SUMMARY.--No Condemnation to Those in Christ. Walking After the Spirit. To be Carnally Minded, Death. To be Spiritually Minded, Life and Peace. The Spirit of Adoption. Heirs of God. The Sufferings of Saints. The Groanings of the Creation. All things Working for Good to Saints. The Purpose and Foreordination of God. God's Protection of His Children.
18-25. The sufferings of this present time. The Christian of our time has little conception of the sufferings of the ancient saints, counted as outcasts, despised, persecuted, slain (see Romans 8:36 Romans 8:2 also 2 Cor. 11:23-28 ).Yet Paul counted these as nothing in view of the hope of eternal glory. Revealed in us. In the saints when they shall have received the inheritance which God bestows in Christ. The comforts of the saint in the midst of suffering are now given: (1) The hope of glory for which all creation, ruined by the Fall, is looking. (2) The present help of the Spirit. (3) The overruling providence of God. 19. The earnest expectation of the creature. "Creature" is rendered creation in the Revision, and this rendering is approved by all the best critics. Chrysostom says "Paul personifies the world, just as the prophets do when they make the floods to clap their hands." The whole world is represented earnestly looking forward to that day of future glory when the sons of God will have reached their high estate and be revealed as his children. It is a fine, poetic figure, a grand conception. 20. For the creature was made subject to vanity. The creation was subjected to vanity; i. e., became empty; lost its original significance. The Greek word rendered "vanity," means "to seek without finding." God placed "the creation" under man's dominion, and when man fell the whole was subject to vanity by God. In hope. A hope was left to creation in its fallen estate. A promise of final redemption was made to fallen man ( Gen. 3:15 ), and the creation is represented as sharing that hope. 21. Because the creature itself shall be delivered. The Revision reads, "The creation was subjected . . . in hope that the creation itself also," etc. Though "subjected to vanity," it still retained the hope of final deliverance. Bondage of corruption. Decay and death. Into the glorious liberty. "The liberty of the glory." The present state is "bondage to corruption." The hope is deliverance from the bondage into "the liberty," etc. In the day of the revelation of that glory, "all things shall become new" ( Rev. 21:5 ).
26, 27. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. While we are waiting in hope, but suffering, the Spirit is a helper of our weakness. It not only strengthens us, but helps us in prayer. We know not what to pray for as we ought. We often do not know, in our ignorance, what is best. This is especially true in the times of the greatest trial. It was even an experience of our Lord in extremity ( John 12:27 John 12:28 ) and of Paul ( Philippians 1:22 Philippians 1:23 ). But the Spirit itself. Observe the climax: The creation groans; we ourselves groan; the Spirit himself groans. The Spirit within us intercedes by groaning which are his, in that they are prompted by the Spirit. Augustine says: "It is not in himself, nor in the substance of the Eternal and Blessed Trinity that he groans, but in us because he makes us groan." Groanings that cannot be uttered. Speechless groanings. 27. Knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit. These speechless groanings are understood by God, because it is according to his will that the Spirit intercedes.
28-30. All things work together for good. The third ground of encouragement to saints in suffering is now given. To them, under God's providence, all things, even their sorrows, trials and persecutions, work together for blessing. This precious assurance is not to all mankind, saint and sinner, but is limited to a class. To them that love God; the called according to his purpose. These are those who enjoy the blessed assurance just given. These two expressions are different ways of describing the same class. Notice the order in the Revision, which is the order of the Greek. The love of God is the very foundation of the Christian life. See Luke 10:28 and John 14:23 . The expression, "Those that love God," is synonymous with "Followers of Christ." See 1 Cor. 2:9 Ephesians 6:24 Ephesians 6:2 2 Tim. 4:8 James 2:5 . The called. These have been called by the gospel and have accepted the call. Many others are called, Jews and Gentiles, but only those who hear and obey are chosen ( Matthew 20:16 Matthew 20:14 ). Paul uses the term of the latter class; those who hear and obey. The evidence that we are "the called" is that we love God. According to his purpose. This call was purposed from the time that God promised a Deliverer of the fallen race. 29. For whom he foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. To foreknow and to predestinate are not the same thing. One is an act of foreknowledge, or knowing something before it occurs; the other is to decree something. We only have knowledge of the past, but God foresees the future even as he sees the past; foresees it, not because he has decreed it, but because there are no limitations on his knowledge. Augustine says: "There can be no predestination without foreknowledge; but there can be foreknowledge without predestination." Whom does God foreknow? Those who shall love God. As he looked into the future these were present to his mind; foreknown. What did he predestinate of them? Not that they should love God. Not that they should believe; nor that some should be saved and others damned; but that those who he saw beforehand would love God, should be conformed to the image of his Son. The only thing predestinated, or foreordained, is that those who love God as revealed in Christ shall become Christlike in life, and like Christ in eternity. This is the only decree in the passage. 30. Whom he predestinated. He now shows how this is accomplished for those thus foreknown as the lovers of God. He also called. They are "called" by the preaching of the gospel, as in 2 Thess. 2:14 : "Whereunto he called you by our gospel." It is not stated that these alone are called. We know that many others are called. Justified. The called, accepting the call, are justified. Their sins are blotted out. Glorified. These are made heirs of eternal glory. As stated by Godet, the purpose of the whole passage may be expressed as follows: "I see thou dost love God; art a believer; I therefore decree of thee that thou shalt become like my Son and be glorified with him." The steps by which this is accomplished are calling, justification, and final glorification.
31-39. What shall we say to these things? The rest of the chapter is a hymn of triumph over this assurance of salvation. If God be for us. What has been shown shows that he is for all who love God. If he is on our side, we must prevail. 32. He that spared not his own Son. If he gave his Son to die for us, it is impossible that he should refuse us anything that will help or bless us. He has nothing he values more than his Son. 33. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? No one can, since God himself has justified them. 34. Who is he that condemneth? There can be no condemnation ( 8:1 ) since Christ died . . . is risen . . . and maketh intercession for us. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Can anything? Can the sufferings of the Christian calling in a time of persecution, such as the prophet described and the early Christians suffered? 36. As it is written. In Psalm 44:22 . Will such persecution lead us to abandon Christ? 37. Nay. Not all these sufferings can lead us from Christ, for in all these things we are more than conquerors. We overcome by the aid of him that loved us. 38. For I am persuaded. No hostile power of the universe can lead us away, is the apostle's holy confidence. Death nor life. These adversaries seem to advance in pairs. Death is named first, because death by martyrdom threatens. The next pair is angels, and principalities and powers. "The angels" are good angels, while malignant angels are meant by the other terms. Nor things present, nor the things to come. The present or the future. 39. Nor height, nor depth. Perhaps, the things which exalt us and the things which cast us down. Things high and things low. Nor any other creature. Any other created thing. Shall be able. None of these, "I am persuaded," shall have power enough to tear us away from Christ, by causing us to apostatize. The love of God, which is in Christ. God's great love for us is all shown through Christ. Nowhere has Paul shown more exultation, more overflowing emotion, than in this close of a profound argument, which shows the complete and full salvation of those who believe upon Christ and are found in him.