Translations: Chinese 简体中文 繁體中文

Romans 8:18-39 (web)

Sanctification and the Spirit II

The Hope of Redemption

8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us.
8:19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
8:20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will,
but because of him who subjected it, in hope
8:21 that the creation itself also will be delivered
from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

8:23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.

8:24 For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for that which he sees?
8:25 But if we hope for that which we don't see,
we wait for it with patience.

The Spirit Helps Us to Pray

8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses,
for we don't know how to pray as we ought.
But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can't be uttered.
8:27 He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit's mind,
because he makes intercession for the saints according to God.

Eternal Security

Because of God's Plan

8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God,
to those who are called according to his purpose.
8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

8:30 Whom he predestined, those he also called.
Whom he called, those he also justified.
Whom he justified, those he also glorified.

Secure from Condemnation

8:31 What then shall we say about these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
8:32 He who didn't spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,
how would he not also with him freely give us all things?
8:33 Who could bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who justifies.
8:34 Who is he who condemns?
It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead,
who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Secure from Separation

8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
8:36 Even as it is written, "For your sake we are killed all day long.
We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Ps 44:22)
8:37 No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers,
8:39 nor height, nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Discussion Questions

vs 18 What does it mean "the glory that will be revealed in us"?
What is the "hope" that dominates your perspective on the future?
vs 26-27 How does the Spirit help us to pray?
vs 28 Does God work for the good of those who do not love Him?
Can you think of a situation from which it is difficult to imagine any good would come?
How confident are you of going to heaven?
What is your imagine of the day in which you will stand before God in judgment?
How would you respond if God brought charges against you?
What can cause you to fall away from Christ and lose your salvation?
vs 37 In what way are we more than conquerors?


vs 18 is actually a "for" statement. It should be "For I consider". And as such it is logically connected to vs 17. In fact the section from vs 18-23 is related back to vs 14-17
18 I consider that our present sufferings 17 if indeed we share in his sufferings
19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God
21brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
23 we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons
"adoption as sons" = "huiothesia"in greek
15 you received the Spirit of sonship
"sonship" = "huiothesia" in greek

Therefore if the emphasis in Romans 8 is the various roles of the Spirit, what role is emphasized here? It comes from vs 16 "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." The Spirit testifying that we are children of God leads to the hope of glory that will be revealed in the future. This is how these fit in the general outline of Romans 8.

Outline for Romans 8

If you belong to Christ, Then there is no condemnation for you because:
4You are justified
9 You have the Holy Spirit in you 28-39 You have Eternal Security28-30 Because of God's Plan
31-34 You are secure from condemnation
35-39 You are secure from being separated from God's love

Creation's Expectation

Rom 8:19-21 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

God intentionally created the present universe to be subject to decay, disease, and death. There are creatures which have intentionally been created to kill and live on the flesh of other creatures, and all are subject to death. But this will end.

"The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." 2Peter 3:10b Likewise John foreseeing the future said, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" Rev 21:1a So "in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." 2Peter 3:13

With regards to nature: "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." Is 11:6-9

Anticipating the Resurrection

Rom 8:22,23 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Most of the time we think of pain associated with something being wrong. But the pain of childbirth is indicative of something good about to happen. Life is a pain. But God is glorified in weakness. As the Lord said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2Cor 12:9a, so we are born into a world of weakness, subject to temptations from the sinful nature, the world and the devil, and physical corruptibility, and yet God's grace is glorified in receiving those who trust in him as His children.

Presently the believers experience the firstfruits of the Spirit. But there are fruits yet to come such as the redemption of our body, the removal of the sinful nature and physically corruptibility. "The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" 1Cor 15:42b-44a

I Hope So

Rom 8:24,25 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Christian hope is not wishful thinking, but rather a feeling of anticipation of that which one believes will occur. And one thing we anticipate is the redemption of our body. Thus as our body decays and as we experience temptation due to our sinful nature, it reminds us of the hope we have, the hope of the resurrection. Such hope is indicative of the faith we have. For "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Heb 11:1 Thus the Christian hopes with certainty, "being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." Rom 4:21 "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2Cor 3:12 And as "after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised" Heb 6:15, so we wait patiently for what was promised. For "if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1Cor 15:19,20

The Spirit Intercedes

Rom 8:26,27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." 1Cor 2:11,12

To pray for the kinds of things we should pray for is contrary to our human nature. Compare the kinds of prayers most prevalent in the New Testament to that which dominate the prayers of Christians today. What dominates prayer today are issues of health and material concern, which is what our human nature obsesses about. But much as those are legitimate things to pray about, to pray spiritually we must first realize that we don't know what we ought to pray for. And thus we shouldn't so much ask as to what we want to pray for, but rather what God would have us pray for. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" Pr 3:5

Nonetheless, though we neglect to pray for what we ought, the Spirit compensates for our deficiencies. For in living the Christian life we are never alone. But God wants us to walk in understanding. Thus Paul says, "I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." 1Cor 14:15

All Things Work Out for Our Good

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

It is not that God works for the good of those who don't love him. Though God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1Tim 2:4 But with respect to those who love Him, God makes all things work together for our good. "Work together" is the word "sunergeo" used only 5 times in the NT, all implying a partnership, such as "they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with  them" Mr 16:20a or "We then, as workers together with Him" 2Cor 6:1a Thus God partners with us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. But it's not that he works for our purpose, but rather for his purpose. But then again those who love God have relinquished their own will. Even Jesus said, "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." John 6:38 And he said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." John 14:21

Every believer in Christ has been called to this end. But none of us are alone in this calling. God works with us. Why do "bad" things happen to believers? "Bad" things happen to believers for our good. Consider for example Paul who was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh. "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2Cor 12:7 Here God used Satan for good. God used torment for good. Consequently, do "bad" things really ever happen to those who love God?

The Foreknown are Predestined

Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God, obviously, has foreknowledge of the elect. "Foreknew" is in the aorist tense, typically used of historic events, and is literally "to know beforehand". For example concerning prophecy of which Christians are aware Peter uses the same word writing, "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand ..." 2Pet 3:17

Those who come to faith in Christ, of whom God foreknew, can have confidence that their fate is secure, being predestined. Predestination is not only about eternal security, for part of the whole salvation package is a destiny of being conformed to the image of Christ. For example concerning our resurrection Paul writes, "And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven." 1Cor 15:49 Likewise with regards to behavior and moral character he writes, "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Col 3:8-10 Thus "we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory" 2Cor 3:18a And Christ "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." Col 1:15

Called, Justified, Glorified

Rom 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

All of these verbs are in the aorist tense indicating a past point in time event. For while there is a future fulfillment of these, such fulfillment is so inevitable, so certain for the elect that one can speak of such as a fulfilled event, much as Jesus spoke of death and judgment saying, "He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24

God foreknew those who would come to faith. Such people he predestined a glorious fate. And such fate is certain. At some point he called these people through the gospel, just as Paul writes earlier,  "Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." Rom 1:5,6 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory." Eph 1:13,14

If you have heard and believed the gospel, then you are predestined for eternal glory. You are elect of God for such a destiny.

God is For Us

Rom 8:31-34 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Note first that using "us" Paul eliminates the idea that there is some mystery behind identifying the elect. For his purpose in this section is not to confuse but to impart confidence to believers, confidence of a destiny secured for us. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, despite imperfect behavior. For the gospel makes salvation not contingent upon one's behavior and as such there is no basis for the condemnation of the elect as Christ has atoned for sin. "If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense— Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1John 2:1-2a Jesus justifies us, as such there is no charge which can be brought against the elect. "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Rom 5:10 "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." Heb 7:25

But justification and eternal security is just the beginning of the salvation package. For, having been justified, one is born of God, made children of God and given an inheritance. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1Peter 1:3-5

Separation Not Possible

Rom 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." (Ps 44:22) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

It's a rhetorical question as to who shall separate us from the love of Christ. It just doesn't happen. And much as he starts with "who" speaking of persons, he goes on to speak of events. For neither persons nor events can change one's status in the sight of God, despite troubles and persecutions being characteristic of the Christian life. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" 2Tim 3:12 And thus "we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22

Those born of God are conquerors and more. "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." 1John 5:3-5 Thus for example those born of God characteristically continue in the faith. Endurance is so indicative of those born of God that John says of others, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19

But while victory and overcoming obstacles implies effort, those elect are more than conquerors in that such behavior comes naturally as a result of being born of God. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen." Jude 1:24,25

Eternally Secure

Rom 8:38,39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our salvation is secure
regardless of circumstances
regardless of what authority figures say and do to us
regardless of time (present and future). For if we have been saved, that fact will never change.
regardless of any created thing (which includes ourself since we ourselves have been created)

Now in particular there those who would say that while no one nor anything can change our salvation status, we can decide to depart from the faith and thus lose our salvation status. In fact that never actually occurs in that perseverance is one of the effects of being born of God and thus John could say what he did in 1John 2:19 and 1John 3:9. But even here in this passage the doctrine of Eternal Security is validated. For notice the phrase "neither present nor future". Thus the salvation status of the elect is independent of time, which is the "eternal" in "eternal security". Once saved, always saved, because nothing in the present nor in the future can separate such a person from the love of God. Furthermore it says "nor anything else in all creation". Well isn't the individual themself part of the creation? This again validates the point that even the individual themself, having been saved, cannot do anything that would cause them to lose that salvation status.

By analogy some Christians view their relationship with Christ as an Old Testament marriage in which divorce annuls the marriage. But not according to the New Testament, which says, "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives." 1Cor 7:39 And again, "by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive." Rom 7:2 And thus the vow of the Christian marriage is "till death do us part", not "till divorce do us part." And thus even if the elect hypothetically wanted to divorce Christ, they don't have the legal right to do so. There is no way for the elect to annul their marriage to Christ, even if they wanted to. And thus our glorious destiny is certain. For God makes the rules and has eliminated any possibility that those who are have been saved should be lost. "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing." John 6:39a

For more on eternal security see

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 31,2020