Romans 08 Commentary

Romans Chapter 8, The Holy Spirit Inside

Tod Kennedy


The Holy Spirit makes living the Christian life possible in spite of the flesh and the curse on creation; and the Father secures us in his love from start to finish because Jesus died, was raised, ascended, and intercedes for us; and no one or nothing can separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our position is in Christ and so we have the privilege to live according to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus instead of according to the law of sin and death. Nothing can change this or separate us from God’s love. We believers (in Christ, new man, Christ person) are no longer under the sinful nature’s condemning influence so that we must serve sin (king sin). The law of the Spirit of life (the Holy Spirit influencing us and empowering us) has set us free from the law of sin and death. This law states that the sinful nature tries to influence us and produce in us death toward God, a death or separation from God’s kind of life and way of life. When we live by the Holy Spirit we fulfill righteousness and enjoy life with God and peace with God. We live successfully by walking according to the Spirit and setting our minds and interests on the things of God. To go with our new life in Christ we have a future inheritance, and though the present life has suffering, the new heavens and new earth will be free from the curse. Right now God works all things together for good. Whatever happens nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus.

  1. Union with Christ places believers under the law of the Holy Spirit in fact and in practice, not under the law of sin and death (8.1-4).
    1. Romans 8.1. Paul is drawing a conclusion that gives the answer to his struggle and to his question in Romans 7:26. Condemnation (Romans 5:16, 18, 8:1, katakrima, κατακριμα) means the punishment following a sentence (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, following Deissmann, Bible Studies); it is a judicial pronouncement on a guilty person, penalty (BDAG). This word is only in Romans 5.16,18; 8.1 in the New Testament.

There are two views:

  • the first refers to no condemnation for any believer because of “in Christ.” This is a true doctrine. There is no future judgment for sin because Christ paid the penalty. This does not seem to be the point here.
  • the second refers to the condemnation to live under the sinful nature and flesh. This seems to be the best given the preceding context of Roman 7 and the first section of Romans 8.
    1. Romans 8.2. The law or the principle of the Holy Spirit who gives life to those in Christ Jesus has freed (eleutheroo̅, ελευθεροω freed from dominion, released, aorist active indicative) believers from the principle or law of sin and death that rules mankind. This is a fact. It has been accomplished. Now the sinful nature does not have to control a believer (Romans 8:2).
    2. Romans 8.3. What could the law not do? The law could not fulfill God’s righteous will in day to day life. Paul is not speaking of the removal of guilt (justification), but the doing of sin in the day to day life. Failure to live right kept happening (Romans 7). The law was weak because the flesh was weak (man governed by the sinful nature and apart from the Holy Spirit and God’s word). God did four things to defeat sin in a believer’s life: 1. God sent his son, relationship of the Father and Jesus; 2. in the likeness of sinful flesh (ὁμοίωμα homoioma likeness to, similar, here and in Philippians it means exactly like, same human nature though without sin). Jesus was true man, his nature was human, but without sin (2 Corinthians 5.21; Luke 1.35; Hebrews 4.15; Philippians 2.7); 3. God condemned sin (katakrino̅, κατακρινω aorist, to pass a sentence against, a judicial verdict so that sin is no longer free to do as it wishes); 4. in the flesh ἐν τῇ σαρκί. Does this mean in Jesus’ earthly life and human body (flesh) or sin that is in humanity’s flesh? This is a hard question, but the context of 6-8 is of sanctification, not justification. The answer seems to be sin that resides in the believer. This better fits the context of Paul’s argument. It is true that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for sin. His death also removed sin’s legal rule over believers. So, Christ’s death on the cross not only provided justification, it also provided sanctification. Christ’s victory over sin is also our victory over sin because of our union with him. This victory works out through the ministry of the Holy Spirit—the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8.2) and walk according to the Spirit (Romans 8.4). Ended here 4.12.15.
    3. Romans 8.4. Now believers who walk by the Holy Spirit’s direction and power fulfill the righteousness that God required in his law. The issue has now been made clear. The Holy Spirit makes it possible to live righteously and serve God, not serve sin. The solution to the problem of Romans 7 now lays before us. Note "so that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." The verb is πληροω aor pass subjunctive. The potential is there for those who walk according to the Spirit. This is what Paul told the Galatians in Galatians 5.16.
    4. Doctrines of sanctification and spirituality, and slides from master summary file.
  1. Believers have the option of living by the Holy Spirit, or by the sinful nature expressed through the flesh (Romans 8.5-8).
    1. Romans 8:5-6, the mind set on something means one thinks about, follows, and obeys the object of his thinking. The things of the Spirit are those godly things that the Holy Spirit is interested in (Romans 8:5; Colossians 3:1-2). The flesh (sarx, σαρξ Romans 8:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13) produces death in all forms—physical, day to day temporal, and spiritual death. The Holy Spirit produces life and peace—day to day life and peace with God, with people, and with ourselves.
    2. Romans 8:7-8, Paul has now stated that a believer, in order not to live in bondage to sin, which was the problem Paul addressed in Romans 7, must live by means of the Holy Spirit in day to day life (also see Galatians 5:5, 16-6:1, Ephesians 5:18, 1 Corinthians 2:4, 12-16). The flesh is unable to please God; it is against God. To be in the flesh means to live the way the flesh directs one. Remember that the sinful nature (I have called this king sin) works through the flesh—the body or the person. When flesh is used in a figurative sense, as it is in Romans, it means one who is directed by the sinful nature expressed in the flesh, not the Holy Spirit and Scripture. The point here is that the way of the flesh, which is the way of a carnal believer, results in failure for the believer.
  2. Romans 8.9-11. The Holy Spirit option is only true for those whom the Holy Spirit indwells.
    1. Romans 8.9. Everyone who is in the flesh (en sarki, ‘εν σαρκι) cannot please God. This is the principle, whether it refers to an unbeliever or a believer.
  • “In the flesh” is used of the person (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:24; Philemon 16; and others), or in a moral sense of one living apart from God’s Spirit (Romans 7:5; probably Romans 8:9). Romans 8:9 seems to use the phrase for an unbeliever because of the contrast with “Spirit of God dwells” (oikeo̅, οικεω to inhabit, live, present active indicative) and equating the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of Christ. Paul is writing to believers and they, of course, have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). Though alternatively it may be that I could argue that the first half of the verse refers to one living under the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, considering the contrast “lives in” and “does not have.”
    1. Romans 8:10 says a believer’s body (soma, σωμα) is dead. Sin caused the death. The body is dying and cursed. The believer’s human spirit is alive because of Christ’s righteousness act.
    2. Romans 8:11, the Father raised Jesus; he will also make alive (zo̅opoieo, ζωοποιεω future active indicative) our mortal bodies through his indwelling Spirit. Is this resurrection or is it instead referring to daily Christian life aliveness? A mortal body is one that can die. The immediate context and especially Romans 8:2 with Romans 6.4, 8, 11 seem to favor spiritual life in our bodies on earth—living under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Though, both spiritual life now and future resurrection may be in Paul’s mind.
  1. Romans 8:12-17. It then follows that believers are to live day to day by the Holy Spirit like adopted sons and heirs of God should live.
    1. Romans 8:12-13 tell us that we are not to live according to the standards of the flesh because the flesh produces death in all forms. Here the contextual application refers to Christian life death, carnality, living dominated by the sinful nature through the flesh. The opposite is living by the Holy Spirit (spirituality, controlled by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:18; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 8:2) and therefore putting to death (thanatoo̅, θανατοω present active indicative) the deeds of the body (soma, σωμα Romans 6:6). Through the Holy Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body that are dominated by the sinful nature. The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes this possible (Romans 8:2-4). We should live the Christian life.
    2. Romans 8:14-15, the Holy Spirit leads only those related to God—believers.
      1. Romans 8.14. If the Holy Spirit guides a person, that one is a son (huios, one born of God, in God’s family).
      2. Romans 8:15, Paul reminds them that when they received the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit does not enslave them so they live in fear of sin’s control. Sin is not the master any longer. The Holy Spirit does not do this. Holy Spirit gives freedom from enslavement to sin in our day to day life. The Holy Spirit works so that righteousness is our master. The Spirit of adoption (huiothesia,`υιοθεσια adoption) is the Holy Spirit who was received at faith by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).This is our rank and privilege. Believers are sons (huios,`υιος), adopted by God. We are legally God’s sons and daughters. The awareness of this sonship brings out a cry of recognition to our heavenly Father, Abba (αββα a term of respect and endearment).
    3. Romans 8:16-17.
      1. Romans 8.16. The Holy Spirit also testifies (συμμαρτυρέω, summarturew pres act indicative) to each believer’s human spirit that we are God’s dependent children (teknon, τεκνον, child which emphasizes the family relationship and dependency).
      2. Romans 8:17 indicates that not only are we children, we are also heirs (kle̅ronomos, κληρονομος), God’s beneficiaries. All believers are heirs of God). Need develop heir inheritance.
      3. Paul assumed (eiper, ειπερ if indeed, after all, since; Romans 8.9, 30; 1 Cor 8.5; 15.15) that his readers suffer with Christ or suffer because they are believers. This verse seems to indicate that suffering with Christ brings greater glory to us (2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4:12-19). Suffering is normal for the Christian.
  2. Romans 8.18-25. Creation may suffer now, but the future inheritance is much greater than any present suffering.
    1. Romans 8:18. Suffering now as believers is hard. No matter how severe suffering is now, the glory of heaven and resurrection is so much greater. Great suffering now and much greater glory in the future (2 Corinthians 4:17).
    2. Romans 8:19. Creation waits for the time when believers will be revealed and sin will be gone. At that time all creation will be blessed because God’s sons will be public and there will be no danger. This refers to Christ’s second coming to earth, not the rapture. See Hebrews 9:28. Philippians 3:20-21 express the wonderful change that will occur.
    3. Romans 8:20-22. When sin entered the world at the fall it affected all creation. God cursed the creation, but cursed it so that he might redeem it. Believers also long for the change from curse to glory, from bodies of sin to redeemed and resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44-58).
    4. Romans 8:23-25. We already have the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of future resurrection. This future is our hope (elpis, ελπις, confident expectation). We do not see it right now, but with endurance we eagerly wait (anekdechomai, απεκδεχομαι present middle indicative) for it.
  3. Romans 8:26-30. Believers often may not know God’s specific will when they pray, but they do know that God has a salvation plan from start to finish.
    1. Romans 8:26-27, while believers wait for the final redemption, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid by praying for us. We often do not know exactly what and how to pray. We want to pray the right way and make the right requests. See John 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15; Ephesians 5:20; 6:18. The Holy Spirit knows God the Father’s will. He prays for us in some way—with groanings too deep for words. We do not even understand what he is praying.
  • aid (sunantilambanomai, συναντιλαμβανομαι helps, come to the aid of)
  • prays (huperentugchano,`υπερεντυγχανω intercedes, to plead for another, present active indicative)
  • groanings (stenagmos, στεναγμος groaning, an involuntary expression of great concern, sigh, groan)
  • too deep for words (alale̅tos, αλαλητος unexpressed, wordless). We do not even understand what he is praying.
    1. Romans 8.28-29. In this section, we see three main ideas that Paul wants us to know, believe, and apply.
      1. God works all things together for good for us.
      2. God secures us in his plan from start to finish.
      3. God loves us and nothing can break that love.
    2. We see Romans 8:28 is a promise that we all depend upon. There are minor textual, word usage, and grammar questions with this verse. But the meaning remains. God’s salvation plan is gracious and complete. The best translation seems to be “and we know that to those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Both Majority and the Egyptian text do not have God as the stated subject. That he is the one who does the work is clear from Romans 8:29. “All things” (subject) refer to the good and bad, the tests and blessings that are part of a believer’s life.
      1. The verb is “work together(sunergeo̅, συνεργεω to work together with, help, assist, present active indicative 3rd singular; this verb is found in Mark 16:20; 1 Corinthians 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Romans 8:28; James 2:22)
      2. The good (agathos, αγαθος) is God’s good and God’s good is the believer’s good. God works so that all things work together for the believer’s good. Those who benefit are those who love God, also identified as the called according to God’s purpose. This may mean that believers who love God and follow his plan are the recipients. The other view is that this promise is true for all believers regardless of their spiritual life. The second may be most accurate in view of Romans 8:29-30. The fact that God works all things together for good for believers is a great source of comfort and encouragement.
    3. Romans 8:29-30 condense God’s plan for believers from start to finish. It begins with foreknew and ends with glorified. God foreknew, pre-appointed, called, justified, and glorified. All the verbs are aorist active indicatives indicting the action and viewing it as finished in God’s mind.
      1. Foreknow. The word people most misunderstand is “foreknew.” Reformed theology has changed the normal Greek meaning to support their theological presupposition that man is unable to believe in Jesus Christ without God causing them to do so. So they consider foreknowledge to mean determined knowledge and use it as a synonym for choose. This is completely unnecessary. Foreknow is progino̅sko̅, προγινωσκω. This means to know beforehand, and BAGD adds as a theological meaning, to choose beforehand, but this is because of a theological reason (BAGD); to foreknow, to know beforehand, to prognosticate (LSJ); to foreknow, know previously (MM). The verb is in Acts 26:5; Romans 8:29, 11:2; 1 Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:17. In all passages the normal meaning of to know beforehand is understood. The related noun is προγνωσις. It means foreknowledge or prescience. It is used in Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2. As they do with the verb, some put an unneeded theological meaning into the word. Reformed theology also bases this on a perceived but wrong meaning of the Hebrew word yada which they say means elective love in a few of the some 945 uses. It does not. It means to know. In this and other passages προγινωσκω means to know in advance. God knew something before the fact. It does not mean he chose or elected. When the text says that God foreknew it refers to God’s omniscience; he knew in advance those who will believe the gospel. I will develop this later.
  • BAGD, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature; Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich. Third Edition.
  • LSJ, A Greek-English Lexicon; Liddell, Scott, Jones, McKenzie.
  • MM , Vocabulary of the Greek Testament; Moulton and Milligan.
      1. The next word is predestined (proorizo̅, προοριζω to decide beforehand, to previously appoint, or to plan) A better translation may be “pre-appointed.” God pre-appointed or planned beforehand those whom he foreknew. Pre-appointed to what? To be conformed (summorphos, συμμορφος predicate adjective) to the image of his son, to be like his son in character and resurrection. In Ephesians 1:5 God pre-appointed adoption for believers. In Ephesians 1:11 God pre-appointed an inheritance for believers. Election or choosing, not in the Roman 8:29-30 passage, is placed before the pre-appointing in Ephesians 1:4-5. Romans 8:29-39 does not give the basis for choosing. 1 Peter 1:2 says the basis of election is God’s foreknowledge.
  • Pre-appointment. In Ephesians 1:5 God pre-appointed adoption for believers, and in Ephesians 1:11 God is said to have pre-appointed an inheritance for believers. In Romans 8:29-30 God pre-appointed those whom he foreknew to believe in Christ to be conformed to the image of his son. This is not predestination. Furthermore, note that election or choosing of a group or person is left out of Romans 8:29-30. This must indicate that to Paul it is not significant in this context. Paul does mention election in Ephesians 1:4-5. Peter mentions election in 1 Peter 1:2. where the basis of election is God foreknowing those who will believe the gospel.
      1. Romans 8:30. Next God called people. Called (kaleo, καλεω, getting his message to the person; in this case the gospel message; offering the gospel to them) God (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit) calls people to himself for eternal salvation (Romans 1.6; 8.30; Galatians 1.6; 1 Thessalonians 2.12), to some task of service (Matthew 4.21; Acts 16.10; Galatians 1.15), or to learn something (Mark 3.23; 12.43). Not everyone responds in faith to God’s calling. It is an offer of God’s blessing.
      2. justified (dikaioo̅, δικαιοω here to pronounce right, to declare righteous) Justification is the judicial act of God declaring one to be righteous. This is based upon the work of Christ upon the cross. Faith is the means by which man is justified by God (Romans 3.28; 5.1; Galatians 2.16).
      3. glorified (δοξαζω to honor, to cause to have greatness; here to be with Christ, honored). Glorification salvation means that the believer will have a glorified resurrection body and share the glories of heaven in the future. In God’s mind it has already happened (Romans 6:21-23; Ephesians 2:5-6; Philippians 3:21)
  1. Romans 8.31-39. God’s plan guarantees that each believer is secure now in life and will be secure forever.
    1. Romans 8:31-32 conclude by saying that since God did the very most for us by sending his son to die in our place, he will also do the lesser things for us. God will freely give (charizomai, χαριζομαι to freely give as a favor, graciously) all things for the successful Christian life through our relationship with Christ.
    2. Romans 8:33-39, Paul concludes this great chapter on living by the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus by strongly affirming that no one can bring a successful charge against God’s elect (eklektos, ‘εκλεκτος select, choice ones). The reasons are that 1. God is the one who justifies (dikaioo̅, δικαιοω) a believer (Roman 8:33), 2. Christ died, was raised, is at the right hand of the Father, and intercedes (entugchano̅, εντυγχανω, present active indicative, to make an earnest request, appeal to) to God the Father for us (Romans 8:34), and 3. no one or nothing can separate us from Christ’s love for us (Romans 8:35-39). We are secure no matter who or what may try to destroy our faith, our eternal destiny, or the love Christ has for us, whether accusations, attacks, suffering, human or demonic powers, or anything else. See 2 Corinthians 4.7-18; 11.23-27 where Paul records what he went through as a believer. He has experience Romans 8.31-39.
  2. Select teachings-doctrines from Chapter 8.
    1. Freedom from sin’s control (Romans 8:1)
    2. Positional truth (Romans 8:1)
    3. The ministry of the Holy Spirit and Spirituality (Romans 8:1-4, 13-14, 16, 26-27)
    4. Flesh (Romans 8:8:4-9, 12-13)
    5. Sinful nature (Romans 8:2-3, 10)
    6. Resurrection ((Romans 8:11)
    7. Heirs of God ((Romans 8:17)
    8. Curse on creation ((Romans 8:20-23)
    9. Redemption of creation (Romans 8:19)
    10. Physical resurrection (Romans 8:23)
    11. God’s plan (Romans 8:28-39)
    12. Foreknowledge, planning, calling, justification, glorification (Romans 8:29-30)
    13. Christ’s death for sin (Romans 8:31-32)
    14. Christ’s present intercession for believers (Romans 8:34)
    15. Security of the believer (Romans 8:28-39)
  3. Wrap up Romans 8
    1. Lessons from Romans 8
    2. Romans 8.28-39, Three main applications. 400
    3. Doctrines list and brief explanation. 401-402
    4. Christian life distinctions chart and doctrine mstf 224
    5. Categories of doctrine of Holy Spirit mstf 305
    6. Suffering mstf 438, bd1 100
    7. Foreknowledge