Just been trying to get to a grip on Romans 8.17-27 for Biblestudy tonight. I’ve found this the hardest part of Romans to logically grasp so far.
Paul makes it clear in 8.17 that sharing in Christ’s glory, being heirs of God, requires us to share in his suffering, so the big questions are, as we begin 18-30, ‘Is it worth it?’ and ‘How do I know I’ll make it through the suffering?‘
He kicks off straight away with his reckoning, that the sufferings of this present time, that is the believer’s battle, are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (NIV: ‘in us’). The glory to come is far greater than the battle of 7.14-8.17. What is to come is incomparable with life now.
Creation Groans (19-22)
In fact it’s so awesome that creation too is waiting for it, creation is groaning in hope of our glory. Subjected to emptiness and purposelessness back in Genesis 3, creation has been suffering knowing one day it will be liberated.
Christians Groan (23-25)
And we’re groaning too, for we have the firstfruits of the Spirit (i.e. the firstfruits are the Spirit). We’re groaning inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. It’s like we have the adoption papers signed and sealed, but we’re still waiting to be shown off at the family gathering.
We have the Spirit, the firstfruits, but are waiting for the full harvest… (23a)
We are battling, groaning, therefore we have the Spirit… (23b)
We are waiting eagerly for adoption to be complete, and our new bodies revealed… (23c)
We have already been saved… (24a)
We are waiting patiently for we cannot grasp it yet… (25b)
This is the hope in which we were saved, adoption, redemption, justification… And of course hope that is seen is not hope, rather we hope for what we do not see. Our hope is not here yet! But it’s coming, and we’re groaning for it, for even creation is longing for it. Why hope for things that are now?! We hope for what do not see… patiently… knowing we have the firstfruits, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God (5.2) and rejoicing in these sufferings knowing they bring us hope, and hope does not put us to shame (5.3)!
The Spirit Groans (26-27)
And so creation grows, we too groan, but how do we know we will not give up in our weakness? Can we have assurance that we won’t give up? Because our groans depend upon God and not upon ourselves! We walk according to the Spirit, having it in us, it killing sin in us, being led by it, having recieved it for sonship, and now… it groans for us. We are weak. We do fail. But the Spirit cries out for us on the battlefield… it is the true first-fruit… ensuring what is to come!
There must be suffering now, for without it we wouldn’t hope. The glory’s going to be far greater than this battle, than this life now, for even creation is groaning for it. We too groan, for we have the Spirit, as we eagerly await adoption as sons, for it is in this hope we were saved. We’re hoping for something more than this battle with our sin, and the fact that we’re hoping, groaning, waiting, is evidence that we are changed and have the Spirit and are saved!