|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:18-25 The sufferings of the saints strike no deeper than the things of time, last no longer than the present time, are light afflictions, and but for a moment. How vastly different are the sentence of the word and the sentiment of the world, concerning the sufferings of this present time! Indeed the whole creation seems to wait with earnest expectation for the period when the children of God shall be manifested in the glory prepared for them. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which has come upon the creature by the fall of man. There is an enmity of one creature to another. And they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. Yet this deplorable state of the creation is in hope. God will deliver it from thus being held in bondage to man's depravity. The miseries of the human race, through their own and each other's wickedness, declare that the world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received the first-fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations. Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God. It has brought on the woes of earth; it has kindled the flames of hell. As to man, not a tear has been shed, not a groan has been uttered, not a pang has been felt, in body or mind, that has not come from sin. This is not all; sin is to be looked at as it affects the glory of God. Of this how fearfully regardless are the bulk of mankind! Believers have been brought into a state of safety; but their comfort consists rather in hope than in enjoyment. From this hope they cannot be turned by the vain expectation of finding satisfaction in the things of time and sense. We need patience, our way is rough and long; but He that shall come, will come, though he seems to tarry.
Verses 18, 19. - For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. (So, as in the Revised Version, or upon us, as Tyndale and Cranmer, rather than in us, as in the Authorized Version. The expression is εἰς ἡμᾶς, and the idea is of Christ appearing in glory, and shedding his glory on us, cf. 1 John 3:2.) For the earnest expectation of the creature (or, creation) waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. "Revelatur gloria: et tum revelantur etiam filii Dei" (Bengel). God's sons will be revealed as being such, and glorified (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:5; also 1 John 3:2). Ἠ κτίσις, in this verse and afterwards, has been variously understood. The word properly means actus creationis, and is so used in ch. 1:20; but usually in the New Testament denotes what has been created, as, in English, creation. Sometimes, where the context limits its application, it denotes mankind, as Mark 16:15 and Colossians 1:23; or it may be used for an individual creature (cf. Romans 8:39; Hebrews 4:13). Where there is nothing to limit its meaning, it must be understood of the whole visible creation, at any rate in the world of man. Thus in Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; 2 Peter 3:4. And so here, except so far as the context limits it; for see especially πᾶση ἡ κτίσις in ver. 22. It is, indeed, apparently so limited to the part of creation of which we have cognizance at present; for see οἴδαμεν in ver. 22, which denotes a known fact. But is there any further limitation, as many commentators contend? Putting aside as untenable, in view of the whole context (see especially ver. 23), the view of those who understand the new spiritual creation of the regenerate to be meant, we may remark as follows:
(1) That ἡ κτίσις includes certainly all mankind, not excepting the regenerate. Καὶ ἡμεῖς αὐτοὶ in ver. 23 means that "we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit" are included, not that we are a class apart.
(2) The whole animal creation is included too. So general a term as πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις could not surely have been used if man only had been meant. And it is obviously true that the whole sentient creation, as well as man, has a share now in the general suffering. To the objection that the irrational creatures cannot be conceived as sharing in the "hope" and "earnest expectation" spoken of, it may be replied that, so far as it seems to be implied that they do, it may only be that the apostle, by a fine prosopopeia, conceives them as feeling even as the human mind feels concerning them. But, further, conscious hope and expectation does not seem, if the language of the passage be examined, to be distinctly attributed to them. All that is of necessity implied is that they share in the groaning from which we crave deliverance.
(3) Inanimate nature too may be included in the idea, it also seeming to share in the present mystery of evil, and falling short of our ideal of a terrestrial paradise. Tholuck appositely quotes Philo as saying that all nature ἀσθένειαν ἐνδέχεται καὶ κάμνει. It may be that St. Paul had in his mind what is said in Genesis of the cursing of the ground for man's sake, and of the thorns and thistles; and also the pictures found in the prophets of a renovated earth, in which the desert should rejoice and blossom as the rose. Calvin comments on the whole passage thus: "Omissa expesitionum varietate, hunc locum accipio, nullum esse elementum, nullamque mundi pattern, quae non, veluti praesontis miseriae agnitione tacta, in spem resurrectionis intenta sit." Again, "Spem creaturis quae sensu carent ideo tribuit, ut fideles oculos aperiant ad conspectum invisibilis vitae, quamvis adhuc sub deformi habitu lateat."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time,.... By "this present time" may be meant, the then present age, in which the apostle lived; which was an age in which the people of God suffered much, as was foretold by Christ, and which was necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel; for grace and strength answerable to their trials were given them; and the power of God was visibly to be seen in the supporting of them; though this was not the only suffering age: wherefore by the present time may be understood, the present time of life here on earth; which is a time of suffering, and which cannot well be otherwise, considering the world in which we are, and the nature of it, the state and condition of our souls, and the constitution of our bodies, and the many enemies we have about us; but then this present time of life is the only suffering time to the saints, for no sooner are they removed from hence, but they are in heaven, where neither wicked men nor devils can reach them, where their souls are freed from sin and unbelief, from doubts and fears, and everything that is distressing; and after the resurrection there will be no more diseases nor death in their bodies; and this present time is but a short time, a little while, and all sufferings will be at an end; wherefore they
are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. The future happiness of the saints is expressed by glory, of which the glory of this world is but a faint resemblance; a glory which is already given to Christ, and he is entered into the possession of; it is already, but as yet it is unseen, but will be "revealed" hereafter, when Christ himself shall appear in it; and it will not only be revealed to the saints, as the glory of Christ, as Mediator; and it will not only be visible upon them, upon their bodies, which will be made like to the glorious body of Christ; but it will be revealed in them, and greatly lie in the perfection of knowledge and holiness in their souls: now between the sufferings of the saints in the present state of things and their future happiness, is no comparison, either with respect to quality or quantity. Their afflictions are "light" in comparison of the due desert of sin, the sufferings of Christ, and the torments of the damaged in hell, and when under divine supports; but glory is heavy, it is a "weight of glory". The sufferings of the saints are but for a time, but their glory is eternal; nor is there any comparison to be made between them by way of merit, for there is no manner of proportion between the one and the other, nor can the one have any causal influence upon the other. This is the judgment of things the apostle made, "I reckon" or "I think" which is said, not as his bare opinion, or as in the least doubting the truth of what he said; but having deliberately weighed things in his mind, and reasoned upon them, came to this conclusion, that so it must be. The allusion is either to logicians, who having settled the premises draw the conclusion; or to arithmeticians, who, having cast up the account, give the sum total. Though, after all, the "glory" here spoken of may mean the glorious Gospel of Christ, which was more and more to be revealed in the Gentile world, "in" or "by us" the apostles, in comparison of which all their sufferings were as nothing.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us—that is, "True, we must suffer with Christ, if we would partake of His glory; but what of that? For if such sufferings are set over against the coming glory, they sink into insignificance."
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