Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 8 - Part 4


ROMANS 8:19-24



"But the glory to come far outweighs the affliction of the present. The affliction is light and temporary when compared with the all-surpassing and everlasting glory. So Paul, writing against a background of recent and (even for him) unparalleled tribulation, had assured his friends in Corinth a year or two previously that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17)." "The verses (8:19 and following) are closely connected with verse 18, and evidently were written to encourage the Christian to endure suffering for the sake of the glory that shall be revealed to usward." "One can write across humanity: FALLEN SHORT. Mankind has failed. They aren't inherently evil, but people end up doing evil. The body which is vulnerable to pain and (overdoses of) pleasure seems to be a poor partner for the ..spirit. The good news is that the body which has suffered through the fall is to be redeemed. It will become a fitted vehicle for service to God. Pain and pressure, suffering and lusts, are a source of temptation to the believer. And if indeed saints are joint heirs with Christ, what about all this pain and inner pressure? The person has been redeemed from the penalty of sin, but will the person ever be redeemed from the vulnerability he has to pain and pressure? When will redemption come?"


Romans 8:19 "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God".


"Earnest expectation"-"anxious longing" (NASV). This phrase is made up of three Greek words, and speaks of one waiting with the head raised looking at the horizon from which the expected thing will come (McGuiggan p. 255). "Watching with head stretched away from the body like one leading far out to get the first glimpse of something coming into sight". "Denotes absorbed, persistent expectation" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 649). "A waiting in suspense" (Vincent p. 92). "The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own" (Phillips). "Waiteth"-"to wait it out" (Thayer), i.e. to keep waiting until the expected actually appears. "The words are strong, indeed: the head stretched forward in intense watching, waiting and never tiring or desisting until the thing waited for appears"(Lenski p. 532). "Creation"-building, creation, creature, ordinance. The KJV here says "creature". The main question among commentators is "what is the creation that Paul has in mind". Various views:


1. The "New Creation", i.e. the Church:


The same word is used in describing the Christian as "a new creature" And yet the "creature/creation" in Romans 8:19-23, is distinguished from the children of God (8:19,21,23).


2. The rest of humanity:



The same word is also used of "every creature", that is every person (Mark 16:15; Col. 1:23; Heb. 4:13). Zerr has an interesting comment in his commentary, "Every man (though some unconsciously) wants something better than he is enjoying in his frail, decaying body. Paul calls the state that is thus yearned for, the manifestation of the sons of God" (p. 362). Yet, McGuiggan argues, "It cannot be the unforgiven for they will not be revealed in glory, nor were they subjected to bondage by another's will (8:20). And neither can they be said to be eagerly waiting for the coming day" (p. 255). I do believe what Zerr says is true. I believe that everyone 'longs' for what Heaven will provide (Revelation 21:4). The problem is, they seek to find "heaven" now, they refuse to trust God, and they turn to sinful pleasures that provide them a temporary "escape" from this world.


3. The "creation" is creation excluding man:


This is a common view held by many commentators. The usual explanation is, "The earth that was put under a curse (Genesis 3:17ff; 5:29) because of man's sin (8:20) will be liberated at the time when God's sons will be liberated in a glorious fashion. Our bodies and the earth have close ties. Glory will be given to both. Physical death and suffering entered into man's existence; thorns and thistles (some would add storms, earthquakes, and natural disasters) became the lot of the innocent earth." Some would say, "How can it be said that the physical creation groans?" (8:22). Some point out that often in the O.T., God has the physical creation sympathizing with man (Psalm 98:8; Isaiah 55:12; Ezekiel 31:15; Isaiah 24:5-7). The physical creation has often paid a price for man's sin (Genesis 7:23). If this view is correct, then Paul is here saying, "You and the creation are looking for the same thing", release from this physical existence. Some commentators make the mistake of thinking that these verses are teaching that the physical universe will simply be "renewed" or "renovated", but such is not the case (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 20:11; 21:1). At the resurrection the Christian will be released from his physical body and fitted with a new spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-44), and the creation will be released from it's physical existence. "The revealing of the sons of God"-"when the (glory of) the sons of God shall be revealed" (Con). When the children of God, and all the redeemed of the ages, having been resurrected, are revealed in their final glory (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17 "gloried with Him"). The next verse tell us how the creation came to this waiting state:


Romans 8:20 "For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope"


"For"-here is how the creation came to such an expectant state. "Subjected to vanity"-"subjected to futility'" (NASV). Figuratively- transientness. "Decay" (Con); "Imperfection'"(TCNT). In the sense of failure to reach the proper end, to accomplish the intended purpose. The creation was subject to man before the fall (Genesis 1:26-28), but not subject to "vainness". It was subject to man for true effectiveness, to accomplish the purpose for which God had created it. "The idea is that of looking for what one does not find--hence of futility, frustration, disappointment..Sin brought this doom on creation; it made a pessimistic view of the universe inevitable" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 649). "Not of its own will"-suggests non-responsibility for the bondage. "And this it did not do of its own accord, but because the will of God ordered that it should be thus altered (Genesis 3:17-18)" (McGarvey p. 363). The idea could either be "not for some deliberate fault of its own" (Knox), or, "not willingly". "But by reason of Him who subjected it"-that is, God. "In hope"-"God never intended the creation to be permanently in a cursed state (8:21)" (McGuiggan p. 257).



Romans 8:21 "that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God".


"That the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption"- here is the "hope" mentioned in the previous verse. "Also"-seems to indicate that the "creation" in these verses is to be viewed as distinct from the "children of God". "Bondage of corruption"-decay, i.e. ruin (spontaneous or inflicted, literally or figuratively): -corruption, destroy, perish. "Bondage of decay" (Gspd); "shackles of mortality" (NEB). "A system in which nothing continues in one stay, in which death claims everything..from such a condition creation is to be emancipated.." "Liberty of the glory"-liberty is one of the elements of the glorious state (Vincent p. 94). "Liberty is described as consisting in, belonging to, being one component part of, the glorified state of the children of God: thus the thought is carried up to the state to which the freedom belongs" (Alford p. 911). "It (the creation) shared the corruption and morality of man's sin, and will share his deliverance from it".'


Romans 8:22 "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" "We know"-"everything which we see, every creature which lives, is thus subjected to a state of servitude, pain, vanity, and death" (Barnes p. 192). "It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail" (Phi). "He reminds Christians that sufferings, death, and decay are not peculiar to Christians, but are the common lot of all".

"Groaneth"-to moan jointly, experience a common calamity, groan together. "All is united in a condition of and universal grief" (Barnes p. 192). "Travaileth"-to have pangs in company (concert, simultaneously) with, to sympathize (in expectation of relief from suffering), travail in pain together.


Romans 8:23 "And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for {our} adoption, {to wit}, the redemption of our body".


"And not only so"-"Not only this" (NASV). "But ourselves also"-Christians. "Who have the first-fruits of the Spirit"-Used figuratively,"the first fruits" signify the assurance of much more to follow, namely the revelation of the glory or the liberty of the glory(Lenski p. 541). N.T. Christians received "miraculous gifts of the Spirit" (1 Cor. 12-14), and even we today who follow the Spirit's teaching produce the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-23), but even greater blessings are to come, such as the resurrection and transformation of our physical bodies. See also: (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:22). "Even we ourselves groan"-we understand this "groaning" experience. "Within ourselves"-2 Cor. 5:4 "while we are in this tent (body), we groan". "Waiting"-again, "waiting" means "eagerly expecting". All Christians who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit (8:6,14) are on tiptoe, and are eagerly expecting their full adoption, which is the complete redemption of body and soul. "Redemption of our body"-(Philippians 3:21). "When the body, too, is raised from the dead, and joined in glory with the soul, then all that adoption includes will be fully in our possession". Hence the Christian doesn't despair with the prospect of growing old, or in the face of a disease that the body can't fight off. Our salvation, involves the saving of the body.


Romans 8:24 "For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth"?


"In hope were we saved"-"We were saved with this hope ahead" (Mof). "In hope of such glorious deliverance" (Whiteside p. 184). We were saved by an obedient faith in Jesus Christ (1:16). "It is their climate or environment. It doesn't matter that all of their blessings are not at this time visible. That adds some zest to life; to know that there is much that is ahead that is beautiful and beyond description." "This sentence explains why Paul can speak of Christians as waiting for adoption, while they are nevertheless in the enjoyment of sonship. It is because salvation is essentially related to the future..our salvation was qualified from the beginning by reference to a good yet to be.." Hence the Christian life is one that is lived in the element or sphere of hope (2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1; 6:19).

Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017