Life Through the Spirit
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
and Future Glory
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.1
There is a close connection between Romans chs. 7 and 8. In ch. 8 the apostle passes on from his analysis of the painful struggle with sin to an explanation of the life of peace and freedom that is offered to those who live "in Jesus Christ". The good news of the gospel is that Christ came to condemn sin, not sinners. To those who believe and accept the generous provisions of the gospel and who in faith commit themselves to lives of loving obedience, Christ offers justification and freedom. To "be in Christ Jesus" intimates the closeness of the personal connection that exists between the Christian and Christ. It means more that to be dependent on Him or merely to be His follower or disciple. It implies a daily, living union with Christ. Unless a person is experiencing this transforming union with Christ, he cannot claim freedom from condemnation.2
2 The law of the Spirit of life is the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, ruling as a law in the life. The Spirit brings life and freedom, in contrast with the law of sin, which produces only death and condemnation. It is in the experience of close fellowship and union with Christ that the believer receives this power to overcome in the battle against sin. The law of the Spirit of life works directly contrary to the law of sin and death in the members, empowering the believer to overcome sin's destroying influence and freeing him from sin's bondage and condemnation.2
3 God has accomplished what the law has been unable to do. He has condemned sin, and thus it is possible for the Christian to overcome its power, and to live a triumphant life in Christ. The law can only reveal transgression and righteousness and command obedience. It cannot be blamed or despised for not accomplishing results for which it never was designed. Our failure to render perfect obedience must be blamed upon ourselves. In order to save fallen man, God sacrificed Himself in His Son. Christ came to reveal the limitless love of His Father. The Son of God came to this earth with His divinity veiled in humanity, so that He could reach the fallen race and commune with us in our weakened, sinful state. It was also Christ's purpose in assuming our humanity to demonstrate to men and to the whole universe that sin and Satan may be successfully resisted and the obedience to the will of God may be rendered by human beings in this life. Christ was made like unto His brethren in all things, He suffered and was tempted in all points like as we are, yet He did not sin. Christ came not only to bear the penalty of sin in His death but also to destroy its dominion and to remove it from the lives of His followers.2
4 God did not give His Son in order to change or abolish His law, or to release men from the necessity of perfect obedience. The law has always stood as an expression of the unchangeable will and character of God. Fallen man has always been unable to obey its requirements, and the law has possessed no power to strengthen him to obey. But now Christ has come to make it possible for man to render perfect obedience. Those in whom the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled, no longer live according to the dictates and impulses of the flesh. The gratification of carnal desires is no longer the guiding principle in their lives. Life according to the Spirit means a life in which the righteous demands of the law are fulfilled - a life of love and loving obedience. That such a life might be made possible for believers was the great purpose for which God sent His Son into the world.2
5 The whole mental and moral activity of those who are "after the flesh" is set upon the selfish gratification of unspiritual desires. We are under the predominating influence of one or the other of the two principles contrasted in this verse. According as one or the other has the master, so will be the complexion of our lives and the character of our actions.2
6 To think of nothing but the gratification of fleshly desires is death. The one who lives for this selfish purpose is dead while he lives, and the present condition of spiritual death can lead only to final eternal death. The presence of the Holy Spirit brings love, joy, and peace in the life, the beginning within us of the kingdom of God. Those who
are "spiritually minded" and "walk after the Spirit" enjoy the peace of forgiveness and reconciliation. They look forward to final salvation and eternal life. On the contrary, those who are "carnally minded" and "walk after the flesh" know only the destroying experience of bondage and condemnation and can look forward only to judgment and death.2
7 To set the mind on the things of the flesh and thus live a life of self-assertion and self-indulgence means inevitably a life that is hostile to God and out of harmony with His will. Such a course leads to estrangement from God and separation from the source of life - a separation that means death. This hostility against God is the opposite of the peace that comes to those who live in the Spirit. The carnal mind is wholly incapable of submitting to the law of God. Only by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit is obedience again made possible.2
8 God is pleased by faithfulness and obedience. He was well pleased with His Son. He looks with pleasure on acts of faith and love. But such lives of faith, obedience, and love are possible only to those who are living by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Those who are in the flesh cannot do the things that please God. Their natural course is one of hostility and disobedience. Those who rely for salvation on the false hope that their own works of obedience are pleasing God and meriting His saving favour are warned in this verse that they cannot win God's pleasure in this way.2
9 This verse is an invitation to self-examination. We are spiritually-minded and live in the Spirit "if so be that" the Spirit of God dwells in us. We may know whether the Spirit dwells in us by the presence or absence of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) in our lives. Absence of the fruit is evidence that we are yet living in the flesh. To live in the Spirit indicates the continuing and permanent presence of the Spirit, not just occasional raptures of enthusiasm and zeal. A profession of Christianity does not in itself make a man a true follower of Christ. When the daily life reveals love, joy, peace, and other graces of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), there is evidence of true Christianity. But if, on the contrary, our lives are marred with unkindness, selfishness, and vanity, then we are none of His.2
10 Even those who are born again to newness of life in the Spirit are still
subject to death. But because the Spirit dwells in them, they look
forward to resurrection and eternal life. The human spirit that is pervaded by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit
possesses a God-sustained life. Throughout the Scriptures righteousness is consistently associated with life, as sin is with death. When there is righteousness in the life, there is evidence of the presence and power of the Spirit of God, and this means life.2
11 Paul frequently represents the resurrection of Christ as the pledge of the believer's resurrection (1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thess. 4:14). The Holy Spirit is the power by which the dead are raised. The Holy Spirit is also the reason for their being raised.2
12 The Spirit of God has brought freedom from the bondage and condemnation of sin and now promises eternal life to come. This places the ones for whom the Spirit is performing this saving and transforming work in the position of debtors. They owe everything to the Spirit, and their allegiance and obedience should be wholeheartedly given to this higher power that has entered their lives. The gospel frees us from the condemnation of the law and from the destroying error of attempting to keep the law by our own efforts, but it does not free us from obedience to the will of God.2
13 Whereas death is the inevitable consequence of a life after the flesh, yet eternal life is not exactly the inevitable consequence of mortifying the deeds of the body. It is rather the gift of God through Christ (Rom. 6:23).2
14 The leading of the Spirit does not mean a momentary impulse but a steady, habitual influence. It is not those whose hearts are occasionally touched by the Spirit, or those who now and then
yield to His power, who are the sons of God. God recognizes as His sons only those who are continually led by His Spirit. Paul may be drawing some distinction between "sons" and "children". If so, "children" denotes the natural relationship that children have to their parents, whereas "son" implies, in addition to this, the recognized status and privileges reserved for sons.2
15 It is evident that Paul is referring neither to the human spirit nor to the divine Spirit. He is making a more general use of the term "spirit" to express a mood, habit, or state of feeling. The bondage, or slavery to sin is contrasted with the liberty of the sons of God. The person who is still under law and in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:14) is haunted by forebodings under a sense of unpardoned sin. When the Holy Spirit is received this wretched state terminates. The Spirit brings life and love and freedom from fear, with the assurance that instead of being slaves we are sons and heirs. The consciousness of adoption brings the feeling of affection, love, and confidence such as children have toward their parents, not the servile, fearful spirit of slaves toward their masters. As adopted sons, we are under God's protection and care, and in loving gratitude, we ought to manifest the spirit of children in willingly obeying Him in all things. Whilst Abba and father have similar meaning, the first word is a transliteration of the Aramaic, the second is translated from the Greek. The repetition of this word may indicate an intensity of feeling.2
16 The personality of the Holy Spirit cannot be argued by the gender of the pronouns that may be used. The office and work of the Holy Spirit have been declared to us in the Scriptures, but the nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. The witness of the believer's own spirit that he is a child of God depends upon the witness of the Holy Spirit that he is such. In the same way as we become the children of God through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, the continuing assurance that we are yet God's children comes through the indwelling of God's Spirit. That He is dwelling in us may be known by the presence of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:22). If there is love in our hearts toward God and toward our fellow men, we may know that we have passed from death unto life and have become the children of our heavenly Father, adopted into the heavenly family.2
17 In God's plan for the complete restoration of man, sonship and heirship go together (Gal. 4:7). If we are born again as His children and are adopted as His sons, God will also treat us as His heirs. The
inheritance is the kingdom of glory (Matt. 25:34) and eternal life (Rom. 2:7). As the "first-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29), Christ admits His brethren to share alike in the
inheritance that He has won, not for Himself but for them (Rev. 3:21). If we suffer with Christ, God will treat us as heirs together with His own Son. Mere suffering does not meet the condition here implied. It must be suffering with Christ (2 Tim. 2:11, 12). To suffer with Him means to suffer for His sake and the gospel's. To suffer with Christ may also mean to struggle with the powers of temptation as He did, so that He was made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:9, 10, 18).2
18 The word "reckon" is elsewhere translated "thinkest" (ch. 2:3), "conclude" (ch. 3:28), "suppose" (2 Cor. 11:5), "count" (Phil. 3:13). It does not denote mere opinion or supposition, but considered judgment. Paul could speak of "the sufferings" from much painful experience. He had already suffered much for Christ and the gospel by the time he wrote this epistle, and much suffering was yet in store for him before his execution. Compared with the coming glory, all the sufferings of this present life sink into insignificance. Paul represents the future revelation of glory as something that is certain to take place. The glory that is about to be revealed includes the heavenly brightness of the second coming and the manifestation of Christ in all His divine perfection and power (Titus 2:13). This glory will be shared by the faithful followers of Christ (Col. 3:4). The revelation of glory will also include the
splendour and beauty of heaven, the throne of God (Acts 7:49), a bright and glorious place (Rev. 21:10, 11, 23, 24).2
19 The "earnest expectation" implies a turning away from all else and a fixing of the eyes
upon a single object. The meaning of this passage has been debated at length. Some commentators understand "the creation" to refer to the whole world of nature, both animate and inanimate, exclusive of man. Others include also the world of humanity. Some think that humanity alone is under discussion. It is perhaps best not to limit the application, for certainly all nature, figuratively, and mankind, lieterally, groan under the curse and await a brighter day. The manifestation or revelation of the sons of God will take place at the second coming of Christ (1 John 3:2), when the righteous dead are raised, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17).2
20 The sin of man produced consequences that pervaded the whole world about him. The word "vanity" expresses aimlessness, frustration, that which disappoints expectations. Though in the beginning God created everything "very good" (Gen. 1:31), we now see everywhere the marks of decay and death. The fury of the elements and the destructive instincts of beasts are evidence of the vanity and aimlessness to which the creation has been subjected. It was Adam who had the choice between the service of God and that of vanity, and because of his rebellious decision, mankind and the world of nature have together been subjected to vanity. His posterity had no choice in the matter. Nature itself is entirely blameless. The world of nature was adapted to meet man's changed condition and to serve the plan of redemption. Paradise was lost, and under the curse of sin all nature witness to man of the character and results of rebellion against God. But the "vanity"
of nature became an incentive to the exertion of man's moral and physical powers. The life of toil and care that was henceforth to be his lot was appointed in love. It was a discipline rendered needful by his sin.2
21 The creature shall be delivered from the unwilling subjection to a condition that results in corruption. "Glorious liberty" literally means "the liberty of the glory". For the children of God "the liberty of the glory" will mean complete freedom from the presence and power of sin, freedom from temptation, from calamity, from death.2
22 Paul pictures the creation in the pangs of childbirth, as it looks forward to joyful deliverance (John 16:21). Only the Christian believer, can explain the mystery of suffering and sorrow. Through the revelation of God's Word he knows the cause and the source of the suffering that he sees in "the whole creation". He senses that the pangs of a world in travail point forward to a time of deliverance, when there shall be "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).2
23 Christians, along with the rest of creation, sigh for the time when their adoption as the sons of God will be complete and their mortal bodies will be changed. The "firstfruits of the Spirit" may be understood as the early, initial gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had come in special measure on the day of Penticost, and His blessings continued, as evidence by the various spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12 to 14) and by the transformation of character that distinguished the Christians from other men (Gal. 5:22, 23). The acquisition of these early gifts only increased the desire for a larger bestowal later, especially the gift of immortality. The Christian who has received the gift of the Spirit is already an adopted son of God (Rom. 8 15, 16; Gal. 4:6). But the final and complete realization of this adoption will take place in "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19) at the second coming of Christ. At the second coming of Christ our bodies will be delivered from our present condition of weakness, sinfulness, decay, and death (1 Cor. 15:49-53; Phil. 3:21).2
24 When by faith a man becomes a child of God, he may be said to be saved.
However, when the Christian is newborn, salvation has only begun. He must look forward to a life of continual growth and transformation and to the future complete deliverance. Usually Paul represents faith rather than hope as the channel of salvation (ch. 3:28). Many commentators and
versions favour the translation from the Greek "in hope" rather than "by hope", which may have been Paul's intention. However either translation makes good sense in this particular context. Hope, though distinguished from faith (1 Cor. 13:13), is yet inseparable from it. It is hope that sets salvation vividly before the believer and so leads him to strive, by faith, to obtain it. When the thing hoped for is already present before the eyes, it ceases to be an object of hope. It is of the essence of hope that it does not look at the things which are seen but at the tings which are not seen.2
25 We cannot as yet see ultimate salvation, but we do hope for it. Therefore, we are willing patiently to endure the sufferings that lie on the road to it.2
26 As hope sustains us, so also does the Holy Spirit sustain us. The one source of encouragement is human, the other, divine. As we who believe are groaning in ourselves, so also the Spirit intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. The Spirit does not remove our infirmity, but helps us and gives us strength to overcome. Because of the dimness of our limited human vision, we do not know whether the blessing we request will be best for us. Only God knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, in our prayers we should always express our complete submission to His will for us (Matt. 26:39). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to move us to pray, to teach us what to say, and even to speak through us.2
27 God knows the desires the Holy Spirit inspires in our hearts. He does not need to have these deep emotions expressed in words. He does not need the eloquence of language to induce Him to hear. He understands the anxious longings of the heart and is ready to aid and to bless. God knows the mind of the Spirit because, firstly, the Spirit intercedes in accordance with God's own will and purpose. And secondly, the Spirit's intercession is for "saints", and saints are the special objects of the divine purpose in accordance with which the Spirit intercedes.2
28 It is God who causes all things to work together in our lives for ultimate good. Nothing can touch the Christian except by our Lord's permission (Job 1:12; 2:6), and all things that are permitted work together for good to those who love God. If God permits suffering and perplexity to come upon us, it is not to destroy us but to refine and sanctify us. The troubles and disappointments of this life take our affections from the world and lead us to look to heaven for our home. They teach us the truth about our frail and dying condition and cause us to rely upon God for support and for salvation. They also produce in us a more humble and subdued spirit, a more patient and tender disposition. At the end of his life Joseph was able to say to his brothers, "Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good" (Gen. 50:20). Christian faith is based upon love and admiration for God and for all that He is. For those that have such love, God is ever working for their good. Christians are termed "called" because God, through the gospel, has invited them to be saved. Those who love God have in their own experience the evidence that they have been "called according to his purpose," for the call has produced the intended effect.2
29 Those who accept God's call and submit to His purpose are here assured that He will complete for them each stage in His plan to save them. Afflictions are nothing else but the means by which they are "to be conformed to the image of his Son." God foreknows because He is omniscient, that is, He knows all things. Of Him the Scriptures affirm: "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13); "declaring the end from the beginning" (Isa. 46:10); "known unto God are all his works from the beginning" (Acts 15:18). Predictive prophecy is the supreme evidence of His foreknowledge. God never had any other purpose than salvation for the members of the human family. For God "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4). He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to
repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is offered freely to all. But not all accept the gospel invitation. "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14). Divine foreknowledge and divine predestination in no way exclude human liberty. Nowhere does Paul, or any other Bible writer, suggest that God has predestined certain men to be saved and certain others to be lost, regardless of their own choice in the matter. Under the influence of the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:13, 14), and inspired by the example of Christ (John 15:12), the believer is led to a newness of life. By patient endurance of suffering his character is continually made more and more like that of the Saviour (Rom. 5:3, 4), until the day of final glorification, when the likeness will be made complete (1 John 3:2). Christ is represented as the Eldest brother in the family of the redeemed. As the Eldest Brother, He has travelled the way before us and set the example. Christ makes us His brethren by a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and thereby brings "many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10). Being "born of water and of the Spirit" (John 3:5), we are adopted into the heavenly family (Eph. 1:5).2
30 The call is given by the preaching of the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14). The called are those who have responded to God's call, which constitutes the experience of conversion. Being justified is to set right or to regard as righteous. By the act of justification God acquits a man who has been guilty of wrongdoing or treats as righteous someone who has been unrighteous. It means the cancellation of charges standing against the believer in the heavenly court. Although the event of glorification is still future, Paul uses the past tense "glorified", as he does for all the other verbs in this sentence, "did predestinate," "called," "justified. Paul's purpose in this verse is to express the certainty of the progressive stages in the process of being conformed to Christ. The first step is the call. If this is obeyed, it brings with it justification. Then, if the Christian continues to allow God to work out His good purpose for him, the inevitable result will be glorification.2
31 In view of the things mentioned in the preceding verses, that is, the revealed purpose of God and all the steps in its fulfillment: what conclusion should we draw in regard to the power of the Christian religion to sustain us in our trials? Paul has already shown how God is on our side, God regards us as His sons (vs. 15-17) and has sent His Spirit to help us (v. 26), for it is His purpose to save us (vs. 28-30). It is encouraging to recognize that , since God has purposed and is actively engaged in accomplishing salvation for believers, all our enemies are also His enemies (Ps. 27:1; 118:6).2
32 The same God who did not spare His own Son will surely give us everything besides. The Lord's touching commendation of Abraham's conduct in offering up his son Isaac give us a glimpse into the spirit of God's act in surrendering His own Son Jesus. This greatest of all gifts is the strongest of all proofs that God is "for us" (Rom. 8:31). Paul is arguing from the greater to the lesser. If God would not spare even His own Son, what is there that He would withhold? When God gave His Son, He also gave Himself (2 Cor. 5:19) and thereby revealed to the universe how far He was willing to go to save repentant sinners.2
33 God is declaring His people righteous. Christ, who died for them, is God's right hand pleading from them. Who, then, can accuse God's chosen people? Who can condemn them? Who can ever separate them from Christ's love? For Paul, God's elect are those who have not only heard but also heeded the divine call to find salvation is Christ. God's elect need fear no accuser. It is God Himself, the Judge of all, who
pronounces them upright according to His plan of justification (ch. 3:20-26). "Justify" is the opposite of "lay any thing to the charge."2
34 Satan has an accurate knowledge of all the sins that he has succeeded in tempting men to commit, and he presents these to God as evidence that men deserve only destruction. But God answers the charges brought against His chosen people. Christ has paid for their sins with His own life (ch. 4:25). God's elect are free from condemnation (ch. 8:1). We do not worship a dead Christ, but rather a living Christ. The right hand was regarded as the position of honour (1 Kings 2:19; Ps. 45:9) and denoted participation in the royal power and glory (Matt. 20:21). His position at the right hand signifies, not only the glory, but also the power, of the exalted Son of man (Heb. 1:3). Christ is our intercessor and advocate with the Father (Heb. 7:25). This must not be taken to mean that God needs to be persuaded to do good things for His people, for it was He who so loved the world that He gave His only Son. In this verse Paul has added reason upon reason for the assurance that nothing can separate the Christian from the love of Christ. It is not a dead but a living Christ upon whom he depends. It is not only a living Christ but a Christ enthroned in power. It is not only a Christ in power but a Christ of saving love, who ever lives to make intercession for His struggling people (Heb. 7:25).2
35 Can anyone put a distince between us and Christ's love? Can anyone cause Him to stop loving us?2
36 This quotation is from Ps. 44:22. Paul refers to the sufferings of God's people in an earlier age as typical of the persecutions to which the Christians were being exposed in his
day. Ever since the entrance of sin, the hatred of the wicked against the righteous has been strong (Gal. 4:29; 1 John 3:12).2
37 Notwithstanding the afflictions, we keep on conquering (2 Cor. 12:10). Through the incomparable love of Christ (v.35) we become conquerors. Instead of troubles separating us from the love of Christ (ch. 8:35), on the contrary, "through him that loved us" we are victorious over them. There is no affliction so heavy, no temptation so strong, that it cannot be overcome through Christ. For the One who loved us enough to give Himself for us is even now living in us to continue the work of our salvation (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).2
38 Paul now expresses his own personal conviction that no power in heaven or earth, in time or in eternity, can separate us from the divine love. Nothing can pluck us out of Christ's arms against our will. The angels mentioned in the New Testament are usually good rather than evil. However, the word itself does not indicate the particular quality. It is inconceivable that the angels of God, who are sent forth to minister to the saints (Heb. 1:14), should seek to alienate the minds of Christians from their Saviour. The word "principalities" refers to civil rulers as well as to supernatural powers that attempt to exercise evil domination over men (Eph. 6:12). In 1 Peter 3:22 "powers" are mentioned along with "angels" and "authorities" as having been made subject to Christ upon His ascension to heaven. The experiences of the present time were already trying enough to Paul and to the early Christians (Rom. 8: 18, 23). But the future held still further trials of deception and affliction, for the coming of Christ was to be preceded by the apostasy and the appearance of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2).2
39 It is possible that in this rhetorical passage Paul did not intend that each of these expressions should be too closely defined. "Height" and "depth" may have been used to express simply dimensions of space, as "things present" and "things to come" express
dimensions of time. Paul lists ten items that cannot separate us from the love of God. The tenth is broad enough to include anything that may have been omitted. All the terms are perhaps to be taken in their most general sense. Their very indefiniteness serves to emphasize Paul's point that there is nothing that one can think of in all the created universe that can put a distance between a Christian and his loving Saviour. In this epistle Paul has pictured the supreme cooperation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the manifestation of the divine love.2
References and notes
1. King James Authorized Version
2. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 6 pgs. 467, 500,
ENCYCLOPEDIA: Epistles to the Romans
4. Christian Resource
Centre (Bermuda) - Horn, Siegfried - http://www.nisbett.com/summary/sum-n-06.htm
Roll the common form of ancient books. The
Hebrew word rendered " - http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/ebd/ebd315.htm
6. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and
David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole
Bible (1871) THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE
ROMANS Commentary by DAVID BROWN -