In the first half of his letter to the Romans, Paul presented the “gospel,” which is the “power of God for salvation, both to the Jew and the Greek.” In His Son, God provided salvation through the “faith of Jesus Christ” for every man and woman who responds in faith, whether Jew or Gentile. Death passed from Adam to every man, both “within the law” and “apart from the law,” because “all sinned and lack the glory of God.”
In Jesus, “apart from the law,” the “righteousness of God” was revealed for “all men who believe, for there is no distinction.” Prior to the revelation of this “righteous one,” all men stood condemned by the “righteous requirement” of the law, whether Jew or Gentile. But now, “freely by his grace,” God has reversed the sentence through the “redemption” that is found in him; therefore, for all who are “in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation” – (Romans 3:21-28, 8:1).
Because of human mortality and weakness, the law was incapable of rendering anyone righteous. However, what it could not do, God achieved by “sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,” and thus, he “condemned sin in the flesh.” Paradoxically, He used the very that condemned us – sin – to reverse the sentence of death – (“Jesus condemned sin in the flesh”).
Above all, what distinguishes believers from unbelievers is the gift of the Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” The Spirit compensates for human weaknesses by enabling men and women to fulfill the “ordinance of the law.” Even though, at present, our body is “dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness,” that is, the righteousness “from the faith of Jesus.”
In this present life, the believer remains mortal, still subject to suffering, temptation, and death. However, that is not the end of the story:
“If the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised him from the dead will give life also to your death-doomed bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you” – (Romans 8:1-11).
The problem is not physical or bodily existence, but mortality and human frailty (due to sin). Ultimately, this condition will be remedied by the resurrection of the dead when our bodies are “quickened” by God’s Spirit and made immortal. In this section, Paul’s focus on the future bodily resurrection is paramount. Everlasting life and glory mean resurrection life.
The indwelling and empowering Spirit attests that we are the “sons of God,” and therefore, we are His “heirs” and “joint heirs” with His Son. Like him, in this life, we are subject to suffering; however, this also means we will be “glorified with him” in the future – (Romans 8:12-17).
Paul now explains this future glory. The faith proclaimed by Jesus and his apostles is a forward-looking faith. Salvation and glory lie in the future; everlasting life is received in all its fullness at the end of the present age. The “sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us.”
At present, even the creation is “waiting for the revelation of the sons of God.” Adam’s sin did more than condemn humanity to sin and death; it condemned the entire creation to disease, decay, and death. Even now, the “whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain.” However, the “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption.” The resurrection of the “sons of God” also will mean the arrival of the new creation – (Romans 8:18-25).
Likewise, in the present fallen age, believers “groan within themselves, waiting for the redemption of their body”; that is, their resurrection. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so He will give “life to our death-doomed bodies.” The future resurrection is foundational to Christian “hope.” But it is a “hope not seen,” not because it is invisible, but because it is in the future.
In Christ, God has triumphed over sin and death for His children, and this despite our sins, weaknesses, and mortal state. His sentence of “acquittal” was an act of sheer grace, an undeniable manifestation of His “righteousness” – His faithfulness to redeem fallen humanity and the creation itself.
Indeed, God “works all things together for good to them who are called according to purpose.” Since He “foreknew” those who belong to Him, He also “marked them out beforehand for conformance to the image of His son.” The Greek verb does NOT mean to “foreordain” or arbitrarily “to predestine” one person over another, but simply to “mark something out ahead of time.” Paul is not a fatalist, here expounding on one form or another of later church doctrine about “predestination.”
The text does NOT state that God “causes all things,” but that He “works” in all things to bring about “good” for His children. Rather than an abstract explanation about predestination, in anticipation of the next paragraph, Paul is highlighting the faithfulness of God. Despite our frailties and failings, He brings us into the “image of His Son,” and ultimately, to salvation and glory – (Romans 8:26-30).
Because of all that God has done for us, and this DESPITE our sin and disobedience, Paul now exults:
“If God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” – (Romans 8:32).
No longer can anyone successfully bring any charge against the children of God, for the very same “righteous one” who died on their behalf and “was raised from the dead,” now reigns from the “right hand of God to make intercession for us.”
Nothing in this universe is capable of separating believers from love of this magnitude, not even death. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He reversed the sentence of condemnation and death under which all men lived. It is “in Christ Jesus our Lord,” especially in his death and resurrection, that the “love of God” is manifested and found. Nor do the sufferings of this life compare with the glories that lie ahead for his “joint-heirs,” the very ones for whom he died.
Chapter 8 serves both as a summary of the “good news” Paul has been explicating, and as a transition to the next section, where he answers the question, “Has the word of God failed?” All along, he has been laying the groundwork to explain the present state and future fate of his “kinsmen according to the flesh” – (Romans 9:1-5).