Romans 8:17-25

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 28, 2008


In Romans 7, we learned all about Paul’s struggles with the flesh, the struggles with his own sin nature.  We also noticed that a particular word was the theme throughout the chapter, the word “I”.  When my focus is on “me”, I’m going to have problems.

In contrast, Romans 8 seems to be the answer to the struggles with the flesh.  Instead of the focus being the word “I”, the focus is now on the “Spirit”.

Paul wrote to the Galatians:

(Gal 5:16 NKJV)  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Last week we ended with:

:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

We saw how Paul had gave several hints throughout last week’s passage about how the Holy Spirit works to give us this assurance that we are indeed God’s children:

1.  Transforming Life (vs. 11)
(Rom 8:11 NKJV)  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
We find we are able to do things we didn’t used to be able to do.
2.  Victory over the flesh (vs. 13)
(Rom 8:13 NKJV)  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
We are able to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
3.  Spirit Leading (vs. 14)
(Rom 8:14 NKJV)  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
We find direction in our life as we learn to delight in God.
4.  Intimacy with Papa (vs. 15)
(Rom 8:15 NKJV)  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
We grow to know God as our “papa”

Paul continues with the idea of what it means to be a child of God…

:17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,

heirskleronomos – one who receives by lot, an heir; one who has acquired or obtained the portion allotted to him

joint heirssugkleronomos – a fellow heir, a joint heir; one who obtains something assigned to himself with others, a joint participant

As having been adopted into the family, we are heirs of our Father, and co-heirs with the Son.


Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate. The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world. As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days, his fears were confirmed, the young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, that he and his son had so looked forward to, would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed, old man. As he walked to the door, the master- pieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands. He introduced himself to the man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.” As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man’s son had told everyone of his, not to mention his father’s, love of fine art. “I am an artist,” said the soldier, “and I want to give you this.” As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of art. His task completed, the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy’s life would live on because of those he had touched. He would soon learn that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart. As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation, that with the collector’s passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the day he had received the greatest gift. The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would hope to claim, “I have the greatest collection.” The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?,” he asked. Minutes passed, and no one spoke. From the back of the room came a voice, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son.” “Let’s forget about it and move on to the good stuff,” more voices echoed in agreement. “No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a neighbor of the old man spoke. “Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it.” “I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?” called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice, gone.” The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can get on with it and we can bid on the real treasures!” The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, “What do you mean, it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art here! I demand that you explain what is going on!” The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son...gets it all.”

We will share in all that belongs to God.  It comes through Jesus.

:17  if indeed we suffer with Him,

suffer withsumpascho – to suffer or feel pain together; to suffer evils (troubles, persecutions) in the like manner with another

Is Paul saying that we “earn” our inheritance by suffering with Christ?

Some people follow a practice of punishing themselves as a way of identifying with Jesus.
In the book and movie “The DaVinci Code”, the “albino monk” followed a Catholic practice of wearing a device called a “cilice” meant to inflict pain on the person wearing it, the intention is to keep the sin nature in check.
There are Catholics in the Philippines that follow a practice of being whipped, some even being crucified, as a way of identifying with Jesus.
Paul has a word for these practices:
(Col 2:23 NKJV)  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.


Suffering comes from simply following Jesus.

I don’t think you need to do anything to suffer with Him, the suffering will simply follow as a result of you following Jesus.  You don’t have to seek it out, it will find you.
Our part is to not run from it, but to learn from it.
(Luke 9:23-24 NKJV)  Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. {24} "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

I don’t think you have to go out and look for suffering.  I think that if you are honestly following Jesus with a whole heart, you will encounter plenty of difficulties.

Suffering comes from following Jesus.

What will you do with those difficulties?  Will you run from them?  Will you stop following Jesus?

Jesus is looking for people who will follow Him, even when it causes tough times in their own lives.

Some people get the mistaken idea that a Christian is not supposed to experience pain.  I’m afraid that just the opposite is true.
(Phil 1:29 NKJV)  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Paul considered that part of knowing Jesus was being a part of suffering:
(Phil 3:10 NKJV)  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
A beekeeper once told F.B. Meyer how some of the young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development.  The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell which is filled with enough pollen and honey to feed upon until it reaches a certain stage of maturity.  The top is then sealed with a capsule of wax.
When the occupant has exhausted its supply of nourishment, the time has come for the tiny creature to be released from its confinement.  But what wrestling and straining it endures to get through that wax seal.  The opening is so narrow that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings.  Thus, when it finally does emerge, it is able to fly!  The man telling F.B. Meyer the story said that one time a moth got into the hive and devoured the wax capsules.  As a result, the young bees crawled out without any effort or trouble, but they couldn't fly. Soon the mature insects, seeing the pitiful, unproductive state of new arrivals, instinctively proceeded to sting them to death.
Meyer drew from this information a spiritual application.  He asks, "Are you congratulating yourself on having an easy time in life with no hardships or difficulties to bear?  Then beware, lest you lose your 'wing power' like the handicapped bees, and perish miserably in the dust of defeat."

:17 that we may also be glorified together.

glorified togethersundoxazo – to glorify together

There were three words in this verse that used the Greek preposition “sun” (“with”) in them:

“joint heirs”

“suffer with”

“glorified together”

When you are “with” Jesus, things happen in your life.

You become an heir-with Jesus, an heir of God because of your relationship with Jesus.

You will suffer with Jesus.

You will also be glorified with Jesus.

:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

I considerlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate; weigh, meditate on; It’s an accounting word, it deal with facts not suppositions.

worthyaxios – weighing, having the weight of another thing of like value

to be compared – not a part of the Greek text.  It’s what is understood with the idea of “worthy”, putting on the scales…

glorydoxa – splendor, brightness; magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace; majesty; a most glorious condition, most exalted state

to be revealedapokalupto – to uncover; This is the word that is used to describe the book of “Revelation”, it is the “apokalupsis”, the unveiling of Jesus Christ.


Weighing suffering

Paul’s using the language of a merchant who is weighing things out on a set of balance scales.
If you were to put the weight of the suffering we go through day to day, and lay it on a scale opposite the glory that we’re about to receive, there’s no comparison.  The glory in the future far outweighs the current suffering.
It’s very similar to what a woman goes through in childbirth.  There is great suffering during labor and delivery.  But for the most part, the pain is forgotten when the mother sees and holds her child.
We could focus on the great weight of our suffering.
But the problem of focusing on the suffering is that it always gets heavier the more we look at it.
Perhaps we ought to focus on the other thing – the glory ahead of us.
The disciples had a glimpse of what “glory” was about when they saw Jesus on the “Mount of Transfiguration”

(Mat 17:2 NKJV)  …and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

John later saw Jesus again in His “glory”

(Rev 1:13-16 NKJV)  and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. {14} His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; {15} His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; {16} He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

John wrote that we’re going to be kind of like that too.

(1 John 3:2 NKJV)  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Part of the glory that we’ll experience looks like this:

(Rev 21:1-5 NKJV)  Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. {2} Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. {3} And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. {4} "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." {5} Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

Heaven is going to be an awesome, wonderful place.  But the most glorious thing is that we’ll be with God.

Paul uses the balance theme again in writing to the Corinthians:

(2 Cor 4:16-18 NKJV)  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, {18} while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Compare the two:

Light versus weighty.  A moment versus eternity.  Affliction versus glory.

It might be tough right now.  Just wait till you see what’s up ahead.

:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

earnest expectationapokaradokia (“from” + “head” + “to watch”) – anxious and persistent expectation; to watch eagerly with outstretched head

the revealingapokalupsis – laying bear; manifestation, appearance

This is talking about the “glory” that is to be revealed in us (vs. 18).

the creation – all created beings

eagerly waitsapekdechomai (“from” + “out of” + “to receive”) – constantly and patiently waiting for

I got a taste today of having to wait for something.  We were warned by Edison that our power was going to be turned off this morning for “routine maintenance”.  At 9:00am the house shut down.  I like to study at home on Thursdays – I don’t have as many interruptions as I do in the office.  I was glad I had a good battery in my laptop.  The power was supposed to be back on at noon.  Noon came and went.  I watched my battery meter go lower and lower.  At 1:00pm I called Edison.  They said they were working on it.  I called at 1:30pm  and they said the power would be back on in a half hour.   My laptop ran out of power and shut down.  At 2:00pm they had a recorded message that said the power would be back on by 4:00pm.

It actually came on at 2:15pm while I was gone to get lunch for David and I.

I wasn’t too “patient”, but I was sure “eagerly waiting”.

Paul says that all of creation is eagerly waiting for the time when we humans will change, when we’ll receive our glory.

:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

futilitymataiotes – what is devoid of truth and appropriateness; perverseness, depravity; frailty, lack of power

subjectedhupotasso – to arrange under; to subject, put in subjection; to submit to one’s control

Depravity came upon all creation as a result of man’s sin (Gen. 3)

(Gen 3:17-19 NKJV)  Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. {18} Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. {19} In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

The curse that came from sin affected all of creation.

All of creation wasn’t exactly overjoyed with the fact that Adam’s sin brought “vanity” or “futility” to all of creation.

God tied all of creation to Adam’s sin so that all of creation would long for the change as much as we would.


Suffering is a result of sin.

There are people who have a hard time with the subject of suffering.  “How could a loving God allow people to suffer?” they ask.  The problem isn’t with God, the problem comes from a misunderstanding of the origin of suffering.
Suffering entered into the world through man’s sin.  We’re the ones responsible.

:21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

will be deliveredeleutheroo – to make free; set at liberty

bondagedouleia – slavery, bondage, the condition of a slave

corruptionphthora – corruption, destruction, perishing; that which is subject to corruption, what is perishable

libertyeleutheria – liberty to do, the noun form of “will be delivered”

We could translate it, “creation will be delivered … into the liberty of glory of the children of God”

When God’s kids get glorified, then all of creation goes along for the ride as well, enjoying the freedom from the decay of sin.

:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

groanssustenazo (“with” + “groan”) – to groan together; to express grief by inarticulate or semi-articulate sounds, to groan

labors with birth pangs togethersunodino (“with” + “childbirth labor”) – to feel the pains of travail 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 NKJV)  "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.
C.S. Lewis uses this idea in his “Narnia” books – having animals and trees all being interested in what is going to happen with the “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve”.  Creation can hardly wait for things to change.

:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,

firstfruitsaparche – to offer firstlings or firstfruits

I think it’s important to remember that the feast of Pentecost was also known as the “Feast of Firstfruits” (Ex. 34:22).  It was at Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church.

groanstenazo – a sigh, to groan; to express grief by inarticulate or semi-articulate sounds, to groan

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

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

the adoptionhuiothesia – adoption, adoption as sons

redemptionapolutrosis – a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance

eagerly waiting forapekdechomai (“from” + “out of” + “to receive”) – assiduously and patiently waiting for

Same word as in vs. 19 – both creation and us are “eagerly waiting” for things to change.

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

(1 Th 4:16-17 NKJV)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always 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 at the time of the Great White Throne judgment after Jesus comes back and eliminates the antichrist (Rev. 20:4-5)

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 were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

Hope is an expectation for something that you don’t see.

If you see the thing, then it’s already come and you are no longer “hoping”.

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.

If we saw our new glorified bodies, we would no longer have hope.  We’d have the thing we were hoping for.

:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

perseverancehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; 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

eagerly wait forapekdechomai (“from” + “out of” + “to receive”) – assiduously and patiently waiting for


Hold on to the end

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 Norwegian 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...).
The second group had “hope”.  They were looking forward to the lab tech opening up the barrel and giving them a stroke and encouragement.
I’ve been accused of clinging to an “escapist” mentality, but the truth is we need to be looking forward to the Second Coming of the Lord.  Paul tells us to find comfort in it:
(1 Th 4:17-18 NKJV)  … And thus we shall always be with the Lord. {18} Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Don’t lose hope.  Consider yourselves reminded that He’ll be back soon.  Take comfort in it.  Keep going.
I don’t know what you think of the color yellow, but after hearing about Vincent van Gogh, perhaps you might look at it differently.
This famous Dutch painter, sadly, tossed away the truth imparted him in his Christian home and sank into depression and destruction. By the grace of God, as he later began to embrace the truth again, his life took on hope, and he gave that hope color.
The best-kept secret of van Gogh's life is that the truth he was discovering is seen in the gradual increase of the presence of the color yellow in his paintings. Yellow evoked (for him) the hope and warmth of the truth of God's love. In one of his depressive periods, seen in his famous The Starry Night, one finds a yellow sun and yellow swirling stars, because van Gogh thought truth was present only in nature. Tragically, the church, which stands tall in this painting and should be the house of truth, is about the only item in the painting showing no traces of yellow. But by the time he painted The Raising of Lazarus, his life was on the mend as he began to face the truth about himself. The entire picture is (blindingly) bathed in yellow. In fact, van Gogh put his own face on Lazarus to express his own hope in the Resurrection.
Yellow tells the whole story: life can begin all over again because of the truth of God's love. Each of us, whether with actual yellows or metaphorical yellows, can begin to paint our lives with the fresh hope of a new beginning.
Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed (Paraclete Press, 2004), pp. 65-66
Hold on.