Romans 8:21-27

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

March 17, 1999


We’ve seen Paul talk about the frustration of trying to live the right way. And as he tries to live under the power of his own flesh, he ultimately cries out:

(Rom 7:24 KJV) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

But as we’ve seen, the answer is not to be living under in the power of our own flesh, but to learn to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Rom 8:13 KJV) 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.

Then last week, we looked at these verses,

(Rom 8:18-20 KJV) 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. {19} For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. {20} For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

All of creation has suffered under the curse that came as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. All of creation is anxiously waiting for the time when the curse will be finished.

:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

shall be deliveredeleutheroo – to make free; set at liberty: from the dominion of sin

bondagedouleia – slavery, bondage, the condition of a slave

corruptionphthora – corruption, destruction, perishing

libertyeleutheria – liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation. A form of the verb "delivered" (above).

When Jesus comes back again, we won’t be the only ones affected. All of creation will be affected as the curse of Genesis 3 is lifted.

:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

groanethsustenazo – to groan together

travailethsunodino – to feel the pains of childbirth with, be in travail together; metaph. to undergo agony (like a woman in childbirth) along with

Creation is waiting like a woman going through labor, for the time when the curse will be lifted. There will be a day, when because of Jesus, the curse that came in Genesis 3 will be no more:

(Isa 11:6-9 KJV) The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. {7} And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. {8} And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. {9} They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,

firstfruitsaparche ("from" + "first place") – to offer firstlings or firstfruits

groanstenazo – a sigh, to groan (root of word "groan together" used in previous verse). To express grief by inarticulate or semi-articulate sounds.

Even as all of creation is groaning together, waiting for the curse to be lifted, we too groan, waiting for that same day.

:23 waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

adoptionhuiothesia – adoption, adoption as sons

waiting forapekdechomai – assiduously and patiently waiting for (same word used in verse 19)

redemptionapolutrosis – a releasing effected by payment of ransom; liberation procured by the payment of a ransom

Sometime before the Tribulation period opens up, we will receive our new bodies.

1 Th 4:13-17 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. {15} For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. {16} For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Those who have already died before the Rapture, will receive their new bodies first. We’ll follow them with new bodies.

After the Tribulation, those believers that have died will be raised:

Rev 20:4-5 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. {5} But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

This is the "redemption" of the body, when we will receive new, glorified bodies. Bodies without pain or sickness. Bodies without sin.

: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?

If you already see the thing you’re hoping for, it’s not real "hope". You only "hope" for things that you don’t yet see.

After you open the new tie for Christmas, you can’t say, "I hope I get a new tie for Christmas". You’ve already got it, you’ve already seen it.

The essence behind the idea of "hope" is that you’re expecting in something that you don’t see yet.

:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

with patiencehupomone ("under" + "to remain") – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

wait – apekdechomai – assiduously and patiently waiting for (same word used in verse 19, 23)


Hold on.

I know there are times we want to quit. But we’ve got to keep holding on. "Stay under" it. Don’t run away. Don’t lose hope.


I remember hearing about tests done with laboratory wharf rats. These are the rats that live under the piers along the waterfront. One group of rats was placed in a large container of water, in the dark, with no place to stand on, they had to keep swimming. They all drowned within fifteen minutes. The second group was placed in a similar container, yet every ten minutes the lab technician would open the container, take the rats out, stroke them a few seconds, and put them back in the water. They didn't have time to rest, they just got a little encouragement. These rats went on swimming for over 12 hours (or something like that...).

Some people feel that it might be a little "escapist", but we need to be looking forward to the Second Coming of the Lord, but Paul tells us to find comfort in it:

(1 Th 4:17-18 KJV) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. {18} Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

If you think that the soon coming of Jesus is a reason to quit work and sit around on the couch, you’re sadly mistaken. The Second Coming ought to be an incentive to action.

(2 Pet 3:8-12 KJV) But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. {9} The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. {11} Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, {12} Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Don’t lose hope. Consider yourselves reminded that He’ll be back soon. Take comfort in it. Keep going.

:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities

Likewisehosautos – in like manner, likewise, NASB – "in the same way"

helpethsunantilambanomai – to lay hold along with, to strive to obtain with others, help in obtaining; to take hold with another (present indicative tense)

infirmitiesastheneia – want of strength, weakness, infirmity

What weaknesses is Paul talking about? Is it only when we’re sick that the Spirit helps us?

The weakness Paul is talking about is our inability to pray. And the Spirit is constantly helping us.

:26 for we know not what we should pray for as we ought

we know noteido – to see; to know; to understand, perceive

We don’t understand what it is we’re supposed to be praying for.


We don’t know how to pray.

It’s not that we don’t know the fancy words to use.

To many, this is what they mean when they say, "I don’t know how to pray". Some of us grew up in churches where "praying" meant using fancy words that don’t mean anything to anybody. But that’s not the issue.

I remember that shortly after we started the church, I felt impressed that we needed to establish a men’s prayer group. We started first with a small group of guys meeting at Coco’s on Tuesday mornings. We eventually moved it to the YMCA, and began our weekly intercessory prayer meeting. As we started meeting, I became more and more aware of the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing leading a prayer meeting. We began to read books together, starting with books on prayer. But even after having read several books on prayer, and having been in all these prayer meetings, I am finding that I still haven’t "arrived" when it comes to prayer. And because of this verse, I’m not sure we’re ever going to "arrive" when it comes to knowing how to pray.

Why don’t we know how to pray?

1. We ask with the wrong motives.

(James 4:1-3 KJV) From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? {2} Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. {3} Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

It’s really hard to tell sometimes just what our motives really are. I think that often our motives are really a mixture of a lot of things. I doubt we ever have completely pure motives on anything.

I think there are even times when we want to ask for something, but we know that we have improper motives, so we don’t ask. But the thing would have been the right thing.

2. We don’t understand what really needs to be done.

When it really comes down to it, we don’t really know everything. We don’t really know the things to be asked for.

Things aren’t always what they seem. We often make our judgments on situations based on what shallow, surface things we can see. But often the truth about a matter can be far below the surface.


A Tale of Faulty Inferences

The train rushes across the Hungarian countryside. In a compartment sit a mother with her attractive daughter, a Nazi officer, and a Hungarian official. When the train passes through a tunnel, the compartment is engulfed in darkness. Suddenly there is the sound of a loud kiss followed by a shattering slap. When the train emerges from the tunnel, no one says a word, but the Nazi officer's face bears the unmistakable signs of having been slapped.

The mother looks at her daughter and thinks, "What a good daughter I have. She certainly showed that Nazi he can't fool with her."

The daughter looks at her mother and thinks, "Mother sure is brave to take on a Nazi officer over one stolen kiss." The Nazi officer stares at the Hungarian official and thinks, "That Hungarian is clever. He steals a kiss and gets me slapped, and there's nothing I can do about it." The Hungarian official stares blankly as he thinks, "Not bad. I kiss my hand and get away with slapping a Nazi."

Things aren’t always what they seem.

You can find a person obnoxious for some reason and just want them to go away. But God may want you to be a part of their life to bring healing and help to them. God may want them to be a part of your life, to teach you how to understand and be patient with others.

I find that this is part of the difficulty when it comes to counseling. When you’re counseling with an individual, it’s not uncommon for them to not quite tell you the whole story. When the counseling involves a couple, I find that you’re rarely going to hear the complete story until you’ve talked with both people. Things aren’t always what they seem.

But God sees and understands everything.

(Rom 11:33-36 NLT) Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! {34} For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? {35} And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? {36} For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen.

He knows just what needs to be done.


"There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out "Let me alone" but he only smiled and said, "Not yet". And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. "Stop it I’m getting dizzy," I said. The master only nodded and said "Not yet" Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said "not yet." Finally the door did open "whew", and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. "That’s better" I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, "Not yet". And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled , and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, "Not yet, not yet" . And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it . I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out an he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said "Look at yourself". And I did. And I said, "That can’t be me, I’m beautiful!"

We don’t often understand what needs to be done, we don’t know how to pray.

:26 but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

maketh intercessionhuperentugchano ("on behalf of" + "to intercede for") – to intercede for one (present indicative tense)

groaningsstenagmos – a groaning, a sigh. Comes from the word in verses 22 & 23, stenazo, to express grief by inarticulate or semi-articulate sounds.

What’s the "Likewise" at the beginning of the verse for? In what same way does the Spirit help us? Same as what?

I believe Paul is referring to the "groanings" that both creation and we are going through. The Spirit helps us by groaning too.

cannot be utteredalaletos – not to be uttered, not expressed in words

The Spirit intercedes on our behalf with unutterable groanings.


Praying in the Spirit.

Jude tells us that we are to be praying "in the Spirit".

(Jude 1:20-21 KJV) But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, {21} Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

(Eph 6:18 KJV) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

One aspect of "praying in the Spirit" involves the gift of tongues.

(1 Cor 14:12-17 KJV) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. {13} Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. {14} For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. {15} What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. {16} Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? {17} For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

He uses the terms "tongues" and "in the Spirit" synonymously. They mean the same thing.

Another aspect of "praying in the Spirit" is what we see here, the Spirit doing the praying, groanings, no words.

A last aspect of "praying in the Spirit" is allowing the Holy Spirit to prompt you to be praying according to the will of God…

:27 And he that searcheth the hearts

There’s a lot of "he" words in this verse. Circle them and identify them to keep it all straight.

searchethereunao – to search, examine into

God the Father is the one who searches hearts.

(Prov 17:3 KJV) The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

:27 knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,

knowetheido – to see; to know; to understand, perceive

the mindphronema – what one has in the mind, the thoughts and purposes

The Father understands what’s on the Spirit’s mind.

:27 because he maketh intercession for the saints

maketh intercessionentugchano – to light upon a person or a thing; to pray, entreat; make intercession for any one

The Spirit is the one who is interceding, praying for us.

:27 according to the will of God.

according to the will of God – literally, "according to God"

In other words, the Spirit helps our weakness of not knowing how to pray. He helps us by actually praying for us, and even though the Spirit may pray with words that we don’t understand, God the Father understands perfectly what the Spirit is praying, and the Spirit ALWAYS prays according to God’s will.


What is prayer? What is its purpose?

Is it for the purpose of informing God of what’s going on down here?

(Mat 6:7-8 KJV) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. {8} Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Is it for me to be some sort of Christian "wizard", using my awesome cosmic powers to change the face of this earth by using these fantastic powers in my spiritual utility belt?

The power isn’t in the prayer. The power is in God. He’s the one who works. He’s not some genie who is granting you three wishes. He’s the awesome, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise God.

This is the whole goal of prayer, to be able to pray according to God’s will.

(1 John 5:14-15 KJV) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

(Mat 6:9-10 KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. {10} Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

God often chooses to limit His work through the tool of prayer, which relies heavily upon us to be asking for the right things, because He wants to mold us and conform us more and more into His image. He wants us to learn the right things to ask for, the things He wants done. He wants us to learn to have His heart. He wants us to learn to trust His timing on things. He wants us to learn to depend more and more upon Him for everything.