Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 8:18-23
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 8:18
v18: Whatever suffering we are now enduring for Jesus is nothing when compared to the blessings God will give us in the age to come. To make this point Paul pictures himself placing our sufferings on one side of a scale and our future glories on the other and then watches as the scale drastically tips downward toward the side containing glory—so much so that the sufferings of this life will seem to have no weight at all when we step into our eternal inheritance. Paul suffered greatly for his faith (1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:24-33) and there can be no doubt that he must have made just this sort of calculation concerning his own life. We hear him echo the same reasoning and coming to the same conclusion in Philippians, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Php 3:8).

Monday: Romans 8:19
v19: Humans aren’t the only ones waiting for the day when God’s kingdom will come to earth. All of God’s creation also waits. And by “creation” Paul means the physical planet we live on including all of its plants and animals, and I would suppose even the universe itself is included with the sun, moon and stars, and its solar systems and galaxies, etc. (Rev 21:1). He says all of this is not just “waiting,” but has its “head lifted up watching at full alert, eagerly expecting” the day when believers will be “revealed,” that is, seen by all for who they really are: the adopted “sons of God” (Ro 8:15; 1Jn 3:1, 2). We will be resurrected into glorious new bodies and will serve as Jesus’ deputies extending His ministry and rule over all the earth (Rev 20:4-6).

Tuesday: Romans 8:20, 21
vs20-21: That day will bring the “age of the curse” to an end (Ge 3:17-19). When Adam and Eve sinned a curse took hold of the created order. In God’s original plan creation had been placed under their authority (Ge 1:26, 28; 2:19, 20; Ps 8:5-8), so when they fell, those things under their authority fell as well. Like a family that suffers under the leadership of a dysfunctional parent the earth now suffers under the cruel leadership of fallen humans and is subject to the forces of decay and death. The entire system is malfunctioning and miserable, waiting for relief. With unusual clarity the prophet Isaiah looked forward and described what will happen when this curse is reversed. The animal and plant world will be dramatically transformed (Isa 11:6-9; 55:12, 13; 65:25).

Wednesday: Romans 8:20-22
vs20-21 (continued): This is the “hope” to which Paul refers. Though God allowed suffering to come upon an innocent creation that had done nothing to deserve it, He did so only temporarily knowing that He had determined a point in the distant future when it would be set free. Once again it would be ruled by righteous humans who were submitted to the Messiah, and under their care it would be freed from slavery to corruption. He would also send the intense presence of the Holy Spirit to engulf (baptize) and transform it (Isa 11:9). v22: Paul has already told us that creation is “eagerly waiting” (v19), but now he portrays this waiting using an image that expresses misery and urgency. He compares creation to a woman in the agony of childbirth and says its groanings come up before God. He wants us to understand that the suffering of creation is very real. This is not some meaningless theological point. God, who sees everything that takes place and knows when even a sparrow falls (Mt 10:29), is constantly observing an enormous amount of pain and death. And He won’t let it go on forever.

Thursday: Romans 8:23
v23: But creation doesn’t groan alone. Believers groan with it because we suffer too. Yes, the Holy Spirit has been given to us and dwells inside us (Ro 8:11), but He dwells in dying bodies made of rebellious flesh (Ro 8:10, 12, 13). We still awaken day by day to a world full of sin, sorrow and death. We’ve been told to expect temptation, spiritual opposition and persecution for our faith (Mt 5:11, 12; Jn 15:18-21; Eph 6:10-12). Nor does believing in Jesus mean we escape all of the painful trials of life. So we also groan, eagerly awaiting the day when our “adoption” (Ro 8:15) will be complete. Our spirits have already been redeemed (set free from slavery, Ro 8:2), but on that day our bodies will finally be redeemed as well (1Co 15:51-57), and we’ll live in an environment filled with the intense presence of the Spirit (Mt 6:10).

Friday: Romans 8:23
v23 (continued): In this verse when Paul speaks of us having the Holy Spirit he uses a very significant word. He says we have the “firstfruit” of the Spirit. The term “firstfruit” was very familiar to any Jew of that day. From the Exodus onward (Ex 23:19; 34:26; Lev 23:9-11) God had required His people to present to Him a small portion from the first cutting or picking of a season’s harvest. The particular crops used for this are mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey. It was not a large amount, just a sheaf of wheat or barley, and the fruit was carried in a small basket. Small though it was, the offering was the beginning of the harvest, and by bringing it to the Lord the worshipper was acknowledging God as their Source (Dt 26:1-15). By “presenting the beginning of one’s harvest to Him, a circle was closed as nature’s produce was returned to its origin” (Carta’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, The Temple Institute, Jerusalem, 2005, p. 263). But the offering also carried a sense of expectation that the full harvest was yet to come.

Saturday: Romans 8:23
v23 (continued): Paul chooses the word “firstfruit” to give us perspective. He wants us to remember that there is much more of the Spirit yet to come. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit which began at Pentecost brings believers a profoundly deeper relationship than anything the Old Covenant could offer (Heb 8:10, 11), but as wonderful as it is to have His presence dwell within us now (Jn 7:38, 39; 14:16, 17), we have only begun to experience the full dimension of His power. In the future He will resurrect our dead bodies, transform this planet into a beautiful and righteous place for at least a thousand years, and then destroy the present universe and replace it with a new heavens and earth immersed in the “shekinah” (radiant glory) of God (Rev 21:1, 10, 11, 23, 25). As Hebrews says, we’ve only “tasted… the powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:4, 5). Dwelling within us is the “firstfruit” of a much greater “harvest” of His glory. 

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