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1: There is therefore now no condemnation - Either for
things present or past. Now he comes to deliverance and liberty.
The apostle here resumes the thread of his discourse, which was
interrupted, (Ro 7:7).
2: The law of the Spirit - That is, the gospel. Hath freed
me from the law of sin and death - That is, the Mosaic dispensation.
3: For what the law - Of Moses. Could not do, in that it
was weak through the flesh - Incapable of conquering our evil
nature. If it could, God needed not to have sent his own Son in
the likeness of sinful flesh - We with our sinful flesh were devoted
to death. But God sending his own Son, in the likeness of that
flesh, though pure from sin, condemned that sin which was in
our flesh; gave sentence, that sin should be destroyed, and the
believer wholly delivered from it.
4: That the righteousness of the law - The holiness it
required, described, (Ro 8:11).
Might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but
after the Spirit - Who are guided in all our thoughts, words, and
actions, not by corrupt nature, but by the Spirit of God. From
this place St. Paul describes primarily the state of believers,
and that of unbelievers only to illustrate this.
5: They that are after the flesh - Who remain under the
guidance of corrupt nature. Mind the things of the flesh - Have
their thoughts and affections fixed on such things as gratify
corrupt nature; namely, on things visible and temporal; on things
of the earth, on pleasure, (of sense or imagination,) praise, or
riches. But they who are after the Spirit - Who are under his
guidance. Mind the things of the Spirit - Think of, relish, love
things invisible, eternal; the things which the Spirit hath
revealed, which he works in us, moves us to, and promises to
6: For to be carnally minded - That is, to mind the things of
the flesh. Is death - The sure mark of spiritual death, and the way
to death everlasting. But to be spiritually minded - That is, to
mind the things of the Spirit. Is life - A sure mark of spiritual
life, and the way to life everlasting. And attended with peace
- The peace of God, which is the foretaste of life everlasting; and
peace with God, opposite to the enmity mentioned in the next verse.
7: Enmity against God - His existence, power, and providence.
8: They who are in the flesh - Under the government of it.
9: In the Spirit - Under his government. If any man have
not the Spirit of Christ - Dwelling and governing in him. He is
none of his - He is not a member of Christ; not a Christian; not in
a state of salvation. A plain, express declaration, which admits of
no exception. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
10: Now if Christ be in you - Where the Spirit of Christ is,
there is Christ. The body indeed is dead - Devoted to death.
Because of sin - Heretofore committed. But the Spirit is life
- Already truly alive. Because of righteousness - Now attained.
From (Ro 8:13), St. Paul, having finished what he had begun,(Ro 6:1), describes purely the state of believers.
12: We are not debtors to the flesh - We ought not to follow it.
13: The deeds of the flesh - Not only evil actions, but evil
desires, tempers, thoughts. If ye mortify - Kill, destroy these.
Ye shall live - The life of faith more abundantly here, and hereafter
the life of glory.
14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God - In all the ways
of righteousness. They are the sons of God - Here St. Paul enters
upon the description of those blessings which he comprises, (Ro 8:30),
in the word glorified; though, indeed, he does not describe mere
glory, but that which is still mingled with the cross. The sum
is, through sufferings to glory.
15: For ye - Who are real Christians. Have not received
the spirit of bondage - The Holy Ghost was not properly a spirit of
bondage, even in the time of the Old Testament. Yet there was
something of bondage remaining even in those who then had received
the Spirit. Again - As the Jews did before. We - All and every
believer. Cry - The word denotes a vehement speaking, with desire,
confidence, constancy. Abba, Father - The latter word explains the
former. By using both the Syriac and the Greek word, St. Paul seems
to point out the joint cry both of the Jewish and gentile believers.
The spirit of bondage here seems directly to mean, those operations
of the Holy Spirit by which the soul, on its first conviction, feels
itself in bondage to sin, to the world, to Satan, and obnoxious to the
wrath of God. This, therefore, and the Spirit of adoption, are one
and the same Spirit, only manifesting itself in various operations,
according to the various circumstances of the persons.
16: The same Spirit beareth witness with our spirit - With
the spirit of every true believer, by a testimony distinct from
that of his own spirit, or the testimony of a good conscience.
Happy they who enjoy this clear and constant.
17: Joint heirs - That we may know it is a great inheritance
which God will give us for he hath given a great one to his Son.
If we suffer with him - Willingly and cheerfully, for righteousness'
sake. This is a new proposition, referring to what follows.
18: For I reckon - This verse gives the reason why he but
now mentioned sufferings and glory. When that glory "shall be
revealed in us," then the sons of God will be revealed also.
19: For the earnest expectation - The word denotes a lively
hope of something drawing near, and a vehement longing after it.
Of the creation - Of all visible creatures, believers excepted,
who are spoken of apart; each kind, according as it is capable.
All these have been sufferers through sin; and to all these (the
finally impenitent excepted) shall refreshment redound from the
glory of the children of God. Upright heathens are by no means
to be excluded from this earnest expectation: nay, perhaps
something of it may at some times be found even in the vainest of
men; who (although in the hurry of life they mistake vanity for
liberty, and partly stifle. partly dissemble, their groans, yet)
in their sober, quiet, sleepless, afflicted hours, pour forth many
sighs in the ear of God.
20: The creation was made subject to vanity - Abuse, misery,
and corruption. By him who subjected it - Namely, God,(Ge 3:17,5:29). Adam only made it liable to the sentence which
God pronounced; yet not without hope.
21: The creation itself shall be delivered - Destruction is not
deliverance: therefore whatsoever is destroyed, or ceases to be, is
not delivered at all. Will, then, any part of the creation be
destroyed? Into the glorious liberty - The excellent state wherein
they were created.
22: For the whole creation groaneth together - With joint
groans, as it were with one voice. And travaileth - Literally,
is in the pains of childbirth, to be delivered of the burden of
the curse. Until now - To this very hour; and so on till the time
23: And even we, who have the first - fruits of the Spirit
- That is, the Spirit, who is the first - fruits of our inheritance.
The adoption - Persons who had been privately adopted among the
Romans were often brought forth into the forum, and there publicly
owned as their sons by those who adopted them. So at the general
resurrection, when the body itself is redeemed from death, the sons
of God shall be publicly owned by him in the great assembly of men
and angels. The redemption of our body - From corruption to glory
24: For we are saved by hope - Our salvation is now only in
hope. We do not yet possess this full salvation.
26: Likewise the Spirit - Nay, not only the universe, not only
the children of God, but the Spirit of God also himself, as it
were, groaneth, while he helpeth our infirmities, or weaknesses.
Our understandings are weak, particularly in the things of God our
desires are weak; our prayers are weak. We know not - Many times.
What we should pray for - Much less are we able to pray for it as
we ought: but the Spirit maketh intercession for us - In our hearts,
even as Christ does in heaven. With groanings - The matter of which
is from ourselves, but the Spirit forms them; and they are
frequently inexpressible, even by the faithful themselves.
27: But he who searcheth the hearts - Wherein the Spirit
dwells and intercedes. Knoweth - Though man cannot utter it.
What is the mind of the Spirit, for he maketh intercession for the
saints - Who are near to God. According to God - According to his
will, as is worthy of God. and acceptable to him.
28: And we know - This in general; though we do not always
know particularly what to pray for. That all things - Ease or pain,
poverty or riches, and the ten thousand changes of life. Work
together for good - Strongly and sweetly for spiritual and eternal
good. To them that are called according to his purpose - His
gracious design of saving a lost world by the death of his Son.
This is a new proposition. St. Paul, being about to recapitulate
the whole blessing contained in justification, (termed
"glorification," (Ro 8:30),) first goes back to the purpose or
decree of God, which is frequently mentioned in holy writ.
To explain this (nearly in the words of an eminent writer) a
little more at large: - When a man has a work of time and importance
before him, he pauses, consults, and contrives; and when he has
laid a plan, resolves or decrees to proceed accordingly. Having
observed this in ourselves, we are ready to apply it to God also;
and he, in condescension to us has applied it to himself.
The works of providence and redemption are vast and stupendous,
and therefore we are apt to conceive of God as deliberating and
consulting on them, and then decreeing to act according to "the
counsel of his own will;" as if, long before the world was made,
he had been concerting measures both as to the making and governing
of it, and had then writ down his decrees, which altered not, any
more than the laws of the Medes and Persians. Whereas, to take
this consulting and decreeing in a literal sense, would be the
same absurdity as to ascribe a real human body and human passions
to the ever - blessed God.
This is only a popular representation of his infallible knowledge
and unchangeable wisdom; that is, he does all things as wisely as a
man can possibly do, after the deepest consultation, and as steadily
pursues the most proper method as one can do who has laid a scheme
beforehand. But then, though the effects be such as would argue
consultation and consequent decrees in man, yet what need of a
moment's consultation in Him who sees all things at one view?
Nor had God any more occasion to pause and deliberate, and lay
down rules for his own conduct from all eternity, than he has now.
What was there any fear of his mistaking afterwards, if he had not
beforehand prepared decrees, to direct him what he was to do? Will
any man say, he was wiser before the creation than since? or had he
then more leisure, that he should take that opportunity to settle
his affairs, and make rules (or himself, from which he was never
He has doubtless the same wisdom and all other perfections at this
day which he had from eternity; and is now as capable of making
decrees, or rather has no more occasion for them now than formerly:
his understanding being always equally clear and bright, his wisdom
29: Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated conformable
to the image of his Son - Here the apostle declares who those are
whom he foreknew and predestinated to glory; namely, those who are
conformable to the image of his Son. This is the mark of those who
are foreknown and will be glorified, (2Ti 2:19,Php 3:10,21).
30: Them he - In due time. Called - By his gospel and his
Spirit. And whom he called - When obedient to the heavenly calling,(Ac 26:19).
He also justified - Forgave and accepted. And whom he justified
- Provided they "continued in his goodness," (Ro 11:22),
he in the end glorified - St. Paul does not affirm, either here
or in any other part of his writings. that precisely the same
number of men are called, justified, and glorified. He does not
deny that a believer may fall away and be cut off between his
special calling and his glorification, (Ro 11:22).
Neither does he deny that many are called who never are justified.
He only affirms that this is the method whereby God leads us step
by step toward heaven. He glorified - He speaks as one looking
back from the goal, upon the race of faith. Indeed grace, as it
is glory begun, is both an earnest and a foretaste of eternal glory.
31: What shall we say then to these things - Related in the
third, fifth, and eighth chapters? As if he had said, We cannot
go, think, or wish anything farther. If God be for us - Here follow
four periods, one general and three particular. Each begins with
glorying in the grace of God, which is followed by a question
suitable to it, challenging all opponents to all which, "I am
persuaded," &c., is a general answer. The general period is, If
God be for us, who can be against us? The first particular
period, relating to the past time, is, He that spared not his own
Son, how shall he not freely give us all things? The second,
relating to the present, is, It is God that justifieth. Who is he
that condemneth? The third, relating to the future, is, It is
Christ that died - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
32: He that - This period contains four sentences: He
spared not his own Son; therefore he will freely give us all
things. He delivered him up for us all; therefore, none can
lay anything to our charge. Freely - For all that follows
justification is a free gift also. All things - Needful or
profitable for us.
33: God's elect - The above - cited author observes, that
long before the coming of Christ the heathen world revolted from
the true God, and were therefore reprobated, or rejected.
But the nation of the Jews were chosen to be the people of God,
and were therefore styled,
"the children" or "sons of God," (De 14:1);
"holy people," (De 7:6,14:2);
"a chosen seed," (De 4:37);
"the elect," (Isa 41:8,9,43:10);
"the called of God," (Isa 48:12).
And these titles were given to all the nation of Israel,
including both good and bad.
Now the gospel having the most strict connexion with the Books
of the Old Testament, where these phrases frequently occur; and
our Lord and his apostles being native Jews, and beginning to
preach in the land of Israel, the language in which they preached
would of course abound with the phrases of the Jewish nation.
And hence it is easy to see why such of them as would not receive
him were styled reprobated. For they no longer continued to be
the people of God; whereas this and those other honourable titles
were continued to all such Jews as embraced Christianity. And the
same appellations which once belonged to the Jewish nation were now
given to the gentile Christians also together with which they were
invested with all the privileges of "the chosen people of God;" and
nothing could cut them off from these but their own wilful apostasy.
It does not appear that even good men were ever termed God's elect
till above two thousand years from the creation. God's electing or
choosing the nation of Israel, and separating them from the other
nations, who were sunk in idolatry and all wickedness, gave the first
occasion to this sort of language. And as the separating the
Christians from the Jews was a like event, no wonder it was
expressed in like words and phrases only with this difference, the
term elect was of old applied to all the members of the visible
church; whereas in the New Testament it is applied only to the
members of the invisible.
34: Yea rather, that is risen - Our faith should not stop at
his death, but be exercised farther on his resurrection, kingdom,
second coming. Who maketh intercession for us - Presenting there
his obedience, his sufferings, his prayers, and our prayers
sanctified through him.
35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ - Toward
us? Shall affliction or distress - He proceeds in order, from
less troubles to greater: can any of these separate us from his
protection in it ; and, if he sees good, deliverance from it?
36: All the day - That is, every day, continually.
We are accounted - By our enemies; by ourselves.(Ps 44:22).
37: We more than conquer - We are not only no losers, but
abundant gainers, by all these trials. This period seems to
describe the full assurance of hope.
38: I am persuaded - This is inferred from the thirty - fourth
verse, in an admirable order: -
Neither death" shall hurt us; For "Christ is dead:"
"Nor life;" 'is risen"
Nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers; nor things pre -
sent, nor things to come;" "is at the right hand of God:"
"Nor height, nor depth, nor any
other creature;" "maketh intercession for us."
Neither death - Terrible as it is to natural men; a violent death in
particular, (Ro 8:36).
Nor life - With all the affliction and distress it can bring,(Ro 8:35); or a long, easy life; or all living men.
Nor angels - Whether good (if it were possible they should attempt it)
or bad, with all their wisdom and strength. Nor principalities, nor
powers - Not even those of the highest rank, or the most eminent
power. Nor things present - Which may befal us during our pilgrimage;
or the whole world, till it passeth away. Nor things to come - Which
may occur either when our time on earth is past, or when time itself is
at an end, as the final judgment, the general conflagration, the
everlasting fire. Nor height, nor depth - The former sentence respected
the differences of times; this, the differences of places. How many great
and various things are contained in these words, we do not, need not,
cannot know yet. The height - In St. Paul's sublime style, is put for
heaven. The depth - For the great abyss: that is, neither the heights,
I will not say of walls, mountains, seas, but, of heaven itself, can
move us; nor the abyss itself, the very thought of which might astonish
the boldest creature. Nor any creature - Nothing beneath the Almighty;
visible enemies he does not even deign to name. Shall be able - Either
by force, (Ro 8:35); or by any legal claim, (Ro 8:33), &c.
To separate us from the love of God in Christ - Which will surely save,
protect, deliver us who believe in, and through, and from, them all.