Romans chapter 8

Walk according to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. All things work together for good. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.[UPDATED]

 


 

WALK ACCORDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

VERSE 1. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

KJV translation: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

no condemnation. Isn’t that great! It probably means there is no such thing as mortal sin.

condemnation. The Greek word is κατάκριμα (“katakrima”). It means punishment following condemnation, penal servitude, penalty.

belong. The Greek word is ἐν (“en”). It means in, on, among.

 

VERSE 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.

law. The Greek word is νόμος (“nomos”). It means usage, custom, law.

law … law. There are two powers combatting each other: the Spirit, and sin. Is that dualistic?

free. The Greek word is ἠλευθέρωσέν (“ēleutherōsen”). It means set free, liberate.

sin. The Greek word is ἁμαρτίας (“harmartias”). It means missing the mark.

death. The Greek word is θανάτου (“thanatou”). It means death, whether physical or spiritual.

 

VERSE 3. For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh;

law. The Greek word is νόμου (“nomou”). It means usage, custom, law. Perhaps we could paraphrase it as “tradition.”

in that. The Greek word is “dia.” The law could not save us FROM the weakness of our human nature.

weak. The Greek word is ἀδύνατον (“adynaton”). It means incapable, inability, impossible.

likeness. The Greek word is ὁμοιώματι (“homoiōmati”). It means a thing made like something else, a likeness, a similitude.

condemned. The Greek word is κατέκρινεν (“katekrinen”). It means condemn, judge worthy of punishment.

 

VERSE 4. that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

ordinance. This word is singular, not plural. What does that tell us?

fulfilled. It is fully met. Can the requirement of the Law be met partially?

in us. Many translations say Christ’s work done “in us.” But other translations say it is done “for us.” It is done IN us or FOR us?

walk not after the flesh. What does that mean? Almost every preacher (including Paul) primarily interprets it sexually: fornication, masturbation, homosexual activity, “same-sex attraction,” unapproved sexual practices within marriage.

but after the Spirit. What does that mean? Almost every preacher interprets it as successfully avoiding sexual activity that they happen to forbid. However, that is reductive. Doubtless, the Holy Spirit has something more significant in mind than the sexual prohibitions of a specific pastor based on a particular culture and era.

 

VERSE 5. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

according to. The Greek word is “kata.” It means down, from, against, according to. The NLT translation says “dominated by.”

set their minds on. The Greek word is hphronousin. It means keep on being mindful of or aspiring for (what that nature desires). A sinner cares only for sinful interests and has no regard for God.

live according to. The NLT transition says “controlled by.” Are you controlled by the Spirit?

Spirit. The Greek word is “pneuma.” It means wind, breath, spirit. The NLT translation says “Holy Spirit.”

We see a progression in these verses:

  • Controlled by the SPIRIT: the focus is on Jesus Christ and the community at large.
  • Controlled by SELF: the focus is on the ego.
  • Controlled by SIN: the focus is on the sinful nature, self, flesh, our reptile brain

As lovers and disciples of the LORD God, we are called to develop wholesome thinking patterns. We are to renew our mind. Read more »

 

VERSE 6. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;

KJV translation. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

mind. The Greek word is φρόνημα (“phronéma”). It means thought, purpose, aspirations.

flesh. The Greek word is σαρκὸς (“sarkos”). It means flesh, body, human nature, materiality.

death. The Greek word is θάνατος (“thanatos”). It means death, whether physical or spiritual.

Spirit. The Greek word is πνεύματος (“pneumatos”). It means wind, breath, spirit.

life. The Greek word is ζωὴ (“zōē”). It means life, both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence.

peace. The Greek word is εἰρήνη (“eirēnē”). It means one, peace, quietness, rest.

mind of the flesh … mind of the Spirit. Here is a contrast between these two:

FLESH

  • Nature: Sinful, carnal
  • Enthroned at the center of our lives: self
  • Outcome: death

SPIRIT

  • Nature: Spiritual
  • Enthroned at the center of our lives: Jesus Christ
  • Outcome: Life and peace

 

VERSE 7. because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be.

KJV translation. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

mind. The Greek word is φρόνημα (“phronéma”). It means thought, purpose, aspirations.

flesh. The Greek word is σαρκὸς (“sarkos”). It means flesh, body, human nature, materiality.

hostile. The Greek word is ἔχθρα (“echthra”). It means enmity, hostility, alienation.

law. The Greek word is νόμῳ (“nomō”). It means that which is assigned, hence usage, law. We could probably say “tradition.”

can it be. The Greek word is δύναται (“dynatai”). It means to be able, to have power.

 

VERSE 8. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God.

in. The Greek word is ὄντες (“eimi”). It means I am, exist.

flesh. The Greek word is σαρκὶ (“sarki”). It means flesh, carnal, merely of human origin or empowerment. Hence the expression, “a carnal Christian.”

please. The Greek word is ἀρέσαι (“aresai”). It means “I please.” It conveys the idea of serving others.

Broadly speaking, we often witness two types of Christians: worldly, and spiritual. Paul nudges worldly Christians toward a more spiritual life in Jesus Christ. In our day, we have many synonyms for that “nudging:” path of discipleship, lordship decision, sacrament of confirmation, ongoing conversion.

A similar thing can be said of non-Christians. Some of them are worldly, and others are spiritual. As we Christians grow in spirituality, two wonderful things will happen simultaneously:

  1. We will become more rooted in Jesus Christ.
  2. We will become more open and welcoming to non-Christians who are spiritual.

 

VERSE 9. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.

 

VERSE 10. If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

We see three opposites in this verse:

  • body vs. spirit
  • dead vs. alive
  • sin vs. righteousness

Christ … in you. Christians interpret this phrase in three different ways:

  1. The New Life that began in you when you came to an explicit faith in Jesus Christ. This includes all professing Christians. This is probably what Paul intends in this verse.
  2. What happens when you walk in very close fellowship with Jesus Christ. This includes some committed disciples.
  3. All people everywhere. This includes all people everywhere.

We are to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. Does Jesus Christ live in you? Read more »

body is subject to death. As a result of Christ’s indwelling presence, the believer’s body is dead to sin. And the believer’s spirit is alive because of God’s imputed righteousness. There are many Bible verses that talk of the believer being dead to sin. Here is one example:

Romans 6:11. Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

spirit. Presumably this is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, and not merely the human spirit.

righteousness. The righteousness of whom? Presumably it is referring to the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not to mere human righteousness.

 

VERSE 11. But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

give life to your mortal bodies. This seems to be about the resurrection at the End of Time. But could it also be about healing the physical body?

life. The Greek word is zōopoiēsei (“zóopoieó”). It means make that which was dead to live, cause to live, quicken.

mortal. The Greek word is θνητὰ (“thnēta”). It means subject to death, mortality.

bodies. The Greek word is σώματα (“sōmata”). It means body, flesh; the body of the church.

dwells. The Greek word is ἐνοικοῦντος (“enoikountos”). It means dwell in, settled in, indwelling.

 

VERSE 12. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

NIV translation: Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.

brothers. The Greek word is ἀδελφοί (“adelphoi”). It means a brother, a member of the same religious community. It is often used to refer to all people, and not just men.

debtors. The Greek word is ὀφειλέται (“opheiletai”). It means a debtor, one who owes, one who is indebted. The NIV uses the word “obligation.”

flesh. The Greek word is σαρκὶ (“sarki”). It means flesh, carnal, merely of human origin or empowerment. Hence the expression, “a carnal Christian.”

to live. The Greek word is ζῆν (“zēn”). It means to live.

flesh. The Greek word is σάρκα (“sarka”).

 

VERSE 13. For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

die. The Greek word is ἀποθνήσκειν (“apothnēskein”). It means to die.

if by the Spirit. Are there other ways to put an end to sinful behavior?

you put to death. At first glance, this might seem to teach works-righteousness. However, we are not the doers of these things. Paul is not promoting works-righteousness. Rather, our job is to ALLOW the Spirit to work within us.

the deeds of the body. That is, the “misdeeds” of the body. That makes it seem like all sin is physical.

 

VERSE 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.

are led. The Greek word is ἄγονται (“agontai”). It means led, guide.

these are children of God. This opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities as to who might be walking with God.

Acts 10:35. but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.

 

VERSE 15. For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

VERSE 16. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God;

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

we are children of God. The Holy Spirit says you are a child of God!

 

VERSE 17. and if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.

 

GLORY WILL BE REVEALED IN US

 

VERSE 18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

the glory which will be revealed toward us. Whatever difficulties we are going through right now are nothing compared to how great things will be. The glory is forever, whereas the suffering is temporary and light.

 

VERSE 19. For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

the creation waits. Does the created realm have a sentient nature? Is it like the Hindu notion of Gaia? Was the creation silenced after the fall? Did sin render us unable to communicate with it?

eager. The Greek word is “hapekdechomai.” It is used seven times in the New Testament. Each time to refer to the return of Jesus Christ. The revealing of the children of God will occur when Jesus Christ returns.

 

VERSE 20. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

NLT translation: Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,

frustration. The NASB uses the word “futility.”

not by its own choice. The cosmos is sentient enough to be able to make choices.

by … the one who subjected it. Is it really the case that God is deliberately antagonizing the cosmos?

 

VERSE 21. that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

NLT translation: the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

the creation itself will be liberated. The cosmos itself needs to get saved.

will be. The liberation of the cosmos has not yet taken place.

bondage to decay. Is this speaking of entropy?

 

VERSE 22. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

This verse is referred to in a famous book on continuous prayer called The Way of a Pilgrim.

 

VERSE 23. Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.

we ourselves groan within ourselves. We eagerly await the day when we wil experience the fullness of redemption.

the redemption of our body. Perhaps this refers to the healing of our physical bodies. If so, we eagerly await that day!

 

VERSE 24. For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees?

 

VERSE 25. But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT INTERCEDES FOR US

 

VERSE 26. In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered.

This verse is referred to in a famous book on continuous prayer called The Way of a Pilgrim.

makes intercession. The Holy Spirit prays to God the Father for us.

Our historic Christian belief is that there is one God, and that he is three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They’re not three different gods. There’s only One God, but three Persons. We use the historic word “Trinity.”

In this verse, we see that One Person of the Trinity prays to another Person of the Trinity. God the Holy Spirit prays to God the Father.

Even though the Holy Spirit prays to the Father, that does not mean that the Holy Spirit is “less than” the Father. They’re not in a hierarchical relationship. One is not subordinate to another. They’re equals. Rather, this thing of the Holy Spirit interceding for us is one of the many ways that God ministers to us.

The Greek word for “intercedes” is huperentugchanó. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is a very special and unique ministry of the Holy Spirit on our behalf. We’re accustomed to our family and friends interceding for us. But this intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit is totally unique.

groanings. The Greek word is stenagmos. It means groaning or sighing, especially brought on by circumstances that generate great pressure.

The King James Version puts it this way: “groanings which cannot be uttered.”

These groanings are one of the many ways that the Holy Spirit helps us. Jesus himself spoke of the Holy Spirit ministering to us as a helper. He said:

John 14:16-17. I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever: 27 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him and doesn’t know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit is our Helper, interceding for us by means of inexpressible groanings. But what are these groanings?

Lots of people see it in this way: a situation has come up, and you don’t know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit prompts you to groan. Instead of praying with words, you yourself pray with groans. You are the groaner.

That interpretation is wonderful, except for one little thing: the Bible says it’s the Holy Spirit that does the groaning, not us. The Holy Spirit groans, in inexpressible ways, in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (KJV).

Let’s call this the “Groaning Ministry” of the Holy Spirit.

John 11:38. Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it.

 

VERSE 27. He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God.

 

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR OUR GOOD

 

VERSE 28. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

NIV 1984 translation. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and are called according to his purpose.

We know. The Greek word is “eido.” It means to see, to know, to be aware, to behold, to consider, to have knowledge, to look on, to perceive, to see, to be sure, to tell, to understand.

all things. The Greek word is “pas.” It means each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything, collectively, some of all types.

We know what the word “all” means, and so it’s easy to think that Paul means all things, every thing. But that’s exactly what makes us uneasy: surely God isn’t at work in everything? Some things aren’t “nice” at all.

It would be easy to think that when Paul says “all” things, he really means “some” things, only those things that obviously work for good. You get promoted at work. Or you win some money. Or you got laid off from your job, but then you spend more time with family. In those cases, it’s clear that the events are working for good.

But that’s not what Paul means at all, when he says “all.” From the context of the rest of Romans chapter eight, it’s clear that he means all the stuff of our lives: everything.

work together. The individual events in our lives may or may not be good, from our own limited perspective, but the Apostle says that God harmonizes them, pulls them together.

The phrase, “work together,” is a translation of the Greek word “synergei.” That’s from where we get the English word, “synergy.”

Synergy means that different stuff comes together from different sources, and combines so that great results happen. It’s like an orchestra. The violin combines with the piano and the cello, under the direction of the conductor, and beautiful music crystallizes.

The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Similarly, in our lives, God is actively synergizing everything together for us, re-calculating it all, nanosecond by nanosecond: but why?

for good. Well, what is “the good?” The Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece believed that “the good” meant the good of the cosmos and that individuals don’t count.

Most cultures in human history have measured “the good” from how their own culture is affected.

But Paul sees “the good” from the perspective of all individual believers: God helps us become more holy, more loving, more like Jesus Christ.

In other words, today’s events serve a purpose even today. Today’s joys and sorrows are a part of your growth in holiness and wholeness and Christ-likeness.

for those who. The Greek word is “hoti.” It means that, because, since.

love. The Greek word is “agapao.” It means love of persons, to be fond of, to love dearly, love of things, to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing.

God. The Greek word is “theos.” It means a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities, the Godhead, trinity, God the Father, the first person in the trinity, Christ, the second person of the trinity, Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity.

called. The Greek word is “kletos.” It means called, invited, called to some office, divinely selected and appointed.

according. The Greek word is “kata.”

purpose. The Greek word is “prothesis.” It means a setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view, a purpose.

Here are our two paraphrases of this verse:

In the entire scope of your existence, God is continually synergizing everything for you, so that you may grow in holiness and wholeness and Christ-likeness. God’s ways of doing that are beyond your comprehension.

and

We now have come to understand that (the reason) everything collectively works together toward joy (is) because there are people divinely selected for the purpose of loving the only and true God.

Wisdom 11:5. For by what things their foes were punished, By these they in their need were benefited.

Wisdom 11:13. For when they heard that through their own punishments the others benefited, they recognized the Lord.

 

VERSE 29. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 

VERSE 30. Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified.

 

NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD

 

VERSE 31. What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

who can be against us? Anyone who is against us is nothing compared with Jesus Christ. he is FOR us.

 

VERSE 32. He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

freely give us all things. If God loves us so much that he freely gave up Jesus on our behalf, is there anything God won’t do for us? We are so blessed, so loved!

 

VERSE 33. Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies.

 

VERSE 34. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

right hand. The Bible often mentions “the right hand” of God. That is a position of power and honor. We believe it refers to Jesus Christ. More verses about the right hand.

 

VERSE 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing can separate us from the love of God!

 

VERSE 36. Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

 

VERSE 37. No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

we are more than conquerors. In all the trials we face, the victory is ours. This is because of Jesus Christ, who loves us.

 

VERSE 38. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

Psalm 139:7-8. Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!

Amos 9:2. Though they dig into Sheol, there my hand will take them; and though they climb up to heaven, there I will bring them down.

Romans 8:38-39. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from God’s love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

VERSE 39. nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from God’s love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Romans and from the entire Bible.

Psalm 139:7-8. Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!

Amos 9:2. Though they dig into Sheol, there my hand will take them; and though they climb up to heaven, there I will bring them down.

Romans 8:38-39. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from God’s love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 


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Author: Todd Van Natta

I was given a great gift. It is to be passionate about Jesus Christ and the Bible and the spiritual life. I am a Christian believer. I believe in Jesus Christ. I’m in love with Jesus!

I believe the Bible. I love the Bible. For decades, I’ve been reading it cover-to-cover, again and again and again. I’ve memorized a whole lot of Bible verses. Most of all, I want the Bible to help us fall more deeply in love with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with other people, and with ourselves.

And I’ve been reading the great writings from the entire Christian heritage for decades.

At Explore the Faith, I share what I have discovered.

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