The Privileges of the Children of God.
SUMMARY.--No Condemnation to Those in Christ.
Walking After the Spirit.
To be Carnally Minded, Death.
To be Spiritually Minded, Life and Peace.
The Spirit of Adoption.
Heirs of God.
The Sufferings of Saints.
The Groanings of the Creation.
All things Working for Good to Saints.
The Purpose and Foreordination of God.
God's Protection of His Children.
1-4. There is therefore. The "therefore" points to the argument
that in Christ we are delivered from sin and from the curse of the law.
No condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. As those in Christ
have died with him
they have in him satisfied the law, and hence they cannot be under
condemnation. He, the sinless One, "was made sin for us;" so we,
forgiven through him, are "made the righteousness of God in him"
(2 Cor. 5:21).
This blessed condition depends on a vital union with Christ. "Baptized
we must walk in him,
not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Compare
John 15:1-7, and Eph. 1:23.
2. For the law of the Spirit of life. The Spirit of life must be
the Holy Spirit. The whole phrase is equivalent to the Gospel, which
has been given to men by the agency of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has
quickened us into a new life, and as we have died to the law and to
sin, we are freed from them. Wesley says that the meaning is the
"Gospel has freed us from the Mosaic law." That the law of the Spirit
of life describes the Gospel is shown by
3. What the law could not do. Because of the resistance it met
in human nature. It was not strong enough to overcome the tendency of
the flesh, the carnal nature, to evil. God did this by
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. When Christ
came in human form he took the likeness of sinful flesh.
And for sin. As a sacrifice for our sins. See
Condemned sin in the flesh. To "condemn" is to sentence and to
devote to destruction. Sin is condemned, (1) By the spotless life of
Christ. In the flesh he was without sin. (2) By his death for sin our
past sins are forgiven. (3) By our vital union with his death and life
we rise to walk in a new life, with a new spirit, and hence, not under
the power of the flesh. See
4. That the righteousness of the law. The righteous demand of
the law, its substance, is a loving obedience to God (see
By the Gospel the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the
Spirit. Hence, we comply with its righteous demands when we
walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. To walk after
the flesh is to obey the dictates of the flesh; to walk after the
Spirit is to obey its dictates. It dwells in the believer to help him,
but its dictates are found in the "words of the Holy Spirit."
5-8. They that are after the flesh. The unconverted. Those still
in a state of nature. These are put in contrast with the converted,
are after the Spirit. These classes are easily distinguished.
The first obeys the dictates of the flesh; the other obeys the dictates
of the Spirit.
"The things of the Spirit" are not revealed to us by internal
impulses, but by the words of the Spirit, the Holy Scriptures. The
indwelling Spirit helps the new man in Christ to keep these words.
6. To be carnally minded. To be under the dominion of the
fleshly impulses of the body.
Is death. Is sure proof that one is spiritually dead and under
To be spiritually minded. To be walking in obedience to the
Spirit of Christ. This gives life to the soul, maintains a vital union
with Christ, and brings peace, or conscious enjoyment of the grace of
7. Because the carnal mind is enmity to God. Is opposed to God's
law, and demand for a righteous life. Hence, since it fights against
God, it is under condemnation. He does not say that it is impossible
for a wicked man to become good, but that it cannot be done while he
retains a carnal mind. He must be converted first.
8. So then. The result naturally follows that a "carnally-minded
one "in the flesh" and under its dominion,
"cannot please God." This is impossible while he continues to mind
the things of the flesh.
9-11. But ye are not in the flesh, etc. It has just been shown
that he who is under the sway of his fleshly passions is at war with
God, cannot please him, and is spiritually dead. But the Christian is
under the influence of the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in him.
It does dwell in him if he is a new creature, "minding the things of
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The proof that we have this indwelling Spirit is that we "mind the
things of the Spirit"
and bear its fruit
(Gal. 5:22, 23).
Observe that the Spirit is spoken of in this verse both as the Spirit
of God, and the Spirit of Christ.
10. But if Christ be in you. Christ is in us by his Spirit.
Notice that the indwelling of the Spirit of God, having the Spirit of
Christ, belonging to Christ, having Christ in us, are all varied
expressions of the same great fact.
The body is dead because of sin. Our bodies have died physically
because death came into the world through sin.
But the Spirit is life. Our spirit is made alive by union with
Christ, and partaking of his righteousness.
11. But if the Spirit of him, etc. The Holy Spirit. That Spirit
in us is a pledge
that God will raise us, even as Christ was raised from the tomb.
Shall also quicken your mortal bodies. Though the body be doomed
to death "because of sin," it shall be "quickened" for those who have
God's Spirit dwelling in them. Even our mortal bodies shall be raised,
not in corruption, but in incorruption
(1 Cor. 15:42-44).
12-17. Therefore. Seeing that we are to enjoy such glorious
privileges in Christ. These are described in this section.
We are debtors. Under obligation. Since the flesh, or carnal
nature is death, we are under no obligation to obey its dictates.
13. But if through the Spirit. By following the Spirit, "minding
the things of the Spirit,"
we secure life. This is shown in
The deeds of the body are the sinful deeds suggested by the
fleshly desires. We cannot in our own strength
mortify, i. e., put an end to, the deeds of the
body. It is accomplished by the aid of the Spirit, helping our spirit
in the effort.
14. For as many as are led by the Spirit. Those who "through the
Spirit mortify the deeds of the body"
are led by the Spirit. They obey it rather than the flesh. The
presence of the Spirit in leading them shows that they are sons of God.
How are they led? (1) They have given up their own wills to do God's
will, and seek to obey him in all things. (2) To them the Spirit is
given as a helper of their weakness
(verse 26 below),
and by its aid they overcome the flesh.
Sons of God. We become sons of God when we are born again, born
of water and the Spirit
and we maintain the sonship by being led by the Spirit.
15. For ye did not receive the spirit of bondage. The time is
referred to when they were born again, and entered the kingdom of
God. They did not receive the spirit of bondage, of slavery to sin, so
that they would obey its dictates, and thus be in fear of death.
Instead, they received the Holy Spirit according to promise
The Spirit of adoption. The Spirit God bestows upon those who
are accepted as his children. Paul was writing to the Romans, among
whom the adoption of children, not their own by nature, was common.
They would understand this to mean that those converted, or born again,
are adopted as children of God; upon those thus adopted he bestows his
Spirit; this Spirit in their hearts produces a loving trust that
enables them to address God as Father.
Abba, Father. Abba, Chaldee for Father.
16. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are
the children of God. The Spirit of God is one witness to the fact.
Our spirit is a corroborative witness. How do each bear witness? (1)
Witness is usually borne in words, but not always. God's Spirit bears
witness in words (see
The Holy Spirit shows us how we must become God's children, and how to
continue the Christian life. (2) It bears testimony in our lives by its
Do we bear the fruit of the Spirit? (See
Gal. 5:22, 23).
(3) Does our own spirit testify that we "mind the things of the
Does our consciousness recognize its fruits, inward as well as outward?
If the testimony of our spirit is that what God's Spirit witnesseth of
the sons of God is true of us, then they concur in the testimony that
we are the children of God.
17. If children, then heirs. Observe the chain of argument: (1)
We are the sons of God.
(2) This is shown by our having received the Spirit of adoption.
(3) Both God's Spirit and our own spirit witness together that we are
children of God.
(4) But children are heirs; hence we are
"heirs of God;
joint heirs with Christ." Under the Jewish law the older brother
had a double portion, but Christ admits all to a joint share of the
If so be that we suffer with him. In the figure, we suffer with
him when we are "baptized into his death"
We are crucified
"are buried with him"
"are planted in the likeness of his death"
Hence, in these respects we have the "fellowship of his sufferings"
But we must be ready, for his sake, to bear the cross through life.
If we do all these things, we shall be "glorified with him also." We
shall share with him in all things.
18-25. The sufferings of this present time. The Christian of our
time has little conception of the sufferings of the ancient saints,
counted as outcasts, despised, persecuted, slain (see
verse 36 below;
also 2 Cor. 11:23-28).
Yet Paul counted these as nothing in view
of the hope of eternal glory.
Revealed in us. In the saints when they shall have received the
inheritance which God bestows in Christ. The comforts of the saint in
the midst of suffering are now given: (1) The hope of glory for which
all creation, ruined by the Fall, is looking. (2) The present help of
the Spirit. (3) The overruling providence of God.
19. The earnest expectation of the creature. "Creature" is
rendered creation in the Revision, and this rendering is
approved by all the best critics. Chrysostom says "Paul personifies
the world, just as the prophets do when they make the floods to clap
their hands." The whole world is represented earnestly looking forward
to that day of future glory when the sons of God will have reached
their high estate and be revealed as his children. It is a fine, poetic
figure, a grand conception.
20. For the creature was made subject to vanity. The
creation was subjected to vanity; i. e., became
empty; lost its original significance. The Greek word
rendered "vanity," means "to seek without finding." God placed "the
creation" under man's dominion, and when man
fell the whole was subject to vanity by God.
In hope. A hope was left to creation in its fallen estate. A
promise of final redemption was made to fallen man
and the creation is represented as sharing that hope.
21. Because the creature itself shall be delivered. The Revision
reads, "The creation was subjected . . . in hope that the creation
itself also," etc. Though "subjected to vanity,"
it still retained the hope of final deliverance.
Bondage of corruption. Decay and death.
Into the glorious liberty. "The liberty of the glory." The
present state is "bondage to corruption." The hope is deliverance from
the bondage into "the liberty," etc. In the day of the revelation of
that glory, "all things shall become new"
22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth, etc. The world
is in travail, groaning for deliverance. That it is in travail is
certain; there is unrest and crying for deliverance everywhere. It may
not understand its trouble, nor even what it wants, but the meaning is
that it is fallen, its wishes frustrated, and it is sighing for
deliverance. These groans and sorrows are a prophecy of a time of
deliverance when "there shall be a new heaven, and a new earth, wherein
23. Not only they, but ourselves also. Not only does the world
groan, but Christians, "though they have the first fruits of the
Spirit," a pledge of a rich and full harvest,
groan. There is an eager longing for the fuller enjoyment
Waiting for our adoption. We are already adopted children, but
rather in expectation that in realization. We have not received the
inheritance, the full "revelation of the sons of God."
The redemption of our body. When the full adoption comes, we
will not have these poor, frail, dying bodies, subject to weakness,
sinfulness and decay, but spiritual bodies. "For in this we do groan,
earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from
(2 Cor. 5:2).
24. For we were saved by hope. Were saved when we became
Christians, not that we had received all the fruits of salvation, but
were enabled to hope for all, even for the redemption of the body.
In hope would be a better rendering than
by hope. Hope grasped the full salvation, though not yet
attained. We do not hope for what we have, or see.
25. But if we hope, etc. Hope has its blessed office. If we hope
for a blessed realization to come, we can labor for it and wait for it
with patience. The hopeless soul despairs.
26, 27. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. While we
are waiting in hope, but suffering, the Spirit is a helper of our
weakness. It not only strengthens us, but helps us in prayer.
We know not what to pray for as we ought. We often do not
know, in our ignorance, what is best. This is especially true in the
times of the greatest trial. It was even an experience of our Lord in
(John 12:27, 28)
and of Paul
(Phil. 1:22, 23).
But the Spirit itself. Observe the climax: The creation groans;
we ourselves groan; the Spirit himself groans. The Spirit within us
intercedes by groaning which are his, in that they are prompted by the
Spirit. Augustine says: "It is not in himself, nor in the substance of
the Eternal and Blessed Trinity that he groans, but in us because he
makes us groan."
Groanings that cannot be uttered. Speechless groanings.
what is the mind of the Spirit. These speechless groanings are
understood by God, because it is according to his will that the Spirit
28-30. All things work together for good. The third ground of
encouragement to saints in suffering is now given. To them, under God's
providence, all things, even their sorrows, trials and persecutions,
work together for blessing. This precious assurance is not to all
mankind, saint and sinner, but is limited to a class.
To them that love God; the called according to his purpose.
These are those who enjoy the blessed assurance just given. These two
expressions are different ways of describing the same class. Notice the
order in the Revision,
which is the order of the Greek. The love of God is the very foundation
of the Christian life. See
and John 14:23.
The expression, "Those that love God," is synonymous with "Followers of
1 Cor. 2:9;
Eph. 6:24; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 2:5.
The called. These have been called by the gospel and have
accepted the call. Many others are called, Jews and Gentiles, but only
those who hear and obey are chosen
(Matt. 20:16; 20:14).
Paul uses the term of the latter class; those who hear and obey. The
evidence that we are "the called" is that we love God.
According to his purpose. This call was purposed from the time
that God promised a Deliverer of the fallen race.
29. For whom he foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed
to the image of his Son. To foreknow and to predestinate are not
the same thing. One is an act of foreknowledge, or knowing something
before it occurs; the other is to decree something. We only have
knowledge of the past, but God foresees the future even as he sees the
past; foresees it, not because he has decreed it, but because there are
no limitations on his knowledge. Augustine says: "There can be no
predestination without foreknowledge; but there can be foreknowledge
without predestination." Whom does God foreknow? Those who shall
love God. As he looked into the future these were present to his mind;
foreknown. What did he predestinate of them? Not that they
should love God. Not that they should believe; nor that some should be
saved and others damned; but that those who he saw beforehand would
love God, should be conformed to the image of his Son. The only
thing predestinated, or foreordained, is that those who love God as
revealed in Christ shall become Christlike in life, and like Christ in
eternity. This is the only decree in the passage.
30. Whom he predestinated. He now shows how this is accomplished
for those thus foreknown as the lovers of God.
He also called. They are "called" by the preaching of the
gospel, as in
2 Thess. 2:14:
"Whereunto he called you by our gospel." It is not stated that these
alone are called. We know that many others are called.
Justified. The called, accepting the call, are justified. Their
sins are blotted out.
Glorified. These are made heirs of eternal glory. As stated by
Godet, the purpose of the whole passage may be expressed as follows: "I
see thou dost love God; art a believer; I therefore decree of thee that
thou shalt become like my Son and be glorified with him."
The steps by which this is accomplished are calling, justification, and
31-39. What shall we say to these things? The rest of the chapter
is a hymn of triumph over this assurance of salvation.
If God be for us. What has been shown shows that he is for all
who love God. If he is on our side, we must prevail.
32. He that spared not his own Son. If he gave his Son to die
for us, it is impossible that he should refuse us anything that will
help or bless us. He has nothing he values more than his Son.
33. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? No one
can, since God himself has justified them.
34. Who is he that condemneth? There can be no condemnation
Christ died . . . is risen . . . and maketh
intercession for us. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Can anything?
Can the sufferings of the Christian calling in a time of persecution,
such as the prophet described and the early Christians suffered?
36. As it is written. In
Will such persecution lead us to abandon Christ?
37. Nay. Not all these sufferings can lead us from Christ, for
in all these things we are more than conquerors. We overcome by
the aid of
him that loved us.
38. For I am persuaded. No hostile power of the universe can
lead us away, is the apostle's holy confidence.
Death nor life. These adversaries seem to advance in pairs.
Death is named first, because death by martyrdom threatens. The next
angels, and principalities and powers. "The angels" are good
angels, while malignant angels are meant by the other terms.
Nor things present, nor the things to come. The present or the
39. Nor height, nor depth. Perhaps, the things which exalt us
and the things which cast us down. Things high and things low.
Nor any other creature. Any other created thing.
Shall be able. None of these, "I am persuaded,"
shall have power enough to tear us away from Christ, by causing us to
The love of God, which is in Christ. God's great love for us is
all shown through Christ. Nowhere has Paul shown more exultation, more
overflowing emotion, than in this close of a profound argument, which
shows the complete and full salvation of those who believe upon Christ
and are found in him.