Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 4: Sunday
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.
As he did in Romans 5:1–5, in chapter 8, Paul links suffering with glory and hope.
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?
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!).
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.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
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.
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
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