Yesterday, I introduced the subject of Romans 8:28, which declares, “For we know that God works all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Today, let’s take a closer look at the context of Romans 8.
Paul, the author of Romans, uses this epistle to declare “a comprehensive statement of justification by faith alone which is available for Jew and Gentile to show that God is just in his dealings with both groups” (Hullinger). Paul gives the thesis of the letter in chapter one, verses sixteen through seventeen. He states that the Gospel is the universal “power to salvation,” and those who have received it should live by faith. The book is divided into four sections that discuss the sinfulness of man (Romans 1:1-3:20), the doctrine of justification (Romans 3:21-8:39), the righteousness of God (chapters 9-11), and the righteous lifestyle of the believer (chapters 12-19) (Hullinger). In the sections preceding Romans eight, Paul teaches his readers “that no one, not even the Jews, can please God” (Turner 1). He further explains that salvation comes solely through belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28 falls at the end of a discussion of justification. Many theologians state that when the Christian is justified “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8), he is “declared righteous” (DeVries 87). Justification does not make a person righteous; rather, God places the merits of Christ’s death over the debt of human sin (Hullinger). In turn, the sinner is acknowledged as righteous before God and is under “no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1). Although the Christian is now declared righteous, Paul does not claim that God’s followers will live an easy life. In fact, Paul implies that the entire world endures hardship. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is the Christian’s Comforter and Intercessor. He gives aid in “all the helplessness and weariness which tend to come to the believer amidst suffering and perplexity” (Thomas 224). When Christians do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit makes intercession “with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). In addition, those in Christ are children of God and, therefore, “heirs of God” (Rom. 8:17). As heirs, they will be glorified so magnificently in Heaven with Christ that current suffering will seem miniscule (Rom. 8:18).
Tomorrow, I will use this context to further examine the meaning of Pual’s words in Romans 8:28.
- DeVries, Pieter. “Justification, The Central Article of Faith: A Biblical and Theological Analysis.” Puritan Reformed Journal. 3.2 (2011): 84-97. Galaxie Software Electronic Publishing. Web. 17 Aug. 2014.
- Hullinger, Jerry. “Romans.” New Testament Survey. Piedmont International University, Winston-Salem, NC. Feb. 2014. Class Lecture.
- Thomas, W.H. Griffith. St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970. Print.
- Turner, Roger. “Let’s Quit Abusing Romans 8:28.” Firm Foundation, 1972. PDF.