The Epistle to the Romans: Part 2

Romans 8‑16  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The two natures now clearly discerned, the special blessings connected with the teaching about sin and the law are enumerated, and in the order in which the subject has been taken up. First, there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. (8: 1)1 This answers to the teaching in chap. 5: 12-19.
Next, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (2) This corresponds to the subject of chap. 6. And third, " What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteous requirement (δικαίωμα) of the law should be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (3, 4) This corresponds to the subject of chap. 7. After this the different acting’s of the two natures are set forth; for there is, and there can be, no change in them (5-7); and we are taught the sad lesson that those in the flesh cannot please God.
" But we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in us." Without the Spirit of Christ2 we are not of Him; i.e. do not belong to Him. If Christ be in us the body is dead, because of sin; and the Spirit is life, because of righteousness.
This is to be practically true in the present; and for the future, " If the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies because of His Spirit that dwelleth in you." (8-11) But this leads on to the third great division of the gospel-freedom from the presence of sin. Freedom from its guilt, we are taught, flows out of the value of the blood of Christ in God's sight. This for us is a question of faith. Freedom from the power of sin and of the law comes from the death of Christ, and is a matter of experience. Freedom from the presence of sin will be the result of divine power on our behalf. This is a matter of expectation, and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost is to us the earnest of it.
The teaching about the Holy Ghost is now introduced; for till we reach this part of the epistle the apostle, except in chap. 5: 5, has kept silence about it. What has been done by the Lord Jesus Christ for us, and what His death is to be to us, these have been the themes. And though it is only in the power of the Spirit that we can profit by the latter subject, we can see the wisdom of keeping the death of Christ before us, to be learned in an experimental way, before teaching about the Spirit, who is the energy of the new man, is entered upon. Now, however, the apostle, guided of the Spirit, turns to instruct the saints about the Holy Ghost, as dwelling in them and being with them. So he proceeds to point out some blessed results of this. Led by the Spirit we are sons of God, having received the spirit of sonship, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Besides this He also witnesses with our spirits that we are children of God, and as such heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. (14-17)
The thought of suffering with Christ introduces the subject of the inheritance which we shall share with Christ. But in what condition is that now? Creation sharing in consequences flowing from the act of its head -Adam-was made subject to vanity, not indeed willingly, and groans, bowed down under the incubus arising from the presence and workings of sin. And we too groan who have received the first-fruits of the Spirit, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body. Nor are these groans in vain. Creation will be set free from the bondage of corruption, and brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. But there is no deliverance for it till that blessed consummation is effected for the heirs of God. Thus we who are now saved are saved in hope, and meanwhile as we see and feel the wretchedness around us, the fruit of sin, the Spirit, the other Advocate or Paraclete (John 14:1616And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:16)), intercedes when we know not what to pray for as we ought, with groanings which cannot be uttered. And the Searcher of hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He intercedes according to God. But one thing at least we do know-that all things work together for good to them that love God. For His purposes concerning them will infallibly be fulfilled, and where it is a question of the divine purpose all can be viewed as if already carried out, so that it can be said, "Whom He justified them He also glorified." (30)
God is then for us. Wondrous thought! And here closing the direct teaching about the gospel of God, Paul stands forth and asks three grand questions-first, " If God be for us, who can be against us?" Next, "Since He justifies us, who shall condemn us?" And thirdly, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ, or from the love of God?" No circumstances can deprive us of the enjoyment of the former; no power can hinder the outflow to us of the latter. Far-reaching then are the results of the death of Christ. A blessed and full gospel assuredly goes forth on the strength of it. Creation is deeply interested in His death, but men, both sinners and saints, how much more! Yet all to whom the gospel was preached did not receive it, and some thought that it clashed with God's ways with, and promises to, His earthly people; for they are His people who enjoyed special privileges, and have had made to them special promises. (9: 1-5) To a consideration of this point-a most important one-the apostle next turns, in chapters 9.-11.
Under three heads does he treat of this: 1, The ways of God with Israel in the past (9: 6-24); 2, The word of God about Israel and the Gentiles (9: 25-10: 21); 3, The purposes of God about Israel in the future. (11)
Now if God was acting in sovereignty, saving whom He would, whether Jews or Gentiles, natural descent it is clear could be no ground on which to count for blessing.
Yet Israel prided themselves on that. But had God dealt in the past on that principle? " They are not all Israel which are of Israel." For on the principle of natural descent the Samaritans, who called Jacob their father, might put in a claim to stand on common ground with the Jews, and the Ishmaelites, Abraham's descendants, as well as the children of Keturah, would then stand side by side with the chosen people. (9: 6-9) What Jew would have relished that? Would they quarrel then with God's undisputable right to choose whom He would? Then the Edomite must be admitted to have part with Israel. (10-13) Was God unrighteous in dealing in pure grace? It was owing solely to His grace and mercy that their fathers were not cut off in the wilderness, and the nation had not begun again its existence in the offspring only of Moses. (15-18) So Israel must own that in the past they owed all to God's sovereignty, election, and mercy, on which grounds God was now bringing in those once Gentiles to share with those once Jews in the fullness of His grace. (19-24) And all that He was now doing was in strict accordance with that prophetic Word which had also foretold Israel's rejection of grace. (9: 25-10: 21)
Thus far then as to God's ways with Israel in the past, and His dealing with souls in the present. Looking at the future, Paul asks, " Has God cast away His people which He foreknew? " No; for Paul, who was one of them, was saved-a sample, with the rest who then believed, of the remnant according to the election of grace. There had been such a remnant in the darkest days of Israel's history, when the ten tribes had apostatized under Ahab. There was such a remnant in Paul's day. There is one still. (11: 1-10) Have they stumbled that they should fall? Was that the purpose to be carried out by their fall? No; but that, through their fall, salvation should come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. But here the Gentiles need a caution. The people of Israel being naturally, as it were, off the scene, and the Gentiles partaking of privileges which once were exclusively Israel's, as branches of the olive tree, let such beware that they abuse not their privilege, and fail to continue in God's goodness, as Israel failed before them. (11-24) For blindness in part has happened to Israel, till the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. Then all Israel shall be saved, as the prophet Isaiah had said (25-29), "Thus God has concluded all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." For on the ground of mercy He can bless in a way and in a measure none of us could ever claim. Having stated this, the apostle closes with an expression of admiration of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and ascribes to Him glory forever. Here the second great section of the epistle ends, the first having terminated with the close of chapter 8.
Exhortations now follow, 12, 13, based on two considerations-the mercies of God, as taught in 1.-8., and the character of the time in which our lot is cast. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service (12:1); and to put away the works of darkness, and to put on the armor of light. (13:12) Now these exhortations apply to the various relations in life in which saints may be found, whether as members of the one body (12:3-8), as brethren (9-13), as men on earth having to do with others (14-21), as citizens in the world, in subjection to the powers that be (13:1-7), or as neighbors. (8-10) And since the night is far spent, and the day is at hand, it behooves us to wake up out of sleep, and to put on the Lord Jesus Christ; and not to make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. (11-14)
After these exhortations, which we have but briefly glanced at, the apostle turned to another subject, and one of great importance in his day. God was calling out from Jews and Gentiles a people for His name. The former had received a revelation from Him, in which distinction of meats and observance of days had a prominent place; the latter had previously received no written revelation, and so had nothing of that kind to unlearn when they became Christians. The believer, formerly a Gentile, was free in his conscience as regards meats and days. With some who had been Jews it was different. They had still conscientious scruples about them. To both these classes a word was now addressed. (14.-15. 7) Paul himself, once a Jew, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, was as free in these things as any Christian who had been a Gentile. (14: 14, 20) But conscience in each was to be respected. This he inculcates. The strong one was not to despise the weak one; and the weak one was not to judge the strong. "To his own master he standeth or falleth." (4, 5) Further, both were brethren. "Why then," asks Paul, "dost thou judge thy brother? why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God," according to Isaiah (45: 23) Would we judge? "Let us," he adds, "judge rather not to put a stumbling-block in a brother's way, and let us follow things which make for peace, and things wherewith we may edify one another." (13-19) If free for one's self, one's brother's interest is to be taken into account. And the ways of Christ, who pleased not Himself, is the model put before us, as an example and encouragement. His example, here adduced, guards the teaching of this part of this epistle from abuse. Would any point to this portion in vindication of what is wrong, whether moral or ecclesiastical? They could not plead the example of the Lord in vindication of such a course. The question here raised had to do with ceremonial observances instituted by the law, to which, however, as Christians, we have died, as we have already seen.
The epistle no draws to a close. Paul was hoping to visit them at Rome. Meanwhile he sends his salutations to those he knew there, and they were not a few. (16: 3-15) Many here mentioned are otherwise unknown to us. But the chapter is interesting, as it shows that service done for God and for Christ is not forgotten, nor are those, who from some physical cause are past service, ignored. The beloved Persis, who had labored, is remembered, as well as Tryphena and Tryphosa, who were still working for the Lord. (12) After that he warns them to mark those which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine they had received, and to avoid them, and for themselves he would have them wise concerning that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Satan would be bruised under their feet shortly by the God of peace. Now he closes, " To Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by prophetic writings, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to the only wise God, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen." (25-27)
With this epistle the canonical writings of Paul before his imprisonment at Rome are completed.
C. E. S.
Courtesy of BibleTruthPublishers.com. Most likely this text has not been proofread. Any suggestions for spelling or punctuation corrections would be warmly received. Please email them to: BTPmail@bibletruthpublishers.com.