Romans 8:18-39

Deliverance From a Sin-Cursed Creation
Romans 8:18-39
Deliverance in two phases. The prophetic Scriptures indicate that the second coming of Christ has two phases. The final aspect of deliverance, being connected with the second coming, is distributed over these two phases:
  1. The Rapture is when the children of God (believers) will come into their “glorious liberty” by being glorified at that moment (1 Cor. 15:51-56; Phil. 3:20-21).
  2. The Appearing is when the creation will be delivered; it must wait seven more years. At that time, it will be given a release from the effects of sin (Rom. 8:18).

The Coming Glory and the Deliverance it Brings (8:18-23)

What We should be Looking For: Glory (v.18)

¶ 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us. v.18 Picking up where he left off in v.17, Paul looks to the future. What are the “sufferings of this present time“? They come from two directions: from living in a fallen creation, and from being a witness for Christ in a Christ-rejecting world. These sufferings are normal to Christianity. The present sufferings are “momentary” and “light“, versus “eternal” and “weighty” (2 Cor. 4:17). Paul, having seen the glorified Christ, knew what he was talking about. The glory will be revealed “to us“. Notice that the KJV says “in us” which would give the thought of the glory concentrated and terminated in us. But the correct rendering is “to us” which gives the thought of a special enjoyment of the glory, but leaves room for the glory to be universal! See Hab. 2:14.

Reasons Why We should be Looking Forward (vv.19-23)

#1: Because the Creation is waiting for it (vv.19-22)

vv.19-22 The first point the apostle makes is that the creation itself is awaiting the time of our manifestation in glory. If the unintelligent creation is waiting for it, certainly we who are sons of God should be earnestly looking forward to it as well!
19 For the anxious looking out of the creature expects the revelation of the sons of God: v.19 The “creature” refers to the whole creation, affected by the corruption of sin. The personified creation “looks” (not intelligently, of course) for a release from this bondage. The creation struggles against death; think of the struggle made by an animal that is fatally wounded. When something dies, everyone has a sense that this is somehow wrong. Creatures were designed to live. The creation will receive freedom from the bondage of sin at “the manifestation of the sons of God.” We are sons now (v.14), and we know it, but the world doesn’t. We are humiliated by weakness, persecuted, etc. but then our true place of blessing will be manifested in a public, visible way! We will be glorified at the rapture (vv.17-18) but manifested as such before the world at the Appearing of Christ (2 Thess. 1:10; 1 John 3:2).
20 for the creature has been made subject to vanity, not of its will, but by reason of him who has subjected the same, in hope v.20 The creation fell (was “made subject to vanity“) not of its own will, but through the failure of its head, Adam. However, God’s purpose has been to bless the earth through man (Heb. 2:5-9). When the First Man “out of the earth” (1 Cor. 15:47) failed, the blessing was postponed until the coming of the Second Man “out of heaven“. In an interesting way, the First Man got the creation into bondage, and it now is waiting on the Second Man to get it out of bondage!
21 that the creature itself also shall be set free from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. v.21 In the sense of liberty, the blessing of the creation will follow on the tails of the blessing of the Christian (by seven years). We come into our liberty, then they come into theirs. Notice the wording in JND translation: “the liberty of the glory“, not “the glorious liberty”. The creation will have liberation but not glorification. The creation will be set free from sin like the Christian, but will never rise to our glorified state.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now. v.22 Often men try to deny that the creation is fallen because then they can deny that men are fallen. Paul says “we know” because it is obvious that death and suffering prevail today in the lower creation. The creation “groans” selfishly and unintelligently. The groaning continues “until now” in that death and suffering continue until the present day, although there was brief relief during Christ’s ministry and following the Day of Pentecost.

#2: Because our own Physical Bodies are waiting for it (v.23)

23 And not only that, but even “we” ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we also ourselves groan in ourselves, awaiting adoption, that is the redemption of our body. v.23 Now Paul turns from the subject of creation to Christians. Our bodies are our link with the fallen, groaning creation. “The first-fruits of the Spirit” is the possession of a new life in Christ and the accompanying blessings. It is a down-payment, a guarantee of the eventual “redemption” of our bodies. We have adoption (“sonship”) now, but this verse speaks about a future adoption. Just as our spirits have been presently elevated to the status of sons (v.15) so our bodies will be changed to be just like Christ’s (Phil. 3:21)! Note that it is the “redemption of our body” not the giving out of a new body. It will be our current body then set free from sin. We “groan” in what we feel both personally and sympathetically. As a practical note, groaning is not grumbling.
Three groanings are found in this section, and all are connected with the effects of sin in a fallen creation. 
  1. v.22 The Creation groans both (1) unintelligently, because they don’t know why this has happened to them, and (2) selfishly, just as the deer aren’t sad for the wolves, etc.
  2. v.23 The Christian groans (1) with a measure of intelligence, because we know why this has happened, and (2) sympathetically, because we have the life of Christ.
  3. v.26 The Spirit groans (1) with full intelligence and (2) full sympathy according to the mind of God (v.27).

Three Supports that Preserve Us while We Wait (8:24-30)

Support #1: Hope of Future Glorification (vv.24-25)

24 For we have been saved in hope; but hope seen is not hope; for what any one sees, why does he also hope? v.24 We are “saved in hope“. When we believed the gospel of our salvation it was in view of the full and final sense of salvation. “Hope” in scripture is a deferred certainty.
25 But if what we see not we hope, we expect in patience. v.25 God has reserved the completion of our deliverance and our glorification for the future. He has done this to fix our gaze on Christ in heaven, and to make us live expectantly and patiently. Those whose hopes are earthly fashion their lives around earthly things, and the fruit is evident.

Support #2: Spirit-supplemented Prayer (vv.26-27)

26 And in like manner the Spirit joins also its help to our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray for as is fitting, but the Spirit itself makes intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered. v.26 As we go through life we rely on the resource of prayer, which is dependence on God. Often we do not know what to pray for, or can’t express our heart to God. Therefore, the Spirit of God supplements our prayer as He is able to perfectly express to God what we feel but are unable to articulate. The Spirit helps our infirmities by way of comfort and intercession, acting in the capacity of Comforter (John 14:16). “Infirmities” here include weaknesses of the body and mind. “Groanings which cannot be uttered” is not talking about mumbling nonsense; it refers to feelings which are beyond human expression.
27 But he [God] who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he [the Spirit] intercedes for saints according to God. v.27He who searches the hearts” is God Himself. When God searches the hearts of (normal) Christians He finds that the Spirit of God has done His work so well that the groanings are perfectly in tune with God Himself! God can see His own mind and character reflected in the prayers of Christians! So we have Two Intercessors:
  1. The Spirit (vv.26-27) intercedes for us as we pass through a creation that has fallen under the effects of sin.
  2. Christ (v.34) as a glorified man intercedes for us when persecution comes in.
The Spirit Praying. There is a wicked doctrine begun by Macedonius I of Constantinople (360 A.D.) who was later declared a heretic, that because the Spirit prays to God for us, He must be inferior, thus denying the Trinity. Far be it from a mark of inferiority, this is a beautiful proof of the moral glory of God who stoops to serve us in love. Our very groans are given a divine character before the throne of God because of the Spirit that dwells in us. Just as demons characterize a man possessed by them (E.G. the man called ‘Legion’), so the Spirit characterizes the Christian who is indwelt by Him!

Support #3: The Word of God: The Assurance that God is For Us (vv.28-30)

28 But we “do” know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to purpose. v.28 We don’t know how to pray (v.26) but we do know that God is in control and has a purpose to bless. Specifically, the purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son (v.29). He does not say, “all things are good” but that they “work together for good.” Some things that happen to us may be bad, but God uses it all “together” to produce something good. See Deut. 8:16. The peace that this brings is deeply rooted in knowing and believing God’s Word, and specifically God’s sovereign purpose for our blessing. Compare with Jacob, who at his lowest point said, “all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36), but in reality God was working all things for his blessing. We need to be careful not to force our sins into the expression “all things” (like Augustine did) or we might be guilty of viewing sin lightly. It is true that God’s grace rises above all (Rom. 5:20), but we also need to be clear on Rom. 3:7.
29 Because whom he has (1) foreknown, he has also (2) predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 But whom he has predestinated, these also he has (3) called; and whom he has called, these also he has (4) justified; but whom he has justified, these also he has (5) glorified. vv.29-30 Here we have that golden chain of God’s purpose from eternity to eternity. If we want to know the end goal of God’s purpose, we must examine what is connected with predestination. God’s purpose is that Christ might be the Firstborn among many brethren. God is so pleased with His Son that He has chosen to replicate His image over and over again until heaven is filled with sons! In that day (beginning at the Rapture) we will be “conformed to the image of His Son”, not only morally, but physically! There are “many brethren” because Christ is the Head of an entire new race of men that will be morally and physically like Himself.


  1. Foreknown” – God knew us as persons (“whom”) before the world was (1 Pet. 1:19-20, Eph. 1:4). Foreknowledge is more than omniscience & prescience (Amos. 3:1-2). The thought here is that God foreknew persons, not merely what actions those persons might take, although that is true as well. Read more…
  2. Predestinated” – God orders the eternal destiny of the elect (chosen, Eph. 1:5). Predestination is the truth that believers in Christ were predetermined to a future position; to be in Christ’s place before God, and ultimately to be conformed to His image. Read more…
  3. Called” – We hear the sovereign call of God, and we respond to it.
  4. Justified” – We are declared and constituted righteous in God’s sight.
  5. Glorified” – We are morally and physically transformed into the likeness of Christ. Notice this is past-tense; it is looking back at it from a future eternity.
Two types of calling. There is a difference between the call according to invitation (like Matt. 22:14) which is contingent on accepting, and the call according to purpose (Rom. 8:30) which is an effectual call that creates a response. In Matthew the “called” are more numerous than the chosen (Matt. 20:16), but not so here.

Seven Points Summarizing what God has Done (8:31-39)

The beauty of our security in Christ. In Rom. 3:22 the righteousness of God is “upon me” like a garment, shielding me from every charge (see. v.33). But now, in vv.31-39 we see the beauty of that garment. Nothing can touch the security that the believer has in God’s love in Christ. It is almost is if the courtroom scene of Rom.1-3 is reversed. The prisoner which was earlier convicted – but now saved – can stand before the bench and challenge any adversaries or accusers to step forward. There are

Point #1: There are no Holes in God’s Plan for Full Salvation (v.31a)

¶ 31a What shall we then say to these things? v.31a No challenges to our portion in Christ can stand. God’s plan brings lost men into blessing, but never compromises His righteousness. The beauty of the Gospel silences every doubt.

Point #2: No Man or Demon can Stop God from His Purpose (v.31b)

31b If God be for us, who against us? v.31b No enemy can stand against us. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, see Job 42:2). His plan in vv.29-30 is absolutely sure. The thought here is “who would dare” be against us!

Point #3: God’s Sacrifice Proves that He is Fully Invested in Our Blessing (v.32)

32 He who, yea, has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him grant us all things? v.32 If Point #1 is a question about God’s wisdom, and Point #2 is about God’s power, then Point #3 is about God’s love. The one object that was most special and precious to God – “His own Son” – was not spared (or, exempted from) the cross, but was delivered up to the most awful suffering and shame. It is the highest proof of God’s love (1 John 4:10), and the measure of its infinite lengths (grace)! We are assured that He will lavish on us every good thing, both for now, and for eternity! Note: the words “spared not” aren’t used in the sense of “not spared from God’s side” but “not spared (exempted) from judgment”. Compare the use of “delivered” here with Rom. 4:25.

Point #4: We have been Justified Completely (v.33)

33 Who shall bring an accusation against God’s elect? It is God who justifies: v.33 No one can bring a charge of sin against us because we have been justified by the Judge Himself! God’s glory is the measure by which we are judged, and He Himself has declared us righteous. It isn’t a mere rumor that we are justified, but we hear it from the mouth of God!

Point #5: We have been Taken Beyond the Reach of Every Foe (v.34)

34 “who is he that condemns?” [Isa. 50:8] It is Christ who has died, but rather has been also raised up; who is also at the right hand of God; who also intercedes for us. v.34 The death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ is proof that all our foes have been defeated. This is a quotation from Isa. 50:8, where the Messiah has lived a perfect life of dependence (vv.4-5), the cross has been suffered (vv.6-7), and now Christ is risen from the dead and glorified. He is seen there challenging His foes (particularly Satan, Rev. 12:10) to find anything in which they could condemn Him. It is a victorious cry! Since we are “in Christ”, this victorious position applies to us! (Read L.F. #12 in the Appendix.) But though our standing is secure, Satan attacks our state of soul; therefore we have Christ interceding for us!

Point #6: No Suffering on Earth can Separate us from Christ’s Love (vv.35-37)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 According as it is written, “For thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we have been reckoned as sheep for slaughter.” [Psa. 44:22] vv.35-36 While our enjoyment of the love of Christ may fluctuate, it will always be upon us. All the trials and sufferings of Christ became the demonstration of His perfect love to us. And so all our trials (but a shadow of His) are turned into blessing! Seven outward forms of trial are given as follows:
  1. Tribulation” or, trials in general;
  2. Distress” or, mental anguish such as fear;
  3. Persecution” or, suffering for the name of Christ;
  4. Famine” or, lack of food and water;
  5. Nakedness” or, lack of clothing and shelter;
  6. Danger” or, threats to health and even life; and
  7. Sword” or, martyrdom… of this greatest form an example is quoted (Psa. 44:22).

37 But in all these things we more than conquer through him that has loved us. v.37 “All these things” intended by Satan for our hurt instead result in the love of Christ being made more precious to us! When are we “more than conquerors“? When a difficulty ends up working for you rather than against you. It is a double victory. We don’t just endure the trial (a mere conqueror) but we actually gain from it (Psa. 4:1)!

Point #7: No Power in the Universe can Separate Us from God’s Love in Christ (vv.38-39)

38 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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. vv.38-39 Previously Paul had been speaking of various forms of suffering on earth, now he steps back and scans the whole universe, looking for and finding no spiritual power, be it however great, that can separate us from God’s love. Ten things are listed. (1) “death“, (2) “life“, and life’s trials, (3) “angels“, specifically the fallen ones, (4) “principalities” or, demons set over geographical regions, Dan. 10, (5) “things present” or, the state of the world today, (6) “things to come” or, the world tomorrow, (7) “powers” or, men in places of power, (8) “height“, the totality of spiritual forces in heavenlies, (9) “depth“, the totality of human and natural forces, the sea, etc.,  and (10) “any other creature” encompassing the entire creation of God. The chapter begins with “no condemnation” (v.1) and ends with “no separation“. The love of God is “in” or “comes to us by” Christ Jesus our Lord.