|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:10-17 If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall endure for ever. The righteousness of Christ imputed, secures the soul, the better part, from death. From hence we see how much it is our duty to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If any habitually live according to corrupt lustings, they will certainly perish in their sins, whatever they profess. And what can a worldly life present, worthy for a moment to be put against this noble prize of our high calling? Let us then, by the Spirit, endeavour more and more to mortify the flesh. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit brings a new and Divine life to the soul, though in a feeble state. And the sons of God have the Spirit to work in them the disposition of children; they have not the spirit of bondage, which the Old Testament church was under, through the darkness of that dispensation. The Spirit of adoption was not then plentifully poured out. Also it refers to that spirit of bondage, under which many saints were at their conversion. Many speak peace to themselves, to whom God does not speak peace. But those who are sanctified, have God's Spirit witnessing with their spirits, in and by his speaking peace to the soul. Though we may now seem to be losers for Christ, we shall not, we cannot, be losers by him in the end.
Verses 14-17. - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the Spirit of adoption, wherein we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. In ver. 14 is introduced a further ground for the assertion in ver. 13, ζήσεσθε; viz. the felt sonship to God of those who have so received his Spirit as to be led (i.e. practically actuated) by it. We say "felt" because, though in this verse the sonship is alleged as a fact, yet, in the following verses (15,16) the inward experience of true Christians is appealed to as evidence of such sonship. Then, in ver. 17, the thought is carried out, that sonship implies inheritance, and hence a share in the glorified eternal life of Christ. (This conclusion makes further evident what was meant to be implied above in the expression ζήσεσθε.) "When, after your conversion," the apostle would say, "ye received the Spirit, it did not inspire you with the fear of slaves, but with filial love and trust. And this you know also is the feeling that we give vent to in the congregation, when we cry out [κράζομεν, denoting emotional utterance], Abba, Father." This last expression is given by St. Mark as our Lord's own in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). We may conclude that the Aramaic word ἀββᾶ was the one used by him, and heard by St. Peter, who is said to have been St. Mark's informant in the composition of his Gospel; the equivalent Greek word, ὁ πατήρ, having been added originally by the evangelist in explanation (cf. Mark 5:41 and Mark 7:34 for similar instances of St. Mark giving Christ's own expressions, with their Greek equivalents). Afterwards it may be further supposed that the Greek-speaking Christians came to use the whole phrase, as it had been delivered to them, in their own devotions, as representing our Lord's own mode of addressing the Father, and so as expressing peculiarly their union with Christ, and their filial relation to God in him. It is probable also, from the way St. Paul here introduces the expression (κράζομεν, changing from the second to the first person plural), that it was in customary use, perhaps at some special parts of the service, in congregational worship. It occurs once more in a passage closely corresponding with the one before us, and which should be studied in connection with it (Galatians 4:6). It is to be observed how, in ver. 17, the idea of our sonship now, and consequently of our being joint-heirs with Christ, leads up to a resumption of the now prevailing thought of our present condition in the mortal body being no bar to our final inheritance of life. It is our being as yet in these mortal bodies that is the cause of our present suffering; but he also was in the body, and he also so suffered; and our sharing in his sufferings really unites us the more to him, and the more ensures our final inheritance with him (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:5, 7; Philippians 3:10). The apostle introduces next a deep and suggestive view, both in explanation of our now being subject to suffering, and in confirmation of our expectation of future glory notwithstanding. He points to nature generally, to God's whole creation, so far as it is under our view in this mundane sphere, as being at present "subject to vanity," and, as it were, groaning under some power of evil, which is at variance with our ideal of what it should be, and from which there is a general and instinctive yearning for deliverance. Our present sufferings - all those drawbacks to the full enjoyment of our spiritual life - are due to our being at present in the body, and so forming part of the present system of things. But that general yearning is in itself significant of a deliverance; and so the sympathetic witness of nature confirms the hope of our higher spiritual yearnings, and encourages us to endure and wait. Such is the general drift of the passage, continued to the end of ver. 25. Particular thoughts and expressions will be noticed in the course of it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,.... Not by the spirit of the world, or of the devil, or by their own spirits: the act of leading ascribed to the Spirit is either in allusion to the leading of blind persons, or such who are in the dark; or rather to the leading of children and teaching them to go; which supposes life in those that are led, and some degree of strength, though a good deal of weakness; and is a display of powerful and efficacious grace, and is always for their good: the Spirit of God leads them from sin, and from a dependence on their own righteousness, in paths they formerly knew not, and in which they should go, in the paths of faith and truth, of righteousness and holiness, and in a right, though sometimes a rough way; he leads them to the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and to the fulness of grace in him; into the presence of God, to the house and ordinances of God; into the truths of the Gospel, from one degree of grace to another, and at last to glory; which he does gradually, by little and little he leads them to see the iniquity of their hearts and natures, to lay hold on Christ and salvation by him, into the doctrines of grace, and the love and favour of God, and proportionally to the strength he gives: now such persons,
they are the sons of God: not in so high a sense as Christ is; nor in so low a sense as Adam was, and angels are; much less in such sense as wicked magistrates be; nor merely as professors of religion in common; but by adoption, not national, such as that of the Jews, but special; and which has some agreement with civil adoption, it being of persons to an inheritance, which they have no legal right unto, and it is done freely: though there is a difference between the one and the other; for in divine adoption there is no need on the adopter's side; nor no worth on the side of the adopted; proper qualifications are conveyed to them for the enjoyment of the inheritance, and which is enjoyed, the father and firstborn being living, and is an inheritance which vastly exceeds all others: now this blessing of being the sons of God, is owing not to ourselves, nor to our earthly parents, but to God; to the Father, who predestinated to it, and fixed it in the covenant of grace; to Christ, it is by him, as the Son of God, it is through him, as the Mediator, and it is for him, it is for his glory; and also to the Spirit of God, who manifests it, works faith to receive it, witnesses to it, and seals up to the full enjoyment of it. This favour is an instance of surprising grace, exceeds other blessings, makes the saints honorourable, is attended with many privileges, and lasts for ever: such who are in this relation to God, ought to ascribe it to his grace, to require him with thankfulness, and a becoming conversation, to be followers of him, and to love, honour, and obey him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, they, &c.—"these are sons of God." Hitherto the apostle has spoken of the Spirit simply as a power through which believers mortify sin: now he speaks of Him as a gracious, loving Guide, whose "leading"—enjoyed by all in whom is the Spirit of God's dear Son—shows that they also are "sons of God."
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