Saturday, July 24, 2010

Exegesis of Romans 8:28-39

5 May 2008

Interpretive Questions

Verse 28 – Isn’t Paul saying that for those, whom God has called for a purpose, all things work out for the good for those who love Him, and is Paul saying that all things work out for the good for everyone or just those who are called to do a job for God, so that His purpose is carried out? (2 Corinthians 1:20-21) If this concludes everyone, what about those who are persecuted and tortured for their faith? (Matthew 10:24) Are things going to work out for them because they love God? (2 Corinthians 1:20-21) How so? (2 Corinthians 1:20-21) What is God’s purpose and who are those, whom Paul is speaking to, which carry out God’s purpose? (2 Corinthians 1:20-21)
Verse 29 – Whom did God foreknow? (Acts 2:23, 1 Peter 1:12) Why did He know them beforehand? (Psalms 33:13) What did Paul mean when he said God predestinated people to be conformed in the image of His Son? (1 Peter 1:19) Is Paul saying God picked some people from the beginning of time to be His chosen? (1Peter 1:12) What is the image of His Son? How does one conform to it? (1 Thessalonians 5:23) What does Paul mean by saying Jesus would be the first born among many brethren? (1 Corinthians 15:20) What is the first born of? (1 Corinthians 15:20) Who are the brethren? (Matthew 23:8)  Are they Christians or Jews? (Matthew 23:8)
Verse 30 – Is Paul saying that everyone, whom God predestined, is called? (Ephesians 1:5,6,11) Who did God call and for what reason? Are all God called justified and glorified? (Matthew 22:14) How can a man be justified and glorified by God? (Romans 3:28) What does it involve? (Romans 3:28, John 15:5) Do these acts change our position in Heaven and how we appear before God? (Ephesians 1:6, 2:8-9) Do these acts involve God’s free grace? (Romans 11:6) Are they received by grace alone? (John 15:58) Are they experiential or nonexperiential? (Romans 11:6) After man is justified does that mean that as a former sinner, that they are free from God’s condemnation and wrath? (Romans 1:18) What does God’s condemnation entail? (Revelation 20:15, Mark 9:48, Revelation 14:11) Is it eternal punishment or annihilation? (Mark 9:48) What does glorification entail? (Philippians 3:20-21) Does that mean we will be fully in His image? (Philippians 3:20-21) If so, what is the process in between? (Ephesians 6:11-18) Is it something man does or that God does? (Ephesians 6:11-18) What about regeneration; how does it fit in the picture? (Ephesians 6:11-18)
Verse 31 – If, indeed, justification and glorification means these things and God is slowly maturing Christians to one day become the fullness of His image though the process of sanctification, and we are saved and justified by His grace, with Him being the all-powerful, omniscient ruler of the universe, who could condemn us? (Revelation 12:10, Romans 16:11, Genesis 3:15, James 4:7)
Verse 32 – Since it pleased God to have His own Son bruised and crucified to save man from his iniquity, would it not stand to reason that God would give believers all things? (Matthew 7:11) What would all things include? (Matthew 6:25-33) Does this mean God gives us all things we want or just all things we need? (Matthew 6:25-33,) When we read that all things work out for the good to them that love God, in verse 28, is that talking about God giving them all things? 1 (Timothy 6:10-12)
Verse 33 – Who should accuse or condemn God’s chosen, adopted children, and isn’t it God, who clears man of sin, through their cognitive and volitional decision to accept His Son and serve Him? (Genesis 18:25, Psalms 31:23, 94:2, 2 Timothy 4:8) When we read verse 28, is all things working out for the good, referring to the concept that man’s enemies cannot condemn him, because God is the ultimate judge? (Genesis 18:25, Psalms 31:23, 94:2, 2 Timothy 4:8)
Verse 34 - Who condemns man? (Genesis 18:25, Psalms 31:23, 94:2, 2 Timothy 4:8) Is Christ, who died and was resurrected the one mediation for us through His atonement? (1 Timothy 2:5) Why is Christ at the right hand side of God, and why does Christ as our intercessor? (Hebrews 9:11-12) It is because we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, in order that His precious blood can cover our sins? (Hebrews 9:11-12)
Verse 35 – Is there any physical act or trouble that would separate us from the love of Christ after He suffered and died for the sole purpose of saving mankind? (Romans 12:2) Is there any type of physical situation or disaster that Paul hasn’t mentioned? (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22)
Verse 36 – What does it mean when Paul says we are killed all day long? (Acts 22:20, 2 Timothy 2:14, Matthew 4:12, Acts 5:18, Acts 13:50). Who is Paul talking about? Is it the Christians or the Jews? (2 Timothy 3:12) If so, does that mean because we love and follow Him that we will also be slaughtered? (2 Timothy 3:12)
Verse 37 – Is Paul saying that through Christ we have conquered our enemies and that this is what all things that work out for the good for those who love Him means? (Colossians 2:15)
Verse 38 – What is Paul naming all these things and powers for? (Genesis 3:15) What do they signify in our justification and glorification process? (Jeremiah 31:33)
Verse 39 – Is Paul saying because Christ has justified us, in accepting Him as our Lord and Savior that nothing will come between Christ and His believers? (Jeremiah 31:33) What does this mean for Christians? (John 3:16)

Thesis: God, through His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, made allowances for an eternal reconciliation to sinners, who were previously separated from Him. Through Christ having died, as a sacrifice and appropriation for man’s sins, this was accomplished. And through His crushing the enemy, the head of all powers and evil acts, according to Genesis 3:15, all believers have become conquerors in Him and have assurance that they will have eternal life.
The introduction is a short paragraph, stating a small summary of the passage, what God has done for mankind, what His purpose is and that we know it to be true, because He cannot lie.
The context includes Paul’s describing in prior chapters to the passage how mankind was once under the law, but now, having Christ, who fulfilled the curse of the law, God has given His purpose for mankind, and has revealed it down the history by those He calls.

A. Content includes a systematic study of the Romans 8:28-39 passage, including several commentators’ opinions, in order that an exegetical decision can be made to properly interpret the passage.
A. One needs to accept Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, remain in unceasing prayer and study of God’s Word, and Christ will be his or her mediator, making sure that Satan or no one can separate them from God. This will result in eternal life – the working out of good. Romans 8:28-39 is a beautiful passage, in which God’s true love is shown for those, who love Him. It is said in 1 John 4:19 that we love Him because He first loved us, and this passage is certainly evidence of that. Also, not only does this passage show that all things, as a whole, work out for the good of those who love God, and for those whom He has predestined and called, but also reminds mankind in John 3:16, God shows that He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us, and that whosoever would believe on Him would have everlasting life. It also tells us of the loving kindness displayed by Christ, as it promises that He is by the Father’s side, praying for us, and confirms to believers that by Him doing so, no one, no thing or no higher power would be able to separate His people from Him. In these promises, a believer in Him might find ultimate comfort and assurance that all things will work out for him or her, as God cannot lie. This is evidenced in Titus 1:2, where Paul states, that God cannot lie and promised the elect eternal life, even before the world began.
The context of Romans 8:28-39 fits into Paul’s describing how the law of Moses was a curse and those who are under the law are under condemnation and judgment, but those who have accepted Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, are not under that curse, but live after the Holy Spirit, making them the righteousness of the law. Those who are yet under the law live by the flesh and lusts of the world, but those who have the Holy Spirit seek after spiritual things, rather than those of carnal substance. The first have the second death to look forward to, as well as the wrath of God, but the latter will experience eternal life and peace. Paul further states that those in the flesh cannot please God with their works, and are actually His enemies and are at enmity against Him. Paul promises that the Holy Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus Christ will also raise up believers, quickening them with His Spirit, and for this we are in debt to God. Believers have become the children of God, through adoption, and must suffer with Christ in His suffering, so that they might be glorified with Him in the end. Believers experience pain and travail within themselves, waiting for the redemption and glorification, which they will experience, when Jesus Christ returns, Paul says. Later, in chapter 9, Paul continues to explain God’s plan, calling out those to serve Him from Abraham to Moses, and finally wraps God’s plan up with the end result of Gentiles being called along with the Jews, as they are both grafted into the olive tree, which is Israel, and that is God’s plan and His purpose – to provide salvation and eternal reconciliation to Him, after man sinned and fell from a personal relationship with Him, according to Adam’s sin and every man’s imputed sin thereafter. God wants nothing more than to re-establish fellowship with His creation, and has gone to all lengths to do so, calling out specific people for His needs, beginning with Abraham, who is the Father of all believers and ending with the believers, themselves, who are called to share their faith in Him.
Romans, the eighth chapter, and the twenty-eighth verse states, “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.” There have been many people over the times, which have severely misunderstood this verse, and undoubtedly still do and always will. They try to twist the Word of God, into saying that all things undoubtedly will work out for them to the good. The Reverend Jack Hyles once wrote a sermon, before his death, commentating and focusing only on this one verse, because he had seen over and over again the misunderstood ideas, which people come up with, when reading and remembering it. The name of the sermon was entitled, “What Romans 8:28 Does Not say.” He says most people do not understand what the verse says, and that most people misquote it and so he wanted to first make sure that his congregation knew what it didn’t say before he explained what it did say. With that being said, let us now examine what it does mean. The key phrases in the twenty-eighth verse of the eighth chapter of Romans are “to them who are called” and “according to His purpose.” Why are they key? Isn’t Paul saying that for those, whom God has called for a purpose, all things work out for the good for those who love Him? After all, Paul, by sharp contrast, from verse 26, says that we know this is to be true. Therefore, this verse is a certain display of the sovereignty of God, but it is more than that. It is a comfort to the reader, if read correctly, and if the reader does not attribute that every ordinary thing in their life will end in a good account. So, does it then mean that everything will work out for the good of those who have been given a certain job by God, such as a prophet or an apostle? This calls for an examination of who the called are exactly. The Greek word used here is kletos, and simply means, “invited,” so anyone whom God has called to be His child is categorized to fit within this context (Barber). How can it be true, however; that everything can work out for the good, for all Christians, whom He has called for His purpose? Doesn’t Jesus tell His followers that they will certainly see persecutions, since the servant is not above his Master (Matthew 10:24)? Of course, Christians, though not all will see severe ones, will see persecutions, and the example of all the apostles having suffered stands to witness in the fact. So, how can a believer know that all things will work together for the good? The answer lies in the phrase “according to God’s purpose.” One must know what God’s purpose is, and a good study would find that would be an eternal reconciliation with Him, though Jesus Christ, and this has been promised in 2 Corinthians 1:20 and 21, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now He, which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God” So, Christians know that God’s purpose in all things, is to establish man, through repentance in Christ, for the purpose of reconciliation.

Now comes the question of whom did God foreknow, and did why did He know them? According to Jamieson-Faussett-Brown, one should compare with such verses as Acts 2:23, where the counsel was set up with the foreknowledge of God, and 1 Peter 1:12, where it is stated that the elect were known before hand by God, and He knew them simply because He is all-knowingly omniscient, as evidenced in such verses as Psalms 147:4-5, where David calls Him of great power and infinite, and Psalms 33:13, where He is described as looking from Heaven, yet seeing all the sons of men, among other numerous verses.

Paul says that the predestinated believers are to be conformed to the image of Christ, His Son, so that He might be the first born among many brothers. The image of His Son is one of purity and holiness, without sin – one of an innocent lamb, without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19) and men must be conformed in this image, through sanctification as in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, where Paul states that God preserves one blameless until our Lord, Jesus Christ comes again. Jesus Christ is the first born of many brethren, in the same way that He is the first fruit of the resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20). The brethren make up the body of believers, in Christ, and look to Him as their Master; therefore, they are Christians, and His followers (Matthew 23:8).

In the thirtieth verse, Paul again calls those whom are called of God predestined. He also makes this claim in Ephesians 1:5 and 11, whereby he says that all are predestined for adoption and inheritance, and then he says, in verse 5 and into verse 6, “that it is all according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, confirming Romans 8:28, where Paul states that everything is according to His purpose (will) and the following verses, which indicate we have conquered through His grace. Predestination is a very controversial issue, and so one must go to the Greek to determine what this means. The word is proorizo, which means to decide beforehand, and so one can say that God decided long ago, whom He would call. Matthew 22:14 says, “Many are called, but few are chosen, so not everyone whom God calls takes Him up on the offer, still He wishes all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and so that is why He puts off His coming (Luke 12:45).

God justifies a man by faith, though Jesus Christ (Romans 3:28), and He glorifies them through His grace. Man becomes dependant of God for all things, and by seeking Him and having Him shine through him, man might be glorified in Him, as man is totally unworthy of any glory (Edwards). Nothing man can do is deserving of justification or glorification, for man can do nothing without the Lord (John 15:5), therefore, there are no acts man can do on His own ambition to deserve Heaven (Romans 6:23, Revelation 20:13-15, 21:8), but everything is earned through His grace, wherein now man is accepted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:6) and by grace alone is he accepted (Ephesians 2:8-9). The occurrence is nonexperential, as one doesn’t feel the event, per se, but it is evidenced in one’s life through obedience, as Paul says that after one has received grace, that work is no longer a work (Romans 11:6). The justification, which is spoken of, frees one from God’s condemnation, which occurs because men love darkness more than light (John 3:19), and wrath, for it is reserved only for those who are unrighteous (Romans 1:18) and who will see the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), which burns forever and ever and its fire is never quenched (Mark 9:48), and whose smoke ascends forever and ever (Revelation 14:11).  For those who are not under God’s wrath and condemnation, and are glorified in Him, will become as Him, with a glorified body, which will never decay (Philippians 3:20-21). This process includes daily renewal and regeneration in Him, by walking closely with Him, reading His Word and praying unceasingly, otherwise known as putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). Since believers have the confidence to know all the things, from verses 28 through 30, - that they are sanctified, justified and glorified, who can condemn them? Satan has no power over believers, and can no more accuse them (Revelation 12:10). God is going to crush Him under believers’ feet (Romans 16:11), as He has Jesus’ heel (Genesis 3:15), and once God empowers the believer, through the Holy Spirit, to resist sin, Satan will flee (James 4:7)

Since it pleased God to have His own Son bruised and crucified to save man from his iniquity, would it not stand to reason that God would give believers all things? He has promised to give His children good gifts (Matthew 7:11, Matthew 6:25-33), but good things include food, clothing and necessities. He also promises to give these things to the unbelievers, as well (Matthew 5:45). Is then verse 28 talking about believers, who love God, and who are called according to His purpose, getting all things being that which works together for the good? As one sees, Matthew 5:45 seems to argue that, by showing that He is only obligated to give the necessities, and 1 Timothy 6:10-12 confirms this, by saying that money is the root of all evil, it causes men to err in faith and hinders their hold on eternal life.

Who then can accuse God’s children, seeing that God justifies? No one can, since God clears man of sin, and removes his transgressions from him as far as the east is to the west (Psalms 103:12) and will remember no more his sins (Hebrew 8:12) (McCant). Therefore man’s enemies cannot condemn Him, because God is the ultimate judge (Genesis 18:25, Psalms 31:23, 94:2, 2 Timothy 4:8). Then who condemns believers? No one can, because Jesus Christ died, was resurrected and became man’s mediator or lawyer (1 Timothy 2:5), covering him with His blood, so that he would become innocent (Hebrews 9:11-12). Jesus Christ is sitting at the right-hand of God waiting for that moment to declare believer’s innocence and faithfulness, as He has hidden believers in Him, and asks the Father to love them for His sake (Spurgeon).

Is there any physical act or trouble that would separate us from the love of Christ after He suffered and died for the sole purpose of saving mankind? Jaimeson-Faussett-Brown refer the reader here to 2 Corinthians 11:11-30 for the example of Paul’s steadfastedness in Christ. He says he was beaten, hungry, thirsty, naked and without sleep and still he gloried in his infirmities that he was of Christ. Through the examples of the other apostles suffering this is also proven Biblically – that one cannot be separated from Christ by anyone or anything, save he or she leave themselves from His love, out of attraction of the world (Romans 12:2) and disobedience, not wearing the whole armor of God, by omitting prayer and the study of His Word and not abstaining from evil, thereby quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22).

In verse 36, Paul writes, “For thy (Christ’s) sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Paul is talking about the Christian believers, who are persecuted and killed each day, for their belief in Christ and the Gospel (Acts 22:20, 2 Timothy 2:14, Matthew 4:12, Acts 5:18, Acts 13:50). All day long, with the original Greek being hemera, used here is a common term for an extended time or a general time, as believers will be persecuted and killed, not necessarily in America, but in other places, until Christ returns, though all believers suffer to some degree (2 Timothy 3:12). Even though all will and do suffer persecution, all are conquerors through Him, Jesus Christ, whereby he spoiled the powers and principalities, and the ordinances, which were against man, triumphing over them (Colossians 2:15). Through Christ nothing can stop the conquering love of God for us. (Pounds).

As man is justified, in Christ, and even glorified in Him, “death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come” are of no threat to mankind, if they are in Christ. For Christ has already crushed the head over all evil powers, when He died on the cross (Genesis 3:15). Therefore, there is nothing left to separate believers from their God, as God has promised that He would be mankind’s God as they would be His people (Jeremiah 31:33) This statement could be argued that He is talking about the Jews only, as it is written, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people,” but one must remember that the Christians are grafted in with the natural branch into the olive tree (Romans 11:24) and are included in this verse. Therefore, all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile are grafted into the olive tree (of Israel, becoming corporate Israel) and will be saved (John 3:16).

To apply Romans 8:28-39 to the modern Christian’s life, one must first accept Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior. By doing this, and by following Paul’s commands in Ephesians 6:11-18, which include living a righteous life, reading the Bible – but not only reading it, but having a full knowledge of it, furthering the world with the knowledge of God’s peace, through witnessing, having and building adequate faith, praying without ceasing and with supplications for the perseverance of all saints, then one is adopted into the family of God.

Once God accepts one who has repented into His family, the Jesus Christ steps up and prays for him or her as well, meaning that He has become not only the Savior, but the advocate who fights against and has already conquered the accuser, leaving the accuser standing empty before God with meaningless claims, for all is forgotten and wiped from the mind of God, the ultimate Judge of the universe.

For those who accept God, and persevere to the end, through prayers and the study of His Word – which builds against temptation and fills one with faith, then God writes His laws in his or her heart, and his or her conscience becomes their guide. Therefore, if one were to commit a sin, the Holy Spirit, which acts as the conscience would tear the believer apart so bad that they would undoubtedly return to repentance, therefore one who is truly saved and beyond a doubt loves the Lord, no one can accuse them of otherwise. With this being said, one knows that the true meaning of everything working out to the good, for those who have been called according to His purpose, and whom love Him is eternal life, which Romans 8:28 refers to as “all things work out for the good,” because when Christ is on one’s side, all things lead to the Kingdom of Heaven, and nothing might stop that, for He has conquered all, and believers are conquerors through Him.

Works Cited

Barber, Dr. Wayne A."The Revelation and Resolve of the Holy Spirit.” 5 Apr. 08. Precept Austin. 21 Apr. 2008.
Edwards, Jonathan. ‘God Glorified in Man’s Dependence.” 8 July 1731. What Saith the Scripture. 18 Apr. 2008.
“Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary Romans 8.” 20 April 2008.
McCant, Jerry. “A Wesleyan Interpretation of Romans 5 – 8.” 1993. Wesley Center Online.
Pounds, Wil. “Super Conquerors Through Christ.” 2006. Reflections for the Thinking Person. 18 Apr. 2008.
Spurgeon, C. H. “Paul’s Persuasion.” 7 Nov 1886. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. 15 April 2008.

© 2010 Kimberly Padilla, A.A Religion

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I am enjoying your posts. About the one above where you say:
    "Once God accepts one who has repented into His family, the Jesus Christ steps up and prays for him or her as well, meaning that He has become not only the Savior, but the advocate.."

    It's not clear to me. Do you mean the following sequence:
    1. A repents to God (the Father?)
    2. God (the Father) accepts A.
    3. Jesus steps up and prays for A and bcomes A's advocate (mediator).