Romans 8On the supposition that the last part of the last chapter describes the hopeless situation of the sinner, while under the sole dominion of the law and struggling to save himself on the terms which it prescribes, the apostle now passes to a description of the safe and happy condition of those who are under grace.
Weak through the flesh; unable to effect its object, on account of the corruption of the flesh, that is, of human nature.—For sin; as an offering for sin.—Condemned sin; deprived it of its power, considered metaphorically as the enemy and tyrant of man. The word condemned seems to be used in correspondence with the word condemnation, in the first verse; for the second and third verses express the ground of the statement in the first,—the point being that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because, through his atonement, sin itself is condemned.
To be carnally minded; to be in the worldly-minded and ungodly state which men usually manifest, and which is their natural condition.
Is enmity against God. That the natural state of the human heart towards God is that of alienation aversion and hostility, is shown in all the aspects which human nature presents, by every mark which can indicate such feelings. In fact, the whole history of religion in this world is a history of the efforts of conscience to scourge mankind into the performance of their duties to their Maker, and of the endless shifts, contrivances, and evasions, of men struggling to escape from what they cannot endure.—Neither indeed can be; that is, the alienation of the heart from God is not temporary and accidental, but a permanent and fixed characteristic of the soul,—such that, until it is changed, there can no really honest and sincere obedience to the law of God possibly come from the heart which is governed by it.
The body is dead, &c., that is, though the body is still the abode of appetite and passion, tending to sin and death, there is a spiritual life in the soul, which will sanctify and save it.
Shall also quicken; shall sanctify.
The spirit of bondage; the spirit of a slave. The meaning is, that the renewed man is not received as a slave, to live in terror of threatened punishment, as he did under the law, but as an adopted child, so that he may approach God as his benefactor, and call him Father.—Abba; the word meaning father in the language then used by the Jews.
The creature; the creation. This word, and the whole passage depending upon it, (19-22,) have been the subject of much discussion. Although there is still great difference of opinion in respect to the details, yet the prevailing sentiment would seem to be, that the general intent of the passage is to represent the whole creation groaning under the ills which sin has introduced, and looking forward in anxious expectation of a better state of things to come.—Manifestation of the sons of God; recognition and establishment of the heirs mentioned in v. 17, in their inheritance.
To vanity; to sin and its consequences.—In hope; in hope of deliverance to come, as described in the following verse.
The whole creation groaneth. All nature struggles under the burden of suffering and sill.
Of the Spirit; the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the disciples after the ascension of the Savior.—Waiting for the adoption; looking forward to the time when we shall realize the adoption referred to in v. 15.
Maketh intercession for us; in and through us, by awakening right desires, and giving the right direction to the expression of them.
The called according to his purpose. The doctrine of the passage introduced by this expression, and extending to v. 32, seems plainly to be this,—that the redemption of the sinner is not a work which he performs upon himself, but one which God performs upon him,—being commenced and continued through its several successive steps, by divine power; and that, where it is once begun, it will be carried forward to its final consummation.
God's elect; those whom God chooses.
Maketh intercession. The image is taken from the idea of a tribunal of justice, where the safety of the accused depends, in great measure, upon the influence of his advocate. The meaning is, "How can the believer be condemned, since Jesus will plead his cause?"
The love of Christ. This expression is obviously susceptible of two significations. It may denote the love of Christ for the believer, or the love of the believer for Christ. What precedes the expression, as it here stands, seems to require that it should be understood in the former sense, as the certainty of divine protection has been the subject of the writer's remarks. But, on the other hand, what follows would rather indicate that the latter—that is, the love of the believer for Christ—is intended, as this only can be well supposed to be affected by the causes named below. On the whole, the former supposition is probably correct, as is indicated by the analogous expressions in v. 37, 39, especially in the latter. The meaning of the whole passage, then, will be, that the believer has no cause to fear for his ultimate safety. His present state of reconciliation with God is not accidental, and it will not be temporary. It is the result of the long-settled purpose of God. It is a work which God has undertaken; he will accomplish what he has begun; and Jesus, their Redeemer, who once gave his life for their ransom, will, now that he has risen to majesty and power, never forsake them in any of the darkest and most discouraging times of trial which they may be called to endure.
Nor angels, &c.; that is, no power whatever, visible or invisible.
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