Romans 8 Study Notes
Here are my study notes and a video covering Romans 8.
So Romans 7 goes right into chapter 8 and these two chapters should really be read together to understand the strength of Paul’s argument. Chapter 7 was the inner struggle with the flesh vs. the Spirit, and now in chapter 8 we see redemption through Jesus Christ and His victory over sin and death. This chapter shows that the gospel does what the Law could not do.
This is a rather longer chapter, so we’ll move through this fairly quickly.
Dillow says, “This chapter contains the greatest concentration of references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, an average of one almost every two verses. Whereas there are about 30 occurrences of "I" in chapter 7, there are 17 references to the Holy Spirit in chapter 8. This chapter explains the benefits of sanctification made available through the presence and power of God’s Holy Spirit who indwells every believer.” This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a major change from the Old Testament; they didn’t have what we have today.
And Albert Barnes says, “This chapter is one of the most interesting and precious portions of the Sacred Scriptures.” Let’s jump in:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Now the “therefore” is somewhat disputed as to where exactly Paul derives this beautiful conclusion from. Some say from Romans 7:6, others say it’s a conclusion from all of chapters 3 through 7. Either way, for all believers in Christ Jesus there is NO CONDEMNATION. Period!
Thomas Constable writes, “The Savior has suffered the consequences of our sins as our substitute. He will experience no condemnation, and we, as those He represents, will not either. Note the absolute force of this great promise. We are eternally secure!”
The second part of this verse (who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.) isn’t found in many important manuscripts, and regardless, it’s repeated in verse 4. If you are in Christ Jesus, you ARE walking after the Spirit and not the flesh.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
What is meant by the “law of the Spirit of life”? There’s some disagreement on this but I connect it with Romans 3:27 which says, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” So it is some kind of authoritative principle—the Gospel in this case—that gives us life.
William Godbey writes, “One definition of ‘law’ is a rule of action, which is pertinent in this verse, where the Holy Spirit, the Author of life, has actually given you perfect freedom from all the power and influence of sin and death.”
3 For 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, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The law was limited by our weakness, our inability to keep it. The law cannot justify, it cannot save, because it requires what fallen sinful man cannot do.
Because of that, God sent his Son, His co-equal, co-eternal, into the world to redeem us from the law.
Galatians 4:4-5 reads, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Robert Haldane expresses this very well and says, “God not only sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He might punish sin in that nature in which it had been committed, but that all which the law demands might by Him be fulfilled in those who are united to Him; for which purpose He obeyed its precepts as well as fulfilled its penalty.”
Also, as Jesus says in Matthew 5:20 “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Well, this is how: the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, by being united with Christ and placing our Faith in Him. There is no other way.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Those in Christ follow the spirit, those without Christ follow the flesh.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Again Robert Haldane says, “In the preceding verse the Apostle contrasts the dispositions and practices of believers and unbelievers; here he contrasts their opposite states and conditions. These two states of carnal and spiritual mindedness include and divide the whole world. All men belong either to the one or the other.”
Everyone either heads towards death *OR* has life and peace, in this world and the next.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Again, what is the law of God? The law of faith, the message of the Gospel: Believe or perish. The carnal mind, the person that rejects God and serves themselves is an enemy of God. If you are not a believer you cannot please God.
William Burkitt says, "To be in the flesh, is not barely to have the flesh in us, but prevailing in us: to be wholly possessed by the flesh, to be drenched and drowned in sin; instead of fighting under Christ's banner against sin, to fight under the banner of corrupt nature against Christ."
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
All sincere Christians have the Holy Spirit in them which is what is meant by Spirit of God/Spirit of Christ – synonymous terms referring to the same Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
Some people nitpick and don’t like the famous “sinner’s prayer” but it is Biblical that we ask Christ into our hearts like these verses touch on. Ephesians 3:17 mentions Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
As Christ was made alive from death by the Holy Spirit, so shall our bodies be resurrected at the coming Day of the Lord like the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “…the dead in Christ shall rise first….”
There’s a bizarre heresy out there called “Full Preterism” which states that ALL prophecy has already been fulfilled including the resurrection of the dead in Christ. 2 Timothy 2:18 corrects this heresy and says, “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”
Also note in this verse 11 it says the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. John 10:18 says Jesus has the power to raise Himself from the dead, and Acts 10:40 says God raised Him up. Here we have the Trinity! Ok, moving on:
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Two reasons for why believers should obey the Spirit: We owe our life to the Holy Spirt, and following the flesh leads to death. Only two paths available for all humanity.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
It’s a glorious privilege to be called the sons of God.
When we received the Spirit we were not given the fear that comes with slavery, but we are adopted and given all the rights and blessings of being sons! We read Galatians 4:4-5 earlier, but verses 6-7 are applicable here and read, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Abba is an Aramaic word that I don’t think should be understood as “daddy” or anything super cringy like that, but it merely means, especially as relating to our relationship to God, an intimate form of “Father.” It means a close connection with God that we can reach out to Him at any time just like a toddler could talk to a parent.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
What an amazing thought and gift that we are joint-heirs with Christ! Dr. Taylor says, “Observe how prudently the apostle advances to the harsh affair of suffering. He does not mention it till he had raised up their thoughts to the highest object of joy and pleasure-the happiness and glory of a joint inheritance with the ever-blessed Son of God.”
2 Timothy 2:12 tell us that if we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him. We have favor from God as Christ has favor from God and we have eternal life as Christ lives eternally.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible. Please mark it and memorize it. What Paul is saying is that all the sufferings, persecutions, sicknesses we could endure on this earth don’t even compare, they don’t even belong as the same scale as the glory we’ll experience.
2 Corinthians 4:17 is another great verse: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
The Berean Study Bible translates this verse as, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.” “Creature” in this verse is often translated as “creation” and “manifestation” or “revelation” is from the word where we get “apocalypse” – an unveiling or revealing.
On the “manifestation of the sons of God” Albert Barnes comments, “The full development of the benefits of the sons of God; the time when they shall be acknowledged, and received into the full privileges of sons. Here Christians have some evidence of their adoption. But they are in a world of sin; they are exposed to trials; they are subject to many calamities; and though they have evidence here that they are the sons of God, yet they wait for that period when they shall be fully delivered from all these trials, and be admitted to the enjoyment of all the privileges of the children of the Most High. The time when this shall take place will be at the day of Judgment, when they shall be fully acknowledged in the presence of an assembled universe as his children. All Christians are represented as in this posture of waiting for the full possession of their privileges as the children of God.”
For the next few verses you could read “creature” as “creation”, same thing.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
So this all goes along with that Albert Barnes quote I read where we are going through the agony of living in this sinful fallen world but we have the hope, that earnest expectation of our bodily resurrection, the millennial kingdom and the new heavens and new earth that will follow into eternity.
Adam Clarke summarizes these verses: “The apostle shows that the whole creation is in a suffering state, into which it has been brought by the disobedience of one man, Adam; therefore, it was made subject to vanity: pain, sickness, and death.” All of creation was negatively effected by the Fall and all of creation is waiting for the return of Christ.
And again, if this is our hope, and we wait for the full glory of God, the redemption of our body, to enter fully the glorious liberty as children of God, the full Preterist destroys this! It’s an absurd heresy like I said before. These next couple verses add nails to the rotting coffin of Preterism.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
“Saved by hope” isn’t a reference to eternal salvation but we are comforted, we are saved from despair in this world. We are looking forward to the great Day of the Lord and His glory revealed to us. We patiently await His coming.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The Holy Spirit is our helper, who joins to us and bears our load with us. He helps us pray and guides us in this Christian life.
Prayer is so important; it is a critical aspect of our walk. Pray without ceasing, labor in prayer, and pray in agreement with the will of God. Don’t pray for the material things of this world.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Beautiful verse. A great example of this is Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph said to his family in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
We often have no idea why things happen, but we can trust the Lord that He loves us as His children.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
The Pulpit Commentaries reads, “Yes, called according to his purpose; here is a further ground of hopeful assurance. For his having called us to be Christians at all, and justified us through faith, shows that it was his eternal purpose in so calling us, to conform us to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren; and that so we, being thus made his brethren, might inherit with him.”
Notice these verses don’t have anything to do with making people saved as some imagine, but these verses tell us what God has planned for believers. He didn’t predestine individual believers, but for people that WOULD believe, God predestined them to conform to the image of Jesus. These verses fit naturally within the context of Paul encouraging believers through our trials. It is encouraging to know that God has a plan for us that cannot be thwarted.
Joseph Benson says, “[Paul] only affirms that this is the method whereby God leads us, step by step, toward heaven. He glorifies none whom he does not first justify, and indeed also sanctify: and he justifies none who are not first called, and obedient to the call.” God invites all people to freely accept His gift of eternal life.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
What shall we say to the truths we just received?! God is for us, therefore nothing can stand against us!
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
God spared not His own son who suffered a brutal humiliating death on the cross for us, and thereby we have a means of salvation and eternal life. Everything else we could ask for in this world is tiny and minor by comparison. If God gave us that which is greatest, why would He withhold the little things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
This is like a courtroom setting. Who can accuse or condemn believers in Christ? Would any person or even God make accusation against us? No, it is God that declares us righteous! He won’t go back on that, and we are eternally secure in Him.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Christ died to save us, not to condemn us, and since He sits in power in Heaven, we are secure. This is a big theme of this chapter: our peace and security.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
A rhetorical question. Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ!
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
This is quoted from Psalm 44:22. As Christians we are exposed to death; this wicked world will naturally want to kill us and persecute us.
“All that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto” (1 Thess. 3:3).
Martyrdom and Christianity go hand in hand, so we shouldn’t fear persecution, we should simply expect it.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
We are the victors no matter what comes upon us because Christ died for us to save us and nothing can take that away. As Albert Barnes says, “Our faith is not destroyed; our love is not diminished; our hope is not blasted.”
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A beautiful conclusion to a wonderful chapter! Most translations say “convinced” instead of “persuaded” by the way, but the meaning is clear that nothing can separate from the love of God. We are eternally secure and we can rejoice in that!