Romans 8:17–25: Waiting In Hope

Read the Bible in 2011* ◊ Week 4: Sunday

For in hope we have been saved…
Romans 8:24a

Pray, asking God to encourage and teach you with His Word, and then read Romans 8:17– 25.

For all that Paul doesn’t spend a great deal of time writing about suffering in Romans, the verses in chapters 5 and 8 are widely known for the comfort and help they bring to Christians. Paul doesn’t leave us facing the inevitability of suffering without encouraging us. Look back at Romans 5:1–5.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:1–5

As he did in Romans 5:1–5, in chapter 8, Paul links suffering with glory and hope.

…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Romans 8:17–25

Let’s look at the word glory. The Greek word is δόξα, dóxa, from which we get the English word, doxology, “An expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a Christian worship service.” Spiros Zodhiates explains:

“the root word of dóxa…primarily means thought or opinion…Thus, the dóxa of man is human opinion and is shifty, uncertain, often based on error.”1

The glory of God is something altogether different because with God, “there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

“But there is a glory of God which must be absolutely true and changeless. God’s opinion marks the true value of things as they appear to the eternal mind…The glory of God is what He is essentially; the glory of created things including man is what they are meant by God to be, though not yet perfectly attained (Heb. 2:10; Rom. 8:18–21).”2

In Genesis 3, God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you.” In Romans 8 we read that creation groans and suffers now—we see the thorns and thistles, we experience diseases and disasters—but creation will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We wait for that day of freedom, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Then we will be what we are meant by God to be.

Romans 5:5 says, hope does not disappoint. We don’t hope in vain, hoping somehow we’ll be raised from the dead and glorified with Christ, but meanwhile not being too sure about it. We have a sure and certain hope. How do we know this?

For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchange­ableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:1–5

God wants us to be assured and certain of the unchangeableness of His purpose. God wants us to have strong encouragement to “lay hold on and cling”3 to our hope, so He, Himself, guarantees our hope by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie. Read that again: Impossible for God to lie! A. M. Stibbs explains:

“…we have a double ground of confidence, in God the Promiser who gives us His word and in God the Guarantor who confirms it by His oath. There is therefore no possibility of being deceived or disappointed.”4

I want to mention another word that occurs in Romans 5 and 8: perseverance. (There’s yet another word in Romans 5:1–5 that is found at the end of chapter 8, and we’ll get to it later!).

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:1–5
…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Romans 8:17–25

Our hope is sure and certain, and we wait eagerly for it (8:23, 25), however, the if in 8:25 de­scribes a condition that is true—we don’t see our hope. Our hope is not yet realized. How do we keep waiting as we live through all sorts of of suffering? Do we give up? No, we wait with perseverance. The word translated as perseverance is a compound word from two words meaning, “under,” and “to remain.”5 It’s strongly emphasized here in the Greek.6 In the New Testament the word is also translated as endurance and steadfastness. A. T. Robertson calls it, “staying power.”7 If you go back to Romans 5, and read other verses where the word is used, you’ll find that perseverance brings about proven character. Perseverance matures us and shows us as gold.

“As C. E. B. Cranfield said, ‘To have one’s faith proved by God in the fires of tribulation and sustained by him so as to stand the test is to have one’s hope in him and in the fulfillment of his promises, one’s hope of his glory ([Romans 5] v. 2), strengthen and confirmed.'”7

Francis Schaeffer writes, “And we wait; for it still lies ahead,”8 and reminds us of Romans 1:17:

“‘For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.’ We are called to live by faith. And in the present life we won’t be disappointed, we won’t be made ashamed of the faith and hope we have placed in Christ (5:5). And finally, when we are glorified, when God’s glory is revealed in reference to us (8:18), we certainly will feel no shame whatsoever for having lived a life of faith, as our salvation through Christ is brought to glorious completion.”9

Waiting with perseverance can be hard, and sometimes excruciatingly so, as we live through tribulation and endure suffering, but God has not left us to go it alone or to try to tough it out by ourselves. Paul will continue to encourage us by explaining in the next verses some very specific help God gives us.

– 

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications. (Site has been deleted since posting).
Untitled (Mooring and Anchor): Mary Vaux Walcott. Public Domain.
1,2,5Spiros Zodhiates, ed.,The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (World Bible Publishers, Inc., Iowa Falls IA: 1992) 478, 1424.
3Fritz Rienecker, Cleon L. Rogers, Jr. (Translator and Editor), Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI: 1976, 1980) 684. “…κρατέω to hold fast, seize. The idea is “to lay hold on and cling to that which has been taken” (Westcott).”
4A. M. Stibbs, “Hebrews,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 1202.
6Gary Hill, Gleason L. Archer, consulting ed. The Discovery Bible (Moody Press, Chicago:1987) xxi, 315.
7A. T. Robertson, “The General Epistles and the Revelation of John,” v. VI, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Broadman Press, Nashville TN: 1933, 1960) Vol. II, 12.
7S. Lewis Johnson Jr., adapted by Mike Abendroth, Discovering Romans (Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI: 2014) 81.
8,9Francis Schaeffer, The Finished Work of Christ (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 1998) 220.

*In 2011 I started a year-long series of posts, “Read the Bible in 2011.” On the directory pages if a day didn’t link to a post, it was simply a brief reminder about the reading. I’m filling in some of those gaps with new posts with “Read the Bible in 2011 Redux” as a category.

Copyright ©2021 Iwana Carpenter

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