Romans 8:12-31. General Conclusions.
Paul draws together all he has written about Jews and Gentiles separately about spiritual and carnal life. Now he addresses both together concluding all his statements on this subject. Beginning in this verse, he continues to the end of this chapter.
‘Therefore brethren’, he is addressing born again believers. The thought he continues in verse 13. As believers, you are no longer to live after the flesh, to inherit death. If you have chosen the other path through God’s Spirit and the Gospel of Christ, you can resist the ‘deeds of the body’ with the spiritual help of faith and the power of the Spirit, then eternal life is your inheritance.
Jesus, by His sacrificial offering, opened the way to God’s kingdom to all that believe in Him. The Spirit of God is the great guide and with power to enlighten, inspire, strengthen, and show the way through this life on the path to heaven. These are the children of God.
This is not the spirit of bondage as under the law with all its rites and ceremonies, with the fear of transgression from that bondage, now having received the Spirit of adoption, into the family of God. This same Holy Spirit continues to witness to you the grace you have received, which also makes you able to call God your Father, with full confidence and affection.
The knowledge of this adoption cannot be given by any merely human means. It must come from God Himself, therefore His Holy Spirit that delivers the message directly to the spirit of the believer. The understanding of the mind is the window to bring light to the spirit of man. The believer has the Word and Holy Spirit as abiding testimony that as His children, we are to walk with our Heavenly Father henceforth and forever.
If legitimate children, then also legitimate heirs of the Father’s estate. We are not to inherit property, either earth or heaven, but we are joint heirs with Christ, inheriting eternal glory with the glorified human nature of His resurrection, and joint partakers of all that God is. This is beyond our power of conception or imagination, but just as certain as every promise and prophecy of God given to man as recorded in His Holy Word.
Paul here introduces the other consideration of being like Christ in His suffering. To be like Christ in this world, as testified to in the Gospel record, will bring affliction and enmity from the world. This is also necessary and certain as the glorious inheritance.
These earthly sufferings are not even enough to rightly compare to the glory of eternity. They are but moments – eternity is everlasting.
The word ‘creature’ in the Greek can extend as ‘creation’. Some scholars suggest that the whole creation expectantly waits for the eternal state, to be revealed at the time that Christians are welcomed into glory.
It has been suggested that here Paul is referring back to the origin of Gentilism – the confusion of languages after the attempt to build the tower of Babel. This was built in pursuit of idolatry, sinning against God. God’s punishment was to subject them to vanity, unwillingly. From this time, the world was under heathenism until the Gospel was manifested. God did this with the design of ultimate deliverance, therefore in hope. Some have suggested that the whole creation is included with the ultimate restoration of all things.
This verse continues the thought of verse 20. The Gentile world shall, in time, be delivered from the bondage of their sinful corruption, and be brought into the noble liberty of the children of God.
Paul now points at the entire fabric of the material world groaning in agony and pain. Everything breaks down and wears out, becomes less.
To sum up – the whole creation is in suffering, which was begun as the result of Adam’s sin. It was made subject to vanity – here meaning pain, sickness, and death. God had a purpose, a plan for deliverance, and placed in every heart a hope, an expectation of a better way. The great deliverer is the Messiah, and through His Gospel it is offered to all. Paul includes Gentiles and ‘we ourselves’ as the Jews also are freed from bondage, now having the first fruits of the Spirit. The future holds the great redemption even from corruption of the earthly body unto the heavenly state. What was started by the Spirit of God here and now only begins our adoption, the ultimate destination and condition will be eternal.
Every hope that anyone has is inspired by God – this is to support them through the trials of life. The ultimate hope that God provided was in sending His Son to redeem mankind.
To be saved by hope means supported by and content in the expectation of God’s good will towards us, and help through all troubles and trials of this life, and the final resurrection unto glory.
The word ‘hope’ only describes what is not presently in possession, therefore not in sight.
The proper attitude concerning our hope, it is necessarily future, we are to wait with patience. Faithful is He Who promised. The gifts of faith and hope are both necessities to the Christian.
The same Holy Spirit supports and strengthens our weakness when we pray. We must put forth what strength we have, even while depending on God’s strength. Without the help of the Spirit, our prayers would be liable to endless errors. The Spirit inspires suitable desires. Jesus promised in John 16:13,14 – ‘Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.’
See John 14:16,17,26, John 15:26,27, and John 16:7.
Only God can search the heart and observes the working of the Spirit to intercede or negotiate for the person. Jesus also as our friend and Savior intercedes for us. The Spirit directs and guides our prayers to be according to God’s will. The Spirit communicates to God not only in words, but even those things that cannot be expressed in words, but in groans, sighs or tears. This also shows that the sincerity and power of a prayer doesn’t relate to how eloquently it was spoken, or by big words or length. God hears the innermost expression of the heart through the indwelling Spirit. He answers those even unspoken prayers according to His will.
To correctly understand this verse, several things need to be pointed out. First, the people that this applies to, are those who love God, who live in the spirit of obedience. Second, the verbs are in the present tense – not future. All things work now in behalf of those who love. Third, all these things work together. God’s will and His Spirit are working together. Whatever troubles or afflictions or persecutions come into a person’s life, God uses them for the general benefit of that person who is living by faith, and guided by the indwelling Spirit. The life of Paul himself testifies to this.
‘Those who are called’ uses the sense of being invited as guests, welcomed to a feast. These are made welcome to the blessings of the New Testament. This is true of all Christians.
This and the following verse explain how God planned our complete salvation, from the beginning to the end. There are several steps showing God’s wisdom and blessing. The foreknowledge is the first design and forming of the plan – to freely give the favor and privilege of being God’s people. This took place before the world began (see II Timothy 1:9).
The second step is our conformity to the Son of God in eternal glory. He determined, pre-destinated, fore-ordained, His great purpose. The calling was to include both Jew and Gentile, as was God’s plan from the beginning. The rest of our earthly lives, God works in us to help us conform to the image of His Son. This carries by the Gospel to the obtaining of the eternal glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (see II Thessalonians 2:14). This proves that for us, all things work together for our good, and it proves that we are intended for eternal glory. The next verse elaborates on the last point.
The first born of many brethren. Jesus is the leader, the chief of all the redeemed. His human nature is the first fruit of the resurrection from the dead unto eternal glory.
To put it all together – God has now accomplished this by the spreading of the Gospel among Jews and Gentiles. His plan for man’s redemption had been completed by Jesus on the cross. It was offered, people responded, God justified them, He pardoned the sins of those that repented, and through sincere faith accepted His Son as their Savior. They also are glorified – while on earth with honor and dignity and privileges as His children. When they die, their spirit enters the glory of His kingdom in heaven with Christ, awaiting the redemption of the body at the rapture. In more theological terms – justification is the foundation. Sanctification is the process of maturation, also conforming to the image of His Son. The glorification begins on earth by gifts, graces, innumerable blessings and privileges, then is perfected unto eternity.
This is the powerful conclusion of all the previous discourse. God has done, is doing, and is planning to do all these glorious things for us. He planned; He brought to pass; He is presently at work for and in us; His plan continues into eternity. Who can interfere? Who has been able to prevent any of His planning? There may be some irritations, tribulation, but there is no stopping. God will bring us through. He will complete His plan and as we are a part of that plan we can be secure in knowing that there is no power on earth or anywhere that can prevent His will from being carried out. Period. Amen.
Next, the closing of the chapter – more evidence of the above stated certainties.