We have been studying the victory of believers over sin and death. This victory is lived out in the Christian’s daily choices. In this lesson, we will see a noticeable shift in Paul’s discourse to the glorious future that God has in store for believers. This panoramic view of God’s great redemptive plan and His love for us helps us put into perspective the sufferings we endure in the present.
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What prominent theme related to “time” is found in this passage?Hide Answer
Throughout this passage Paul speaks of the future that is in store for believers and how we can be strong in the present in view of what lies in the future.
In the context of this chapter, what are/is: a. “the sufferings of the present time”? b. “the glory that is to be revealed in us”?Hide Answer
a. “the sufferings of the present time”?
In this particular segment, the present sufferings relate to the “bondage to corruption” to which the whole creation has been subjected. Although Paul does not elaborate on what this bondage is, it seems to relate to the limitations of our flesh before our bodies are finally redeemed. If we expand our view to include the previous segment, suffering with Christ means putting to death the deeds of the body. Looking further to the last segment (8:31–39), we understand that the sufferings Paul has in mind also include adversities or oppressions that we may meet. All in all, therefore, “the sufferings of the present time” are fairly broad, ranging from overcoming the propensity of the body to sin to any hardship that may come our way.
b. “the glory that is to be revealed in us”?
From verses 18 to 25, we understand that the future glory that we eagerly await is the redemption of our bodies. Cross-referencing other passages about the glory that awaits us, we may conclude that the redemption of our bodies refers to the bodily resurrection and transformation of believers in the future (cf.
1 Cor 15:42–44; Php 3:20–21).
Identify the repeated use of the word “wait (eagerly)” in this segment.Hide Answer
Vv. 19, 23, 25
What does the word “groan” (vv. 23, 26) imply?
Share an experience of waiting eagerly but patiently for something that you could not see. How is it similar to our waiting for our glorious future?(The answer is empty)Hide Answer
Other NT passages apply the term “firstfruits” to believers in Christ (Rom 16:5;
2 Thess 2:13). James 1:18 and Revelation 14:4, respectively, call believers “firstfruits of [God’s] creatures” and “firstfruits redeemed from mankind.” This Greek word is used in the Old Testament Scriptures of the firstfruits of the field or flocks which is sanctified and offered to God (Deut 18:4, 26:2, 10; Num 18:8–12). [ref] With this background, we may interpret “having the firstfruits of the Spirit” to mean that believers have been sanctified unto God through the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Thess 2:13) or that we have been blessed to have a share of the Holy Spirit (cf. Heb 6:4).
According to this segment, how does the Spirit help us in our weakness?Hide Answer
He intercedes for believers with groanings too deep for words (v. 26).
What is meant by “groanings too deep for words”?Hide Answer
The passage does not specify exactly what the groanings are, but we may note that cognates of the same word are used in verses 22 and 23, where Paul mentions the groanings of the whole creation as well as of believers. We may infer that the groanings of the Spirit are the means by which the Holy Spirit help us express our present weaknesses and sufferings in the body. The message here is similar to the teaching in Hebrews that Christ is able to sympathize with our weakness and that we should therefore draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace (Heb 4:14–16). Furthermore, “groanings too deep for words” may also be understood as speaking in a tongue, through which the believer utters mysteries in the Spirit even though no one understands him (
1 Cor 14:2). As we speak in a tongue in prayer, we are in fact speaking mysteries in the Spirit and we are edified in the process ( 1 Cor 14:4).
What makes the Spirit’s intercession effective?Hide Answer
The Spirit’s intercession is effective because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (v. 27). Being ridden with weakness of the flesh, we do not know what to pray for as we ought (v. 26). In other words, our own prayers often do not align with God’s desires and purpose for us. But the Holy Spirit who intercedes on our behalf can elevate our spirituality by communicating with God in perfect harmony with God’s will. It is for this reason that prayer in a tongue and uttering mysteries in the Spirit edify us (cf.
1 Cor 14:2, 4).
Who are the ones benefiting from the fact that “all things work together for good”?Hide Answer
Those who love God and are called according to His purpose (v. 28)
How are believers to conform to the image of God’s Son (v. 29)?Hide Answer
The image of God’s Son denotes Christ’s divine qualities, with true righteousness and holiness (cf. Eph 4:24). We were buried with Christ by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). We who have been born again through baptism are to live a new life that conforms to Christ, who has overcome sin and death. On the one hand, the Spirit of Christ who lives in us transforms us into the image of Christ (
2 Cor 3:17–18). On the other hand, we also need to actively live a Christ-like life in our speech and conduct (cf. 1 Jn 3:2–3). This process of transformation is gradual and life-long, through which we can ultimately attain to the image of Christ (cf. Col 3:8–10; Gal 4:19; 1 Cor 11:1).
The image of Christ also alludes to the glorious form of the resurrected Christ which believers will bear one day at their resurrection (
1 Cor 15:49; 1 Jn 3:2). This is the final goal of God’s redemptive work, and it is the hope of all who have been united with Christ in a death like His (Rom 6:5).
What is the message of this segment?Hide Answer
The underlying message of this segment is that whatever happens in life can only benefit God’s elect. From God’s perspective, His redemptive works on the believers, including predestination, calling, justification, and even glorification, are already accomplished facts. God is in control, and He will bring to completion what He has started to do in believers.
How does this message help us believers?Hide Answer
The perils of life may make us question if God is all-powerful or all-loving. But we must believe that God is able to work all things, even the greatest hardships, in our favor. We just need to love God by trusting Him and obeying Him no matter what our circumstances may bring.
Identify all the rhetorical questions in this segment.Hide Answer
See vv. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.
What effect do these questions achieve?Hide Answer
The rhetorical questions asking “what” and “who” and expecting answers of “nothing” and “no one” help the reader see the absolute certainty of our inseparable bond with God’s love. These questions are also all encompassing, culminating in the final note of “nor anything else in all creation” (v. 39).
What does verse 32 remind us of about God’s love for us?Hide Answer
God’s offering of His own Son to the world is the greatest expression of His love. We should not have any doubt at all, therefore, that God would always love us completely whatever may happen in our lives.
Why do you think Paul uses legal terms such as “bring charge” or “condemn” here?Hide Answer
First of all, Paul has been speaking in legal terms in Romans when expounding on the condemning nature of the law and the righteousness of God through faith in Christ. Thus, the legal language brings us back to the theme that believers are justified through Christ. It also ties back nicely to the opening of Chapter 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Related to this key idea is the truth that our justification and freedom from sin and condemnation comprise the most precious gift we have received in Christ. It is reassuring to know that because of God’s redemption and Christ’s continual intercession for us, no one could ever take that away.
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is interceding for us?Hide Answer
The Bible exhorts believers not to sin, but if anyone does sin, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (
1 Jn 2:1). The following verse continues to remind us that Christ is the propitiation for our sins ( 1 Jn 2:2). The point here is that our heavenly Father would forgive us of our sins on account of Christ’s perfect righteousness and His sacrifice. We can see the same message in 1 John chapter 1, where it teaches that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin if we walk in the light. God also forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness if we confess our sins. In short, by virtue of His perfect sacrifice, the Lord Jesus stands in our defense and shields us from condemnation despite our weaknesses.
The Greek word for “advocate” in
1 John 2:1 is in fact the name of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16, 26, 15:26 and 16:7, where Jesus calls Him “the Helper.” What this means is that the Holy Spirit who dwells in us is in fact the Spirit of Jesus, and this is also what the Lord Jesus taught (cf. Jn 14:15–20). We have learned earlier in Romans that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness by interceding for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom 8:26–27). This intercessory work of the Spirit is also the intercessory work of Christ, who is able to sympathize with our weakness and help us when we are being tempted (cf. Heb 4:14–16, 2:18). The Lord Jesus Christ, through His Holy Spirit who dwells in us, continues to speak on our behalf so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
What is the underlying power that makes us more than conquerors in the midst of our adversities and sufferings?Hide Answer
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (v. 37). Several times the love of God is mentioned in various terms: “the love of Christ” (v. 35); “him who loved us” (v. 37); “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39). God’s love is also implied elsewhere, such as when the passage speaks of how God did not spare His own Son (v. 32). It is the love of God that upholds us and makes us triumph in the face of all tribulations. God’s love for us is so great that nothing can ever come between Him and His elect. What He has done and what He will do are more than sufficient for us. Because of this, we as believers ought to be confident in the love of God and accept life’s challenges as conquerors.