16 It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—that is, providing we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. 19 For the eagerly awaiting creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation as a whole will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only that, but also we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, being the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, through perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
A restored earth
A short passage that (when appropriately translated as above) affirms essential elements of what is being disclosed in The Little Book of Providence**. For the passage itself concerns providence in terms of God’s intentions towards his whole earthly creation. Contrary to the cosmic horror that flows from the all-of-grace theology of Augustine and Calvin, what Paul is indicating here is thoroughly Good News from a loving, equitable and magnanimous God. The sheer goodness of His Nature is (or shall be) thoroughly intelligible to human reason; less so His cosmic strategy, which as Paul will shortly exclaim has been quite extraordinary (Rom11:33). That was in the context of the Jew’s unfaithfulness pathing the way for Gentiles to be raised to eternal life (cf. Acts11:18). Romans8 concerns restoring earthly creation, the key points being:
- Those who suffer for the sake of Christ in the present shall be glorified with Him in the ages to come (vv17-18)
- That shall commence when Christ reappears and the elect “sons of God”, still living or resurrected are gathered to Him (v19 cf. 1Thes4:14-17))
- Verse 20 relates the extraordinary fact that God’s earthly creation was subjected to a futile, corrupted existence was in accordance with the sovereign purpose and counsel of God. Such will make little sense to many until it has been perceived that the existence of evil and its resultant suffering are constitutive elements in God’s plan to elevate His Son and the people the Father has chosen for Him to unimaginable heights of glory (clue: Heb2:10). This mystery has already been touched upon in recent posts and is examined in detail in my book’s theodicy (chapter seven).
- God’s Plan of Loving Goodness is not only for the benefit of God’s elect who, says Paul “have received the first fruit of the Spirit” but for the whole redeemable creation “that will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (vv21-23)
- As for God’s elect, they are to be adopted into God’s own family. But that cannot be fully realized until the root cause of their continuing moral malaise (and everyone else’s) has been resolved, namely the redemption of the body (v23 cf. Rom 7:23-24).
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Related post: Jesus' earthly reign