Romans 8:20
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) For the creature.—The Apostle gives the reason for this earnest expectation in the present state of nature; pointing out what creation is. If creation were perfect, and were fulfilling the noblest possible purpose, there would be no cause for looking forward hopefully to the future.

Was made subject to vanity.—“Vanity” = “emptiness” or “nothingness.” Creation is fulfilling an unworthy instead of a worthy and noble end. (Comp. Genesis 3:17-18.) It was made subject to this “not willingly,” i.e., by its own act or with its own concurrence, but “by reason of Him who hath subjected the same,” i.e., in pursuance of the sovereign purpose and counsel of God. The one thing which takes out the sting from this impoverished and degraded condition is Hope.

It is needless to say that this is not Darwinism, but it is easily reconcilable with evolution. Indeed, such a theory seems to give it additional force and emphasis. It helps to bring out both the present “vanity” and hope for the future, and to show both as parts of one “increasing purpose” widening through the ages. “Allowing for irregularities and fluctuations, on the whole, higher and higher forms of life have appeared. There has been unquestionably an enormous advance between the times of the Eozoon Canadense and our own. And, further, we have to notice that a new kind of progress, of far greater intrinsic importance than mere physical improvement, has of late appeared. I mean intellectual and moral progress, as it is seen in man. . . . And this progress, I would say, is most important in our argument as to the character of God, for it is full of promise of far better things than this sad world has ever seen. It points most decidedly to a supremacy of the power for good, and a great hope of final happiness for our race.” (Rev. S. T. Gibson, Religion and Science, p. 34.)

Romans 8:20-21. For the creature was made subject to vanity — Mankind in general, and the whole visible creation, lost their original beauty, glory, and felicity; a sad change passed on man, and his place of abode; the whole face of nature was obscured, and all creatures were subjected to vanity and wretchedness in a variety of forms. “Every thing seems perverted from its intended use: the inanimate creatures are pressed into man’s rebellion; the luminaries of the heaven give him light by which to work wickedness; the fruits of the earth are sacrificed to his luxury, intemperance, and ostentation; its bowels are ransacked for metals, from which arms are forged, for public and private murder and revenge; or to gratify his avarice, and excite him to fraud, oppression, and war. The animal tribes are subject to pain and death through man’s sin, and their sufferings are exceedingly increased by his cruelty, who, instead of a kind master, is become their inhuman butcher and tyrant. So that every thing is in an unnatural state: the good creatures of God appear evil, through man’s abuse of them; and even the enjoyment originally to be found in them is turned into vexation, bitterness, and disappointment, by his idolatrous love of them, and expectation from them.” — Scott. “Vanity,” says Macknight, “denotes mortality or corruption, Romans 8:21, and all the miseries of the present life. These the apostle expresses by vanity, in allusion to Psalm 89:47, where the psalmist, speaking of the same subject, says, Why hast thou made all men in vain? The truth is, if we consider the noble faculties with which man is endowed, and compare them with the occupations of the present life, many of which are frivolous in themselves, and in their effects of short duration, we shall be sensible that the character which Solomon has given of them is just: Vanity of vanities! all is vanity. And if so excellent a creature as man was designed for nothing but to employ the few years of this life in these low occupations, and after that to lose his existence, he would really be made in vain.” Not willingly — Mankind are not made mortal and miserable on account of their own offence, or the personal misconduct of those who are most deeply affected with it; but by him who subjected them — Namely, God; who, for the offence of the first man, adjudged them to this state of suffering and vanity, Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:29. In hope, &c. — Nevertheless, they were not by that sentence doomed always to remain subject to that vanity and misery; but a ground of hope is afforded; because, οτι, that, the creature itself — Namely, mankind especially; shall be delivered Ελευθερωθησεται, shall be set free; from the bondage of corruption — From the state of vanity and misery by which they now abuse themselves, and the inferior creatures, and from the mortality, the dread of which made them subject to bondage all their lives. Into the glorious liberty of the children of God — The glorious freedom which the children of God partly enjoy, and shall enjoy more fully, when all the former things are passed away. It is certain the whole creation would be made inconceivably more happy than it is, if that blessed dispensation by which we are introduced into God’s family, and taught to do our utmost to diffuse good to all around us, were universally to prevail. But the bondage of corruption, being here opposed to the freedom of the glory (as the words ελευθεριαν της δοξης literally signify) of the children of God, must especially signify the destruction of the body by death, and the continuation of it in the grave, and of course the freedom of the glory must signify its resurrection and immortality. When this is effected, “Satan, sin, death, misery, and all wicked creatures, will be consigned to hell; and the rest of God’s creation will appear glorious, pure, beautiful, orderly, and happy; in every respect answering the end for which it was formed, and in nothing abused to contrary purposes. See Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:1-4. The sufferings of animals, though very many and grievous, yet being unfeared and transient, are doubtless overbalanced by their enjoyments; and to infer an individual resurrection of all or any of them from this passage, is surely one of the wildest reveries which ever entered into the mind of a thinking man. The happy effects produced by the gospel, when extensively successful, even in this present world, may be considered as earnests of the glorious scene of which the apostle speaks: but the general resurrection, and the state which follows, were especially, and indeed exclusively meant, for then only will the children of God be manifested as such, and be separated from all others.” — Scott.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.For the creature - The renewed creature; the Christian mind. This is given as a reason for its aspiring to the full privileges of adoption, that the present state is not one of choice, or one which is preferred, but one to which it has been subjected for wise reasons by God.

Subject to vanity - The word "subject to" means placed in such a state; subjected to it by the appointment of another, as a soldier has his rank and place assigned him in an army. The word "vanity" here ματαιότης mataiotēs is descriptive of the present condition of the Christian, as frail and dying; as exposed to trials, temptations, and cares; as in the midst of conflicts, and of a world which may be emphatically pronounced vanity. More or less, the Christian is brought under this influence; his joys are marred; his peace is discomposed; his affections wander; his life is a life of vanity and vexation.

Not willingly - Not voluntarily. It is not a matter of choice. It is not what is congenial to his renewed nature. That would aspire to perfect holiness and peace. But this subjection is one that is contrary to it, and from which he desires to be delivered. This describes substantially the same condition as Romans 7:15-24.

But by reason - By him διά dia. It is the appointment of God, who has chosen to place his people in this condition; and who for wise purposes retains them in it.

Who hath subjected the same - Who has appointed his people to this condition. It is his wise arrangement. Here we may observe,

(1) That the instinctive feelings of Christians lead them to desire a purer and a happier world, Philippians 1:23.

(2) that it is not what they desire, to be subjected to the toils of this life, and to the temptations and vanities of this world. They sigh for deliverance.

(3) their lot in life; their being subjected to this state of vanity, is the arrangement of God. Why it is, he has not seen fit to inform us fully. He might have taken his people at once to heaven as soon as they are converted. But though we know not all the reasons why they are continued here in this state of vanity, we can see some of them:

(a) Christians are subjected to this state to do good to their fellow sinners. They remain on earth for this purpose: and this should be their leading aim.

(b) By their remaining here the power of the gospel is shown in overcoming their sin; in meeting their temptations; in sustaining them in trial; and in thus furnishing living evidence to the world of the power and excellency of that gospel. This could not be attained if they were removed at once to heaven.

(c) It furnishes occasion for some interesting exhibitions of character - for hope, and faith, and love, and for increasing and progressive excellence.

(d) It is a proper training for heaven. It brings out the Christian character, and fits it for the skies. There may be inestimable advantages, all of which we may not see, in subjecting the Christian to a process of training in overcoming his sins, and in producing confidence in God, before he is admitted to his state of final rest.

(e) It is fit and proper that he should engage here in the service of Him who has redeemed him. He has been ransomed by the blood of Christ, and God has the highest claim on him in all the conflicts and toils, in all the labors and services to which he may be subjected in this life.

In hope - See the note at Romans 5:4. Hope has reference to the future; and in this state of the Christian, he sighs for deliverance, and expects it.

20. For the creature—"the creation."

was made subject to vanity, not willingly—that is, through no natural principle of decay. The apostle, personifying creation, represents it as only submitting to the vanity with which it was smitten, on man's account, in obedience to that superior power which had mysteriously linked its destinies with man's. And so he adds

but by reason of him who hath subjected the same—"who subjected it."

in hope—or "in hope that."

If these words be understood of the world, and all the creatures therein contained, then they show the creature’s present condition; it is

subject to vanity, and that, either in regard of its insufficiency, it falling short of that for which it was first created and ordained; then a thing is said to be vain, when it doth not answer or reach its proper end: or in respect of its transitoriness and uncertainty, of which see 1 Corinthians 7:31 Hebrews 1:11,12 1Jo 2:17. The next verse tells us it is subject to the bondage of corruption as well as vanity. Now this must needs be an unwilling subjection, therefore it is here said it is not subject willingly, i.e. of its own accord, or of its proper instinct and inclination. What the will is in those that are rational, the inclination is in those things that are natural; how comes it then into this condition? The next clause tells us, it is

by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope: i.e. God, for the sin of man, hath cursed the creature, and subjected it to vanity and corruption: see Genesis 3:17 4:12 Leviticus 26:19,20. And though he hath done this, yet there is ground to expect and hope that the creature shall return again to its former estate wherein it was created; that it shall be delivered and restored into a better condition, as in the next verse. Those that by the creature understand the Gentile world, give a different interpretation of these words; they say that the Gentiles are made subject to vanity, i.e. to idolatry, or a vain, superstitious worship, (idols are called vanities, Acts 14:15), or to a miserable, wretched estate; that (as Hesychius notes) is the import of the word vanity. And this not so much of their own accord, or by their own free choice, but by the power and malice of Satan, to whom they are justly given up of God; he rules in their hearts, carries them captive at his will, subjects them to all villany and misery. And it is reasonable to suppose of these poor heathens, that they are willing to be rescued (at least some, and a considerable number of them) from under this vanity and slavery, as it is said, Romans 8:22.

Question. But if he that thus subjects them be the devil, how is he said to do this in hope?

Answer. These words, in hope, belong to the end of the former verse; all the rest of this verse being read or included in a parenthesis: q.d. The creature attends the manifestations of the sons of God in hope: meanwhile it is subject to vanity, &c. For the creature was made subject to vanity,.... This designs the vanity and emptiness of the minds of the Gentiles, who were without God and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, without the law and Gospel, and grace of God; also the vain conceits they had of themselves, of their wisdom, knowledge, learning, and eloquence; likewise their vain philosophy, particularly their gross idolatry, their polytheism, or worshipping of many gods; together with their divers lusts and vices, to which they were addicted, to such a degree, that they might be truly said to be made subject thereunto, being under the government of these things, slaves unto them, and in such subjection, as that they could not deliver themselves from it; though it is said,

not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Though they were willingly vain, yet they were not willingly made subject to vanity; they willingly went into idolatrous and other evil practices, but the devil made them subject, or slaves unto them; he led them captive at his will, and powerfully worked in them, by divine permission, so that they became vassals to him, and to their lusts; for he seems to be designed, "by him who hath subjected the same", and not Adam, by whom sin entered into the world.

For the creature was made subject to {x} vanity, not {y} willingly, but by reason {z} of him who hath subjected the same in {a} hope,

(x) Is subject to a vanishing and disappearing state.

(y) Not by their natural inclination.

(z) That they should obey the Creator's commandment, whom it pleased to show by their sickly state, how greatly he was displeased with man.

(a) God would not make the world subject to be cursed forever because of the sin of man, but gave it hope that it would be restored.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 8:20-21. Ground of this longing.

τῇ ματαιότ.] Prefixed with emphasis: vanitati, to nothingness. The substantive (Pollux, vi. 134) is no longer found in Greek authors, but frequently in the LXX. (as in Psalm 39:6). See Schleusner, Thes. III. p. 501. It indicates here the empty (i.e. as having lost its primitive purport, which it had by creation) quality of being, to which the κτίσις was changed from its original perfection.

ὑπετάγη] was subjected, was made subject to, as to a ruling power formerly unknown to it. This historical fact (aorist) took place in consequence of the fall, Genesis 3:17. Comp. Beresh. rabb. f. 2, 3 : “Quamvis creatae fuerint res perfectae, cum primus homo peccaret, corruptae tamen sunt, et ultra non redibunt ad congruum statum suum, donec veniat Pherez, h. e. Messias.” See also Zahn, p. 532. The reference to an original ματαιότης, introduced even by the act of creation (Theodoret, Grotius, Krehl, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, and Köster), is historically inappropriate (Genesis 1:31), and contrary to οὐχ ἑκοῦσα, ἀλλὰ κ.τ.λ., which supposes a previous state not subject to the ματ. Further, since the ὑποτάξας is subsequently mentioned, the interpretation se subjecit (Fritzsche) is thereby excluded.

οὐχ ἑκοῦσα, ἀλλὰ διὰ τ. ὑποτάξ.] This must occasion their expectation all the more; for their subjection is at variance with their original state and the desire of immunity founded thereon, and it took place “invita, et repugnante natura” (Calvin, namely, through the guilt of human sin), on account of the subjector (διά with the accusative, comp. on John 6:57), that is, because the counsel and will of the subjecting God (the contrast to one’s own non-willingness) had to be thus satisfied. The idea of another than God in τὸν ὑποτάξ. (Knatchbull and Capellus: Adam; Chrysostom, Schneckenburger, Bisping, and Zahn: man; Hammond and others, quoted by Wolf: the devil) is forbidden by the very absence of a defining statement, so that the subject is assumed as well known. According to Genesis 3:17, it was indeed man through whose guilt the subjection ensued; but God was the subjector (ὁ ὑποτάξας).

ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι ὅτι κ.τ.λ.] on hope (Romans 4:18) that, etc., may be joined either with ὑποτάξ. (Origen, Vulgate, Luther, Castalio, Calvin, Piscator, Estius, and others, including Ch. Schmidt and Olshausen) or with ὑπετάγη. The latter conjunction brings out more forcibly the ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι; for this contains a new element by way of motive for the expectation of nature. ἐπί, spe proposita, indicates the condition which was conceded in the ὑπετάγη, as it were, the equivalent provisionally given for it, Acts 2:24; Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 18, and Kühner in loc.; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 767; Bernhardy, p. 250.

ὅτι] that, object of the hope (Php 1:20); not nam, as it is taken by most expositors, who join ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι with ὑποτάξ.; among others by Schneckenburger, Beiträg. p. 122, who assigns as his reason, that otherwise the αὐτὴ ἡ κτίσις could not be repeated. But that repetition is necessitated by the emphasis of the similarity of the relation, which αὐτὴ ἡ κτίσις has over-against the children of God, for which reason Paul did not write ὅτι καὶ ἐλευθερωθήσεται (in opposition to Hofmann’s objection). Besides, the purport of the ἐλπίς had necessarily to be stated, in order to give the ground of the expectation of the κτίσις as directed precisely to the manifestation of the sons of God. The indefinite ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι would supply a motive for its expectation of deliverance in general, but not for its expectation of the glory of the children of God. This applies also against Hofmann, who refers ὅτι κ.τ.λ., as statement of the reason, to the whole preceding sentence, whereby, besides, the awkward idea is suggested, that the subjection took place on account of the deliverance to be accomplished in the future; it had, in fact, an entirely different historical ground, well known from history, and already suggested by the διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξ., namely, the implication of the κτίσις in the entrance of sin among mankind.

καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ κτίσις] et ipsa creatura, that is, the creature also on its part, not merely the children of God. There is simply expressed the similarity; not a climax (even), of which the context affords no hint.

τῆς φθορᾶς] Genitive of apposition: from the bondage that consists in corruption. See Romans 8:23. Incorrectly paraphrased by Köllner: “from the corruptible, miserable bondage.” At variance with this is Romans 8:20, according to which τ. φθ. cannot be made an adjective; as is also the sequel, in which τὴν ἐλευθ. corresponds to τῆς δουλείας, and τῆς δόξης τ. τέκν. τ. Θεοῦ to the τῆς φθορᾶς. The φθορά (antithesis = ἀφθαρσία, Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:42-50) is the destruction, that developes itself out of the ματαιότης, the κατάλυσις opposed frequently in Plato and others to the γένεσις (Phaed. p. 95 E; Phil. p. 55 A; Lucian, A. 19). Comp. on Galatians 6:8. It is not the φθορά in the first instance that makes the state of the κτίσις a state of bondage, as Hofmann apprehends the genitive; but the existing bondage is essentially such, that what is subjected to it is liable to the fate of corruption.

εἰς τ. ἐλευθ.] is the state, to which the κτίσις shall attain by its emancipation. An instance of a genuine Greek pregnant construction. See Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 322; Winer, p. 577 [E. T. 776].

τῆς δόξης τ. τ. τ. Θ.] Likewise genitive of apposition: into the freedom which shall consist in the glory of the children of God, i.e. in a glory similar thereto (by participation in it); not, as Hofmann thinks: which the glory of the children of God shall have brought with it. If, with Luther and many others, including Böhme and Köllner, τῆς δόξης be treated as an adjective: “to the glorious freedom,” we should then have quite as arbitrary a departure from the verbal order, in accordance with which τῶν τέκν. belongs most naturally to τῆς δόξ., as from the analogy of the preceding τῆς δουλ. τῆς φθορᾶς. The accumulation of genitives, τ. δόξης κ.τ.λ., has a certain solemnity; comp. Romans 2:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:13, al.

Observe, further, how Paul has conceived the catastrophe, of which he is speaking, not as the destruction of the world and a new creation, but, in harmony with the prophetic announcements, especially those of Isaiah (Isaiah 35:1-10; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; comp. Zahn, p. 537; Schultz, alttest. Theol. II. p. 227), as a transformation into a more perfect state. The passing away of the world is the passing away of its form (1 Corinthians 7:31), by which this transformation is conditioned, and in which, according to 2 Peter 3:10, fire will be the agent employed. And the hope, the tenor of which is specified by ὅτι κ.τ.λ., might, in connection with this living personification, be ascribed to all nature, as if it were conscious thereof, since the latter is destined to become the scene and surrounding of the glorified children of God. But that ἐλπίς does not pertain to mankind, whose presentiment of immortality, by means of its darkened original consciousness of God (Frommann), does not correspond to the idea of ἐλπίς; comp., on the contrary, Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. If, on the other hand, the Gentile hope, cherished amidst the misery of the times, as to a better state of things (according to poets: the golden age of the Saturnia regna), were meant as an image of the Christian hope (Köster), then Paul would have conceived the ἐλευθερωθήσεται as conditioned by the future conversion of the Gentiles. But thus the ἐλπίς would amount to this, that the Gentiles should become themselves children of God, which is inconsistent with Romans 8:19. There, and likewise in Romans 8:21, the sons of God are the third element, for whose transfiguration the κτίσις waits, and from whose glorification it hopes, in Romans 8:21, that the latter shall benefit it also—the κτίσις—through participation therein; and be to it also deliverance and freedom from its hitherto enduring bondage. This is applicable only to the παλιγγενεσία (see on Matthew 19:28) at the Parousia.Romans 8:20. For creation was subjected to vanity, etc. ματαιότης is not classical, but is often used in the LXX, especially for הֶבֶל. The idea is that of looking for what one does not find—hence of futility, frustration, disappointment. ματαιότης ματαιοτήτων is the “vanity of vanities” in Eccl, the complaint of the utter resultlessness of life. Sin brought this doom on creation; it made a pessimistic view of the universe inevitable. ὑπετάγη: the precise time denoted is that of the Fall, when God pronounced the ground cursed for man’s sake. Creation came under this doom οὐχ ἑκοῦσα ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα: the last words seem best referred to God: it was on account of Him—that His righteousness might be shown in the punishment of sin—that the sentence fell upon man, carrying consequences which extended to the whole realm intended originally for his dominion. The sentence on man, however, was not hopeless, and creation shared in his hope as in his doom. When the curse is completely removed from man, as it will be when the sons of God are revealed, it will pass from creation also; and for this creation sighs. It was made subject to vanity on the footing of this hope; the hope is latent, so to speak, in the constitution of nature, and comes out, in its sighing, to a sympathetic ear.20. was made subject] Apparently, at the Fall. Not that there was no animal suffering and death previously. God pronounced His creation “good;” but this “goodness” may mean only goodness in respect to its then work and purpose; and this may have included death and suffering, as in fact it seems to have done. (1 Corinthians 15:21 refers to human death, as that alone is in question there.) From Genesis 3:17-19 we find that some change for the worse passed over man’s abode when he fell; a change impossible now to define. But it may be that all distress and failure in creation are, in the sight of the Eternal, connected with the entrance of sin, whether or no they have followed the Fall in order of time.

vanity] Same word as Ephesians 4:17; 2 Peter 2:18. The word means evil, whether physical or moral, regarded as (what all evil ultimately proves to be) delusion and failure.

not willingly] See note just above on “The Creature.” The word here implies merely the absence of personal wrong and demerit in the subject of the change.

by reason of him, &c.] Who was this? It is very difficult to decide whether it is (a) the Tempter, who procured the Fall; (b) Man, who fell; or (c) the Judge who punished the Fall. But we incline to the latter, because the next words point to Hope in a way that suggests the connexion of a Promise with the subjugation.—The sin-caused “vanity” was thus inflicted “by reason of” the righteous doom of God.

in hope] These words form a brief clause by themselves.Romans 8:20. Ματαίοτητι, to vanity) whence the first of believers, whom the Scriptures commend, was called הבל, Abel [vanity]. Glory is opposed both to vanity and corruption; and the greatest vanity is idolatry, ch. Romans 1:21; Romans 1:23. Vanity is abuse and waste; even the malignant spirits themselves have dominion over the creature.—ὑπετάγη, was made subject) In the passive voice, with a middle signification, though it has however in it somewhat of the figure, personification.—οὐχʼ ἐκοῦσα, not willingly) For in the beginning it was otherwise: thence it is that the creature would rather be made subject to Christ [“Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet”], Hebrews 2:7-8.—διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα, on account of [propter: owing to] Him who hath subjected) that is on account of [by reason of] God, Genesis 3:17; Genesis 5:29. Adam rendered the creature obnoxious [liable] to vanity, but he did not subject it.Verses 20, 21. - For the creature (or, creation, as before) was subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it in hope. Because (or, that; i.e. in hope that) the creature (or, creation) also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. The aorist ὑπετάγη ("was subjected") seems to imply that the present "vanity" and "bondage of corruption" were not inherent in the original Creation, or of necessity to last for ever. Thus the assertions of Genesis 1: and 31, stand unshaken, viz. that in the beginning God created all things, and that all at first was "very good." The ideas, resorted to in order to account for existing evil, of matter (ὕλη) being essentially evil, and of a δημιουργός, other than the Supreme God, having made the world, are alike precluded. It might serve as an answer to the argument of Lucretius against a Divine origin of things-

"Nequaquam nobis divinius esse paratam
Naturam rerum, tanta star praedita culpa"
Why the "creature" was thus "subjected" is not here explained. No solution of the old insoluble problem of τοθὲν τὸ κακὸν is given. All that is, or could be, said is that it was διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα, meaning God. It was his will that it should be so; this is all we know; except that we find the beginning of evil, so far as it affects man, attributed in Scripture to human sin. But he so subjected his creation in hope. This expression may refer to the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15, or to the never-dying hope in the human heart; to either or to both. The latter idea is expressed in the myth of Pandora's box. Further, the creature is said to have been so subjected "not willingly" (οὐχ ἑκοῦσα). No sentient beings acquiesce in suffering; they resent evil, and would fain flee from it. Man especially unwillingly submits to his present bondage. When in ver. 21 the hope is expressed of the creature (or creation) itself being eventually freed from the present bondage of corruption, it may be that the human part of creation only is in the writer's eye; but it may be also (there being still no expressed limitation of the word κτίσις) that he conceives a final emancipation of the whole creation from evil (cf. Ephesians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:23-27; 2 Peter 3:13). But if so, it is not said that the peculiar glory of the sons of God will extend to all creation, but only that all will be freed into the freedom of their glory; which may mean that the day of the revelation of the sons of God in glory will bring with it a general emancipation of all creation from its present bondage. Such a great final hope finds expression in the verse -

"That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off Divine event,
To which the whole creation moves."


(In Memoriam.') The present condition of things is in ver. 20 denoted by ματαιότης, and in ver. 21 by τῆς δουλειάς τῆς φθορᾶς. The first of these words is the equivalent in the LXX. of the Hebrew XXX, which means properly "breath," or "vapour," and is used metaphorically for anything frail, fruitless, evanescent, vain. It is often applied to idols, and it is the word in Ecclesiastes where it is said that "all is vanity" (cf. also Psalm 39:5, 6). It seems here to denote the frailty, incompleteness, transitoriness, to which all things are now subject. "Ματαιότης sonat frustatio, quod creatura interim non assequatur quod utcunque contendit efficere" (Erasmus). Φθορᾶς intimates corruption and decay. Vanity (ματαιότητι)

Only here, Ephesians 4:17; 2 Peter 2:18. Compare the kindred verb became vain (Romans 1:21 note), and the adjective vain (1 Corinthians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:18). Vain is also used to render κενός (1 Corinthians 15:14, 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 5:6; James 2:20). Κενός signifies empty; μάταιος idle, resultless. Κενός, used of persons, implies not merely the absence of good, but the presence of evil. So James 2:20. The Greek proverb runs. "The empty think empty things." Μάταιος expresses aimlessness. All which has not God for the true end of its being is μάταιος. Pindar describes the vain man as one who hunts bootless things with fruitless hopes. Plato ("Laws," 735) of labor to no purpose. Ezekiel 13:6, "prophesying vain things (μάταια)," things which God will not bring to pass. Compare Titus 3:9. Here, therefore, the reference is to a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends.

By reason of Him who hath subjected (διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα)

God, not Adam nor Satan. Paul does not use the grammatical form which would express the direct agency of God, by Him who hath subjected, but that which makes God's will the occasion rather than the worker - on account of Him. Adam's sin and not God's will was the direct and special cause of the subjection to vanity. The supreme will of God is thus removed "to a wider distance from corruption and vanity" (Alford).

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