Romans 8:14-17


Notes: With the adoption of The Lutheran Worship, which replaced The Lutheran Hymnal,  the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod speaks of Sundays after Pentecost. Formerly the Sunday was known as Trinity Sunday, and all the remaining Sundays in the Church Year were known as Sundays after Trinity. It is suggested that on this day the Athanasian Creed be used, instead of the Apostles' or Nicene Creed. It is found on pages 134-5 in LW.  In TLH is was found on page 53.

Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

This is actually a complex sentence. "You see, these are God's sons, who alone are constantly led by the Spirit of God." But the apodosis is placed first for emphasis. "Those" means something like "They and they alone." Note that here we have no "ifs."

Our translations unanimously consider "Spirit" to be the Holy Spirit, not the spirit of the new man. The Holy Spirit alone is the efficient cause in leading the Christian in godly living and battling sin.

The word "sons" means sons in the sense of "free sons," free from sin, death and the power of the devil. On the whole idea read Galatians 4:1-7 where the distinction between bondage and freedom comes out so beautifully. Also read Galatians 5:18.

Franzmann: The Son lived a life of pure obedience to His God (Matthew 4:1-11); He was 'led by the Spirit' into conflict and to victory. Sons of God are sons in actions, or they are not sons at all; they are LED by the Spirit.
Arndt: If we have spiritual life we have the Spirit of God . . . Certainly God will not deliver his sons over to death. Note that sonship toward God depends on our having the Spirit of God.
Stoeckhardt: The Holy Spirit, who lives in the Christian's heart, is never idle but always active. He drives, leads and rules the Christians. Wherever mortification of the flesh is found, there especially the Spirit is at work. He moves the Christians, draws and keeps them from evil, from the works of the flesh, and drives them to every good work . . . But this working and driving of the Holy Spirit is no coercion or compulsion. He operates through the renewed will of the converted. And so one can attribute these works of the Spirit also to the Christians. The Spirit is and remains the motivating agent.
Lenski: 'Sons' is here opposed to 'slaves.'

That is correct. It reminds one of Jesus' words in John 8:34-36.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry,  "Abba, Father."

Here the versions differ widely as to the meaning of "spirit."  It is not an easy matter. We quote four translations which might help bring out the meaning:

RSV: "You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear . . ."

TEV: "For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you a slave and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God's sons."

JB: "The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons."

AAT: "You didn't receive the spirit of slaves to make you feel afraid again, but you received the Spirit . . . "

"Receive" is used two times. To receive means that someone gives. The verse is talking about what God did NOT give and what He DID give. Note the thought "slavery-spirit" contrasted to "adoption-spirit."

Though the Holy Spirit is the giver, here "spirit" does not mean "Holy Spirit." "Spirit" almost means "gift." By sharp contrast Paul shows us what the work of the Spirit and Gospel is NOT and what it is.

What were these people before they became Christian? Fearful unbelievers, under the bondage and guilt of sin, under the delusion that they could earn their way to heaven, considering God a stern Judge, not a gracious Father. That's NOT what these Romans had received. What did they receive? An adoption-spirit. The word indicates a new family relation with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities.

Lenski: God gave us His Spirit because as God He adopted us, Galatians 4:6.

By means of this "spirit" we "cry." This is a strong verb which means to "yell." Cry is a word implying vehemence, accompanied with desire, confidence, a just claim, perseverance.

The Christian is free, not condemned. The Christian is bold, not fearful. The Christian is not an orphan, but an adopted child of God. Therefore, he should boldly cry and pray "Abba, Father," just as Jesus did in Gethsemane and on the cross and as Luther explains in the introduction to the Lord's Prayer.

Arndt: Here we have proof that the Christians are sons on account of having the Spirit . . . They were in slavery before, namely by nature . . . In regeneration they received the spirit of adoption. The Spirit made them sons of God, but the slaves of God . . . The praying is done through the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

Here the first "Spirit" must be the Holy Spirit and the second our renewed man. The concurrence of the two is truly amazing. On this whole passage read Galatians 4:1-7. Note the emphasis on "himself." The Spirit Himself, the very Spirit of God loves to live in and testify in the believer.

"Testifies" means to be a witness, to tell the truth. The Holy Spirit and the renewed man speak the same truth about the fact that this person has been redeemed and is on the way to heaven.

The Holy Spirit makes us children of God. Secondly, He assures us that we are God's children. And, thirdly, He will quicken our bodies on judgment day.

"God's children" means "those whom God has converted or regenerated." That's what the Holy Spirit and our renewed man are constantly agreeing on and all that it implies.

Stoeckhardt: Our spirit, which cries Abba Father, is not the witness that makes the adoption certain, but it is assured of the adoption in that it receives from another a greater witness. It is the Spirit of God alone, who bears powerful witness, who gives the divine certainty that we are God's children. He is the Spirit of God's Son, who won the adoption for us. Galatians 4:6. . . . This witness of the Spirit is mediated through the preaching of faith, Galatians 3:25.
Lenski: Here again we must not think of immediate testimony, apart from, outside of, or above the written Word. All such supposed testimony is religious enthusiasm, the evidence of not only a spiritual but also a mental pathological condition.
Arndt: When we read the Scriptures the Spirit makes the respective portions of the Scripture forceful, emphatic.

Remember Luther's well-known dictum: "Enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon and it is the source, strength, and power of all heresy . . . . Accordingly, we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through his external Word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word and sacrament is of the devil." (Smalcald Articles,Art. VIII, Tappert p. 313).

These words may sound hard but are very true and so necessary in this day of the so-called charismatics.

We add a passage from the Formula of Concord, SD, Art. XI, Tappert 628.73.

Since the Holy Spirit dwells in the elect who have come to faith as he dwells in his temple, and is not idle in them but urges them to obey the commandments of God, believers likewise should not be idle, still less oppose the urgings of the Spirit of God, but should exercise themselves in all Christian virtues, in all godliness, modesty, temperance, patience, and brotherly love, and should diligently seek to 'confirm their call and election' so that the more they experience the power and might of the Spirit within themselves, the less they will doubt their election. For the Spirit testifies to the elect that they are 'children of God', Romans 8:16.

Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The first word is Greek is "and," and adds another thought. If He converted you and thus claimed you as His own, then it is axiomatic that you are also His heir and have and will receive what is His. The little dot above the line in the Greek text, is a colon, not a semi-colon. Translated above as an "--". The word "heirs" is now explained more fully.

It does not mean that there are two kinds of inheritance, but rather that the first is possible only through the second. Genesis 2:2 informs us (according to Hebrews 4) that God created eternal rest for all men. But man fell into sin. God immediately announced the Gospel, Genesis 3:15. He brought it to pass in the person of Jesus Christ, the Supreme Heir, Matthew 21:38; Hebrews 1:2. Though not apart from His divine nature, Jesus attained this inheritance according to His human nature, not for Himself, but for us.

The two genitives "God" and "Christ" are not easy to define. Read Galatians 4:1-7 again. Perhaps it would be best to call these genitives of relationship.

"If indeed" is variously translated "if so be," "provided," "if needed," "if we really."

Lenski: If indeed, as I have no doubt we do.
Franzmann: In this new life of freedom the wall between the present and the future has become as thin as air; one can no longer speak truly of the present without speaking of the future too. Our lives are now the festive evening before the feast . . . The reproaches of those who reproached God fell on Him (15:3), and they must fall on us.
Bengel: 'We suffer with' refers to sufferings in the following verse, and in like manner, 'we may be glorified together' in this verse refers to 'the glory' in the following verse.
Arndt: Now a new thought enters. Our being co-heirs with Christ implies that we have to share his lot here on earth, which is suffering. We have to drink the same cup as he, Matthew 20:22f. Here we compare Acts 14:22 . . . Christ is in glory now. We shall share that glory if we are willing to suffer with him here. The apostle now quite definitely directs our gaze to the glories and happiness of heaven.
Lenski: The difference, of course, remains that Christ's suffering was vicarious, while ours is not and cannot be . . . We suffer jointly with him and because of our connection with him, 2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 4:13; John 15:18 . . . Paul is speaking of the cross we bear, Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Galatians 6:12, and we must not call all our suffering a cross.

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

This verse, though not assigned to be read, completes the thought of verse 17. In verse 17 "suffering" was a verb. Here it is a noun. In verse 17 "glorified" was a verb. Here it is a noun.

The thought is obviously an instance of understatement. Paul means, "I am persuaded; I am absolutely sure." By the way, the purpose of this verse is obviously to encourage the readers to suffer with Christ. Suffering hurts. Adversities are those things which are utterly opposed to us. That is not fun.

Lenski: Paul turns to our sufferings in general, some of which is due only to our own sins, some of which is due to evil men, and some of which is incidental to our earthly existence . . . 'The sufferings of this present period' all of them, of whatever kind . . . when sufferings and glory are held against each other, the sufferings amount to nothing.
Stoeckhardt: Patient suffering is also a part of sanctification, of spiritual life . . . The present time, the time of suffering, is a rapidly passing, short period of time. That already is a comfort for suffering Christians, 1 Peter 1:6. . . The sufferings of the present time are of no account in comparison with the glory which will be revealed in us. . . . Paul had worked and suffered more than all the apostles, but in his severe sufferings he had a deep insight into the promised glory and was greatly comforted, 2 Corinthians 1:11-12.
Franzmann: No one in the New Testament really attempts to explain what the new world will be like. Paul does not attempt it either . . . . What is it like, that future splendor that we shall inherit with Christ? There is no 'like' that man can use; he can only say, in the assured conviction of his faith, that all the present sufferings of the church, and both Paul and the Roman church knew what suffering meant, 8:35-36, Hebrews 10:32-34, cannot weigh in the scale over against the weight of glory, 2 Corinthians 4:17, the glory which will come into our lives.


Adapted for Buls' Notes on the Web, from Exegetical Notes Epistle Texts, Series B, Sundays After Pentecost By Harold H. Buls, Page 11

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