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Romans 8:1-39

Updated: Apr 18, 2022

Romans 8:1-39 a short commentary

Romans 8:1-39 a short commentary

Life through the Spirit

8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you [a] free from the law of sin and death. By the expression ‘no condemnation’ Paul probably means that we are neither condemned by the guilt of sin nor by sin’s ability to make us slaves. This is extremely good news. Believers in Jesus Christ have been legally released from the curse of the law. Since the believer has been made legally righteous and the Holy Spirit is at work sanctifying the believer’s life i.e. producing more holiness there is from that point no condemnation from God. The believer is fully pardoned, and God is committed to working with us to produce more holiness in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of life who imparts true life to our spirit, soul, and body. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit produces life , abundant life leading to eternal life in the believer. This produces a sense of victory in our hearts even when we struggle with our vestigial old sin nature whose nature is described in Chapter 7.

3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, [b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. [c] And so he condemned sin in human flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Man could never keep the law due to sin nature at work in his flesh. So God graciously provided another way for man to get into right standing with Him by sending His Son as a man to pay the full penalty of sin by His death on the cross. Jesus death on the cross fully met God the Father’s need for justice i.e. God’s wrath on the sin of man was fully poured out on Jesus’ flesh that is his human nature. The theological term for this is propitiation and because of this God is now able to pour out His love fully to us and through us. The indwelling Holy Spirit in the believer’s life reproduces the fruit of the Spirit which is the character of Jesus Christ which helps us be lead by the Spirit rather than according to the sinful flesh.

5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind controlled by the sinful nature [d] is death, but the mind controlled by siding with the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The sinful mind [e] is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. If our hearts and minds are governed by the old sinful nature then they are set on this world, our flesh and the Devil. But if we side with our Daddy God and focus our lives on the leading of the Holy Spirit then God will fill us with His abundant life, peace and joy which all increase our feeling of security in God. Our deepest life is in our born again spirit and we need to take our leading from there and struggle against the old nature. This is our deepest and most true identity in our inner most man and only from here can we hope to please God in any way. We must not treat the new nature and the old nature as equals but always decide to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our inmost being. Who is your Daddy?

9 You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life [f] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of [g] his Spirit who lives in you. We believers are under the influence of the Holy Spirit and not the old nature which we need to reckon as dead. It is impossible for anyone when operating from the old nature to be able to please God. If the Holy Spirit does not reside in a person then they are not a true believer. Although our bodies will die here in this life the Holy Spirit with that same resurrection power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead will raise every true believer when this life is over. Just imagine the level of power required to be able to bring a human corpse back from death to life, hallelujah.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. We owe everything to our Abba Father and so with grateful hearts we ought to fulfil our responsibilities to Him by living aright in this fallen world. Notice that Paul includes himself with his brothers and sisters (leaders please note) and we together are obliged to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to receive the blessings in life and also avoid the sins of the flesh which lead to death. Choose life! Let us keep the old nature crucified and put keep asking God to strengthen us in the struggle against it.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Holy Spirit leads us into the abundant family life of blessing not just in this life but in the life to come. He guides us, strengthens and empowers us to walk in the Spirit in obedience to God and to deny the lusts of the flesh. As we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit we begin to show ‘ just who is our Daddy’ and that we are truly children of the Abba Father in Heaven. This is a lifestyle and we if we trip, slip or fall on occasion we know that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Our Heavenly Guide helps us navigate through the minefields in our lives which produces confidence in us of His protection and also pours in strength when we need it.

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[h] And by him we cry, “Abba, [i] Father.”16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. The Holy Spirit coming into the believer does not enslave us again or produce fear but rather He produces kinship between God and us since He is the Spirit of Adoption. Here is the order God works in. He saves us, then He adopts us into His family and then He provides wonderful ongoing reassurance that we are indeed His children. The adoption Paul almost certainly has in mind here is Roman form of adoption which was commonly practiced at that time[1]. The Hebrew scriptures don’t have very much to say on the concept of adoption. The still small voice of the Holy Spirit whispers to our spirits ‘Yes, you are a child of the living God’ Our human spirits cry’s out in response ‘You are my Daddy, Father God’. This produces a tremendous reassurance in our hearts and minds and settles our souls knowing that God acknowledges us as our Father and that we can rest upon Him.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. The blessings go on and on...since we are now children of the Living God then it clearly follows that we must be heirs of God the Father and joint heirs with Jesus Christ His Son. Whatever the glorious inheritance that belongs to Jesus Christ He will surely share with us His siblings. Yes, whatever is coming to Jesus Christ He will share with you and I. This has already started in us for we now share in the abundant life of the Holy Spirit in us and through and one day He will surely resurrect us physically to everlasting life and reward. Our future inheritance will be everlasting like the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. Our future inheritance will include riches such as new name, a crown of gold; we shall reign with Him and be seated with Him in heavenly places. Paul expects that Christians will be willing to suffer for Christ’s sake not in any way to earn our redemption but rather to glorify God in any situation where we suffer because of God and His word. It is a difficult thing to say but surely it is a wonderful privilege that God allows us to suffer for His name!

Present Suffering and Future Glory

8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Paul is suggesting that if we take all the sufferings of the godly life such as persecution, rejection, hostility, violence etc. etc. and put them into bag and then put the bag onto balance. When we put a large bag of diamonds representing what God has done in us and through us on the other pan, the weight of our sufferings will seem insignificant compare to the weight of God’s glory now and forever. Our suffering will soon be forgotten in eternity. This is Paul’s considered opinion and as such it brings tremendous comfort to all believers. It is worth noting that God’s future glory will be revealed in us.

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that [j] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. The fall of man had a devastating impact on the rest of creation which was in a sense an innocent bystander. There are now three parties groaning for and earnestly longing for complete redemption from the effects of the fall with its inbuilt decay and death. The three parties are a) the creation b) us (the believers) c) The Holy Spirit. The creation means all nature but probably excludes angels (elect and fallen), Satan and his demons and all the unbelievers. The personified creation is pictured as so longing to be set free from the bondage of decay that it ‘sticks its head forward’ actively seeking the revealing of the sons of God. The glory of the whole creation will be restored at this time, imagine the beautiful pre-fall perfume of roses and them without thorns. Imagine no more infections or disease and no need to kill and eat other creatures [2]. Man when he fell robbed the creation of God’s glory but it will be redeemed man revealed as sons of God that will herald in the redemption of the creation.

23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same as the creation groans so does our human spirit .As believers we have the deposit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us who empowers our own spirits to groan for the display of our resurrection bodies which will make publicly manifest that we are indeed truly adopted by our heavenly Daddy. We have not received absolutely our entire salvation package at once but are living in hope for the redemption of our bodies and to see the restored creation. As stated previously, biblical hope means an absolute certainty. The indwelling Holy Spirit produces his fruit of patience in us as we wait.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. It often happens that due to our human limitations that we are not sure how or what to pray or even to know what the Lord’s will in the matter is. Some prayer situations are clear but in others we need the Holy Spirit to guide us in the prayer. The exact mechanism of how this works is unclear but we know that the omniscient Holy Spirit groans in us and influences us to groan in turn that lets us pray God’s perfect will into our prayer situation. We can always trust the Holy Spirit to guide our prayers and make them highly effective in bringing God’s will to the particular situation.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who [k] have been called according to his purpose. Whatever happens in our lives whether good or bad we know that we can be absolutely certain that God has ordained that whatever comes at us that He will eventually use it and turn it around into an eternal blessing. This is a sure promise to all people who have been called into His royal family. God has ordained that His circle of blessing will encompass our whole lives for His greater purposes. God has a plan for you. God has a wonderful and detailed plan for your life. Probably the only thing that can thwart God’s plan for your life is you! God knew you when you were still in your mother’s womb. Even then your Daddy was picturing that glorious golden crown on your head. He has predetermined that one day that you would shine the glory light on Him during your earthly life. Our Daddy wants us to have the same type of character as our big brother Jesus.

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. God’s actively delights in rolling out His master plan for each believer’s life. Paul describes God’s plan in 5 stages (some have called this the chain of salvation [3] and each link is used in a way where the predicate of one link becomes the subject of the next link [4]. God always knew which human beings would accept His wonderful gift of salvation and set a clear path for them which will lead them to be truly like Jesus Christ our pre-eminent big brother! These same pre-destined believers each received the measure of faith and answered the call of God on their lives. When they answered God’s call they were made legally righteous before God through Christ i.e. were brought into full legal right standing with God. Those who are thus justified then enter into Christ’s glory, partly in this life and fully at the resurrection of the just.

More Than Conquerors through the all pervasive love of God

8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? So knowing that all that the Living God has done in us and for us who would dare to mess with His kids? God singlehandedly outnumbers all His enemies. He is our protector. When anything or anybody comes at us against us they must reckon with the Lord God almighty our Daddy and our Protector.

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? If God gave His most precious thing i.e. His Son to die for us why should He hold anything lesser thing back from us? Think of Jesus’ agony on the cross and he cries out ‘My God, My God why have you forsaken me’? and the price that was paid by both Father and Son. Therefore what a tremendous promise to us that He will give us all things (spiritual and material) in the knowledge He has already been willing to give His most precious thing.

33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then can condemn? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. This is a rhetorical question and asks who would be fool enough to bring charges against those elect people who were chosen by God and even if someone dared to bring a charge against them they should know that Jesus Christ has been interceding for the believer all along. Whose will do you think will prevail when the believer is attacked man or fallen angel?

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? This agape love of God is so all powerful and all pervasive that no-one or nothing can get in between us and our Daddy’s love for us. Mental affliction and distress won’t do it. Persecution won’t do it and neither will physical deprivation or danger or even the threat of death. Paul knew what he was talking about from personal experience.

36 As it is written [5]:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” All our suffering for the sake of Christ including facing the prospect of death for His sake can only ultimately bring us closer to Him. Such suffering is not a loss but a profit. How great will our reward in heaven be when these things happen to us because of our relationship with Jesus Christ?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, [m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A conqueror defeats his enemy but a super-conqueror not only defeats his enemy but makes the enemy work for him. We can find evidence for this in v28 where we see that all the good and bad things we experience that God will use them all for our eternal benefit. Jesus Christ has brought us into this place of sharing with Him in being super-conquerors. Paul was convinced of many such things and so should we. Death now has to work for us by ushering us into God’s immediate presence. The outrageous slings and arrows of life only bring us closer to God. Even the fallen angels including Satan are not powerful enough to get in between us and God’s love and their various deception, attacks and ploys simply cannot break God’s love from off of us. Time is also on our side, our past has been forgiven, our present is being ordered by God and our future and the creation’s future has been pre-determined by God. No threat from heavens or the depths of hell are strong enough to break the bonds of love between our Daddy God and his children. God has it all under control and has sworn that every setback and difficulty will eventually produce ultimate blessing for His children. Absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God.


  1. Romans 8:2 The Greek is singular; some manuscripts me

  2. Romans 8:3 Or the flesh; also in verses 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 and 13

  3. Romans 8:3 Or humanity, for sin

  4. Romans 8:6 Or mind set on the flesh

  5. Romans 8:7 Or the mind set on the flesh

  6. Romans 8:10 Or you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive

  7. Romans 8:11 Some manuscripts bodies through

  8. Romans 8:15 The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture.

  9. Romans 8:15 Aramaic for Father

  10. Romans 8:21 Or subjected it in hope. 21 For

  11. Romans 8:28 Or that all things work together for good to those who love God, who; or that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good—with those who...

  12. Romans 8:36 Psalm 44:22

  13. Romans 8:38 Or nor heavenly rulers

[1] W Hendricksen New Testament Commentary on Romans pages 258-259 [2] 2 Peter 3:13, Rev 21:5 and Isaiah 11 6. [3] W Hendriksen NT Commentary Romans page 282. [4] Ibid This literary device employed here is called ‘sorities [5] Psalm 44:22

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