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8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Everything King James Bible:Romans

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Romans
Book: Romans
Chapter: 8

Overview:
The Freedom of believers from condemnation. (1-9) Their
privileges as being the children of God. (10-17) Their hopeful
prospects under tribulations. (18-25) Their assistance from the
Spirit in Prayer. (26,27) Their interest in the Love of God.
(28-31) Their final triumph, through Christ. (32-39)

1-9 Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be
condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through
Faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their
walk; the Flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature,
corruption or Grace? For which of these do we make provision, By
which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any
commandment fully. And the Law, besides outward duties, requires
inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of Sin By the sufferings
of his Son in the Flesh, that the believer's person might be
pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine
Justice, and the way of Salvation opened for the sinner. By the
Spirit the Law of Love is written upon the Heart, and though the
Righteousness of the Law is not fulfilled By us, yet, blessed be
God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers,
which answers the intention of the Law. The favour of God, the
welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of
the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which
way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our
plans and contrivances? Are we most Wise for the world, or for
our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead, 1Ti 5:6. A
sanctified soul is a living soul; and that Life is peace. The
Carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but Enmity itself. The
Carnal Man may, By the power of Divine Grace, be made subject to
the Law of God, but the Carnal mind never can; that must be
broken and driven out. We may know our real state and character
By inquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or
not, ver. 9. Ye are not in the Flesh, but in the Spirit. Having
the Spirit of Christ, means having a turn of mind in some degree
like the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and is to be shown By a
Life and Conversation suitable to his precepts and Example.

10-17 If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the
Heart By Faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is
alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall
endure for ever. The Righteousness of Christ imputed, secures
the soul, the better part, from Death. From hence we see how
much it is our duty to walk, not after the Flesh, but after the
Spirit. If any habitually live according to corrupt lustings,
they will certainly perish in their sins, whatever they profess.
And what can a worldly Life present, worthy for a moment to be
Put against this noble prize of our high Calling? Let us then,
By the Spirit, endeavour more and more to mortify the Flesh.
Regeneration By the Holy Spirit brings a new and Divine Life to
the soul, though in a feeble state. And the sons of God have the
Spirit to work in them the disposition of children; they have
not the Spirit of Bondage, which the Old Testament Church was
under, through the Darkness of that Dispensation. The Spirit of
Adoption was not then plentifully poured out. Also it refers to
that Spirit of Bondage, under which many saints were at their
Conversion. Many speak peace to themselves, to whom God does not
speak peace. But those who are sanctified, have God's Spirit
witnessing with their spirits, in and By his speaking peace to
the soul. Though we may now seem to be losers for Christ, we
shall not, we cannot, be losers By him in the End.

18-25 The sufferings of the saints strike No deeper than the
things of time, last No longer than the present time, are Light
Afflictions, and but for a moment. How vastly different are the
sentence of the Word and the sentiment of the world, concerning
the sufferings of this present time! Indeed the whole Creation
seems to wait with Earnest expectation for the period when the
children of God shall be manifested in the Glory prepared for
them. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which has
come upon the Creature By the fall of Man. There is an Enmity of
one Creature to another. And they are used, or abused rather, By
men as instruments of Sin. Yet this deplorable state of the
Creation is in Hope. God will deliver it from thus being held in
Bondage to Man's depravity. The miseries of the human race,
through their own and each other's wickedness, declare that the
world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received
the First-fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages
our hopes, and raises our expectations. Sin has been, and is,
the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the
Creation of God. It has brought On the woes of Earth; it has
kindled the flames of Hell. As to Man, not a tear has been shed,
not a groan has been uttered, not a pang has been felt, in body
or mind, that has not come from Sin. This is not all; Sin is to
be looked at as it affects the Glory of God. Of this how
fearfully regardless are the bulk of mankind! Believers have
been brought into a state of safety; but their comfort consists
rather in Hope than in enjoyment. From this Hope they cannot be
turned By the vain expectation of finding satisfaction in the
things of time and sense. We need patience, our way is rough and
long; but He that shall come, will come, though he seems to
tarry.

26,27 Though the infirmities of Christians are many and great,
So that they would be overpowered if left to themselves, yet the
Holy Spirit supports them. The Spirit, as an enlightening
Spirit, teaches us what to pray for; as a sanctifying Spirit,
Works and stirs up praying graces; as a comforting Spirit,
silences our fears, and Helps us over all discouragements. The
Holy Spirit is the Spring of all desires toward God, which are
often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the
hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the Spirit, the
renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes
intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.

28-31 That is good for the saints which does their souls good.
Every Providence tends to the spiritual good of those that Love
God; in breaking them off from Sin, bringing them nearer to God,
weaning them from the world, and fitting them for Heaven. When
the saints act out of character, corrections will be employed to
bring them back again. And here is the order of the causes of
our Salvation, a golden Chain, one which cannot be broken. 1.
Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed
to the image of his Son. All that God designed for Glory and
happiness as the End, he decreed to Grace and Holiness as the
way. The whole human race deserved Destruction; but for reasons
not perfectly known to us, God determined to recover some By
Regeneration and the power of his Grace. He predestinated, or
before decreed, that they should be conformed to the image of
his Son. In this Life they are in part renewed, and walk in his
steps. 2. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. It is
an Effectual Call, from self and Earth to God, and Christ, and
Heaven, as our End; from Sin and vanity to Grace and Holiness,
as our way. This is the Gospel Call. The Love of God, ruling in
the hearts of those who once were enemies to him, proves that
they have been called according to his purpose. 3. Whom he
called, them he also justified. None are thus justified but
those that are effectually called. Those who stand out against
the Gospel Call, abide under guilt and wrath. 4. Whom he
justified, them he also glorified. The power of corruption being
broken in effectual Calling, and the guilt of Sin removed in
Justification, nothing can come between that soul and Glory.
This encourages our Faith and Hope; for, as for God, his way,
his work, is perfect. The Apostle speaks as one amazed, and
swallowed up in admiration, wondering at the height and depth,
and length and breadth, of the Love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge. The more we know of other things, the less we wonder;
but the further we are led into Gospel mysteries, the more we
are affected By them. While God is for us, and we keep in his
Love, we may with holy boldness defy all the powers of Darkness.

32-39 All things whatever, in Heaven and Earth, are not So
great a display of God's free Love, as the Gift of his coequal
Son to be the Atonement On the Cross for the Sin of Man; and all
the Rest follows upon union with him, and interest in him. "All
things", all which can be the causes or means of any real good to
the Faithful Christian. He that has prepared a Crown and a
kingdom for us, will give us what we need in the way to it. Men
may justify themselves, though the accusations are in full force
against them; but if God justifies, that answers all. By Christ
we are thus secured. By the merit of his Death he paid our Debt.
Yea, rather that is risen again. This is convincing evidence
that Divine Justice was satisfied. We have such a Friend at the
right Hand of God; all power is given to him. He is there,
making intercession. Believer! does your soul say within you, Oh
that he were Mine! and oh that I were his; that I could please
him and live to him! Then do not toss your Spirit and perplex
your thoughts in fruitless, endless doubtings, but as you are
convinced of ungodliness, believe On Him who justifies the
ungodly. You are condemned, yet Christ is dead and risen. Flee
to Him as such. God having manifested his Love in giving his own
Son for us, can we think that any thing should turn aside or do
away that Love? Troubles neither cause nor show any abatement of
his Love. Whatever believers may be separated from, enough
remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take
the believer from Him; and that is enough. All other hazards
signify nothing. Alas, Poor sinners! though you abound with the
possessions of this world, what vain things are they! Can you
say of any of them, Who shall separate us? You may be removed
from pleasant Dwellings, and friends, and estates. You may even
live to see and seek your parting. At last you must part, for
you must die. Then farewell, all this world accounts most
valuable. And what hast thou left, Poor soul, who hast not
Christ, but that which thou wouldest gladly part with, and canst
not; the condemning guilt of all thy sins! But the soul that is
in Christ, when other things are pulled away, cleaves to Christ,
and these separations pain him not. Yea, when Death comes, that
breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it
carries the believer's soul into the nearest union with its
beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him for ever.

Biblical Exegesis of Romans 8:1-13

A. Observations

Cultural-Historical Background

While it is always important to be aware of the context in which a passage or book of the Bible is written, Romans 8:1-13 seems like one of the more "universal" passages, in the sense that it easily could have been written to other churches besides the one in Rome. However, it is still important to understand how this passage fits with the book as a whole and within the Bible, and some cultural and historical background is helpful. Thomas Wright states that Romans was written by Paul in the "middle to late 50s of the first century, from Corinth or somewhere nearby, while planning his final voyage to Jerusalem with the intention of going on thereafter to Rome and thence to Spain" (New Interpreter’s Bible, 396).

This takes care of where and when, but to whom was the letter addressed? Douglas Moo discusses Paul’s audience as "both Jewish and Gentile Christians, with the emphasis, if anything, on the latter group. This fits better with both the focus on Gentiles in the letter and the probably increasingly dominant position of Gentiles in the church" (Epistle to the Romans, 19). Several commentators have noted that after the forced exile of Jews from Rome (under Claudius in A.D. 49) and their subsequent return, Gentile-Jew relations were strained as they made the transition from Gentile Christian-dominated house churches to a body with different parts. Moo explains in the NIV Application Commentary that Romans is an "occasional, not systemic theology" with an emphasis on "issues such as Jewish-Gentile relationships and the place of the Mosaic law in the history of salvation" (20). Edwards and Reasoner also point out in Rome: Overview that Paul recognized "that Romans viewed religion as a matter of law," which probably encouraged the rational, logical style of Romans (1021). Finally, while Moo does suggest that Paul was "writing to correct the Gentiles’ indifference, even arrogance, toward the Jewish minority" and to "show the Jews that they must not insist on the law as a normative factor in the church" (The Epistle to the Romans, 19), he also notes that this issue was a reflection of the problems within the church as a whole (20). Toews suggests that Romans was written rhetorically, in order to "impart some gift, to reap some harvest, to remind the followers of Jesus of some things" (BCBC Romans, 21). This fits with Paul’s own words in 1:11, when he writes "I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established" (NASB). F.F. Bruce seems to agree with the Romans need of reminding, as he states that "Paul’s gospel, we know, was charged with promoting moral indifferentism, if not with actively encouraging sin, and the form of his argument in this letter implies his awareness that this charge was not unknown in Rome..." (The Romans Debate-Continued, 183). Romans in this light could become an apologetic letter of Paul’s theology. According to Dunn in Letter to the Romans, Paul knew that the house churches formed a "spectrum" of practices and beliefs, and that his "combination of general teaching and specific exhortation... would resonate with different force among the different congregations" (DPHL, 839).

With this multiplicity of factors, the importance of reading Romans in context can be difficult, yet rewarding. Romans 8:1-13 does not appear to address the Jewish-Gentile relations within the Christian community, yet it certainly applies to the suggestions made by Toews and F.F. Bruce that Paul was not only showing his disapproval of sin, but also giving an answer to it: the transforming power of the Spirit of God, and the believer’s responsibility to pursue Christ in thought and in actions.


Problems and Questions

The context of Romans 7 (as well as of the entire epistle) is useful in aiding one’s comprehension of Romans 8 (yet note Moo’s assertion that "neither 7:6b nor 7:7-25 is to be seen as the main jumping-off point for chap. 8. Both are subordinate connections taken up within Paul’s reiteration of the theme of Christian assurance and eschatological victory..." (Epistle to the Romans, 470)). Therefore, the debate regarding the nature of that chapter is relevant: Toews argues that unlike the interpretation of Augustine and Luther, "Romans 7 is about God, not the struggle of men and women with God. The agenda is defined clearly as the law by the questions in 7:7 and 13, and by the fulfillment of the law in Christ and the Spirit (8:1-11)" (215). Moo also asserts that 8:1-13 comes after "Chapters 6 and 7 make slight detours from the main line of Paul’s argument, in which he deals with sin and the law, two key threats to the security of our new life. Now he is in a position to return to the main road by continuing his exposition of the believer’s security in Christ" (NIV Application, 248).
On the other hand, Dunn argues that the phrase "No condemnation" is meant to remind readers and listeners of 5:18, and that in spite of "their continuing captivity to the law of sin as members of this age (7:23)... being "in Christ" is what gives the assurance that the end result will be acquittal... the tension of living between the two is temporary; the sobering realism of 7:14-25 is matched by the reaffirmed assurance of 8:1" (WBC, 435).
This debate is ongoing and rather heated at times, but it is important to be aware of as one reads Romans in order to appreciate both Paul’s original intent, and the manner in which Christians throughout history have understood this fascinating chapter.
The word "condemnation" is reminiscent of Romans 2 when the readers are charged with passing judgment on one another, by which "you condemn yourself" (2:1), and Paul warns of God’s impending righteous judgment (v.2-3). In verse 4 Paul talks about the "requirement of the law" (NASB), and Moo notes that the New International Version incorrectly translates dikaioma (a singular word in Greek) as "the righteous requirements of the law" (NIV Application, 249). He asserts that "the singular word, along with the passive form of 'fulfill,' suggests a different idea: God in Christ has fulfilled the entirety of the law’s demand on our behalf... The people in whom the law is fulfilled are those who live in the realm of the Spirit" (250). This then introduces us to yet another issue- that of the meaning of the Law.

Key words and concepts

Law: Law, or nomos is mentioned 4 times within Romans 8:2,4, and theologicans debate over the exact meaning behind each use. Bryan argues that "it is not two different 'Laws' of which Paul speaks here, but the same Law-the Mosaic Law- understood rightly or wrongly" (146). His definition of a correct understanding is that by the Spirit of Christ that the truth in the Law is seen, whereas the wrong understanding of the Law makes it "a way to salvation," which "simply shows me my sin... and condemns me to death" (146). Schreiner notes that scholars debate whether the Law is meant metaphorically or literally, and his position is that in verse 2 it is to be taken literally:

"The Mosaic law is in the realm either of the Holy Spirit or of the powers of sin and death... for those who have the Spirit the law plays a positive role. This fits with the conception of the law in Ps. 119 and Ps. 19:7-11... where the Torah restores and revives the godly" (400).

On the other hand, Moo argues for a more metaphorical understanding of the Law, denoting it as the authority and power of sin, so that "The law of the Spirit... denotes the authority or power exercised by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit exerts a liberating power through the work of Christ that takes us out of the realm of sin and the spiritual death to which sin inevitably leads" (248-9).
Life: Life, living, and alive are all words used throughout this passage as the great "foil" to the consequence of sin, which is death and decay. Wright compares the contrast of life and death with the passage in 5:12-21 that contrasts Adam with Christ. He then continues on, artfully explaining that "the key contrast for the present passage is that between death and life: 'life' is the golden thread that runs through 8:1-11" (574).
Condemnation: According to Wright, condemnation refers to the final judgment that God will deliver at the end, which is "the necessary reaction of the justice-loving God to all injustice; of the God who created image-bearing human beings to all that defaces and destroys that likeness" (575-6). The exciting thing is that in this verse, it is used with a negative in front of it! "There is now no condemnation," or in other words, the death sentence is revoked and those who are "in Christ" will have abundant life. This answers Romans 5:18: "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." While Adam is the implied "one transgression" that resulted in condemnation for all, another man- Jesus Christ- performed the "one act of righteousness" which resulted in life for all.
Righteousness: In "Righteousness" by Onesti and Brauch, God’s righteousness is described as His "saving deed" and "relation-restoring love" towards His creation (836). Wright explains the reason for the broken relationship as the result of sin and evil "fracturing... the social and human fabric. What is required, therefore, is that justice be done, not so much in the punitive sense... but in the fuller sense of setting to rights that which is out of joint, restoring things as they should be" (The New Interpreter’s Bible, 399).
Spirit and Flesh: Paul mentions both the Spirit and flesh several times as a contrasting pair of "spheres of influence" (Keener, 428):

"For Paul the central anthropological terms are sarx... and pneuma, and Christians can "set their minds" on either, with negative or positive consequences (Rom. 8:5-6). Christians are exhorted to live according to the Spirit rather than the flesh with the goal of eschatological triumph" (Aune, 294).

With this emphasis on the Holy Spirit, Moo is quick to point out that Paul is focused on the work of the Spirit (Epistle to the Romans, 468). According to Dunn, the Spirit is "determinative for Christian belonging and sonship" (WBC, 415), and the Spirit of Christ is "that power which determined Christ in his ministry and in so doing provided a pattern of life in the Spirit" (446). On the opposite side is the flesh, which according to Craig Keener can be defined as "'human susceptibility to sin,' or 'self-centeredness' as opposed to 'God-centeredness'" (428). While several commentators would argue that the believer must choose between the two, Dunn gives a more gray definition, noting that the description of the flesh in the chapter "sums up the weakness and corruptibility of man belonging to this age" (WBC, 414).

B. Interpretation

Verse-by-verse interpretation

8:1 – Those who are "vitally united" to Jesus Christ by faith (Stott, 79) are not sentenced to death. This immediately sets a precedent: it is Christ alone who justifies us- not any work we do. Several commentators have noted that this sentence is backed up by passages that follow and not vice versa: "Paul has created a striking effect by advancing c and explaining it with b: 'I serve God’s law with my mind, but sin’s law with my flesh; there is therefore no condemnation, because God has dealt with sin in the flesh, and provided new life for the body'" (Wright, 575). This verse is often seen as linked with 7:6, because both have an eschatological sense of the new era (Schreiner, 398). Later in Romans 8:34 Paul asks outright "who is the one who condemns?" and implies that by Christ’s death and resurrection we are not condemned, nor separated from God’s love for us.

2 – The spirit brings life in union with Christ, and sets us free from the law that condemns us as sinners. This verse explains verse 1. It also appears to begin a section that answers "the dilemma of ego" in 7:7-25. God’s work in Christ, mediated by the Spirit, is what overcomes the inability of the law, weakened as it is by the flesh, and liberates the believer from "the law of sin and death" (Moo, Epistle to the Romans, 469).

3 – The false hope that the law can save us is gone, because it is God who saved us through the death of Jesus, who was both perfect and human-sinless flesh, the perfect sacrifice (Stott, 81). Moo succinctly states that "Christ became what we are so that we could become what he is" (NIV Application, 249). Dunn on the other hand thinks that Paul was implying the weakness of men to follow the law (WBC, 438) and not simply man’s attempt to attain righteousness and salvation by their work, by the Law.

4 – This verse provides us with the promise that in the bodies of those who belong to Christ, the law is fulfilled, and we are not condemned. This is only by our "conscious dependence on the living and dynamic power of God alone, at work in us (8:4b)" (Bryan, 146). Dunn notes that Paul purposely states that the purpose is to fulfill the requirements of the Law- not to live licentiously (WBC, 440).

5 – When people are slaves to their sinful nature, they are "preoccupied" (Stott, 87) with sinful thoughts, while those who let the Spirit reign over their lives (Bryan, 147) are preoccupied with spiritual things. The importance of one’s mindset, worldview, or "attitude of the heart" is established here.

6 - This verse describes the results of two lifestyles led by two different forces- one of death, or ‘separation from God’ (Stott, 87), and the other of life, or ‘continuing fellowship with God’ (87), and peace. Dunn notes that this verse echoes 2:7, 10 in its mention of life and peace: "to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life... but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good."

7 - We become God’s enemy when we live according to sinful flesh instead of following God’s Spirit. Those who do so don’t obey God, and can’t. This is why it is so important to decide which "force" will reign in you, because verse 6 describes what the result is! The law is useless when our thoughts are centered only on our desire for pleasure, and things will only get worse (WBC, 443).

8 – People who are living under the dominion of sin can’t be pleasing to God- it’s the logical end of this warped lifestyle and mindset that are set on death. Dunn explains that it is "submission to the Law of God" that is pleasing to our Creator (WBC, 443).

9 – Those who claim to have God’s Spirit dwelling in them are not in the flesh! That is the plight of the "children of Adam" (Stott, 88), while God’s children have Christ’s Spirit abiding in them- if not, you’re on your own and Jesus will have no part of you. Paul is reminding the Romans of the assurance they have in Christ even now of "living in fulfillment of the 'just requirement' of the Law... certainly Christians continue to sin and will continue to need, along with praising God, that constant round of contrition that must also mark any life that is in the process of sanctification" (Bryan, 147). Dunn contrasts this with the statement that "in flesh" and "in Spirit" are not meant in a strict sense of all-or-nothing, but that Paul is describing a "process of salvation" that has begun (WBC, 443).

10 – You will physically die because of the curse of sin (see Romans 6:6, the crucifixion of our old self that does away with our "body of sin"), but if Christ is in you, the spirit- Christ’s presence dwelling in you- is alive, because God made you holy and right with Him.

11 – So the body is dead, the spirit is alive, and this happens because the indwelling Spirit in us also raised Jesus from the dead! Romans 6:4-5 mirrors this: "...so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father... certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection." This happens by His indwelling Spirit that is in us.

12 – So now that we, the body of Christ, are dead to sin (Schreiner, 431), we have a duty to obey, but not to obey the flesh! This verse is similar to 6:2- "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" Schreiner argues against Dunn that this is a done deal and not an ideal to reach for (431).

13 – Remember, those who chose a lifestyle of sin will spiral down into death in the age to come, so don’t go there! Instead, obey the Spirit and crucify the sinful actions of our mortal bodies so your spirit can live in this up-and-coming age! (Schreiner, 433).

Summary of theological and ethical teachings

The idea of holiness, of being a "new creation" and a "living sacrifice [that is" is important in both theology and Christian ethics. Stott states that verse 4 is what tells Christians about living a holy life: "the reason for holiness is the coming and the death of Christ. The nature of holiness is the righteousness of the law, conformity to God’s will expressed in His law. And the means of holiness is the power of the Holy Spirit" (82). Toews also notes that in reaction against Luther’s ‘theology’ of "justified and sinner at the same time," the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century used Romans 8 to justify the belief that Christians were capable of fulfilling "the law in a life of radical discipleship, because they experienced the life transforming power of the Spirit. The charismatic renewal of the church in the twentieth century is teaching the church again that life in the Spirit genuinely transforms people and the church" (Toews, 217).
Similarly, F.F. Bruce notes that the gospel preached by Paul was meant to explain "not only the way of righteousness, in the sense of the righteous status which God by his grace bestows on believers in Christ, but also the way of holiness" (183). Finally, in Romans 8:9 Moo finds that this passage provides a good example of the middle ground between Arminianism and Calvinism by the "jarring" juxtaposition of verses 1 and 13. The Arminian fears that the promise of "no condemnation" from being "in Christ" is precarious because one may cease to be "in Christ," whereas the Calvinist focuses on the assurance and ignores the danger of sliding into a lifestyle of sin that would result in death (NIV Application, 258). The importance of one’s mindset or "heart attitude" (257) is stressed, though it is only by the Spirit that one can hope to control the governance of one’s thoughts. Therefore the theological principle is that to be a believer, one must "be under the dominance of God’s Spirit" (256) (Christ’s Spirit) for assurance of eternal life, which Dunn also states with reference to verse 10: "the Spirit is life by virtue of God’s righteousness... when sin plays death as its last card God’s Spirit will trump it" (WBC, 445).


Works Cited

Aune, David E. “Romans as a Logos Protreptikos,” The Romans Debate.
Bruce, F.F. “The Romans Debate-Continued,” The Romans Debate. 175-94.
Bryan, Christopher. A Preface to Romans: Notes on the Epistle in Its Literary and Cultural Setting.
Dunn, James D.G. Word Biblical Commentary: Romans 1-8.
Dallas: Word Books, 1988. ---. “Letter to the Romans,” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.
Edwards, R.B. and M. Reasoner. “Rome: Overview,” Dictionary of New Testament Background.
Hawthorne, Gerald F., and Ralph P. Martin, eds. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.
Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans: The New International Commentary on the New Testament.
---. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans.
New American Standard Bible.
Onesti, K.L. and M.T. Brauch. “Righteousness,” The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. 827-37.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans.
Stott, John R.W. Men Made New: an exposition of Romans 5-8.
Toews, John E. Believers Church Bible Commentary: Romans.
Wright, N. Thomas. “The Letter to the Romans,” The New Interpreter’s Bible.

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