Romans: ch. viii.

January 5, 2011


Thus far the Apostle has explained the weakness of the law, sin and concupiscence; here he explains the power of the grace and spirit of Christ.  Therefore 1) he concludes from what has been said that those who are inserted into Christ by faith and grace are free from all fault and damnation; 2) v. 12 he proves that we ought to live according to the Spirit of adoption we have received, who makes us sons of God and coheirs of the future glory of Christ; 3) v. 19 he shows the greatness of this glory: not only all creation sighs for it, but also those who have received the first fruits of the Spirit; whence v. 26 he says that the Spirit helps our weakness and asks on our behalf; finally 4) he emphasizes the charity of God towards those who love him, by which all things work together unto good for them, whom he has foreknown and predestined to be made conformable to Christ, and for whom he handed Christ over to death.  From which he concludes, v. 35, who therefore shall separate us from the love of Christ?

3. in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin – God sent his son to assume mortal human flesh, like the sinful flesh of other men.

4. Thus it is clear that man in his fallen state cannot fulfill the law and the decalogue without the grace of Christ.

9. This is what it is to be in the spirit: for the Spirit of God to dwell in you, to have a permanent and lasting seat in you, not to pass away from you.

10. the body indeed is dead – that is, after the sin of the fall, so quickly and surely susceptible to death that it might as well already be considered and called dead.  But our spirit liveth the life of grace, and will live the life of glory.

11. From this verse it is clear that the Holy Ghost, living in us by the spirit of charity, is the cause of our resurrection and life of glory.

12. i.e. we are debtors to the spirit, to live according to the spirit.

15. the spirit of adoption of sons – As God gave his Deity and the Word to the man Christ so that he might be and be called the Son of God, so God gives us his Holy Spirit and his Deity, to make us sons of Godand to adopt us.  When God gives us the Holy Ghost, he communicates his divine nature to us.  Abba – alludes to the Gospel of St. Mark (xiv. 36), which was written at Rome and known to the Romans; shows that our adoption is the same whether we are Jews (Abba) or Gentiles (Pater).

16.  This testimony of the Spirit, contra the protestant heretics, cannot be known for certain by us without a special revelation of God.  There are signs of likelihood by which we can form an idea for ourselves, as the love of God, obedience to the Holy Ghost, a holy life, contempt of the world, desire of heavenly things, peace of conscience, zeal for God’s honor and the salvation of souls, etc.  God wishes our hope to be mixed with fear so that we do not become slothful in our security.

18.  St. Furseus heard the angels singing: “Nullus labor durus, nullum tempus longum quo gloria æternitatis acquiritur” – “No task is hard, no time long by which the glory of eternity is acquired.”

19. of the creature – i.e. of creation: the glory prepared for us is so great that even inanimate creatures long for it.

20. The creature is subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him (God and his ordinance) that made it subject, on account of man, that is, to serve him in this mortal state, in hope of the final resurrection and renewal of all things.

21. into the liberty – that is, following the example of the liberty of the children of God, the rest of creation will receive a similar freedom, stability and immortality.

22. every creature, that is, every inanimate creature, waiting for the end of all evils.

23. We have the first fruits of the Spirit, God’s pledge at justification, the beginning of our redemption and liberation, which will be consummated in the resurrection.  Similarly adoption here refers to the completed adoption into glory, which is begun on earth by the grace of justification (v. 15).

24-25. hope, i.e. in the resurrection.  Hope is thus also necessary for salvation.

26. unspeakable groanings – as our Paraclete, the Holy Ghost pleads on our behalf in the consistory of the Holy Trinity with unspeakably great charity.

28. St. Bernard notes that all things work together, not unto our will or our pleasure, but our goodAccording to his purpose – that is, according to God’s eternal, benevolent and free decree that, in his pure goodness and mercy, men should be called to grace and sanctity through Christ, without merit of their own.

28-30. Paraphrase: “For those who love God, those called to be saints according to his purpose, all things, even the saddest, work together unto good: because these are they whom God foreknew from eternity and predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, both in his love for them and in their future glory, if they persevere in grace.  And just as God foreknew them and predestined them from eternity, so he called them in time by his grace, and justified them in their obedience to his grace, and will glorify them after they persevere in grace.  (Hebraism: the verbs in past tense stand for any time, past, present or future.)

31. This is the impenetrable shield of the saints’ patience: what demons or men can harm us if God cares for us by his eternal foreknowledge, predestination, temporal vocation, justification, and eventual glorification?

33-34. Paraphrase: “It is God who has freed the true Christians from the power of sin and the demons, and pronounces them just.  v. 34, Christ Jesus, supply is, he who died, rose again, makes intercession for us – repeat: who therefore shall accuse against the elect of God?”  The Holy Ghost, v. 26, the Father, v. 32, and the Son, v. 34 – thus the whole of the Holy Trinity – has an immense love and care for the elect.

35. the love of Christ – not Christ’s love for us, but our love for Christ.  The sense is, if God loves us so much, how can we not, in our turn, love him?

38-39. St. Bernard: “No creature is able to separate us from the love of God: only our own will can do that.”  The certainty (v. 38) is complete on the part of God, and is a certainty of faith; on our part, it is only a moral certainty delivered by our firm resolution and purpose to persevere in the charity of Christ.


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