Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom.

8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 1 of 23

Romans 8:18-27:

The End Product of Christ’s Indwelling Spirit is Hope

I consider that the sufferings1 of this present time2 are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed3 to us. 19For the creation4 waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;5 20for the creation was subjected to futility,6 not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay7 and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains8

NOTES [full attribution information follows in the main body of the text and in the bibliography]:
1

“eschatological (or “messianic”) woes” expected at the end time, the birth pangs (labor pains) of the new age. “Suffering with Christ is a sign of their [“the children of God”] affiliation with him, and as a consequence, their participation in the birth pangs of the new creation inaugurated by Christ’s death and resurrection” (Grieb, 79-80). “Suffering begins a chain reaction leading to character, endurance, and hope, a ‘hope that does not disappoint,’” (5:3b-5a; Gorman 2004, 365).
2 3

“the time between the resurrection of Christ and the final consummation [parousia]” (Byrne, 134).

apokayphthenai. “God’s revelation of [a new] reality, [the in-breaking of the kingdom of God]…has occurred in the gospel, the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” (Grieb, 80).
4

pasa he ktises (“all creation”) distinct from humanity. “Paul is affirming a solidarity of the nonhuman world with the human world” in the redemptive act of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection (Fitzmyer, 506).
5

those led by the Spirit (“children of God,” “saints,” “us,” “we,” “ourselves”), who are the “adopted” [through baptism] sons and daughters of Israel as in Exod. 15:2, 13, 17b: “The LORD is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.13‘In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode. 17 You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession, the place, O LORD, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, O LORD, that your hands have established.”
6

hevel (Heb.). The literal meaning of hevel (Gk. mataiotes, ineffectiveness, alienation) is “a mist, vapor, breath.” “They all have the same breath…All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again” (Ecc 3:19-20; Davis, 110-11).
7

Hamartia (Sin), the personified malevolent force released by Adam’s disobedience of God’s will and Thantos (Death), a personified cosmic force, the opposite of life. Thantos for Paul is not just bodily death but spiritual death – the alienation of humankind from its creator, YHWH. (Fitzmyer, 411-413)
8

labor pains – connoting “intense suffering just before intense joy” (Gorman 2004, 377).

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 2 of 23

until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,9 groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.10

24

For in hope we were saved.11 Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for

what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.12

26

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness;13 for we do not know how to pray as we

ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.14 27And God, who searches the heart,15 knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

9

“‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’— 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit” [Paul quoting from midrash, probably on Isa. 64:4](1 Cor 2:9-10a; Byrne, 270).
10

“When we were children, we were held in a state of slavery under the powers of the elements of the cosmos. But when the fullness of time came, God sent his son.... So then, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if you are a son, you are also an heir by God’s adoption” (Gal 4:3-7; Martyn, 384-9).
11

“‘we are saved’ because of what Jesus Christ has already done for humanity, but we still await the full achievement of that status.” Thus, waiting-in-hope entails “remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess 1:3; Fitzmyer, 515).
12

the children of God who possess the “first fruits” of the indwelling Spirit are able to endure “in the midst of suffering because they know God’s love and possess a sure hope as they suffer with Christ” (Gorman 2004, 378).
13

times when we are “weak in faith” (14:1) “under the power of [indwelling] sin” (3:9b): “engaging in various evil deeds (3:10-18);” exhibiting pride (2:17, 23) or hypocrisy (2:21-23; Gorman 2004, 352, 355, 357, 373).
14

the Spirit intercedes for us with groans (stenazein) not spoken in words. “For God’s children in Christ, the Spirit replaces sin as the indwelling power that determines a person’s direction and behavior” (Gorman 2004, 374).
15

a common attribute of God, for example, 1 Kgs. 8:39: “forgive, act, and render to all whose hearts you know—according to all their ways, for only you know what is in every human heart” (Byrne, 271).

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27 Thesis

April 30, 2004 page 3 of 23

The Spirit intercedes on behalf of God for the saints (those of us who have the faith of Christ to be obedient to God’s will) to bring hope despite suffering. This hope in the face of suffering provides believers an alternative to self-destructive “hopelessness, despair, or denial” (see Job 3:3-26) of the “sufferings of this present time.”16 Historical and Literary Contexts The historical context for Paul proclaiming the euangelion theou (“gospel of God,” Rom. 1:1) to the Roman church to whom he is writing includes specific issues of this church (1:18-4:25; 9:1-11:36) and his own ministry concerns (15:14-29). Paul wrote this letter in Corinth most likely in the winter of 55-56 or 56-57 C.E. to:17 1. convince the Jews that the gospel is available for all who will put their trust in Jesus Christ. Thus, Gentiles are welcome in koinonia (fellowship/communion) without adhering to the Law. Anything less is a rejection of the gospel itself (9:30-10:31); 2. convince the Gentiles that those members of the he ekklesia tou theou (“the church of God”)18 who accept the gospel live into this acceptance through grace

16

J. Christiaan Becker, “Suffering and Triumph in Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Horizons in Biblical Theology, 7 no. 2D 1985, 106.
17

Michael J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and his Letters (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2004), 340.
18

Referring to the local congregation (Christian house-churches: 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; Rom 16:4) rather than to the “universal” church with cosmic scope as in Eph 1:22; 4:12; Col 1:18, 24. Frank J. Matera, II Corinthians: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 39. The fruit of God’s agape (love) for humankind is the formation of ekklesia – communities of believers-in and livers-of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 32. “With an urgency of…hope the church applies itself to present tasks and strives for a better world…. In steadfast hope the church looks…to the final triumph of God.” The United

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 4 of 23

by manifesting agape (love) to others: “Welcome one another, therefore, just has Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (15:7);19 3. ask the Roman ekklesia to intervene for him with the ekklesia in Jerusalem on his behalf (15:30-31); 4. agree to provide Paul a base of operations in Rome for his upcoming mission trip to Spain (15:28-29).

Paul views the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the climax of all of Israel’s previous covenant history. Christ’s resurrection ushers in a glorious deliverance into a new “already/not yet” history beyond Adamic history.20 Written in letter format, his letter to the Romans can be thought of as narrative that tells this story to the Roman Christians. This is how 8:18-27 fits into the narrative plan for Ch. 8: Role of the Indwelling Spirit to Make Things Right: 8:1-9 8:10-17 8:18-27 8:28-39 The Spirit of Christ binds our life to his Through the Spirit of Christ we become heirs to Christ’s glory The end product of Christ’s indwelling Spirit is hope This hope is for conformance to Christ

Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., “The Confession of 1967,” Book of Confessions, 9.55 in Christiaan Beker, Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980), 367. Thus, “…eschatologically speaking, the church will always be a resistance movement in the world, resisting evil and the agents of death.” Carl E. Braaten, “The Recovery of Apocalyptic Imagination,” in Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, eds., The Last Things: Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 30.
19

Linda Maloney, ed. Education for Ministry Year Two: The New Testament (Sewanee, TN: University of the South, 2000), 382-419.
20

Richard B. Hays, “Reading Scripture in Light of the Resurrection” in Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays, eds., The Art of Reading Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, 216.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 5 of 23

This is how Ch. 8 fits into the narrative plan of Romans: God Reveals His Dikaiosyne (Righteousness) Towards Humankind through the Death and Resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ 1:1-15 1:16-17 1:18-4:25 5:1-8:39 9:1-11:36 12.1-15:13 15:14-33 16:1-27 Opening Theme: The salvific power in the Gospel for everyone who puts their faith in Christ YHWH’s covenantal faithfulness, especially for Israel, his chosen people YHWH’s power to make things right 8:1-39 Role of the indwelling Spirit to make things right YHWH making things right for both Jews and Gentiles is reconcilable with his covenant with Israel Parenesis (advice) for what it means to live a life in Christ Jesus, our Lord Paul’s ministry mission and request for prayers Closing

The audience for Paul’s letter is most likely Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles who were members of the ekklesia in Rome (1:7). Christian Jews (both Hebrew/Aramaicspeaking Palestine Jews and Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora) were characterized by their belief in YHWH; circumcision; observance of the Torah (with its purity laws) and the Sabbath; use of the psalms in daily prayer; familiarity with scripture; and belief in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. The Gentile audience may have included Hellenist (Greek-speaking) Gentiles who had converted to Judaism, Gentile “God-fearers” who observed some Jewish practices and Gentiles who had not converted but were believers in the “gospel of God.”21

21

Shayne J. D. Cohen, From Maccabees to the Mishna (Library of Early Christianity, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1987), 27-59.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27 Form, Structure, and Movement

April 30, 2004 page 6 of 23

This text is the climax of the developing narrative of Rom. 1-8:17. The characters of the narrative include: (1) antagonists are YHWH22 (1:9); Jesus, the son of YHWH (1:4); the Spirit (either YHWH’s or Christ’s [8:2ff.]) and Abraham (Ch. 4); (2) protagonists are Adam (5:12), the Law (2:12), and Sin and Death (5:12-14);23 (3) agents (those acted upon) are the Jews (1:28-29) and Gentiles (1:5), who are divided into “all who believe” (3:22) and those “living according to the flesh” (8:5, 13). Believers (those who “through pistis (faith) in Jesus Christ” [3:22]) have received the “spirit of adoption” (8:15) at their baptism (Ch. 6) and “who though tested by God through suffering (v. 18) remain faithful rather than sin” are called “children of God” (v. 19; Wis 2:12-20; Mark 5:1-23).24

22

“…the name of Israel’s God, YHWH, is to whom the scripture referred and even as Jesus prayed ‘Our Father’ (Matt 6:9), he referred to YHWH, Israel’s God.” Christopher R. Seitz, “The Divine Name in Christian Scripture”, in Christopher R. Seitz, Word without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 257-260. “It was YHWH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of promise, who raised Jesus from the dead.” Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and Implications of a Christian Eschatology (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 141.
23

Personified spiritual forces or “structures of evil” that exist in the world and that lead humankind to live in ways disobedient to the will of God. Bruce W. Longenecker, The Triumph of Abraham’s God: The Transformation of Identity in Galatians (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998), 38-41. Also used in this fashion in A. Katherine Grieb, The Story of Romans: A Narrative Defense of God’s Righteousness (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002).
24

John R. Donahue, S.J. and Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., The Gospel of Mark (Sacra Pagina, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002), 66, 69.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 7 of 23

Plan of 8:18-27: The End Product of Christ’s Indwelling Spirit is Hope25 v. 18 19-22 23-25 26 27 Sufferings will precede YHWH’s saving action realized in Christ Even the physical world waits with eager longing and groans for YHWH’s saving action Sufferings produce hope because YHWH’s love has been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (5:5b) Even the Spirit groans as it dwells in the children of God (saints) preceding YHWH’s saving action YHWH’s agape has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that YHWH has given the saints as “first fruits” (v. 23) of his salvific plan Believers can expect “sufferings” will precede YHWH’s saving action and “glory” (“the redemption of our bodies,” v. 23b) begun in Christ’s cross and resurrection (v. 18). Hope for this salvific plan is attested to by (1) the groaning of creation (v. 22), (2) the groaning of believers (v. 23), and (3) the groaning of the Spirit (v. 26). This is a hope that even though unseen (v. 24), is real because the Spirit is present (v. 26) – interceding on behalf of believers “according to the will of God” (v. 27) for “we know that all things work for good for those who love God” (8:28, NAB). The movement of this text is designed to intimately connect in the listeners’/readers’ minds: suffering with hope, hope with the Spirit, and the Spirit with the “children of God”/”the saints” – “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (8:17b). “All things are moving – however hidden – to God’s final triumph” – the in-breaking of the kingdom of
25

Christian hope: a cosmic hope that encompasses the entire creation and is manifest as an expectant faith that through the cross and resurrection of Christ we can trust in: (1) the promise of the coming of the kingdom of God (Matt 6:10); that there will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1); and (3) the final triumph of God over Sin and Death (Rom. 3:21-31; 1 Cor. 15:57). Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 231, 239. Thus, there is an “element of self-transcendence on the part of those who hope.” Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, trans. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 173.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 8 of 23

God into ordinary reality where nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God” (8:39).26 Detailed Analysis Sufferings will precede YHWH’s saving action realized in Christ (v. 18) Sufferings (v. 18; defined 8:35-39; results of 5:3-5) are experienced by all of YHWH’s creation (v. 20), including humankind itself (v. 23). However, these sufferings are just a prequel to the glory (doxa) of full adoption – the redemption of our bodies (v. 23b) – about to be revealed to the children of God (v. 19b). Jewish wisdom tradition believed that increased sufferings would occur prior to the final in-breaking of the kingdom of God on earth (“the eschaton”). The text’s dramatic envelopment is that this is a hopeful suffering27 for glory is about to be revealed to us (v. 18). This glory is YHWH’s gracious manumission of our enslavement, much like he did for Israel in the Exodus.28 But this glory is more than just liberation from Pharaoh and the oppressions of Egypt in that it is liberation (redemption) for a specific purpose – a new “enslavement” in Christ. Hope for this glory “rests not on human achievement but

26 27 28

Beker 1980, 365. Byrne, 165-6.

N.T. Wright, “New Exodus, New Inheritance” in Sven K. Soderlund and N.T. Wright, eds., Romans and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Gordon D. Fee on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 33-35

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 9 of 23

upon God’s saving action (unearned grace) now being realized” in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.29

Even the physical world waits with eager longing and groans for YHWH’s saving action (v. 19-22) The creation: (1) waits with eager longing for the liberation of the children of God (people of the new covenant, v. 19); (2) was subjected to futility against its will (v. 20); (3) hopes, along with the people of God, that it will be liberated “from its bondage to decay” (v. 21); and (4) groans like a woman in labor as it goes through the eschatological birth pangs of becoming a new creation – liberated from Sin and Death (v. 22).30 What creation is waiting “with eager longing for” is a rebirth of hope – a hope that reveals “the glory” to a creation “groaning in labor pains” to be “set free from its bondage to decay.” The text’s “waits with eager longing” perspective can be described as “cosmic apocalyptic eschatology.” This is characterized by the belief that all of creation is doomed by Sin and Death and only YHWH can rescue it (the soteriological vision) from “futility” (v. 20) by a dramatic eschatological action:31

29

“Glory” (doxa), like dikaiosyne (righteousness) is that eschatological quality “which equips human beings to share in the eternal life of God…” (2:7, 10). Byrne, 86, 131, 165.
30

J. Ramsey Michaels, “The Redemption of Our Body: The Riddle of Romans 8:19-22” in Soderlund and Wright, 105.
31

Coined by M. C. de Boer in “Paul and Jewish Apocalyptic Eschatology”, in Apocalyptic in the New Testament: Essays in Honor of J. Louis Martyn, ed. J Marcus and M.L. Soards. JSNTSup 24, 169-90. Quoted in Joel Marcus, Mark 1-8: A New Translation and Commentary, (The Anchor Bible, New York: Doubleday, 2000), 72.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 10 of 23

They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ 27Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ (Mk. 10:26-27)

This dramatic eschatological event will finally liberate humankind and creation from its slavery to Sin and Death (the “futility,” hevel) and oppression by the powers of evil.32 The Spirit “dwelling in” the human heart (8:9) makes possible a deep, hopeful relationship with YHWH (vv. 24-25) preparing believers for a “new creation:”33
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I am creating. (Isa. 65:17-18)

Salvation (“the glory about to be revealed to us” and “the redemption of our bodies,” vv. 18, 23b) is “above all a liberation of humanity” and creation from the cosmic powers of Sin and Death that oppress it.34 All who are believers in Jesus Christ (“yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;” Rom 1:6). and open to the in-breaking of the Spirit in their lives and live according to the Spirit rather than the flesh are “saints” or adopted “children of God:” …you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of

32

Marcus, 72. Futility (Heb. hevel, ineffectiveness/alienation, v 20) is described by Kohelet in Ecclesiastes (Eccl 8:14) and by Luther: “the depraved affection and desire of us people, who are not content with the [created things] of God that we have and their use but are always anxious and concerned to accumulate riches, honors, glory and fame, as though we were going to live here forever; and meanwhile be become bored with the things that are present and continually yearn for other things, and then still others….” Martin Luther, Works (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955-1986) vol. 15, pp. 8, 11 in Ellen F. Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament (Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 2001), 110-11.
33

Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans: A literary and Theological Commentary (New York: Crossroads Publishing, 1997), 131.
34

Marcus, 72.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 11 of 23

God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (8:14-17) THE ESCHATOLOGICAL VISION of PAUL’S EUANGELION THEOU35 Resurrection
↓ Adamic Space-Time Sin Death Law “Already/Not Yet” Space-Time of Kingdom of God Dikaiosyne (justification) Shalom (peace) Spirit Hope36

Parousia @ eschaton
↓ Space-Time Kingdom of God Consummation of YHWH’s reign Heaven on earth Kingdom of Son of Man

Paul imagines three phases of human history and physical reality: 1. Adamic space-time when Sin entered YHWH’s creation due to Adam’s disobedience, enslaving humanity (7:14) and handing humankind over to Death so that no human can fulfill the law (7:15ff). 2. Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection overcomes Sin and Death and establishes a new history in-between Adamic time and the parousia (5:18) 37 – an “already/not yet” eschatological space and time.38 This time in-between the

35

Adapted from Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stewart, How to Read the Bible for all Its Worth (3rd edition, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 147.
36

“…the final Christian hope is that the two dimensions, heaven and earth, at present separated…will be united together, so that there will be new heavens and new earth.” N.T. Wright, Following Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 101.
37

Introduced by Paul as a term to mean “second coming” of Christ at the eschaton in I Thess. (ex. 4:16-17) Typically, before Paul, parousia was used in a secular context for the “solemn arrival of a king or emperor at a place.” Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997, 462, footnote #17.
38

Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997), 10.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 12 of 23

resurrection and the parousia is a time when the ekklesia is asked to live a cruciform existence while awaiting the consummation of YHWH’s salvific promises to his chosen people, which now include Gentiles as well as Jews.39 3. The eschaton (end-time) at the parousia when the glory of YHWH’s new creation will finally be fully revealed to the “children of God” (the “saints”) and their bodies will be redeemed – liberated from the slavery of Sin and Death (v. 23b). Thus, “our life and all of creation rest securely in the hand of the God” “who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for all of us” (8:32, NAB)40

Sufferings produce hope because YHWH’s love has been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” [5:5b] (v. 23-25) For Paul, the act of the salvation of Israel has been accomplished in the cross and resurrection of Christ, so that hope itself is an eschatological blessing. However, this is a hope that demands a response greater than just a change of attitude. What more is asked for by this hope that brings confidence that “YHWH is for us” is repentance – a change in how we live our lives from now on.41 This is a hope that rests on pistis (faith) in salvation in Christ and is sustained by the Spirit (vv. 24-25). In the Scriptures, Abraham is the

39 40 41

Richard B. Hays, “Reading Scripture in Light of the Resurrection” Davis and Hays, 234-5. Beker 1980, 366. Donahue and Harrington, 72.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 13 of 23

model for humankind as one who, “Hoping against hope, [] believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’” (4:18).42 Paul presents an imaginative stance that is open to hope for a conversion of faith in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit (vv. 24-25).43 Paul proclaims that despite “sufferings” of the “present time” (v. 18) YHWH is trustworthy (v. 27) and YHWH has already sufficiently provided what humankind and creation needs (v. 26) to overcome Sin and Death (our collective “bondage to decay”, v. 21) though the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus – the Christos (Messiah) and Kyrios (Lord of all creation) and the presence of the Spirit (1:16-17), the “first fruits” of YHWH’s salvific plan.44 This foundational hope in YHWH is expressed eloquently in Psalm 62: “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him” (Ps. 62:5) and in Jeremiah’s lament of salvation and liberation:
When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jer. 29:12-13)

42

Geoffrey Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Abridged in One Volume ed. by Gerhard Kittle and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 230-1; Joseph Fitzmyer, Romans (The Anchor Bible, New York: Doubleday, 1992), 139.
43

“Faith in Christ” for Paul is not complete until it was realized through agape towards one’s neighbor such as: (1) providing comfort to the weak; (2) extending oneself toward others in ways beyond our own self-interests; and (3) even embracing our “enemies” in non-retributive ways. “This implies a hope for the future broader than the fate of ourselves, our families, our circle of friends, and even our specific church.” Michael J. Gorman, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 350.
44

The cross is the event in which YHWH reveals his covenantal faithfulness and hesed (steadfast love) for humanity. The resurrection is a display of YHWH’s awesome power over life and death whereby “nothing in history has set limits” to YHWH’s hesed for human beings and is also a promise for the future. Charles B. Cousar, A Theology of the Cross: The Death of Jesus in the Pauline Letters (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 104-8.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 14 of 23

This hope that we have in YHWH’s salvific plan is a saving hope of faithfulness (vv. 24-25) through the work of the Holy Spirit (v. 26), even when it can not be seen:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. (Heb. 11:1-3)

Even the Spirit groans as it dwells in us preceding YHWH’s saving action (v. 26) Paul is describing a new way of being-in-the-world – a confessional life of prayer (v. 26) lived in pistis (faith) with koinonia (fellowship/communion) within the ekklesia. For Paul, this new life is a Spirit-empowered, Spirit-guided (v. 23a) living-into the kerygma of the cross (“the glory about to be revealed to us”, v. 18; Isa. 40:5). Paul is referring to “man’s need for transcendent support” from YHWH through the “suffering of this present time” (v 18).45 This prayer must (1) start with acknowledgement of YHWH’s promises that “open up new, historic and eschatological horizons for the future;” (2) acceptance that these hopes within history are “drawing forth steadily to a climax,” 46 and (3) one should pray to “fit one’s life into [YHWH’s] ongoing purpose[s].”47 YHWH’s agape has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that YHWH has given us as “first fruits” (v. 23) of his salvific plan (v. 27) By invading the human heart the Spirit frees the human will to be obedient to YHWH. Those crying out the confessional utterance, “Abba, Father” (8:15b) at baptism have become Spirit-empowered children of YHWH acknowledging: (1) YHWH is

45 46 47

James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Word Bible Commentary vol. 38, Dallas: Word Books, 1988), 477. Moltmann, 112. Dunn, 477.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 15 of 23

sovereign and liberator, and (2) YHWH’s hesed (steadfast love) is without limits.48 The Spirit is a hope-giving eschatological gift from YHWH (as in the Spirit’s role in creation; Gen 1:2; 2:7).49 This eschatological gift of redemption is a cosmic event. Redemption applies to creation (v 19-23) and to humankind (v 23; 1 Thes 4:13-17). Those who receive the Spirit are not only redeemed (liberated from slavery), but also caused to be YHWH’s adopted “children” who are no longer “slaves” to Sin and Death:
When we were children, we were held in a state of slavery under the powers of the elements of the cosmos. But when the fullness of time came, God sent his son.... So then, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if you are a son, you are also an heir by God’s adoption. (Gal. 4:3-7, Martyn) 50

The end product of suffering is hope.51 Hope, for Paul, in order to be authentic must have a solid foundation. That solid base or “guarantee for this hope is God’s intervention in the cross and the resurrection of Christ.”52 Thus, the grounds for this hope are Christological (8:17) as Christians are united with Christ in baptism (6:3-5) and through the “dwelling of the Spirit” (8:9). This hope is hoping for the redemption of YHWH’s salvific power, just as Christ was redeemed from the power of Death on the cross.53

48 49 50 51

J. Louis Martyn, Galatians (Anchor Bible, New York: Doubleday, 1997), 391-2. Byrne, 167. Martyn, 384-9.

For Käsemann, life in the Spirit is defined as “standing in hope.” Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, translated and edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 231.
52

This hope is not a ‘passive quietism,’ but an active stance in the world. Paul’s answer to “sufferings” is anchored in a “theology of hope.” J. Christiaan Becker, 1985, 107-8, 113.
53

Byrne, 166-7.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 16 of 23

Jesus brings the didache (teaching) of Judaism to completion. The followers of Jesus form the new Israel, replacing the old. God’s old covenant with Abraham of land and nationhood is replaced by a new covenant. This new covenant is the promise of the kingdom of God (the “glory about to be revealed to us”), through pistis (faith) in Jesus. Like the covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:1-21; 17:1-27), this covenant is an everlasting covenant because it is grounded in the will of God, not human behavior. God’s new covenant with the new Israel is based on the faith with which both Jews and Gentiles accept God’s dikaiosyne (righteousness/covenantal faithfulness) and become dikaios (righteous/justified).

Synthesis The Christian vision of hope for a suffering world is a life of “eager longing” (v. 19a) and prayer (v. 26) – in which hope can even overcome hopelessness and despair of “this present time” (v. 18).54 Paul is calling believers to fill themselves with God’s Spirit (v. 26) and open their hearts to his hopeful grace (v. 27). This is believers’ vision of hope (vv. 24-25) – living a cruciform life in Christ through the grace of God and indwelling of the Spirit (v. 26).55

54

J. Christiaan Becker, “Vision of Hope for a Suffering World: Romans 8:17-30,” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin Supp #3 1994, p. 32.
55

Douglas John Hall, Lighten Our Darkness: Toward an Indigenous Theology of the Cross (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 117.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 17 of 23

Paul’s message of hope through Christ’s indwelling Spirit is to convince his listeners/readers that despite appearances and the “sufferings of this present time” (v. 18): (1) YHWH has not abandoned the Jews. YHWH remains in full covenantal faithfulness; (2) in fact YHWH has extended his covenant with his chosen people to include Gentiles; (3) there is hope in the example of Jesus Christos, YHWH’s only son’s obedience to the point of death – through which all of creation and humankind are being liberated from Sin and Death; and (4) YHWH has sent the Spirit as “firstfruits” (v. 23) to intervene for humankind “according to the will of God” (v. 27), another hopeful sign. YHWH’s covenantal faithfulness (righteousness/dikaiosyne) stemming from his agape (love) is available to humans by grace alone, which has been demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. For Paul, pistis (faith) in Jesus Christ means: 1. Only YAWH divinely reins. No politically derived human institution has a divine right or role to order the lives of believers; both religious and secular political power is only temporary and provisional (1:19-20; 3:19b); 2. Jesus alone foreshadows and enables the possibility for the kingdom of God to break-in on human history and to transform it (3:24-25); 3. YHWH’s salvific power is manifest through the Spirit. Human-directed force and violence is not required as the means to institute righteousness [or justification] (Ch. 8);

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 18 of 23

4. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection is a one-time event only that ushers in a new covenant with the people of God and is available for all of humanity (6:311).56 Reflection Whatever sufferings confront us in this present time, without YHWH’s unearned grace – the work of the Holy Spirit shoring up our faith – we are doomed to not trust in God’s saving power, just as the Israelites during the Exodus:
…because they had no faith in God, and did not trust his saving power [though] he had opened the doors of heaven. He had rained upon them manna to eat; the grain of heaven he had given them. Mortals ate the bread of angels, he sent them food enough. (Ps. 78:22-25)

Here the Israelites discount the “bread of angels” (Ps. 78:25) YHWH has been providing them as insufficient for their desires. Likewise, at “this present time” (v. 18) instead of filling ourselves with God and opening our hearts to his hopeful grace, we are living in a manner that fills ourselves with what is not God. Yet, only God can fill the emptiness within us.57 It is illustrative to contrast our dominant world view with that of Paul. There are many ways to describe the dominant world view of North Americans today in the 21st Century. Brueggemann’s descriptor, “military consumerism” is a reasonable choice:

56

James L. Mays, The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook of the Psalms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994), 116.
57

Davis, 202-5.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 19 of 23

1. Military consumerism imagines a world where the individual is autonomous and is self-authorized to pursue individual well-being, security, and happiness entirely as he/she so chooses. 2. One of the primary ways of pursing well-being, security, and happiness is by consuming resources without restraint or limit, subject to individual wealth, even at the expense of others in one’s community. 3. It takes force, coercion, and/or violence in this world to enjoy and protect the community of individuals exercising their freely chosen well-being, security, and happiness and such force can rightfully be exerted without consideration as to the consequences to other communities.58 In contrast, Paul’s assumptions that define the reality of his world are as follows: 1. In Paul’s world, no one is autonomous or self-directed; everyone serves someone or something (1:25).59 Since YHWH created the cosmos as beautiful and good (Gen. 1:1-2:4a) and is the source for all that happens in the cosmos (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 14:24-27; 45:7; Job 5:18; Dan. 4:35) it is fitting that YHWH is sovereign in our lives (1:9).60 2. All one really needs in the world is the euangelion theou (the gospel of YHWH). That is because “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor

58 59 60

Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the OT: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Mpls: Fortress, 1997), 718. Grieb, 2. Brueggemann 1997, 354.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 20 of 23

anything else in all creation,” can separate humankind from YHWH’s dikaiosyne (covenant faithfulness) and hesed (steadfast love) (8:38-39).61 3. Instead of needing force, coercion, and/or violence in this world to enjoy and protect one’s community, YHWH has called a particular people to be in covenant with him and thus to be the vehicle for saving all of humanity and creation (Gen. 12:1-3; 12-36; Ex. 3:7-10; 20:1-17). This covenant is unbreakable. YHWH will be forever faithful to his covenant with his chosen people. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer. 31:3). To this set of worldview assumptions, Paul includes a fourth proposition: 4. The climax of this call of a particular people to covenant with YHWH has occurred in the person, teaching, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who is Christos (the Messiah, or anointed one by YHWH) and Kyrios (Jesus is Lord of all creation, not Caesar).62 “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). This is our vision of HOPE – living a cruciform life in Christ through the grace of God and indwelling of the Spirit!63 As Paul says: “May the God of hope fill you with all

61 62

Grieb, 2.

Brian E. Daley, S.J., “Is Patristic Exegesis Still Useful? Some Reflections on Early Christian Interpretation of the Psalms”, in Davis and Hays, 74.
63

“Wir sind Bettler; das ist wahr” (“We are beggars, that’s true”). [Written by Martin Luther February 16, 1546, two days before he died.] For “only beggars can receive the gift of grace” freely offered. Hall, 117.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 21 of 23

joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (15:13). Thus, whether it is outbreaks of terrorism, economic forces that destroy our livelihood, pandemics of AIDS or SARS, periodic famines that assail the majority of the world’s population, WMD (weapons of mass destruction) proliferation, or ecological crises that threaten the biological, chemical, and regenerative capacities of the earth – using Paul’s message in Romans 8:18-27, we can respond to these “sufferings” with hope – in Christ – that “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed” (Isa. 40:5) and we can contribute, however small, to the in-breaking of the kingdom of God here on earth, even in this “present time.” Works Cited Beker, J. Christiaan. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980. Becker, J. Christiaan. “Suffering and Triumph in Paul’s Letter to the Romans.” Horizons in Biblical Theology. 7 no 2 D 1985, p. 105-119. Becker, J. Christiaan. “Vision of Hope for a Suffering World: Romans 8:17-30.” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin Supp #3 1994, pp. 26-32. Braaten, Carl E. and Robert W. Jenson, eds. The Last Things: Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002. Bromiley, Geoffrey. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Abridged in One Volume ed. by Gerhard Kittle and Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985. Brown, Raymond E., An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Brueggemann, Walter. Texts Under Negotiation: The Bible and Postmodern Imagination. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 22 of 23

Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the OT: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997. Byrne, S.J., Brendon. Romans. Sacra Pagina vol 6, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996. Cohen, Shayne J. D. From Maccabees to the Mishna. Library of Early Christianity, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1987. Coogan, Michael D. ed. The New Oxford Annotated Bible 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2001. Cousar, Charles B. A Theology of the Cross: The Death of Jesus in the Pauline Letters. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990. Davis, Ellen F. Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament. Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 2001. Davis, Ellen F. and Richard B. Hays, eds. The Art of Reading Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. Donahue, S.J., John R. and Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., The Gospel of Mark. Sacra Pagina, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002. Dunn, James D. G. Romans 1-8. Word Bible Commentary vol. 38, Dallas: Word Books, 1988. Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stewart. How to Read the Bible for all Its Worth. 3rd edition, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003. Fitzmyer, Joseph. Romans. The Anchor Bible, New York: Doubleday, 1992. Grieb, A. Katherine. The Story of Romans: A Narrative Defense of God’s Righteousness. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002. Gorman, Michael J. Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001. Gorman, Michael J. Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and his Letters. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2004. Hall, Douglas John. Lighten Our Darkness: Toward an Indigenous Theology of the Cross. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976.

Lyle Brecht BS600 Exegesis Paper –Rom. 8:18-27

April 30, 2004 page 23 of 23

Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989. Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. Johnson, Luke Timothy. Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary. New York: Crossroads Publishing, 1997. Käsemann, Ernst. Commentary on Romans. Trans. and edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Longenecker, Bruce W. The Triumph of Abraham’s God: The Transformation of Identity in Galatians. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998. Maloney, Linda, ed. Education for Ministry Year Two: The New Testament. Sewanee, TN: University of the South, 2000. Marcus, Joel. Mark 1-8: A New Translation and Commentary. The Anchor Bible, New York: Doubleday, 2000. Matera, Frank J. II Corinthians: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003. Mays, James L. The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook of the Psalms. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994. Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Moltmann, Jürgen. Theology of Hope: On the Ground and Implications of a Christian Eschatology. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Systematic Theology. Vol. 3, Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Seitz, Christopher R. Word without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. Soderlund, Sven K. and N.T. Wright, eds., Romans and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Gordon D. Fee on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. Wright, N.T. Following Jesus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful