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8. Life Through the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1. There is then, etc. After having described the contest which the godly have perpetually with their own flesh, he returns to the consolation, which was very needful for them, and which he had before mentioned; and it was this, — That though they were still beset by sin, they were yet exempt fiom the power of death, and from every curse, provided they lived not in the flesh but in the Spirit: for he joins together these three things, — the imperfection under which the faithful always labor, — the mercy of God in pardoning and forgiving it, —and the regeneration of the Spirit; and this indeed in the last place, that no one should flatter himself with a vain notion, as though he were freed from the curse, while securely indulging in the meantime his own flesh. As then the carnal man flatters himself in vain, when in no way solicitous to reform his life, he promises to himself impunity under the pretense of having this grace; so the trembling consciences of the godly have an invincible fortress, for they know that while they abide in Christ they are beyond every danger of condemnation. We shall now examine the words.

After the Spirit. Those who walk after the Spirit are not such as have wholly put off all the emotions of the flesh, so that their whole life is redolent with nothing but celestial perfection; but they are those who sedulously labor to subdue and mortify the flesh, so that the love of true religion seems to reign in them. He declares that such walk not after the flesh; for wherever the real fear of God is vigorous, it takes away from the flesh its sovereignty, though it does not abolish all its corruptions.

2. For the law of the Spirit of life, etc. This is a confirmation of the former sentence; and that it may be understood, the meaning of the words must be noticed. Using a language not strictly correct, by the law of the Spirit he designates the Spirit of God, who sprinkles our souls with the blood of Christ, not only to cleanse us from the stain of sin with respect to its guilt, but also to sanctify us that we may be really purified. He adds that it is life-giving, (for the genitive case, after the manner of the Hebrew, is to be taken as an adjective,) it hence follows, that they who detain man in the letter of the law, expose him to death. On the other hand, he gives the name of the law of sin and death to the dominion of the flesh and to the tyranny of death, which thence follows: the law of God is set as it were in the middle, which by teaching righteousness cannot confer it, but on the contrary binds us with the strongest chains in bondage to sin and to death.

The meaning then is, — that the law of God condemns men, and that this happens, because as long as they remain under the bond of the law, they are oppressed with the bondage of sin, and are thus exposed to death; but that the Spirit of Christ, while it abolishes the law of sin in us by destroying the prevailing desires of the flesh, does at the same time deliver us from the peril of death. If any one objects and says, that then pardon, by which our transgressions are buried, depends on regeneration; to this it may be easily answered, that the reason is not here assigned by Paul, but that the manner only is specified, in which we are delivered from guilt; and Paul denies that we obtain deliverance by the external teaching of the law, but intimates that when we are renewed by the Spirit of God, we are at the same time justified by a gratuitous pardon, that the curse of sin may no longer abide on us. The sentence then has the same meaning, as though Paul had said, that the grace of regeneration is never disjoined from the imputation of righteousness.

I dare not, with some, take the law of sin and death for the law of God, because it seems a harsh expression. For though by increasing sin it generates death, yet Paul before turned aside designedly from this invidious language. At the same time I no more agree in opinion with those who explain the law of sin as being the lust of the flesh, as though Paul had said, that he had become the conqueror of it. But it will appear very evident shortly, as I think, that he speaks of a gratuitous absolution, which brings to us tranquillizing peace with God. I prefer retaining the word law, rather than with Erasmus to render it right or power: for Paul did not without reason allude to the law of God. 238238     Ca1vin has, in his exposition of this verse, followed Chrysostom, and the same view has been taken by Beza, Grotius, Vitringa, Doddridge, Scott, and Chalmers. But Pareus, following Ambrose, has taken another view, which Haldane has strongly advocated, and with considerable power of reasoning, though, as some may perhaps think, unsuccessfully. The exposition is this, — “The law of the spirit of life” is the law of faith, or the gospel, which is the ministration of the Spirit; and “the spirit of life” means either the life-giving spirit, or the spirit which conveys the life which is in Christ Jesus. Then “the law of sin and death” is the moral law, so called because it discloses sin and denounces death. It is said that this view corresponds with the “no condemnation” in the first verse, and with the word “law” in the verse which follows, which is no doubt the moral law, and with the truth which the verse exhibits. It is also added that freedom or deliverance from the law of sin, viewed as the power of sin, is inconsistent with the latter part of the former chapter; and that the law of faith, which through the Spirit conveys life, makes us free from the moral law as the condition of life, is the uniform teaching of Paul. “This freedom,” says Pareus, “is ascribed to God, to Christ, and to the Gospel, — to God as the author, Romans 7:25, — to Christ as the mediator, — and to the Gospel as the instrument: and the manner of this deliverance is more clearly explained in the verse which follows.”

3. For what was impossible for the law, etc. Now follows the polishing or the adorning of his proof, that the Lord has by his gratuitous mercy justified us in Christ; the very thing which it was impossible for the law to do. But as this is a very remarkable sentence, let us examine every part of it.

That he treats here of free justification or of the pardon by which God reconciles us to himself, we may infer from the last clause, when he adds, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit For if Paul intended to teach us, that we are prepared by the spirit of regeneration to overcome sin, why was this addition made? But it was very proper for him, after having promised gratuitous remission to the faithful, to confine this doctrine to those who join penitence to faith, and turn not the mercy of God so as to promote the licentiousness of the flesh. And then the state of the case must be noticed; for the Apostle teaches us here how the grace of Christ absolves us from guilt.

Now as to the expression, τὸ ἀδύνατον, the impossibility of the law, it is no doubt to be taken for defect or impotency; as though it had been said, that a remedy had been found by God, by which that which was an impossibility to the law is removed. The particle, ἐν ᾧ, Erasmus has rendered “ea parte qua — in that part in which;” but as I think it to be causal, I prefer rendering it, “eo quod — because:” and though perhaps such a phrase does not occur among good authors in the Greek language, yet as the Apostles everywhere adopt Hebrew modes of expression, this interpretation ought not to be deemed improper. 239239     Calvin is not singular in this rendering. Pareus and Grotius give “quia vel quandoquidem — because or since;” and the latter says, that ἐν ᾧ is an Hebraism for ἐφ ᾧ; see Romans 5:12 Beza refers to Mark 2:19, and Luke 5:34, as instances where it means when or while, and says that it is used in Greek to designate not only a certain time, but also a certain state or condition. Piscator’s rendering is “co quod — because.” — Ed. No doubt intelligent readers will allow, that the cause of defect is what is here expressed, as we shall shortly prove again. Now though Erasmus supplies the principal verb, yet the text seems to me to flow better without it. The copulative καὶ, and, has led Erasmus astray, so as to insert the verb prœstitit — hath performed; but I think that it is used for the sake of emphasis; except it may be, that some will approve of the conjecture of a Grecian scholiast, who connects the clause thus with the preceding words, “God sent his own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and on account of sin,” etc. I have however followed what I have thought to be the real meaning of Paul. I come now to the subject itself. 240240     The beginning of this verse, though the general import of it is evident, does yet present some difficulties as to its construction. The clause, as given by Calvin, is, “Quod enim impossibile erat legi,” — τὸ γὰρ ἀδύνατον τον νόμου Pareus supposes δἰα understood, “For on account of the impotency of the law,” etc. Stuart agrees with Erasmus and Luther and supplies the verb “did,” or accomplish, — “For what the law could not accomplish,... God... accomplished,” etc. But the simpler construction is, “For this,” (that is, freedom from the power of sin and death, mentioned in the former verse,) “being impossible for the law,” etc. It is instance of the nominative case absolute, which sometimes occurs in Hebrew. The possessive case, as Grotius says, has often the meaning of a dative after adjectives, as “malum hominis“ is “malum homini — evil to man.” The τὸ has sometimes the meaning of τουτο; it is separated by γὰρ from the adjective. Some say that it is for ὅτι γὰρ, “Because it was impossible for the law,” etc. But changes of this kind are never satisfactory. The rendering of the whole verse may be made thus, —
   3. For this being impossible for the law, because it was weak through the flesh, God having sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful a flesh and on account of sin, has condemned sin in the flesh.

   God sent his Son in that flesh which was polluted by sin, though his Son’s flesh, i.e. human nature, was sinless; and he sent him on account of that sin which reigned in human nature or flesh; and for this end — to condemn, i.e., to doom to ruin, to adjudge to destruction, the sin which ruled in the flesh, i.e. in human nature as fallen and corrupted. This seems to be the meaning. Then in the following verse the design of this condemnation of sin is stated — that the righteousness of the law, or what the law requires, might be done by us. Without freedom from the power of sin, no service can be done to God. It is the destruction of the power of sin, and not the removal of guilt, that is contemplated here throughout; the text of the whole passage is walking after the flesh and walking after the Spirit. — Ed.

Paul clearly declares that our sins were expiated by the death of Christ, because it was impossible for the law to confer righteousness upon us. It hence follows, that more is required by the law than what we can perform; for if we were capable of fulfilling the law there would have been no need to seek a remedy elsewhere. It is therefore absurd to measure human strength by the precepts of the law; as though God in requiring what is justly due, had regarded what and how much we are able to do.

Because it was weak etc. That no one might think that the law was irreverently charged with weakness, or confine it to ceremonies, Paul has distinctly expressed that this defect was not owing to any fault in the law, but to the corruption of our flesh; for it must be allowed that if any one really satisfies the divine law, he will be deemed just before God. He does not then deny that the law is sufficient to justify us as to doctrine, inasmuch as it contains a perfect rule of righteousness: but as our flesh does not attain that righteousness, the whole power of the law fails and vanishes away. Thus condemned is the error or rather the delirious notion of those who imagine that the power of justifying is only taken away from ceremonies; for Paul, by laying the blame expressly on us, clearly shows that he found no fault with the doctrine of the law.

But further, understand the weakness of the law according to the sense in which the Apostle usually takes the word ασθενεια, weakness, not only as meaning a small imbecility but impotency; for he means that the law has no power whatever to justify. 241241     The adjective τὸ ἀσθενὲς is applied to the commandment in Hebrews 7:18. “Impotent, inefficacious,” are the terms used by Grotius; “destitute of strength,” by Beza; and “weak,” by ErasmusEd. You then see that we are wholly excluded from the righteousness of works, and must therefore flee to Christ for righteousness, for in us there can be none, and to know this is especially necessary; for we shall never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first know assuredly that we have no righteousness of our own. The word flesh is to be taken still in the same sense, as meaning ourselves. The corruption then of our nature renders the law of God in this respect useless to us; for while it shows the way of life, it does not bring us back who are running headlong into death.

God having sent his own Son, etc. He now points out the way in which our heavenly Father has restored righteousness to us by his Son, even by condemning sin in the very flesh of Christ; who by cancelling as it were the handwriting, abolished sin, which held us bound before God; for the condemnation of sin made us free and brought us righteousness, for sin being blotted out we are absolved, so that God counts us as just. But he declares first that Christ was sent, in order to remind us that righteousness by no means dwells in us, for it is to be sought from him, and that men in vain confide in their own merits, who become not just but at the pleasure of another, or who borrow righteousness from that expiation which Christ accomplished in his own flesh. But he says, that he came in the likeness of the flesh of sin; for though the flesh of Christ was polluted by no stains, yet it seemed apparently to be sinful, inasmuch as it sustained the punishment due to our sins, and doubtless death exercised all its power over it as though it was subject to itself. And as it behoved our High-priest to learn by his own experience how to aid the weak, Christ underwent our infirmities, that he might be more inclined to sympathy, and in this respect also there appeared some resemblance of a sinful nature.

Even for sin, etc. I have already said that this is explained by some as the cause or the end for which God sent his own Son, that is, to give satisfaction for sin. Chrysostom and many after him understood it in a still harsher sense, even that sin was condemned for sin, and for this reason, because it assailed Christ unjustly and beyond what was right. I indeed allow that though he was just and innocent, he yet underwent punishment for sinners, and that the price of redemption was thus paid; but I cannot be brought to think that the word sin is put here in any other sense than that of an expiatory sacrifice, which is called אשם, ashem, in Hebrew, 242242     The reference had better been made to חטאת, a sin-offering, so called because חטא, sin, was imputed to what was offered, and it was accepted as an atonement. See Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 4:3, 4, 15; Leviticus 16:21. See also Exodus 30:10. The Septuagint adopted the same manner, and rendered sin-offering in many instances by ἁμαρτία, sin; and Paul has done the same in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28. That “sin” should have two different meanings in the same verse or in the same clause, is what is perfectly consonant to the Apostle’s manner of writing; he seems to delight in this kind of contrast in meaning while using the same words, depending on the context as to the explanation. He uses the word hope both in Romans 8:21, and in Romans 4:18, in this way. And this is not peculiar to Paul; it is what we observe in all parts of Scripture, both in the New and in the Old Testament. A striking instance of this, as to the word “life,” ψυχή is found in Matthew 16:25, 26, in the last verse it is rendered improperly “soul.”
   Fully admitting all this, I still think that “sin” here is to be taken in its common meaning, only personified. Beza connects περὶ ἁμαρτίας with the preceding clause, “God having sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and that for or on account of sin, (idque pro peccato,)” etc., that is, as he explains, for expiating or taking away sin. “A sin-offering” may indeed be its meaning, for the same expression is often used in this sense in the Septuagint. See Leviticus 5:7, 9, 11; Psalm 40:6

   The sense of taking away strength, or depriving of power or authority, or of destroying, or of abolishing, does not belong, says Schleusner, to the verb κατακρίνειν, to condemn; he renders it here “punished — punivit,” that is, God adjudged to sin the punishment due to it. The meaning is made to be the same as when it is said, that God “laid on him the iniquities of us all.”

   By taking a view of the whole passage, from Romans 7:24 to Romans 8:5, for the whole of this is connected, and by noticing the phraseology, we shall probably conclude that the power of sin and not its guilt is the subject treated of. “Law” here is used for a ruling power, for that which exercises authority and ensures obedience. “The law of sin,” is the ruling power of sin; “the law of the spirit of life,” is the power of the Spirit the author of life; “the law of death” is the power which death exercises. Then “walking after the flesh” is to live in subjection to the flesh; as “walking after the Spirit” is to live in subjection to him. All these things have a reference to the power and not to the guilt of sin. The same subject is continued from Romans 8:5 to Romans 8:15. — Ed.
and so the Greeks call a sacrifice to which a curse is annexed κάθαρμα, catharma. The same thing is declared by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21, when he says, that

“Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”

But the preposition περὶ peri, is to be taken here in a causative sense, as though he had said, “On account of that sacrifice, or through the burden of sin being laid on Christ, sin was cast down from its power, so that it does not hold us now subject to itself.” For using a metaphor, he says that it was condemned, like those who fail in their cause; for God no longer deals with those as guilty who have obtained absolution through the sacrifice of Christ. If we say that the kingdom of sin, in which it held us, was demolished, the meaning would be the same. And thus what was ours Christ took as his own, that he might transfer his own to us; for he took our curse, and has freely granted us his blessing.

Paul adds here, In the flesh, and for this end, — that by seeing sin conquered and abolished in our very nature, our confidence might be more certain: for it thus follows, that our nature is really become a partaker of his victory; and this is what he presently declares.

4. That the justification of the law might be fulfilled, etc. They who understand that the renewed, by the Spirit of Christ, fulfil the law, introduce a gloss wholly alien to the meaning of Paul; for the faithful, while they sojourn in this world, never make such a proficiency, as that the justification of the law becomes in them full or complete. This then must be applied to forgiveness; for when the obedience of Christ is accepted for us, the law is satisfied, so that we are counted just. For the perfection which the law demands was exhibited in our flesh, and for this reason — that its rigor should no longer have the power to condemn us. But as Christ communicates his righteousness to none but to those whom he joins to himself by the bond of his Spirit, the work of renewal is again mentioned, lest Christ should be thought to be the minister of sin: for it is the inclination of many so to apply whatever is taught respecting the paternal kindness of God, as to encourage the lasciviousness of the flesh; and some malignantly slander this doctrine, as though it extinquished the desire to live uprightly. 243243     Commentators are divided as to the meaning of this verse. This and the second verse seem to bear a relation in sense to one another; so that if the second verse refers to justification, this also refers to it; but if freedom from the power of sin and death be what is taught in the former verse, the actual or personal fulfillment of the law must be what is intended here. Some, such as Pareus and Venema, consider justification to be the subject of both verses; and others, such as Scott and Doddridge, consider it to be sanctification. But Beza, Chalmers, as well as Calvin, somewhat inconsistently, regard the second verse as speaking of freedom from the power or dominion of sin, and not from its guilt or condemnation, and this verse as speaking of the imputed righteousness of Christ, and not of that righteousness which believers are enabled to perform by the Spirit’s aid and influence. The verses seem so connected in the argument, that one of these two ideas must be held throughout.
   There is nothing decisive in the wording of this verse, though the cast of the expressions seem more favorable to the idea entertained by Doddridge and Scott, and especially what follows in the context, where the work of the Spirit is exclusively spoken of. The word δικαιωμα, is better rendered “righteousness” than “justification;” for “the righteousness to the law” means the righteousness which the law requires; and the words “might be fulfilled in us,” may, with equal propriety as to the uses loquendi, be rendered, “might be performed by us.” The verb πληρόω has this meaning in Romans 13:8, and in other places.

   Viewed in this light the verse contains the same truth with what is expressed by “serving the law of God,” in Romans 7:25, and the same with yielding our members as “instruments of righteousness unto God,” in Romans 6:13. That this is to establish a justification by the law, is obviated by the consideration, that this righteousness is performed through the efficacy of Christ’s death, and through the reviving power of the Spirit, and not through the law, and that it is not a justifying righteousness before God, for it is imperfect, and the law can acknowledge nothing as righteousness but what is perfect. The sanctification now begun will be finally completed; but it is all through grace: and the completion of this work will be a complete conformity with the immutable law of God. — Ed.

5. For they who are after the flesh, etc. He introduces this difference between the flesh and the Spirit, not only to confirm, by an argument derived from what is of an opposite character, what he has before mentioned, — that the grace of Christ belongs to none but to those who, having been regenerated by the Spirit, strive after purity; but also to relieve the faithful with a seasonable consolation, lest being conscious of many infirmities, they should despair: for as he had exempted none from the curse, but those who lead a spiritual life, he might seem to cut off from all mortals the hope of salvation; for who in this world can be found adorned with so much angelic purity so as to be wholly freed from the flesh? It was therefore necessary to define what it is to be in the flesh, and to walk after the flesh. At first, indeed, Paul does not define the distinction so very precisely; but yet we shall see as we proceed, that his object is to afford good hope to the faithful, though they are bound to their flesh; only let them not give loose reins to its lusts, but give themselves up to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

By saying that carnal men care for, or think upon, the things of the flesh, he shows that he did not count those as carnal who aspire after celestial righteousness, but those who wholly devote themselves to the world. I have rendered φρονουσιν by a word of larger meaning, cogitant — think, that readers may understand that those only are excluded from being the children of God who, being given to the allurements of the flesh, apply their minds and study to depraved lusts. 244244     The verb φρονέω as Leigh justly says, includes the action of the mind, will, and affections, but mostly in Scripture it expresses the action of the will and affections. It means to understand, to desire, and to relish or delight in a thing. It is rendered here by Erasmus and Vatablus, “curant — care for;” by Beza, Pareus, and the Vulgate, “sapiunt — relish or savour;” by Doddridge and Macknight, “mind,” as in our version; and by Stuart, “concern themselves with.” It evidently means attention, regard, pursuit and delight, — the act of the will and affections, rather than that of the mind.
   “The verb,” says Turrettin, “means not only to think of, to understand, to attend to a thing; but also to mind it,to value it, and to take great delight in it. — Ed.
Now, in the second clause he encourages the faithful to entertain good hope, provided they find that they are raised up by the Spirit to the meditation of righteousness: for wherever the Spirit reigns, it is an evidence of the saving grace of God; as the grace of God does not exist where the Spirit being extinguished the reign of the flesh prevails. But I will briefly repeat here what I have reminded you of before, — That to be in the flesh, or, after the flesh, is the same thing as to be without the gift of regeneration: 245245     Jerome says, that to be in the flesh is to be in a married state! How superstition perverts the mind! and then the perverted mind perverts the word of God. — Ed. and such are all they who continue, as they commonly say, in pure naturals, (Puris naturalibus.)

6. The minding of the flesh, etc. Erasmus has rendered it “affection,” (affectum;) the old translator, “prudence,” (prudentiam.) But as it is certain that the το φρονημα of Paul is the same with what Moses calls the imagination (figmentum — devising) of the heart, (Genesis 6:5;) and that under this word are included all the faculties of the soul — reason, understanding, and affections, it seems to me that minding (cogitatio — thinking, imagining, caring) is a more suitable word 246246     It is difficult to find a word to express the idea here intended. It is evident that τὸ φρόνημα τὢς σαρκὸς is the abstract of “minding the things of the flesh,” in the preceding verse. The mindedness, rather than the minding of the flesh, would be most correct. But the phrase is no doubt Hebraistic, the adjective is put as a noun in the genitive case, so that its right version is, “The carnal mind;” and “mind” is to be taken in the wide sense of the verb, as including the whole soul, understanding, will, and affections. The phrase is thus given in the next verse in our version; and it is the most correct rendering. The mind of the flesh is its thoughts, desires, likings, and delight. This carnal mind is death, i.e., spiritual death now, leading to that which is eternal; or death, as being under condemnation, and producing wretchedness and misery; it is also enmity towards God, including in its very spirit hatred and antipathy to God. On the other hand, “the spiritual mind” is “life,” i.e., a divine life, a living principle of holiness, accompanied with “peace,” which is true happiness; or life by justification, and “peace” with God as the fruit of it.
   The word φρόνημα is only found in one other place, in Romans 8:27, — “the mind,” wish, or desire “of the Spirit.” — Ed.
And though Paul uses the particle γὰρ — for, yet I doubt not but that is only a simple confirmative, for there is here a kind of concession; for after having briefly defined what it is to be in the flesh, he now subjoins the end that awaits all who are slaves to the flesh. Thus by stating the contrary effect, he proves, that they cannot be partakers of the favor of Christ, who abide in the flesh, for through the whole course of their life they proceed and hasten unto death.

This passage deserves special notice; for we hence learn, that we, while following the course of nature, rush headlong into death; for we, of ourselves, contrive nothing but what ends in ruin. But he immediately adds another clause, to teach us, that if anything in us tends to life, it is what the Spirit produces; for no spark of life proceeds from our flesh.

The minding of the Spirit he calls life, for it is life-giving, or leads to life; and by peace he designates, after the manner of the Hebrews, every kind of happiness; for whatever the Spirit of God works in us tends to our felicity. There is, however, no reason why any one should on this account attribute salvation to works; for though God begins our salvation, and at length completes it by renewing us after his own image; yet the only cause is his good pleasure, whereby he makes us partakers of Christ.

7. Because the minding of the flesh, 247247     The order which the Apostle observes ought to be noticed. He begins in Romans 8:5, or at the end of Romans 8:4, with two characters — the carnal and, the spiritual. He takes the carnal first, because it is the first as to us in order of time. And here he does not reverse the order, as he sometimes does, when the case admits it, but goes on first with the carnal man, and then, in Romans 8:9 to 11, he describes the spiritual. — Ed. etc. He subjoins a proof of what he had stated, — that nothing proceeds from the efforts of our flesh but death, because it contends as an enemy against the will of God. Now the will of God is the rule of righteousness; it hence follows, that whatever is unjust is contrary to it; and what is unjust at the same time brings death. But while God is adverse, and is offended, in vain does any one expect life; for his wrath must be necessarily followed by death, which is the avenging of his wrath. But let us observe here, that the will of man is in all things opposed to the divine will; for, as much as what is crooked differs from what is straight, so much must be the difference between us and God.

For to the law of God, etc. This is an explanation of the former sentence; and it shows how all the thinkings (meditationes) of the flesh carry on war against the will of God; for his will cannot be assailed but where he has revealed it. In the law God shows what pleases him: hence they who wish really to find out how far they agree with God must test all their purposes and practices by this rule. For though nothing is done in this world, except by the secret governing providence of God; yet to say, under this pretext, that nothing is done but what he approves, (nihil nisi eo approbante fieri,) is intolerable blasphemy; and on this subject some fanatics are wrangling at this day. The law has set the difference between right and wrong plainly and distinctly before our eyes, and to seek it in a deep labyrinth, what sottishness is it! The Lord has indeed, as I have said, his hidden counsel, by which he regulates all things as he pleases; but as it is incomprehensible to us, let us know that we are to refrain from too curious an investigation of it. Let this in the mean time remain as a fixed principle, — that nothing pleases him but righteousness, and also, that no right estimate can be made of our works but by the law, in which he has faithfully testified what he approves and disapproves.

Nor can be. Behold the power of free-will! which the Sophists cannot carry high enough. Doubtless, Paul affirms here, in express words, what they openly detest, — that it is impossible for us to render our powers subject to the law. They boast that the heart can turn to either side, provide it be aided by the influence of the Spirit, and that a free choice of good or evil is in our power, when the Spirit only brings help; but it is ours to choose or refuse. They also imagine some good emotions, by which we become of ourselves prepared. Paul, on the contrary, declares, that the heart is full of hardness and indomitable contumacy, so that it is never moved naturally to undertake the yoke of God; nor does he speak of this or of that faculty, but speaking indefinitely, he throws into one bundle all the emotions which arise within us. 248248     Stuart attempts to evade this conclusion, but rather in an odd way. The whole amount, as he seems to say, of what the Apostle declares, is that this φρόνημα σαρκός itself is not subject, and cannot be, to the law of God; but whether the sinner who cherishes it “is actuated by other principles and motives,” the expression, he says, does not seem satisfactorily to determine. Hence he stigmatizes with the name of “metaphysical reasoning” the doctrine of man’s moral inability, without divine grace, to turn to God — a doctrine which Luther, Calvin, and our own Reformers equally maintained. The Apostle does not only speak abstractedly, but he applies what he advances to individuals, and concludes by saying, So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Who and what can bring them out of this state? The influence of “other principles and motives,” or the grace of God? This is no metaphysical question, and the answer to it determines the point. Our other American brother, Barnes, seems also to deprecate this doctrine of moral inability, and makes distinctions to no purpose, attempting to separate the carnal mind from him in whom it exists, as though man could be in a neutral state, neither in the flesh nor in the Spirit. “It is an expression,” as our third American brother, Hodge, justly observes, “applied to all unrenewed persons, as those who are not in the flesh are in the Spirit.” — Ed. Far, then, from a Christian heart be this heathen philosophy respecting the liberty of the will. Let every one acknowledge himself to be the servant of sin, as he is in reality, that he may be made free, being set at liberty by the grace of Christ: to glory in any other liberty is the highest folly.

8. They then who are in the flesh, etc. It is not without reason that I have rendered the adversative δὲ as an illative: for the Apostle infers from what had been said, that those who give themselves up to be guided by the lusts of the flesh, are all of them abominable before God; and he has thus far confirmed this truth, — that all who walk not after the Spirit are alienated from Christ, for they are without any spiritual life.

9. But ye, etc. He applies hypothetically a general truth to those to whom he was writing; not only that by directing his discourse to them particularly he might more powerfully affect them, but also that they might with certainty gather from the description already given, that they were of the number of those, from whom Christ had taken away the curse of the law. Yet, at the same time, by explaining what the Spirit of God works in the elect, and what fruit he brings forth, he encourages them to strive after newness of life.

If indeed the Spirit of God, etc. This qualifying sentence is fitly subjoined, by which they were stirred up to examine themselves more closely, lest they should profess the name of Christ in vain. And it is the surest mark by which the children of God are distinguished from the children of the world, when by the Spirit of God they are renewed unto purity and holiness. It seems at the same time to have been his purpose, not so much to detect hypocrisy, as to suggest reasons for glorying against the absurd zealots of the law, who esteem the dead letter of more importance than the inward power of the Spirit, who gives life to the law.

But this passage shows, that what Paul has hitherto meant by the Spirit, is not the mind or understanding (which is called the superior part of the soul by the advocates of freewill) but a celestial gift; for he shows that those are spiritual, not such as obey reason through their own will, but such as God rules by his Spirit. Nor are they yet said to be according to the Spirit, because they are filled with God’s Spirit, (which is now the case with none,) but because they have the Spirit dwelling in them, though they find some remains of the flesh still remaining in them: at the same time it cannot dwell in them without having the superiority; for it must be observed that man’s state is known by the power that bears rule in him.

But if any have not the Spirit of Christ, etc. He subjoins this to show how necessary in Christians is the denial of the flesh. The reign of the Spirit is the abolition of the flesh. Those in whom the Spirit reigns not, belong not to Christ; then they are not Christians who serve the flesh; for they who separate Christ from his own Spirit make him like a dead image or a carcase. And we must always bear in mind what the Apostle has intimated, that gratuitous remission of sins can never be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; for this would be as it were to rend Christ asunder.

If this be true, it is strange that we are accused of arrogance by the adversaries of the gospel, because we dare to avow that the Spirit of Christ dwells in us: for we must either deny Christ, or confess that we become Christians through his Spirit. It is indeed dreadful to hear that men have so departed from the word of the Lord, that they not only vaunt that they are Christians without God’s Spirit, but also ridicule the faith of others: but such is the philosophy of the Papists.

But let readers observe here, that the Spirit is, without any distinction, called sometimes the Spirit of God the Father, and sometimes the Spirit of Christ; and thus called, not only because his whole fulness was poured on Christ as our Mediator and head, so that from him a portion might descend on each of us, but also because he is equally the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, who have one essence, and the same eternal divinity. As, however, we have no intercourse with God except through Christ, the Apostle wisely descends to Christ from the Father, who seems to be far off:

10. But if Christ be in us, etc. What he had before said of the Spirit he says now of Christ, in order that the mode of Christ’s dwelling in us might be intimated; for as by the Spirit he consecrates us as temples to himself, so by the same he dwells in us. But what we have before referred to, he now explains more fully — that the children of God are counted spiritual, not on the ground of a full and complete perfection, but only on account of the newness of life that is begun in them. And he anticipates here an occasion of doubt, which might have otherwise disturbed us; for though the Spirit possesses a part of us, we yet see another part still under the power of death. He then gives this answer — that the power of quickening is in the Spirit of Christ, which will be effectual in swallowing up our mortality. He hence concludes that we must patiently wait until the relics of sin be entirely abolished.

Readers have been already reminded, that by the word Spirit they are not to understand the soul, but the Spirit of regeneration; and Paul calls the Spirit life, not only because he lives and reigns in us, but also because he quickens us by his power, until at length, having destroyed the mortal fesh, he perfectly renews us. So, on the other hand, the word body signifies that gross mass which is not yet purified by the Spirit of God from earthly dregs, which delight in nothing but what is gross; for it would be otherwise absurd to ascribe to the body the fault of sin: besides the soul is so far from being life that it does not of itself live. The meaning of Paul then is — that although sin adjudges us to death as far as the corruption of our first nature remains in us, yet that the Spirit of God is its conqueror: nor is it any hindrance, that we are only favored with the first-fruits, for even one spark of the Spirit is the seed of life. 249249     There are mainly two explanations of this verse and the following, with some shades of difference. The one is given here; according to which “the body,” and “bodies,” are taken figuratively for nature corrupted by sin; the “body,” as it is flesh, or corrupted, is “dead,” is crucified, or doomed to die “on account of sin;” and this “body,” or these “bodies,” which are mortal, and especially so as to their corruption, are to be quickened, revived, and made subservient to the will of God. It appears that this is essentially the view taken by Chrysostom, and also by Erasmus, Locke, Marckius, and by Stuart and Barnes. It is said that νέκρον and θνητα have the same meaning with “crucified” and “destroyed,” in Romans 6:6, and “dead,” in Romans 6:7, 8, and “dead,” in Romans 6:11, and “mortal,” in Romans 6:12. And as to the meaning of ζωοποίησει, is “shall quicken,” reference is made to Colossians 2:12, 13; Ephesians 1:19, 20; Ephesians 2:5, 6. It is also added, that the words “mortify the deeds of the body,” in Romans 8:13, confirm this view.
   The other explanation, adopted by Augustine, and also by Pareus, Vitringa, Turrettin, Doddridge, Scott, Chalmers, Haldane, and Hodge, is the following, — The “body,” and “bodies,” are to be taken literally, and the spirit, in the 10th verse, is the renewed man, or the renewed soul, which has or possesses “life” through the righteousness of Christ, or is made to enjoy life through the righteousness implanted by the Spirit. The meaning then is this, “The body is dead through sin, is doomed to die because of sin; but the spirit is life through righteousness, the soul renewed has life through Christ’s righteousness: but the dying body, now tabernacled by the Spirit, shall also be quickened and made immortal through the mighty power of the divine Spirit.” Thus salvation shall be complete when the “redemption of the body” shall come. See Romans 8:23.

   While the two views are theologically correct, the latter is that which is the most consonant with the usual phraseology of Scripture, though the former seems the most suitable to the context. The subject evidently is the work of the Spirit in mortifying sin, and in bestowing and sustaining spiritual life. The inference in the next verse seems favorable to this view. — Ed.

11. If the Spirit, etc. This is a confirmation of the last verse, derived from the efficient cause, and according to this sense, — “Since by the power of God’s Spirit Christ was raised, and since the Spirit possesses eternal power, he will also exert the same with regard to us.” And he takes it as granted, that in the person of Christ was exhibited a specimen of the power which belongs to the whole body of the Church: and as he makes God the author of the resurrection, he assigns to him a life-giving Spirit.

Who raised, etc. By this periphrasis he describes God; which harmonizes better with his present object, than if he had called him simply by his own name. For the same reason he assigns to the Father the glory of raising Christ; for it more clearly proved what he had in view, than if he had ascribed the act to Christ himself. For it might have been objected, “That Christ was able by his own power to raise up himself, and this is what no man can do.” But when he says, that God raised up Christ by his Spirit, and that he also communicated his Spirit to us, there is nothing that can be alleged to the contrary; so that he thus makes sure to us the hope of resurrection. Nor is there anything here that derogates from that declaration in John,

“I have power to lay down my life, and to take it up again.”
(John 10:18.)

No doubt Christ arose through his own power; but as he is wont to attribute to the Father whatever Divine power he possesses, so the Apostle has not improperly transferred to the Father what was especially done by Christ, as the peculiar work of divinity.

By mortal bodies he understands all those things which still remain in us, that are subject to death; for his usual practice is to give this name to the grosser part of us. We hence conclude, that he speaks not of the last resurrection, which shall be in a moment, but of the continued working of the Spirit, by which he gradually mortifies the relics of the flesh and renews in us a celestial life.

12. So then, brethren, etc. This is the conclusion of what has been previously said; for if we are to renounce the flesh, we ought not to consent to it; and if the Spirit ought to reign in us, it is inconsistent not to attend to his bidding. Paul’s sentence is here defective, for he omits the other part of the contrast, — that we are debtors to the Spirit; but the meaning is in no way obscure. 251251     He did not mention the other part, says Pareus, “because it was so evident.” Besides, what he had already stated, and what he proceeds to state, are so many evidences of our obligations to live after the Spirit, that it was unnecessary to make such an addition. — Ed. This conclusion has the force of an exhortation; for he is ever wont to draw exhortations from his doctrine. So in another place, Ephesians 4:30, he exhorts us

“not to grieve the Spirit of God, by whom we have been sealed to the day of redemption:”

he does the same in Galatians 5:25,

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

And this is the case, when we renounce carnal lusts, so as to devote ourselves, as those who are bound, to the righteousness of God. Thus indeed we ought to reason, not as some blasphemers are wont to do, who talk idly, and say, — that we must do nothing, because we have no power. But it is as it were to fight against God, when we extinguish the grace offered to us, by contempt and negligence.

13. For if ye will live after the flesh, etc. He adds a threatening, in order more effectually to shake off their torpor; by which also they are fully confuted who boast of justification by faith without the Spirit of Christ, though they are more than sufficiently convicted by their own conscience; for there is no confidence in God, where there is no love of righteousness. It is indeed true, that we are justified in Christ through the mercy of God alone; but it is equally true and certain, that all who are justified are called by the Lord, that they may live worthy of their vocation. Let then the faithful learn to embrace him, not only for justification, but also for sanctification, as he has been given to us for both these purposes, lest they rend him asunder by their mutilated faith.

But if ye by the Spirit, etc. He thus moderates his address, that he might not deject the minds of the godly, who are still conscious of much infirmity; for however we may as yet be exposed to sins, he nevertheless promises life to us, provided we strive to mortify the flesh: for he does not strictly require the destruction of the flesh, but only bids us to make every exertion to subdue its lusts.

14. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, etc. This is a confirmation of what has immediately preceded; for he teaches us, that those only are deemed the sons of God who are ruled by his Spirit; for by this mark God acknowledges them as his own people. Thus the empty boasting of hypocrites is taken away, who without any reason assume the title; and the faithful are thus encouraged with unhesitating confidence to expect salvation. The import of the whole is this — “all those are the sons of God who are led 252252     Αγονται — are led or conducted: “A metaphor taken from the blind or those in darkness, who know not how to proceed without a conductor. So we have need to be led by the Spirit in the way of truth, for we are blind and see no light. Or it is a metaphor taken from infants, who can hardly walk without a guide; for the regenerated are like little children lately born. Thus we are reminded of our misery and weakness; and we ought not to ascribe to ourselves either knowledge or strength apart from the Spirit of God.” — Pareus by God’s Spirit; all the sons of God are heirs of eternal life: then all who are led by God’s Spirit ought to feel assured of eternal life. But the middle term or assumption is omitted, for it was indubitable.

But it is right to observe, that the working of the Spirit is various: for there is that which is universal, by which all creatures are sustained and preserved; there is that also which is peculiar to men, and varying in its character: but what he means here is sanctification, with which the Lord favors none but his own elect, and by which he separates them for sons to himself.

15. He now confirms the certainty of that confidence, in which he has already bidden the faithful to rest secure; and he does this by mentioning the special effect produced by the Spirit; for he has not been given for the purpose of harassing us with trembling or of tormenting us with anxiety; but on the contrary, for this end — that having calmed every perturbation, and restoring our minds to a tranquil state, he may stir us up to call on God with confidence and freedom. He does not then pursue only the argument which he had before stated, but dwells more on another clause, which he had connected with it, even the paternal mercy of God, by which he forgives his people the infirmities of the flesh and the sins which still remain in them. He teaches us that our confidence in this respect is made certain by the Spirit of adoption, who could not inspire us with confidence in prayer without sealing to us a gratuitous pardon: and that he might make this more evident, he mentions a twofold spirit; he calls one the spirit of bondage, which we receive from the law; and the other, the spirit of adoption, which proceeds from the gospel. The first, he says, was given formerly to produce fear; the other is given now to afford assurance. By such a comparison of contrary things the certainty of our salvation, which he intended to confirm, is, as you see, made more evident. 253253     By the Spirit, πνεῦμα, (without the article,) some, as Augustine, Beza, and others, understand the Holy Spirit, and so Calvin, for the most part, seems to do. Then “the Spirit of bondage” means the Spirit the effect of whose administration was bondage; and “the Spirit of adoption” must signify the Spirit, the bestower of adoption. But we may take spirit here, in both instances, as it is often taken, in the sense of disposition or feeling; according to the expression, “the spirit of meekness” — πνεύματι πρᾴοτητος, 1 Corinthians 4:21, and “the spirit of fear” — πνεῦμα δειλίας 2 Timothy 1:7. The word for adoption, υἱοθεσία, may be rendered sonship, or affiliation, or filiation, as Luther sometimes renders it: and as the Spirit of meekness means a meek spirit, so we may translate the two clauses here, “a servile spirit” and “a filial spirit.” At the same time it may be better to take the “spirit” throughout as the divine Spirit, as in several instances it must evidently be so taken. — Ed. The same comparison is used by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says, that we have not come to Mount Sinai, where all thing were so terrible, that the people, being alarmed as it were by an immediate apprehension of death, implored that the word should be no more spoken to them, and Moses himself confessed that he was terrified;

“but to Sion, the mount of the Lord, and to his city, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Jesus is, the Mediator of the New Testament,” etc. (Hebrews 12:22,24.)

By the adverb again, we learn, that the law is here compared with the gospel: for the Son of God by his coming has brought to us this invaluable benefit, — that we are no longer bound by the servile condition of the law. You are not however to infer from this, either that no one before the coming of Christ was endued with the spirit of adoption, or that all who received the law were servants and not sons: for he compares the ministration of the law with the dispensation of the gospel rather than persons with persons. I indeed allow that the faithful are here reminded how much more bountifully God now deals with them than he did formerly with the fathers under the Old Testament; he yet regards the outward dispensation, in respect of which only we excel them: for though the faith of Abraham, of Moses, and of David, was superior to ours, yet as God kept them apparently under a schoolmaster, they had not advanced into that liberty which has been revealed to us.

But it must at the same time be noticed, that it was designedly, on account of false apostles, that a contrast was made between the literal disciples of the law, and the faithful whom Christ, the heavenly Teacher, not only addresses by words, but also teaches inwardly and effectually by his Spirit.

And though the covenant of grace is included under the law, it is yet far different from it; for in setting up the gospel in opposition to it, he regards nothing but what was peculiar to the law itself, as it commands and forbids, and restrains transgressors by the denunciation of death: and thus he gives the law its own character, in which it differs from the gospel; or this statement may be preferred by some, — “He sets forth the law only, as that by which God covenants with us on the ground of works.” So then persons only must be regarded as to the Jewish people; for when the law was published, and also after it was published, the godly were illuminated by the same Spirit of faith; and thus the hope of eternal life, of which the Spirit is the earnest and seal, was sealed on their hearts. The only difference is, that the Spirit is more largely and abundantly poured forth in the kingdom of Christ. But if you regard only the dispensation of the law, it will then appear, that salvation was first clearly revealed at that time, when Christ was manifested in the flesh. All things under the Old Testament were involved in great obscurity, when compared with the clear light of the gospel.

And then, if the law be viewed in itself, it can do nothing but restrain those, devoted to its miserable bondage, by the horror of death; for it promises no good except under condition, and denounces death on all transgressors. Hence, as there is the spirit of bondage under the law, which oppresses the conscience with fear; so under the gospel there is the spirit of adoption, which exhilarates our souls by bearing a testimony as to our salvation. But observe, that fear is connected with bondage, as it cannot be otherwise, but that the law will harass and torment souls with miserable disquietness, as long as it exercises its dominion. There is then no other remedy for quieting them, except God forgives us our sin and deals kindly with us as a father with his children.

Through whom we cry, etc. He has changed the person, that he might describe the common privilege of all the saints; as though he had said, — “Ye have the spirit, through whom you and all we, the rest of the faithful, cry,” etc. The imitation of their language is very significant; when he introduces the word Father, in the person of the faithful. The repetition of the name is for the sake of amplification; for Paul intimates, that God’s mercy was so published through the whole world, that he was invoked, as Augustine observes, indiscriminately in all languages. 254254     Wolfius gives a quotation from the Talmud, by which it appears that “servants” or slaves, and “maids” or bondmaids, were not allowed among the Jews to call their master Abba (אבא), nor their mistress Aima (אימא), these being names which children alone were permitted to use. And Selden says, that there is an evident allusion in this passage to that custom among the Jews. Under the law the people of God were servants, but under the gospel they are made children; and hence the privilege of calling God Abba. Haldane, quoting Claude, gives the same explanation. The repetition of the word is for the sake of emphasis, and is given as an expression of warm, ardent, and intense feeling.. See an example of this in our Savior’s prayer in the garden, Mark 14:36, and in what he said on the cross, Matthew 27:46. The idea mentioned by Calvin, derived from the Fathers, seems not to be well founded. — Ed. His object then was to express the consent which existed among all nations. It hence follows, that there is now no difference between the Jew and the Greek, as they are united together. Isaiah speaks differently when he declares, that the language of Canaan would be common to all, (Isaiah 19:18;) yet the meaning is the same; for he had no respect to the external idiom, but to the harmony of heart in serving God, and to the same undisguised zeal in professing his true and pure worship. The word cry is set down for the purpose of expressing confidence; as though he said, “We pray not doubtingly, but we confidently raise up a loud voice to heaven.”

The faithful also under the law did indeed call God their Father, but not with such full confidence, as the vail kept them at a distance from the sanctuary: but now, since an entrance has been opened to us by the blood of Christ, we may rejoice fully and openly that we are the children of God; hence arises this crying. In short, thus is fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea,

“I will say to them, My people are ye: they in their turn will answer, Thou art our God.” (Hosea 2:23.)

For the more evident the promise is, the greater the freedom in prayer.

16. The Spirit himself, etc. He does not simply say, that God’s Spirit is a witness to our spirit, but he adopts a compound verb, which might be rendered “contest,” (contestatur,) were it not that contestation (contestatio) has a different meaning in Latin. But Paul means, that the Spirit of God gives us such a testimony, that when he is our guide and teacher, our spirit is made assured of the adoption of God: for our mind of its own self, without the preceding testimony of the Spirit, could not convey to us this assurance. There is also here an explanation of the former verse; for when the Spirit testifies to us, that we are the children of God, he at the same time pours into our hearts such confidence, that we venture to call God our Father. And doubtless, since the confidence of the heart alone opens our mouth, except the Spirit testifies to our heart respecting the paternal love of God, our tongues would be dumb, so that they could utter no prayers. For we must ever hold fast this principle, — that we do not rightly pray to God, unless we are surely persuaded in our hearts, that he is our Father, when we so call him with our lips. To this there is a corresponding part, — that our faith has no true evidence, except we call upon God. It is not then without reason that Paul, bringing us to this test, shows that it then only appears how truly any one believes, when they who have embraced the promise of grace, exercise themselves in prayers. 255255     The words αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα, seem to mean the divine Spirit. The reference is to “the Spirit of God” in Romans 8:14; “This self-same Spirit,” or, “He the Spirit,” for so αὐτὀ τὸ πνεῦμα, may be rendered, especially when the article intervenes between it and its noun. See Luke 24:15; John 16:27
   Beza renders συμμαρτυρεῖ τῶ πνεύματι ἡμῶν, “testifies together with our spirit — una cum nostro spiritu,” and the Vulqate “testifies to our spirit,” as though the verb had not its compound; and it is said to have only the simpler meaning of testifying, though compounded, in Romans 9:1; and in Revelation 22:18, where it has a dative case after it as here, “I testify to every man,” etc. The soul appears to be here called “spirit,” because the renewed soul is intended, or the soul having the spirit of adoption; or it may be an instance of the Apostle’s mode of writing, who often puts the same word twice in a sentence, but in a different meaning. The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit, say Origen and Theodoret, by producing obedience, love, and imitation of God, which are evidences of our adoption; but Chrysostom and Ambrose say, by enabling us to cry Abba, Father, according to to former verse. The latter seems to be the meaning adopted by Calvin It is said by Estius, according to Poole, that the compound verb is never used without the idea of a joint-testimony being implied, and that in Revelation 22:18, it is a testimony in conjunction with Christ. Then the import of this text would be, that the Holy Spirit testifies, together with the spirit of adoption, to our spirit, to our soul or renewed mind, that we are the children of God. Thus a direct influence of the Spirit, in addition to that which is sanctifying and filial, seems to have been intended. See 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13,14, 1 John 2:20, 27

   Professor Hodge gives this paraphrase, — “Not only does our filial spirit towards God prove that we are his children, but the Holy Spirit itself conveys to our souls the assurance of this delightful fact.” This seems to be the full and precise import of the passage. — Ed.

But there is here a striking refutation of the vain notions of the Sophists respecting moral conjecture, which is nothing else but uncertainty and anxiety of mind; nay, rather vacillation and delusion. 256256     “The [Roman] Catholic Church, with which all sects that proceed from Pelagian principles agree, deters from the certainty of the state of grace, and desires uncertainty towards God. Such uncertainty of hearts is then a convenient means to keep men in the leading-strings of the priesthood or ambitious founders of sects; for since they are not allowed to have any certainty themselves respecting their relation to God, they can only rest upon the judgments of their leaders about it, who thus rule souls with absolute dominion; the true evangelic doctrine makes free from such slavery to man. — Olshausen
   There is no doubt much truth in these remarks; but another reason may be added: Those who know not themselves what assurance is, cannot consistently teach the doctrine; and real, genuine assurance, is an elevated state, to which man, attached to merely natural principles, can never ascend. — Ed.
There is also an answer given here to their objection, for they ask, “How can a man fully know the will of God?” This certainly is not within the reach of man, but it is the testimony of God’s Spirit; and this subject he treats more at large in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, from which we may derive a fuller explanation of a passage. Let this truth then stand sure, — that no one can be called a son of God, who does not know himself to be such; and this is called knowledge by John, in order to set forth its certainty. (1 John 5:19, 20.)

17. And if children, etc. By an argument, taken from what is annexed or what follows, he proves that our salvation consists in having God as our Father. It is for children that inheritance is appointed: since God then has adopted us as his children, he has at the same time ordained an inheritance for us. He then intimates what sort of inheritance it is — that it is heavenly, and therefore incorruptible and eternal, such as Christ possesses; and his possession of it takes away all uncertainty: and it is a commendation of the exellency of this inheritance, that we shall partake of it in common with the only-begotten Son of God. It is however the design of Paul, as it will presently appear more fully, highly to extol this inheritance promised to us, that we may be contented with it, and manfully despise the allurements of the world, and patiently bear whatever troubles may press on us in this life.

If so be that we suffer together, etc. Various are the interpretations of this passage, but I approve of the following in preference to any other, “We are co-heirs with Christ, provided, in entering on our inheritance, we follow him in the same way in which he has gone before.” And he thus made mention of Christ, because he designed to pass over by these steps to an encouraging strain, — “God’s inheritance is ours, because we have by his grace been adopted as his children; and that it may not be doubtful, its possession as been already conferred on Christ, whose partners we are become: but Christ came to it by the cross; then we must come to it in the same manner.” 257257     The particle εἴπερ is rendered the same as here by Ambrose and Beza, “si modo — if in case that;” but by Chrysostom and Peter Martyr, in the sense of ἐπειδὰν, “quandoquidem — since,” “since we suffer together, in order that we may also be together glorified.” The Vulgate has, “si tamen — if however.” It may be suitably rendered “provided.” — Ed. Nor is that to be dreaded which some fear, that Paul thus ascribes the cause of our eternal glory to our labours; for this mode of speaking is not unusual in Scripture. He denotes the order, which the Lord follows in dispensing salvation to us, rather than the cause; for he has already sufficiently defended the gratuitous mercy of God against the merits of works. When now exhorting us to patience, he does not show whence salvation proceeds, but how God governs his people.


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