of the sons of God.

twn uiJwn (oV) gen. "of the sons [of God]" - The genitive is usually classified as verbal, objective, but adjectival, epexegetic, limiting "the unveiling" by making it more specific is possible. The genitive tou qeou, "of God", is adjectival, relational / possessive. Although already God's children, believers have yet to experience what this means. At the moment, it is by faith, not by sight.

thn apokaluyin (iV ewV) "to be revealed" - the unveiling. Durative present tense. Probably referring to the coming of Christ, and the resurrection and reign of believers in Christ. "It (creation / nature) is waiting for the sons of God to be manifested", Cassirer; "the day when God will show the world who his sons are", Barclay.


At present, the totality of God's creation is devastated, divided, broken, frustrated and groaning - the collateral damage caused by human sin. Like humanity, the creation yearns to be set free from the curse of sin, v20-21.

gar "for" - for. More reason than cause, as NIV, establishing a logical step; see v19. "The creation was subject to futility ....."

uJpatagh (uJpatassw) aor. pas. "was subjected" - [the creation] was subjected. Aorist possibly indicating a single act (constative), eg. the fall; the passive is usually viewed as divine / theological.

th/ mataiothti (hV htoV) dat. "to frustration" - to vanity, aimlessness, futility, the absurdity of things Ref. Ecc. Dative of manner. Possibly also "ineffective". Nature was rendered ineffective because sinful humanity used its God-given freedom irrationally. The natural order no longer functions as designed.

ouc ekousa adv. "not by its own choice" - not willingly. Instrumental adverbial phrase expressing means, or possibly manner; "not by an act of its own will."

alla "but" - but. Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ..., but ....", as NIV.

dia + acc. "by" - because of, on account of. Here used "to denote the efficient cause" BAGD. God so designed the creation that sin would have its proper consequences, namely, the destruction of order and balance in the creation.

ton uJpataxanta (uJpatassw) aor. part. "the one who subjected it" - the one having subjected it. The participle serves as a substantive. The agent is possibly Satan, or even Adam, but it is more likely God, "God made it this way", CEV.

ef (epi) + dat. "in" - upon. Spatial, as NIV, possibly causal, "because of", or better establishing basis / ground, "on the basis of"; "the creation / nature was subjected to frustration ..... on the basis of hope" = "the whole creation was involved in a meaningless frustration ....... but the situation was never hopeless", Barclay.

elpida (iV idoV) "hope" - hope. It is an interesting notion that creation has a future hope, ie. shares in eternity with us, finds its ultimate purpose in eternity.


"The glorious freedom of the children of God" is the ultimate consequence of this subjection, and somehow it will include the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Their eternal purpose will be fulfilled on that glorious day.

dioti "-" - wherefore. Variant reading. Drawing a logical conclusion.

oJti "that" - a hope that. Here introducing an epexegetic noun clause explaining the "hope", rather than a causal clause, "because".

kai "-" - and = even. Either adjunctive here, "such that also the creation ...", or ascensive, "even".

eleuqerwqhsetai (eleuqerow) fut. pas. "will be liberated" - [the creation itself] will be freed, set free, liberated, released. Predictive future; divine / theological passive. The future tense indicates that the "glorious freedom" is in the future - probably the day of glory. Again, indicating that nature will be transformed in that day, rather than destroyed.

apo + gen. "from" - from. Expressing separation; "away from."

thV fqoraV (a) gen. "[bondage] to decay" - [the slavery] of the corruption, decay. The genitive is adjectival, usually classified as verbal, objective, "slavery to corruption", Moule, but it can be viewed as epexegetic / appositional, specifying / explaining the bondage / slavery, "corruption which is slavery", so Harvey, even attributive, "corrupting slavery", Turner; it is a slavery which entails corruption and decay, just as "freedom" entails "glory"; "servitude to death's decay", Barclay; "shackles of mortality", NEB.

eiV "brought into" - into, to = for. Expressing goal / end-view. The preposition is rendered as a verb in the NIV. Note also, "enjoy", JB; "will obtain", NRSV.

thV doxhV (a) gen. "the glorious [freedom] / the freedom and glory" - [the freedom] of the glory. The NIV, following the AV, which follows Luther, takes the genitive as attributive, so also Wallace, while the TNIV assumes that "freedom" brings with it the associate quality of "glory"; "freedom and glory", JB; "liberty and splendour", NEB. Possibly verbal, subjective, but it seems more appropriate to treat the genitive as epexegetic / appositional, as above; "and to obtain that liberty which amounts to the glory that belongs to the children of God."

twn teknwn (on) gen. "of the children" - of the children. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - of god. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


Paul summarises the argument so far: the whole creation is in travail awaiting its redemption; it strains toward eternity. Childbirth is an appropriate image of this straining, since the outcome is glorious. Paul will go on in the following verses to speak about the groaning of the children of God. The natural order strains toward eternity, but so do believers.

oJti "that" - [for we know] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "we know."

pasa "whole [creation]" - all [the creation]. "We know", ie., all observant humans can acknowledge that "the totality of" creation is out of whack.

sustenazei (sustenazw) pres. "has been groaning" - groans together. Durative present. The creation has been groaning and travailing together in one accord - all in a mess together, "the entire creation sighs and throbs in pain", Moffatt.

sunwdinei (sunwdinw) pres. "in the pains of childbirth" - [and] travails in pain together. Durative present. The root verb is "suffer birth-pangs", the prefix "with" may be rendered "in all its part [groans as if in the pangs of childbirth]", NEB. The "groaning" is given a positive spin (the ultimate end is positive) with the use of this verb.

arci + gen. "up to" - until. Temporal; expressing a period of time up to a certain point.

tou nun "the present time" - the now = the present. The genitive article tou serves as a nominalizer turning the adverb "now" into a substantive, "the present." "Until this very hour", Cassirer.


iii] The groan of believers, v23-25. It is not just the creation / nature that groans, but believers also groan, groan inwardly. There is a deep throb within each one of us, yearning to be set free from the limitations of our mortality. We groan, even though "we have received in the Spirit a foretaste of what the new life will be like." The gentle touch of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus is like a down-payment of the glory to come. So, the Spirit "assures" us that we belong to God. Although we are already "sons of God", we look to the public proclaiming of this fact made evident in the resurrection of our bodies from the grave.

ou monon de "not only so" - and not only [but also]. The conjunction de indicates the next step in the argument, and with ou monon gives the sense "moreover"; "and not only creation groans, (alla kai) but also ourselves ......., we also ourselves in ourselves groan ...." This construction autoi, "ourselves" (intensive pronoun) followed by hJmeiV kai autoi en eJautoiV "we also ourselves in ourselves" is an emphatic construction. "This is not only true of the created universe. We too, ......... groan inwardly", Barclay.

econteV (ecw) pres. part. "who have" - [ourselves] having. The participle is adjectival, attributive, introducing an attributive modifier limiting "ourselves", but adverbial, concessive is possible, so Kasemann. "We ourselves who have the Spirit as a foretaste of the future", Moffatt.

thn aparchn (h) "first-fruits" - the first-fruits. Direct object of the participle "having". The first picking of the harvest which serves to guarantee the quality and quantity of the harvest; "birth-certificate", BDAG.

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) "of the Spirit" - of the spirit. The genitive is adjectival, not partitive, but rather epexegetic, limiting " by specifying "the first-fruits"; this first fruit of the harvest amounts to the gift of the Holy Spirt, a foretaste, a down-payment of what is to come; "the Spirit is given as first-fruits", REB; "The Spirit as the first of God's gifts", TEV; "We have received in the Spirit a foretaste of what the new life will be like", Barclay.

en eJautoiV "inwardly" - [we also] in ourselves [we groan, sigh, travail]. The preposition en is adverbial forming an adverbial phrase of manner, modifying the verb "groan". "Within" [inwardly] is better than "among" the Christian fellowship.

apekdecomenoi (apekdecomai) pres. part. "as we wait eagerly for" - eagerly waiting, expecting [adoption, sonship]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV. "While we look forward eagerly to our adoption", REB.

thn apolutrwsin (iV) "the redemption" - the deliverance, release, redemption. Standing in apposition to "adoption". Probably in the sense of the resurrection of the body.

tou swmatoV (a atoV) gen. "of [our] bodies" - of the body [of us]. The genitive is usually classified as verbal, objective, but adjectival, attributive, limiting "redemption" may be better; "our bodily redemption", Berkeley, ie., "our resurrection."


This verse is somewhat confused by the compacting of "hope". Phillips unpacks it well, partly by turning the rhetorical question into an exhortation; "let us remember that hope always means waiting for something that we do not yet possess." It is resurrection-hope that saves us. We have put our trust in the risen Christ as the one who will raise us to life in the last day, who will gain acceptance for us in the sight of God and so assure our place in the eternal realms. The phrase "in this hope we were saved", is best translated "we are saved by hope." Our salvation is a present fact based on our reliance upon a past event and a future promise. This future promise is the hope we look toward.

th/ ... elpidi (iV idoV) "in [this] hope" - [for] with / in [this] hope. Most regard the dative as locative, "in", but an instrumental sense, "by", seems more acceptable, given that the word "hope" is close to "faith". Our hope (faith) in the promise of eternity in the future through the saving work of Christ in the past, saves us now. "by hope", or a softer, "with this hope ahead", Moffatt.

eswqhmen (swzw) aor. pas. "we were saved" - we were saved. The constative aorist underlines a single act of saving, but not necessarily past tense, so possibly a dramatic aorist; "we are saved", JB note.

blepomenh (blepw) pres. mid./pas. part. "that is seen" - [but/and hope] being seen [is not hope]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "hope"; "hope which is seen", as NIV.

gar "for" - for [what anyone sees, why hope for it]. More reason than cause, explanatory; as a rhetorical question explaining the statement "hope that is seen is not hope." "Who hopes for what he sees?", ESV.


For the present, we look forward to eternity, and we groan as we await that day. Given that our hope is still future, the only proper response is to wait with perseverance for its realisation.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a contrasting point.

ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case, [what we do not see we hope through patience (patiently), then we eagerly expect it]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the proposed condition is assumed to be true. The sense of the conditional clause rests on v24 where Paul points out, with regard to our hope of salvation, "hope that is seen is no hope at all." Now he makes the point that "if we hope for something we cannot see (namely, salvation - such an action is the substance of hoping), then we must settle down and wait for it with patience", Phillips.

di uJpomonhV (h hV) gen. "patiently" - through patience, patient endurance = patiently. The prepositional phrase, di + the genitive noun "patience", is adverbial, modal, expressing, manner, "patiently". The word takes the sense of: a capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances*. "Perseverance", NASB. We wait expectantly for our hope to be realised. "When we hope for something we cannot see, then we must persevere with our hope." The Christian life requires fortitude.


iv] The groan of the Spirit in prayer, v26-27. The believer, caught up in the groaning of creation with all the frustrations and limitations of life, forced to wait patiently for the day of salvation, is not left alone. Those in Christ have received the Spirit and he assists us in our weakness. The groaning (longing expectation, yearning) of the Spirit has often been interpreted as a reference to speaking in tongues, cf., Kasemann. This is very unlikely. It is the Spirit who groans, groans because he knows our heart (v27), is aware of our weakness, our failings, our total inability to eradicate indwelling sin. In the face of our weakness, our troubles, unable to express our corruption, the Spirit, our advocate, pleads on our behalf, making the stuff of our life his own and bringing our brokenness before the throne of grace.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, introducing the next step in the argument.

wJsautwV adv. "in the same way" - likewise. Comparative; establishing a correspondence with what precedes. "Just as we wait out the time in brave, patient perseverance, so the Spirit helps our infirmity", Lenski.

kai "-" - and = also. Adjunctive, "also"; "in like manner also."

sunantilambanetai (sunantilambanomai) pres. "helps" - [the spirit] assists, helps. Durative present. A complex compound word: "The Holy Spirit lays hold of our weakness along with (sun) us and carries his part of the burden facing us (anti) as if two men were carrying a log, one at each end", Robertson.

th/ asqeneia/ (a) dat. "in [our] weakness" - the weakness [of us]. Dative of direct object after a sun prefix verb. Some argue that "weakness" refers to a shallow prayer life, so Dodd, but the word often takes an ethical sense. Possibly just human frailty. "Joins us in our struggle against our weakness", Junkins.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the Spirit helps us in our weakness; "because we do not know ...."

to "-" - the. The article functions as a nominalizer, turning the interrogative clause introduced by tiv, "what", into a noun clause, object of "we don't know." Cf., Wallace 237.

tiv "what" - what [we should pray]. Interrogative; "what to pray", not "how to pray", cf., NJB, Sanday and Headlam. The issue is over content, not method; "what to pray for." The subjunctive of the verb "to pray" is deliberative.

kaqo dei "we ought" - as is necessary [we do not know]. The adverb kaqo here expresses kind / manner (standard, Moule), "as", "as is fitting / as one should", BAGD; "according to what is necessary", Chamberlain. The what is necessary is obviously "God's will", v27, a prayer that aligns with divine truth.

alla "but" - but. Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, establishing a comparison between what we are unable to do, and what the Spirit is able to do.

to pneuma (a atoV) "the Spirit" - the spirit [itself / himself]. Obviously the Holy Spirit, but some argue for the human spirit.

uJperentugcanei (uJperentugcanw) pres. "intercedes" - intercedes on behalf of us. A strong word for pleading the cause of another.

stenagmoiV (oV) dat. "with groans [that words cannot express]" - with [unexpressed] groanings. The dative is adverbial, probably instrumental, expressing means, but manner is possible. The "groaning" is difficult to pin down as the adjective alalhtoiV is a hapax legomenon, once only use in NT. Either "unspoken", or "inexpressible / unutterable", Denney, so "sighs too deep for words", BAGD. The NIV takes the line that the Spirit's groanings are "ineffable" to us, "sighs too deep for words", Berkeley, but it is reasonable to hold that they are "unspoken" in that the Spirit does not need to utter them to the Father, since the Father knows the mind of the Spirit, v27.


de "and" - but/and. Transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument, here to a contrasting point; we don't know our own mind, let alone the mind of God, but God knows our mind and the mind of the Spirit who speaks for us, cf., Godet.

oJ eraunwn (eraunaw) pres. part. "he who searches" - the one searching [the = our hearts]. The participle serves as a substantive; "the searcher of hearts", Cassirer.

oiden (oida) perf. "knows" - knows. A dramatic perfect tense treated as a present tense.

tiv "-" - what is in. Interrogative pronoun introducing an indirect question; "All our thoughts are known to God", CEV.

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "of the Spirit" - [the mind] of the spirit. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, so Moo, but possibly verbal, subjective, "how the Spirit thinks", CEV. As noted above, the human spirit may be intended, but it is more likely the Holy Spirit.

oJti "because" - that / because [according to god]. Possibly introducing a causal clause, "because", as NIV, but also possibly introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what God knows; "knows that the Spirit intercedes." "God knows the intention of the Spirit is to intercede for us in accordance with the divine will", Black.

entugcanei (entugcanw) pres. " intercedes" - the spirit pleads, intercedes. Durative present. "The Spirit pleads", Barclay.

uJper + gen. "for" - for, on behalf of / concerning, about. Expressing representation / advantage, benefit = "on behalf of / for the sake of"

aJgiwn (oV) "the saints" - saints. There is no article, so the prayer is for believers rather than the church. "He intercedes on behalf of those consecrated to God", Cassirer.

kata + acc. "in accordance with" - according to [god]. Expressing a standard; as aligned to the divine standard; "because he pleads for God's people in God's own way", NEB.


v] Ultimate assurance in the face of trouble, v28-30. Irrespective of all the difficulties faced in life "the Christian will receive the splendour, as yet unrevealed, but in store for him", Best. This rests, not on a believer's actions, but on the divine will and purpose, realised in Christ, cf., v29-30. Nothing can harm, in a spiritual sense, those who really love God. Rather, our spiritual struggle, in the midst of life's vagaries, helps us to move toward the greater good of our salvation.

de "and" - but/and. Transitional, indicating the next logical step in the argument, as Lenski puts it, "another mighty comfort."

oJti "that" - [we know] that [to the one's loving god, all things he works together for good to the ones being called accord to his purpose]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "we know."

panta (paV pasa pan) "in all things" - everything. The NIV has taken this adjective as an accusative of respect; "with respect to everything ....." It has then read the variant nominative oJ qeoV, "God", as the singular subject of the verb sunergei; "with respect to everything, God works together for the good of ....." The RSV follows this reading, "in everything God works for good ...", but the NRSV returns to the more traditional reading, "all things work together for good ...", AV. This traditional reading makes more sense, but "all things / everything" is plural, while the verb "work together" is singular. Of course, the adjective "everything" can be viewed as a collective noun. The "all things" most likely refers to the "present sufferings" of v18, which are more likely the "groan inwardly" sort of sufferings, rather than outward persecution.

oJ qeoV (oV) "God" - god. Variant reading, probably added to provide the singular verb sunergei, "work together", with a singular subject. The neuter panta, "all things", would seem the more logical subject. It can be either accusative or nominative, but is plural. None-the-less, the favoured translation is "all things work together for good ....."

sunergei (sunergew) pres. "works" - works together with, assist one another. Assist, help or profit, may be closer to the mark. Paul's point then is that "all things", in the sense of the struggles of our Christian walk, are profitable for those who love God.

eiV + acc. "for" - to = for. Here in the sense of advantageous, beneficial, or purpose, "contribute toward", Dunn. The inward struggle over indwelling sin, doubts, fears, .... is beneficial when it serves to prepare us, strengthen us..... for eternity. So, the good is not worldly welfare, but rather ultimate salvation and all that this entails.

agaqon adj. "the good" - good. The adjective serves as substantive with the sense "the benefit / advantage."

toiV agapwsin (agapaw) dat. part. "those who love him" - to the ones loving [god]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of interest, advantage, the present tense being gnomic; "for those who love God." The dative phrase "to the ones loving God" is emphatic by position. Here lit. "the loving ones", those who love God. Calvin says that such love includes the whole of true religion, but it probably means trust in God, relying on him, accepting his promises.

toiV ...... ou\sin dat. pres. part. "who have been" - to the ones being. The dative nominalizer toiV with the dative participle and the prepositional phrase "according to his purpose", introduces a nominal phrase standing in apposition to "the ones who love God"; "those who love God, namely, those who have been called according to his purpose."

klhtoiV adj. "who have been called" - called, invited, summoned. Reformed believers argue for an effectual call of individuals. Yet, it is likely that God's effectual call (a setting apart, an election) is of a people to be with him for eternity, rather than of individuals. This called-out people, this "chosen nation", this new "Israel", this "elect", is made up of those who freely respond in faith to the offer of God's grace in the gospel. By identification with Christ, the elect son of God, they become God's elect.

kata + acc. "according to" - according to. Expressing a standard; "in accordance with, corresponding to", but possibly here with the sense "as a result of his intended purpose."

proqesin (iV ewV) "his purpose" - his plan, intention, purpose, setting forth. Here, the intention / purpose may be God's, but it can also be ours. That human intention prompts inclusion in God's saving invitation, is an interpretation with a long history, but was opposed by Augustine and later by those of a reformed persuasion. Interestingly, Augustine later argued that God's sovereign choice of the elect was controlled by a foreknowledge of a person's spiritual intentions. This is a two-way-bet and not a sound argument. Better to view the elect as a people incorporated with the one obedient son of God, namely, Jesus. They are incorporated by way of their intentions - a hearing and accepting of the gospel - an incorporation by way of God's sovereign will.


The road to glory, v29-30. These two verses support the contention of v28. They outline five steps in God's purpose to conform his people into the image of Jesus.

oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why it is that everything works together for good for those who love God, those who are called.

ouJV pro. "those" - whom. Direct object of the verb "to know ahead of time." It is not "what" he foreordained, but rather persons.

proegnw (proegnwskw) aor. "foreknew" - he foreknew. Gen.18:19, Jer.1:5, Amos.3:2. God's special knowledge of his people that proceeds even the creation of the world. cf. Eph.1:4, 2Tim.1:9.

prowrisen (proorizw) aor. ind. act. "he [also] predestined" - he [kai, and = also] predestined, foreordained, decided beforehand. To mark, limit or define something beforehand. This aorist verb expresses a completed act. It amounts to God's gracious decision, on behalf of the elect, to achieve a predetermined goal.

summorfouV adj. + gen. "to be conformed to" - to share the form. Accusative complement of the accusative direct object ouJV, "those", standing in a double accusative construction and stating a fact about "those". The word expresses a substantial, rather than superficial, conformity to something. Here followed by a genitive, but sometimes a dative. In relation to the noun "image", this adjective is predicative, taking the 1st. position, asserting a fact about the noun "image"; "conformed to the image" = "formed according to the likeness", Zerwick. "He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son", Peterson, "to become like the pattern of his Son", Barclay. Jesus is the image of God and it was the original purpose of God that we should be conformed to that image / form - take on divinity / sonship: For the present, suffering and obedience, through the power of the indwelling Spirit, furthers sanctification (conformity toward Christ-likeness in this ag). The final glorification at the resurrection fully realises that conformity.

thV eikonoV (wn onoV) gen. "the image" - of the image, likeness. Genitive after the sun prefix adjective "share the form / likeness with" / genitive of comparison.

tou uiJou (oV) gen. "of [his] Son" - of the son [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive / relational.

eiV to + inf. "that [he might be]" - to the [him to be]. This construction introduces a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that he might be."

prwtotokon adj. "the firstborn" - the privileged one who is greatly loved. Predicate accusative. It is God's purpose, in foreordaining his elect to be conformed into the image of his Son, that Christ might not be alone in the privileges of Sonship, but that such privileges might be shared by a great multitude of brothers and sisters.

en + dat. "among [many brothers and sisters]" - in = among [many brothers]. Expressing space / sphere, here distributive; "among".


ou}V ...... toutouV kai "those ...... he also ..." - [but/and] those who [he predestines] these and = also. The use of the relative pronoun ou}V, "whom", and its antecedent the demonstrative pronoun toutouV, "these", is an emphatic construction, so emphasising the recipients of God's blessings.

ekalesen (kalew) aor. "called" - he summoned, invited. The forming, or gathering together, of the righteous remnant in Christ by means of an open invitation. See Interpretation above for a reformed perspective.

edikaiwsen (dikaiow) aor. "justified" - [and whom he invited these also] he set / judged right in the sight of god. "Judged right" is preferred by some, although "set right" is to be preferred in that what God declares so is so. Justification involves a divine act of grace whereby the elect are set right with God, which state prompts a "being what we are" (always imperfectly).

edoxasen (doxazw) aor. ind. act. "glorified" - [and whom he justified these also] he glorified. Aorist indicating a completed event. Obviously in this case it is completed in the mind of God. We are glorified, because God intends to glorify us. Our glorification is a foreordained gift which has yet to come in earthly time terms, but is also a present reality in Jesus who has already been glorified. The righteous reign of God, his setting all things right, is a now / not yet reality.


Romans Introduction.

Exposition: 8:18-25, 26-27, 28-30.

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