RPM, Volume 18, Number 15, April 3 to April 9, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 49

By Albert Barnes

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 1


Few chapters in the Bible have been the subject of more decidedly different interpretations than this. And after all that has been written on it by the learned, it is still made a matter of discussion, whether the apostle has reference, in the main scope of the chapter, to his own experience before he became a Christian, or to the conflicts in the mind of a man who is renewed. Which of these opinions is the correct one I shall endeavour to state in the Notes on the particular verses in the chapter. The main design of the chapter is not very difficult to understand. It is evidently to show the insufficiency of the law to produce peace of mind to a troubled sinner. In the previous chapters he had shown that it was incapable of producing justification, chapters 1-3, he had shown the way in which men were justified by faith, Ro 3:21-31; 4:1-25. He had shown how that plan produced peace, and met the evils introduced by the fall of Adam, Ro 5. He had showed that Christians were freed from the law as a matter of obligation, and yet that this freedom did not lead to a licentious life, Ro 6. And he now proceeds still further to illustrate the tendency of the law on a man both in a state of nature and of grace; to show that its uniform effect in the present condition of man, whether impenitent and under conviction, or in a state of grace under the gospel, so far from promoting peace, as the Jew maintained, was to excite the mind to conflict, and anxiety, and distress. Nearly all the peculiar opinions of the Jews the apostle had overthrown in the previous argument. He here gives the finishing stroke, and shows that the tendency of the law, as a practical matter, was everywhere the same. It was not, in fact, to produce peace, but agitation, conflict, distress. Yet this was not the fault of the law, which was in itself good, but of sin, Ro 7:6-24. I regard this chapter as not referring exclusively to Paul in a state of nature, or of grace. The discussion is conducted without particular reference to that point. It is rather designed to group together the actions of a man's life, whether in a state of conviction for sin or in a state of grace, and to show that the effect of the law is everywhere substantially the same. It equally fails everywhere in producing peace and sanctification. The argument of the Jew respecting the efficacy of the law; and its sufficiency for the condition of man, is thus overthrown by a succession of proofs relating to justification, to pardon, to peace, to the evils of sin, and to the agitated and conflicting moral elements in man's bosom. The effect is everywhere the same. The deficiency is apparent in regard to ALL, the great interests of man. And having shown this, the apostle and the reader are prepared for the language of triumph and gratitude, that deliverance from all these evils is to be traced to the gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord, Ro 7:25

Verse 1. Know ye not. This is an appeal to their own observation respecting the relation between husband and wife. The illustration (Ro 8:2,3) is designed simply to show, that as when a man dies, and the connexion between him and his wife is dissolved, his law ceases to be binding on her; so also a separation has taken place between Christians and the law, in which they have become dead to it; and they are not now to attempt to draw their life and peace from it, but from that new source with which they are connected by the gospel, Ro 8:4.

For I speak to them, etc. Probably the apostle refers here more particularly to the Jewish members of the Roman church, who were qualified particularly to understand the nature of the law, and to appreciate the argument. That there were many Jews fix the church at Rome has been shown, (see Introduction) but the illustration has no exclusive reference to them. The law to which he appeals is sufficiently general to make the illustration intelligible to all men.

That the law. The immediate reference here is probably to the Mosaic law. But what is here affirmed is equally true of all laws.

Hath dominion. Greek, Rules; exercises lordship. The law is here personified, and represented as setting up a lordship over a man, and exacting obedience.

Over a man. Over the man who is under it.

As long as he liveth. The Greek here may mean either as HE liveth," or "as it liveth," that is, the law. But our translation has evidently expressed the sense. The sense is, that death releases a man from the laws by which he was bound in life. It is a general principle, relating to the laws of the land, the law of a parent, the law of a contract, etc. This general principle the apostle proceeds to apply in regard to the law of God.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 2

Verse 2. For the woman. This verse is a specific illustration of the general principle in Ro 7:1, that death dissolves those connexions and relations which make law binding in life. It is a simple illustration; and if this had been kept in mind, it would have saved much of the perplexity which has been felt by many commentators, and much of their wild vagaries in endeavouring to show that "men are the wife, the law the former husband, and Christ the new one;" or that "the old man is the wife, sinful desires the husband, sins the children." Beza. (See Stuart.) Such expositions are sufficient to humble us, and to make us mourn over the puerile and fanciful interpretations which even wise and good men often give to the Bible.

Is bound by the law, etc. See the same sentiment in 1 Co 7:39.

To her husband. She is united to him; and is under his authority as the head of the household. To him is particularly committed the headship of the family, and the wife is subject to his law, in the Lord, Eph 5:22,23.

She is loosed, etc. The husband has no more authority. The connexion from which obligation resulted is dissolved.

{h} "For the woman" 1 Co 7:39

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 3

Verse 3. So then if, etc. Comp. Mt 5:32.

She shall be called. She will be. The word used here (crhmatisei) is often used to denote being called by an oracle, or by Divine revelation. But it is here employed in the simple sense of being commonly called, or of being so regarded.

{i} "while her husband" Mt 5:32

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Wherefore. This verse contains an application of the illustration in the two preceding. The idea there is, that death dissolves a connexion from which obligation resulted. This is the single point of the illustration, and consequently there is no need of inquiring whether by the wife the apostle meant to denote the old man, or the Christian, etc. The meaning is, as death dissolves the connexion between a wife and her husband, and of course the obligation of the law resulting from that connexion, so the death of the Christian to the law dissolves that connexion, so far as the scope of the argument here is concerned, and prepares the way for another union, a union with Christ, from which a new and more efficient obligation results. The design is to show that the new connexion would accomplish more important effects than the old.

Ye also are become dead to the law. See Barnes "Ro 6:3, See Barnes "Ro 6:4, See Barnes "Ro 6:8.

The connexion between us and the law is dissolved, so far as the scope of the apostle's argument is concerned. He does not say that we are dead to it, or released from it as a rule of duty, or as a matter of obligation to obey it; for there neither is, nor can be, any such release; but we are dead to it as a way of justification and sanctification. In the great matter of acceptance with God, we have ceased to rely on the law, having become dead to it, and having embraced another plan.

By the body of Christ. That is, by his body crucified; or, in other words, by his death. Comp. Eph 2:15, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity," etc.; that is, by his death. Col 1:22, "In the body of his flesh through death," etc.; Ro 2:14; 1 Pe 2:24, "Who bare our sins in his own body on the tree." The sense is, therefore, that by the death of Christ as an atoning sacrifice; by his suffering for us that which would be sufficient to meet the demands of the law; by his taking our place, he has released us from the law as a way of justification, freed us from its penalty, and saved us from its curse. Thus released, we are at liberty to be uffited to the law of him who has thus bought us with h is blood.

That ye should be married to another. That you might be united to another, and come under his law. This is the completion of the illustration in Ro 7:2,3. As the woman that is freed from the law of her husband by his death, when married again comes under the authority of another, so we who are made free from the law and its curse by the death of Christ, are brought under the new law of fidelity and obedience to him with whom we are thus united. The union of Christ and his people is not unfrequently illustrated by the most tender of all earthly connexions—that of a husband and wife, Eph 5:23-30; Re 21:9, "I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife;" Re 19:7.

Even to him who is raised, etc. See the force of this explained, Ro 6:8.

That we should bring forth fruit unto God. That we should live a holy life. This is the point and scope of all this illustration. The new connexion is such as will make us holy. It is also implied that the tendency of the law was only to bring forth fruit unto death, Ro 6:5 and that the tendency of the gospel is to make man holy and pure. Comp. Ga 5:22,23.

{l} "fruit unto God" Ga 5:22

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 5

Verse 5. For when, etc. The illustration in this verse and the following is designed to show more at length the effect of the law, whenever and wherever applied; whether ill a state of nature or of grace. It was alwaysthe same. It was the occasion of agitation and conflict in a man's own mind. This was true when a sinner was under conviction; and it was true when a man was a Christian. In all circumstances where the law was applied to the corrupt mind of man, it produced this agitation and conflict. Even in the Christian's mind it produced this agitation, Ro 7:14-24, as it had done and would do in the mind of a sinner under conviction, Ro 7:7-12 and consequently there was no hope of release but in the delivering and sanctifying power of the gospel, Ro 7:25; 8:1-3.

In the flesh. Unconverted; subject to the controlling passions and propensities of a corrupt nature. Comp. Ro 7:8,9. The connexion shows that this must be the meaning here, and the design of this illustration is to show the effect of the law before a man is converted, Ro 7:5-12. This is the obvious meaning, and all the laws of interpretation require us so to understand it.

The motions of sins. (ta payhmata). This translation is unhappy. The expression "motions of sins" conveys no idea. The original means simply the passions, the evil affections, the corrupt desires. See the margin. The expression, passions of sins, is a Hebraism, meaning sinful passions, and refers here to the corrupt propensities and inclinations of the unrenewed heart.

Which were by the law. Not that they were originated or created by the law; for a law does not originate evil propensities, and a holy law would not cause sinful passions; but they were excited, called up, inflamed by tile law, which forbids their indulgence.

Did work in our members. In our body; that is, in us. Those sinful propensities made use of our members as instruments to secure gratification. See Barnes "Ro 6:12,13". Comp. Ro 7:23.

To bring forth fruit unto death. To produce crime, agitation, conflict, distress, and to lead to death. We were brought under the dominion of death; and the consequence of the indulgence of those passions would be fatal. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 6:21".

{m} "in the flesh" Ro 8:8,9

{1} "motions" or, "passions"

{n} "bring forth fruit unto death" Ro 6:21

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 6

Verse 6. But now. Under the gospel. This verse states the conse- quences of the gospel, in distinction from the effects of the law. The way in which this is accomplished the apostle illustrates more at length in Ro 8, with which this verse is properly connected. The remainder of Ro 7 is occupied in illustrating the statement in Ro 7:5, of the effects of the law; and after having shown that its effects always were to increase crime and distress, he is prepared in Ro 8, to take up the proposition in this verse, and to show the superiority of the gospel in producing peace.

We are delivered. We who are Christians. Delivered from it as a means of justification, as a source of sanctification, as a bondage to which we were subjected, and which tended to produce pain and death. It does not mean that Christians are freed from it as a rule of duty.

That being dead. Margin, "Being dead to that." There is a variation here in the Mss. Some read it, as in the text, as if the law was dead; others, as in the margin, as if we were dead. The majority are in favour of the reading as in the margin; and the connexion requires us to understand it in this sense. So the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, and the AEthiopic. The sentiment here, that we are dead to the law, is that which is expressed in Ro 7:4.

Wherein we were held. That is, as captives, or as slaves. We were held in bondage to it, Ro 7:1.

That we should serve. That we may now serve or obey God

In newness of spirit. In a new spirit; or in a new and Spiritual manner. This is a form of expression implying,

(1.) that their service under the gospel was to be of a new kind, differing from that under the former dispensation.

(2.) That it was to be of a spiritual nature, as distinguished from that practised by the Jews. Comp. 2 Co 3:6. See Barnes "Ro 2:28". See Barnes "Ro 2:29".

The worship required under the gospel is uniformly described as that of the spirit and the heart, rather than that of form and ceremony. Joh 4:23, "The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." Php 3:3.

And not in the oldness of the letter. Not in the old letter. It is implied here in this,

(1.) that the form of worship here described pertained to an old dispensation that had now passed away; and

(2.) that that was a worship that was in the letter. To understand this, it is necessary to remember that the law which prescribed the forms of worship among the Jews, was regarded by the apostle as destitute of that efficacy and power in renewing the heart which he attributed to the gospel. It was a service consisting in external forms and ceremonies; in the offering of sacrifices and of incense, according to the literal requirement of the law, rather than the sincere offering of the heart. 2 Co 3:6, "The letter killeth; the spirit giveth life." Joh 6:63; Heb 10:1-4; 9:9,10.

It is not to be denied that there were many holy persons under the law, and that there were many spiritual offerings presented; but it is at the same time true that the great mass of the people rested in the mere form; and that the service offered was the mere service of the letter, and not of the heart. The main idea is, that the services under the gospel are purely and entirely spiritual, the offering of the heart, and not the service rendered by external forms and rites.

{1} "delivered from the law" or, "being dead to that"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 7

Verse 7. What shall we say then? The objection which is here urged is one that would very naturally rise, and which we may suppose would be urged with no slight indignation. The Jew would ask, "Are we then to suppose that the holy law of God is not only insufficient to sanctify us, but that it is the mere occasion of increased sin? Is its tendency to produce sinful passions, and to make men worse than they were before?" To this objection the apostle replies with great wisdom, by showing that the evil was not in the law, but in man; that though these effects often followed, yet that the law itself was good and pure.

Is the law sin? Is it sinful? Is it evil? For if, as it is said in Ro 7:5, the sinful passions were by the law," it might naturally be asked whether the law itself was not an evil thing?

God forbid. See Barnes "Ro 3:4".

Nay, I had not known sin. The word translated nay (alla) means more properly but; and this would have more correctly expressed the sense, "I deny that the law is sin. My doctrine does not lead to that; nor do I affirm that it is evil. I strongly repel the charge; BUT, notwithstanding this, I still maintain 'hat it had an effect in exciting sins, yet so as that I perceived that the law itself was good," Ro 7:8-12. At the same time, therefore, that the law must be admitted to be the occasion of exciting sinful feelings, by crossing the inclinations of the mind, yet the fault was not to be traced to the law. The apostle in these verses refers, doubtless, to the state of his mind before he found that peace which the gospel furnishes by the pardon of sin.

But by the law. Ro 3:20. By the law here, the apostle has evidently in his eye every law of God, however made known. He means to my that the effect which he describes attends all law, and this effect he illustrates by a single instance drawn from the tenth commandment. When he says that he should not have known sin, he evidently means to affirm, that he had not understood that certain things were sinful unless they had been forbidden; and having stated this, he proceeds to another thing, to show the effect of their being thus forbidden on his mind. He was not merely acquainted abstractly with the nature and existence of sin, with what constituted crime because it was forbidden, but he was conscious of a certain effect on his mind resulting from this knowledge, and from the effect of strong, raging desires when thus restrained, Ro 7:8,9.

For I had not known lust. I should not have been acquainted with the nature of the sin of covetousness. The desire might have existed, but he would not have known it to be sinful, and he would not have experienced that raging, impetuous, and ungoverned propensity which he did when he found it to be forbidden. Man without law might have the strong feelings of desire. He might covet that which others possessed. He might take property, or be disobedient to parents; but he would not know it to be evil. The law fixes bounds to his desires, and teaches him what is right and what is wrong. It teaches him where lawful indulgence ends, and where sin begins. The word "lust" here is not limited as it is with us. It refers to all covetous desires; to all wishes for that which is forbidden us.

Except the law had said. In the tenth commandment, Ex 20:17.

Thou shalt not covet. This is the beginning of the command, and all the rest is implied. The apostle knew that it would be understood without repeating the whole. This particular commandment he selected because it was more pertinent than the others to his purpose. The others referred particularly to external actions. But his object was to show the effect of sin on the mind and conscience. He therefore chose one that referred particularly to the desires of the heart.

{o} "not known sin" Ro 3:20

{1} "lust" or "concupiscence"

{p} "had said" Ex 20:17

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 8

Verse 8. But sin. To illustrate the effect of the law on the mind, the apostle in this verse depicts its influence in exciting to evil desires and purposes. Perhaps nowhere has he evinced more consummate knowledge of the human heart than here. He brings an illustration that might have escaped most persons, but which goes directly to establish his position that the law is insufficient to promote the salvation of man. Sin here is personified. It means not a real entity; not a physical subsistence; not something independent of the mind, having a separate existence, and lodged in the soul; but it means the corrupt passions, inclinations, and desires of the mind itself. Thus we say that lust burns, and ambition rages, and envy corrodes the mind, without meaning that lust, ambition, or envy are any independent physical subsistences; but meaning that the mind that is ambitious, or envious, is thus excited.

Taking occasion. The word occasion—(aformhn) properly denotes any material, or preparation, for accomplishing anything; then any opportunity, occasion, etc. of doing it. Here it means that the law was the exciting cause of sin; or was that which called the sinful principle of the heart into exercise. But for this, the effect here described would not have existed. Thus we say that a tempting object of desire presented is the exciting cause of covetousness. Thus an object of ambition is the exciting cause of the principle of ambition. Thus the presentation of wealth, or of advantages possessed by others which we have not, may excite covetousness or envy. Thus the fruit presented to Eve was the exciting cause of sin; the wedge of gold to Achan excited his covetousness. Had not these objects been presented, the evil principles of the heart might have slumbered, and never have been called forth. And hence no men understand the full force of their native propensities until some object is presented that calls them forth into decided action. The occasion which called these forth in the mind of Paul was the law crossing his path, and irritating and exciting the native strong inclinations of the mind.

By the commandment. By all law appointed to restrain and control the mind.

Wrought in me. Produced or worked in me. The word used here means often to operate in a powerful and efficacious manner. (Doddridge.)

All manner of. Greek, "All desire." Every species of unlawful desire. It was not confined to one single desire, but extended to everything which the law declared to be wrong.

Concupiscence. Unlawful or irregular desire. Inclination for unlawful enjoyments. The word is the same which in Ro 7:7 is rendered lust. If it be asked in what way the law led to this, we may reply, that the main idea here is, that opposition by law to the desires and passions of wicked men only tends to inflame and exasperate them. This is the case with regard to sin in every form. An attempt to restrain it by force; to denounce it by laws and penalties; to cross the path of wickedness; only tends to irritate, and to excite into living energy, that which otherwise would be dormant in the bosom. This it does, because

(1.) it crosses the path of the sinner, and opposes his intention, and the current of his feelings and his life.

(2.) The law acts the part of a detector, and lays open to view that which was in the bosom, but was concealed.

(3.) Such is the depth and obstinacy of sin in man, that the very attempt to restrain often only serves to exasperate, and to urge to greater deeds of wickedness. Restraint by law rouses the mad passions; urges to greater deeds of depravity; makes the sinner stubborn, obstinate, and more desperate. The very attempt to set up authority over him throws him into a posture of resistance, and makes him a party, and excites all the feelings of party rage. Any one may have witnessed this effect often on the mind of a wicked and obstinate child.

(4.) This is particularly true in regard to a sinner. He is calm often, and apparently tranquil; but let the law of God be brought home to his conscience, and he becomes maddened and enraged. He spurns its authority, yet his conscience tells him it is right; he attempts to throw it off, yet trembles at its power; and, to show his independence, or his purpose to sin, he plunges into iniquity, and becomes a more dreadful and obstinate sinner. It becomes a struggle for victory, and in the controversy with God he resolves not to be overcome. It accordingly happens that many a man is more profane, blasphemous, and desperate when under conviction for sin than at other times. In revivals of religion it often happens that men evince violence, and rage, and cursing, which they do not in a state of spiritual death in the church; and it is often a very certain indication that a man is under conviction for sin when he becomes particularly violent, and abusive, and outrageous in his opposition to God.

(5.) The effect here noticed by the apostle is one that has been observed at all times, and by all classes of writers. Thus Cato says, (Livy, xxxiv. 4,) "Do not think, Romans, that it will be hereafter as it was before the law was enacted. It is more safe that a bad man should not be accused, than that he should be absolved; and luxury not excited would be more tolerable than it will be now, by the very chains irritated and excited as a wild beast." Thus Seneca says, (de Clementia, i. 23,) "Parricides began with the law." Thus Horace; (Odes, i. 3,) "The human race, bold to endure all things, rushes through forbidden crime." Thus Ovid, (Amor. iii. 4,) "We always endeavour to obtain that which is forbidden, and desire that which is denied." (These passages are quoted from Tholuck.) See also Pr 9:17, "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." If such be the effect of the law, then the inference of the apostle is unavoidable, that it is not adapted to save and sanctify man.

For without the law. Before it was given; or where it was not applied to the mind.

Sin was dead. It was inoperative, inactive, unexcited. This is evidently in a comparative sense. The connexion requires us to understand it only so far as it was excited by the law. Men's passions would exist; but without law they would not be known to be evil, and they would not be excited into wild and tumultuous raging.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 9

Verse 9. For I. There seems to be no doubt that the apostle here refers to his own past experience. Yet in this he speaks the sentiment of all who are unconverted, and who are depending on their own righteousness.

Was alive. This is opposed to what he immediately adds respecting another state, in which he was when he died. It must mean, therefore, that he had a certain kind of peace; he deemed himself secure; he was free from the convictions of conscience and the agitations of alarm. The state to which he refers here must be doubtless that to which he himself elsewhere alludes, when he deemed himself to be righteous, depending on his own works, and esteeming himself to be blameless, Php 3:4-6 Ac 23:1; 26:4,5.

It means, that he was then free from those agitations and alarms which he afterwards experienced when he was brought under conviction for sin. At that time, though he had the law, and was attempting to obey it, yet he was unacquainted with its spiritual and holy nature. He aimed at external conformity. Its claims on the heart were unfelt. This is the condition of every self-confident sinner, and of every one who is unawakened.

Without the law. Not that Paul was ever really without the law—that is, without the law of Moses; but he means before the law was applied to his heart in its spiritual meaning, and with power.

But when the commandment came. When it was applied to the heart and conscience. This is the only intelligible sense of the expression; for it cannot refer to the time when the law was given. When this was, the apostle does not say. But the expression denotes whenever it was so applied; when it was urged with power and efficacy on his conscience, to control, restrain, and threaten him, it produced this effect. We are unacquainted with the early operations of his mind, and with his struggles against conscience and duty. We know enough of him before conversion, however, to be assured that he was proud, impetuous, and unwilling to be restrained. See Ac 8:1-9:43. In the state of his self-confident righteousness and impetuosity of feeling, we may easily suppose that the holy law of God, which is designed to restrain the passions, to humble the heart, and to rebuke pride, would produce only irritation, and impatience of restraint, and revolt.

Sin revived. Lived again. This means that it was before dormant, Ro 7:8 but was now quickened into new life. The word is usually applied to a renewal of life, Ro 14:9; Lu 15:24,32

but here it means substantially the same as the expression in Ro 7:8, "Sin—wrought- in me all manner of concupiscence." The power of sin, which was before dormant, became quickened and active.

I died. That is, I was by it involved in additional guilt and misery. It stands opposed to "I was alive," and must mean the opposite of that; and evidently denotes that the effect of the commandment was to bring him under what he calls death, Ro 5:12,14,15

that is, sin reigned, and raged, and produced its withering and condemning effects; it led to aggravated guilt and misery. It may also include this idea: that before, he was self-confident and secure; but that by the commandment he was stricken down and humbled, his self-confidence was blasted, and his hopes were prostrated in the dust. Perhaps no words would better express the humble, subdued, melancholy, and helpless state of a converted sinner than the expressive phrase "I died." The essential idea here is, that the law did not answer the purpose which the Jew would claim for it, to sanctify the soul and to give comfort, but that all its influence on the heart was to produce aggravated, unpardoned guilt and woe.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 10

Verse 10. And the commandment. The law to which he had referred before.

Which was ordained to life. Which was intended to produce life, or happiness. Life here stands opposed to death, and means felicity, peace, eternal bliss. See Barnes "Joh 3:36".

When the apostle says that it was ordained to life, he probably has reference to the numerous passages in the Old Testament which speak of the law in this manner. Le 18:5, "Ye shall keep my statutes and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them," Eze 20:11,13,21; 18:9,21.

The meaning of these passages, in connexion with this declaration of Paul, may be thus expressed:

(1.) The law is good; it has no evil, and is itself fitted to produce no evil.

(2.) If man was pure, and it was obeyed perfectly, it would produce life and happiness only. On those who have obeyed it in heaven, it has produced only happiness.

(3.) For this it was ordained; it is adapted to it; and when perfectly obeyed, it produces no other effect. But,

(4.) man is a sinner; he has not obeyed it; and in such a case the law threatens woe. It crosses the inclination of man; and instead of producing peace and life, as it would on a being perfectly holy, it produces only woe and crime. The law of a parent may be good, and may be appointed to promote the happiness of his children; it may be admirably fitted to it if all were obedient; yet in the family there may be one obstinate, self-willed, and stubborn child, resolved to indulge his evil passions, and the results to him would be woe and despair. The commandment, which was ordained for the good of the family, and which would be adapted to promote their welfare, he alone, of all the number, would find to be unto death.

I found. It was to me. It produced this effect.

Unto death. Producing aggravated guilt and condemnation, Ro 7:9.

{q} "ordained to life" Eze 20:11

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 11

Verse 11. For sin. This verse is a repetition, with a little variation, of the sentiment in Ro 7:8.

Deceived me. The word here used properly means, to lead or seduce from the right way; and then to deceive, solicit to sin, cause to err from the way of virtue, Ro 16:18; 1 Co 3:18; 2 Co 11:3, "The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty; "2 Th 2:3. The meaning here seems to be, that his corrupt and rebellious propensities, excited by the law, led him astray; caused him more and more to sin; practised a species of deception on him by urging him on headlong, and without deliberation, into aggravated transgression. In this sense, all sinners are deceived. Their passions urge them on, deluding them, and leading them farther and farther from happiness, and involving them, before they are aware, in crime and death. No being in the universe is more deluded than a sinner in the indulgence of evil passions. The description of Solomon in a particular case will apply to all, Pr 7:21-23. \-

With much fair speech she caused him to yield;
With the flattering of her lips she forced him.
He goeth after her straightway,
As an ox goeth to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correctran of the stocks;
Till a dart strike through his liver,
As a bird hasteth to the snare.

By it. By the law, Ro 7:8.

Slew me. Meaning the same as "I died," Ro 7:9.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Wherefore. So that. The conclusion to which we come is, that the law is not to be blamed, though these are its effects under existing circumstances. The source of all this is not the law, but the corrupt nature of man. The law is good; and yet the position of the apostle is true, that it is not adapted to purify the heart of fallen man. Its tendency is to excite increased guilt, conflict, alarm, and despair. This verse contains an answer to the question in Ro 7:7, "Is the law sin?"

Is holy. Is not sin. Comp. Ro 7:7.

It is pure in its nature.

And the commandment. The word commandment is here synonymous with the law. It properly means that which is enjoined.

Holy. Pure.

Just. Righteous in its claims and penalties. It is not unequal in its exactions.

Good. In itself good; and in its own nature tending to produce happiness. The sin and condemnation of the guilty is not the fault of the law. If obeyed, it would produce happiness everywhere. See a most beautiful description of the law of God in Ps 19:7-11.

{r} "the law is holy" Ps 19:7-9.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Was then that which is good, etc. This is another objection, which the apostle proceeds to answer. The objection is this: "Can it be possible that that which is admitted to be good and pure, should be changed into evil? Can that which tends to life, be made death to a man?" In answer to this, the apostle repeats that the fault was not in the law, but was in himself, and in his sinful propensities.

Made death. Ro 7:8,10.

God forbid. See Barnes "Ro 3:4".

But sin. This is a personification of sin as in Ro 7:8.

That it might appear sin. That it might develope its true nature, and no longer be dormant in the mind. The law of God is often applied to a man's conscience, that he may see how deep and desperate is his depravity. No man knows his own heart until the law thus crosses his path, and shows him what he is.

By the commandment. See Barnes "Ro 7:8".

Might become exeeedingly sinful. In the original this is a very strong expression, and is one of those used by Paul to express strong emphasis, or intensity, kay uperbolhn. By hyperboles. In an extensive degree; to the utmost possible extent, 1 Co 12:31; 2 Co 1:8; 4:7; 12:7; Ga 1:13.

The phrase occurs in each of these places. The sense here is, that by the giving of the command, and its application to the mind, sin was completely developed; it was excited, inflamed, aggravated, and showed to be excessively malignant and deadly. It was not a dormant, slumbering principle; but it was awfully opposed to God and his law. Calvin has well expressed the sense: "It was proper that the enormity of sin should be revealed by the law; because unless sin should break forth by some dreadful and enormous excess, (as they say,) it would not be known to be sin. This excess exhibits itself the more violently, while it turns life into death." The sentiment of the whole is, that the tendency of the law is to excite the dormant sin of the bosom into active existence, and to reveal its true nature. It is desirable that that should be done; and as that is all that the law accomplishes, it is not adapted to sanctify the soul. To show that this was the design of the apostle, it is desirable that sin should be thus seen in its true nature, because

(1.) man should be acquainted with his true character. He should not deceive himself.

(2.) Because it is one part of God's plan to develope the secret feelings of the heart, and to show to all creatures what they are.

(3.) Because only by knowing this will the sinner be induced to take a remedy, and strive to be saved. God often thus suffers men to plunge into sin; to act out their nature, that they may see themselves, and be alarmed at the consequences of their own crimes.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 14

Verses 14-25: The remainder of this chapter has been the subject of no small degree of controversy. The question has been whether it describes the state of Paul before his conversion, or afterwards. It is not the purpose of these Notes to enter into controversy, or into extended discussion. But after all the attention which I have been able to give to this passage, I regard it as describing the state of a man under the gospel, as descriptive of the operations of the mind of Paul subsequent to his conversion. This interpretation is adopted for the following reasons:

(1.) Because it seems to me to be the most obvious. It is that which will strike plain men as being the natural meaning; men who have not a theory to support, and who understand language in its usual sense.

(2.) Because it agrees with the design of the apostle, which is to show that the law is not adapted to produce sanctification and peace. This he had done in regard to a man before he was converted. If this relates to the same period, then it is a useless discussion of a point already discussed. If it relates to that period also, then there is a large field of action, including the whole period after a man's conversion to Christianity, in which the question might still be unsettled, whether the law there might not be adapted to sanctify. The apostle therefore makes thorough work with the argument, and shows that the operation of the law is everywhere the same.

(3.) Because the expressions which occur are such as cannot be understood of an impenitent sinner. See Barnes "Ro 7:15, See Barnes "Ro 7:22".

(4.) Because it accords with parallel expressions in regard to the state of the conflict in a Christian's mind.

(5.) Because there is a change made here from the past tense to the present. In Ro 7:7, etc., he had used the past tense, evidently describing some former state. In Ro 7:14 there is a change to the present, a change inexplicable, except on the supposition that he meant to describe some state different from that before described. That could be no other than to carry his illustration forward in showing the inefficacy of the law on a man in his renewed state; or to show that such was the remaining depravity of the man, that it produced substantially the same effects as in the former condition.

(6.) Because it accords with the experience of Christians, and not with sinners. It is just such language as plain Christians, who are acquainted with their own hearts, use to express their feelings. I admit that this last consideration is not by itself conclusive; but if the language did not accord with the experience of the Christian world, it would be a strong circumstance against any proposed interpretation. The view which is here expressed of this chapter, as supposing that the previous part (Ro 7:7-13) refers to a man in his unregenerate state, and that the remainder describes the effect of the law on the mind of a renewed man, was adopted by studying the chapter itself, without aid from any writer. I am happy, however, to find that the views thus expressed are in accordance with those of the late Rev. Dr. J.P. Wilson, than whom, perhaps, no man was ever better qualified to interpret the Scriptures. He says,

In the fourth verse, he (Paul) changes to the first person plural, because he intended to speak of the former experience of Christians, who had been Jews. In the seventh verse he uses the first person singular, but speaks in the past tense, because he describes his own experience when he was an unconverted Pharisee. In the fourteenth verse, and unto the end of the chapter, he uses the first person singular, and the present tense, because he exhibits his own experience since he became a Christian and an apostle.

Verse 14. We know. We admit. It is a conceded, well-understood point.

That the law is spiritual. This does not mean that the law is designed to control the spirit, in contradistinction from the body, but it is a declaration showing that the evils of which he was speaking were not the fault of the law. That was not, in its nature, sensual, corrupt, earthly, carnal; but was pure and spiritual. The effect described was not the fault of the law, but of the man, who was sold under sin. The word spiritual is often thus used to denote that which is pure and holy, in opposition to that which is fleshly or carnal, Ro 8:5,6; Ga 5:16-23. The flesh is described as the source of evil passions and desires; the spirit as the source of purity, or as that which is agreeable to the proper influences of the Holy Spirit.

But I am. The present tense shows that he is describing himself as he was at the time of writing. This is the natural and obvious construction; and if this be not the meaning, it is impossible to account for his having changed the past tense (Ro 7:7) to the present.

Carnal. Fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual. This word is used because in the Scriptures the flesh is spoken of as the source of sensual passions and propensities, Ga 5:19-21. The sense is, that these corrupt passions still retained a strong, and withering, and distressing influence over the mind. The renewed man is exposed to temptations from his strong native appetites; and the power of these passions, strengthened by long habit before he was converted, has travelled over into religion, and they continue still to influence and distress him. It does not mean that he is wholly under their influence; but that the tendency of his natural inclinations is to indulgence.

Sold under sin. This expression is often adduced to show that it cannot be of a renewed man that the apostle is speaking. The argument is, that it cannot be affirmed of a Christian that he is sold under sin. A sufficient answer to this might be, that, IN FACT, this is the very language which Christians often now adopt to express the strength of that native depravity against which they struggle, and that no language would better express it. It does not mean that they choose or prefer sins. It strongly implies that the prevailing bent of their mind is against it, but that such is its strength that it brings them into slavery to it. The expression here used, "sold under sin," is "borrowed from the practice of selling captives taken in war, as slaves." (Stuart.) It hence means to deliver into the power of any one, so that he shall be dependent on his will and control. (Schleusner.) The emphasis is not on the word sold, as if any act of selling had taken place, but the effect was as if he had been sold; i.e., he was subject to it, and under its control, and it means that sin, contrary to the prevailing inclination of his mind, (Ro 7:15-17) had such an influence over him as to lead him to commit it, and thus to produce a state of conflict and grief, Ro 7:19-24. The verses which follow this are an explanation of the sense, and of the manner in which he was "sold under sin."

{s} "sold under sin" 2 Ki 17:17

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 15

Verse 15. For that which I do. That is, the evil which I do, the sin of which I am conscious, and which troubles me.

I allow not. I do not approve; I do not wish it; the prevailing bent of my inclinations and purposes is against it. Greek, "I know not." See the margin. The word know, however, is sometimes used in the sense of approving. Re 2:24, "Which have not known [approved] the depths of Satan." Comp. Ps 101:4, "I will not know a wicked person." Jer 1:5.

For what I would. That which I approve, and which is my prevailing and established desire. What I would wish always to do.

But what I hate. What I disapprove of; what is contrary to my judgment; my prevailing inclination; my established principles of conduct.

That do I. Under the influence of sinful propensities, and carnal inclinations and desires. This represents the strong native propensity to sin; and even the power of corrupt propensity under the restraining influence of the gospel. On this remarkable and important passage we may observe,

(1.) that the prevailing propensity—the habitual fixed inclination of the mind of the Christian—is to do right. The evil course is hated; the right course is loved. This is the characteristic of a pious mind. It distinguishes a holy man from a sinner.

(2.) The evil which is done is disapproved; is a source of grief; and the habitual desire of the mind is to avoid it, and be pure. This also distinguishes the Christian from the sinner.

(3.) There is no need of being embarrassed here with any metaphysical difficulties or inquiries how this can be; for \-

(a) it is in fact the experience of all Christians. The habitual, fixed inclination and desire of their minds is to serve God. They have a fixed abhorrence of sin; and yet they are conscious of imperfection, and error, and sin, that is the source of uneasiness and trouble. The strength of natural passion may in an unguarded moment overcome them.

The power of long habits of previous thoughts may annoy them. A man who was an infidel before his conversion, and whose mind was filled with scepticism, and cavils, and blasphemy, will find the effect of his former habits of thinking lingering in his mind, and annoying his peace for years. These thoughts will start up with the rapidity of the lightning. Thus it is with every vice and every opinion. It is one of the effects of habit. "The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it;" and where sin has been long indulged, it leaves its withering, desolating effect on the soul long after conversion, and produces that state of conflict with which every Christian is familiar.

(b) An effect somewhat similar is felt by all men. All are conscious of doing that, under the excitement of passion and prejudice, which their conscience and better judgment disapprove. A conflict thus exists, which is attended with as much metaphysical difficulty as the struggle in the Christian's mind referred to here.

(c) The same thing was observed and described in the writings of the heathen. Thus Xenophon, (Cyrop. vi. 1,) Araspes, the Persian, says in order to excuse his treasonable designs,

"Certainly I must have two souls; for plainly it is not one and the same which is both evil and good; and at the same time wishes to do a thing and not to do it. Plainly, then, there are two souls; and when the good one prevails, then it does good; and when the evil one predominates, then it does evil." So also Epictetus (Enchirid. ii. 26) says, "He that sins does not do what he would; but what he would not, that he does." With this passage it would almost seem that Paul was familiar, and had his eye on it when he wrote. So also the well known passage from Ovid, Meta. vii. 9:

Aliudque Cupido,
Mens aliud suadet. Video meliora, proboque,
Deteriora sequor.

"Desire prompts to one thing, but the mind persuades to another. I see the good, and approve it, and yet pursue the wrong."—See other passages of similar import quoted in Grotius and Tholuck.

{1} "allow not" "know not"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 16

Verse 16. I consent unto the law. The very struggle with evil shows that it is not loved, or approved, but that the law which condemns it is really loved. Christians may here find a test of their piety. The fact of struggling against evil—the desire to be free from it, and to overcome it, the anxiety and grief which it causes—is an evidence that we do not love it, and that therefore we are the friends of God. Perhaps nothing can be a more decisive test of piety than a long-continued and painful struggle against evil passions and desires in every form, and a panting of the soul to be delivered from the power and dominion of sin.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 17

Verse 17. It is no more I that do it. This is evidently figurative language, for it is really the man that sins when evil is committed. But the apostle makes a distinction between sin and that which he intends by the pronoun I. By the former he evidently means his corrupt nature; by the latter he refers to his renewed nature, his Christian principles. He means to say that he does not approve or love it in his present state, but that it is the result of his native propensities and passions. In his heart, and conscience, and habitual feeling, he did not choose to commit sin, but abhorred it. Thus every Christian can say that he does not choose to do evil, but would wish to be perfect; that he hates sin, and yet that his corrupt passions lead him astray.

But sin. My corrupt passions and native propensities.

That dwelleth in me. Dwelling in me as its home. This is a strong expression, denoting that sin had taken up its habitation in the mind, and abode there. It had not yet been wholly dislodged. This expression stands in contrast with another that occurs, where it is said that "the Spirit of God dwells" in the Christian, Ro 8:9; 1 Co 3:16. The sense is, that he is strongly influenced by sin on the one hand; and by the Spirit on the other. From this expression has arisen the phrase so common among Christians, indwelling sin.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 18

Verse 18. For I know. This is designed as an illustration of what he had just said, that sin dwelt in him.

That is, in my flesh. In my unrenewed nature; in my propensities and inclinations before conversion. Does not this qualifying expression show that in this discussion he was speaking of himself as a renewed man? Hence he is careful to imply that there was at that time in him something that was right or acceptable with God, but that that did not pertain to him by nature.

Dwelleth. His soul was wholly occupied by that which was evil. It had taken entire possession.

No good thing. There could not be possibly a stronger expression of belief of the doctrine of total depravity. It is Paul's own representation of himself. It proves that his heart was wholly evil. And if this was true of him, it is true of all others. It is a good way to examine ourselves, to inquire whether we have such a view of our own native character as to say that we know that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing. The sense here is, that so far as the flesh was concerned—that is, in regard to his natural inclinations and desires— there was nothing good; all was evil. This was true in his entire conduct before conversion, where the desires of the flesh reigned and rioted without control; and it was true after conversion, so far as the natural inclinations and propensities of the flesh were concerned. All those operations in every state were evil, and not the less evil because they are experienced under the light and amidst the influences of the gospel.

To will. To purpose or intend to do good.

Is present with me. I can do that. It is possible; it is in my power. The expression may also imply that it was near to him, (parakeitai), that is, it was constantly before him; it was now his habitual inclination and purpose of mind. It is the uniform, regular, habitual purpose of the Christian's mind to do right.

But how. The sense would have been better retained here if the translators had not introduced the word how. The difficulty was not in the mode of performing it, but to do the thing itself.

I find not. I do not find it in my power; or I find strong, constant obstacles, so that I fail of doing it. The obstacles are not natural, but such as arise from long indulgence in sin; the strong native propensity to evil.

{t} "no good thing" Ge 6:5

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 19

Verse 19. For the good, etc. This is substantially a repetition of what is said in Ro 7:15. The repetition shows how full the mind of the apostle was of the subject; and how much inclined he was to dwell upon it, and to place it in every variety of form. It is not uncommon for Paul thus to express his intense interest in a subject, by placing it in a great variety of aspects, even at the hazard of much repetition.

{u} "the good" Ga 5:17

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Now if I do, etc. This verse is also a repetition of what was said in Ro 7:16,17.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 21

Verse 21. I find then a law. There is a law whose operation I experience whenever I attempt to do good. There have been various opinions about the meaning of the word law in this place. It is evident that [it] is used here in a sense somewhat unusual. But it retains the notion which commonly attaches to it of that which binds, or controls. And though this to which he refers differs from a law, inasmuch as it is not imposed by a superior, which is the usual idea of a law, yet it has so far the sense of law that it binds, controls, influences, or is that to which he was subject. There can be no doubt that he refers here to his carnal and corrupt nature; to the evil propensities and dispositions which were leading him astray. His representing this as a law is in accordance with all that he says of it, that it is servitude, that he is in bondage to it, and that it impedes his efforts to be holy and pure. The meaning is this: "I find a habit, a propensity, an influence of corrupt passions and desires, which, when I would do right, impedes my progress, and prevents my accomplishing what I would." Comp. Ga 5:17. Every Christian is as much acquainted with this as was the apostle Paul.

Do good. Do right. Be perfect.

Evil. Some corrupt desire, or improper feeling, or evil propensity.

Is present with me. Is near; is at hand. It starts up unbidden, and undesired. It is in the path, and never leaves us, but is always ready to impede our going, and to turn us from our good designs. Comp. Ps 65:3, "Iniquities prevail against me." The sense is, that to do evil is agreeable to our strong natural inclinations and passions.

{v} "evil is present" Ps 65:3

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 22

Verse 22. For I delight. The word used here (sunhdomai) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, to rejoice with any one; and expresses not only approbation of the understanding, as the expression, "I consent unto the law," in Ro 7:16, but, more than that, it denotes sensible pleasure in the heart. It indicates not only intellectual assent, but emotion—an emotion of pleasure in the contemplation of the law. And this shows that the apostle is not speaking of an unrenewed man. Of such a man it might be said that his conscience approved the law; that his understanding was convinced that the law was good; but never yet did it occur that an impenitent sinner found emotions of pleasure in the contemplation of the pure and spiritual law of God. If this expression can be applied to an unrenewed man, there is, perhaps, not a single mark of a pious mind which may not with equal propriety be so applied. It is the natural, obvious, and usual mode of denoting the feelings of piety, an assent to the Divine law followed with emotions of sensible delight in the contemplation. Comp. Ps 119:97, "O how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day." Ps 1:2, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord." Ps 19:7-11; Job 23:12.

In the law of God. The word law here is used, in a large sense, to denote all the communications which God had made to control man. The sense is, that the apostle was pleased with the whole. One mark of genuine piety is to be pleased with the whole of the Divine requirements.

After the inward man. In respect to the inward man. The expression "the inward man" is used sometimes to denote the rational part of man as opposed to the sensual; sometimes the mind as opposed to the body, (comp. 2 Co 4:16; 1 Pe 3:4). It is thus used by the Greek classic writers. Here it is used evidently in opposition to a carnal and corrupt nature; to the evil passions and desires of the soul in an unrenewed state; to what is called elsewhere "the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts," Eph 4:22. The "inward man" is elsewhere called "the new man," (Eph 4:24) and denotes not the mere intellect, or conscience, but is a personification of the principles of action by which a Christian is governed; the new nature; the holy disposition; the inclination of the heart that is renewed.

{w} "delight" Ps 1:2

{x} "inward man" 2 Co 4:16; 1 Pe 3:4

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 23

Verse 23. But I see another law. See Barnes "Ro 7:21".

In my members. In my body; in my flesh; in my corrupt and sinful propensities. See Barnes "Ro 6:13".

Comp. 1 Co 6:15; Col 3:5 The body is composed of many members; and as the flesh is regarded as the source of sin, (Ro 7:18) the law of sin is said to be in the members, i.e. in the body itself.

Warring against, fighting against; or resisting.

The law of my mind. This stands opposed to the prevailing inclinations of a corrupt nature. It means the same as was expressed by the phrase "the inward man," and denotes the desires and purposes of a renewed heart.

And bringing me into captivity. Making me a prisoner, or a captive. This is the completion of the figure respecting the warfare. A captive taken in war was at the disposal of the victor. So the apostle represents himself as engaged in a warfare; and as being overcome, and made an unwilling captive to the evil inclinations of the heart. The expression is strong; and denotes strong corrupt propensities. But though strong, it is believed it is language which all sincere Christians can adopt of themselves, as expressive of that painful and often disastrous conflict in their bosoms when they contend against the native propensities of their hearts.

{z} "captivity to the law" Ps 142:7

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 24

Verse 24. O wretched man that I am! The feeling implied by this lamentation is the result of this painful conflict; and this frequent subjection to sinful propensities. The effect of this conflict is

(1.) to produce pain and distress, it is often an agonizing struggle between good and evil; a struggle which annoys the peace, and renders life wretched.

(2.) It tends to produce humility. It is humbling to man to be thus under the influence of evil passions. It is degrading to his nature; a stain on his glory; and it tends to bring him into the dust, that he is under the control of such propensities, and so often gives indulgence to them. In such circumstances, the mind is overwhelmed with wretchedness, and instinctively sighs for relief. Can the law aid? Can man aid? Can any native strength of conscience or of reason aid? In vain all these are tried, and the Christian then calmly and thankfully acquiesces in the consolations of the apostle, that aid can be obtained only through Jesus Christ.

Who shall deliver me. Who shall rescue me; the condition of a mind in deep distress, and conscious of its own weakness, and looking for aid.

The body of this death. Marg. This body of death. The word body here is probably used as equivalent to flesh, denoting the corrupt and evil propensities on the soul. See Barnes "Ro 7:18".

It is thus used to denote the law of sin in the members, as being that with which the apostle was struggling, and from which he desired to be delivered. The expression "body of this death" is a Hebraism, denoting a body deadly in its tendency; and the whole expression may mean the corrupt principles of man; the carnal, evil affections that lead to death or to condemnation. The expression is one of vast strength, and strongly characteristic of the apostle Paul. It indicates,

(1.) that it was near him, attending him, and was distressing in its nature.

(2.) An earnest wish to be delivered from it. Some have supposed that he refers to a custom practised by ancient tyrants, of binding a dead body to a captive as a punishment, and compelling him to drag the cumbersome and offensive burden with him wherever he went. I do not see any evidence that the apostle had this in view. But such a fact may be used as a striking and perhaps not improper illustration of the meaning of the apostle here. No strength of words could express deeper feeling; none more feelingly indicate the necessity of the grace of God to accomplish that to which the unaided human powers are incompetent.

{a} "O wretched" Ps 38:2,10; 77:3-9

{1} "the body" or, "this body of death"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 25

Verse 25. I thank God. That is, I thank God for effecting a deliverance to which I am myself incompetent. There is a way of I of rescue, and trace it altogether to his mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ. What conscience could not do, what the law could not do, what unaided human strength could not do, has been accomplished by the plan the gospel; and complete deliverance can be expected there, and there alone. This is the point to which all his reasoning had tended; and having thus shown that the law was insufficient to effect this deliverance, he is now prepared to utter the language of Christian thankfulness that it can be effected by the gospel. The superiority of the gospel to the law, in overcoming all the evils under which man labours, is thus triumphantly established. Comp. 1 Co 15:57.

So then. As the result of the whole inquiry we have come to this conclusion.

With the mind. With the understanding, the conscience, the purposes or intentions of the soul. This is a characteristic of the renewed nature. Of no impenitent sinner could it be ever affirmed that with his mind he served the law of God.

I myself. It is still the same person, though acting in this apparently contradictory manner.

Serve the law of God. Do honour to it as a just and holy law, (Ro 7:12,16) and am inclined to obey it, Ro 7:22,24.

But with the flesh. The corrupt propensities and lusts, Ro 7:18.

The law of sin. That is, in the members. The flesh throughout, in all its native propensities and passions, leads to sin; it has no tendency to holiness; and its corruptions cart be overcome only by the grace of God. We have thus

(1.) a view of the sad and painful conflict between sin and God. They are opposed in all things.

(2.) We see the raging, withering effect of sin on the soul. In all circumstances it tends to death and woe.

(3.) We see the feebleness of the law and of conscience to overcome this. The tendency of both is to produce conflict and woe. And

(4.) we see that the gospel only can overcome sin. To us it should be a subject of ever-increasing thankfulness, that what could not be accomplished by the law can be thus effected by the gospel; and that God has devised a plan that thus effects complete deliverance, and which gives to the captive in sin an everlasting triumph.

{e} "I thank God" 1 Co 15:57


THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 1


THIS chapter is one of the most interesting and precious portions of the sacred Scriptures. Some parts of it are attended with great difficulties; but its main scope and design is apparent to all. It is a continuation of the subject discussed in the previous chapter, and is intended mainly to show that the gospel could effect what the law was incapable of doing. In that chapter the apostle had shown that the law was incapable of producing sanctification or peace of mind. He had traced its influence on the mind in different conditions, and shown that, equally before regeneration and afterwards, it was incapable of producing peace and holiness. Such was man, such were his propensities, that the application of law only tended to excite, to irritate, to produce conflict. The conscience, indeed, testified to the law that it was good; but still it had shown that it was not adapted to produce holiness of heart and peace, but agitation, conflict, and a state of excited sin. In opposition to this, he proceeds to show in this chapter the power of the gospel to produce that which the law could not. In doing this, he illustrates the subject by several considerations.

(1.) The gospel does what the law could not do in giving life, and delivering from condemnation, Ro 8:1-13.

(2.) It produces a spirit of adoption, and all the blessings which result from the filial confidence with which we can address God as our Father, in opposition to the law which produced only terror and alarm, Ro 8:14-17.

(3.) It sustains the soul amidst its captivity to sin, and its trials, with the hope of a future deliverance—a complete and final redemption of the body from all the evils of this life, Ro 8:18-25.

(4.) It furnishes the aid of the Holy Spirit to sustain us in our trials and infirmities, Ro 8:26,27.

(5.) It gives the assurance that all things shall work together for good, since all things are connected with the purpose of God; and all that can occur to a Christian comes in as a part of the plan of him who has resolved to save him, Ro 8:28-30.

(6.) It ministers consolation from the fact that everything that can affect the happiness of man is on the side of the Christian, and will co-operate in his favour; as, e.g.

(a) God, in giving his Son, and in justifying the believer, Ro 8:31-33.

(b) Christ, in dying, and rising, and interceding for Christians, Ro 8:34.

(c) The love of a Christian to the Saviour is in itself so strong that nothing can separate him from it, Ro 8:35-39. By all these considerations the superiority of the gospel to the law is shown, and assurance is given to the believer of his final salvation. By this interesting and conclusive train of reasoning, the apostle is prepared for the triumphant language of exultation with which he closes this most precious portion of the word of God.

Verse 1. There is, therefore, now. This is connected with the closing verses of chapter 7. The apostle had there shown that the law could not effect deliverance from sin, but that such deliverance was to be traced to the gospel alone, Ro 7:23-25. It is implied here that there was condemnation under the law, and would be still, but for the intervention of the gospel.

No condemnation. This does not mean that sin in believers is not to be condemned as much as anywhere, for the contrary is everywhere taught in the Scriptures; but it means,

(1.) that the gospel does not pronounce condemnation like the law. Its office is to pardon; the office of the law, to condemn. The one never affords deliverance, but always condemns; the object of the other is to free from condemnation, and to set the soul at liberty.

(2.) There is no final condemnation under the gospel. The office, design, and tendency of the gospel is to free from the condemning sentence of law. This is its first and its glorious announcement, that it frees lost and ruined men from a most fearful and terrible condemnation.

Which are in Christ Jesus. Who are united to Christ. To be in him is an expression not seldom used in the New Testament, denoting close and intimate union, Php 1:1; 3:9; 2 Co 5:17; Ro 16:7-11.

The union between Christ and his people is compared to that between the vine and its branches, (Joh 15:1-6) and hence believers are said to be in him in a similar sense, as deriving their support from him, and as united in feeling, in purpose, and destiny.

Who walk. Who conduct, or live. See Barnes "Ro 4:12".

Not after the flesh. Who do not live to gratify the corrupt desires and passions of the flesh. See Barnes "Ro 7:18".

This is a characteristic of a Christian. What it is to walk after the flesh may be seen in Ga 5:19-21. It follows, that a man whose purpose of life is to gratify his corrupt desires cannot be a Christian. Unless he lives not to gratify his flesh, he can have no evidence of piety. This is a test which is easily applied; and if every professor of religion were honest, there could be no danger of mistake, and there need be no doubts about his true character.

But after the Spirit. As the Holy Spirit would lead or prompt. What the Spirit produces may be seen in Ga 5:22,23. If a man has these fruits of the Spirit, he is a Christian; If not, he is a stranger to religion, whatever else he may possess. And this test also is easily applied.

{d} "no condemnation" Joh 3:18

{e} "walk not after" Ga 5:16

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 2

Verse 2. For the law. The word law here means that rule, command, or influence which "the Spirit of life" produces. That exerts a control which is here called a law, for a law often means anything by which we are ruled or governed. See Barnes "Ro 7:21, See Barnes "Ro 7:23".

Of the Spirit. I see no reason to doubt here that this refers to the Holy Spirit. Evidently, at the close of Ro 8:1, the word has this reference. The phrase "the Spirit of life" then means the Holy Spirit producing or giving life; i.e. giving peace, joy, activity, salvation; in opposition to the law, spoken of in chapter 7, that produced death and condemnation.

In Christ Jesus. Under the Christian religion: or sent by Christ to apply his work to men, Joh 16:7-14. The Spirit is sent by Christ; his influence is a part of the Christian scheme; and his power accomplishes that which the law could not do.

Hath made me free. That is, has delivered me from the predominating influence and control of sin. He cannot mean that he was perfect, for the whole tenor of his reasoning is opposed to that. But the design, the tendency, and the spirit of the gospel was to produce this freedom from what the law could not deliver; and he was now brought under the general power of this scheme. In the former state he was under a most bitter and galling bondage, Ro 7:7-11. Now he was brought under the influence of a scheme which contemplated freedom, and which produced it.

The law of sin and death. The controlling influence of sin, leading to death and condemnation, Ro 7:5-11.

{f} "life in Christ" 2 Co 3:6.

{g} "free from the law" Ga 2:19; 5:1.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 3

Verse 3. For what the law could not do. The law of God, the moral law. It could not free from sin and condemnation. This the apostle had fully shown in chapter 7.

In that. Because.

It was weak. It was feeble and inefficacious. It could not accomplish it.

Through the flesh. In consequence of the strength of sin, and of the evil and corrupt desires of the unrenewed heart. The fault was not in the law, which was good, (Ro 7:12) but it was owing to the strength of the natural passions and the sinfulness of the unrenewed heart. See Ro 7:7-11, where this influence is fully explained.

God, sending his own Son. That is, God did or accomplished that, by sending his Son, which the law could not do. The word did, or accomplished, it is necessary to understand here, in order to complete the sense.

In the likeness of sinful flesh. That is, he so far resembled sinful flesh that he partook of flesh, or the nature of man, but without any of its sinful propensities or desires. It was not human nature; not, as the Docetae taught, human nature in appearance only; but it was human nature without any of its corruptions.

And for sin Margin, "By a sacrifice for sin." The expression evidently means, by an offering for sin, or that he was given as a sacrifice on account of sin. His being given had respect to sin.

Condemned sin in the flesh. The flesh is regarded as the source of sin. See Barnes "Ro 7:18".

The flesh being the seat and origin of transgression, the atoning Sacrifice was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, that thus he might meet sin, as it were, on its own ground, and destroy it. He may be said to have condemned sin in this manner,

(1.) because the fact that he was given for it, and died on its account, was a condemnation of it. If sin had been approved by God, he would not have made an atonement to secure its destruction. The depth and intensity of the woes of Christ on its account show the degree of abhorrence with which it is regarded by God.

(2.) The word condemn may be used in the sense of destroying, overcoming, or subduing. 2 Pe 2:6, "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow." In this sense the sacrifice of Christ has not only condemned sin as being evil, but has weakened its power and destroyed its influence, and will finally annihilate its existence in all who are saved by that death.

{h} "law could not do" Ac 13:39; Heb 7:18,19

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 4

Verse 4. That the righteousness of the law. That we might be conformed to the law, or be obedient to its requirements, and no longer under the influence of the flesh and its corrupt desires.

Might be fulfilled. That we might be obedient, or comply with its demands. Who walk. See Barnes "Ro 8:1".

{k} "walk not" Ro 8:1

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 5

Verse 5. For they that are after the flesh. They that are under the influence of the corrupt and sinful desires of the flesh, Ga 5:19-21. Those who are unrenewed.

Do mind the things of the flesh. They are supremely devoted to the gratification of their corrupt desires.

But they that are after the Spirit. Who are under its influence; who are led by the Spirit.

The things of the Spirit. Those things which the Spirit produces, or which he effects in the mind, Ga 5:22, 23.

This verse is for the purpose of illustration, and is designed to show that the tendency of religion is to produce as entire a devotedness to the service of God as men had before rendered to sin; that is, that they would be fully engaged in that to which they had devoted themselves. As the Christian, there- fore, had devoted himself to the service of the Spirit, and had been brought under his influence, it was to be expected that he would make it his great and only object to cherish and cultivate the graces which that Spirit would produce.

{l} "the flesh do mind" Joh 3:6; 1 Co 15:48

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 6

Verse 6. For to be carnally minded. Margin, "The minding of the flesh." The sense is, that to follow the inclinations of the flesh. or the corrupt propensities of our nature, leads to condemnation and death. The expression is one of great energy, and shows that it not only leads to death, or leads to misery, but that it is death itself; there is woe and condemnation in the very act and purpose of being supremely devoted to the corrupt passions. Its only tendency is condemnation and despair.

Is death. The penalty of transgression; condemnation and eternal ruin. See Barnes "Ro 5:12".

But to be spiritually minded. Margin, "The minding of the Spirit." That is, making it the object of the mind, the end and aim of the actions, to cultivate the graces of the Spirit, and to submit to his influence. To be spiritually minded is to seek those feelings and views which the Holy Spirit produces, and to follow his leadings.

Is life. This is opposed to death in Ro 8:6. It tends to life, and is in fact real life. For, to possess and cultivate the graces of the Spirit, to be led where he would guide us, is the design of our existence, and is the only path of happiness.

And peace. See Barnes "Ro 6:1".

{1} "For to be carnally minded", or "the minding of the flesh"

{n} "but to be" Gal 6:8

{2} "spiritually minded", or "the minding of the spirit"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Because. This is given as a reason for what is said in Ro 8:6. In that verse the apostle had affirmed that to be carnally minded was death, but he had not stated why it was. He now explains it by saying that it is enmity against God, and thus involves a sinner in conflict with him, and exposes to his condemnation.

The carnal mind. This is the same expression as occurs in Ro 8:6, (to fronhma thv sarkov). It does not mean the mind itself, the intellect, or the will; it does not suppose that the mind or soul is physically depraved, or opposed to God; but it means that the minding of the things of the flesh, giving to them supreme attention, is hostility against God; and involves the sinner in a controversy with him, and hence leads to death and woe. This passage should not he alleged in proof that the soul is physically depraved, but merely that where there is a supreme regard to the flesh there is hostility to God. It does not directly prove the doctrine of universal depravity; but it proves only that where such attention exists to the corrupt desires of the soul, there is hostility to God. It is indeed implied that that supreme regard to the flesh exists everywhere by nature, but this is not expressly affirmed; for the object of the apostle here is not to teach the doctrine of depravity, but to show that where such depravity in fact exists, it involves the sinner in a fearful controversy with God.

Is enmity. Hostility; hatred. It means, that such a regard to the flesh is in fact hostility to God, because it is opposed to his law, and to his plan for purifying the soul. Comp. Jas 4:4; 1 Jo 2:15. The minding of the things of the flesh also leads to the hatred of God himself, because he is opposed to it, and has expressed his abhorrence of it.

Against God. Towards God; or in regard to him. It supposes hostility to him.

For it. The word "it" here refers to the minding of the things of the flesh. It does not mean that the soul itself is not subject to his law, but that the minding of those things is hostile to his law. The apostle does not express any opinion about the metaphysical ability of man, or discuss that question at all. The amount of his affirmation is, simply, that the minding of the flesh, the supreme attention to its dictates and desires, is not and cannot be subject to the law of God. They are wholly contradictory and irreconcilable, just as much as the love of falsehood is inconsistent with the laws of truth; as intemperance is inconsistent with the law of temperance; and as adultery is a violation of the seventh commandment. But whether the man himself might not obey the law—whether he has, or has not, ability to do it—is a question which the apostle does not touch, and on which this passage should not be adduced. For, whether the law of a particular sin is utterly irreconcilable with an opposite virtue, and whether the sinner is able to abandon that sin and pursue a different path, are very different inquiries.

Is not subject. It is not in subjection to the command of God. The minding of the flesh is opposed to that law, and thus shows that it is hostile to God.

Neither indeed can be. This is absolute and certain. It is impossible that it should be. There is the utmost inability in regard to it. The things are utterly irreconcilable. But the affirmation does not mean that the heart of the sinner might not be subject to God; or that his soul is so physically depraved that he cannot obey, or that he might not obey the law. On that the apostle here expresses no opinion. That is not the subject of the discussion. is simply that the supreme regard to the flesh, the minding of that is utterly irreconcilable with the law of God. They are different things and can never be made to harmonize; just as adultery cannot be chastity; falsehood cannot be truth; dishonesty cannot be honesty; hatred cannot

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 8

Verse 8. So then. It follows; it leads to this conclusion.

They that are in the flesh. They who are unrenewed sinners; who are following supremely the desires of the flesh, Ro 7:18. Those are meant here who follow fleshly appetites and desires, and who are not led by the Spirit of God.

Cannot please God. That is, while they are thus in the flesh; while they thus pursue the desires of their corrupt nature, they cannot please God. But this affirms nothing respecting their ability to turn from this course, and to pursue a different mode of life. That is a different question. A child may be obstinate, proud, and disobedient; and, while in this state, it may be affirmed of him that he cannot please his parent. But whether he might not cease to be obstinate, and become obedient, is a very different inquiry; and the two subjects should never be confounded: It follows from this,

(1.) that those who are unrenewed are totally depraved, since in this state they cannot please God.

(2.) That none of their actions, while in this state can be acceptable to him, since he is pleased only with those who are spiritually minded.

(3.) That those who are in this state should turn from it without delay; as it is desirable that every man should please God.

(4.) That if the sinner does not turn from his course, he will be ruined. With his present character he can never please him; neither in health nor sickness; neither in life nor death; neither on earth nor in hell. He is engaged in hostility against God; and if he does not himself forsake it, it will be endless, and involve his soul in all the evils of a personal, and direct, and eternal warfare with the Lord Almighty.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 9

Verse 9. But ye. You who are Christians. This is the opposite character to that which he had been describing, and shows the power of the gospel.

Not in the flesh. Not under the full influence of corrupt desires and passions.

But in the Spirit. That is, you are spiritually minded; you are under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God. The Holy Ghost.

Dwell in you. The Holy Spirit is often represented as dwelling in the hearts of Christians, (comp. 1 Co 3:16,17; 6:19; 2 Co 6:16; Eph 2:21,22; Ga 4:6) and the meaning is not that there is a personal or physical indwelling of the Holy Ghost, but that he influences, directs, and guides Christians, producing meekness, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, etc., Ga 5:22,23. The expression, to dwell in one, denotes intimacy of connexion, and means that those things which are the fruits of the Spirit are produced in the heart.

Have not the Spirit of Christ. The word spirit is used in a great variety of significations in the Scriptures. It most commonly in the New Testament refers to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost. But the expression "the Spirit of Christ" is not, I believe, anywhere applied to him, except it may be 1 Pe 1:11. He is called often the Spirit of God, (Mt 3:16; 12:28; 1 Co 2:11,14; 3:16; 6:11Eph 4:30) but not the Spirit of the Father. The word spirit is often used to denote the temper, disposition; thus we say, a man of a generous spirit, or of a revengeful spirit, etc. It may possibly have this meaning here; and denotes that he who has not the temper or disposition of Christ is not his, or has no evidence of piety. But the connexion seems to demand that it should be understood in a sense similar to the expression "the Spirit of God," and "the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus," (Ro 8:11) and if so, it means the Spirit which Christ imparts, or sends to accomplish his work, (Joh 14:26) the Holy Spirit, sent to make us like Christ, and to sanctify our hearts. And in this sense it evidently denotes the Spirit which Christ would send to produce in us the views and feelings which he came to establish, and which shall assimilate us to himself. If this refers to the Holy Spirit, then we see the manner in which the apostle spoke of the Saviour. He regarded "the Spirit" as equally the Spirit of God and of Christ, as proceeding from both; and thus evidently believed that there is a union of nature between the Father and the Son. Such language could never be used except on the supposition that the Father and the Son are one; that. is, that Christ is Divine.

Is none of his. Is not a Christian. This is a test of piety that is easily applied; and this settles the question. If a man is not influenced by the meek, pure, and holy spirit of the Lord Jesus, if he is not conformed to his image, if his life does not resemble that of the Saviour, he is a stranger to religion. No test could be more easily applied, and none is more decisive. It matters not what else he may have. He may be loud in his professions, amiable in his temper, bold in his zeal, or active in promoting the interests of his own party or denomination in the church; but if he has not the temper of the Saviour, and does not manifest his spirit, it is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. May all who read this honestly examine themselves; and may they have that which is the source of the purest felicity, the spirit and temper of the Lord Jesus.

{o} "God dwell in you" 1 Co 6:19; Ga 4:6

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 10

Verse 10. And if Christ be in you. This is evidently a figurative expression, where the word "Christ" is used to denote his spirit, his principles; that is, he influences the man. Literally, he cannot be in a Christian; but the close connexion between him and Christians, and the fact that they are entirely under his influence, is expressed by this strong figurative language. It is language which m not unfrequently used. Comp. Ga 2:20; Col 1:27.

The body is dead. This passage has been interpreted in very different ways. Some understand it to mean that the body is dead in respect to sin; that is, that sin has no more power to excite evil passions and desires; others, that the body must die on account of sin, but that the spiritual part shall live, and even the body shall live also in the resurrection. Thus Calvin, Beza, and Augustine. Doddridge understands it thus: "Though the body is to die on account of the first sin that entered into the world, yet the spirit is life, and shall continue to live on for ever, through that righteousness which the second Adam has introduced." To each of these interpretations there are serious objections, which it is not necessary to urge. I understand the passage in the following manner: The body refers to that of which the apostle had said so much in the previous chapters—the flesh, the man before conversion. It is subject to corrupt passions and desires, and may be said thus to be dead, as it has none of the elements of spiritual life. It is under the reign of sin and death. The word (men)—indeed, or truly—has been omitted in our translation, and the omission has obscured the sense. The expression is an admission of the apostle, or a summary statement of what had before been shown. "It is to be admitted, indeed, or it is true, that the unrenewed nature, the man before conversion, under the influence of the flesh, is spiritually dead. Sin has its seat in the fleshly appetites; and the whole body may be admitted thus to be dead or corrupt."

Because of sin. Through sin, (di amartian) by means of sinful passions and appetites.

But the spirit. This stands opposed to the body; and it means that the soul, the immortal part, the renovated man, was alive, or was under the influence of living principles. It was imbued with the life which the gospel imparts, and had become active in the service of God. The word "spirit" here does not refer to the Holy Ghost, but to the spirit of man, the immortal part, recovered, renewed, and imbued with life under the gospel.

Because of righteousness. Through righteousness, (dia dikaiosunhn) This is commonly interpreted to mean, with reference to righteousness, or that it may become righteous. But I understand the expression to be used in the sense in which the word is so frequently used in this epistle, as denoting God's plan of justification. See Barnes "Ro 1:17".

"The spirit of man has been recovered and made alive through his plan of justification. It communicates life, and recovers man from his death in sin to life."

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 11

Verse 11. But if the Spirit of him, etc. The Holy Spirit, Ro 8:9. He that raised up Christ, etc. He that had power to restore him to life, has power to give life to you. He that did, in fact, restore him to life, will also restore you. The argument here seems to be founded, first, on the power of God; and, secondly, on the connexion between Christ and his people. Comp. Joh 14:19, "Because I live, ye shall live also."

Shall also quicken. Shall make alive.

Your mortal bodies. That this does not refer to the resurrection of the dead seems to be apparent, because that is not attributed to the Holy Spirit. I understand it as referring to the body, subject to carnal desires and propensities; by nature under the reign of death, and therefore mortal—i. e. subject to death. The sense is, that under the gospel, by the influence of the Spirit, the entire man will be made alive in the service of God. Even the corrupt, carnal, and mortal body, so long under the dominion of sin, shall be made alive and recovered to the service of God. This will be done by the Spirit that dwells in us, because that Spirit has restored life to our souls, abides with us with his purifying influence, and because the design and tendency of his indwelling is to purify the entire man, and restore all to God. Christians thus in their bodies and their spirits become sacred. For even their body, the seat of evil passions and desires, shall become alive in the service of God.

{p} "he that raised up" 2 Co 4:14

{1} "by his Spirit" or, "because of"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 12

Verse 12. We are debtors. We owe it as a matter of solemn obligation. This obligation arises

(1.) from the fact that the Spirit dwells in us;

(2.) because the design of his indwelling is to purify us;

(3.) because we are thus recovered from the death of sin to the life of religion; and he who has imparted life, has a right to require that it be spent in his service.

To the flesh. To the corrupt propensities and passions. We are not bound to indulge them, because the end of such indulgence is death and ruin, Ro 7:21,22. But we are bound to live to God, and to follow the leadings of his Spirit, for the end is life and peace, Ro 7:22,23. The reason for this is stated in the following verse.

{q} "not to the flesh" Ps 116:16

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 13

Verse 13. For if ye live, etc. If you live to indulge your carnal propensities, you will sink to eternal death, Ro 7:23.

Through the Spirit. By the aid of the Spirit; by cherishing and cultivating his influences. What is here required can be accomplished only by the aid of the Holy Ghost.

Do mortify. Do put to death; do destroy. Sin is mortified when its power is destroyed and it ceases to be active.

The deeds of the body. The corrupt inclinations and passions; called deeds of the body, because they are supposed to have their origin in the fleshly appetites.

Ye shall live. You shall be happy and saved. Either your sins must die, or you must. If they are suffered to live, you will die. If they are put to death, you will be saved. No man can be saved in his sins. This closes the argument of the apostle for the superiority of the gospel to the law in promoting the purity of man. By this train of reasoning, he has shown that the gospel has accomplished what the law could not do—the sanctification of the soul, the destruction of the corrupt passions of our nature, and the recovery of man to God.

{r} "do mortify" Col 3:5

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 14

Verse 14. For as many. Whosoever; all who are thus led. This in- troduces a new topic, illustrating the benefits of the gospel—to wit, that it produces a spirit of adoption, Ro 8:14-17.

As are led. As submit to his influence and control. The Spirit is represented as influencing, suggesting, and controlling. One evidence of piety is, a willingness to yield to that influence, and submit to him. One decided evidence of the want of piety is, where there is an unwillingness to submit to that influence, but where the Holy Spirit is grieved and resisted. All Christians submit to his influence; all sinners decidedly reject it and oppose it. The influence of the Spirit, if followed, would lead every man to heaven. But when neglected, rejected, or despised, man goes down to hell. The glory belongs to the conducting Spirit when man is saved; the fault is man's when he is lost. The apostle here does not agitate the question how it is that the people of God are led by the Spirit, or why they yield to it when others resist it. His design is simply to state the fact, that they who are thus led are the sons of God, or have evidence of piety.

Are the sons of God. Are adopted into his family, and are his children. This is a name of endearment, meaning that they sustain to him this relation; that they are his friends, disciples, and imitators; that they are parts of the great family of the redeemed, of whom he is the Father and Protector. It is often applied to Christians in the Bible, Job 1:6; Joh 1:12; Php 2:15; 1 Jo 3:1,2; Mt 5:9,45; Lu 6:35.

This is a test of piety which is easily applied.

(1.) Are we conscious that an influence from above has been drawing us away from the corrupting passions and vanities of this world ? This is the work of the Spirit.

(2.) Are we conscious of a desire to yield to that influence, and to be conducted in the path of purity and life? This is an evidence that we are the sons of God.

(3.) Do we offer no resistance; do we follow cheerfully, and obey this pure influence, leading us to mortify pride, subdue passion, destroy lust, humble ambition, and annihilate the love of wealth and of the world? If so, we are his children. God will not lead us astray; and our peace and happiness consist only in yielding ourselves to this influence entirely, and in being willing to be conducted by this unseen hand "beside the still waters of salvation."

{s} "led by the spirit" Ga 5:18

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 15

Verse 15. The spirit of bondage. The spirit that binds you; or the spirit of a slave, that produces only fear. The slave is under constant fear and alarm. But the spirit of religion is that of freedom and of confidence; the spirit of children, and not of slaves. Compare See Barnes "Joh 8:32" through Joh 8:36.

Again to fear. That you should again be afraid, or be subjected to servile fear. This implies that in their former state, under the law, they were in a state of servitude, and that the tendency of it was merely to produce alarm. Every sinner is subject to such fear. He has everything of which to be alarmed. God is angry with him; his conscience will trouble him; and he has everything to apprehend in death and in eternity. But it is not so with the Christian. Comp. 2 Ti 1:7.

The Spirit of adoption. The feeling of affection, love, and confidence which pertains to children; not the servile, trembling spirit of slaves, but the temper and affectionate regard of sons. Adoption is the taking and treating a stranger as one's own child. It is applied to Christians because God treats them as his children; he receives them into this relation, though they were by nature strangers and enemies. It implies,

(1.) that we by nature had no claim on him;

(2.) that, therefore, the act is one of mere kindness—of pure, sovereign love;

(3.) that we are now under his protection and care; and

(4.) that we are bound to manifest towards him the spirit of children, and yield to him obedience. See Barnes "Joh 1:12". Comp. Ga 4:5; Eph 1:5. It is for this that Christians are so often called the sons of God.

Whereby we cry. As children who need protection and help. This evinces the habitual spirit of a child of God; a disposition,

(1.) to express towards him the feelings due to a father;/p>

(2.) to call upon him— to address him in the language of affection and endearing confidence;

(3.) to seek his protection and aid.

Abba. This word is Chaldee—(CHALDEE) —and means father. Why the apostle repeats the word in a different language is not known. The Syriac reads it, "By which we call the Father our Father." It is probable that the repetition here denotes merely intensity, and is designed to denote the interest with which a Christian dwells on the name, in the spirit of an affectionate, tender child. It is not unusual to repeat such terms of affection. Comp. Mt 7:22; Ps 8:1. This is an evidence of piety that is easily applied. He that can in sincerity and with ardent affection apply this term to God, addressing him with a filial spirit as his Father, has the spirit of a Christian. Every child of God has this spirit; and he that has it not is a stranger to piety.

{t} "bondage again to fear" 2 Ti 1:7

{u} "but ye have" 1 Co 2:12

{v} "whereby we cry" Jer 3:19; Ga 4:5,6

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 16

Verse 16. The Spirit The Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit here is intended is evident,

(1.) because this is the natural meaning of the expression;

(2.) because it is of the Holy Spirit that the apostle is mainly treating here;

(3.) because it would be an unnatural and forced construction to say of the temper of adoption that it bore witness.

Beareth witness. Testifies, gives evidence.

With our spirit. To our minds. This pertains to the adoption; and it means, that the Holy Spirit furnishes evidence to our minds that we are adopted into the family of God. This effect is not unfrequently attributed to the Holy Spirit, 2 Co 1:22; 1 Jo 5:10,11; 1 Co 2:12. If it be asked how this is done, I answer, It is not by any revelation of new truth; it is not by inspiration; it is not always by assurance; it is not by a mere persuasion that we are elected to eternal life; but it is by producing in us the appropriate effects of his influence. It is his to renew the heart; to sanctify the soul; to produce "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," Ga 5:22,23. If a man has these, he has evidence of the witnessing of the Spirit with his spirit. If not, he has no such evidence. And the way, therefore, to ascertain whether we have this witnessing of the Spirit, is by an honest and prayerful inquiry whether these fruits of the Spirit actually exist in our minds. If they do, the evidence is clear. If not, all vain confidence.of good estate; all visions, and raptures, and fancied revelations, will be mere delusions. It may be added, that the effect of these fruits of the Spirit on the mind is to produce a calm and heavenly frame; and in that frame, when attended with the appropriate fruits of the Spirit in a holy life, we may rejoice as an evidence of piety.

That we are the children of God. That we are adopted into his family.

{w} "witness with our spirit" 2 Co 1:22; 1 Jo 4:13

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 17

Verse 17. And if children. If adopted into his family.

Then heirs. That is, he will treat us as sons. An heir is one who succeeds to an estate. The meaning here is, that if we sustain the relation of sons to God that we shall be treated as such, and admitted to share his favours. An adopted son comes in for a part of the inheritance, Nu 27.

Heirs of God. This expression means, that we shall be partakers of that inheritance which God confers on his people. That inheritance is his favour here, and eternal life hereafter. This is an honour infinitely higher than to be heir to the most princely earthly inheritance; or than to be the adopted son of the most magnificent earthly monarch.

And joint-heirs with Christ. Christ is by eminence THE Son of God. As such, he is heir to the full honours and glory of heaven. Christians are united to him; they are his friends; and they are thus represented as destined to partake with him of his glory. They are the sons of God in a different sense from what he is; he by his nature and high relation, they by adoption; but still the idea of sonship exists in both; and hence both will partake in the glories of the eternal inheritance. Comp. Php 2:8, 9; Heb 2:9,10.

The connexion between Christ and Christians is often referred to in the New Testament. The fact that they are united here is often alleged as a reason why they will be in glory. Joh 14:19, "Because I live, ye shall live also." 2 Ti 2:11,12, "For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him." Re 3:21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne," etc. Joh 17:22-24.

If so be. If this condition exist. We shall not be treated as co-heirs with him, unless we here give evidence that we are united to him.

That we suffer with him. Greek, "If we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together." If we suffer in his cause; bear afflictions as he did; are persecuted and tried for the same thing; and thus show that we are united to him. It does not mean that we suffer to the same extent that he did, but we may imitate him in the kind of our sufferings, and in the spirit with which they are borne; and thus show that we are united to him.

That we may be also glorified together. If united in the same kind of sufferings, there is propriety in being united in destiny beyond the scenes of all suffering, the kingdom of blessedness and love.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 18

Verse 18. For I reckon. I think; I judge. This verse commences a new division of the subject, which is continued to Ro 8:25. Its design is to show the power of the gospel in sustaining the soul in trials: a very important and material part of the scheme. This had been partially noticed before, (Ro 5:3-5) but its full power to support the sold in the prospect of a glorious immortality had not been fully discussed. This topic seems here to have been suggested by what is said of adoption. The mind of the apostle instantly adverted to the effects or benefits of that adoption; and one of the most material of those benefits was the sustaining grace which the gospel imparted in the midst of afflictions. It should be borne in mind, that the early Christians were comparatively few and feeble, and exposed to many trials, and that this topic would be often, therefore, introduced into the discussions about theft privileges and condition.

The sufferings. The afflictions; the persecutions, sicknesses, etc. The expression evidently includes not only the peculiar trials of Christians at that time, but all that believers are ever called to endure.

Of this present time. Probably the apostle had particular reference to the various calamities then endured. But the expression is equally applicable to afflictions of all times and in all places.

Are not worthy to be compared. Are nothing in comparison; the one is far more than an equivalent in compensation for the other.

With the glory. The happiness; the honour in heaven.

Which shall be revealed in us. That shall be disclosed to us; or of which we shall be the partakers in heaven. The usual representation of heaven is that of glory, splendour, magnificence, or light. Comp. Re 21:10,23,24; 22:5.

By this, therefore, Christians may be sustained. Their sufferings may seem great; but they should remember that they are nothing in comparison with future glory. They are nothing in degree. For these are light compared with that "eternal weight of glory" which they shall "work out," 2 Co 4:17. They are nothing in duration. For these sufferings are but for a moment; but the glory shall be eternal. These will soon pass away; but that glory shall never become dim or diminished, it will increase and expand for ever and ever.

In us. Unto us, (eiv hmav).

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 19

Verse 19. For the earnest expectation. (apokaradokia). This word occurs only here and in Php 1:20, "According to my earnest expectation and my hope," etc. It properly denotes a state of earnest desire to see any object when the head is thrust forward; an intense anxiety; an ardent wish; and is thus well employed to denote the intense interest with which a Christian looks to his future inheritance.

Of the creature. (thv ktisewv). Perhaps there is not a passage in the New Testament that has been deemed more difficult of interpretation than this, (Ro 8:19-23) and after all the labours bestowed on it by critics, still there is no explanation proposed which is perfectly satisfactory, or in which commentators concur. The object here will be to give what appears to the writer the true meaning, without attempting to controvert the opinions of critics. The main design of the passage is to show the sustaining power of the gospel in the midst of trials, by the prospect of the future deliverance and inheritance of the sons of God. This scope of the passage is to guide us in the interpretation. The following are, I suppose, the leading points in the illustration:

(1.) The word creature refers to the renewed nature of the Christian, or to the Christian as renewed.

(2.) He is waiting for his future glory; i. e. desirous of obtaining the full development of the honours that await him as the child of God, Ro 8:19.

(3.) He is subjected to a state of trial and vanity, affording comparatively little comfort and much disquietude.

(4.) This is not in accordance with the desire of his heart, "not willingly," but is the wise appointment of God, Ro 8:20.

(5.) In this state there is the hope of deliverance into glorious liberty, Ro 8:21.

(6.) This condition of things does not exist merely in regard to the Christian, but is the common condition of the world. It all groans, and is in trial, as much as the Christian. lie, therefore, should not deem his condition as peculiarly trying. It is the common lot of all things here, Ro 8:22. But

(7.) Christians only have the prospect of deliverance. To them is held out the hope of final rescue, and of an eternal inheritance beyond all these sufferings. They wait, therefore, for the full benefits of the adoption; the complete recovery even of the body from the effects of sin, and the toils and trials of this life; and thus they are sustained by hope, which is the argument which the apostle has in view, Ro 8:23,24. With this view of the general score of the passage, we may examine the particular phrases.

Of the creature. The word here rendered creature—(ktisewv) occurs in the New Testament nineteen times, and is used in the following senses:

(1.) Creation; the act of creating, Ro 1:20:

(2.) The creature; that which is created or formed; the universe, Mr 10:6; 13:19; 2 Pe 3:4; Ro 1:25; 8:39.

(3.) The rational creation; man as a rational being; the world of mankind, Mr 16:15; Col 1:23; 1 Pe 2:13.

(5.) The Christian, the new creation, regarded individually; the work of the Holy Spirit on the renewed heart; the new man. —-After all the attention which I can give to this passage, I regard this to be the meaning here, for the following reasons, viz.:

(1.) Because this alone seems to me to suit the connexion, and to make sense in the argument. If the word refers, as has been supposed by different interpreters, either to angels, or to the bodies of men, or to the material creation, or to the rational creation—to men, or mankind—it is difficult to see what connexion either would have with the argument. The apostle is discoursing of the benefits of the gospel to Christians in time of trial; and the bearing of the argument requires us to understand this illustration of them, unless we are compelled not to understand it thus by the proper laws of interpreting words.

(2.) The word creature is used in a similar sense by the same apostle. Thus, 2 Co 5:17, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," (kainh ktisiv). Ga 6:15, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."

(3.) The verb create is thus used. Thus, Eph 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Ro 8:15, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity—for to make in himself of twain one new man:" Greek, "That he might create (ktish) the two into one new man; Ro 4:24. "The new man, which is created in righteousness," etc.

(4.) Nothing was more natural than for the sacred writers thus to speak of a Christian as a new creation, a new creature. The great power of God involved in his conversion, and the strong resemblance between the creation and imparting spiritual life, led naturally to this use of the language.

(5.) Language similar to this occurs in the Old Testament, and it was natural to transfer it to the New. The Jewish people were represented as made or created by God for his service;and the phrase, therefore, might come to designate those who were thus formed by him to his service. De 32:6, "Hath he not made thee, and established thee?" Isa 43:7, "Every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him."

Ro 8:21, "This people have I formed for myself." From all which reasons, it seems to me that the expression here is used to denote Christians, renewed men. Its meaning, however, is varied in Ro 8:22.

Waiteth for. Expects; is not in a state of possession, but is looking for it with interest.

The manifestation of the sons of God. The full development of the benefits of the sons of God; the time when they shall be acknowledged, and received into the full privileges of sons. Here Christians have some evidence of their adoption. But they are in a world of sin; they are exposed to trials; they are subject to many calamities; and though they have evidence here that they are the sons of God, yet they wait for that period when they shall be fully delivered from all these trials, and be admitted to the enjoyment of all the privileges of the children of the Most High. The time when this shall take place will be at the day of judgment, when they shall be fully acknowledged, in the presence of an assembled universe, as his children. All Christians are represented as in this posture of waiting for the full possession of their privileges as the children of God. 1 Co 1:7, "Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Th 3:5; Ga 5:5, "for we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." 1 Th 1:10.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 20

Verse 20. For the creature. The renewed creature; the Christian mind. This is given as a reason for its aspiring to the full privileges of adoption; that the present state is not one of choice, or one which is preferred, but one to which it has been subjected for wise reasons by God.

Subject to vanity. The word "subject to" means placed in such a state; subjected to it by the appointment of another, as a soldier has his rank and place assigned him in an army. The word vanity here (mataiothti) is descriptive of the present condition of the Christian, as frail and dying; as exposed to trials, temptations, and cares; as in the midst of conflicts, and of a world which may be emphatically pronounced vanity. More or less, the Christian is brought under this influence; his joys are marred; his peace is discomposed; his affections wander; his life is a life of vanity and vexation.

Not willingly. Not voluntarily. It is not a matter of choice. It is not that which is congenial to his renewed nature. That would aspire to perfect holiness and peace. But this subjection is one that is contrary to it, and from which he desires to be delivered. This describes substantially the same condition as Ro 7:15-24.

But by reason. By him, (dia). It is the appointment of God, who has chosen to place his people in this condition; and who for wise purposes retains them in it.

Who hath subjected the same. Who has appointed his people to this condition. It is his wise arrangement. Here we may observe,

(1.) that the instinctive feelings of Christians lead them to desire a purer and a happier world, Php 1:23.

(2.) That it is not what they desire, to be subjected to the toils of this life, and to the temptations and vanities of this world. They sigh for deliverance.

(3.) Their lot in Life; their being subjected to this state of vanity, is the arrangement of God. Why it is, he has not seen fit to inform us fully. He might have taken his people at once to heaven as soon as they are converted. But though we know not all the reasons why they are continued here in this state of vanity, we can see some of them.

(a) Christians are subjected to this state to do good to their fellow-sinners. They remain on earth for this purpose; and this should be their leading aim.

(b) By their remaining here, the power of the gospel is shown in overcoming their sin; in meeting their temptations; in sustaining them in trial; and in thus furnishing living evidence to the world of the power and excellency of that gospel. This could not be attained if they were removed at once to heaven.

(c) It furnishes occasion for some interesting exhibitions of character—for hope, and faith, and love, and for increasing and progressive excellence.

(d) It is a proper training for heaven. It brings out the Christian character, and fits it for the skies. There may be inestimable advantages, all of which we may not see, in subjecting the Christian to a process of training in overcoming his sins, and in producing confidence in God, before he is admitted to his state of final rest.

(e) It is fit and proper that he should engage here in the service of Him who has redeemed him. He has been ransomed by the blood of Christ, and God has the highest claim on him in all the conflicts and toils, in all the labours and services, to which he may be subjected in this life.

In hope. See Barnes "Ro 5:4".

Hope has reference to the future; and in this state of the Christian, he sighs for deliverance, and expects it.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Because. This is the ground of his hope, and this sustains him now. It is the purpose of God that deliverance shall be granted, and this supports the Christian amidst the trials to which he is subjected here. The hope is, that this same renewed man shah be delivered from all the toils, and cares, and sins of this state.

The creature itself. The very soul that is renewed; the ransomed man without essential change. It will be the same being, though purified; the same man, possessed of the same body and soul, though freed from all the corruptions of humanity, and elevated above all the degradations of the present condition. The idea is everywhere presented, that the identical person shall be admitted to heaven without essential change, 1 Co 15:35-38,42-44.

That this is the hope of all Christians, see 2 Pe 3:13.

From the bondage of corruption. This does not differ materially from "vanity," Ro 8:20. It implies that this state is not a willing state, or not a condition of choice, but is one of bondage or servitude, (see Ro 7:15-24) and that it is a corrupt, imperfect, perishing condition. It is one that leads to sin, and temptation, and conflict, and anxiety. It is a condition often which destroys the peace, mars the happiness, dims the hope, enfeebles the faith, and weakens the love of Christians;and this is called the bondage of corruption. It is also one in which temporal death has dominion, and in the bondage of which believers as well as unbelievers shall be held. Yet from all this bondage the children of God shall be delivered.

The glorious liberty. Greek, The freedom of the glory of the children of God. This is,

(1.) liberty. It is freedom from the bondage under which the Christian groans. It will be freedom from sin; from corruption; from evil desires; from calamity; from death. The highest freedom in the universe is that which is enjoyed in heaven, where the redeemed are under the sovereignty and government of their King, but where they do that, and that only, which they desire. All is slavery but the service of God; all is bondage but that law which accords with the supreme wish of the soul, and where commands accord with the perfect desires of the heart.

(2.) This is glorious liberty. It is encompassed with majesty; attended with honour; crowned with splendour. The heavenly world is often described as a state of glory. See Barnes "Ro 2:10".

Of the children of God. That the children of God shall enjoy.

{e} "Because the creature" 2 Pe 3:13

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 22

Verse 22. For we know.The sentiment of this verse is designed as an illustration of what had just been said.

That the whole creation. Margin, "every creature." This expression has been commonly understood as meaning the same as "the creature" in Ro 8:20,21. But I understand it as having a different signification; and as being used in the natural and usual signification of the word creature, or creation. It refers, as I suppose, to the whole animate creation; to all living beings; to the state of all created things here, as in a condition of pain and disorder, and groaning and death. Everything which we see; every creature which lives, is thus subjected to a state of servitude, pain, vanity, and death. The reasons for supposing that this is the true interpretation are,

(1.) That the apostle expressly speaks of "the whole creation," of every creature, qualifying the phrase by the expression "we know," as if he was drawing an illustration from a well-understood, universal fact.

(2.) This interpretation makes consistent sense, and makes the verse have a direct bearing on the argument. It is just an argument from analogy, he had (Ro 8:20,21) said that the condition of a Christian was one of bondage and servitude. It was an imperfect, humiliating state; one attended with pain, sorrow, and death. This might be regarded as a melancholy description; and the question might arise, why was not the Christian at once delivered from this? The answer is in this verse. It is just the condition of everything. It is the manifest principle on which God governs the world. The whole creation is in just this condition; and we are not to be surprised, therefore, if it is the condition of the believer. It is a part of the universal system of things; it accords with everything we see; and we are not to be surprised that the church exists on the same principle of administration— in a state of bondage, imperfection, sorrow, and sighing for deliverance.

Groaneth. Greek, Groans together. All is united in a condition of sorrow. The expression denotes mutual and universal grief. It is one wide and loud lamentation, in which a dying world unites; and in which it has united "until now."

And travaileth in pain together. This expression properly denotes the extreme pain of parturition. It also denotes any intense agony, or extreme suffering; and it means here that the condition of all things has been that of intense, united, and continued suffering; in other words, that we are in a world of misery and death. This has been united; all have partaken of it: it has been intense; all endure much: it has been unremitted; every age has experienced the repetition of the same thing.

Until now. Till the time when the apostle wrote. It is equally true of the time since he wrote. It has been the characteristic of every age. It is remarkable that the apostle does not here say of "the whole creation," that it had any hope of deliverance; an additional consideration that shows that the interpretation above suggested is correct, Ro 8:20,21,23.

Of the sighing and suffering universe he says nothing with respect to its future state. He does not say that the suffering brutal creation shall be compensated, or shall be restored or raised up. He simply adverts to the fact that it suffers, as an illustration that the condition of the Christian is not singular and peculiar. The Scriptures say nothing of the future condition of the brutal creation.

{1} "the whole creation" or, "every creature"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And not only they. Not only the creation in general.

But ourselves also. Christians.

Which have the first-fruits of the Spirit. The word used (aparchn) denotes, properly, the first-fruits of the harvest; the portion that was first collected and consecrated to God as an offering of gratitude, De 26:2; Ex 23:9; Nu 18:12.

Hence the word means that which is first in order of time. Here it means, as I suppose, that the Christians of whom Paul was speaking had partaken of the first influences of the Spirit, or had been among the first partakers of his influences in converting sinners. The Spirit had been sent down to attend the preaching of the gospel, and they were among the first who had partaken of those influences. Some, however, have understood the word to mean a pledge, or earnest, or foretaste of joys to come. This idea has been attached to the word because the first-fruits of the harvest were a pledge of the harvest, an evidence that it was ripe, etc. But the word does not seem to be used in this sense in the New Testament. The only places where it occurs are the following: Ro 8:23; 11:16; Ro 16:5; 1 Co 15:20,23; 16:15; Jas 1:18; Re 14:4.

Groan within ourselves. We sigh for deliverance. The expression denotes strong internal desire; the deep anguish of spirit when the heart is oppressed with anguish, and earnestly wishes for succour.

Waiting for the adoption. Waiting for the full blessings of the adoption. Christians are adopted when they are converted, (Ro 8:15) but they have not been yet admitted to the full privileges of their adoption into the family of God. Their adoption when they are converted is secret, and may at the time be unknown to the world. The fulness of the adoption, their complete admission to the privileges of the sons of God, shall be in the day of judgment, in the presence of the universe, and amidst the glories of the final consummation of all things. This adoption is not different from the first, but is the completion of the act of grace when a sinner is received into the family of God.

The redemption of the body. The complete recovery of the body from death and corruption. The particular and striking act of the adoption in the day of judgment will be the raising up of the body from the grave, and rendering it immortal and eternally blessed. The particular effects of the adoption in this world are on the soul. The completion of it on the last day will be seen particularly in the body; and thus the entire man shall be admitted into the favour of God, and restored from all his sins and all the evil consequences of the fall. The apostle here speaks the language of every Christian. The Christian has joys which the world does not know; but he has also sorrows; he sighs over his corruption; he is in the midst of calamity; he is going to the grave; and he looks forward to that complete deliverance, and to that elevated state, when, in the presence of an assembled universe, he shall be acknowledged as a child of God. This elevated privilege gives to Christianity its high value; and the hope of being acknowledged in the presence of the universe as the child of God—the hope of the poorest and the humblest believer—is of infinitely more value than the prospect of the most princely inheritance, or of the brightest crown that a monarch ever wore.

{b} "first fruits of the Spirit" Eph 1:14 {c} "groan within ourselves" 2 Co 5:2,4 {d} "redemption of our body" Lu 21:28

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 24

Verse 24. For we are saved by hope. It cannot be said that hope is the instrument or condition of salvation. Most commentators have understood this as meaning that we have as yet attained salvation only in hope; that we have arrived only to a condition in which we hope for future glory; and that we are in an attitude of waiting for the future state of adoption. But perhaps the word saved may mean here simply, we are kept, preserved, sustained in our trials, by hope. Our trials axe so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience. This is the proper meaning of the word save; and it is often thus used in the New Testament. See Mt 8:25; 16:25; Mr 3:4; 8:3,5.

The Syriac renders this, "For by hope we live." The Arabic, "We are preserved by hope." Hope thus sustains the soul in the midst of trials, and enables it to bear them without a murmur.

But hope that is seen. Hope is a complex emotion, made up of an earnest desire, and an expectation of obtaining an object. It has reference, therefore, to that which is at present unseen. But when the object is seen, and is in our possession, it cannot be said to be an object of hope. The word hope here means the object of hope, the thing hoped for.

What a man seeth. The word seeth is used here in the sense of possessing, or enjoying. What a man already possesses he cannot be said to hope for.

Why. How. What a man actually possesses, how can he look forward to it with anticipation ?

{e} "hope for" 2 Co 5:7

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 25

Verse 25. But if we hope, etc. The effect here stated is one which exists everywhere. Where there is a strong desire for an object, and a corresponding expectation of obtaining it—which constitutes true hope—then we can wait for it with patience. Where there is a strong desire without a corresponding expectation of obtaining it, there is impatience. As the Christian has a strong desire of future glory, and as he has an expectation of obtaining it just in proportion to that desire, it follows that he may bear trials and persecutions patiently in the hope of his future deliverance. Compared with our future glory, our present sufferings are light, and but for a moment, 2 Co 4:17. In the hope of that blessed eternity which is before him, the Christian can endure the severest trial, and bear the intensest pain without a murmur.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Likewise the Spirit. This introduces a new source of consolation and support, that which is derived from the Spirit. It is a continuation of the argument of the apostle, to show the sustaining power of the Christian religion. The "Spirit" here undoubtedly refers to the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and who strengthens us.

Helpeth. This word properly means, to sustain with us; to aid us in supporting. It is applied usually to those who unite in supporting or carrying a burden. The meaning may be thus expressed: "he greatly assists or aids us."

Our infirmities. Assists us in our infirmities, or aids us to bear them. The word infirmities refers to the weaknesses to which we are subject, and to our various trials in this life. The Spirit helps us in this,

(1.) by giving us strength to bear them;

(2.) by exciting us to make efforts to sustain them;

(3.) by ministering to us consolations, and truths, and views of our Christian privileges, that enable us to endure our trials.

For we know not, etc. This is a specification of the aid which the Holy Spirit renders us. The reasons why Christians do not know what to pray for may be,

(1.) that they do not know what would be really best for them.

(2.) They do not know what God might be willing to grant them.

(3.) They are to a great extent ignorant of the character of God, the reason of his dealings, the principles of his government, and their own real wants.

(4.) They are often in real, deep perplexity. They are encompassed with trials, exposed to temptations, feeble by disease, and subject to calamities. In these circumstances, ff left alone, they would neither be able to bear theft trials, nor know what to ask at the hand of God.

But the Spirit itself. The Holy Spirit, Ro 8:9-11.

Maketh intercession. The word here used—(uperentugcanei)——occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word—(entugcanw)—however, is used several times. It means, properly, to be present with any one for the purpose of aiding, as an advocate does in a court of justice; hence to intercede for any one, or to aid or assist in any manner. In this place it simply means that the Holy Spirit greatly assists or aids us; not by praying for us, but in our prayers and infirmities.

With groanings. With sighs, or that deep feeling and intense anxiety which exists in the oppressed and burdened heart of the Christian.

Which cannot be uttered. Or rather, perhaps, which is not uttered: those emotions which are too deep for utterance, or for expression in articulate language. This does not mean that the Spirit produces these groanings; but that in these deep-felt emotions, when the soul is oppressed and overwhelmed, he lends us his assistance and sustains us. The phrase may be thus translated: "The Spirit greatly aids or supports us in those deep emotions, those intense feelings, those inward sighs, which cannot be expressed in language, but which he enables us to bear, and which are understood by Him that searcheth the hearts."

{f} "the Spirit" Zec 12:10

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 27

Verse 27. And he that searcheth the hearts. God. To search the heart is one of his attributes which cannot be communicated to a creature, Jer 17:10.

Knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit. Knows the desires which the Holy Spirit excites and produces in the heart. He does not need that those deep emotions should be expressed in words; he does not need the eloquence of language to induce him to hear; but he sees the anxious feelings of the soul, and is ready to aid and to bless.

Maketh intercession for the saints. Aids and directs Christians.

According to the will of God. Greek, "According to God." It is according to his will in the following respects:

(1.) The Spirit is given according to his will. It is his gracious purpose to grant his aid to all who truly love him.

(2.) The desires which he excites in the heart of the Christian are those which are according to his will; they are such as God wishes to exist —the contrite, humble, and penitent pleading of sinners for mercy.

(3.) He superintends and guards Christians in their prayers. It is not meant that they are infallible, or that they never make an improper petition, or have an improper desire; but that he has a general superintendence over their minds, and that so far as they will yield themselves to his direction, they shall not be led into error. That man is most safe who yields himself most entirely to the influence of the Holy Spirit. And the doctrine here stated is one that is full of consolation to the Christian. We are poor, and needy, and ignorant, and blind; we are the creatures of a day, and are crushed before the moth. But in the midst of our feebleness, we may look to God for the aid of his Spirit, and rejoice in his presence, and in his power to sustain us in our sighings, and to guide us in our wanderings.

{g} "he that searcheth" Jer 17:10; Re 2:23

{1} "because" or, "that"

{h} "according to" 1 Jo 5:14

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 28

Verse 28. And we know. This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all things are under the direction or an infinitely wise Being, who has purposed the salvation of the Christian, and who has so appointed all things that they shall contribute to it.

All things. All our afflictions and trials; all the persecutions and calamities to which we are exposed. Though they are numerous and long-continued, yet they are among the means that are appointed for our welfare.

Work together for good. They shall co-operate; they shall mutually contribute to our good. They take off our affections from this world; they teach us the truth about our frail, transitory, and dying condition; they lead us to look to God for support, and to heaven for a final home; and they produce a subdued spirit, a humble temper, a patient, tender, and kind disposition. This has been the experience of all saints; and at the end of life they have been able to say it was good for them to be afflicted, Ps 119:67,71; Jer 31:18,19; Heb 12:11.

For good. For our real welfare; for the promotion of true piety, peace, and happiness in our hearts.

To them that love God. This is a characteristic of true piety. To them, afflictions are a blessing; to others, they often prove otherwise. On others they are sent as chastisements; and they produce murmuring, instead of peace; rebellion, instead of submission; and anger, impatience, and hatred, instead of calmness, patience, and love. The Christian is made a better man by receiving afflictions as they should be received, and by desiring that they should accomplish the purpose for which they are sent; the sinner is made more hardened by resisting them, and refusing to submit to their obvious intention and design.

To them who are the called. Christians are often represented as called of God. The word (klhtoiv) is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, offer, or calling, Mt 20:16; 22:14. But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament to denote those who had accepted the call, and were true Christians, Ro 1:6,7; 1 Co 1:2,24; Re 17:14.

It is evidently used in this sense here—to denote those who were true Christians. The connexion, as well as the usual meaning of the word, requires us thus to understand it. Christians are said to be called because God has invited them to be saved, and has sent into their hearts such an influence as to make the call effectual to their salvation. In this way their salvation is to be traced entirely to God.

According to his purpose. The word here rendered purpose (proyesin) means, properly, a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others; and is thus applied to the bread that was laid on the table of shew-bread, Mt 12:4; Mr 2:26; Lu 6:4.

Hence it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, or purposeintend to do. What God always meant to do, is his purpose or plan. That he has such a purpose, in regard to the salvation of his people, is often affirmed, Ro 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Ti 1:9; Jer 31:3.

This purpose of saving his people is

(1.) one over which a creature can have no control; it is according to the counsel of his own will, Eph 1:11.

(2.) It is without any merit on the part of the sinner—a purpose to save him by grace, 2 Ti 1:9.

(3.) It is eternal, Eph 3:11.

(4.) It is such as should excite lively gratitude in all who have been inclined by the grace of God to accept the offers of eternal life. They owe it to the mere mercy of God, and they should acknowledge him as the fountain and source of all their hopes of heaven.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 29

Verse 29. For whom he did foreknow. The word used here (proegnw) has been the subject of almost endless disputes in regard to its meaning in this place. The literal meaning of the word cannot be a matter of dispute. It denotes, properly, to know beforehand; to be acquainted with future events. But whether it means here simply to know that certain persons would become Christians, or to ordain and constitute them to be Christians, and to be saved, has been a subject of almost endless discussion. Without entering at large into an investigation of the word, perhaps the following remarks may throw light on it.

(1.) It does not here have reference to all the human family; for all are not, and have not been, conformed to the image of his Son. It has reference, therefore, only to those who would become Christians, and be saved.

(2.) It implies certain knowledge. It was certainly foreseen, in some way, that they would believe, and be saved. There is nothing, therefore, in regard to them that is contingent, or subject to doubt in the Divine Mind, since it was certainly foreknown.

(3.) The event which was thus foreknown must have been, for some cause, certain and fixed; since an uncertain event could not be possibly foreknown. To talk of foreknowing a contingent event—that is, of foreknowing an event as certain which may or may not exist—is an absurdity.

(4.) In what way such an event became certain is not determined by the use of this word. But it must have been somehow in connexion with a Divine appointment or arrangement, since in no other way can it be conceived to be certain. While the word used here, therefore, does not of necessity mean to decree, yet its use supposes that there was a purpose or plan; and the phrase is an explanation of what the apostle had just said, that it was according to the purpose of God that they were called. This passage does not affirm why, or how, or on what grounds God foreknew that some of the human family would be saved. It simply affirms the fact; and the mode in which those who will believe were designated must be determined from other sources. This passage simply teaches that he knew them; that his eye was fixed on them; that he regarded them as to be conformed to his Son; and that, thus knowing them, he designated them to eternal life. The Syriac renders it in accordance with this interpretation: "And from the beginning he knew them, and sealed them with the image of his Son,' etc. As, however, none would believe but by the influences of his Spirit, it follows that they were not foreknown on account of any faith which they would themselves exercise, or any good works which they would themselves perform, but according to the purpose or plan of God himself.

He also did predestinate. See the meaning of the original of this word explained See Barnes "Ro 1:4".

See Barnes "Ac 4:28, and 1 Co 2:7. In these places the word evidently means to determine, purpose, or decree beforehand; and it must have this meaning here. No other idea could be consistent with the proper meaning of the word, or be intelligible. It is clear, also, that it does not refer to external privileges, but to real conversion and piety: since that to which they were predestinated was not the external privilege of the gospel, but conformity to his Son, and salvation. See Ro 8:30. No passage could possibly teach in stronger language that it was God's purpose to save those who will be saved. Eph 1:5, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself." Eph 1:11, "Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

To be conformed to the image of his Son. To resemble his Son; to be of like form with the image of his Son. We may learn here,

(1.) that God does not determine to save men, whatever their character may be. The decree is not to save them in their sins, or whether they be sinful or holy. But it has primary respect to their character. It is that they should be holy; and, as a consequence of this, that they should be saved.

(2.) The only evidence which we can have that we are the subjects of his gracious purpose is, that we are in fact conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ. For this was the design of the decree. This is the only satisfactory proof of piety; and by this alone can we determine that we are interested in his gracious plan of saving men.

That he might be the first-born. The first-born among the Hebrews had many peculiar privileges. The idea here is,

(1.) that Christ might be preeminent as the model and exemplar; that he might be clothed with peculiar honours, and be so regarded in his church; and yet,

(2,) that he might still sustain a fraternal relation to them; that he might be one in the same great family of God, where all are sons. Comp. Heb 2:12-14.

Many brethren. Not a few. The purpose of God is that many of the human family shall be saved.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 30

Verse 30. Moreover, etc. In this verse, in order to show to Christians the true consolation to be derived from the fact that they are predestinated, the apostle states the connexion between that predestination and their certain salvation. The one implied the other.

Whom he did predestinate. All whom he did predestinate.

Them he also called. Called by his Spirit to become Christians. He called, not merely by an external invitation, but in such a way as that they in fact were justified. This cannot refer simply to an external call of the gospel, since those who are here said to be called are said also to be justified and glorified. The meaning is, that there is a certain connexion between the predestination and the call, which will be manifested in due time. The connexion is so certain that the one infallibly secures the other.

He justified. See Barnes "Ro 3:24".

Not that he justified them from eternity, for this was not true; and if it were, it would also follow that he glorified them from eternity, which would be an absurdity. It means that there is a regular sequence of events—the predestination precedes and secures the calling, and the calling precedes and secures the justification. The one is connected in the purpose of God with the other; and the one, in fact, does not take place without the other. The purpose was in eternity; the calling and justifying in time.

Them he also glorified. This refers probably to heaven. It means that there is a connexion between justification and glory. The one does not exist without the other in its own proper time; as the calling does not subsist without the act of justification. This proves, therefore, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. There is a connexion infallible and everexisting between the predestination and the final salvation. They who are subjects of the one are partakers of the other. That this is the sense is clear,

(1.) because it is the natural and obvious meaning of the passage;

(2.) because this only would meet the design of the argument of the apostle. For how would it be a source of consolation to say to them, that whom God foreknew he predestinated, and whom he predestinated he called, and whom he called he justified, and whom he justified might fall away and be lost for ever?

{l} "called" Heb 9:15

{m} "justified" 1 Co 6:11

{n} "glorified" Joh 17:22

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 31

Verse 31. What shall we then say, etc. What fairly follows from the facts stated? or what conclusion shall we draw in regard to the power of the Christian religion to support us in our trials from the considerations which have been stated? What the influence is he proceeds to state.

If God be for us. Be on our side, or is our friend, as he has shown himself to be by adopting us, (Ro 8:15) by granting to us his Spirit, (Ro 8:16,17,26,27) and by his gracious purpose to save us, (Ro 8:29,30.)

Who can be against us? Who can injure or destroy us? Sinners may be against us, and so may the great enemy of our souls, but their power to destroy us is taken away. God is more mighty than all our foes; and he can defend and save us. See Ps 118:6, "The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what man can do unto me." The proposition advanced in this verse Paul proceeds to illustrate by various specifications, which continue to the end of the chapter.

{n} "If God" Ps 118:6

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 32

Verse 32. He that spared not. Who did not retain, or keep from suffering and death.

His own Son. Who thus gave the highest proof of love that a father could give, and the highest demonstration of his willingness to do good to those for whom he gave him.

But delivered him up. Gave him into the hands of men, and to a cruel death. See Barnes "Ac 2:23".

For us all. For all Christians. The connexion requires that this expression should be understood here with this limitation. The argument for the security of all Christians is here derived from the fact, that God had shown them equal love in giving his Son for them. It was not merely for the apostles; not only for the rich, and the great; but for the most humble and obscure of the flock of Christ. For them he endured as severe pangs, and expressed as much love, as for the rich and the great that shall be redeemed. The most humble and obscure believer may derive consolation from the fact that Christ died for him, and that God has expressed the highest love for him which we can conceive to be possible.

How shall he not. His giving his Son is a proof that he will give to us all things that we need. The argument is from the greater to the less. He that has given the greater gift will not withhold the less.

All things. All things that may be needful for our welfare. These things he will give freely; without money and without price. His first great gift, that of his Son, was a free gift; and all others that we may need will be given in a similar manner. It is not by money, nor by our merit, but it is by the mere mercy of God; so that from the beginning to the end of the work it is all of grace. We see here

(1.) the privilege of being a Christian. He has the friendship of God; has been favoured with the highest proofs of Divine love; and has assurance that he shall receive all that he needs.

(2.) He has evidence that God will continue to be his friend. He that has given his Son to die for his people will not withdraw the lesser mercies that may be necessary to secure their salvation. The argument of the apostle here, therefore, is one that strongly shows that God will not forsake his children, but will keep them to eternal life.

{p} "spared not" Ro 5:6-10

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 33

Verse 33. Verse 33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge? This expression is taken from courts of law, and means, who shall accuse, or condemn, or so charge with crime before the tribunal of God as to cause their condemnation?

God's elect. His chosen people. Those who have been chosen according to his eternal purpose. See Barnes "Ro 8:28".

As they are the chosen of God, they are dear to him; and as he purposed to save them, he will do it in such a way as that none can bring against them a charge that would condemn them.

It is God that justifieth. That is, who has pardoned them, and admitted them to his favour; and pronounced them just in his sight. See Barnes "Ro 1:17" See Barnes "Ro 3:24".

It would be absurd to suppose that he would again condemn them. The fact that he has justified them is, therefore, a strong proof that they will be saved. This may be read with much force as a question, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Shall God who justifieth " The Greek will bear either mode of rendering. The passage implies that there would be a high degree of absurdity in supposing that the same Being would both justify and condemn the same individual. The Christian, therefore, is secure.

{q} "Who shall lay" Isa 1:8,9

{r} "It is God" Re 12:10,11

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Who is he that condemneth? Who shall pass sentence of condemnation, and consign to perdition? The office of passing sentence of condemnation on men shall pertain to Christ, the Judge of quick and dead, and the apostle proceeds to say that it was certain that he would not condemn the elect of God. They were therefore secure,

It is Christ that died. Or, as it may be rendered, "Shall Christ, who has died, condemn them?" The argument here is, that as Christ died to save them, and not to destroy them, he will not condemn them. His death for them is a security that he will not condemn them. As he died to save them, and as they have actually embraced his salvation, there is the highest security that he will not condemn them. This is the first argument for their security from the death of Christ.

Yea rather, that is risen again. This is a second consideration for their security from his work. He rose for their justification, See Barnes "Ro 4:25"

and as this was the object which he had in view, it follows that he will not condemn them.

Who is even at the right hand of God. Invested with power, and dignity, and authority in heaven. This is a third consideration to show that Christ will not condemn us, and that Christians are secure. He is clothed with power; he is exalted to honour; he is placed at the head of all things. And this solemn enthronement and investiture with power over the universe, is with express reference to the salvation of his church and people, Mt 28:18,19; Joh 17:2; Eph 1:20-23.

The Christian is, therefore, under the protection of Christ, and is secure from being condemned by him.

Who also maketh intercession for us. See Barnes "Ro 8:26".

Who pleads our cause; who aids and assists us; who presents our interests before the mercy-seat in the heavens, for this purpose he ascended to heaven, Heb 7:25. This is the fourth consideration which the apostle urges for the security of Christians drawn from the work of Christ. By all these, he argues their complete security from being subject to condemnation by him who shall pronounce the doom of all mankind, and therefore their complete safety in the day of judgment. Having the Judge of all for our friend, we are safe.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 35

Verse 35. Who shall separate us. That is, finally or entirely separate us. This is a new argument of the apostle, showing his strong confidence in the safety of the Christian.

From the love of Christ. This expression is ambiguous; and may mean either our love to Christ, or his love to us. I understand it in the former sense, and suppose it means, "Who shall cause us to cease to love the Saviour?" In other words, the love which Christians have for their Redeemer is so strong, that it will surmount and survive all opposition and all trials. The reason for so understanding the expression is, that it is not conceivable how afflictions, etc., should have any tendency to alienate Christ's love from us; but the supposed tendency to alienate our love from him might be very strong. They are endured in his cause. They are caused, in a good degree, by professed attachment to him. The persecutions and trials to which Christians are exposed on account of their professed attachment to him, might be supposed to make them weary of a service that involved so many trials. But no, says the apostle. Our love for him is so strong that we are willing to bear all; and nothing that these foes of our peace can do, can alienate us from him and from his cause. The argument, therefore, is drawn from the strong love of a Christian to his Saviour; and from the assurance that nothing would be able to separate him from that love.

Shall tribulation. (yliqiv) See Barnes "Ro 2:9".

The word properly refers to pressure from without; affliction arising from external causes. It means however, not unfrequently, trial of any kind.

Or distress. (stenocwria). This word properly means, narrowness of place; and then, great anxiety and distress of mind, such as arises when a man does not know where to turn himself, or what to do for relief. It refers, therefore, to distress or anxiety of mind—such as the early Christians were often subject to from their trials and persecutions. 2 Co 7:5, "Without were fightings, within were fears." See Barnes "Ro 2:9.

Or persecution. See Barnes "Mt 5:11".

To these the early Christians were constantly exposed.

Or famine. To this they were also exposed as the natural result of being driven from home, and of being often compelled to wander amidst strangers, and in deserts and desolate places.

Or peril. Danger of any kind.

Or sword. The sword of persecution; the danger of their lives to which they were constantly exposed. As all these things happened to them in consequence of their professed attachment to Christ, it might be supposed that they would tend to alienate their minds from him. But the apostle was assured that they had not this power, but that their love to the Saviour was so strong as to overcome all, and to bind them unalterably to his cause in the midst of the deepest trials. The fact is, that the more painful the trials to which they are exposed on his account, the more strong and unwavering is their love to him, and their confidence in his ability to save.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 36

Verse 36. As it is written. Ps 44:22. This passage the apostle quotes not as having originally reference to Christians, but as aptly descriptive of their condition. The condition of saints in the time of the psalmist was similar to that of Christians in the time of Paul. The same language would express both.

For thy sake. In thy cause; or on account of attachment to thee.

we are killed. We are subject to, or exposed to death. We endure suffering equivalent to dying. Comp. 1 Co 4:9, "God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death."

All the day long. Continually; constantly. There is no intermission to our danger, and to our exposure to death.

We are accounted. We are reckoned; we are regarded, or dealt with. That is, our enemies judge that we ought to die, and deem us the appropriate subjects of slaughter, with as little concern or remorse as the lives of sheep are taken.

{s} "For thy sake" Ps 44:22; 1 Co 15:30,31

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 37

Verse 37. Nay. But. Notwithstanding our severe pressures and trials.

In all these things. In the very midst of them; while we are enduring them, we are able to triumph. Comp. 1 Co 15:57.

We are more than conquerors. We gain the victory. That is, they have not power to, subdue us; to alienate our love and confi- dence; to produce apostasy. We are the victors, not they. Our faith is not destroyed; our love is not diminished; our hope is not blasted. But it is not simple victory; it is not mere life, and continuance of what we had before; it is more than simple triumph; it augments our faith, increases our strength, expands our love to Christ. The word used here is a strong, emphatic expression, such as the apostle Paul often employs, (comp. 2 Co 4:17) and which is used with great force and appropriateness here.

Through him, etc. Not by their own strength or power. It was by the might of the Saviour, and by his power pledged to them, and confirmed by the love evinced when he gave himself for them. Comp. Php 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

{t} "in all these things" 1 Co 15:57

{u} "through him" Jude 1:24

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 38

Verse 38. For I am persuaded. I have a strong and unwavering confidence. Latin Vulgate, "I am certain." The expression here implies unwavering certainty.

Neither death. Neither the fear of death, nor all the pains and tortures of the dying scene, even in the most painful trials of persecution; death in no form.

Nor life. Nor the hope of life; the love of life; the offer of life made to us by our persecutors, on condition of abjuring our Christian faith. The words evidently refer to times of persecution; and it was not uncommon for persecutors to offer life to Christians, on condition of their renouncing attachment to the Saviour, and offering sacrifice to idols. All that was demanded in the times of persecution under the Roman emperors was, that they should throw a few grams of incense on the altar of a heathen god, as expressive of homage to the idol. But even this they would not do. The hope of life on so very easy terms would not, could not, alienate them from the love of Christ.

Nor angels. It seems to be apparent that good angels cannot be intended here. The apostle was saying that nothing would separate Christians from the love of Christ. Of course, it would be implied that the things which he specifies might be supposed to have some power or tendency to do it. But it is not conceivable that good angels, who are "sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," (Heb 1:14) should seek to alienate the minds of Christians from the Saviour, or that their influence should have any such tendency. It seems to be clear, therefore, that he refers to the designs and temptations of evil spirits. The word angels is applied to evil spirits in Mt 25:41; 1 Co 6:3.

Nor principalities, (arcai). This word usually refers to magistrates and civil rulers. But it is also applied to evil angels, as having dominion over men. Eph 6:12, "For we wrestle against—principalities." Col 2:15, "And having spoiled principalities." 1 Co 15:24, "When he shall have put down rule," Greek, (archn). Some have supposed that it refers here to magistrates, and those in authority, who persecuted Christians; but the connexion of the word with angels seems to require us to understand it of evil spirits.

Nor powers. This word (dunameiv) is often applied to magistrates; but it is also applied to evil spirits that have dominion over men, 1 Co 15:24. The ancient rabbins also give the name powers to evil angels. (Schleusner.) There can be no doubt that the Jews were accustomed to divide the angels of heaven into various ranks and orders, traces of which custom we find often in the Scriptures. And there is also reason to suppose that they made such a division with reference to evil angels, regarding Satan as their leader, and other evil spirits, divided into various ranks, as subordinate to him. See Mt 25:41; Eph 6:12; Col 2:15. To such a division there is probably reference here; and the meaning is, that no order of evil angels, however powerful, artful, or numerous, would be able to alienate the hearts of Christians from their Redeemer.

Nor things present. Calamities and persecutions to which we are now subject.

Nor things to come. Trials to which we may be yet exposed. It evinced strong confidence to say that no possible trials should be sufficient to destroy their love for Christ.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 39

Verse 39. Nor height. This has been variously understood. Some have regarded it as referring to evil spirits in the air; others, to high and lofty speculations in doctrine; others, to heaven—to all that is in heaven. I regard it here as synonymous with prosperity, honour, elevation in this life. The meaning is, that no possible circumstances in which Christians could be placed, though surrounded with wealth, honour, splendour, and though elevated to rank and office, could alienate them from the love of Christ. The tendency of these things to alienate the mind, to engross the affections, and to occupy the time, all know; but the apostle says that even these would not be sufficient to withdraw their strong love from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nor depth. Nor the lowest circumstances of depression, poverty, contempt, and want; the very lowest rank of life.

Nor any other creature. Nor any other created thing; any other thing in the universe; anything that can occur. This expresses the most unwavering confidence that all who were Christians would certainly continue to love the Lord Jesus, and be saved.

Shall be able. Shall have power to do it. The love to Christ is stronger than any influence which they can exert on the mind.

The love of God. The love which we have to God.

Which is in Christ Jesus. Which is produced and secured by his work. Of which he is the bond, the connecting link. It was caused by his mediation; it is secured by his influence; it is in and through him, and him alone, that men love God. There is no true love of God which is not produced by the work of Christ. There is no man who truly loves the Father, who does not do it in and by the Son.


Perhaps there is no chapter in the Bible on the whole so interesting and consoling to the Christian as this; and there certainly is not to be found anywhere a specimen of more elevated, animated, and lofty eloquence and argumentation. We may remark in view of it,

(1.) that it is the highest honour that can be conferred on mortal man to be a Christian.

(2.) Our trials in this life are scarcely worth regarding in comparison with our future glory.

(3.) Calamities should be borne without a murmur; nay, without a sigh.

(4.) The Christian has every possible security for his safety. The purposes of God, the work of Christ, the aid of the Holy Ghost, and the tendency of all events under the direction of his Father and Friend, conspire to secure his welfare and salvation.

(5.) With what thankfulness, then, should we approach the God of mercy. In the gospel we have a blessed and cheering hope, which nothing else can produce, and which nothing can destroy. Safe in the hands of God our Redeemer, we may commit our way to him, whether it lead through persecutions, or trials, or sickness, or a martyr's grave; and triumphantly we may wait until the day of our complete adoption—the entire redemption of soul and body —shall fully come.

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