Romans 8:23
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Nor is it only the rest of creation that groans. We Christians, too, though we possess the firstfruits of the Spirit, nevertheless inwardly groan, sighing for the time when our adoption as the sons of God will be complete, and even our mortal bodies will be transfigured.

Which have the firstfruits of the Spirit.—Though we have received the first partial outpouring of the Spirit, as opposed to the plenitude of glory in store for us.

The adoption.—The Christian who has received the gift of the Spirit is already an adopted child of God. (See Romans 8:15-16.) But this adoption still has to be ratified and perfected, which will not be until the Coming of Christ.

The redemption of our body.—One sign of the imperfect sonship of the Christian is that mortal and corruptible body in which the better and heavenly part of him is imprisoned. That, too, shall be transformed and glorified, and cleared from all the defect of its earthly condition. (Comp. 1Corinthians 15:49-53; 2Corinthians 5:1 et sea.; Philippians 3:21.)

Romans

THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY

Romans 8:23
.

In a previous verse Paul has said that all true Christians have received ‘the Spirit of adoption.’ They become sons of God through Christ the Son. They receive a new spiritual and divine life from God through Christ, and that life is like its source. In so far as that new life vitalises and dominates their nature, believers have received ‘the Spirit of adoption,’ and by it they cry ‘Abba, Father.’ But the body still remains a source of weakness, the seat of sin. It is sluggish and inapt for high purposes; it still remains subject to ‘the law of sin and death’; and so is not like the Father who breathed into it the breath of life. It remains in bondage, and has not yet received the adoption. This text, in harmony with the Apostle’s whole teaching, looks forward to a change in the body and in its relations to the renewed spirit, as the crown and climax of the work of redemption, and declares that till that change is effected, the condition of Christian men is imperfect, and is a waiting, and often a groaning.

In dealing with some of the thoughts that arise from this text, we note-

I. That a future bodily life is needed in order to give definiteness and solidity to the conception of immortality.

Before the Gospel came men’s belief in a future life was vague and powerless, mainly because it had no Gospel of the Resurrection, and so nothing tangible to lay hold on. The Gospel has made the belief in a future state infinitely easier and more powerful, mainly because of the emphasis with which it has proclaimed an actual resurrection and a future bodily life. Its great proof of immortality is drawn, not merely from ethical considerations of the manifest futility of earthly life which has no sequel beyond the grave, nor from the intuitions and longings of men’s souls, but from the historical fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of His Ascension in bodily form into heaven. It proclaims these two facts as parts of His experience, and asserts that when He rose from the dead and ascended up on high, He did so as ‘the first-born among many brethren,’ their forerunner and their pattern. It is this which gives the Gospel its power, and thus transforms a vague and shadowy conception of immortality into a solid faith, for which we have already an historical guarantee. Stupendous mysteries still veil the nature of the resurrection process, though these are exaggerated into inconceivabilities by false notions of what constitutes personal identity; but if the choice lies between accepting the Christian doctrine of a resurrection and the conception of a finite spirit disembodied and yet active, there can be no doubt as to which of these two is the more reasonable and thinkable. Body, soul, and spirit make the complete triune man.

The thought of the future life as a bodily life satisfies the longings of the heart. Much natural shrinking from death comes from unwillingness to part company with an old companion and friend. As Paul puts it in 2nd Corinthians, ‘Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon.’ All thoughts of the future which do not give prominence to the idea of a bodily life open up but a ghastly and uninviting mode of existence, which cannot but repel those who are accustomed to the fellowship of their bodies, and they feel that they cannot think of themselves as deprived of that which was their servant and instrument, through all the years of their earthly consciousness.

II. ‘The body that shall be’ is an emancipated body.

The varied gifts of the Spirit bestowed upon the Christian Church served to quicken the hope of the yet greater gifts of that indwelling Spirit which were yet to come. Chief amongst these our text considers the transformation of the earthly into a spiritual body. This transformation our text regards as being the participation by the body in the redemption by which Christ has bought us with the great price of His blood. We have to interpret the language here in the light of the further teaching of Paul in the great Resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 1 Corinthians 15:58, which distinctly lays stress, not on the identity of the corporeal frame which is laid in the grave with ‘the body of glory,’ but upon the entire contrast between the ‘natural body,’ which is fit organ for the lower nature, and is informed by it, and the ‘spiritual body,’ which is fit organ for the spirit. We have to interpret ‘the resurrection of the body’ by the definite apostolic declaration, ‘Thou sowest not that body that shall be. . . but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him’; and we have to give full weight to the contrasts which the Apostle draws between the characteristics of that which is ‘sown’ and of that which is ‘raised.’ The one is ‘sown in corruption and raised in incorruption.’ Natural decay is contrasted with immortal youth. The one is ‘sown in dishonour,’ the other is ‘raised in glory.’ That contrast is ethical, and refers either to the subordinate position of the body here in relation to the spirit, or to the natural sense of shame, or to the ideas of degradation which are attached to the indulgence of the appetites. The one is ‘sown in weakness,’ the other is ‘raised in power’; the one is ‘sown a natural body,’ the other is ‘raised a spiritual body.’ Is not Paul in this whole series of contrasts thinking primarily of the vision which he saw on the road to Damascus when the risen Christ appeared before him? And had not the years which had passed since then taught him to see in the ascended Christ the prophecy and the pattern of what His servants should become? We have further to keep in view Paul’s other representation in 2 Corinthians 5:1 - 2 Corinthians 5:21, where he strongly puts the contrast between the corporeal environment of earth and ‘the body of glory,’ which belongs to the future life, in his two images: ‘the earthly house of this tabernacle’-a clay hut which lasts but for a time,-and ‘the building of God, the house not made with hands and eternal.’ The body is an occasion of separation from the Lord.

These considerations may well lead us to, at least, general outlines on which a confident and peaceful hope may fix. For example, they lead us to the thought that that redeemed body is no more subject to decay and death, is no more weighed upon by weakness and weariness, has no work beyond its strength, needs no sustenance by food, and no refreshment of sleep. ‘The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,’ suggests strength constantly communicated by a direct divine gift. And from all these negative characteristics there follows that there will be in that future bodily life no epochs of age marked by bodily changes. The two young men who were seen sitting in the sepulchre of Jesus had lived before Adam, and would seem as young if we saw them to-day.

Similarly the redeemed body will be a more perfect instrument for communication with the external universe. We know that the present body conditions our knowledge, and that our senses do not take cognisance of all the qualities of material things. Microscopes and telescopes have enlarged our field of vision, and have brought the infinitely small and the infinitely distant within our range. Our ear hears vibrations at a certain rate per second, and no doubt if it were more delicately organised we could hear sounds where now is silence. Sometimes the creatures whom we call ‘inferior’ seem to have senses that apprehend much of which we are not aware. Balaam’s ass saw the obstructing angel before Balaam did. Nor is there any reason to suppose that all the powers of the mind find tools to work with in the body. It is possible that that body which is the fit instrument of the spirit may become its means of knowing more deeply, thinking more wisely, understanding more swiftly, comprehending more widely, remembering more firmly and judging more soundly. It is possible that the contrast between then and now may be like the contrast between telegraph and slow messenger in regard to the rapidity, between photograph and poor daub in regard to the truthfulness, between a full-orbed circle and a fragmentary arc in regard to the completeness of the messages which the body brings to the indwelling self.

But, once more, the body unredeemed has appetites and desires which may lead to their own satisfaction, which do lead to sordid cares and weary toil. ‘The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.’ The redeemed body will have in it nothing to tempt and nothing to clog, but will be a helper to the spirit and a source of strength. Glorious work of God as the body is, it has its weaknesses, its limitations, and its tendencies to evil. We must not be tempted into brooding over unanswered questions as to ‘How do the dead rise, and with what body do they come?’ But we can lift our eyes to the mountain-top where Jesus went up to pray. ‘And as He prayed the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and dazzling’; and He was capable of entering into the Shekinah cloud and holding fellowship therein with the Father, who attested His Sonship and bade us listen to His voice. And we can look to Olivet and follow the ascending Jesus as He lets His benediction drop on the upturned faces of His friends, until He again passes into the Shekinah cloud, and leaving the world, goes to the Father. And from both His momentary transfiguration and His permanent Ascension we can draw the certain assurance that ‘He shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.’

III. The redeemed body is a consequence of Christ’s indwelling Spirit.

It is no natural result of death or resurrection, but is the outcome of the process begun on earth, by which, ‘through faith and the righteousness of faith,’ the spirit is life. The context distinctly enforces this view by its double use of ‘adoption,’ which in one aspect has already been received, and is manifested by the fact that ‘now are we the sons of God,’ and in another aspect is still ‘waited’ for. The Christian man in his regenerated spirit has been born again; the Christian man still waits for the completion of that sonship in a time when the regenerated spirit will no longer dwell in the clay cottage of ‘this tabernacle,’ but will inhabit a congruous dwelling in ‘the building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’

Scripture is too healthy and comprehensive to be contented with a merely spiritual regeneration, and is withal too spiritual to be satisfied with a merely material heaven. It gives full place to both elements, and yet decisively puts all belonging to the latter second. It lays down the laws that for a complete humanity there must be body as well as spirit; that there must be a correspondence between the two, and as is the spirit so must the body be, and further, that the process must begin at the centre and work outwards, so that the spirit must first be transformed, and then the body must be participant of the transformation.

All that Scripture says about ‘rising in glory’ is said about believers. It is represented as a spiritual process. They who have the Spirit of God in their spirits because they have it receive the glorified body which is like their Saviour’s. It is not enough to die in order to ‘rise glorious.’ ‘If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.’ The resurrection is promised for all mankind, but it may be a resurrection in which there shall be endless living and no glory, nor any beauty and no blessedness. But the body may be ‘sown in weakness,’ and in weakness raised; it may be ‘sown in dishonour’ and in dishonour raised; it may be sown dead, and raised a living death. ‘Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ Does that mean nothing? ‘They that have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.’ Does that mean nothing? There are dark mysteries in these and similar words of Scripture which should make us all pause and solemnly reflect. The sole way which leads to the resurrection of glory is the way of faith in Jesus Christ. If we yield ourselves to Him, He will plant His Spirit in our spirits, will guide and growingly sanctify us through life, will deliver us by the indwelling of the Spirit of life in Him from the law of sin and death. Nor will His transforming power cease till it has pervaded our whole being with its fiery energy, and we stand at the last men like Christ, redeemed in body, soul, and spirit, ‘according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.’Romans 8:23. And not only they — The unenlightened and unrenewed part of mankind; but we ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit — Because first-fruits signify the best things of their kind, some think that the apostles, and such as possessed the most excellent spiritual gifts, are spoken of in this passage. But as the privileges described Romans 8:24-26 equally belong to all, it seems more probable that the apostle speaks of believers in general, who had the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on them as first-fruits, or as the earnest of those greater virtues and spiritual endowments, which they shall enjoy in heaven. Even we groan within ourselves — Under many remaining imperfections, and a variety of miseries; waiting for the adoption — For the public and open display of our adoption; to wit, the redemption of our body — From dust and death to glory and immortality, when our heavenly Father shall bring us forth before the eyes of the whole world, habited and adorned as becomes his children. Persons who had been privately adopted among the Romans, were often brought forth into the forum, and there publicly owned as the sons of those who had adopted them. So at the general resurrection, when the body itself is redeemed from death, the sons of God shall be publicly owned by him in the great assembly of men and angels. Thus our Lord, Luke 20:26, terms those who shall be accounted worthy to obtain the heavenly world, the children of God, because they are the children of the resurrection; they being hereby manifestly shown to be his children. The apostle therefore had good reason to call the redemption of our body from death, the adoption. Besides, it is that by which the saints are enabled, as the children of God, to inherit the kingdom of their Father.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.And not only they - Not only the creation in general. "But ourselves also." Christians.

Which have the first-fruits of the Spirit - The word used ἀπαρχὴ aparchē denotes properly the first-fruits of the harvest, the portion that was first collected and consecrated to God as an offering of gratitude, Deuteronomy 26:2; Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:13. Hence, the word means what is first in order of time. Here it means, as I suppose, that the Christians of whom Paul was speaking had partaken of the first influences of the Spirit, or had been among the first partakers of his influences in converting sinners. The Spirit had been sent down to attend the preaching of the gospel, and they were among the first who had partaken of those influences. Some, however, have understood the word to mean a pledge, or earnest, or foretaste of joys to come. This idea has been attached to the word because the first-fruits of the harvest were a pledge of the harvest, an evidence that it was ripe, etc. But the word does not seem to be used in this sense in the New Testament. The only places where it occurs are the following; Romans 8:23; Romans 11:16; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4.

Groan within ourselves - We sigh for deliverance. The expression denotes strong internal desire; the deep anguish of spirit when the heart is oppressed with anguish, and earnestly wishes for succor.

Waiting for the adoption - Waiting for the full blessings of the adoption. Christians are adopted when they are converted Romans 8:15, but they have not been yet admitted to the full privileges of their adoption into the family of God. Their adoption when they are converted is secret, and may at the time be unknown to the world. The fullness of the adoption, their complete admission to the privileges of the sons of God, shall be in the day of judgment, in the presence of the universe, and amidst the glories of the final consummation of all things. This adoption is not different from the first, but is the completion of the act of grace when a sinner is received into the family of God.

The redemption of the body - The complete recovery of the body from death and corruption. The particular and striking act of the adoption in the day of judgment will be the raising up of the body from the grave, and rendering it immortal and eternally blessed. The particular effects of the adoption in this world are on the soul. The completion of it on the last day will be seen particularly in the body; and thus the entire man shall be admitted into the favor of God, and restored from all his sins and all the evil consequences of the fall. The apostle here speaks the language of every Christian. The Christian has joys which the world does not know; but he has also sorrows; he sighs over his corruption; he is in the midst of calamity; he is going to the grave; and he looks forward to that complete deliverance, and to that elevated state, when, in the presence of an assembled universe, he shall be acknowledged as a child of God. This elevated privilege gives to Christianity its high value; and the hope of being acknowledged in the presence of the universe as the child of God - the hope of the poorest and the humblest believer - is of infinitely mere value than the prospect of the most princely inheritance, or of the brightest crown that a monarch ever wore.

23. And not only they, but ourselves also—or "not only [so], but even we ourselves"—that is, besides the inanimate creation.

which have the first-fruits of the Spirit—or, "the Spirit as the first-fruits" of our full redemption (compare 2Co 1:22), moulding the heart to a heavenly frame and attempering it to its future element.

even we ourselves—though we have so much of heaven already within us.

groan within ourselves—under this "body of sin and death," and under the manifold "vanity and vexation of spirit" that are written upon every object and every pursuit and every enjoyment under the sun.

waiting for the—manifestation of our

adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body—from the grave: "not (be it observed) the deliverance of ourselves from the body, but the redemption of the body itself from the grave" [Bengel].

The apostle had asserted and concluded, Romans 8:18, that there is a future glory to be revealed hereafter in the saints, such as infinitely transcends their sufferings now; and this he had confirmed from the earnest expectation of the creature, (the pronoun they is not in the original), and now he further confirms it from the expectation which is in believers themselves.

The first-fruits of the Spirit; hereby he means that righteousness, joy, and peace, which believers have in this life; these are the fruits of the Spirit, and called first-fruits in regard of their order; and in regard of their quantity, they are but a handful in comparison of the whole, little in regard of the fulness which they shall have in heaven; and in regard also of their signification, the grace and comforts of the Spirit of God in this life are pledges to us of that abundance and fulness of joy, which we shall partake of in the life to come, as the first-fruits of the Jews were an evidence to them of the ensuing crop.

Groan within ourselves; among ourselves, say some, but it is better read in our translation, within ourselves. It expresses the manner of the saints groaning under sin and affliction; it is inward, and from the heart.

Waiting for the adoption: now we are the sons of God; why then should we wait for what we have already?

Answer. We have the right, but not the full possession, of our inheritance: the apostle himself explains his meaning in the next words.

The redemption of our body; i.e. our perfect deliverance from sin and misery; this phrase is used in other places; see Luke 21:28 Ephesians 4:30.

But why of our body, and not of our souls? Because their souls would be in actual possession of the inheritance before that day, or because the miseries and troubles of this life are conveyed to the whole man by the body, so that the redemption of the body is in effect the redemption of the whole man. And not only they, but ourselves also,.... Not only they Gentiles, but we Jews likewise:

which have the firstfruits of the Spirit: meaning either the apostles, who were all Jews, and who most of them received the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit on the day of "Pentecost", which was the day of the firstfruits, Numbers 28:26; and to which there seems to be an allusion here; or else the Jewish converts in general: to the Jews the promises of the Messiah were made; to them he first came; the Gospel was first preached unto them, and some of them first believed in Christ; they had the grace of God communicated to them in conversion, which they received as the firstfruits, with respect to an after increase; or in regard to glory, like the firstfruits, grace is of the same kind with glory, and is a pledge and earnest of it; saints judge by grace the firstfruits, what glory is, and therefore long after it; now of these persons thus described it is said,

even we ourselves groan within ourselves; their groans were inward from their hearts, not hypocritical or were among themselves, common to them all; and that not merely on their own account, the corruptions of their hearts, the sufferings they endured for the sake of the Gospel, and in a longing expectation for the heavenly glory, but also for the conversion of the Gentiles, for which they incessantly laboured, and prayed night and day;

waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Adoption is explained by the redemption of the body; and by the one may be known what the other means: by "the redemption of our body" is not meant the redemption of God's elect, body and soul, by the blood and death of Christ, which was already finished; and which the saints, who had received the firstfruits, were partakers of in themselves, and therefore could not be said to be waiting for it: but it designs either the redemption of the natural body, by the resurrection from the dead; when the bodies of the saints will be delivered from that mortality, corruption, weakness, and dishonour, under which they lie in the grave; when they will be refined and spiritualized, and freed from everything which makes them an incumbrance, and an uneasiness to their souls or spirits now; or else the redemption of the mystical body the church, of which the Gentiles make a considerable part, and is to be understood of a deliverance of the church, from the distresses and persecutions it then laboured under; or rather of a making up of the body, the church, by a redemption or deliverance of that part of it, which lay among the Gentiles, from that vanity and bondage of corruption, to which it was subject, into the manifestation and glorious liberty of the sons of God: and then by "adoption" is meant, the special grace of adoption, manifested to the Gentiles in their effectual calling; which the Jews who had received the firstfruits of the Spirit were waiting for, and had good reason to expect, from many prophecies in the writings of the Old Testament; and to which they were the more encouraged, by many appearances of the grace and power of God, attending the ministry of the Gospel among them; and which adoption will be more fully manifested in the resurrection morn; wherefore also the inheritance, which the whole mystical body the church will then enter upon the possession of, may well be called "the adoption", because the saints are adopted to it; adoption gives them the title to it, none but adopted ones will enjoy it; and their enjoyment of it will be the full manifestation and completion of the grace of adoption; this saints are waiting for, both for themselves and others, and it is worth waiting for; for it is "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, which fades not away, reserved in the heavens", 1 Peter 1:4, and there is good ground to wait for it; it is a bequest of their heavenly Father, who has adopted them; it is a gift of his free grace; it is already in the hands of Christ, with whom they are co-heirs; and they have already the Spirit, as the earnest of it.

{22} And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within {d} ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, {e} the redemption of our body.

(22) Fifthly, if the rest of the world looks for a restoring, groaning as it were for it and that not in vain, let us also sigh, indeed, let us be more certainly persuaded of our redemption to come, for we already have the first fruits of the Spirit.

(d) Even from the bottom of our hearts.

(e) The last restoring, which will be the accomplishment of our adoption.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 8:23. Climax of the foregoing proof that the ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι, ὅτι κ.τ.λ. of the κτίσις, Romans 8:21, is well founded. “Otherwise, indeed, we Christians also would not join in that sighing.”

οὐ μόνον δέ] scil. πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις στενάζει.

What follows must be read: ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοὶ, τὴν ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ πνεύματος ἔχοντες, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς στενάζομεν. See the critical remarks. But we also on our part, though we possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, sigh likewise in ourselves.

τὴν ἀπαρχ. τ. πνεύμ.] τ. πν. is the partitive genitive, as is involved in the very meaning of ἀπαρχή Comp. Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Jam 1:18; and all the passages of the LXX. and Apocr., where ἀπ. stands with the genitive of the thing, in Biel and Schleusner. Comp. Herod. i. 92; Plat. Legg. vii. p. 806 D; Dem. 164. 21; Thuc. iii. 58. 3; Soph. Trach. 758; Eur. Or. 96; Phoen. 864; Ion. 402; also ἀπαρχὴ τῆς σοφίας, Plat. Prot. p. 343 A; and ἀπαρχαὶ ἀπὸ φιλοσοφίας, Plut. Mor. p. 172 C. By the possessors, however, of the ἀπαρχὴ τοῦ πνεύματος, are not exclusively meant the apostles, who at Pentecost had received the first outpouring of the Spirit, and among whom Paul includes himself on account of his miraculous conversion (Origen, Oecumenius, Melancthon, Grotius, and others). He means rather the Christians of that age generally, since in fact they—in contrast to the far greater mass of mankind still unconverted, for whom, according to Joel 3:1, the receiving of the Spirit was still a thing of the future (Romans 11:25 ff.)—were in possession of that, which first had resulted from the communication of the Spirit, and which therefore stood related to the collective bestowal as the daybreak. So, on the whole, Erasmus, Wetstein, Morus, Reiche, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Köster, and Frommann; see also Müller in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1871, p. 618. Paul does not say simply τὸ πνεῦμα ἔχοντες, but, in the lofty feeling of the privilege, which he discovered in the earlier calling and sanctification of the then Christians: τὴν ἀπαρχ. τ. πν. ἔχ.; “even we, though favoured so pre-eminently that we possess the first-fruit gift of the Spirit, cannot refrain from sighing likewise.” This we remark in opposition to the oft-repeated objection, that it was not an element of importance whether they had received the πνεῦμα at the first or a few years later; and also in opposition to the quite as irrelevant objection of Hofmann, that the conception of a measure of the Spirit to be given forth by degrees is nowhere indicated. This conception has no place here, and the Spirit is one and the same; but if, in the first instance, only a comparatively small portion of mankind has received it, and its possession in the case of the remaining collective body is still in abeyance, this serves to constitute the idea of an ἈΠΑΡΧΉ in relation to the whole body. Nevertheless, the sense: best gift of the Spirit (Ch. Schmidt, Rosenmüller), is not conveyed by τ. ἀπαρχήν, because that must have been suggested by the context, and also because Paul could not have regarded the later communication of the Spirit as less valuable. Further, the sense of a merely provisional reception of the Spirit, taking place, as it were, on account, in contrast to the future full effusion in the kingdom of heaven (Chrysostom and other Fathers, in Suicer, Thes. I. p. 423; Calvin, Beza, Pareus, Estius, Calovius, Semler, Flatt, Tholuck, Philippi, and Bisping; comp. also Pfleiderer), is not contained in ἀπ. τ. πν., because Paul, had he wished to speak here of a preliminary reception in contrast to the future plenitude, must necessarily, in accordance with the connection, have so spoken of that of the ΥἹΟΘΕΣΊΑ or ΔΌΞΑ, not of the Spirit, and because a full effusion of the Spirit at the Parousia is nowhere taught in the N. T. The Spirit already received, not a new and more perfect reception of it in the future αἰών, by its quickening activity leads to and conditions the eternal ΖΩΉ, in which God is then all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). Others, again, make Τ. ΠΝ. an epexegetical genitive of apposition: the Spirit as first-fruits, namely, of the state of glory. So Bengel, Keil, Opusc., Winer, p. 495 [E. T. 667], Baumgarten-Crusius, Reithmayr, Rückert, Maier, Hofmann, Zahn, and Engelhardt; comp. also Flatt. But however Pauline the idea may be (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:3; Ephesians 1:14; comp. Romans 2:5), it would, when thus expressed, be liable to be misunderstood, since the readers were accustomed to find in the genitive with ἀπαρχή nothing else than that, of which the latter is a portion; and how intelligibly Paul might have expressed himself, either in accordance with 2 Cor. l.c. and Eph. l.c., by τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα, or by Τ. ἈΠ. (scil. τῆς υἱοθες.) ἘΝ Τῷ ΠΝΕΎΜ.! This applies, at the same time, against Fritzsche, who takes ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜ. as genitive of the subject, and the first gifts of the Spirit as in contrast to the σωτηρία which the Spirit will give to us in the ΑἸῺΝ ΜΈΛΛΩΝ. Against this it may also be urged that the Holy Ghost is not described in the N. T. as the Giver of eternal life (not even in such passages as 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30; Galatians 6:8). It is God who, in like manner as He calls and justifies, confers also the eternal δόξα (Romans 8:30). The Spirit operates to eternal life by His government (Romans 8:2), and is the ground (Romans 8:11) and pledge (ἀῤῥαβών) of that life; but He does not give it.

ΚΑῚ ΑὐΤΟΊ] Repeated and placed along with ἘΝ ἙΑΥΤΟῖς with earnest emphasis: et ipsi in nobis ipsis. The latter is not equivalent to ἐν ἀλλήλοις (Schulthess and Fritzsche), but denotes, in harmony with the nature of the deep, painful emotion, the inward sighing of the still longing of believers; which suffers, is silent, and hopes, but never complains, being assured of the goal that shall be finally reached. Hofmann incorrectly would join κ. αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς with ἜΧΟΝΤΕς. But this would leave the ΚΑΊ, which, according to the common connection with ΣΤΕΝΆΖ., has its appropriate correlative in the sighing of the ΚΤΊΣΙς, without a reference. For, when Hofmann sets it down as the object of the ΚΑΊ to emphasize personal possession on the part of the Christians in contrast to the future participation of the κτίσις, there is thus forced on this ΚΑΊ the meaning of already; and this all the more arbitrarily, since καὶ αὐτοί just precedes it in the quite common sense of et ipsi (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 151; Breitenbach, ad Xen. Hell. iii. 1. 10), and its emphatic repetition is very appropriate to the lively emotion of the discourse.

υἱοθες. ἀπεκδεχ.] whilst we wait for the adoption of children. It is true, believers have already this blessing (Romans 8:15), but only as inward relation and as divine right, with which, however, the objective and real state does not yet correspond. Thus, looked at from the standpoint of complete realization, they are only to receive υἱοθεσίαν at the Parousia, whereupon the ἈΠΟΚΆΛΥΨΙς ΤῶΝ ΥἹῶΝ Τ. ΘΕΟῦ and their ΔΌΞΑ ensues. Comp. also Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:15. In like manner the ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗ is a present possession, and also one to he entered on hereafter. Comp. on Romans 5:19; and see on Galatians 5:5; Colossians 3:3 f. Luther incorrectly joins ΥἹΟΘΕς. with ΣΤΕΝΆΖ., which, with an accusative, means to bemoan or bewail something (Soph. Ant. 873; Oed. C. 1668; Dem. 690. 18; Eur. Suppl. 104; and often elsewhere).

τὴν ἀπολ. τ. σώμ. ἡμ.] epexegesis: (namely) the redemption of our body from all the defects of its earthly condition; through which redemption it shall be glorified into the σῶμα ἄφθαρτον similar to the glorified body of Christ (Php 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:2 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:51), or shall be raised up as such, in case of our not surviving till the Parousia (1 Corinthians 15:42 ff.). So, in substance (ΤΟῦ ΣΏΜ. as gen. subj.), Chrysostom and other Fathers (in Suicer, Thes. I. p. 463), Beza, Grotius, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, and most modern expositors. On the other hand, Erasmus, Clericus, and others, including Reiche, Fritzsche, Krehl, and Ewald, take it as: redemption from the body. This is linguistically admissible (Hebrews 9:15); we should thus have to refer it, not to death, but to deliverance from this earthly body through the reception of the immortal and glorious body at the Parousia, 1 Corinthians 15:51. But in that case Paul must have added to τοῦ σώματ. ἡμῶν a qualitative more precise definition, as in Php 3:21Remark.

If we adopt the common reading (ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοὶ τὴν ἀπ. τ. πν. ἔχοντες, καὶ ἡμεῖς αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ.), which Ewald and Umbreit follow, while Rückert, Philippi, Tholuck, and Hofmann declare themselves in favour of ours (see the crit. remarks), αὐτοὶἔχοντες is understood, either as meaning the Christians of that age generally, and καὶ ἡμεῖς αὐτοί the apostles (Köllner, following Melancthon, Wolf, and many others), or Paul alone (Koppe, Reiche, Umbreit, and many others); or, the former is referred to beginners in Christianity, and the latter to those who have been Christians for a longer time (Glöckler); or, both (the latter per analepsin) are referred to the apostles (Grotius), or to the Christians (Luther, Beza, Calvin, Klee, Maier, Köster, and Frommann). The interpretation referring it to the Christians is the only right one; so that ἡμεῖς brings into more definite prominence the repeated subject. The ἔχοντες, without the article, is fatal to every reference to subjects of two sorts.Romans 8:23. Second testimony to the glorious future. οὐ μόνον δὲ sc. ἡ κτίσις—not only all creation, but we Christians: we ourselves, τὴν ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ πνεύματος ἔχοντες. τοῦ πνεύματος is gen of apposition: the spirit which Christians have received is itself t the first fruits (elsewhere, the earnest: see on Romans 8:17) of this glory; and because we have it (not although: it is the foretaste of heaven, the heaven begun in the Christian, which intensifies his yearning, and makes him more vehemently than nature long for complete redemption), we also sigh in ourselves υἱοθεσίαν ἀπεκδεχόμενοι, τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν. The key to these words is found in Romans 1:4. Christ was Son of God always, but was only declared to be so in power ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, and so it is with believers. They have already received adoption, and as led by the spirit are sons of God; but only when their mortal bodies have been quickened, and the corruptible has put on incorruption, will they possess all that sonship involves. For this they wait and sigh, and the inextinguishable hope, born of the spirit dwelling in them, guarantees its own fulfilment. Cf. Php 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 2 Corinthians 5:2; and for ἀπολύτρωσις in this sense, 1 Corinthians 1:30.23. not only they] The word “they” (inserted by our Translators) perhaps indicates that they understood the passage of conscious individual beings; the world of man. (See long note on Romans 8:19.)

the firstfruits] Same word as Romans 11:16, Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20. The idea is not that “we” have the Spirit before others have it; but that we have that measure of the Spirit which is the specimen and pledge of the fulness hereafter. St Paul now contrasts the impersonal and unconscious creation, utterly incapable of the Divine Gift, with the human subjects of grace. The word “firstfruits” is used to suggest the thought of incompleteness and anticipation.—Cp. the similar word “earnest;” 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14.

groan within ourselves] As our Lord once did (John 11:33; John 11:38). In Romans 7:14-24, we see one great instance of this “groaning” of the saint for entire freedom, in his whole being, from the power of sin. There too we see that the longing for freedom is linked with the thought of the body as the citadel of temptation, in its present state. Cp. 1 Corinthians 9:27 for another vivid picture of a “groaning” conflict, and there too in view of the body.—“Within ourselves:”—because the cause of the groan is emphatically within. Not outward afflictions so much as inner conflict are our burthen.

waiting for] Same word as “waiteth for,” Romans 8:19; where see note.

the adoption] i.e., obviously, the final realization of our adoption; for already the believer is “the child of God;” Romans 8:14; Romans 8:16. So great and blissful a crisis will the “manifestation” of the son-ship be that it is here viewed as the beginning of the son-ship.

the redemption, &c.] The realized adoption will bring this with it, will imply and involve this. The Brethren of the Incarnate Son of God will not realize the fulness of their Brotherhood till their bodies shall be “like the body of His glory,” (Php 3:21)—The Adoption, and the Redemption of the Body, are not identical terms; but the former includes the latter, as necessary to it.—“Redemption” here (as Luke 21:28; Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30; but not Ephesians 1:7,) obviously means the actual and realized deliverance. The redemption-price is paid already; the redemption-liberation is to come.—See note on Romans 7:24.

Again remark this unique feature of Revealed Religion; an immortal prospect for the body.

Some expositors take the body here to be the “mystical body;” the Church. But the context is clearly against it, giving us as the main idea the struggles and longings for a better future in respect of material things.Romans 8:23. Οὐ μόνον δὲ, but [and] not only) The conclusion is drawn from the strong groaning [of the creature] to that which is much stronger [that of ourselves].—αὐτοὶκαὶ ἡμεῖς αὐτοὶ, ourselves—even we ourselves) The former αὐτοί, ourselves, is to be referred [has reference] by antithesis to the creature [the whole creation groaneth] Romans 8:22 : the latter refers to Romans 8:26, concerning the Spirit [maketh intercession for us with groanings]; and yet one and the same subject is denoted [the two αὐτοί belong to ἡμεῖς]; otherwise, the apostle would have said, αὐτοὶ οἱ την ἀπαρχὴν κ.τ.λ. [the article οἱ would have followed the first αὐτοί, had it referred to a different subject from the second αὐτοί].—τὴν ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ πνεύματος, the first fruits of the Spirit) that is the Spirit, who is the first fruits; see 2 Corinthians 1:22, note. We are a kind of first fruits of God’s creatures, Jam 1:18; and we have the first fruits of the Spirit; and the same Spirit enters into all creatures, Psalm 139:7, a passage, from which the groaning of the creature is distinctly explained. The sons of God are said to have the first fruits, so long as they are in the way [whilst as yet they have not reached the end, when they shall have full fruition]. They who possess the first fruits, and the good, which attends the first fruits, are the same.—ἔχοντες, having) This word involves the idea of cause; because we have.—ἐν ἑαντοῖς, in ourselves) It implies, that the groaning of believers is widely different from the groaning of the creature.—στενάζομεν) Στενάζω here, and in Romans 8:22, signifies to desire [yearn after] with groaning; comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4.—τὴν) This article shows by the apposition, that this sentiment, if it be resolved [analyzed], is contained in it, the redemption of our body is what constitutes the adoption.—τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν [redemption] deliverance) This will be at the last day, which already at that time they were setting before themselves as being at hand; ἐλευθερία, liberty [Romans 8:21], is a kindred expression to this ἀπολύτρωσις.—Comp. Luke 20:36. [That liberty is not intended here, by which we are delivered from the body, but that, by which the body is delivered from death.—V. g.]
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