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Life in the Spirit


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;

we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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


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.

18. I indeed judge, 258258     The particle γὰρ cannot be causal here. It has its primary meaning truly, indeed, or verily, though it has commonly its secondary meaning for, because, therefore. The context is our guide; when there is nothing previously said, for which a reason is given, then it has only an affirmative sense: or as some think, it is to be viewed as a particle of transition, or as signifying an addition, and may be rendered besides, further, moreover, perhaps this latter meaning would be suitable here. In the preceded verse the Apostle says, for the encouragement of Christians, that their conformity to Christ in suffering would terminate in conformity to him in glory: and then, as an additional consideration, he states his full conviction, that present sufferings are as nothing to the glory which they would have to enjoy. The connection can hardly be otherwise seen, except indeed we consider something understood, as, “Not only so;” and then it may be rendered for, as giving a reason for the qualifying negative. An ellipsis of this kind is not without examples in Greek authors, as well as in the New Testament. — Ed. etc. Though they take not altogether an unsuitable view who understand this as a kind of modification; yet I prefer to regard it in the light of an encouragement, for the purpose of anticipating an objection, according to this import, — “It ought not indeed to be grievous to us, if we must pass through various afflictions into celestial glory, since these, when compared with the greatness of that glory, are of the least moment.” He has mentioned future for eternal glory, intimating that the afflictions of the world are such as pass away quickly.

It is hence evident how ill understood has this passage been by the Schoolmen; for they have drawn from it their frivolous distinction between congruity and condignity. The Apostle indeed compares not the worthiness of the one with that of the other, but only lightens the heaviness of the cross by a comparison with the greatness of glory, in order to confirm the minds of the faithful in patience.

19 For the intent expectation of the creation, etc. He teaches us that there is an example of the patience, to which he had exhorted us, even in mute creatures. For, to omit various interpretations, I understand the passage to have this meaning — that there is no element and no part of the world which, being touched, as it were, with a sense of its present misery, does not intensely hope for a resurrection. He indeed lays down two things, — that all are creatures in distress, — and yet that they are sustained by hope. And it hence also appears how immense is the value of eternal glory, that it can excite and draw all things to desire it.

Further, the expression, expectation expects, or waits for, though somewhat unusual, yet has a most suitable meaning; for he meant to intimate, that all creatures, seized with great anxiety and held in suspense with great desire, look for that day which shall openly exhibit the glory of the children of God. The revelation of God’s children shall be, when we shall be like God, according to what John says,

“For though we know that we are now his sons, yet it appears not yet what we shall be.” (1 John 3:2.)

But I have retained the words of Paul; for bolder than what is meet is the version of Erasmus, “Until the sons of God shall be manifest;” nor does it sufficiently express the meaning of the Apostle; for he means not, that the sons of God shall be manifested in the last day, but that it shall be then made known how desirable and blessed their condition will be, when they shall put off corruption and put on celestial glory. But he ascribes hope to creatures void of reason for this end, — that the faithful may open their eyes to behold the invisible life, though as yet it lies hid under a mean garb.

20. For to vanity has the creation, etc. He shows the object of expectation from what is of an opposite character; for as creatures, being now subject to corruption, cannot be restored until the sons of God shall be wholly restore; hence they, longing for their renewal, look forward to the manifestation of the celestial kingdom. He says, that they have been subjected to vanity, and for this reason, because they abide not in a constant and durable state, but being as it were evanescent and unstable, they pass away swiftly; for no doubt he sets vanity in opposition to a perfect state.

Not willingly, etc. Since there is no reason in such creatures, their will is to be taken no doubt for their natural inclination, according to which the whole nature of things tends to its own preservation and perfection: whatever then is detained under corruption suffers violence, nature being unwilling and repugnant. But he introduces all parts of the world, by a sort of personification, as being endued with reason; and he does this in order to shame our stupidity, when the uncertain fluctuation of this world, which we see, does not raise our minds to higher things.

But on account of him, etc. He sets before us an example of obedience in all created things, and adds, that it springs from hope; for hence comes the alacrity of the sun and moon, and of all the stars in their constant courses, hence is the sedulity of the earth’s obedience in bringing forth fruits, hence is the unwearied motion of the air, hence is the prompt tendency to flow in water. God has given to everything its charge; and he has not only by a distinct order commanded what he would to be done, but also implanted inwardly the hope of renovation. For in the sad disorder which followed the fall of Adam, the whole machinery of the world would have instantly become deranged, and all its parts would have failed had not some hidden strength supported them. It would have been then wholly inconsistent that the earnest of the Spirit should be less efficacious in the children of God than hidden instinct in the lifeless parts of creation. How much soever then created things do naturally incline another way; yet as it has pleased God to bring them under vanity, they obey his order; and as he has given them a hope of a better condition, with this they sustain themselves, deferring their desire, until the incorruption promised to them shall be revealed. He now, by a kind of personification, ascribes hope to them, as he did will before.

21. Because the creation itself, etc. He shows how the creation has in hope been made subject to vanity; that is, inasmuch as it shall some time be made free, according to what Isaiah testifies, and what Peter confirms still more clearly. It is then indeed meet for us to consider what a dreadful curse we have deserved, since all created things in themselves blameless, both on earth and in the visible heaven, undergo punishment for our sins; for it has not happened through their own fault, that they are liable to corruption. Thus the condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and on the earth, and on all creatures. It hence also appears to what excelling glory the sons of God shall be exalted; for all creatures shall be renewed in order to amplify it, and to render it illustrious.

But he means not that all creatures shall be partakers of the same glory with the sons of God; but that they, according to their nature, shall be participators of a better condition; for God will restore to a perfect state the world, now fallen, together with mankind. But what that perfection will be, as to beasts as well as plants and metals, it is not meet nor right in us to inquire more curiously; for the chief effect of corruption is decay. Some subtle men, but hardly sober-minded, inquire whether all kinds of animals will be immortal; but if reins be given to speculations where will they at length lead us? Let us then be content with this simple doctrine, — that such will be the constitution and the complete order of things, that nothing will be deformed or fading.

22. For we know, etc. He repeats the same sentiment, that he might pass over to us, though what is now said has the effect and the form of a conclusion; for as creatures are subject to corruption, not through their natural desire, but through the appointment of God, and then, as they have a hope of being hereafter freed from corruption, it hence follows, that they groan like a woman in travail until they shall be delivered. But it is a most suitable similitude; it shows that the groaning of which he speaks will not be in vain and without effect; for it will at length bring forth a joyful and blessed fruit. The meaning is, that creatures are not content in their present state, and yet that they are not so distressed that they pine away without a prospect of a remedy, but that they are as it were in travail; for a restoration to a better state awaits them. By saying that they groan together, he does not mean that they are united together by mutual anxiety, but he joins them as companions to us. The particle hitherto, or, to this day, serves to alleviate the weariness of daily languor; for if creatures have continued for so many ages in their groaning, how inexcusable will our softness or sloth be if we faint during the short course of a shadowy life. 259259     The various opinions which have been given on these verses are referred to at some length by Stuart; and he enumerates not less than eleven, but considers only two as entitled to special attention — the material creation, animate and inanimate, as held here by Calvin, and the rational creation, including mankind, with the exception of Christians, which he himself maintains. In favor of the first he names Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Œcumenius, Jerome, Ambrose, Luther, Koppe, Doddridge, (this is not correct,) Flatt, and Tholuck; to whom may be added Scott, Haldane, and Chalmers, though Scott, rather inconsistently with the words of the text, if the material creation including animals be meant, regards as a reverie their resurrection; see Romans 8:21.
   After a minute discussion of various points, Stuart avows his preference to the opinion, that the creature” means mankind in general, as being the least liable to objections; and he mentions as its advocates Lightfoot, Locke, Turrettin, Semler, Rosenmüller, and others. He might have added Augustine. Reference is made for the meaning of the word “creature” to Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23; and 1 Peter 2:13.

   It appears from Wolfius, that the greater part of the Lutheran and Reformed Divines have entertained the first opinion, that the “creature” means the world, rational and animal; to which he himself mainly accedes; and what he considers next to this, as the most tenable, is the notion, that the “creature” means the faithful, that “the sons of God” are the blessed in heaven, and that the Apostles and apostolic men were those who enjoyed “the first-fruits of the Spirit.”

   This last opinion relieves us from difficulties which press on all other expositions; and it may be extricated from objections which have been made to it; only the last sentence needs not be introduced. The whole passage, from Romans 8:18 to the end of Romans 8:25, is in character with the usual style of the Apostle. He finishes the first part with Romans 8:22; and then in the second part he announces the same thing in a different form, in more explicit terms, and with some additions. The “waiting” in Romans 8:19, has a correspondent “waiting” in Romans 8:23; and “the hope” in Romans 8:20, has another “hope” to correspond with it in Romans 8:24; and correspondent too is “the manifestation of the sons of God” in verse 19, and “the redemption of our body” in Romans 8:23. To reiterate the same truth in a different way was to make a deeper impression, and accordant with the Apostles manner of writing. He begins the second time, after Romans 8:22, in which is stated the condition of the whole world; and it is in contrast with that alone that Romans 8:23 is to be viewed, which restates and explains what had been previously said, so that “the creature” are the “we ourselves;” and the Apostle proceeds with the subject to end of the 25th verse. Instances of the same sort of arrangement are to be found in Romans 2:17-24; Romans 11:33-36.

   Romans 8:21 may be considered as an explanation only of the “hope,” at the end of Romans 8:20; “For even it, the creature,” though subjected to vanity, “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption;” which means the same as “this body of death,” in Romans 7:24.

   The word κτίσις, means, 1. creation, the world, Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; Romans 1:20; 2 Peter 3:4: — 2, what is created — creature, what is formed — a building, what is instituted — an ordinance, Romans 1:25; 8:39; Hebrews 4:13; Hebrews 9:11; 1 Peter 2:13: — 3, mankind, the world of men, Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23: — 4, the renewed man, or renewed nature — Christians, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15. There are only two other places where it is found, and is rendered in our version “creation,” Colossians 1:15, and Revelation 3:14

   It is objected to its application here to Christians, because where it has this meaning, it is preceded by καινὴ, new. The same objection stands against applying it to mankind in general, for in these instances push precedes it. Its meaning must be gathered from the whole passage, and we must not stop at the end of verse 23, but include the two following verses. — Ed.

23. And not only so, etc. There are those who think that the Apostle intended here to exalt the dignity of our future blessedness, and by this proof, because all things look for it with ardent desire; not only the irrational parts of creation, but we also who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God. This view is indeed capable of being defended, but there seems to me to be a comparison here between the greater and the less; as though he said, “The excellency of our glory is of such importance even to the very elements, which are destitute of mind and reason, that they burn with a certain kind of desire for it; how much more it behoves us, who have been illuminated by the Spirit of God, to aspire and strive with firmness of hope and with ardour of desire, after the attainment of so great a benefit.” And he requires that there should be a feeling of two kinds in the faithful: that being burdened with the sense of their present misery, they are to groan; and that notwithstanding they are to wait patiently for their deliverance; for he would have them to be raised up with the expectation of their future blessedness, and by an elevation of mind to overcome all their present miseries, while they consider not what they are now, but what they are to be.

Who have the beginnings, etc. Some render the word first-fruits, (primitias,) and as meaning a rare and uncommon excellency; but of this view I by no means approve. To avoid, therefore, any ambiguity, I have rendered the word beginnings, (primordia, the elements,) for I do not apply the expression, as they do, to the Apostles only, but to all the faithful who in this world are besprinkled only with a few drops by the Spirit; and indeed when they make the greatest proficiency, being endued with a considerable measure of it, they are still far off from perfection. These, then, in the view of the Apostle, are beginnings or first-fruits, to which is opposed the complete ingathering; for as we are not yet endued with fullness, it is no wonder that we feel disquietude. By repeating ourselves and adding in ourselves, he renders the sentence more emphatical, and expresses a more ardent desire, nor does he call it only a desire, but groaning: for in groaning there is a deep feeling of misery.

Waiting for the adoption, etc. Improperly indeed, but not without the best reason, is adoption employed here to designate the fruition of the inheritance to which we are adopted; for Paul means this, that the eternal decree of God, by which he has chosen us to himself as sons before the foundation of the world, of which he testifies to us in the gospel, the assurance of which he seals on our hearts by his Spirit, would be void, except the promised resurrection were certain, which is its consummation. 260260     The impropriety, which Calvin notices, is according to the usual phraseology of Scripture. What commences in this world and is completed the next is called by the same name. The word salvation is used in this way as designating its commencement and its progress as well as its completion. Besides, adoption here has a particular regard to the body, as it is explained the words which follow — Ed. For to what end is God our Father, except he receives us after we have finished our earthly pilgrimage into his celestial inheritance? To the same purpose is what he immediately subjoins, the redemption of the body. For the price of our redemption was in such a way paid by Christ, that death should notwithstanding hold us tied by its chains, yea, that we should carry it within us; it hence follows, that the sacrifice of the death of Christ would be in vain and fruitless, except its fruit appeared in our heavenly renovation.

24. For by hope, etc. Paul strengthens his exhortation by another argument; for our salvation cannot be separated from some kind of death, and this he proves by the nature of hope. Since hope extends to things not yet obtained, and represents to our minds the form of things hidden and far remote, whatever is either openly seen or really possessed, is not an object of hope. But Paul takes it as granted, and what cannot be denied, that as long as we are in the world, salvation is what is hoped for; it hence follows, that it is laid up with God far beyond what we can see. By saying, that hope is not what is seen, he uses a concise expression, but the meaning is not obscure; for he means simply to teach us, that since hope regards some future and not present good, it can never be connected with what we have in possession. If then it be grievous to any to groan, they necessarily subvert the order laid down by God, who does not call his people to victory before he exercises them in the warfare of patience. But since it has pleased God to lay up our salvation, as it were, in his closed bosom, it is expedient for us to toil on earth, to be oppressed, to mourn, to be afflicted, yea, to lie down as half-dead and to be like the dead; for they who seek a visible salvation reject it, as they renounce hope which has been appointed by God as its guardian. 261261     When we are said to be saved by hope, the meaning is that we are not fully or perfectly saved now, and that this is what we hope for. “Eternal salvation,” says Grotius, “we have not yet, but we hope for it.” There is present salvation, but that which is perfect is future. The Scripture speaks of salvation now, see Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:4, 5; and of salvation as future, see Mark 13:13; John 10:9. — Ed.

25. If then what we see not, etc. This is an argument derived from what the antecedent implies; for patience necessarily follows hope. For when it is grievous to be without the good you may desire, unless you sustain and comfort yourselves with patience, you must necessarily faint through despair. Hope then ever draws patience with it. Thus it is a most apt conclusion — that whatever the gospel promises respecting the glory of the resurrection, vanishes away, except we spend our present life in patiently bearing the cross and tribulations. For if life be invisible, we must have death before our eyes: if glory be invisible, then our present state is that of degradation. And hence if you wish to include in a few words the meaning of the whole passage, arrange Paul’s arguments in this way, “To all the godly there is salvation laid up in hope; it is the character of hope to look forward to future and absent benefits: then the salvation of the faithful is not visible. Now hope is not otherwise sustained than by patience; then the salvation of the faithful is not to be consummated except by patience.”

It may be added, that we have here a remarkable passage, which shows, that patience is an inseparable companion of faith; and the reason of this is evident, for when we console ourselves with the hope of a better condition, the feeling of our present miseries is softened and mitigated, so that they are borne with less difficulty. 262262     “Patience,” says Pareus, “is needful for three reasons, — the good expected is absent, — there is delay, — and many difficulties intervene.” — Ed.

26. And likewise the Spirit, etc. That the faithful may not make this objection — that they are so weak as not to be able to bear so many and so heavy burdens, he brings before them the aid of the Spirit, which is abundantly sufficient to overcome all difficulties. There is then no reason for any one to complain, that the bearing of the cross is beyond their own strength, since we are sustained by a celestial power. And there is great force in the Greek word συναντιλαμβάνεται, which means that the Spirit takes on himself a part of the burden, by which our weakness is oppressed; so that he not only helps and succours us, but lifts us up; as though he went under the burden with us. 264264     Pareus says, that this verb is taken metaphorically from assistance afforded to infants not able to support themselves, or to the sick, tottering and hardly able to walk.
   “Coopitulatur“ is Calvin Latin — co-assist,” Beza’suna sublevat — lifts up together,” that is, together with those who labor under infirmities. The Vulgate has “adjuvat — helps,” like our version. Schleusner says, that it means to succor those whose strength is unequal to carry their burden alone. It is found in one other place, Luke 10:40. It is given by the Septuagint in Psalm 89:21, for אמף — “to strengthen, to invigorate,” and in Exodus 18:22, for נשא אתך — “to bear with,” that is, “a burden with thee,” — the very idea that it seems to have here — Ed.
The word infirmities, being in the plural number, is expressive of extremity. For as experience shows, that except we are supported by God’s hands, we are soon overwhelmed by innumerable evils, Paul reminds us, that though we are in every respect weak, and various infirmities threaten our fall, there is yet sufficient protection in God’s Spirit to preserve us from falling, and to keep us from being overwhelmed by any mass of evils. At the same time these supplies of the Spirt more clearly prove to us, that it is by God’s appointment that we strive, by groanings and sighings, for our redemption.

For what we should pray for, etc. He had before spoken of the testimony of the Spirit, by which we know that God is our Father, and on which relying, we dare to call on him as our Father. He now again refers to the second part, invocation, and says, that we are taught by the same Spirit how to pray, and what to ask in our prayers. And appropriately has he annexed prayers to the anxious desires of the faithful; for God does not afflict them with miseries, that they may inwardly feed on hidden grief, but that they may disburden themselves by prayer, and thus exercise their faith.

At the same time I know, that there are various expositions of this passage; 265265     The opinions of Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Origen, are given by Pareus; and they are all different, and not much to the purpose. The view which Augustine gives is materially what is stated here. He gives a causative sense to the verb in the next clause, “Interpellare nos facit — he causes us to ask.” — Ed. but Paul seems to me to have simply meant this, — That we are blind in our addresses to God; for though we feel our evils, yet our minds are more disturbed and confused than that they can rightly choose what is meet and expedient. If any one makes this objection — that a rule is prescribed to us in God’s word; to this I answer, that our thoughts nevertheless continue oppressed with darkness, until the Spirit guides them by his light.

But the Spirit himself intercedes, 266266     “Intercedit — ὑπερεντυγχάνει — abundantly intercedes,” for so ὑπερ, prefixed to verbs, is commonly rendered. This is the proper action of an advocate, a name given to the Spirit by our Savior, ἄλλον παράκλητον — “another advocate,” not “comforter,” as in our version, and Christ is called by the same name in 1 John 2:1, and the same work, “interceding,” is ascribed to him, Hebrews 7:25. But we learn in John 14:16, that the Spirit is an advocate with us — “that he may abide with you for ever;” and in 1 John 2:1, that Christ is an advocate in heaven — “with the Father.” The same name and a similar kind of work are ascribed to both. Some, as Doddridge, to avoid the blending the offices of the two, have rendered the verb here by a different term, but not wisely. — Ed. etc. Though really or by the event it does not appear that our prayers have been heard by God, yet Paul concludes, that the presence of the celestial favor does already shine forth in the desire for prayer; for no one can of himself give birth to devout and godly aspirations. The unbelieving do indeed blab out their prayers, but they only trifle with God; for there is in them nothing sincere, or serious, or rightly formed. Hence the manner of praying aright must be suggested by the Spirit: and he calls those groanings unutterable, into which we break forth by the impulse of the Spirit, for this reason — because they far exceed the capability of our own minds. 267267     Or, “the comprehension of our mind — ingenii nostri captum.” Schleusner says, that the word ἀλάητος, has been improperly rendered ineffable or unutterable, and that the word to express such an idea is ἀνεκλάλητος, (1 Peter 1:8,) and that from the analogy of the Greek language it must mean, “what is not uttered or spoken by the mouth;” and he gives ἀκίνητον, “what is not moved,” as an instance Bos and Grotius give the same meaning, “sine voce — without voice;” and the latter says, that this was expressly said, because the Jews entertained a notion that there could be no prayer except it was expressed by the lips. It is however considered by most to have the meaning given here, “inutterable,” or ineffable or inexpressible. — Ed. And the Spirit is said to intercede, not because he really humbles himself to pray or to groan, but because he stirs up in our hearts those desires which we ought to entertain; and he also affects our hearts in such a way that these desires by their fervency penetrate into heaven itself. And Paul has thus spoken, that he might more significantly ascribe the whole to the grace of the Spirit. We are indeed bidden to knock; but no one can of himself premeditate even one syllable, except God by the secret impulse of his Spirit knocks at our door, and thus opens for himself our hearts.

27. But he who searches hearts, etc. This is a remarkable reason for strengthening our confidence, that we are heard by God when we pray through his Spirit, for he thoroughly knows our desires, even as the thoughts of his own Spirit. And here must be noticed the suitableness of the word to know; for it intimates that God regards not these emotions of the Spirit as new and strange, or that he rejects them as unreasonable, but that he allows them, and at the same time kindly accepts them, as allowed and approved by him. As then Paul had before testified, that God then aids us when he draws us as it were into his own bosom, so now he adds another consolation, that our prayers, of which he is the director, shall by no means be disappointed. The reason also is immediately added, because he thus conforms us to his own will. It hence follows, that in vain can never be what is agreeable to his will, by which all things are ruled. Let us also hence learn, that what holds the first place in prayer is consent with the will of the Lord, whom our wishes do by no means hold under obligation. If then we would have our prayers to be acceptable to God, we must pray that he may regulate them according to his will.

28. And we know, etc. He now draws this conclusion from what had been said, that so far are the troubles of this life from hindering our salvation, that, on the contrary, they are helps to it. It is no objection that he sets down an illative particle, for it is no new thing with him to make somewhat an indiscriminate use of adverbs, and yet this conclusion includes what anticipates an objection. For the judgment of the flesh in this case exclaims, that it by no means appears that God hears our prayers, since our afflictions continue the same. Hence the Apostle anticipates this and says, that though God does not immediately succour his people, he yet does not forsake them, for by a wonderful contrivance he turns those things which seem to be evils in such a way as to promote their salvation. If any one prefers to read this verse by itself, as though Paul proceeded to a new argument in order to show that adversities which assist our salvation, ought not to be borne as hard and grievous things, I do not object. At the same time, the design of Paul is not doubtful: “Though the elect and the reprobate are indiscriminately exposed to similar evils, there is yet a great, difference; for God trains up the faithful by afflictions, and thereby promotes their salvation.”

But we must remember that Paul speaks here only of adversities, as though he had said, “All things which happen to the saints are so overruled by God, that what the world regards as evil, the issue shows to be good.” For though what Augustine says is true, that even the sins of the saints are, through the guiding providence of God, so far from doing harm to them, that, on the contrary, they serve to advance their salvation; yet this belongs not to this passage, the subject of which is the cross.

It must also be observed, that he includes the whole of true religion in the love of God, as on it depends the whole practice of righteousness.

Even to them who according to his purpose, etc. This clause seems to have been added as a modification, lest any one should think that the faithful, because they love God, obtain by their own merit the advantage of deriving such fruit from their adversities. We indeed know that when salvation is the subject, men are disposed to begin with themselves, and to imagine certain preparations by which they would anticipate the favor of God. Hence Paul teaches us, that those whom he had spoken of as loving God, had been previously chosen by him. For it is certain that the order is thus pointed out, that we may know that it proceeds from the gratuitous adoption of God, as from the first cause, that all things happen to the saints for their salvation. Nay, Paul shows that the faithful do not love God before they are called by him, as in another place he reminds us that the Galatians were known of God before they knew him. (Galatians 4:9.) It is indeed true what Paul intimates, that afflictions avail not to advance the salvation of any but of those who love God; but that saying of John is equally true, that then only he is begun to be loved by us, when he anticipates us by his gratuitous love.

But the calling of which Paul speaks here, has a wide meaning, for it is not to be confined to the manifestation of election, of which mention is presently made, but is to be set simply in opposition to the course pursued by men; as though Paul had said, — “The faithful attain not religion by their own efforts, but are, on the contrary led by the hand of God, inasmuch as he has chosen them to be a peculiar people to himself.” The word purpose distinctly excludes whatever is imagined to be adduced mutually by men; as though Paul had denied, that the causes of our election are to be sought anywhere else, except in the secret good pleasure of God; which subject is more fully handled in the first chapter to the Ephesians, and in the first of the Second Epistle to Timothy; where also the contrast between this purpose and human righteousness is more distinctly set forth. 268268     Hammond has a long note on the expression, κατὰ πρόθεσιν and quotes Cyril of Jerusalem, Clemens of Alexandria, and Theophylact, as rendering the words, “according to their purpose,” that is, those who love God, — a construction of itself strange, and wholly alien to the whole tenor of the passage, and to the use of the word in most other instances. Paul has never used the word, except in one instance, (2 Timothy 3:10,) but with reference to God’s purpose or decree, — see Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9. It seems that Chrysostom, Origen, Theodoret, and other Fathers, have given the same singularly strange explanation. But in opposition to these, Poole mentions Ambrose, Augustine, and even Jerome, as regarding “the purpose” here as that of God: in which opinion almost all modern Divines agree.
   Grotius very justly observes, that κλητοὶ, the called, according to the language of Paul, mean those who obey the call, (qui vocanti obediunt) and refers to Romans 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 17:14. And Stuart says that the word has this meaning throughout the New Testament, except in two instances, Matthew 20:16. and Matthew 22:14, where it means, invited. He therefore considers it as equivalent to ἔκλεκτοι, chosen, elected, or true Christians. — Ed.
Paul, however, no doubt made here this express declaration, — that our salvation is based on the election of God, in order that he might make a transition to that which he immediately subjoined, namely, that by the same celestial decree, the afflictions, which conform us to Christ, have been appointed; and he did this for the purpose of connecting, as by a kind of necessary chain, our salvation with the bearing of the cross.

29. For whom he has foreknown, etc. He then shows, by the very order of election, that the afflictions of the faithful are nothing else than the manner by which they are conformed to the image of Christ; and that this was necessary, he had before declared. There is therefore no reason for us to be grieved, or to think it hard and grievous, that we are afflicted, unless we disapprove of the Lord’s election, by which we have been foreordained to life, and unless we are unwilling to bear the image of the Son of God, by which we are to be prepared for celestial glory.

But the foreknowledge of God, which Paul mentions, is not a bare prescience, as some unwise persons absurdly imagine, but the adoption by which he had always distinguished his children from the reprobate. 269269     Much controversy has been about the meaning of the verb προέγνω, in this place. Many of the Fathers, such as Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theodoret, regarded it in the sense of simple prescience, as having reference to those who would believe and obey the gospel. The verb is found only in this place, and in the following passages, Romans 11:2; Acts 26:5; 1 Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:17. In the second, and in the last passage, it signifies merely a previous knowledge or acquaintance, and refers to men. In 1 Peter 1:20, it is applied to Christ as having been “foreordained,” according to our version, “before the foundation of the world.” In this Epistle, Romans 11:2, it refers to God, — “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew;” and according to the context, it means the same as elected; for the Apostle speaks of what God did “according to the election of grace,” and not according to foreseen faith.
   The noun derived from it is found in two places, Acts 2:23, and 1 Peter 1:2. In the first it evidently means decree, foreordination, and in the second, the same; where it is said, that those addressed by the Apostle were elected, “according to the foreknowledge of God, κατὰ πρόγνωσιν Θεοῦ, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience;” they were not then elected, according to God’s foreknowledge or foreordination, because of their obedience. This entirely subverts the gloss put on the verb in this passage.

   The usual meaning given to the verb here is fore-approved, or chosen. Grotius, Turrettin, and others, consider that γινώσκω has the same meaning with the verb ידע, in Hebrew, which is sometimes that of approving or favoring, or regarding with love and approbation. So the compound verb may be rendered here, “whom he fore-approved, or foreknew,” as the objects of his choice: and this idea is what alone comports with the rest of the passage.

   Stuart prefers another meaning, and that which it seems to have in 1 Peter 1:20, “foreordained.” He says that γινώσκω means sometimes to will, to determine, to ordain, to decree, and brings examples from Josephus, Plutarch, and Polybius. Then the compound verb would be here, “whom he foreordained,” or foredetermined. — Ed.
In the same sense Peter says, that the faithful had been elected to the sanctification of the Spirit according to the foreknowledge of God. Hence those, to whom I have alluded, foolishly draw this inference, — That God has elected none but those whom he foresaw would be worthy of his grace. Peter does not in deed flatter the faithful, as though every one had been elected on account of his merit; but by reminding them of the eternal counsel of God, he wholly deprives them of all worthiness. So Paul does in this passage, who repeats by another word what he had said before of God’s purpose. It hence follows, that this knowledge is connected with God’s good pleasure; for he foreknew nothing out of himself, in adopting those whom he was pleased to adopt; but only marked out those whom he had purposed to elect.

The verb προορίζειν, which some translate, to predestinate, is to be understood according to what this passage requires; for Paul only meant, that God had so determined that all whom he has adopted should bear the image of Christ; nor has he simply said, that they were to be conformed to Christ, but to the image of Christ, that he might teach us that there is in Christ a living and conspicuous exemplar, which is exhibited to God’s children for imitation. The meaning then is, that gratuitous adoption, in which our salvation consists, is inseparable from the other decree, which determines that we are to bear the cross; for no one can be an heir of heaven without being conformed to the image of the only-begotten Son of God.

That he may be, or, that he might be, the first-born, etc.; for the Greek infinitive, εἶναι, may be rendered in these two ways; but I prefer the first rendering. But in mentioning Christ’s primogeniture, Paul meant only to express this, — that since Christ possesses a pre-eminence among the children of God, he is rightly given to us as a pattern, so that we ought to refuse nothing which he has been pleased to undergo. Hence, that the celestial Father may in every way bear testimony to the authority and honor which he has conferred on his own Son, he will have all those whom he adopts to be the heirs of his kingdom, to be conformed to his example. Though indeed the condition of the godly is apparently various, as there is a difference between the members of the same body, there is yet a connection between every one and his own head. As then the first-born sustains the name of the family, so Christ is placed in a state of pre-eminence not only that he might excel in honor among the faithful, but also that he might include all under him himself under the common name of brotherhood.

30. And whom he has foredetermined, (præfinivit,) them has he also called, etc. That he might now by a clearer proof show how true it is that a conformity with the humiliating state of Christ is for our good, he adopts a graduating process, by which he teaches us, that a participation of the cross is so connected with our vocation, justification, and, in short, with our future glory, that they can by no means be separated.

But that readers may better understand the Apostle’s meaning, it may be well to repeat what I have already said, — that the word foredetermine does not refer to election, but to that purpose or decree of God by which he has ordained that the cross is to be borne by his people; and by declaring that they are now called, he intimates, that God had not kept concealed what he had determined respecting them, but had made it known, that they might resignedly and humbly submit to the condition allotted to them; for calling here is to be distinguished from secret election, as being posterior to it. That none then may make this objection — that it appears to no one what lot God has appointed for him, the Apostle says, that God by his calling bears an evident testimony respecting his hidden purpose. But this testimony is not only found in the outward preaching of the gospel, but it has also the power of the Spirit connected with it; for the elect are there spoken of, whom God not only addresses by the outward word, but whom he also inwardly draws.

Justification may fitly be extended to the unremitted continuance of God’s favor, from the time of our calling to the hour of death; but as Paul uses this word throughout the Epistle, for gratuitous imputation of righteousness, there is no necessity for us to deviate from this meaning. What Paul indeed had in view was to show that a more precious compensation is offered to us, than what ought to allow us to shun afflictions; for what is more desirable than to be reconciled to God, so that our miseries may no longer be tokens of a curse, nor lead us to ruin?

He then immediately adds, that those who are now pressed down by the cross shall be glorified; so that their sorrows and reproaches shall bring them no loss. Though glorification is not yet exhibited except in our Head, yet as we in a manner behold in him our inheritance of eternal life, his glory brings to us such assurance respecting our own glory, that our hope may be justly compared to a present possession.

We may add, that Paul, imitating the style of the Hebrew language, adopts in these verbs the past instead of the present tense. 270270     Turrettin gives somewhat a different reason: “Paul speaks of these things as past, because they are as already done in God’s decree, and in order to show the certainty of their accomplishment.” A continued act is no doubt what is meant, according to this import, “Those whom God now, consistently with his purpose, exercises under the cross, are called and justified, that they may have a hope of salvation, so that nothing of their glory decays during their humiliation; for though their present miseries deform it before the world, yet before God and angels it always shines forth as perfect.” What Paul then means by this gradation is, That the afflictions of the faithful, by which they are now humbled, are intended for this end — that the faithful, having obtained the glory of the celestial kingdom, may reach the glory of Christ’s resurrection, with whom they are now crucified.

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