PRESENT SUFFERING AND FUTURE GLORY
THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 8, VERSES 18-27
8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
STRUCTURE OF SECTION 13
13 (a) 8:18 Suffering and glory.
13 (b) 8:19-21 Bondage and liberty.
13 (c) 8:22-25 Groaning and redemption.
13 (d) 8:26-27 We know not…He knoweth.
SUBJECT OF SECTION 13
8:18 For I reckon- the apostle gives the benefit of his spiritual calculations, as one who suffered much in the body. He had also been to paradise, 2 Corinthians 12:4, but although the things he experienced were inexpressible, yet we are confident that his reckoning as to the relative importance of suffering and glory is accurate. That the sufferings of this present time- the present season when creation is characterised by corruption and groaning. Are not worthy to be compared- literally “are not heavy enough to make the balances of the apothecary move”, in other words, are of small account, comparatively. Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5. With the glory that shall be revealed in us- “shall be” means “that which will come to pass by fixed necessity or by Divine appointment”, Grimm. In this case the latter. Revealed means unveiled, the curtain drawn aside, the word used in Revelation 1:1. In us means with us in mind. After we have been glorified, the glory in us shall then be manifest to the rest of creation. The glory is that of having bodies delivered from the effects of the fall, and transformed into the likeness of Christ; see Philippians 3:21, with its reference to all things.
13 (b) BONDAGE AND LIBERTY
8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature- creation is viewed as personified, and craning its neck to catch the first glimpse of what is coming. Psalm 148 speaks as if creation is able to praise God intelligently. Waiteth for- awaits, expectantly and eagerly. The manifestation of the sons of God- again the idea of revelation, this time of the sons, as they are introduced to a creation about to be delivered by the coming of Christ, the Last Adam. Note that it is the revelation of the sons, not of the Son of God Himself, although they come with Him. The appearance of myriads of mortals who have been changed into the likeness of the Son of God, and are thereby enabled to represent Him, will be the signal that creation is about to be delivered. It will also be the sign that God is able to deliver, for these sons once were part of a groaning creation, but now they are free. The right to deliver was purchased by Christ when He tasted death for everything, Hebrews 2:9 margin, and when by His blood He laid the foundation for peace between an alienated creation and the God who brought it into being, Colossians 1:20.
8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity- it was not possible for Adam, as a fallen creature, to be head over an unfallen creation, so because of his sin the earth was cursed. Vanity is want of vigour, the opposite of the liberty of the glory in verse 21. Not willingly- the apostle continues to speak of creation as if it was a person with a will, and the subjection to vanity was not welcomed by creation. But by reason of Him who subjected the same in hope- it was God’s will that creation should be affected by the fall of man, in order that the hope of final restoration might ever be before it, see verses 24 and 25. As soon as Adam sinned, God promised the coming Deliverer, Genesis 3:15, who would realise the hope of deliverance from the curse. God cannot therefore be charged with callousness over the issue of the sufferings associated with this life because of the fall.
8:21 Because the creature itself also- the very selfsame creation that was subjected to vanity shall also be delivered. This shows that the change the apostle is speaking of in this passage is not from an old earth to a new earth, which will happen at the end of time, Revelation 21:1, but rather the regeneration of the old earth. In this way Christ will glorify God as head of this earth, and thus vindicate Him for originally entrusting the earth to man, Psalm 8:6, Hebrews 2:5-10. Shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption- sin brought corruption in its wake, and this in turn meant that all things were in a state of slavery to that corruption, serving its interests. Into the glorious liberty of the children of God- instead of bondage there will be liberty, with creation freed from the hindrances which prevent it fully declaring the glory of its Creator now. Instead of corruption, a process of decay and deterioration, there will be glory, as the full splendour of what God created in the beginning, and which He described as very good, will be restored. The same change which shall set the children of God free from the limitations of this present body shall affect the whole of creation. God has begotten His children so that they should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures, James 1:18. Their change as to the body will be the signal for the change for the whole of creation.
13 (c) GROANING AND REDEMPTION
8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth- things around, and personal experience, contribute to this knowledge, together with the testimony of Scripture. And travaileth in pain together until now- if groans tell of the consequences of a past fall, then travaileth, whilst indicating pain, also indicates the hope of new birth for creation, see Matthew 19:28. Until now- from the fall to the very real and often painful present, as compared to the glorious future when groanings will cease.
8:23 And not only they- meaning “and not only so”. Not only is it the case that inanimate creation groans. But ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit- even though we are indwelt by the Spirit of God, who is the guarantee of our resurrection and change, verse 11, we still groan. Firstfruits of the Spirit means firstfruits consisting of the Spirit and all His presence implies for the future. This word firstfruits is used of a birth certificate in secular documents. We have within the proof that the travailings of creation will bring forth results. Even we ourselves groan within ourselves- “we” is emphatic, even such as we who have the Spirit of God within. Note it is groaning within, not groaning to others. Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body- we already have “redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins”, Ephesians 1:7, but our bodies are not yet set free from the bondage of corruption.
8:24 For we are saved by hope- for in hope we were saved. The hope of having redeemed bodies was one of the goals in view when we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?- by definition a hope is something not yet realised.
8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it- because hope in the New Testament is a certain thing, then the believer is encouraged to patiently wait for the realisation, even though he has to endure the privations imposed by a groaning body.
13 (d) WE KNOW NOT…HE KNOWETH
8:26 Likewise- as well as the sure hope of change helping us to endure patiently, the Spirit helps too. The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities- the indwelling Spirit comes to our aid, for He is a comforter, one who comes alongside to help. He joins with us to help us in our weak condition. He does not take over completely, but jointly helps us as we pray. Helpeth- this is a complex word meaning literally, “to take hold with at the side for assistance”, W.E.Vine. The infirmities or weaknesses which are the consequence of being still in an unchanged body are too much of a burden to carry alone. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought- note that the apostle assumes that the situation will cause us to be cast upon God in prayer. But what the will of God in such circumstances is, we, (including the apostle), have no way of knowing. We do know that it is not God’s will to remove every sickness from us now, as the apostle himself discovered in 2 Corinthians 12:5-10. But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us- this is the way the Spirit helps our infirmities; not by removing them, but by interceding on our behalf so that we are enabled to endure them, and to glorify God through them, 2 Corinthians 12:8,9. With groanings that cannot be uttered- with words that we could not express ourselves, (even if we knew what to pray for), the Spirit intervenes on our behalf. The believer groans, and the Spirit identifies Himself with that groaning as He engages in intercession with God.
8:27 And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit- because the groaning of the Spirit is identical to the sincere groaning of the believer in his heart, they are in that sense like-minded, and God appreciates and accepts the intercession of the Spirit as if it were the intercession of the believer. Because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God- “the will of” has been supplied to explain the meaning. The Spirit intercedes according to God in the sense that He intercedes infallibly in line with what the will of God is. God knows or understands the Spirit’s interceding because it is in accordance with His will. We are unable to intercede like this because we know not what we should pray for as we ought. So the Spirit identifies both with the sincere desires of our hearts, and the settled will of God, forming a link between the two.