An Exegetical Commentary
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 21 August 2010; Revised 19 September 2021
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of used in this chapter commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Other Scripture quotations may be taken from different Bible versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of this chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Links to other ancient Jewish literature may be found at EarlyJewishWritings.com.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). The meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB," found online at BibleHub.com. Explanation of Greek grammatical forms and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance reference numbers are identified with "SH" for Hebrew and "SG" for Greek.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).
Pneumatology: Torah of the Spirit, 7:7–8:39 (cont.)
Torah of the Spirit, 8:1-8
The Indwelling Spirit, 8:9-11
Obligation of Freedom, 8:12-17
The Longing of Creation, 8:18-25
The Sovereign Care of God, 8:26-30
Hymn of Assurance, 8:31-39
Torah of the Spirit, 8:1-8
1― Therefore there is now no condemnation to those in Messiah Yeshua.
Therefore: Grk. ara, conj., a marker of inference based on a preceding matter or statement; so, then, therefore. there is: The Greek text of the verse contains no verb, so these words are inserted for clarity. now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. no: Grk. oudeis, adj., a powerful negating particle that rules out by definition and leaves no exceptions; no, no one, none, nothing. condemnation: Grk. katakrima, the exact sentence of condemnation handed down after due process and establishing guilt (HELPS). There is no longer any condemnation from the Torah (Stern). This is a present reality, not something to be anticipated at the final judgment. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun.
in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in," "within" or "among." Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah. For a discussion of the Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
This exact phrase, en christō iēsou, occurs in 44 verses of the Besekh, all in Paul's writings, including 8 times in Romans (3:24; 6:11, 23; 8:1, 2, 39; 15:17; 16:3). Paul's frequent usage of the phrase, very Jewish in the nature of expression, probably owes to the divine revelation on the highway to Damascus (cf. Gal 1:12). The phrase functions primarily as a reference to the disciple's identification and personal relationship with the Messiah, but other times the idiom may refer to Messiah as the source of a particular spiritual benefit (e.g., Rom 3:24) or as a simple reference to the person of Yeshua (e.g., Rom 15:17).
As a phrase of identification "in Messiah Yeshua" functions as shorthand for being immersed into Yeshua's death and resurrection (6:3-11) (Shulam). Thus, there is no condemnation for those who have bound themselves to Yeshua. In addition, being in the Jewish Messiah implies accepting the inviolable relationship between God and the Jewish people with all its covenantal promises.
2― For the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Paul proceeds to present the doctrine of the "Two Ways," or "Two Spirits," or "Two Masters" (Shulam). For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction could have an explanatory use here, but just as likely an inferential use. The conjunction occurs 17 times in this chapter and is used to introduce propositions that are built on previous propositions of truth.
the Torah: Grk. ho nomos (from nemō, distribute; 'that which is generally recognized as customary') may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified instruction, i.e. laws given to Israel. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX nomos often translates Heb. torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" (BDB 435f), first in Genesis 26:5. The CJB appropriately translates nomos here as "Torah." The common translation of "law" seems intended to introduce an unnecessary tension between Yeshua and Moses.
of the Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma, wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In the LXX pneuma translates Heb. ruach (Resh-Vav-Chet, SH-7307), which is first used for the Spirit of God (Gen 1:2), then breath (Gen 6:17), and wind (Gen 8:1) (DNTT 3:690). In the Besekh pneuma is used primarily for the Holy Spirit, including 30 times in Romans.
of life: Grk. ho zōē, the state of being alive in contrast with being dead. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of physical existence on planet earth in the presence age, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity. In the LXX zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses. The phrase "the Spirit of Life" alludes to the spiritual life given by the Holy Spirit to those dead in trespasses and sins (cf. John 3:5-8; 6:63; 2Cor 3:6; Eph 2:4-5).
in: Grk. en, prep. Messiah: Grk. Christos; the Messiah. See the previous verse. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, Yeshua. See the previous verse. Paul clarifies that this instruction originated with Messiah Yeshua who promised the provision of the Holy Spirit for his disciples (John 3:34; 7:39; 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:13; 20:22). The "law of the Spirit" expresses the purpose to live a life that is pleasing to God and as a result enjoy that kind of life that He wants to give us. "Life" is not simply living forever, but the abundant life Yeshua promised in John 10:10. The Torah of the Spirit is the Spirit-enabled obedience of God's commandments as promised in the New Covenant.
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares ADONAI, "I will put My Torah within them and on their hearts I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Jer 31:33 BR)
"And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will take the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to keep My judgments." (Ezek 36:26-27 BR)
has set you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. See the Textual Note below. The singular pronoun could denote the congregation of disciples as a whole or the individual who is in Messiah Yeshua. free: Grk. eleutheroō (from eluetheros, free, delivered from obligation), aor., to liberate, to set free from bondage. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation; from, away from. the law: Grk. ho nomos. Here nomos introduces a principle derived from the Torah. of sin: Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh.
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. of death: Grk. ho thanatos, death, which may be used (1) of natural death; (2) of death as a penalty; (3) of the manner of death; (4) fig. of death as a personification; (4) fig. of spiritual death; and (5) fig. of eternal death (BAG). The second meaning is intended here of death as a consequence of sinning.
This phrase reiterates the principle derived from the Torah, the natural law of consequences as Paul stated in 6:23. Young notes that the Torah gives life through the Messiah, but also exposes human need and moral failure, both of which depend on human response to the divine initiative (23, 92). Another interpretation is that Sin and Death are intended to be personifications in contrast to the person of the Spirit. In Revelation the reader meets two demonic spirit-princes, Death and Hades (Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14), that have power over death and those that arrive in the Pit (cf. Ex 12:23; Jdg 9:23; Hos 13:14; 1Cor 10:10; 15:55; 2Th 2:3; Rev 6:8; 9:11; 17:8; 20:13f).
In 1Corinthians 10:10 Paul uses the personal taunt of Hosea 13:14, "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (NKJV). Yeshua conquered these two demonic princes, Death and Hades, not merely in an abstract theological sense, but in a very personal sense (Col 2:15; 1Pet 3:22). Yeshua took the "keys" formerly held by Death and Hades, which means that He alone controls the access in and out of the underworld prison (Rev 1:18; cf. 1Sam 2:6). The Lord gave His apostles the keys to the kingdom of heaven, meaning the authority to preach the good news and disciple believers in the faith, but He reserved the keys of Death and Hades to Himself.
Paul is not saying that Yeshua gave a good torah of the Spirit which produces life, in contrast with the bad torah of Moses that produces only sin and death. This interpretation not only contradicts Paul's arguments in chapters 3 and 7, but is implicitly anti-Semitic as well (Stern). The torah of the Spirit is the torah given to Moses properly apprehended by the power of the Holy Spirit in believers. The torah of Sin and Death (7:21–23) is not a God-given torah at all but an anti-torah, which may manifest itself as abandoning God's standards altogether as Yeshua prophesied (Matt 24:12; 2Cor 6:14; 1Jn 3:4) or perverting God's standards into a legalistic system of man-made religion (Matt 7:21-23; 13:41; 23:28).
Textual Note: Pronoun
Bible versions are divided over the pronoun to denote the recipient(s) of freedom. Many versions have "me" (e.g., CJB, DRA, GNB, ISV, JUB, KJV, TLB, MW, NKJV, NLV, NMB, RSV, WEB, WE, YLT). More versions have the pronoun "you" (CEB, CEV, CSB, ESV, GW, LEB, MJLT, NEB, NJB, NOG, NABRE, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, NTE, OJB, TLV, VOICE). The difference in Bible versions owes to the lack of agreement of Greek MSS.
The great majority of MSS, including Alexandrinus (5th c.), the Vulgate (405), Clement (215), Origen (254) and Athanasius (373), have Grk. egō, "me, myself" (GNT 548). However, earlier MSS, Sinaiticus (4th c.), Vaticanus (4th c.), and the Syriac (Peshitta), along with the fathers Ambrosiaster (4th c.), and Augustine (430), have su ("you, yourself"). Tertullian (220) and Chrysostom (407) have both readings. Scholars generally consider the combined witness of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus as compelling evidence.
This division over selection of the pronoun is reflected in Greek New Testament texts. The NA25 had egō, but the NA26 accepted su. which is reflected in the current NA28/UBS-4, the basis for most modern versions. Metzger points out that it was difficult for translators to decide between egō and su. Good arguments can be made for both pronouns, but su was given a "B" rating by the translation committee, meaning the text is almost certain. The choice of egō would not be appropriate because Paul is not providing a personal testimony but contrasting the Two Ways.
For: Grk. gar, conj. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See the previous verse. The term is used here of the Torah of commandments given through Moses to Israel. Paul now engages in a powerful word play, changing the nuance of meaning for the three mentions of the words "sin" and "flesh." being powerless: Grk. adunatos, adj., lacking power, incapable, powerless. Even though the Torah is spiritual (7:14), the Torah by itself cannot produce life, nor does it produce sinfulness. It simply sets forth God's expectations, as well as remedies (atonement) and punishments (death) for violations. The Torah is not God.
in: Grk. en, prep. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. it was weak: Grk. astheneō, impf., to be weak or powerless (BAG). The verb indicates that the Torah continued to be weak from its inception as already shown (Robertson). through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here.
the flesh: Grk. ho sarx, in general usage refers to being alive in an earthly or physical way, including parts of the body, a human being, or a blood relation. Sarx is also used of a condition of human perspective, which may reflect (1) human or mortal nature with its limitations apart from divine influence, (2) personal desire or (3) sinfulness. In the LXX sarx translates Heb. basar (SH-1320), first in Genesis 2:21, and has the same range of meaning (DNTT 1:672). The noun is used here to emphasize human or mortal nature, with its limitations. A few versions adopt this use of sarx with the translation of "human nature" (GNB, GW, MSG, NOG, Phillips, TPT).
The Amplified Version defines "flesh" here as "the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit." The weakness of human nature is illustrated by Yeshua's comment when he found his disciples sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:41). However, some versions interpret this first use of sarx in the verse according to the third use and have a negative translation: "sinful nature" (NLT), "sinful selves" (ERV, EXB, ICB, NCV), "selfish desires" (CEV), and "old nature" (CJB). Most versions preserve neutrality with the literal translation of "the flesh" (ESV, CSB, KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, RSV and TLV).
Paul offers a reality check. The commandments given to Israel could not of themselves produce obedience. The concept of "flesh" in Romans, considering the Jewish author, is not the sinful nature per se, but more likely akin to the concept of the yezter ra (inclination to evil"). According to the Jewish Sages Man was created with two impulses or inclinations, a deduction drawn from Genesis 2:7, which states that God formed (vayyitzer) man. The spelling of this Hebrew verb is unusual: it uses two consecutive Yods instead of the one that would be expected. The rabbis inferred that these Yods stand for the word "yetzer," which means impulse.
The existence of two Yods in vayyitzer indicates that humanity was formed with two impulses: a good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an evil impulse (the yetzer ra) (Berachot 61a). The yetzer tov is the moral conscience, the inner voice that reminds you of God's law when you consider doing something that is forbidden. To the Jewish mind the yetzer ra is not a desire to do evil, such as a desire to cause senseless harm. Rather, it is usually conceived as the self-oriented nature, the desire to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.). The yetzer ra is not necessarily bad. It was created by God, and all things created by God are good.
The Talmud notes that without the yetzer ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs. But the yetzer ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer tov. Genesis 6:5 specifically refers to the yetzer ra as an inclination to wickedness. The evil inclination is expressed there with Heb. construct yetzer machsebot libbow raq ra, "intent of the thoughts of the heart was only evil." (See the article Human Nature at the Judaism 101 website.)
God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." In the LXX the singular theos translates the plural Heb. Elohim (SH-430), when used of the true God, the God of creation (Gen 1:1). In Hebrew thought the plural form represents fullness (DNTT 2:67), which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Also, theos is not a philosophical construct for monotheism. God is a Person, and for Paul He is the God of Israel (Acts 13:17). The God of Israel is the only God there is.
having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or complete a task; send. The aorist participle would be lit. "having sent." His own: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person, lit. "of himself." Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by birth or adoption. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121), son, or son of, which is used (1) of direct paternity (Gen 3:16); (2) of a distant ancestor (Gen 32:32); or (3) fig. of having the characteristics of (2Kgs 6:32; Job 41:34; Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; Hos 10:9). This range of meaning is also used of huios in the Besekh. The reference "His Son," which occurs first in 1:3, identifies Yeshua as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies (2Sam 7:12-14; Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; Isa 9:6).
in: Grk. en, prep. likeness: Grk. homoiōma, a condition of being like; that which has been made after the likeness of something, a figure, image, likeness, i.e., resemblance, such as amounts almost to equality or identity (OGB). of sinful: Grk. hamartia. See the previous verse. The noun is used here as an adjective. flesh: Grk. sarx. The expression "sinful flesh" certainly does not imply that Yeshua or his physical body was sinful. Stern comments that God sent his Son in order to deal with sin, because sin is such a serious disturbance in creation that nothing less could overcome it.
Paul purposely uses an analogy that relies on the fact that Yeshua was a true human being. He experienced the normal weaknesses and limitations of human beings--he had to eat and sleep. He had to rely on his own two legs (and an occasional boat) to journey about the land. He needed financial support to live. He especially needed to see to his own safety to avoid being killed before his appointed day on Golgotha. However, Paul's use of homoiōma brings out "both that Jesus in his earthy career was similar to sinful men and yet not absolutely like them" (BAG 570). Yeshua remained a Divine Being.
and: Grk. kai, conj. for: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. a sin offering: Grk. hamartia. Some versions translate the phrase as "and for sin" (ASV, ESV, KJV; RSV, WEB), which may be a literal translation of the Greek, but it fails to convey the Hebraic meaning as given in other versions (CSB, NASB, NCV, NIV, and NLT). The corresponding Hebrew word chatah may refer either to sin as an act (Ex 32:31) or to a sin offering (Lev 6:10) (BDB 307). Yeshua was the unblemished Lamb of God, and he bore our sins as a sin offering. He did not become sinful in life or on the cross (cf. John 1:29; 9:16; Rom 8:3; 1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; 9:26; 1Pet 1:19; 2:24; 1Jn 3:5; Rev 5:12).
condemned: Grk. katakrinō (from kata, "down," and krinō, "to judge"), aor., to declare worthy of punishment, pronounce a verdict or condemn. The verb is primarily set in a legal or judicial context. In this case the one condemning is God, the Father, the judge of all (Ps 7:11; 2Tim 4:8; Heb 12:23). sin: Grk. hamartia. in: Grk. en. the flesh: Grk. ho sarx. Yeshua's sinless life and devotion to doing the will of the Father was a marked contrast to those about him, including his disciples. The nature of his life served to convict those about him. This clause may also refer to instances in which Yeshua confronted sinful behavior and called for people to stop sinning.
However, it is mostly likely that Paul's intention is to emphasize that both Yeshua's incarnation and his act of being a sin offering served as the means for the Father to condemn the awfulness of sin and destroy its power. Yeshua came into the world to "destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). God had no intention of tolerating sin in any form and yet he was willing to offer a substitute to satisfy His justice and deliver us from eternal condemnation.
4― so that the righteous requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, the ones not walking according to Flesh but according to the Spirit.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. the righteous requirement: Grk. ho dikaiōma, an act God approves, focusing on its "result" (Zodhiates); a concrete expression of righteousness (HELPS). Some versions translate the noun as "righteousness" (BRG, JUB, KJV, MJLT, NMB, RGT, YLT). Other versions have "righteous requirement" (CEB, ESV, ISV, MEV, MRINT, MW, NCB, NET, NIV, NKJV, TPT).
of the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See verse 3 above. Paul now makes the function of the Torah explicit (Shulam). The righteousness code in the Torah includes those commandments that prohibit harmful conduct toward others in the community or mandate conduct that strengthen the cohesiveness of families and societal relationships. The last six of the Ten Commandments are the titles of the righteousness code. Relative to the righteousness code the justice code in the Torah provides for actions to be taken by individuals and the community whenever any of the commandments were broken (e.g., Ex 22-23).
might be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj., to make full or complete, here meaning to bring to fruition or completion; complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. in: Grk. en, prep. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun designates the Body of Messiah. It's important to note that Paul is still addressing those who know the Torah (7:1). Yeshua fulfilled the Torah, not simply prophetically, but in his character and teaching, explaining the intent of God's Law and assuring its continued importance (Matt 5:17). Yeshua set the example by obeying the righteous requirements of the Torah so completely that he could be called sinless.
Following Yeshua's example (1Pet 2:21-22), God expects that the righteous requirements contained in the Torah will be fulfilled in the lives of His people, which means they will stop sinning, change their ways and live by God's standards. Paul then develops the doctrine of the Two Ways or Two Masters with a progression very similar to Psalm 1:1--first the walk (4), then the mind-set (5-7), then the dwelling (8-11) and finally the living (12-14).
the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. walking: Grk. peripateō, pres. part., to engage in pedestrian activity; but used here idiomatically of a course of behavior; follow, live by, observe, walk. In the LXX peripateō is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature, and renders Heb. halak (to go, come or walk), which is used fig. of how one conducts oneself in life (cf. Deut 30:16; 1Kgs 11:38; Ps 1:1; 15:2) (DNTT 3:943).
according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the noun following being in the accusative case the preposition denotes agreement or conformity and means "according to" or "by means of." Flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 3 above. Paul personifies "flesh," functioning as a master in contrast to the Spirit in the next clause. The idiomatic saying means listening to the voice urging the primacy of personal desires, perhaps even behaving as if God does not exist.
The focus of Flesh is on the present with no concern about eternity. Flesh is more concerned about one's physical well-being than spiritual well-being. Flesh encourages allowing personal desires to drive decision-making without regard to God's instruction even to the point of behaving in ways contrary to His instruction. The book of Judges in particular characterizes individual Israelites of that era as doing "what was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 17:6; 21:25).
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. according to: Grk. kata. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 2 above. This idiom means behaving in ways pleasing to the Father, as empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that his desires are actualized in my life. Walking according to the Spirit does not nullify the importance of patterning one's conduct according to the lifestyle will of God expressed in the Torah (Ezek 36:26-27). (See my article The Will of God.)
5― For those being according to Flesh direct their minds to the things of the flesh, but those according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For: Grk. gar, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. being: Grk. eimi, pl. pres. part., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). according to: Grk. kata, prep. Flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 3 above. Paul is speaking of a living according to a world-view or set of values without considering divine prerogatives, whether absent any knowledge of God or with a defective view of God and His expectations.
direct their minds: Grk. phroneō, pres., 3p-pl., to think, to set one's mind or heart upon something. It denotes the whole action of the affections and will as well as of the reason (Rienecker). The present tense verb indicates an ongoing or dominant activity. to the things: pl. of Grk. ho. of the flesh: Grk. ho sarx. This statement simply means that the person who does not follow Yeshua is focused on living by what he wants to do. Since the basic meaning of "flesh" is human nature, then the things of the flesh could be the basic things human beings desire -- food, clothing, shelter (Matt 6:32). Their focus is on what will give them significance and security in this world. And, because living by one's own desires often means ignoring God's desires, sinning is bound to result.
but: Grk. de, conj., which may be used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. those: pl. of Grk. ho. according to: Grk. kata. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 2 above. Since pneuma, "spirit" is without the definite article, some might interpret pneuma to mean the human spirit and not the Holy Spirit. This would then imply a contrast between "soulish" people who are characterized by the dominance of their souls or "minds," and those dominated by their spirits on the assumption that it is through our spirits that we commune with God who is Spirit (John 4:24).
This concept is reflected in common Evangelical thinking of the "carnal Christian" as a stage preceding the "Lordship" stage of discipleship. While perhaps all too common in Christianity a "carnal disciple" is a biblical contradiction as Paul illustrates here. The twelve disciples called Yeshua "Lord" from the first day of their association. The twelve might have occasionally irritated Yeshua, but there was never any question about who was boss and they were faithful in obeying him. Nevertheless, Paul most likely continues to refer to the Holy Spirit and the contrast of the Two Ways. Directing the mind according to the Spirit implies meditating on and applying the Spirit-inspired Scriptures.
the things: pl. of Grk. ho. of the Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. The Holy Spirit has important work to do: He convicts of sin (Heb 3:7), He enables understanding of Scripture (John 14:26; 16:13), He intercedes in our prayers (Rom 8:26f), He helps disciples to testify for Yeshua (Matt 10:20), He inspires prophesying (John 16:13; Acts 2:18), He gives direction for evangelism (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12), and He regenerates and sanctifies believers to produce godly character that conforms to the Torah of God (John 6:63; Acts 1:8; Rom 7:6; 8:13f; 1Cor 6:11; Gal 5:22; 2Th 2:13). Those who walking according to the Spirit submit themselves in humility to God so the Spirit can accomplish His important work.
6― For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace,
This verse actually contains no verbs, but they are added for clarity. Paul continues the contrast of the Two Ways with the word picture of the mind-set. For: Grk. gar, conj. the mind: Grk. ho phronēma, what one has in mind; thought, purpose. HELPS adds "inner perspective that determines outward behavior." of the flesh: Grk. ho sarx. See verse 3 above. is death: Grk. thanatos, death, used here of death as a consequence or a penalty, which may have spiritual and eternal implications.
Figuratively to live without God is death because only meaningful and fulfilling life may be found in him. Taken literally if one were to persist in living now and dying without God, then one is doomed to spend eternity in the same manner. Whether the fleshly mind is focused simply on living by one's own values, working, raising a family, seeking prosperity, and being a good citizen in society or focused on sinning in ways destructive to body and relationships is immaterial as far as the eternal outcome.
but: Grk. de, conj. the mind: Grk. ho phronēma. of the Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 2 above. The phrase depicts someone whose perspective and conduct is guided by the Holy Spirit. is life: Grk. zōē. See verse 2 above. Walking by the Spirit produces a lifestyle pleasing to God (cf. Col 1:9-12). and: Grk. kai, conj. peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which may refer to either (1) a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostilities, whether in political or personal relationships; or (2) a state of well-being, a characteristic of the Messianic age and divine favor. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX eirēnē renders Heb. shalom (SH-7965), completeness, soundness, welfare, or peace (BDB 1022).
In Jewish culture shalom is never peace in the negative sense, the absence of conflict, but the possession of everything that makes for man's highest good. Implicit in the contrast of the Two Ways is that the disciple must exercise his will to present his members for righteousness through the Torah, which brings him life. Setting the mind of God and his values and standards leads to joy and peace and eventually heaven. As it says in the Torah,
"So you are to keep My statutes and My ordinances. The one who does them will live by them. I am ADONAI." (Lev 18:5)
7― because the mind of the flesh is hostility toward God; for it is not subject to any law of God, nor even can it be,
Paul repeats the proposition of verse six with one change in its terms. because: Grk. dioti, conj. that generally introduces a rationale or motive for the affirmation that precedes, "on the very account that, because, inasmuch as." the mind: Grk. ho phronēma. See the previous verse. of the flesh: Grk. ho sarx. See verse 3 above. is hostility: Grk. echthra, hatred, hostility or enmity (Rienecker). The fleshly person may not feel any emotion of hatred toward God, but the self-focus of ignoring God has the same effect as hatred. toward: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within" (DM 103), generally focuses on motion or entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit; into, to, towards.
God: Grk. theos. See verse 3 above. for: Grk. gar, conj. it is not: Grk. ou, adv. subject to: Grk. hupotassō, pres. pass., to place or rank under, to be in compliance with requirements for order, to subject, so subordinate, to bring into compliance. Hupotassō is derived from hupo (under) and tassō (arrange, appoint), which originated as a military term where a rank structure is clearly defined (DNTT 1:476). any law: Grk. nomos, lit. "a law." See verse 2 above. of God: Grk. ho theos. Paul holds forth God's instruction in righteous living as something one should be in subjection to.
nor even: Grk. oude, adv., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; neither, not even, nor. can it be: Grk. dunamai, pres. pass., to be capable for doing or achieving. Human nature unaided does not have the inherent ability to be righteous and holy. Human nature can keep certain of God's commandments (cf. Deut 30:11), such as refraining from murder or stealing or laws enacted by humans to regulate the peace of communities. Human nature may also do good, but usually it is on the basis of "egoistic altruism"--doing good to receive good in return (cf. Luke 6:32-34).
What human nature cannot produce is a holy character, because by definition holiness as a characteristic of one's nature ("being" instead of just "doing") is a product of the Holy Spirit. Paul is speaking of two different paradigms.
8― and those in Flesh are not able to please God.
and: Grk. de, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being: Grk. eimi, pl. pres. part. See verse 5 above. in: Grk. en, prep. Flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 3 above. Paul introduces his third word picture of human nature apart from God. After walking and then focusing one's mind in the direction of human values and desires one then lives there. The description of being "in Flesh" serves as a contrast to being "in Messiah" (verse 1 above). Properly these two descriptions are mutually exclusive.
are not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, pres., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. to please: Grk. areskō, aor. inf., to give pleasure or gratification by meeting needs or interests, offer willing service to others; please. God: Grk. theos. See verse 3 above. Living day in and day out totally focused on self and one's own values is not the way to please God. Indeed, that kind of focus cannot please God, because it leaves Him without a place of importance.
The Indwelling Spirit, 8:9-11
9― Now you are not in Flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Messiah, he is not of Him.
Now: Grk. de, conj. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun takes in the membership of the congregation. are: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-pl. See verse 5 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. in: Grk. en, prep. Flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 3 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. in: Grk. en. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 2 above. if indeed: Grk. eiper, conj., if indeed, if so, if perhaps. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 3 above. dwells: Grk. oikeō, pres., to live, dwell, inhabit, have one's habitation.
in: Grk. en. you: Grk. humeis. Shulam notes that the word picture of dwelling parallels the dwelling of God's Spirit, his Sh'khinah glory, in the Tabernacle (Ex 33:14) and the Temple (cf. 1Kgs 8:10-11; Isa 6:1f). Paul resorts more directly to the analogy of being a temple of the Holy Spirit in 1Corinthians 3:16. But: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj., conditional particle, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument; if, whether. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others.
does not: Grk. ou, adv. have: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. of Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 1 above. The Spirit of God and the Spirit of the Messiah are equated with each other in at least one Jewish source:
"'And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.' This phrase from Genesis 1:2 alludes to the spirit of the Messiah, because Isaiah 11:2 says, 'And the spirit of Adonai will rest upon him' [that is, upon the 'shoot of Jesse', which is a name for the Messiah]." (Genesis Rabbah 2:4; cited in Stern 670)
he: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this, lit. "this one." is: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou. of Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here and refers to Yeshua.
This is a very strong statement that contrasts flesh and Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Messiah of Israel. Paul's claim does not have anything to do with the degree of spiritual growth. Yeshua is in heaven and as a physical person his limitation does not enable him to be in everyone. Possessing the Holy Spirit, or more accurately, being possessed by the Spirit and living by Torah, enables Yeshua to connect personally with every one of his disciples. As John says, "The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us" (1Jn 3:24).
10― Now if Messiah is in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of his righteousness.
The use of "is" amounts to clarifying interpretation since the verse actually contains no verbs. Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See the previous verse. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 1 above. is in: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun alludes to members of the congregation. "Messiah in you" can be indicative of submission to the lordship of the Messiah and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of the Messiah. Shulam sees in the statement an allusion to Yeshua's dwelling or presence with us in the Spirit, just as God poured out his Spirit on his prophets.
the body: Grk. ho sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a human body. is dead: Grk. nekros, adj., may be used as (1) a noun, corpse or (2) adj., without life in the physical sense, being dead. The second usage is intended here. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 3 above. The preposition expresses causality here. sin: Grk. hamartia. See verse 2 above. Paul expresses the essence of the Second Law of Thermonuclear Dynamics, the Law of Increasing Entropy, even though it wasn't "discovered" until the 19th century. The body begins to die as soon as we are born and is as good as dead, and all because of Adam's sin and our sin.
the spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 2 above. The noun is used of the human spirit. is alive: Grk. zōē. See verse 2 above. The human spirit is not only living but eternal. The living spirit illustrates the First Law of Thermonuclear Dynamics, called the Law of Energy Conservation, which was not identified and defined until the 17th century. This law states that energy is constant and thus it cannot be created nor destroyed. The living spirit like the rest of creation is conserved by the power of God who "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb 1:3).
because of: Grk. dia. his righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354). The term is first used of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The noun is often used to describe the character of God (Ps 5:8; 35:24; Isa 5:16; 42:21; Jer 9:24) (DNTT 3:354).
Beginning the verse with "If Messiah is in you" and ending the verse with "because of righteousness" make these clauses parallel terms in the proposition. In other words, the spirit is alive because of the righteousness of Yeshua (see the note on 3:22). This verse can also apply to Yeshua in that his body died by virtue of being a substitutionary sin sacrifice, yet he lived again because of his righteousness.
11― Now if the Spirit of the One having resurrected Yeshua from death dwells in you, the One having resurrected Messiah Yeshua from death will give life also to your mortal bodies through His Spirit dwelling in you.
Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 9 above. the Spirit: Grk. ho Pneuma. See verse 2 above. The noun refers to the Holy Spirit. of the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for the sacred name of God (e.g., Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; Acts 17:24; 19:4; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). "The One" is also shorthand for the early usage in Hebrew culture of "the Holy One" (Qadosh, Job 6:12; Prov 30:3; Isa 40:25; Hos 11:9, 12; Hab 3:3) and later "the Holy One of Israel" (Qadosh Yishraêl), which occurs 30 times in the Tanakh, 25 of which are in Isaiah (Isa 1:4). Here "the One" is shorthand for the Father.
having resurrected: Grk. egeirō, aor. part., to rise or raise, usually to arouse from sleep, but here to arouse from the "sleep of death," to recall the dead to life. The verb egeirō appears in Yeshua's prophecies of being raised on the third day from his arrest (Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 24:6). The verb graphically depicts the prone corpse of Yeshua lying on a tomb shelf being reanimated and transformed by the return of his spirit so that he could rise to an erect position and leave the tomb. Thus, God "brought him back to life" (GW, NOG).
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 1 above. The apostles uniformly and consistently declared, that God resurrected Yeshua from death (Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 26:8; Rom 10:9; 1Cor 6:14; 15:15; Col 2:12). Yeshua did not resurrect himself. Before Paul met Yeshua the Pharisee doctrine of the resurrection was an important part of his core beliefs. Yet, meeting the risen Messiah transformed his theology. Paul had previously stated in Romans 6:4 Paul that Yeshua was resurrected "from death through the glory of the Father," an allusion to the Shekhinah or Holy Spirit. So, Paul reiterates here that the Holy Spirit was directly involved in Yeshua's resurrection.
from: Grk. ek, prep., used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. "out of, from within." death: Grk. nekros, adj. See the previous verse. Although nekros lacks the definite article most versions render the term as a noun "the dead," which may be misleading. When people die the spirit goes either to Heaven or Hades (Luke 16:22). When Yeshua died on the cross his spirit ascended to paradise (Luke 23:43, 46). Many Christians believe that Yeshua went to Hades after he died and was resurrected from there as declared in the Apostles' Creed.
Hades is a place of torment and punishment and the abode of demons and fallen angels. Scripture does not say anywhere that Yeshua descended into Hades. (For this unbiblical claim see my article Is the Apostles' Creed Apostolic?) Paul means "death" as a condition or state. Several versions translate nekros here as "death" (ERV, GNB, ICB, NMB, WE). Unlike previously resurrected people who had to die again, Yeshua was given victory over death so that he could never die again.
dwells: Grk. oikeō, pres. See verse 9 above. in: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun refers to members of the congregation. This same Holy Spirit who did such a mighty work on that momentous day in biblical history dwells with God's people. The indwelling of the Spirit is certainly an individual experience, but Scripture emphasizes God's presence as a corporate reality.
the One: Grk. ho. having resurrected: Grk. egeirō, aor. part. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 1 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. from: Grk. ek. death: Grk. nekros. The repetition is typical of narrative in the Hebrew Scriptures. will give life: Grk. zōopoieō, fut., cause to be alive, make alive, give life to, generally with a focus on existence transcending the merely physical. also: Grk. kai, conj. to your: Grk. humeis. mortal: Grk. thnētos, adj., subject to the inevitability of death; mortal. bodies: pl. of Grk. sōma. See the previous verse.
through: Grk. dia. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Spirit: Grk. pneuma; i.e., the Holy Spirit. dwelling: Grk. enoikeō, pres. part., to live or dwell in. The verb refers here to the impartation of the Holy Spirit to take up residence within a person as a place of habitation. The indwelling Spirit was a promise and prophecy of Yeshua for his disciples (John 14:17; Acts 1:8). in: Grk. en. you: Grk. humeis.
Paul repeats this promise first given in 2Corinthians 4:14, "The One having resurrected the Lord Yeshua also will resurrect us with Yeshua and will present us with you." The "One" in that verse likely alludes to the Spirit. So, the same Spirit who raised Yeshua, dwells in God's people now will orchestrate the resurrection on the last day.
Obligation of Freedom, 8:12-17
12― So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to Flesh,
So: Grk. ara, conj. See verse 1 above. then: Grk. oun, conj., an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." The doubling of the inferential conjunctions increases the logical deduction. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic writings adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob.
In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach, (SH-251), a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5), a male relative of the same tribe (Gen 13:8; Num 16:10) or the people of Israel (Ex 2:11; 4:18). The use of "brothers" to address the congregation acknowledges their common heritage as Jews, as well as their spiritual bond to one another through Yeshua as Lord.
we are: Grk. eimi, pres., 1p-pl. The direct address of "brothers" and the first person plural verb stress the identity that Paul shares with the congregation. debtors: pl. of Grk. opheiletēs, one who is under obligation to another financially, and by extension one who is under obligation interpersonally, either involving responsibility to God or humans; a debtor. Shulam points out that the verb opheilō corresponds to "service" of a bond-servant (1:1) and being bound to a master (6:2ff). not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 4 above. to the flesh: Grk. ho sarx. See verse 3 above. to live: Grk. zaō, pres. inf., be in the state of being physically alive. The infinitive expresses purpose.
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 4 above. The preposition stresses conformity. Flesh: Grk. sarx. Paul introduces his fourth word picture of human nature apart from God. After the walking, developing the mind-set, moving into a place of residence, one makes a life there. Paul again personifies "Flesh," functioning as a master in contrast to the Spirit in the next verse. Considering what God has done for us through Yeshua, we, as faithful disciples owe a debt of submission and service to God (1Jn 4:19) and to others (cf. Matt 6:12; Rom 13:8; 15:27; Phm 1:19).
13― for if you live according to Flesh, you are about to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. Paul introduces a hypothetical scenario governed by two alternatives. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 9 above. you live: Grk. zaō, pres., 2p-pl. See the previous verse. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 4 above. Flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 3 above. Living "according to flesh" is a self-oriented life, a life devoted to personal interests without seeking God's interests. Paul may also be personifying "Flesh." you are about: Grk. mellō, pres., 2p-pl., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to. The verb implies being destined.
to die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. inf., to cease to live, generally used of physical death, whether natural or violent. The verb is also used figuratively of spiritual death, which is the absence of God's presence in one's life, and of eternal death, which is eternal misery away from God. Given the present tense of mellō the "death" could be spiritual death in present or eternal death in the future.
but: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei. by the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 2 above. The noun refers to the Holy Spirit. The dative case of the noun has an instrumental emphasis, thus "by." you put to death: Grk. thanatoō, pres., 2p-pl., made to die, is used both of (1) intentional killing or execution; and (2) rhetorical hyperbole describing a state likened to being put to death. The second usage is intended here. The present active verb indicates an ongoing activity. the deeds: pl. of Grk. praxis, a function, implying sustained activity and/or responsibility; engagement in performance; deed, function, practice.
of the body: Grk. ho sōma. See verse 10 above. Paul deliberately refers to the body because from a Hebraic point of view some part of the body is involved in every activity and certainly every sin. Thus, "putting to death" would have the sense of cessation of specific behaviors that would result from living according to the flesh. Stern calls the deeds of the body the bad habits the old nature produced.
Putting such habits to death does not mean in any sense the practice of asceticism or masochism, which may be inferred from the KJV term "mortify." Harsh treatment of the physical body has no spiritual value (Rom 7:5; Col 2:16–23). We must keep on denying ourselves, consecrating every part of our lives to God. "Just say no" must be a personal policy to maintain relationship with God. Destructive and sinful behavior must be eliminated.
you will live: Grk. zaō, fut. mid., 2p-pl. The verb might well point to gaining eternal life, but from Paul's point of view "living" is not just eternal existence, but sharing in the life of God. Yeshua taught that the abundant life, the best kind of life possible, begins now (Matt 10:39; John 6:35, 63; 10:10). It doesn't wait until after one dies. A person can't enjoy the life of God without putting God's interests first.
14― For as many as are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
For: Grk. gar, conj. as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion and is used here of quantity and number, how much, how many, as many as, as much as. are being led: Grk. agō, pres. pass., 3p-pl., to cause movement by taking the lead and thus may mean to lead, bring, carry or take. The present passive verb indicates ongoing activity and receiving the activity. by the Spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 2 above. The dative case of the noun has an instrumental emphasis, thus "by." of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 3 above.
The lack of definite articles for pneuma and theos imitates the Hebrew construction of Ruach Elohim that occurs in the Tanakh (first in Gen 1:2), but especially in accounts of personal endowment of an individual (Gen 41:38; Ex 31:3; 35:31; Num 24:2; 1Sam 10:10; 19:20, 23; 2Chr 15:1; 24:20; Ezek 11:24). The Holy Spirit initiates (John 3:6) and directs the leading. What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? It could take a variety of forms, but especially in identifying and helping to end the "deeds of the body" in verse 13.
Being led by the Spirit can mean personal guidance to go somewhere as recorded a number of times in Scripture (Matt 4:1; cf. Acts 8:29; 11:12; 19:21) as well as direction in how to apply Torah to life (Gal 5:18; cf. Col 2:16). In terms of the conclusion to the assertion of this clause the ones being "led by the Spirit" are those who live by spiritual values rather than fleshly values, whose decision-making is guided by loyalty to Yeshua and a desire to live by his commandments (Matt 28:19). In practical terms it means living as a Christian every day of the week and not just on Sunday.
these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 9 above. are: Grk. eimi, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 5 above. sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 3 above. of God: Grk. theos. The idiomatic expression Heb. benê ha-Elohim occurs five times in the Tanakh, first identifying the sons of high ranking men in society (Gen 6:2, 4), and then in reference to angels (Job 1:6, 2:1; 38:7). In the Torah the nation of Israel is designated the "son of ADONAI" (Ex 4:22-23), but more specifically the Israelites as participants in the covenant with God were marked as "sons of ADONAI" (Deut 14:1; cf. Ps 82:6; Hos 1:10). The title would have had special meaning to the Jewish members of the congregation.
In the Besekh the Greek expression huioi theou ("sons of God") occurs five times (Matt 5:9; Luke 20:36; Rom 8:14, 19; Gal 3:26), and denotes those who manifest the character of God and seek to please Him. Parallel idioms help clarify the meaning: "sons of the Most High" (Luke 6:35; John 10:34); "sons of the Father" (Matt 5:45); "sons of the kingdom" (Matt 13:38), and "sons of light" (John 12:36). In Paul's usage "sons of God" is a status of those associated with and devoted to the true Son of God. To be called a "son of God" is a high honor. And, because it is a status and not a gender, women, too, can be "sons of God."
15― For you did not receive the spirit of slavery again into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
For: Grk. gar, conj. you did not: Grk. ou, adv. of negation. receive: Grk. lambanō, aor., 2p-pl., to take or receive. This verb marks the transit of a person from a position to another who is the agent with the latter being the receptor. The aorist tense of the verb likely points back to Pentecost when the pioneer members of this congregation received the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem. the spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 2 above. Paul uses the noun as a personification that alludes to a demonic or unclean spirit. of slavery: Grk. douleia, condition of s as bondage to one's owner; slavery, bondage.
The imagery of "spirit of slavery" allude to the cultural phenomenon of demonic possession as recorded in the apostolic narratives in which unclean spirits held people captive (e.g., Matt 8:16; 15:22; Mark 5:2-4; 9:17; Luke 4:33; 8:2). The negative image of slavery could appeal to Jew and Gentile members in different ways. Proselytes knew that by joining themselves to Israel did not make them slaves, but fellow citizens of the nation. Jews knew the reality of historic slavery from wars with the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.
A slave under Roman law had no rights, although under the Torah slaves held by Jews did possess certain rights. In chapter six Paul urged his hearers to be "slaves of righteousness" (6:18), turning a negative image into a positive one. The phrase "spirit of slavery" points back to his earlier language of being a "slave to sin" (6:6, 17). Here the contrast makes another point. God is not just concerned about righteousness, but one's relationship with Him.
again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 7 above. fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The first meaning applies here. Christian interpreters generally assume Paul describes the state of living "under the law," as if living by God's commandments would be a slavery that produces terror.
Paul never equates obeying Torah commandments to slavery. Such a proposition is nonsensical. It is possible that there were Jews who followed their religion because of concern for God's retribution. Living according to the legalistic restrictions of Pharisees could be viewed as slavery and devotion to this philosophy might induce fear, because one could never be certain that God had been pleased. In any event Paul equates slavery with fear and he implies that to serve God out of such a negative attitude would make one no better than a slave.
but: Grk. alla, conj. you received: Grk. lambanō, aor., 2p-pl. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma; used here of the Holy Spirit. of adoption: Grk. huiothesia, condition of one who is legally adopted as a son, with a nuance of special status, here with the focus on the gift of special relationship with God. The word indicates a new family relation with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities (Rienecker). The terminology of adoption would have vivid meaning for Roman citizens. Roman law provided a process by which a man could create between himself and a person not his biological child the kind of relation that properly belongs only to father and child.
In Roman law "adoption," which actually referred to the ceremony, took two forms. One called adoptio meant that the adopted person passed from the power of his biological parent to the power of the person adopting him. When a person was not in the power of his parent, the ceremony of adoption was called adrogatio. A woman could not adopt a person, for even her own children were not in her power. (See Adoption in William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1875). Such a process is unknown to both biblical and Talmudic law.
However, the Torah does have the requirement of Levirate Marriage by which a man is enjoined to marry his brother's widow in order to give him a male heir (Deut 25:5-6). Also, the Tanakh records a number of individuals who exercised a surrogate ("legal") parental role: Sarah for Ishmael (Gen 16:2), Rachel for the children of Bilhah (Gen 30:1-8), Leah for the children of Zilpah (Gen 30:9-13), Pharaoh's daughter for Moses (Ex 2:5-10; 1Chr 4:18), Elijah for Elisha (1Kgs 19:19-21; 2Kgs 2:12), and Mordecai for Esther (Esth 2:7).
Jews strongly felt that the man and woman who bring up a child, and more especially those who teach the child virtue and the fear of God, should be honored as parents (Sanh. 19b). Moreover, in rabbinic thought the welcoming of a proselyte into Israel was akin to adoption. (See the JVL article Adoption.)
by: Grk. en, prep. With the dative case of the pronoun following the preposition has the sense of "by means of." whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 3 above. Yeshua promised his disciples that he would not leave them as orphans, but would send the Spirit who would act as a guardian (John 14:16-18). The Holy Spirit superintends our relationship to God as sons.
we cry: Grk. krazō, pres., 1p-pl., to cry, here meaning to express something with a vigorous voice; call out, cry out. Danker interprets its use here as an inner voice, but the verb can certainly refer to a vocal utterance, whether in prayer or praise. Again, the first person plural of the verb emphasizes Paul's shared ethnic identity with the congregation. Abba: Grk. abba, father; also used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child (HELPS). Yeshua taught his disciples to pray "Our Father" (Matt 6:9), and Paul greeted the congregation with "Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (Rom 1:7).
Many commentators identify abba as an Aramaic word and cite it to prove that Yeshua and his disciples spoke Aramaic rather than Hebrew. Douglas Hamp rebuts this common belief in his well-researched work, Discovering the Language of Jesus and offers this note on "abba."
"The [Hebrew] root אב, ab [pronounced "av"], is found in such names as Abraham and Abimelech. Ab is a very old Hebrew word meaning, simply, father. … In Jesus' day we find that the word changed a bit from how it was used in the Old Testament, in that the letter aleph was added to make it the vocative form. That is to say, it becomes a form of address rather than just a description of a person. For example, rather than saying 'father' to refer to him, one would use abba when speaking to him just as today we can talk about our dads or say 'Dad' instead of his actual name. While it [abba] is found in Aramaic sources, it is also found in many passages of the Mishnah. In fact, it is found thirty-eight times in the Mishnah. Evidently, the word had become commonplace and even if abba had originally come from Aramaic, by the time of Jesus, it was completely assimilated into Hebrew, and Jesus' use of it is in complete harmony with the Hebrew of His day." (Hamp 67f)
As Hamp points out, the English words "pork" and "beef" came originally from French, but just because I use those words just not mean that my daily language is French (55). According to David Flusser, Orthodox Jewish scholar at Hebrew University in Israel, Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study among Jews in the first century (11).
Father: Grk ho patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. In the LXX patēr translates ab (SH-1, "av"), father, which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22; Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6) (DNTT 1:616f). Paul uses patēr to translate the Hebrew word "abba" for Gentiles in the congregation, which may have been superfluous. A number of words in the Besekh are given in Hebrew and then translated into Greek for the Gentile reader (Mark 5:41; 7:34; 15:34; John 5:2; 19:13, 17, 19; 20:16; 1Cor 16:22; Rev 9:11; 16:16).
"Abba" occurs only three times in the Besekh (here; Mark 14:36 and Gal 4:6). In the Israeli vernacular then (and now), abba meant "dad" or "daddy" (Stern 99). Without God's adoption man is an orphan (Gal 4:5; Eph 2:12), but when man acknowledges God as his Father, then he inherits God's understanding and truth (Shulam).
16― The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
The Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 2 above. Himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Adding a personal pronoun, Paul emphasizes the special ministry of the Holy Spirit in contrast to the work of the Father and the Son. bears witness with: Grk. summartureō, pres., offer supportive attestation; bear witness with, confirm, testify with. The verb was used in legal documents where the signature of each attesting witness was accompanied by the words "I bear witness with and I seal with" (Rienecker). Just as a single witness was sufficient to confirm to a court that a woman's husband was dead (Rom 7:1-7), so the Holy Spirit is sufficient to testify to this more important truth (Shulam). The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13), so His testimony is totally reliable.
our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun. of the first person. spirit: Grk. pneuma. Some versions translate the singular noun as plural to conform to the pronoun (CJB, GNB, MSG, NIRV). The witness of the Spirit is confirmed internally. that: Grk. hoti, conj., that, because; used here to introduce the following subordinate clause as complementary of the verb "bears witness." we are: Grk. eimi, pres., 1p-pl. See verse 5 above. children: pl. of Grk. teknon, normally immediate biological offspring, older than an infant, but younger than bar/bat mitzvah age. In the LXX teknon translates Heb. ben (SH-1121), son, first in Genesis 3:16. The term is used here figuratively for being birthed into a spiritual family.
of God: Grk. theos. See verse 3 above. The expression "children of God" was first used by Yeshua of those who received him as Messiah and were born again (John 1:12-13). Scripture does not teach the universal fatherhood of God. The God of Israel is a father to those who choose to live in right relationship with him (Rom 8:21; 9:8; Php 2:15; 1Jn 3:1-2, 10; 5:2). In his Athenian sermon Paul used the expression "offspring (Grk. genos) of God" in a generic sense of mankind created by God in His image (Gen 1:26-27), but this status of itself is no guarantee of salvation. Repentance and witness of the Spirit is necessary to become a child of God.
17― and if children, also heirs, heirs indeed of God and joint-heirs of Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him, so that also we may be glorified with Him.
and: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. children: pl. of Grk. teknon. See the previous verse. The plural noun is shorthand for "children of God." also: Grk. kai, conj. heirs: pl. of Grk. klēronomos (from klēros, "a lot," and nomos, "law") refers to that which is apportioned, an inheritor in a legal sense, heir. More frequently the word means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. In the LXX klēronomos translates the participle of Heb. yarash (SH-3423), to take possession of, to inherit, dispossess (2Sam 14:7; Jer 8:10; Mic 1:15).
In Hebrew antiquity males were the principal heirs with the firstborn receiving a double portion (Deut 21:17), but in the Torah God confirmed that women also could be heirs (Num 27:7; cf. 1Pet 3:7). In matters of personal property inheritance belonged to legitimate children, which included the children of multiple wives and concubines (Gen 25:6; Deut 21:15-17). In the Torah inheritance primarily pertained to the apportionment of the land of Canaan to the twelve tribes of Israel (Ex 15:17; Num 26:55). Jacob's sons by Bilhah and Zilpah shared equally with his sons by Leah and Rachel.
heirs: pl. of Grk. klēronomos. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. The particle reinforces an incontrovertible truth. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 3 above. "God" is the God of Israel, the covenant-keeping God. Shulam sees here an allusion to the promise made to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations as Paul discussed previously in this letter (4:13, 17-18). Those who by faith become sons of Abraham will have a share in the joys of resurrection and eternal life. However, the Jewish constituency of the congregation would naturally interpret Paul's words in direct relation to the covenantal promises made to Israel. In the next chapter Paul will remind them that the promises rightly belong to the faithful remnant of Israel.
and: Grk. kai. joint-heirs: pl. of Grk. sugklēronomos (from sun, "with," and klēronomos, "an heir, with inheritance determined by lot"), in joint heirship status and therefore co-heir. of Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 1 above. Being the firstborn of all creation Yeshua is the principal heir, and he will inherit the nations and the ends of the earth (Ps 2:7-8; Col 1:15; Heb 1:2). Paul repeats essentially what he wrote in his previous letter to the congregations of Galatia, "if you are of Messiah, then you are a seed of Abraham, heirs according to promise" (Gal 3:29 BR).
Since the Messiah is the promised Seed of Abraham, all who are immersed into Yeshua are considered sons of Abraham and receive the blessings of redemption, including a share in the Messianic Kingdom. The promise will be fully realized when Yeshua returns. We should note that a Gentile disciple of Yeshua does not receive the specific land promises of Abraham. Nevertheless, the promise of the land to Jacob's descendants remains in force. Paul will later affirm, "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him [Yeshua] is the yes" (2Cor 1:20 BR).
if indeed: Grk. eiper, conj. See verse 9 above. we suffer with Him: Grk. sumpaschō (from sun, "with," and paschō, "suffer or feel emotion, passion), pres., 1p-pl., to suffer with or to have sympathy. The present tense indicates a continuing activity. We need to consider the full scope of the meaning of sumpaschō, since not every disciple has been persecuted for their faith or died for their faith. The pronoun "him" is implied by the verb as a reference to Yeshua. As Paul later declared to King Agrippa, Messiah had to suffer (Acts 26:23).
This was an important biblical truth about the Messiah since Jews had been taught that the Messiah was a victorious conqueror over the enemies of Israel. Yet, there are numerous passages in the Tanakh that depicted the sufferings of the Messiah, including Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:24-26, and Zechariah 11:12-13; 12:10. Paul taught as he would later write to Messianic Jews, "For it was fitting for him, on account of whom are all things and through whom are all things, having brought many sons to Glory, the author of their salvation, to be perfected through sufferings" (Heb 2:10 BR). See a complete list of prophecies of Messiah's sufferings here.
Ellicott comments that all who suffer for the sake of the gospel are regarded as suffering with Messiah. They "drink of the cup" that He drank of (Matt 20:22-23; cf. 2Cor 1:5; Php 3:10; Col 1:24). Paul is in no way implying that only martyrs will inherit a share in Messiah's kingdom. Rather, the conveyance of eternal inheritance will be made on the basis of our public identification with the Messiah, and maintaining our sympathies with him. Paul emphasized to Timothy the importance of the ongoing loyalty to Yeshua: "It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us" (2Tim 2:11-12 NASB).
This statement is in line with Yeshua's words, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does [present tense participle] the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter" (Matt 7:21). While Roman law may have made inheritance for an adopted son iron-clad, inheriting God's kingdom requires a certain character. Whether we are called to put our lives on the line for Yeshua we still must endure and resist the pressures of the world to conform to its values (Col 2:8), as well as the assaults of the evil one to destroy our faith (Eph 6:16).
so that: Grk. hina, conj. also: Grk. kai. we may be glorified with Him: Grk. sundoxazō (from sun, "with," and doxazō, "to glorify"), aor. pass. subj., 1p-pl., to show esteem together with, be honored with, have a share in glory. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The pronoun "Him" is added as implied in the verbal thought. Paul alludes to Yeshua's resurrection, ascension to the glory of heaven, anticipated glorious Second Coming and coronation on the glorious throne (cf. Matt 25:31; 2Th 1:10-12). Paul comforted the Thessalonian congregation with the revelation that when Yeshua returns, he "will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep" (1Th 4:14) and then those who are living at the time will be caught up for a grand reunion in the sky (1Th 4:17). Our glorification with Yeshua, then, awaits the Second Coming.
The Longing of Creation, 8:18-25
18― For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not comparable with the glory about to be revealed to us.
Having described the contrasts between the Two Ways or Two Masters Paul with pastoral concern begins to describe the blessings of those who have been freed from the tyranny of Sin and have chosen to walk by the power of the Spirit.
For: Grk. gar, conj. I consider: Grk. logizomai, pres. mid., to count or calculate in a numerical sense, and by extension to reckon or consider, to take into account. that: Grk. hoti, conj. the sufferings: pl. of Grk. pathēma, strong feeling, here meaning to experience pain or distress; suffering. of the present: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 1 above. time: Grk. ho kairos, time, here refers to an appropriate or set temporal segment of time. The expression "present time" is equivalent to the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Gal 1:4; Titus 2:12). Paul had plenty of firsthand experience with suffering for his Messiah (cf. 2Cor 4:8-12; 11:23-28).
are not: Grk. ou, adv. comparable: Grk. axios (from axō, "to weigh"), adj., in accordance with the expectation of worth; appropriate, fitting, comparable with. with: Grk. pros, prep., prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. the glory: Grk. ho doxa (from dokeō, "good opinion"), glory or honor as esteem proffered to or made possible for someone. By extension the term is used widely of the transcendent excellence manifested by God and the angels (Matt 28:1-3; Acts 10:30; 1Cor 15:40; Heb 9:5), an Hebraic usage not found in common Greek, but frequently in the LXX in which doxa translates Heb. kabôd (SH-3519), splendor or brightness (DNTT 2:45).
Kabôd (pronounced "kah-vohd") is particularly used to refer to the luminous manifestation of God's person, His glorious revelation of Himself (Ex 24:16-17). Characteristically, kabôd is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the Besekh doxa is used of the heavenly brightness manifested in Yeshua's transfiguration (Luke 9:32) and then his resurrection and ascension to heaven (John 17:5; Acts 7:55; 1Tim 3:16; Rev 1:6). The term is thus associated with the resurrected body on the last day (John 11:40; 1Cor 15:43; Php 3:21; Col 3:4).
about: Grk. mellō, pres. part. See verse 13 above. The verb stresses immanence of what is near at hand, but the verb does not convey the "any-moment" concept of Dispensationalism. to be revealed: Grk. apokaluptō, aor. pass. inf., to cause to be fully known, to reveal, disclose or make known. In the LXX of Isaiah 53:1 apokaluptō translates Heb. galah (SH-1540), to uncover or remove. The verb often occurs to denote truth or facts divinely hidden for a time and then revealed to those whom God chose to receive the truth. to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 7 above. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Again the pronoun emphasizes Paul's shared identity with the congregation.
Paul is using the word picture of a scale as typically used in markets. On one side of the scale he places the present sufferings. On the other side of the scale he places the glory to come. The resulting measurement concludes that sufferings count as nothing in comparison. The glorious revelation yet to come could be Yeshua at his Second Coming (1Pet 4:13), the presence of God seated on the throne surrounded by worshipping angels (Rev 15:8) or the beauty of the heavenly city (Rev 21:23).
Shulam suggests that Paul's concept of "glorification" is based on the idea that man's inheritance of the world to come rests upon his endurance of persecution for his faithfulness to God. Yeshua had told his disciples, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:10 NASB).
19― For the earnest expectation of the creation awaits the revelation of the sons of God.
For: Grk. gar, conj. the earnest expectation: Grk. ho apokaradokia (from apo, "away from"; kara, "the head"; and dokeō, "thinking"), strained expectancy, watching eagerly with outstretched head, eager waiting. The sense is strengthened by the preposition in compound which denotes diversion from all other things and concentration on a single object (Rienecker). In Greek culture the noun portrayed an Olympic runner straining forward to the end-goal with "head outstretched" (HELPS). The noun is absent from the LXX, but it is found in Josephus (Wars III, 7:26). Shulam suggests the noun corresponds to Heb. ta'arog, "to pant" for God (only in Ps 42:1 and Joel 1:20).
of the creation: Grk. ho ktisis (from ktizō, "to create"), creation, either of the act of creation or that which is created, here the latter (BAG); properly creation ex nihilo, "out of nothing" (HELPS). Scripture is squarely against any notion of the material universe evolving into existence on its own. The noun is used primarily of God's creation of the universe, whether of individual things or beings, or the sum total of everything He created. The noun is also used once of human institutions and authority, which have their source in God as well (1Pet 2:13; cf. Gen 9:5-6; Isa 42:5; 43:15; Acts 17:24-26).
Here Paul does not mean human institutions since they care nothing for God and have no concept of handing over their authority to a Messiah, especially a Jewish Messiah. Rather, Paul uses ktisis with the sense of the natural environment of the heavens and the earth ("nature"), distinct from humanity and heavenly beings.
awaits: Grk. apekdechomai, pres., remain in a state of waiting for an expected event to take place; await, eagerly await, wait upon. HELPS says the prefix (apo, "from") intensifies the root (dechomai, "welcome") to emphasize the idea of separation. The verb apekdechomai therefore is used of looking completely away from this world, and to the upcoming redemption of our body. the revelation: Grk. apokalupsis, making fully known, uncovering, disclosure or revelation. In the Besekh the term is used in three ways.
The first usage of "revelation" is in reference to the Second Coming of Yeshua (Rom 2:5; 8:19; 1Cor 1:7; 2Th 1:7; 1Pet 1:7, 13; 4:13). The second usage refers to the general disclosure of truth, particularly the Good News (Luke 2:2; Rom 16:25; Gal 1:12; 2:2; Eph 1:17; 3:3). The third usage pertains to individuals receiving personal disclosures from God (1Cor 14:6, 26; 2Cor 12:1, 7; Rev 1:1). The first usage is in view here.
of the sons: pl. of Grk. ho huios. See verse 3 above. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 3 above. Paul uses the designation "sons of God" to mean those who are led by the Spirit (verse 14 above) and those who serve Yeshua in trusting faithfulness (Gal 3:26). The phrase "sons of God" reflects status, not gender. In this context Paul adds another dimension and employs Yeshua's definition as "sons of the resurrection" (Luke 20:36). The "revelation of the sons of God" alludes to the future event in which Yeshua will return to earth accompanied by all those who have died in the faith (Matt 24:31; Mark 13:27; 1Th 4:14).
The designation of "sons of God" could have another layer of meaning. In Scripture the "sons of God" are angels (Job 1:6; 2:7; 38:7). Angels have a prominent role in the Second Coming. Paul wrote to the congregation in Thessalonica,
"6 For after all, it is right in the sight of God to pay back trouble to those who trouble you, 7 and relief to you who suffer trouble along with us. At the revelation [Grk. apokalupsis] of the Lord Yeshua from heaven with His mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, He will command judgment on those who do not know God and do not heed the Good News of our Lord Yeshua." (2Th 1:6-8 TLV)
20― For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of the One having subjected it, on the basis of hope
For: Grk. gar, conj. the creation: Grk. ho ktisis. See the previous verse. was subjected: Grk. hupotassō, aor. pass. See verse 7 above. to futility: Grk. mataiotēs (from mataios, "vain, useless"), the inability to reach a goal or achieve results (Rienecker); vanity, aimlessness, purposelessness. The noun can also mean frailty or instability. In the LXX mataiotēs is used to translate various Heb. words which denote different aspects of nothingness (DNTT 1:550). The most frequent are hebel (SH-1892), vapor, breath (Ps 39:5, and often in Ecclesiastes) and shav (SH-7723), emptiness, vanity, worthlessness (Ps 26:4; 31:6).
Ellicott surprisingly suggests that Paul's statement here is easily reconcilable to Darwin's theory of evolution, but as Meyer points out the reference to an original "futility," introduced even by the act of creation, is historically inappropriate, since Genesis 1:31 states, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." Meyer also notes that Ellicott's assumption is also rebutted by the rest of this verse, which supposes a previous state of not being subjected to futility.
The term "futility" is a biblical description of a phenomenon known in physics as the Law of Increasing Entropy, also known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law states that observed systems tend towards increased entropy, an increase in disorder, and that the amount of energy available for work is decreasing. Evolution and entropy are opposing and mutually exclusive concepts. For a detailed discussion of this subject see Dr. Henry M. Morris, "Evolution, Thermodynamics, and Entropy," Acts & Facts, May 1, 1973; online.
Some scientists suggest that entropy can be positive, such as digestion which breaks down food into simpler molecules. Adam and Chavah may have experienced digestion after they were created (Gen 2:16), assuming they ate a meal before sinning. So, like the yetzer ra (verse 3 above), entropy could be considered originally good. But, if so, why did it go bad? Scripture affirms that God created, spoke into existence the heavens and the earth (Ps 33:6; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3; 2Pet 3:5), and the resulting creation was perfect. Then God acted against His creation as Paul asserts here.
not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 4 above. willingly: Grk. hekōn, adj., without being under duress or pressure, of one's own free will, unforced, voluntary. Brown suggests that Paul's use of the adjective personifies creation in order to make his point. Creation did not subject itself to "futility" or entropy. Non-living things have no innate power of will to do anything. Creation could only submit to the One who created it. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 4 above. because of: Grk. dia, prep. the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun and circumlocution for the sacred name of God.
having subjected it: Grk. hupotassō, aor. part. The negative power of the Second Law was initiated when God imposed the curse of death on all creation because of Adam's sin (Gen 3:17-19). The ravages of entropy down through history cannot be explained by random chance or evolution. The present activity of entropy is even indicated in Scripture:
"Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment." (Ps 102:25-26 NASB)
"A voice is saying, "Cry out!" So I said, "What shall I cry out?" "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades. For the breath of ADONAI blows on it. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades. But the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:6-8 TLV)
"The world [Grk. kosmos] is passing away [Grk. paragō, pres. pass.]. (1Jn 2:17 NASB)
on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; but used here figuratively of that upon which anything rests as a claim of authority; on the ground of, on the basis of. hope: Grk. elpis, hope, here meaning the basis of a firm expectation. These words actually begin the thought of the next verse. Hope as a Hebrew concept is not wishful thinking, but an assurance that God's promises will be fulfilled based on the knowledge of His nature. Even in the pronouncement of the curse God had redemption in mind (Gen 3:15; Isa 51:6).
21― that also the creation itself will be set free from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. the creation: Grk. ho ktisis. See verse 19 above. itself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 9 above. The pronoun distinguishes the creation from the Creator. will be set free: Grk. eleutheroō, fut. See verse 2 above. Paul next looks to the distant future with anticipation from what is now a spiritual reality to what will be a physical reality. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 2 above. the bondage: Grk. ho douleia. See verse 15 above. The creation functions according to the immutable will of the Creator.
to decay: Grk. ho phthora, a process of disintegration or deterioration, decay ruin. Paul again accurately describes the Law of Increasing Entropy set in motion by the curse God imposed because of Adam's sin. The Law of Entropy is the physical parallel to the Law of Sin and Death in the spiritual realm. Creation cannot change itself back into Paradise. In modern times it seems as if nature has run amok with natural disasters throughout the world: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornados, typhoons and tsunamis (cf. Luke 21:11, 25).
Paul alludes to the promise of new heavens and a new earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; cf. 2Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1). The Law of Entropy by which everything now decays will be repealed. There will be no more aging, no erosion, no rusting or any other evidence of things wearing out.
into: Grk. eis, prep. the freedom: Grk. ho eleutheria, freedom or liberty and in the secular culture referred to being freed from slavery. of the glory: Grk. ho doxa. See verse 18 above. of the children: pl. of Grk. ho teknon. See verse 16 above. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 3 above. The Law of Increasing Entropy has an expiration date, the revelation of the Messiah in all his glory. There shall be no more decay, no more disease and no more destruction. Our inheritance involves an ecologically ruined world that will one day be restored (Acts 3:21, 1Cor 15:23–28, Heb 2:8–11, Rev 21:1) (Stern).
Thus, creation will be set free when the children of God are set free from death by the resurrection (1Cor 15:42). Revelation 20–22 depicts the return of Paradise.
22― For we know that all creation groans together and travails together until now.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 2 above. we know: Grk. oida, perf., 1p-pl., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge and here probably refers to knowledge by divine revelation. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to translate Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; Num 11:16; Deut 1:39), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality.
all: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. creation: Grk. ktsis. See verse 19 above. Paul continues the personification of the term. The phrase "all creation" could be equivalent to the whole universe or restricted to earth in the sense of nature. groans together: Grk. sustenazō (from sun, "with," and stenazō, "to groan within oneself"), pres., to lament or groan together. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb means properly, to groan because of pressure of being exerted forward, like the forward pressure of childbirth; figuratively to feel pressure from what is coming on, which can be intensely pleasant or anguishing (HELPS).
and: Grk. kai, conj. travails together: Grk. sunōdinō (from sun, "with," and ōdinō, "to have birth pangs, to travail"), pres., to be in travail with or more generally to suffer agony together (BAG). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Many versions translate the phrase as "suffers the pains of childbirth," or words to that effect, which is probably influenced by the overall context and the fact that the verbs can describe the labor pains associated with childbirth. BAG notes a similarity between Paul's statement and a quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (5th cent. BC) who said, "when after the winter's cold the groaning earth gives birth in travail to what has been formed within her" (801).
The preposition in these two words (sun) indicates all the parts of which creation is made up (Rienecker). The present tense of the verbs indicate an ongoing condition. Shulam suggests that Paul's terminology is reminiscent of Jewish apocalyptic literature that presented the concept of the "birthpangs of the Messiah" or "messianic tribulation" to describe the physical and spiritual suffering of the creation before the advent of the Messiah (2Baruch 27:1−30:1). The mention of birth pains is a clever way to describe the prophesied events of the last days (Matt 24:8).
until: Grk. achri, prep. signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here meaning up to a certain point. now: Grk. ho nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' Paul notes that the "groaning" and "travailing" has been continuing without abatement since God subjected the creation to "futility."
23― And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
And not only this, but also we ourselves: As in 5:11 Paul introduces a kal v'chomer argument, where if one thing is true, how much more is another thing true (also called a fortiori argument). first fruits: aparchē, make a beginning in sacrifice, by offering something as first fruits to God. The first portion of the harvest, regarded both as a first installment and as a pledge of the final delivery of the whole (Rienecker). See the note on "convert" in 16:23. of the Spirit: Paul does not mean the "fruit of the Spirit" as he discusses in Galatians. Rather he describes the Holy Spirit as firstfruits. Yeshua was the first fruits of the resurrection (1Cor 15:20, 23). The charter members of the Roman congregation likely experienced the Pentecost in Jerusalem and were among the first to experience the fulfillment of God's promise to pour out his Spirit on all flesh.
waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons: the kal v'chomer argument is that if the whole of creation is waiting for redemption, how much more that the "sons of men" are also awaiting adoption as sons and physical redemption (Shulam). the redemption of our body: Paul informs us that redemption is not just a spiritual transaction, but a very physical reality that occurs in the resurrection. In Hebraic terms "body" may stand for the whole person in contrast to Greek dualism that conceived of body and soul as separate entities. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 Paul links man's "groaning" with the hope of complete (and physical) redemption, and uses the metaphor of the house or building to describe the new resurrection reality.
24― For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
For in hope: Grk. elpis, the state of looking forward to something that is desirable. Having spoken of the first fruits in the previous verse Paul resorts to the metaphor of planting. A farmer plants in hope, but it's not just simple wishful thinking such as one might wish for a Christmas present. The farmer knows the laws of nature. He knows what it takes to produce a good crop, what is his part and what is God's part. To the Hebraic mind hope is based on God's promises and reflects a solid expectation (cf. 4:14). we have been saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass., 1p-pl., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in reference to rescue from bodily peril (Luke 8:50) or bodily death (Luke 23:39), as well as rescue from spiritual peril, frequently of an apocalyptic type (Luke 13:23; 19:10).
In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important is yasha, (SH-34-67), to deliver, liberate and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5). In apostolic usage sōzō is equated with divine pardon and a present experience (Matt 1:21; 1Cor 1:18; 2Cor 2:15; Eph 2:5). Just as often sōzō is a future experience of being delivered from divine judgment (Rom 5:9-10; 10:9, 13; 11:26; 1Cor 5:5). The past tense of the verb here may allude to Paul's own transformation experience with the risen Messiah, but certainly points to the common experience of his readers who had repented and embraced the Messianic hope.
hope that is seen: Grk. blepō, pres. pass. part., to possess the capacity to see, whether literally or figuratively. is not hope: Paul states the obvious and not simply because his readers were slow learners. for who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. hopes: Grk. elpizō, pres., to look for; hope, expect. The verb is not used to express mere wishful thinking, but assumes a strong prospect of fulfillment. for what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. he already sees: Grk. blepō, pres. The adverb "already" is an interpretive addition. Fulfillment represents the completion of hope.
25― But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
But if we hope for what we do not see: Paul continues the thought from the previous verse. with perseverance: Grk. hupomonē, capacity for resolute continuance in a course of action; i.e., endurance, perseverance or steadfastness. we wait eagerly: Grk. apekdechomai, pres. mid., remain in a state of waiting for an expected even to take place; await, wait upon; here with a nuance of eagerness or longing. This interesting word reflects the eager anticipation of God's blessing. Maintaining the agricultural analogy the farmer is aware that all our food is provided by the gracious act of God. So, for the farmer hope means awaiting the harvest. While he continues to wait he does his part to bring about a mature crop, i.e., weeding and taking protective measures against predators, as well as praying for divine assistance. Waiting does not mean doing nothing. If all this is true in farming, how much more is it true in the expectation of resurrection, redemption and eternal blessedness.
The Sovereign Care of God, 8:26-30
26― In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
the Spirit also helps our weakness: Paul alludes to Yeshua's dictum regarding the weakness of the flesh, the weakness or powerlessness of our human wisdom and ability, and even our tendency to give up when we should persist (cf. Luke 18:1). for we do not know how to pray as we should: this is a powerful admission coming from the great apostle. Paul is not saying that he did not know how to pray. He learned very early the practice of thrice-daily prayer. He makes frequent mention of his own prayers for congregations (2Cor 13:7; Eph 1:16; Php 1:4; Col 1:3; 1Th 1:2) and himself exhorts them to pray earnestly (Rom 15:30; Eph 6:18; 1Th 5:17; 1Tim 2:1). However, on the human level far too often we don't know what others really need and sometimes we're not able to express our own desires adequately. Then, praying in concert with God's sovereign plans is difficult when we do not know those plans for the future.
the Spirit Himself intercedes: Grk. huperentugchanō, pres., to plead or intercede on behalf of someone. It is a picturesque word of rescue by one who "happens on" one who is in trouble and pleads "in his behalf" (Rienecker). Should we feel overwhelmed by being trapped in this present unredeemed universe, we have an assurance provided by the Spirit that he prays properly our heart's deepest yearnings, even when consciously we don't know how to do it (Stern).
with groanings: Grk. stenagmos, to sigh or groan (BAG). See also Acts 7:34 where Stephen recounts the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt. A parallel thought occurs in Exodus story of the Israelite's oppression and their beseeching God for help.
"Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Ex 2:23-24)
too deep for words: Grk. alalētos, unexpressed or wordless; from lalētos, "endowed with speech.". Marshall translates as "unutterable." The description of "unspoken groans" refers to the mysterious communication between the Spirit and the Father, thus, no human language exists that can translate it. However, the Spirit understands and translates the groanings of our spirits--the desires, needs, wounds and hurts, which we often cannot or dare not or will not express to others. Harrison points out that it is a mistake to associate the Spirit's inexpressible groanings with the gift of languages. The promise of the Spirit's intercessory ministry is intended to include all disciples, whereas the gift of languages (however defined) is not possessed by all. In addition, the gift of languages is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture in connection with intercession. (See my Notes on 1 Corinthians 14.)
27― and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
He who searches: Grk. eraunaō, pres. part., to search or probe. The verb is a present participle so it indicates both an ongoing activity and a characteristic of the Father. Zechariah received a vision of seven lamps which he learned represented the "eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth" (Zech 4:9). King David prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts" (Ps 139:23) and he instructed his son Solomon,
"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." (1Chr 28:9)
Yeshua informed the overseer of the congregations in Thyatira "I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds" (Rev 2:23).
He intercedes: Grk. entugchanō, pres., to approach or appeal; indicates approach to an authority with a request or plea in mind, as indicated by the context. The third person singular verb implies the action of the Holy Spirit. for the saints according to the will of God: the Spirit knows the mind of the Father and only presents petitions and desires that are in accordance with either the moral will of God (Rom 12:2; Eph 6:6; Col 4:12; 1Th 4:3) or the sovereign will of God (Rom 1:10; 15:32; Col 1:1). Related to this fact is John's testimony, "whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (1Jn 3:22).
Now: Grk. de, conj. we know: Grk. oida, perf., 1p-pl. See verse 22 above. Paul makes another axiomatic statement of common knowledge of Jews and followers of Yeshua. that: Grk. hoti, conj. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. loving: Grk. agapaō, pres., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so; love. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used with a variety of applications. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 3 above. The phrase "loving God" alludes to the first great commandment (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:27-28).
God: Grk. ho theos. works together: Grk. sunergeō, pres., to work along with in a supportive manner, be a partner in labor; assist, help. See the Textual Note below. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. for: Grk. eis, prep. good: Grk. agathos, achieving a high standard of excellence in meeting a need or interest, beneficial, useful, helpful or good. In the LXX agathos is used to describe the land of Israel, the good things of life, glad tidings of a messenger, and the nature of God (2Chr 30:11; Ps 73:1 + frequently in the Psalms).
Paul insists that this activity of work is directed for the benefit of a particular group of people, those who keep the first and greatest commandment. This commandment as Yeshua implied includes a host of lesser commandments contained in the Torah (Matt 22:35-40). The fact that those who don't love God might benefit from all this "working together" (cf. Matt 5:45) is not material to Paul's point. God's primary concern is for his faithful people.
to those: pl. of Grk. ho. being: Grk. eimi, pl. pres. part. See verse 5 above. called: Grk. klētos, adj. Those "called" refers to Israel, the chosen people, into which the believing Gentiles have been grafted (11:17) and made fellow citizens (Eph 2:12, 19). The purpose from the beginning was that Israel would be a light to the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:6) and bring forth a Messiah (John 4:21-26). Simply judging by the genealogies in Matthew and Luke God performed an incredible feat of working so many details together so that at the appointed time Yeshua would be born to fulfill his divine mission.
according to: Grk. kata, prep. providence: Grk. prothesis (from pro, "before," and tithēmi, "to set"), a setting forth or placing, here conceiving a plan or design in one's mind; purpose, intent. The noun properly means "providence" – literally, "a setting forth in advance for a specific purpose, "God's pre-thesis" (HELPS). In other words God works all things together by purposely intervening in people's lives.
Textual Note: God Works
Bible versions are divided over the subject of the verb sunergeō due to controversy over the correct Greek text. Many Bible versions have "all things work together" (ASV, CSB, ESV, ISV, KJV, MJLT, MW, NABRE, NCB, NET, NKJV, NOG, NRSV, and TLV), but other versions have "God works all things together" (CEB, CEV, CJB, ERV, EXB, GNB, ICB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NJB, NLT, NTE, RSV and WE). The simple fact is that while the majority of MSS do not contain the word "God" as the subject, seven Greek New Testament MSS contain "God" as the subject of the verb, including p46 (c. A.D. 200), codex Alexandrinus (5th c.) and Vaticanus (4th c.) (GNT 551). These three combined MSS are powerful witnesses.
The NKJV which footnotes variances between the Nestle-Aland Greek text, the basis for modern versions, and the Textus Receptus, the basis for the KJV, makes no mention that there are MSS with the words "God works together." Conversely, Marshall's NASB-NIV Interlinear, in both versions has the misleading footnote "some manuscripts read all things work together." My personal NASB has the marginal note, "One early MS reads all things work together." Just one? This explanation is very misleading.
While the 23rd edition of the Nestle Greek text contains "God" in brackets (panta sunergei [ho theos]) the 26th edition of the Nestle text removed the word for God. The 25th edition of the Nestle text (which is the text of GNT) gives the phrase that omits "God" a "C" rating, meaning that there is considerable degree of doubt about the superior reading. However, the committee for the 26th edition changed that rating to a "B" indicating that the omission of "God" is almost certain. Metzger defends the "B" rating by saying that with only seven MSS containing "God works," the Committee deemed the reading too narrowly supported to be admitted into the published text. Since the verb may be taken to imply a personal subject, Metzger suggests that an Alexandrian editor added "God."
The reader may well ask does all this controversy over one word really matter. I think it does. First, what no one has pointed out is that the very earliest MS, papyrus 46, dated about A.D. 200 has "God works" (GNT). A thousand MSS with "God" omitted cannot overturn this fact. Case closed as far as I'm concerned. Second, The inclusion of "God" reflects the Hebraic nature of the biblical text and the outlook of biblical characters. Christians may have difficulty with the notion of a sovereign God who controls the universe and causes things to happen, even bad things, but ancient Hebrews had no such difficulty. They allowed God to be God, a will-ing being who is free to exercise His power as He chooses. When bad things happened they charged God with being the cause.
Third, to allow the verb to stand without its personal subject clearly stated conveys an unintentional pantheism. "Things' cannot work anything, let alone together. Such thinking is akin to giving divine powers to the material universe. The truth is that nature operates by immutable laws imposed by the Creator, and never contrary to those laws. Much of the suffering in the world is caused by people who exercise their wills for bad choices. Would we excuse a person who committed adultery and justified it by saying, "it just happened?" Not likely.
Fourth, God is the source of "the good" (Jas 1:17), and so good can only result in bad circumstances if God does something. "Good" never just happens. "Good" is the result of a person acting, whether human or God. Those who love God are not just more lucky than those who don't love God. God has a particular devotion to those who love Him first.
29― For whom He foreknew, also He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the firstborn among many brethren;
For: Grk. gar, conj. whom: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Christian commentators tend to interpret verses 29-31 in the context of the historical development of Christian theology over the last two thousand years and fail to comprehend the Paul's Jewish context and his historical point of view. Paul is talking about Israel, not Christianity which hadn't even been invented yet. He foreknew: Grk. proginōskō, aor., may mean (1) know before about a matter of moment; or (2) have in mind as part of a long-standing plan. The second meaning applies here. Foreknowledge is not knowledge from education, but personal experiential knowledge, as in Acts 26:5, "they have known about me for a long time."
God knew in advance, as he told Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jer 1:5) and it is this kind of knowledge by which God knew the patriarchs and the nation of Israel. Foreknowledge is a manifestation of God's omniscience as Scripture says, "His understanding is infinite" (Ps 147:5) and "God is greater than our heart and knows all things" (1Jn 3:20). Indeed, he knows the secrets of every heart (Ps 44:21). Christian theologians argue over the theoretical problem of how God's knowledge interacts with human freedom.
Does man's choice condition God's choice or vice versa? Many Christians opt for the preeminence of man's "free will" thereby reducing the sovereignty of God. However, we cannot begin to comprehend or appreciate the knowledge of the Creator of the universe, who is a will-ing being and whose choices are truly free, in contrast to man's choices that are influenced by so many factors and forces. God is not a prisoner of what Man might do.
He predestined: Grk. proorizō, aor., to mark out with a boundary beforehand, to predestine (Rienecker), to determine beforehand, as in Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7. Proorizō is formed from pro, "before," and orizō, to establish a boundary or framework through deliberate decision for an event, activity or thing. God declares the end from the beginning (Isa 46:10) and brings about his will, as Paul will go on to argue in the next chapter. Paul's use of the concepts of foreknowledge and predestination has nothing to do with Calvinist theology that posits the salvation or damnation of individuals by a unilateral decree.
These verbs only have meaning in relation to Israel, the nation whom God elected to be a covenant people and a light to the Gentiles. They are the ones "whom he predestined," so it is primarily corporate, not strictly individual, although individuals benefit. Predestination also refers to the "framework for salvation," that salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22) and requires a blood sacrifice. God predestined a people and a plan.
to be conformed: Grk. summorphous, adj., to be similar in form or style. Summorphous is formed from sun, 'with" and morphē, "appearance," and so refers to an inward and not merely superficial conformity. to the image: Grk. eikonos (from eikō, "be like"), something that bears a likeness to something else; image, likeness, representation. The term is properly, "mirror-like representation," referring to what is very close in resemblance (HELPS). of His Son: See verse 3 above. Yeshua is the very image of the Father (cf. 2Cor 4:4; Col 1:15). Paul expresses a contrast between the goal for Yeshua's disciples and Yeshua's nature. Disciples are not clones of Yeshua. Our renewed nature is only similar to that of Yeshua. We may well ask, "what does it mean to be like Yeshua?"
The WWJD ("what would Jesus do?") movement in the early 1990s attempted to provide a framework for being like Yeshua. The movement was especially influenced by Charles Sheldon 1896 classic book In His Steps, in which characters attempt to answer the question in various arenas of life. Actually, Peter provides a succinct answer to the question in 1 Peter 2:21-25. Peter identifies the first step in being like Yeshua as getting rid of sin. Robertson suggests that the use of both morphē and eikōn express the gradual change in us until we have the family likeness of sons of God. This conformity will only reach its perfection in the resurrection (1Th 3:13; 5:23).
for: Grk. eis, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 5 above. firstborn: Grk. prōtotokon, adj., being the first child in order of birth or enjoying the status of a first child. In the LXX prōtotokos translates the Heb. bekor, firstborn of a womb, whether animal or human, and for humans the references are usually for a firstborn son (Gen 10:15). In ancient times the firstborn son possessed three important rights.
(1) The firstborn would hold superior rank in his family and therefore exercise leadership authority over the clan (Gen 49:3).
(2) The firstborn had the spiritual responsibility of performing the priestly office and officiating at the altar (Gen 22:9; 26:25; 35:1; Num 8:17-19).
(3) The firstborn received a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deut 21:17).
Three uses of "firstborn" in the sense of status occur in the Tanakh. God refers to the nation of Israel as His firstborn son (Ex 4:22). Then "firstborn" is used of King David (a younger son), and by extension the Davidic king, who would be exalted over the kings of the earth (Ps 89:27). Lastly, "firstborn" is used in an allusion to the one who was pierced (the Messiah) and Israel will mourn over him as they would a firstborn son (Zech 12:10). The Jewish Midrash says, "The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, 'In the same way I made Jacob a firstborn … so I will make Messiah the King a firstborn" (Mid. Ex. 19:7, quoted by Gruber 322).
among: Grk. en, prep. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, whether of quantity ("many") or quality ("much"), here the former in a temporal sense. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for Heb. ach (SH-251), meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5).
Yeshua is "firstborn" of all creation (Col 1:15), but here the thought is parallel to "firstborn from the dead" (Col 1:18), the Eldest Brother in the covenantal family of God's sons, though "Son" in a sense not true of us (Robertson). So, the purpose of his choosing and electing was not to determine eternal destiny for select individuals, but to create a family that would manifest the character of his Son.
30― and whom He predestined, these also He called; and whom He called, these also He acquitted; and whom He acquitted, these also He glorified.
and: Grk. de, conj. whom: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. He predestined: Grk. prooraō, aor., to see what is ahead, either in a spatial sense or a temporal sense or a combination of the two. Although translated as "predestined" in almost all Bible versions, the verb does not have the same nuance of meaning as proorizō in the previous verse. Prooraō could be translated as "foresaw" or viewed as a combination of "foreknew" and "predestined" of verse 29. Thus, the translation of "having chosen" in the NLT seems imminently reasonable. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. also: Grk. kai, conj. He called: Grk. kaleō, aor., may mean (1) to say, call or summon directly or indirectly; (2) to solicit participation or (3) to identify by name. Frequently the verb has a spiritual meaning of participating in a divinely directed event or relationship.
and: Grk. kai. whom: pl. of Grk. hos. He called: Grk. kaleō, aor. these: pl. of Grk. houtos. also: Grk. kai. He acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, aor., may mean (1) show or do justice for someone; (2) justify or vindicate; (3) in connection with God's judgment be acquitted and treated as righteous and thereby become righteous; (4) to make free or pure (BAG). In the LXX dikaioō translates Heb. tsadaq (SH-6663), a verb with two categories of meaning: (1) as a condition or character quality, to have a just cause, be in the right, be just or righteous (Gen 38:26; Job 33:12; Ps 51:6; Isa 43:26), and (2) in the administration of justice, to declare right, to vindicate, or prove right, to acquit or be acquitted, or to be cleared of wrongdoing (e.g., Ex 23:7; Deut 5:21; 2Sam 15:4; Ps 51:4; Isa 5:23) (DNTT 3:355).
The context of this important word is a righteous standard against which people are measured. The great majority of Bible versions translate the verb dikaioō here with "justified," which can be misleading to modern readers. The CJB has "caused to be considered righteous." Other translations include "declared righteous," "freed," "put right" and "set free." AMPC adds "acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself" and AMP adds "declared free of the guilt of sin." The OJB has "acquitted."
The biblical terms Heb. tsadaq and Grk. dikaioō function as a word picture of a trial with a heavenly Judge and a righteous standard against which people are measured and evaluated. One case before the court is an innocent person wrongly accused. The outcome of that trial vindicates the person's character and he is acquitted. Throughout the Tanakh the verb tsadaq occurs only in this vindication scenario. In other words the person is actually righteous and the verb describes the defense of that person's character. The same usage of dikaioō may also be found in the Besekh (Matt 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29; 10:29; Rom 3:4; 4:2; 1Cor 4:4; 1Tim 3:16).
However, in most instances in the Besekh dikaioō is used to depict a different trial in which the accused is guilty. The defendant before the bar of God is definitely a sinner, a law-breaker. No witnesses and no evidence can be presented to demonstrate innocence. Acquittal is not deserving, but yet in response to humble confession and repentance God, the Supreme Judge, offers mercy and forgiveness, and then grants pardon, release from condemnation and cancellation of the deserved punishment, thereby creating a relationship of favor with God (Rom 4:5; 5:1; 8:1-2; 1Cor 6:11; Gal 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; Titus 3:7). The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector is a case in point (Luke 18:13-14).
and: Grk. kai. whom: pl. of Grk. hos. He acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, aor. these: pl. of Grk. houtos. also: Grk. kai. He glorified: Grk. doxazō, aor., may mean either (1) to praise or honor or (2) in reference to the next life to clothe in splendor (BAG). Both meanings can have application here. The glorification is stated as already accomplished, and could allude to the experience of having the Light of "the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Messiah" shone into their hearts (2Cor 4:6). The aorist tense can also function in a prophetic sense and point to the future when God's people will be glorified in the resurrection.
All four verbs reflect a historical progression and a sense of completion. God knew his people in advance and He determined the people and the plan of salvation that would be worked through that people. He chose his people and then He called them out of Egypt. God continued to call down through history for any who would be saved to find safety under the Olive Tree. All the faithful ones He "glorified," i.e., honored and esteemed. The Lord chose Israel above every nation on the face of the earth and still does (Deut 7:6; 10:15; 14:2; Isa 41:8; Zech 2:8). Then, the faithful ones of the past have gone to the glory above, but the glorification of new clothing awaits the Second Coming (8:17; cf. 2Th 1:10-12; Rev 3:4-5, 18; 7:9, 13-14).
Hymn of Freedmen, 8:31-39
31― What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
What then shall we say: Paul launches into exuberant praise of the God of Israel. The following monologue has all the elements of a great hymn. to these things: From 8:12 on Paul has made a triumphant presentation of the reasons for the certainty of final sanctification of the sons of God. He has reached the climax with glorification (v. 30). But Paul lets the objector have his say as he usually does so that in verses 31-39 he considers the objections (Robertson). If God is for us, who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. The pronoun introduces the first of five rhetorical questions. is against us: Paul challenges all doubters and states the obvious to rebut negative thinking. Having reminded the disciples of all that God has done for them, he then minimizes the adversaries of our faith. We can be conquerors because Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, the Lord of Heavenly Armies, loves us. We can trust in his sovereign care. There is no one on a par with the God of Israel.
32― He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
He who did not spare: Grk. pheidomai, aor. mid., to have hesitation about doing something that affects adversely, to spare. Paul uses terminology that alludes to the offering of Isaac (Gen 22:16 LXX), whom Abraham did not withhold from God. His own Son: the gift of "his own son" is the promise and the pledge of the "all things for good" of verse 28. Messiah is all and carries all with him (Robertson). delivered Him: Grk. paradidōmi, aor., to convey from one position to another; in general, hand over in the sense of subjecting a person to custodial procedure, which could involve various stages and numerous parties in the judicial process. While early apostolic rhetoric emphasized Sanhedrin culpability and responsibility for the unlawful arrest, trial and execution of Yeshua, Paul points to the sovereign plan of God.
for us all: Paul stresses the universal benefit that resulted from the Father delivering up his Son. how will He not also with Him freely give us all things: Paul redirects the logical outcome of the opening clause. After all, the proposition could have said that since God didn't spare his own son, neither will he spare us. Verses 35 and 36 deal with this reality. However, Paul focuses on the promise implicit in the sacrificial offering of the Messiah, that his sufferings guarantee future blessings in the Messianic kingdom.
33― Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
Who will bring a charge: Grk. egkaleō, fut., originally meant the payment of a debt, then of a legal accusation. against God's elect: Grk. eklektos, to be favored with select status, chosen. In the Tanakh "God's elect" (chosen ones) only has reference to Israel (Deut 7:6), but in the apostolic writings elektos would include all disciples of Yeshua (cf. Rom 16:13; Col 3:12; 2Tim 2:10; Titus 1:1). The answer to the second rhetorical question is self-evident, but Paul chooses not to give any attention to the enemy of our souls by direct mention. "The accuser of our brethren" (Rev 12:10), otherwise known in English as Satan, is busy day and night attacking the reputation and character of the saints.
God is the one who justifies: Paul asserts that the only person whose opinion matters is God. Satan has no interest in helping anyone, but only seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Satan may have been a great archangel at one time, but he became a murderer and a liar, indeed the father of lies (John 8:44). On the other hand, God is the God of truth who seeks to redeem and restore sinners to a right relationship with him. Only God can accomplish this.
34― who is the one who condemns? Messiah Yeshua is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
who is the one who condemns: an allusion to Satan as identified in the previous verse. The third rhetorical question reflects a bold accuser who can face God with false charges or with true ones for that matter. Messiah Yeshua: the title and name of our Lord is for Paul like a computer zip file. All the history, hopes and promises of a Jewish Messiah, Redeemer, Deliverer and King are packed into those two words. See note on 1:1. He who died…was raised…at the right hand: Grk. dexios, "right" as a direction. While dexios occurs several times in the Besekh in reference to a part of the body, it also has a simple location usage within a structure, as well as figurative use of power or privileged position. of God: Paul summarizes the glorious victory of our Lord in his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven (cf. 1Cor 15:3-4). The assertion of Yeshua's heavenly location is also affirmed in other passages (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Col 3:1; Heb 10:12; 1Pet 3:22).
In Hebrews 10:12 Paul is more specific and says Yeshua "sat down" at the right hand of God, quoting Psalm 110:1. Stephen as he was being martyred, remarked that Yeshua was standing, ostensibly in honor of his sacrifice (Acts 7:55-56.) Sitting implies a throne and the apostle John was informed of it: "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev 3:21). That God sits on a throne was known from the time of David (Ps 11:4; 29:10; 47:8). However, it was the prophet Micaiah who gave the first eyewitness report of seeing God on His throne, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left" (1Kgs 22:19).
A century later Isaiah reported, "In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple" (Isa 6:1). Human minds may not be able to understand how the omnipresent God can "sit" on a throne and some regard the report as so much figurative language, especially since Scripture says that Heaven is God's throne (Isa 66:1). Nevertheless, the united testimony of Scripture is that God does indeed sit on a throne and on his right sits Yeshua, also on a throne.
who also intercedes: Grk. entugchanō, pres. See verse 27 above. for us: Paul completes the thought by affirming that Yeshua has an active occupation. The intercession of the Son functions as gadol kohen (high priest, Heb 2:17; 7:25), very different than the Holy Spirit. Whereas the Holy Spirit is present with us Yeshua serves in heaven as noted above. We have an Advocate at God's Court if we sin (1Jn 2:1). Our Advocate paid the debt for our sins with his blood and provides perpetual atonement (Heb 7:27). He is ever ready to help us because he sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15). The "high priestly prayer" recorded in John 17 illustrates that while Yeshua may sympathize with our weaknesses he nevertheless pleads for the development of godly virtues in us, especially faithfulness, sanctification and unity.
35― Who will separate us from the love of the Messiah? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 24 above. The great majority of versions translate the pronoun as "who" indicating a person, but given the list of bad things that follow tis could be translated as "what" (DLNT, EHV, GW, NCV, NOG, NABRE), emphasizing the nature of the events. Some of the following experiences could be the result of bad circumstances, but most are caused by bad people as instigated by Satan. will separate: Grk. chōrizō, fut., to separate or divide, whether in (1) creating a distance between; (2) motion by departing away; or (3) a relational sense by separating from a spouse. The first usage is intended here.
us from the love: Grk. agapē, a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another, affection, esteem, love. The noun agapē is one of the four Greek words for "love." In the LXX agapē renders Heb. ahavah (SH-160, BDB 12), which is used of both human and divine love. The Jewish translators of the LXX apparently coined the noun agapē, since there is no Greek literature earlier than the LXX that uses the word (DNTT 2:539). God's nature and actions are the epitome of agapē (1Jn 4:8) and the preeminent virtue (1Cor 13:1-13). The essential factor in every passage employing agapē is the willingness to sacrifice for an object, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros.
of the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos. See verse 1 above. The specific phrase "agapē tou Christou" occurs only in Paul's writings (also 2Cor 5:14; Eph 3:19). The phrase "love of Messiah" is in the genitive case. The genitive qualifies the meaning of a preceding noun and is typically translated with "of.” The force of the genitive may be subjective or objective. Treating the phrase as a subjective genitive means that Christos performs the action. Treating the phrase as an objective genitive means that Christos receives the action. The context of verses 28-34 in which the actions of God in behalf of His favored people are lauded would support "love of Messiah" being Yeshua's love for his disciples. While Scripture often mentions God's love for His people and the world (John 3:16; 16:27), only a few verses mention Messiah's love for his disciples (cf. John 13:1; 15:10).
Paul minimize the reality of suffering of God's people. He also does not subscribe to the ancient idea that suffering is the result of God's punishment for sin, as in the story of Job. Rather, disciples can experience the Messiah's love and the love of the Father even in the midst of the worst times. God's love is not just a sentimental feeling, but an active working for our good. The devil may impugn the goodness of God, but the truth is that He will always care for his people.
tribulation: Grk. thlipsis means affliction, pressure or oppression (BAG), and is a word picture of being crushed under a weight. Thlipsis sometimes refers to suffering that is experienced as a part of life. Most of occurrences refer to persecution or opposition that disciples of Yeshua endure from the world. In His Olivet Discourse Yeshua gave the word "tribulation" a two-fold meaning: "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name" (Matt 24:9). Imprisonment is also included in the definition of tribulation (Acts 7:9-10; 20:23). Paul concurred that such was his experience (2Cor 4:8; 2Tim 3:11). Tribulation is the natural state of affairs between members of God's kingdom and the world considering the longstanding war between Satan and God, so suffering a great tribulation in the very last days should not be a surprise (Matt 24:21; Rev 7:9-14). distress: Grk. stenochōria, feeling of pressure in constricting circumstance, distress. "Distress" is likely the emotional response to "tribulation."
persecution: Grk. diōgmos, a program of systematic harassment, especially because of differing belief or expression, persecution. Apostolic records indicate that early disciples persecution almost exclusively from Jewish religious leaders. The book of Acts records numerous incidents of open hostility by unbelieving Jews, particularly Judean leaders, against the Jewish apostles of the Messiah in Damascus, Jerusalem, Paphos, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Macedonia, and Caesarea. In 2 Corinthians 11:24 Paul says he received 39 lashes five times from unbelieving Jews. In contrast the book of Acts records only four incidents of Gentile hostility against the apostles (Acts 12:1-4; 14:5, 19; 16:16-24; 19:23ff). In the Second Century this situation reversed itself and beginning with Emperor Trajan Christians became the target of State oppression.
Millions of believers have suffered and died for their faith since the first century. Satan has exhausted every conceivable tactic and method for destroying the God's people, and in some places and some times, the gates of hell did seem to prevail. Satan's campaign equally targeted the Jews and millions have endured coerced conversions, blood libels, ritual murders, crusades, inquisitions, expulsions, pogroms, ghettoes, and the Holocaust. (See Marvin Wilson, Our Father Abraham, Chapter Seven, for the sordid history of anti-Judaism.)
In modern times the saints have had to endure intense persecution in countries controlled by Nazism, Communism and the dominant false religion of the Middle East. Disciples of Yeshua have also suffered persecution in regions dominated by occult oppression. Even Western countries with their constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion are increasingly infringing on the rights of followers of Yeshua to practice their faith.
famine: Grk. limos, (1) condition of misery caused by lack of food, with the focus on craving for food, hunger (2Cor 11:27), or (2) as serious lack of food causing hunger in a broad area, famine (Acts 711; Rev 6:8). Ancient civilizations had no safety net against crop failures, as evidenced by the seven-year famine of Egypt which brought the ancient land to near collapse. However, famine or shortage of food products can result from a variety of causes, including wars, inefficient distribution of food, hoarding, collusion in controlling the market, hyperinflation, high taxes, bureaucratic regulation and price controls. Those with wealth may weather such hard times, but the poor invariably suffer.
nakedness: Grk. gumnotēs, a condition of being without any clothing or being inadequately closed. Nakedness might result from either destitution or taken in slavery. In ancient times conquering armies would sometimes subject defeated people to being stripped of their clothing, both for humiliation and to minimize the possibility of escape (cf. Deut 28:48; Isa 20:1-4; 47:3; Ezek 16:37-39). peril: Grk. kindunos, danger or hazard. Paul spoke of a variety of dangers he faced--"dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren" (2Cor 11:26). The primary focus of "peril" is threat to physical safety, as well as security of property.
sword: Grk. machaira, refers to a dagger or the Roman short sword used by ancient Roman infantry for close hand to hand combat. Paul's intention could be literal in the sense of the threat of being murdered, as Herod unlawfully executed James the brother of John (Acts 12:1-2). The term could also be metaphorical as Yeshua used the term, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34). Yeshua goes on to apply the metaphor to family relations that would suffer due to following him. Paul says that he experienced the loss of all things (Php 3:8), which probably meant that he had been cut off from his family inheritance.
Yeshua warned His disciples that as they served God's purposes they would suffer persecutions, tribulations, privations, family desertions, hatred from adversaries and finally death by cruel hands. Likewise, Paul warned that all who are godly would suffer persecution (2Tim 3:12). Persecution may seem ironic for children of the King, but true discipleship means to follow in the steps of the suffering Messiah (Php 3:10).
36― Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all the day; we were considered as sheep of slaughter."
Just as it is written: the standard formula in the apostolic writings for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. See the note on 1:17 for this phrase. This is the sixth time the formula is used in the letter. Following up the last two kinds of suffering in the previous verse, "peril" and "sword," Paul quotes from Psalm 44:22. In accordance with Jewish practice we should assume that Paul is applying the entire psalm to those who have trusted in Yeshua (Stern). Psalm 44 speaks of Israel as oppressed by enemies and scattered among the nations, yet faithful to God's covenant.
What is especially important to Paul's line of argument in this chapter and the previous chapter is that Psalm 44 confesses that their deliverance from and victory over their enemies did not come about as a result of their efforts, but through the sovereign power of God. Paul's hearers would also recognize that the disciples of Yeshua are not the only ones to be considered as sheep. Yeshua, himself, in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7 was led as a sheep to be slaughtered. Paul's message is that just as Jews have been singled out for destruction since ancient times, so following Yeshua will not offer any sanctuary from like experience.
37― But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
But in all these things: in the tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword, that is our lot. we overwhelmingly conquer: Grk. hupernikaō, pres., to win overwhelmingly. The word is formed from the preposition huper, over or above, and nikaō, to be a victor, to prevail, to conquer, to overcome or to vanquish, whether in a military battle, athletic contest, or a legal action (BAG). Nikaō occurs frequently in Revelation in a spiritual sense of overcoming evil. through Him: Paul emphasizes that our victory is definitely from above, from heaven. who loved us: Grk. agapaō, aor. part., to love or cherish. A participle is a verbal adjective, so God loved because it is His nature to love.
The God of Israel and Yeshua serve as the models for the best expression of agapaō. 1Corinthians 13 outlines the key characteristics of a life dominated by this virtue. Conversely, several passages use the agapaō word-group in a thoroughly negative sense (Matt 24:12, Luke 6:27; 11:43, John 3:19, 2Tim 4:10). The common factor in every passage employing agapaō is the willingness to sacrifice, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō and the passion of eros. Thus, Paul points back to that time when God so loved the world that he gave his Son (John 3:16).
38― For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
For I am convinced: Paul expresses an unshakeable confidence. neither death: no matter the cause, whether natural or caused by man. Death is the last enemy, but it power has been nullified by the resurrection of Yeshua and the hope of our own resurrection. nor life: it seems odd to list "life" as a cause of anxiety, but he probably means the uncertainty of life in terms of health and prosperity. For Paul to live was the Messiah and he is the antidote to our fears. nor angels: pl. of Grk. angelos refers to one empowered to act as an agent or courier to convey a message or announcement, and may be translated as messenger, envoy or attendant. In the Greek language angelos originally referred to an ambassador in human affairs who speaks on behalf of another, including as a messenger of the gods (DNTT 1:101f).
In the Besekh angelos occurs 176 times, fourteen of which definitely refer to men (Matt 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 27; 9:52; 2Cor 12:7; Gal 1:8; Jas 2:25; Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel. A malak was responsible to carry a message, perform some other specific commission and to represent more or less officially the one sending him (TWOT 1:464). Malak occurs 213 times in the Tanakh, sometimes as a heavenly messenger (Gen 16:7) and sometimes as a human messenger used in the general sense (Gen 32:3), or more specifically of a prophet (Isa 42:19) or a priest (Mal 2:7). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or human depends on the context.
nor principalities: pl. of Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority with these applications: (1) The point of origination, i.e., beginning; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm, often plural, i.e., ruler, authority; (3) an assigned position or sphere of activity, a position, domain or jurisdiction. Archē is derived from archō, and in the LXX archō renders over 30 Hebrew words, including Heb. nasi, used to refer to tribal chiefs or leaders of the community, (e.g., Ex 16:22; 34:31; Josh 9:15; 22:32) (DNTT 1:165; BDB 672). In the apostolic writings archē is used as a general term for rule and authority without further specification (1Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; Col 1:16; 2:10).
The term is used for a political ruler (Luke 20:20; Titus 3:1); for a synagogue ruler (Luke 12:11); and for angelic or demonic powers (Eph 3:10; 6:12; Col 2:15). Some versions as the NASB employ the older formal term "principalities" (HNV, KJV, MW, NASB, NKJV, RSV, TLV). A principality (or princedom) refers to a sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or princess. Considering the ancient use of archē the word "principality" is hardly accurate. Some versions render archē as "heavenly rulers," referring to other supernatural beings, no doubt due to the proximity of "angels," (CJB, NET, NIV, NLT, TEV). Still other versions translate with the simple and more accurate word "rulers" (CEB, HCSB, ESV, MRINT, NRSV).
Not considered by commentators is that Paul could be referring to synagogue officials with the references to "angels and rulers." Moseley suggests that angelos was a term used of a synagogue minister (9). There is no such usage in the apostolic writings, but the synagogue organization included a wide variety of leadership and ministry positions (see Hegg 116f), and those who taught the Scriptures could easily have been thought of as messengers for God. In Revelation angelos is clearly a term for the overseer of each of the seven congregations receiving letters and it is well established that early congregational organization was characteristic of synagogue organization (Hegg 116; Moseley 8-11).
Moreover, four terms derived from archē illustrate its strong connection with the synagogue: (1) archisunagōgos, ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5:22, 35, 36, 38; Luke 8:49; Acts 13:15; 18:8, 17); (2) archōn, used of national rulers (Matt 20:25; Acts 16:19), synagogue officials (Matt 9:18; Luke 8:41; Acts 14:5), religious party leaders (Luke 14:1), and members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 18:18; 23:13, 35; 24:20; John 3:1; 7:26; Acts 3:17; 4:5, 8; 13:27; 23:5; 1Cor 2:8); (3) archēgos, ruler of a synagogue or member of the Sanhedrin (John 7:48; 12:42; 1Cor 2:8); and (4) archeireus, used of the high priest (Mark 2:26) or chief priests (Matt 2:4; Mark 8:31; Luke 23:13; John 7:45; Acts 4:23).
Yeshua warned his disciples that they would have to contend with adversarial Jewish leaders and synagogue officials: "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers [archē] and the authorities [exousia, i.e., Sanhedrin or chief priests], do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say (Luke 12:11; cf. Matt 10:17; 21:23; 23:34; Acts 9:14; 26:10, 12). These faithful Jewish disciples certainly had plenty of bad experience with unbelieving Jewish leaders, including synagogue officials, beginning in Jerusalem and then in various cities of Asia Minor. Paul encourages the Roman congregation that Jewish disciples might be separated from their synagogue kinsmen, but no official could separate them from the love of God.
nor things present: Grk. enistēmi, pl. perf. part., be present or be here. In this context the verb is a simple reference to contemporary life. "Things present," implying a threat to one's peace of mind, could refer to many aspects of life in the first century (cf. 2Tim 3:1-5), such as, poverty, persecution, slavery, totalitarian rule, military terrorism, idolatry, a debased culture, political corruption, nepotism, the breakup of families, the growing divide among Jews over the Messiah and the growing anti-Jewish sentiment in Rome.
nor things to come: Grk. mellō, pl. pres. part. See verse 13 above. Yeshua had prophesied in his Olivet Discourse a number of very unpleasant events. According to the apostolic writings things will get worse before they get better. Such bad news could cause extreme anxiety and doubt about God's love. Why would the loving God of Israel allow his people to suffer? Both the present and the future may well include the tragedies listed in verse 35. We can do nothing about the future except prepare for it the best we can and in the present live faithfully for our Lord.
nor powers: pl. of Grk. dunamis, which refers to the quality or state of being capable and thus may mean "power" or "might" as a quality of something or the demonstration of power by a structure or personage. Some Bible versions, considering the term to be associated with demonic power, translate the word in the list of angels and rulers. It's not likely the word occurs at the end of the sentence because Paul lost his train of thought and wrote it out of place. Since Paul did not create the verse divisions, dunamis probably belongs to the beginning of the next verse and connected with "nor height nor depth" and in that context refers to an adversarial supernatural power.
39― nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
height nor depth: Shulam suggests that this expression may reflect the power of the stars and probably refer to astrological terms. Barclay explains that "height" was when a star was at its zenith and "depth" was when the star was at its lowest distance from its zenith. The ancient world believed strongly in the tyranny of the stars. They believed that a man was born under a certain star, which determined his destiny. Such fallacious thinking caused much anxiety and even Hellenistic Jews fell prey to this superstition. Paul reassures the disciples that the world is wrong and that the stars have no power over our lives, especially to separate us from God's love.
any other created thing: Grk. ktisis. See verse 19 above. This phrase serves to contrast with the "height" and "depth" of the stars, in this case referring to what's on earth. For example, a lion's den holds no threat, because God's presence would even be there. will be able to separate us from the love of God: Paul emphasizes that not only did God love in the past but continues to sacrificially love his people. The only way to separate ourselves from the love of God is to walk away from it. which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord: See the notes on 1:1, 4 for these references to the Son of God. God's love is clearly demonstrated in his Son.
BAG: W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans, Daily Study Bible, rev. ed. Westminister Press, 1975.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Brown: David Brown (1803-1897), The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871). Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana and J.R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, The Macmillian Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, ed. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966.
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. [Translation of the New Testament Majority Text and annotations by the author.]
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic?. CreateSpace, 2005.
Harrison: Everett F. Harrison, Romans, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Midrash: Midrash Rabbah: Vol. 1, Genesis. Trans. by Rabbi Dr. Harry Freedman. Soncino Press, 1939. Online.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
OGB: Alvin Engler, ed., Online Greek Bible, 2001-2010. (Text of Nestle-Aland 26th ed. and UBS 3rd ed.)
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, "Romans," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2, Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, "Romans," Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 4, Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997)
Shulam: Joseph Shulam, A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Romans, Lederer Books, 1997.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press, 1980.
Young: Brad H. Young, Paul the Jewish Theologian, Hendrickson Pub., 1997.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
Copyright © 2010-2021 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.