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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

Romans Chapter 8

Romans 8:1

rom 8:1

Therefore now

Connecting with Rom 7:25. Being freed through Jesus Christ, there is therefore no condemnation now.

Condemnation (κατάκριμα)

As Rom 5:16, sentence of condemnation.

Who walk not, etc.

The best texts omit to the end of the verse.

Romans 8:2

rom 8:2

The law of the Spirit of life (ὁ νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς).

The law, the regulative principle; the Spirit, the divine Spirit who inspires the law (compare Rom 7:14). Of life, proceeding from the life of Jesus and producing and imparting life. Compare Joh 16:15.

In Christ Jesus

Construe with hath made me free. Compare Joh 8:36.

Romans 8:3

rom 8:3

What the law could not do (τὸ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου)

Lit., the impossible (thing) of the law. An absolute nominative in apposition with the divine act - condemned sin. God condemned sin which condemnation was an impossible thing on the part of the law. The words stand first in the Greek order for emphasis.

In the likeness of sinful flesh

Lit., of the flesh of sin. The choice of words is especially noteworthy. Paul does not say simply, "He came in flesh" (Jo1 4:2; Ti1 3:16), for this would not have expressed the bond between Christ's manhood and sin. Not in the flesh of sin, which would have represented Him as partaking of sin. Not in the likeness of flesh, since He was really and entirely human; but, in the likeness of the flesh of sin: really human, conformed in appearance to the flesh whose characteristic is sin, yet sinless. "Christ appeared in a body which was like that of other men in so far as it consisted of flesh, and was unlike in so far as the flesh was not flesh of sin" (Dickson).

For sin (περὶ ἁμαρτίας)

The preposition expresses the whole relation of the mission of Christ to sin. The special relation is stated in condemned. For sin - to atone, to destroy, to save and sanctify its victims.


Deposed from its dominion, a thing impossible to the law, which could pronounce judgment and inflict penalty, but not dethrone. Christ's holy character was a condemnation of unholiness. Construe in the flesh with condemned.

Romans 8:4

rom 8:4

Righteousness (δικαίωμα)

Rev., ordinance. Primarily that which is deemed right, so as to have the force of law; hence an ordinance. Here collectively, of the moral precepts of the law: its righteous requirement. Compare Luk 1:6; Rom 2:26; Heb 9:1. See on Rom 5:16.

The Spirit (πνεῦμα)

From πνέω to breathe or blow. The primary conception is wind or breath. Breath being the sign and condition of life in man, it comes to signify life. In this sense, physiologically considered, it is frequent in the classics. In the psychological sense, never. In the Old Testament it is ordinarily the translation of ruach. It is also used to translate chai life, Isa 38:12; nshamah breath, Kg1 17:17.

In the New Testament it occurs in the sense of wind or breath, Joh 3:8; Th2 2:8; Heb 1:7. Closely related to the physiological sense are such passages as Luk 8:55; Jam 2:26; Rev 13:15.

Pauline Usage:

1. Breath, Th2 2:8.

2. The spirit or mind of man; the inward, self-conscious principle which feels and thinks and wills (Co1 2:11; Co1 5:3; Co1 7:34; Col 2:5).

In this sense it is distinguished from σῶμα body, or accompanied with a personal pronoun in the genitive, as my, our, his spirit (Rom 1:9; Rom 8:16; Co1 5:4; Co1 16:18, etc.). It is used as parallel with ψυχή soul, and καρδία heart. See Co1 5:3; Th1 2:17; and compare Joh 13:21 and Joh 12:27; Mat 26:38 and Luk 1:46, Luk 1:47. But while ψυχή soul, is represented as the subject of life, πνεύμα spirit, represents the principle of life, having independent activity in all circumstances of the perceptive and emotional life, and never as the subject. Generally, πνεύμα spirit, may be described as the principle, ψυχή soul, as the subject, and καρδία heart, as the organ of life.

3. The spiritual nature of Christ. Rom 1:4; Co1 15:45; Ti1 3:16.

4. The divine power or influence belonging to God, and communicated in Christ to men, in virtue of which they become πνευματικοί spiritual - recipients and organs of the Spirit. This is Paul's most common use of the word. Rom 8:9; Co1 2:13; Gal 4:6; Gal 6:1; Th1 4:8. In this sense it appears as: a. Spirit of God. Rom 8:9, Rom 8:11, Rom 8:14; Co1 2:10, Co1 2:11, Co1 2:12, Co1 2:14; Co1 3:16; Co1 6:11; Co1 7:40; Co2 3:3; Eph 3:16. b. Spirit of Christ. Rom 8:9; Co2 3:17, Co2 3:18; Gal 4:6; Phi 1:19. c. Holy Spirit. Rom 5:5; Co1 6:19; Co1 12:3; Eph 1:13; Th1 1:5, Th1 1:6; Th1 4:8, etc. d. Spirit. With or without the article, but with its reference to the Spirit of God or Holy Spirit indicated by the context. Rom 8:16, Rom 8:23, Rom 8:26, Rom 8:27; Co1 2:4, Co1 2:10; Co1 12:4, Co1 12:7, Co1 12:8, Co1 12:9; Eph 4:3; Th2 2:13, etc.

5. A power or influence, the character, manifestations, or results of which are more peculiarly defined by qualifying genitives. Thus spirit of meekness, faith, power, wisdom. Rom 8:2, Rom 8:15; Co1 4:21; Co2 4:13; Gal 6:1; Eph 1:17; Ti2 1:7, etc.

These combinations with the genitives are not mere periphrases for a faculty or disposition of man. By the spirit of meekness or wisdom, for instance, is not meant merely a meek or wise spirit; but that meekness, wisdom, power, etc., are gifts of the Spirit of God. This usage is according to Old Testament analogy. Compare Exo 28:3; Exo 31:3; Exo 35:31; Isa 11:2.

6. In the plural, used of spiritual gifts or of those who profess to be under spiritual influence, Co1 12:10; Co1 14:12.

7. Powers or influences alien or averse from the divine Spirit, but with some qualifying word. Thus, the spirit of the world; another spirit; spirit of slumber. Rom 11:8; Co1 2:12; Co2 11:4; Eph 2:2; Ti2 1:7. Where these expressions are in negative form they are framed after the analogy of the positive counterpart with which they are placed in contrast. Thus Rom 8:15 : "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage, but of adoption. In other cases, as Eph 2:2, where the expression is positive, the conception is shaped according to Old-Testament usage, where spirits of evil are conceived as issuing from, and dependent upon, God, so far as He permits their operation and makes them subservient to His own ends. See Jdg 9:23; Sa1 16:14-16, Sa1 16:23; Sa1 18:10; Kg1 22:21 sqq.; Isa 19:4.

Spirit is found contrasted with letter, Rom 2:29; Rom 7:6; Co2 3:6. With flesh, Rom 8:1-13; Gal 5:16, Gal 5:24.

It is frequently associated with the idea of power (Rom 1:4; Rom 15:13, Rom 15:19; Co1 2:4; Gal 3:5; Eph 3:16; Ti2 1:7); and the verb ἐνεργεῖν, denoting to work efficaciously, is used to mark its special operation (Co1 12:11; Eph 3:20; Phi 2:13; Col 1:29). It is also closely associated with life, Rom 8:2, Rom 8:6, Rom 8:11, Rom 8:13; Co1 15:4, Co1 15:5; Co2 3:6; Gal 5:25; Gal 6:8.

It is the common possession of the Church and its members; not an occasional gift, but an essential element and mark of the christian life; not appearing merely or mainly in exceptional, marvelous, ecstatic demonstrations, but as the motive and mainspring of all christian action and feeling. It reveals itself in confession (Co1 12:3); in the consciousness of sonship (Rom 8:16); in the knowledge of the love of God (Rom 5:5); in the peace and joy of faith (Rom 14:17; Th1 1:6); in hope (Rom 5:5; Rom 15:13). It leads believers (Rom 8:14; Gal 5:18): they serve in newness of the Spirit (Rom 7:6) They walk after the Spirit (Rom 8:4, Rom 8:5; Gal 5:16-25). Through the Spirit they are sanctified (Th2 2:13). It manifests itself in the diversity of forms and operations, appearing under two main aspects: a difference of gifts, and a difference of functions. See Rom 8:9; Co1 3:16; Co1 5:1, Co1 5:11; Co1 12:13; Eph 1:13; Eph 4:3, Eph 4:4, Eph 4:30; Phi 2:1; Co1 12:4, Co1 12:7, Co1 12:11.

As compared with the Old-Testament conception, Paul's πνεῦμα "is the ruach of the Old Testament, conceived as manifesting itself after a manner analogous to, but transcending, its earlier forms. It bears the same characteristic marks of divine origin, of supernatural power, of motive energy in active exercise - standing in intimate relation to the fuller religious life and distinctive character and action of its recipients. But while in the Old Testament it is partial, occasional, intermittent, here it is general, constant, pervading. While in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, its forms of manifestation are diverse, they are expressly referred under the New to one and the same Spirit. While in the Old Testament they contemplate mainly the official equipment of men for special work given them to perform, they include under the New the inward energy of moral action in the individual, no less than the gifts requisite for the edification of the Church; they embrace the whole domain of the religious life in the believer, and in the community to which he belongs. The πνεῦμα of the apostle is not the life-breath of man as originally constituted a creature of God; but it is the life-spirit of "the new creation" in which all things have become new" (Dickson).

With the relation of this word to ψυχή soul is bound up the complicated question whether Paul recognizes in the human personality a trichotomy, or threefold division into body, soul, and spirit. On the one side it is claimed that Paul regards man as consisting of body, the material element and physical basis of his being; soul, the principle of animal life; and spirit, the higher principle of the intellectual nature. On the other side, that spirit and soul represent different sides or functions of the one inner man; the former embracing the higher powers more especially distinctive of man, the latter the feelings and appetites. The threefold distinction is maintained chiefly on the basis of Th1 5:23. Compare Heb 4:12. On the distinction from ψυχή soul, see, further, on Rom 11:3.

Romans 8:5

rom 8:5

They that are (οἱ ὄντες)

Wider in meaning than walk, which expresses the manifestation of the condition expressed by are.

Do mind (φρονοῦσιν)

The verb primarily means to have understanding; then to feel or think (Co1 13:11); to have an opinion (Rom 12:3). Hence to judge (Act 28:22; Gal 5:10; Phi 3:15). To direct the mind to something, and so to seek or strive for (Mat 16:23, note; Phi 3:19; Col 3:2). So here. The object of their thinking and striving is fleshly.

Romans 8:6

rom 8:6

To be carnally minded (τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς)

Lit., as Rev., the mind of the flesh. Fleshly thinking and striving. Similarly the mind of the Spirit for to be spiritually minded.

Romans 8:7

rom 8:7

Is not subject (οὐχ ὑποτάσσεται)

See on Jam 4:7. Originally to arrange under. Possibly with a shade of military meaning suggested by enmity. It is marshaled under a hostile banner.

Romans 8:10

rom 8:10

The body

The believer's natural body.

The spirit

The believer's human spirit.

Romans 8:13

rom 8:13

Ye shall die (μέλλετε ἀποθνήσκειν)

The expression is stronger than the simple future of the verb. It indicates a necessary consequence. So Rev., ye must.

Mortify (θανατοῦτε)

Put to death.

Deeds (πράξεις)

Habitual practices. See on Rom 7:15; see on Joh 3:21.

Romans 8:14

rom 8:14

Sons (υἱοί)

See on Joh 1:12; see on Mat 1:1. There is an implied contrast with the Jewish idea of sonship by physical descent.

Romans 8:15

rom 8:15

Spirit of bondage (πνεῦμα δουλείας)

The Holy Spirit, as in Spirit of adoption. The Spirit which ye received was not a spirit of bondage. See Rom 8:4, under πνεῦμα, 7.

Spirit of adoption (πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας)

The Spirit of God, producing the condition of adoption. Ὑιοθεσία adoption, is from υἱός son, and θέσις a setting or placing: the placing one in the position of a son. Mr. Merivale, illustrating Paul's acquaintance with Roman law, says: "The process of legal adoption by which the chosen heir became entitled not only to the reversion of the property but to the civil status, to the burdens as well as the rights of the adopter - became, as it were, his other self, one with him... this too is a Roman principle, peculiar at this time to the Romans, unknown, I believe, to the Greeks, unknown, to all appearance, to the Jews, as it certainly is not found in the legislation of Moses, nor mentioned anywhere as a usage among the children of the covenant. We have but a faint conception of the force with which such an illustration would speak to one familiar with the Roman practice; how it would serve to impress upon him the assurance that the adopted son of God becomes, in a peculiar and intimate sense, one with the heavenly Father" ("Conversion of the Roman Empire").

We cry (κράζομεν)

Of a loud cry or vociferation; expressing deep emotion.

Abba (Ἁββᾶ)

Compare Mar 14:36. A Syrian term, to which Paul adds the Greek Father. The repetition is probably from a liturgical formula which may have originated among the Hellenistic Jews who retained the consecrated word Abba. Some find here a hint of the union of Jew and Gentile in God.

Romans 8:16

rom 8:16

Beareth witness with our spirit (συμμαρτυρεῖ τῶ πνεύματι ἡμῶν)

This rendering assumes the concurrent testimony of the human spirit with that of the divine Spirit. Others, however, prefer to render to our spirit, urging that the human spirit can give no testimony until acted upon by the Spirit of God.

Children (τέκνα)

See on Joh 1:12.

Romans 8:17

rom 8:17


Roman law made all children, including adopted ones, equal heritors. Jewish law gave a double portion to the eldest son. The Roman law was naturally in Paul's mind, and suits the context, where adoption is the basis of inheritance.

If so be that (εἴπερ)

The conditional particle with the indicative mood assumes the fact. If so be, as is really the case.

Suffer with Him

Mere suffering does not fulfill the condition. It is suffering with Christ. Compare with Him - all things, Rom 8:32.

Romans 8:18

rom 8:18

I reckon (λογίζομαι)

See on Pe1 5:12. It implies reasoning. "I judge after calculation made" (Godet). Compare Rom 3:28; Co2 11:5; Phi 3:13.

Romans 8:19

rom 8:19

Earnest expectation (ἀποκαραδοκία)

Only here and Phi 1:20. From ἀπό away κάρα the head, δοκεῖν to watch. A watching with the head erect or outstretched. Hence a waiting in suspense. Ἀπό from, implies abstraction, the attention turned from other objects. The classical student will recall the watchman in the opening of Aeschylus' "Agamemnon," awaiting the beacon which is to announce the capture of Troy.

Creature (κτίσεως)

The word may signify either the creative act (as Rom 1:20), or the thing created (Mar 10:6; Mar 13:19; Mar 16:15; Col 1:23; Heb 4:13). See on Pe1 2:13. Here in the latter sense. The interpretations vary: 1. The whole unredeemed creation, rational and irrational. 2. All creation, except humanity. The point of difference is the inclusion or exclusion of humanity. The second explanation is preferable, the non-rational creation viewed collectively, animate and inanimate. Equivalent to all nature.

Waiteth (ἀπεκδέχεται)

Only in Paul and Heb 9:28. The whole passage, with the expressions waiting, sighing, hoping, bondage, is poetical and prophetic. Compare Psa 19:2; Isa 11:6; Isa 14:8; Isa 55:12; Isa 65:17; Eze 31:15; 37.; Hab 2:11.

Romans 8:20

rom 8:20

Vanity (ματαιότητι)

Only here, Eph 4:17; Pe2 2:18. Compare the kindred verb became vain (Rom 1:21 note), and the adjective vain (Co1 3:20; Pe1 1:18). Vain is also used to render κενός (Co1 15:14, Co1 15:58; Eph 5:6; Jam 2:20). Κενός signifies empty; μάταιος idle, resultless. Κενός, used of persons, implies not merely the absence of good, but the presence of evil. So Jam 2:20. The Greek proverb runs. "The empty think empty things." Μάταιος expresses aimlessness. All which has not God for the true end of its being is μάταιος. Pindar describes the vain man as one who hunts bootless things with fruitless hopes. Plato ("Laws," 735) of labor to no purpose. Eze 13:6, "prophesying vain things (μάταια)," things which God will not bring to pass. Compare Tit 3:9. Here, therefore, the reference is to a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends.

By reason of Him who hath subjected (διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα)

God, not Adam nor Satan. Paul does not use the grammatical form which would express the direct agency of God, by Him who hath subjected, but that which makes God's will the occasion rather than the worker - on account of Him. Adam's sin and not God's will was the direct and special cause of the subjection to vanity. The supreme will of God is thus removed "to a wider distance from corruption and vanity" (Alford).

Romans 8:21

rom 8:21

In hope because (ἐπ' ἐλπίδι ὅτι)

The best texts transfer these words from the preceding verse, and construe with was made subject, rendering ὅτι that instead of because. "The creation was subjected in the hope that," etc. In hope is literally on hope, as a foundation. The hope is that of the subjected, not of the subjector. Nature "possesses in the feeling of her unmerited suffering, a sort of presentiment of her future deliverance" (Godet). Some adopt a very suggestive connection of in hope with waiteth for the manifestation.

Glorious liberty (ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης)

Better, and more literally, as Rev., liberty of the glory. Liberty is one of the elements of the glorious state and is dependent upon it. The glory is that in Rom 8:18. The Greek student will note the accumulation of genitives, giving solemnity to the passage.

Romans 8:22

rom 8:22


Introducing the proof of the hope, not of the bondage.

Groaneth - travaileth together (συστενάζει - συνωδίνει)

Both only here in the New Testament. The simple verb ὠδίνω to travail, occurs Gal 4:19, Gal 4:27; Rev 12:2; and the kindred noun ὠδίν birth-pang, in Matthew and Mark, Acts, and Th1 5:3. See on Mar 13:9; see on Act 2:24. Together refers to the common longing of all the elements of the creation, not to its longing in common with God's children. "Nature, with its melancholy charm, resembles a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears" (Schelling, cited by Godet).

Romans 8:24

rom 8:24

By hope (τῇ ἐλπίδι)

Better in hope. We are saved by faith. See on Pe1 1:3.

Hope - not hope

Here the word is used of the object of hope. See Col 1:5; Ti1 1:1; Heb 6:18.

Romans 8:26

rom 8:26

Helpeth (συναντιλαμβάνεται)

Only here and Luk 10:40, on which see note. "Λαμβάνεται taketh. Precisely the same verb in precisely the same phrase, which is translated 'took our infirmities'," Mat 8:17 (Bushnell).

As we ought (καθὸ δεῖ)

Not with reference to the form of prayer, but to the circumstances: in proportion to the need. Compare Co2 8:12; Pe1 4:13.

Maketh intercession for (ὑπερεντυγχάνει)

Only here in the New Testament. The verb ἐντυγχάνω means to light upon or fall in with; to go to meet for consultation, conversation, or supplication. So Act 25:24, "dealt with," Rev., "made suit." Compare Rom 8:34; Rom 11:2; Heb 7:25.

Which cannot be uttered (ἀλαλήτοις)

This may mean either unutterable or unuttered.

Romans 8:28

rom 8:28

Work together (συνεργεῖ)

Or, are working together, now, while the creation is in travail. Together refers to the common working of all the elements included in πάντα all things.

For good

Jacob cried, all these things are against me. Paul, all things are working together for good.

Romans 8:29

rom 8:29

Did foreknow (προέγνω)

Five times in the New Testament. In all cases it means foreknow. Act 26:5; Pe1 1:20; Pe2 3:17; Rom 11:2. It does not mean foreordain. It signifies prescience, not preelection. "It is God's being aware in His plan, by means of which, before the subjects are destined by Him to salvation, He knows whom He has to destine thereto" (Meyer).

It is to be remarked:

1. That προέγνω foreknew is used by the apostle as distinct and different from predestinated (προώρισεν).

2. That, strictly speaking, it is coordinate with foreordained. "In God is no before." All the past, present, and future are simultaneously present to Him. In presenting the two phases, the operation of God's knowledge and of His decretory will, the succession of time is introduced, not as metaphysically true, but in concession to human limitations of thought. Hence the coordinating force of καὶ also.

3. That a predetermination of God is clearly stated as accompanying or (humanly speaking) succeeding, and grounded upon the foreknowledge.

4. That this predetermination is to the end of conformity to the image of the Son of God, and that this is the vital point of the passage.

5. That, therefore, the relation between foreknowledge and predestination is incidental, and is not contemplated as a special point of discussion. God's foreknowledge and His decree are alike aimed at holy character and final salvation.

"O thou predestination, how remote

Thy root is from the aspect of all those

Who the First Cause do not behold entire!

And you, O mortals! hold yourselves restrained

In judging; for ourselves, who look on God,

We do not known as yet all the elect;

And sweet to us is such a deprivation,

Because our good in this good is made perfect,

That whatsoe'er God wills, we also will"

Dante, "Paradiso," xx., 130-138.

To be conformed (συμμόρφους)

With an inner and essential conformity. See on transfigured, Mat 17:2.

To the image (τῆς εἰκόνος)

See on Rom 1:23. In all respects, sufferings and moral character no less than glory. Compare Rom 8:18, Rom 8:28, Rom 8:31, and see Phi 3:21; Co1 15:49; Co2 3:18; Jo1 3:2, Jo1 3:3. "There is another kind of life of which science as yet has taken little cognizance. It obeys the same laws. It builds up an organism into its own form. It is the Christ-life. As the bird-life builds up a bird, the image of itself, so the Christ-life builds up a Christ, the image of Himself, in the inward nature of man.... According to the great law of conformity to type, this fashioning takes a specific form. It is that of the Artist who fashions. And all through life this wonderful, mystical, glorious, yet perfectly definite process goes on 'until Christ be formed' in it" (Drummond, "Natural Law in the Spiritual World").

First-born (πρωτότοκον)

See on Rev 1:5. Compare Col 1:15, Col 1:18, note.

Romans 8:32

rom 8:32

Spared (ἐφείσατο)

Mostly in Paul. Elsewhere only Act 20:29; Pe2 2:4, Pe2 2:5. Compare Gen 22:16, which Paul may have had in mind.

His own (ἰδίου)

See on Act 1:7; see on Pe2 1:3, Pe2 1:20.

With Him

Not merely in addition to Him, but all gifts of God are to be received, held, and enjoyed in communion with Christ.

Freely give

In contrast with spared.

Romans 8:33

rom 8:33

Shall lay - to the charge (ἐγκαλέσει)

Only here by Paul. Frequent in Acts. See Act 19:38, Act 19:40; Act 23:28, Act 23:29; Act 26:2, Act 26:7. Lit., "to call something in one." Hence call to account; bring a charge against.

The following clauses are differently arranged by expositors. I prefer the succession of four interrogatives: Who shall lay? etc. Is it God? etc. Who is He that condemneth? Is it Christ? etc.

Romans 8:34

rom 8:34

Rather (μᾶλλον)

"Our faith should rest on Christ's death. but it should rather also so far progress as to lean on His resurrection, dominion, and second coming" (Bengel). "From the representations of the dead Christ the early believers shrank as from an impiety. To them He was the living, not the dead Christ - the triumphant, the glorified, the infinite, - not the agonized Christ in that one brief hour and power of darkness which was but the spasm of an eternal glorification" (Farrar, "Lives of the Fathers," i. 14).

Romans 8:37

rom 8:37

We are more than conquerors (ὑπερνικῶμεν)

A victory which is more than a victory. "A holy arrogance of victory in the might of Christ" (Meyer).

Romans 8:38

rom 8:38

Powers (ἀρχαί)

Angelic, higher than mere angels.

Things present (ἐνεστῶτα)

Only in Paul and Heb 9:9. The verb literally means to stand in sight. Hence to impend or threaten. So Th2 2:2; Ti2 3:1; Co1 7:26. Used of something that has set in or begun. So some render here. Bengel says: "Things past are not mentioned, not even sins, for they have passed away."

Next: Romans Chapter 9