Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ROMANS - Chapter 8

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Romans 8

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  DOCTRINAL:
THE GOSPEL THE POWER OF GOD FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL WHO BELIEVE  
1, 18 -- 11, 36 (continued)

4.  Justification and the Christian Life  6, 1 -- 8, 39 (continued)

8, 1-4:  The Faithful Need Fear No Condemnation.  The security which Christianity gives to its adherents is based on two conditions:  (a) a man must be incorporated into Christ; (b) he must live according to the spirit and not according to the flesh.  Both of these are made possible through Christ.

1.  Therefore introduces the conclusion following upon 6-7.  There is now no condemnation, etc.: the threats and penalties of the Law are nullified, since the Law itself was abrogated by the death of Christ.  Through union with Him the faithful are enabled to live the life of the spirit.    2.  This provides the reason.  For the expressions involving the term law cf. 7, 21-23.  Law of spirit of life: a rule of life apprehended by the mind illuminated by grace which comes from union with Christ through Baptism.  It is a law because it is a permanent state; and it is in opposition to the "law of sin."    3 f.  It was weak, etc.: good in itself, the Law could not overcome the rebellion of the flesh against the inner man (cf. 8, 12.16.22).  His Son: the Greek reads: "His own Son."  This emphasizes the relation of the Father to Jesus Christ and their community of nature.  In the likeness, etc.: like to us in everything except sin (Heb. 2, 17; 4, 15; 2 Cor. 5, 21).  Justification of the Law: the Law was given as a means of securing the promised justification.  According to the flesh: guided by one's evil instincts.  According to the spirit: guided by reason enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

8, 5-11:  The Flesh and the Spirit.  This develops the thought expressed in 8, 4.    5.  Mind the things: desire and seek after.  The things of the flesh: cf. Gal. 5, 19.  Things of the spirit: cf. Gal. 5, 22.    6.  Inclination: in Greek from the same root as mind in 5.  It includes both disposition of mind and inclination of will.  The flesh and the spirit lead in opposite directions.    7.  Hostile: the Greek is more expressive: "is enmity against God."  Nor can it be: this refers to inclination.    8.  Carnal: is the same as "according to the flesh."

9.  If indeed: this does not question the fact that the Romans are spiritual, but indicates the reason why they are so.  It is, however, possible to fall from this state.  The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ is the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  Belong to Christ: as a member of His Mystical Body.    10.  If Christ is in you: another way of describing the intimate union with Him in the Mystical Body.  The body is dead: destined to die as the result of original sin which once infected it.  Life: justification is the root of spiritual life.    11.  Bring to life, etc.: in the resurrection of the body to glory.

8, 12-13:  A Solemn Warning.  The faithful, as already shown, owe nothing to the flesh.  They owe everything to the Spirit.  If they would live again according to the flesh they must die.  To avoid that death, they must put to death the yearnings and inclinations of the flesh.  This supposes that grace, powerful though it be, can be lost.

8, 14-17:  The Faithful Sons of God.    14.  For connects this passage with the preceding.  Are led: man is led by the Holy Spirit in accord with his nature, which is endowed with intellect and free will.  It is possible for man to resist this guidance.    15 f.  These verses form a parenthesis.  Spirit of bondage: the attitude of mind of a slave who serves out of a fear of punishment.  Spirit of adoption as sons: by which they regard God as their father and address Him as such.  Abba: an Aramaic word to which its equivalent, Father, is added.    17.  As suffering was a prerequisite to the glorification of Christ (Phil 2, 9), so it is , in God's design, required that we suffer in union with Him.  Cf. Matt. 16, 24 f.

8, 18-22:  Yearning of All Creation.    18.  The sufferings: those referred to in v.17.  Are not worthy to be compared: our sufferings in this life are momentary and passing; future glory will be eternal.    19.  Creation: all created things, men and angels excluded.  Awaits: impatiently expects, looks for.  Revelation of the sons of God: the day of general judgment when the faithful will be manifested the sons of God and enter into their glorious inheritance.    20.  For indicates the reason for this "eager longing."  Vanity: the law of change and corruption, the disorders in the world.  Not by its own will, etc.: through no fault of its own, but by God, to make the world share in the punishment of man's sin.  Cf. Gen. 3, 17 f.  In hope: as creation shared in the penalty of man's sin, so it shares in his hope of justification.    21.  The doctrine of a new heaven and a new earth.  Cf. Isa. 65, 17; 2 Pet. 3, 13; Apoc. 21, 1.    22.  Paul's readers would know from Gen. 3, 17 that the state of created things was not what it was intended to be.  They also would know that creation's groaning would not go unheeded by God.

8, 23-25:  Yearning of Human Beings.    23.  First-fruits: the life of grace in this world.  Adoption as sons . . . redemption of our body: in this glorification in the general resurrection at the end of time.    24.  In hope we are saved: i.e., in the hope of eternal glory.  Cf. Eph. 1, 14; 4, 30.  Hope necessarily has as its object an absent blessing.

8, 26-27:  The Holy Spirit Aids Us.    26.  In like manner: as all creation and we also groan for liberation.  Our weakness: probably, as in the following sentence, our not knowing what we should pray for.  Others explain: our inability to formulate prayers acceptable to God.  Unutterable groanings: there may be reference here to the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 14).  The Greek can be translated, "unspoken (or silent) groanings."    27.  What we cannot express is known to God.

8, 28-30:  God's Designs.    28.  Those who love God: i.e., all true Christians, the "saints" of 27.  The Greek reads: "he (God) makes all thing work together unto good. . . ."  All the circumstances of life whether favorable or unfavorable, God employs as a means of further sanctification of the faithful.  Through his call: His efficacious call.    29.  Foreknown: the first step in "His call." implying favor, choice.  Conformed to the image of his Son: to be like Him in the resurrection and glorification of their bodies.  That he should be, etc.: in His human nature He was "obedient unto death" and thus merited glory for all mankind.  We share in that glory as His brothers, He being the eldest, the firstborn.    30.  The other steps towards glorification.  He has glorified: the past tense used of a future event sure of realization.  The certitude in this case is on the part of God.  He cannot fail on His part; man on his part must co-operate with the grace.

8, 31-34:  Unshakable Hope in God.    31.  What shall we say: i.e., what conclusion shall we draw from what has been said?  Who is against us: what does it matter how powerful the enemies lined up against us?    32.  There is emphasis on His own Son, the Son of God by His nature, while we are sons by adoption.    33.  No accusation against us is valid, since He declares us just.    34.  No one can condemn us, since Jesus Christ, the supreme judge of all men is our advocate.

8, 35-39:  Indomitable Love of Christ.    35 f.  The love of Christ: i.e., the love Christ has for us; though the common opinion among ancient interpreters considered it the love we have for Christ.  Shall tribulation, etc.: none of these adversities, all of which Paul himself had experienced, could weaken Christ's love for us, nor should they make us doubt His love.  The citation from Ps. 43 refers to the persecutions suffered by God's people of old for their faith.    37.  We overcome: the Greek term is stronger: "we more than emerge victorious."  And this is owing to Christ who, in His love for us, supplies the needed courage and strength.    38 f.  An enumeration of our most formidable opponents: death, the  most terrifying; life, the most alluring; angels, the most powerful; present or to come, all-embracing in time; height or depth, all-embracing in space.  No creature can separate us from that profound love that God has for us in Christ Jesus.


Confraternity Bible:

The Faithful Need Fear No Condemnation  1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh.  2 For the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus has delivered me from the law of sin and of death.  3 For what was impossible to the Law, in that it was weak because of the flesh, God has made good.  By sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin-offering, 4 in order that the requirements of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

The Flesh and the Spirit  5 Now they who are according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but they who are according to the spirit mind the things of the spirit.  6 For the inclination of the flesh is death, but the inclination of the spirit, life and peace.  7 For the wisdom of the flesh is hostile to God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be.  8 And they who are carnal cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not carnal but spiritual, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  10 But if Christ is in you, the body, it is true, is dead by reason of sin, but the spirit is life by reason of justification.  11 But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also bring to life your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you.

A Solemn Warning  12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, that we should live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live.

The Faithful Sons of God  14 For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  15 Now you have not received a spirit of bondage so as to be again in fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, "Abba!  Father!"  16* The Spirit himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God.  17 But if we are sons, we are heirs also: heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided, however, we suffer with him that we may also be glorified with him.

Yearning of All Creation  18* For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us.  19* For the eager longing of creation awaits the revelation of the sons of God.  20* For creation was made subject to vanity---not by its own will but by reason of him who made it subject---in hope, 21* because creation itself also will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.  22* For we know that all creation groans and travails in pain until now.

Yearning of Human Beings  23* And not only it, but we ourselves also who have the first-fruits of the Spirit---we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.  24 For in hope were we saved.  But hope that is seen is not hope.  For how can a man hope for what he sees?  25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

The Holy Spirit Aids Us  26 But in like manner the Sprit also helps our weakness.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself pleads for us with unutterable groanings.  27 And he who searches the hearts knows what the Spirit desires, that he pleads for the saints according to God.

God's Designs  28 Now we know that for those who love God all things work together unto good, for those who, according to his purpose, are saints through his call.  29 For those whom he has foreknown he has also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren.  30 And those whom he has predestined, them he has also called; and those whom he has called, them he has also justified, and those whom he has justified, them he has also glorified.

Unshakable Hope in God  31 What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?  32 He who has not spared even his own Son but has delivered him for us all, how can he fail to grant us also all things with him?  33 Who shall make accusation against the elect of God?  It is God who justifies!  34 Who shall condemn?  It is Christ Jesus who died; yes, and rose again, he who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us!

Indomitable Love of Christ  35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword?  36* Even as it is written,
"For thy sake we are put to death all the day long. 

We are regarded as sheep for the slaughter." 
37 But in all these things we overcome because of him who has loved us.  38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
__________

*

16: The testimony of the Spirit does not give us absolute assurance of our eternal salvation, and such is not the idea St. Paul intended to convey, for elsewhere he counsels us to "work out our salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil. 2, 12); and he warns us, "He who thinks himself to stand must take heed lest he fall!" (1 Cor. 10, 12).

18-23: St. Paul in this passage, in a mystical, poetical conception, thinks of the whole world as groaning in subjection to vanity, that is, to corruption, change and death, as a result of man's fall, and yearning to share in the glorification of the sons of God at the end of time.  St. Peter tells us that there "will be a new heaven and a new earth" (2 Pet. 3, 13).  St. John in vision "saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Apoc. 21, 1).

36: Ps. 43, 22.