Romans 8:18-30

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope f

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Observation

  • The sufferings now are now worth comparing to the glory that we will see.
  • Creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed.
  • Creation was subjected to futility.
  • Creation was subjected to futility unwillingly.
  • Creation was subjected to futility by God.
  • The creation is in bondage to corruption.
  • Creation was subjected to futility in hope it would be set free from its bondage to corruption.
  • Creation was subjected to futility in hope that it would obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
  • The children of God have glory.
  • The entire creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth.
  • We groan with creation as we await the adoption as children of God.
  • We have the first fruits of the Spirit.
  • We groan with creation as we await the redemption of our bodies.
  • We were saved to be adopted by God.
  • We are to be adopted as sons.
  • Hope that is realized is no longer hope.
  • We hope for what has not yet occurred.
  • No one hopes for what has already happened.
  • We wait with patience for what we hope for.
  • The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
  • We do not know what to pray for as we ought.
  • Since we do not know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us.
  • The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings
  • The groanings the Spirit uses to intercede for us are too deep for words.
  • God knows the mind of the Spirit.
  • God searches the heart.
  • The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of the God.
  • All thing work together for the good of those who love God and are called for God’s purpose.
  • Those God foreknew God predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
  • God predestined those he foreknew to be conformed to the image of Jesus so Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers.
  • Those God predestined to be conformed to Jesus He called
  • Those God called God justified.
  • Those God justified He glorified.

Interpretation

The ESV divides this chapter at verse 17. But in order to understand these verses we must keep in mind the context of the previous verses. Paul has just completed saying not only that we might experience sufferings. But we will definitely experience sufferings. And not only will we experience suffering but we will experience suffering specifically because we are Christians. We suffer specifically because we bear the image of Christ. That does not sound like good news. But Paul does not end that thought there. In this section Paul tells us that no matter what we suffer, it is nothing compared to the glory that is to come. And not only is it incomparable to the glory to come, God Himself has guaranteed we will receive that glory. God Himself made the decision we will receive that glory for His glory. And if the creator of all things guarantees it, it is a sure thing.

Through the fall of Adam the entire creation was affected. Creation did not choose to become imperfect, decay and die. Adam’s sin had that effect on everything. All of creation suffers as a result of our sin. There is no such thing as a private sin, examples of this abound today. Children are affected by the decision and actions of the parents, for better or worse. The children do not choose the consequences but they suffer the consequences. So too, God subjected all creation to corruption as a consequence of Adam’s sin. All of creation is affected and waits longingly for the time we will be resurrected and glorified with Christ. As John said “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) We are and will be changed and all of creation with us. God will lose the bondage of creation and restore it to a perfect state. By saying that all creation groans together, he does not mean that we are united together by mutual anxiety, but it joins us as companions in anticipation.

We have received the “first fruits,” meaning we have received a sprinkling of the Holy Spirit. We have not yet received the fullness of the Spirit. Therefore, it is no wonder we feel anxious. Paul does not call this a desire but a groaning. In groaning there is a deep felling of misery, knowing that we still lack the fullness of the Spirit.

Paul strengthens his argument about lacking the fullness of the Spirit, by his short discussion about hope. Hope only applies to things we have not yet obtained. Because once we have obtained something we no longer hope for it. Our salvation while, in one sense, we have obtained it, in a far greater sense we still have yet to receive it. So we hope for it. Thus, the best is yet to come.

Since we have not yet received perfection the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not even know what to pray. We fail to pray properly. Therefore the Spirit helps us by interceding for us. He makes requests to the Father on our behalf and they are certainly answered.

Paul says, we know for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, God works all things together for good. This is a tremendously comforting statement. It not only acknowledges the sovereignty of God but reassures us that God is watching over us. Nothing is outside the providence of God. Often we are paralyzed into inaction and do nothing because we are afraid of doing the wrong thing. First, Paul says that God works all things for His purpose. We no longer need to be afraid of working outside of His will. Second, God cares for those who belong to Him. Everything that happens, God uses for our sanctification. Paul does not say, God works all things together for good. For those who are not called and do not love God, things do not work together for good. All things works together for the good of those who fall under certain conditions, first they love God and second they are called to God’s purpose. Actually we cannot love God unless we are called as we will see in chapter 9.

All things work together for good to those who are called. Not everyone is called. Only those who God has predestined are called. (v30). Yes, I know we crafted theologies that claim everyone is called. And God loves everyone the same. The problem is that theology does not square with Scripture. Here Paul clearly says only those God predestined are called. We can believe or reject it. But it says what it says.

Paul’s statement that all things work together for good is a conclusion of everything that has gone before. Are the troubles of life hindering our santification? No, they are helps to it. Paul anticipates the complaint that God does not hear our prayers. The reason we argue that God does not hear is we remain in our miserable condition. We continue to suffer. The fact is we do not know how to pray. As a result, the Spirit has to intercede for us. God does not forsake us He uses our suffering is a means of grace. Even though both the elect and the non-elect are exposed to similar evils, there is a big difference. God strengthens the faithful by suffering, and uses it to promote our salvation, even though we do not see it.

“Those God foreknew He predestined …” this is read by some as, “Those God foreknew would accept Him, He predestined…” The extra words must be inserted in order to make the scripture conform to their theology. They insist on changing the scripture rather than changing their theology. The question is what does it say? It says those God foreknew He predestined. It is not discussing what God foreknew but who God foreknew. God knows about everyone, He is omniscient. So it could be argued that he foreknew everyone. If that is true this passage would say God predestined everyone to be conformed to the image of His son. That is universalism. Universalism says everyone will be saved. But we know that is not true from other passages of scripture. So the argument that those God foreknew refers to everyone, can be rejected out of hand. Therefore, it is referring to a subset of all humanity. When the bible talks about knowing someone it always is referring to knowing someone in an intimate way, Adam knew Eve, Abraham knew Sarah, Jacob knew Rebecca and Leah. God knew beforehand and loved intimately some and not all. Those he loved intimately he predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Though this passage has been justly used to demonstrate the doctrine of sovereign election, let us not forget the main purpose of this passage. We have a great promise from God Himself, that we will be glorified. The fact God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son should be of great comfort. Therefore, what we suffer here and now is of no comparison.

Application

This passage, “all things work together for good” has been misused greatly and as a result is one of the best anti-apologetic teachings there is. This verse is often used to say, don’t worry everything will work out fine, after all, all things work together for good. God will fix everything. All you need to do is ask Him. If you have enough faith then your prayers will be answered. This is simply not true. When someone has put their trust and faith in such bad teaching, and it does not turn out to be true, it is then used as proof of the falsehood of the bible.

All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. They work together for good if we love God. If we love God our desire is not that we do not suffer but that God is glorified. If we try to apply that to our financial situation, what does that say about what we love? If we try to apply it to our wellness and comfort, what does that say about who we love?

It is amazing how we tend to ignore or skip over sections of scripture that do not fit our theology or we do not understand. It is a testament to our sinful nature. That is exactly what I did for years with this section for scripture. If I was forced to address it, I unintentionally and unknowingly would insert words into it to make it fit my theology. That is, I made the scripture say what I thought it ought to say rather than examining what it actually said.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Get Free Weekly Bible Studies

Go Deeper into the study of God's word. Receive FREE weekly Bible studies.