Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
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(28-30) These verses contain a third reason for the patience of the Christian. He knows that whatever happens, all things are really working together for good to him.

(28) All things.—Persecution and suffering included.

Work together.—Contribute.

There is a rather remarkable reading here, found in the Vatican and Alexandrian MSS., and in Origen, inserting “God” as the subject of the verb, and making “all things” the object. “God works all things with,” or “co-operates in all things.” This reading is very early, if not original.

To them who are the called.—Further description of those “who love God.” They have also, as in His eternal counsels He had designed it should be, obeyed the call given to them in the preaching of the gospel, and definitely enrolled themselves in the kingdom of the Messiah.

Romans 8:28. And we know — Though we do not always know particularly what to pray for as we ought, yet this we know, that all things — Namely, that occur in the course of divine providence, such as worldly losses or gains, poverty or riches, reproach or commendation, contempt or honour, pain or ease, sickness or health, and the ten thousand changes of life; work together — Strongly and sweetly, in a variety of unthought-of and unexpected ways; for spiritual and eternal good to them — Who, being justified by faith, and having peace with God, and access into a state of favour and acceptance with him, sincerely love him, having beheld what manner of love he hath bestowed upon them, 1 John 3:1; or who have known and believed the love that he hath to them, and therefore love him who hath first loved them. “It is so plain,” says Dr. Doddridge, “from the whole context, that the apostle only speaks of providential events, and it is so evident that the universal expression all is sometimes to be taken in a limited sense, that it must argue, I fear, something worse than weakness to pretend that sin is comprehended in the apostle’s assertion.” This observation is as important as it is just: for sin, which is a real and positive evil, an evil of the worst kind, a moral evil, and an evil which is the source of all other evils, can, in itself considered, in no case whatever work for good. What may and does work for good with respect to it, is the punishment or chastisement of it, repentance for it, and the forgiveness of it. But providential dispensations, such as those just referred to, and especially those that are of an afflictive nature, may, and if received in a spirit of faith, humility, resignation, and patience, and used aright, assuredly will, work for our spiritual and eternal good. For whether they be considered, 1st, As the chastisements of our heavenly Father, by being chastised for our faults we are amended: or, 2d, As trials of our grace; being thus exercised, it is proved to be genuine, and increased. See on chap. Romans 5:4. Or, 3d, As purifying fires, they tend to purge us from our corrupt passions and lusts, as gold and silver are purified from their dross in the fire; and to cause us, who are naturally earthly, sensual, and devilish, to die to the world and sin, and become heavenly, holy, and divine. They tend, therefore, through the grace of God, without which they can do nothing, to increase our holiness and conformity to our living Head; and whatever increases these, must increase our happiness here and hereafter, especially hereafter. To which may be added, that God will as assuredly reward us in a future state for our sufferings in this life, if patiently endured, as for our labours faithfully and perseveringly performed. Hence even Plato, a heathen, could say, “Whether a righteous man be in poverty, sickness, or any other calamity, we must conclude that it will turn to his advantage, either in life or death.”

Observe, reader: these things we, true believers in Christ and his gospel, know, — but on what ground? 1st, On the ground of the divine perfections, particularly God’s infinite wisdom, power, and love, which are all engaged for the good of his people. For as these dispensations do not happen to us by chance, but by the permission or appointment of Him who numbers the hairs of our head, and without whom a sparrow falleth not to the ground, his wisdom cannot but know what is best for us, his love must have our good in view; and what his wisdom sees will be for our good, and his love designs, his power permits or appoints to happen to us. 2d, On the ground of the relations in which he stands to us; not only as our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, but as our Friend, Father, and Husband, in Christ Jesus; all which relations lay a solid foundation for our expecting good, and only good at his hand, though sometimes afflictive good. 3d, On the ground of his faithful declarations and promises, particularly this by his inspired apostle. 4th, On that of the nature of things; the providential dispensations which are painful and distressing to us, being evidently calculated to mortify our inordinate attachment to things visible and temporal, to crucify our corrupt inclinations, and raise our thoughts and affections to another and a better state of existence. 5th, On the ground of observation and experience: we have seen trials, troubles, and afflictions of various kinds, to have a good effect upon others, and if we be the true disciples of Jesus, we have proved their salutary influence upon our own souls.

To them who are, οι κλητοι, the called according to his purpose — Or determination, of bestowing the title and privileges of sons on all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who turn to him in true repentance and faith, and obey him sincerely; or, as it is expressed Romans 8:29, are really conformed to the image of his Son; who indeed imitate the faith and obedience which the Son of God showed while he lived on the earth, as a man. This purpose, or determination, God made known to man in his covenant with Abraham. See on Romans 8:30. The words called and elect, or elected, frequently occur in the New Testament, and in some places one of them, as here and 1 Peter 1:2, is put for them both. But in some passages they are distinguished the one from the other, as having different meanings; as where our Lord says, Many are called, but few chosen, or elected; and 2 Peter 1:10, where that apostle exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. The meaning of both expressions is explained 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, where the Apostle Paul tells the believers at Thessalonica, that God, from the beginning, namely, of his preaching the gospel to them, had chosen them to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto, adds he, he called you by our gospel. By which words we learn, 1st, That they had been called by the gospel, namely, accompanied by divine grace, to believe the truth, and receive the sanctification of the Spirit. 2d, That in consequence of their obeying this call, and thereby making their calling sure, βεβαιαν, firm, a glorious and blessed reality, they were chosen, or elected, namely, to be God’s people, or children; a chosen generation, and a peculiar people, 1 Peter 2:9 : and now they had only to make their election sure, by being faithful unto death, in order to their obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. These, and only these, are the persons who truly love God, and therefore to whom all things work together for good. This is the sixth motive to holiness.

8:28-31 That is good for the saints which does their souls good. Every providence tends to the spiritual good of those that love God; in breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, and fitting them for heaven. When the saints act out of character, corrections will be employed to bring them back again. And here is the order of the causes of our salvation, a golden chain, one which cannot be broken. 1. Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. All that God designed for glory and happiness as the end, he decreed to grace and holiness as the way. The whole human race deserved destruction; but for reasons not perfectly known to us, God determined to recover some by regeneration and the power of his grace. He predestinated, or before decreed, that they should be conformed to the image of his Son. In this life they are in part renewed, and walk in his steps. 2. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. It is an effectual call, from self and earth to God, and Christ, and heaven, as our end; from sin and vanity to grace and holiness, as our way. This is the gospel call. The love of God, ruling in the hearts of those who once were enemies to him, proves that they have been called according to his purpose. 3. Whom he called, them he also justified. None are thus justified but those that are effectually called. Those who stand out against the gospel call, abide under guilt and wrath. 4. Whom he justified, them he also glorified. The power of corruption being broken in effectual calling, and the guilt of sin removed in justification, nothing can come between that soul and glory. This encourages our faith and hope; for, as for God, his way, his work, is perfect. The apostle speaks as one amazed, and swallowed up in admiration, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The more we know of other things, the less we wonder; but the further we are led into gospel mysteries, the more we are affected by them. While God is for us, and we keep in his love, we may with holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness.And we know - This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all flyings are under the direction of an infinitely wise Being, who has purposed the salvation of the Christian, and who has so appointed all things that they shall contribute to it.

All things - All our afflictions and trials; all the persecutions and calamities to which we are exposed. Though they are numerous and long-continued yet they are among the means that are appointed for our welfare.

Work together for good - They shall cooperate; they shall mutually contribute to our good. They take off our affections from this world; they teach us the truth about our frail, transitory, and lying condition; they lead us to look to God for support, and to heaven for a final home; and they produce a subdued spirit. a humble temper, a patient, tender, and kind disposition. This has been the experience of all saints; and at the end of life they have been able to say it was good for them to be afflicted; Psalm 119:67, Psalm 119:71; Jeremiah 31:18-19; Hebrews 12:11.

For good - For our real welfare; for the promotion of true piety, peace, and happiness in our hearts.

To them that love God - This is a characteristic of true piety. To them, afflictions are a blessing. To others, they often prove otherwise. On others they are sent as chastisements; and they produce complaining, instead of peace; rebellion, instead of submission; and anger, impatience, and hatred, instead of calmness, patience, and love. The Christian is made a better man by receiving afflictions as they should be received, and by desiring that they should accomplish the purpose for which they are sent; the sinner is made more hardened by resisting them, and refusing to submit to their obvious intention and design.

To them who are the called - Christians are often represented as called of God. The word κλητός klētos is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, offer, or calling; Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14. But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament to denote those who had accepted the call, and were true Christians; Romans 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 17:14. It is evidently used in this sense here - to denote those who were true Christians. The connection as well as the usual meaning of the word, requires us thus to understand it. Christians are said to be called because God has invited them to be saved, and has sent into their heart such an influence as to make the call effectual to their salvation. In this way their salvation is to be traced entirely to God.

According to his purpose - The word here rendered "purpose" πρόθεσις prothesis means properly a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others; and is thus applied to the bread that was laid on the table of show-bread; Matthew 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4. Hence, it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or hap-hazard. God does not convert people without design; and his designs are not new, but are eternal. What he does. he always meant to do. What it is right for him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is his purpose or plan. That he has such a purpose in regard to the salvation of his people, is often affirmed; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Jeremiah 51:29. This purpose of saving his people is,

(1) One over which a creature can have no control; it is according to the counsel of his own will; Ephesians 1:11.

(2) it is without any merit on the part of the sinner - a purpose to save him by grace; 2 Timothy 1:9.

(3) it is eternal; Ephesians 3:11.

(4) it is such as should excite lively gratitude in all who have been inclined by the grace of God to accept the offers of eternal life. They owe it to the mere mercy of God, and they should acknowledge him as the fountain and source of all their hopes of heaven.

28. And—or, "Moreover," or "Now"; noting a transition to a new particular.

we know, &c.—The order in the original is more striking: "We know that to them that love God" (compare 1Co 2:9; Eph 6:24; Jas 1:12; 2:5) "all things work together for good [even] to them who are the called (rather, 'who are called') according to His (eternal) purpose." Glorious assurance! And this, it seems, was a "household word," a "known" thing, among believers. This working of all things for good is done quite naturally to "them that love God," because such souls, persuaded that He who gave His own Son for them cannot but mean them well in all His procedure, learn thus to take in good part whatever He sends them, however trying to flesh and blood: and to them who are the called, according to "His purpose," all things do in the same intelligible way "work together for good"; for, even when "He hath His way in the whirlwind," they see "His chariot paved with love" (So 3:10). And knowing that it is in pursuance of an eternal "purpose" of love that they have been "called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ" (1Co 1:9), they naturally say within themselves, "It cannot be that He 'of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things,' should suffer that purpose to be thwarted by anything really adverse to us, or that He should not make all things, dark as well as light, crooked as well as straight, to co-operate to the furtherance and final completion of His high design."

Another argument to comfort us under the cross, from the benefits of it;

We know that all things, &c. It is not matter of guess only and conjecture, but of certainty and assurance. How is this known?

1. By the testimony of God; the Scripture tells us as much, Psalm 128:1,2 Isa 3:10.

2. By our own experience; we are assured of it by the event and effects of all things, both upon ourselves and others.

All things, even sin itself; because from their falls, God’s children arise more humble and careful. Afflictions are chiefly intended; the worst and crossest providences, those things that are evil in themselves, they work for good to the children of God.

Work together; here is their operation, and their co-operation: First, they work together with God. What the apostle says of himself and others in the ministry, 2 Corinthians 6:1, that may be said of other things, especially of afflictions; they are workers together with God. Some read the words thus, God co-operates all to good. Again, they work together with us; we ourselves must concur, and be active herein; we must labour and endeavour to get good out of every providence. Once more, they work together amongst themselves, or one with another. Take this or that providence singly, or by itself, and you shall not see the good it doth; but take it in its conjunction and connexion with others, and then you may perceive it. One exemplifies it thus: As in matter of physic, if you take such and such simples alone, they may poison rather than cure; but then take them in their composition, as they are made up by the direction of a skilful physician, and so they prove an excellent medicine.

For good; sometimes for temporal good, Genesis 1:20; always for spiritual and eternal good, which is best of all. All occurrences of providence shall serve to bring them nearer to God here, and to heaven hereafter.

According to his purpose: these words are added to show the ground and reason of God’s calling us; which is nothing else but his own purpose and good pleasure; it is not according to our worthiness, but his purpose: see 2 Timothy 1:9.

And we know that all things work together for good,.... There is a temporal good, and a spiritual good, and an eternal one. Temporal good is what the men of the world are seeking after, and generally have the greatest share of, and the saints the least; and yet they have as much as is needful for them, and what they have, they have with a blessing; and even sometimes afflictions work for the temporal good of God's children: spiritual good lies in a lively exercise of grace and a conformity of the soul to God; and is what the men of the world least regard, and the saints most; and sometimes afflictions issue in this sort of good, as they do also in eternal good, for they work for us an exceeding weight of glory: by "all things" may be meant, all beings good and bad: all good beings eternal or created: eternal, as Jehovah the Father, all his perfections, purposes, promises, provisions, and performances; Jehovah the Son, as the mighty God, and as Mediator, all that he is in himself, all that he has in himself, all that he has done, or is doing, all his titles, characters, and relations; Jehovah the Spirit, in his person, offices, and operations; these all have worked together in the council of peace, in the covenant of grace, and in redemption; and they do work together in sanctification, and so they will in glorification, and that for the good of the saints: all created ones, as good angels, good magistrates, good ministers of the Gospel: all evil beings, as devils, persecuting magistrates, heretics, and false teachers: all things, good and bad: all good things, outward peace and prosperity, external gifts, the ministry of the word, the administration of ordinances, church censures, admonitions, and excommunications; all evil things, sin the evil of evils: original sin, or the fall of Adam, which contains all other sins in it, was attended with aggravating circumstances, and followed with dismal consequences, yet has been overruled for good; hereby a Saviour became necessary, who was sent, came, and wrought out salvation; has brought in a better righteousness than Adam lost; entitled his people to a better life than his was, and makes them partakers of the riches both of grace and glory: actual sin, inward or outward; indwelling sin; which is made use of, when discovered, to abate pride, to lead to an entire dependence on Christ, to teach saints to be less censorious, to depend on the power and grace of God to keep them, and to wean them from this world, and to make them desirous of another, where they shall be free from it; outward sins, of others, or their own; the sins of others, of wicked men, which observed, raise an indignation in the saints against sin, and a concern for God's glory, and to look into their own hearts and ways, and admire the grace of God to them, that this is not their case; of good men, which are recorded, and may be observed, not for example and encouragement in sin, but for admonition, and to encourage faith and hope under a sense of it; of their own, for humiliation, which issues in weakening the power of sin in themselves, and the strengthening of the graces of others: but from all this it does not follow, that God is the author of sin, only that he overrules it to wise and gracious purposes; nor should any take encouragement to sin, to do evil that good may come; nor is sin itself a real good; nor is it to be said that it does no hurt; for though it cannot hinder the everlasting salvation of God's people, it does a great deal of hurt to their peace and comfort; and that it is made to work in any form or shape for good, is not owing to its own nature and influence, which is malignant enough, but to the unbounded power and unsearchable wisdom of God: all evils or afflictions, spiritual and temporal, work together for good; all spiritual ones, such as the temptations of Satan, which are made useful for humiliation, for the trial of grace, to show us our weakness, our need of Christ, and to conform us to him, and also to excite to prayer and watchfulness; the hidings of God's face, which make his presence the more prized when enjoyed, and the more desirable. Temporal afflictions, afflictions in body, name, or estate, nay even death itself, all work together for the good of God's people. The Jews tell us of one Nahum, the man Gamzu, who, they say, was (k) so called, because of everything that happened to him he used to say, , "Gam zu letobah", "this is also for good": and they give instances of several misfortunes which befell him, upon which account he used these words, and how they proved in the issue to his advantage: agreeably to this is the advice given by them,

"for ever (say they (l)) let a man be used to say, all that the Lord does, , "he does for good".''

Now that all things do work together for good, the saints "know", and are firmly persuaded of; both from the word and promises of God, and from the instances of Jacob, Joseph, Job, and others, and also from their own experience: and it is to be observed, that it is not said that all things "have" worked together, and so they may again, or that they "shall" work together, but all things work together for good; they "now" work together, they are always working together, whether it can be observed or not: prosperity and adversity, whether in things temporal or spiritual, work "together", and make an intricate woven work in providence and grace; which will be viewed with admiration another day: one copy reads, "God works together", or "causes all things to work together for good"; and so the Ethiopic version, "we know that God helps them that love him, to every good thing": and to this agrees the Syriac version, "we know that to them that love God, he in everything helps them to good"; and certain it is, that God is the efficient cause, that makes all things work together for his people's good. The persons to whom all things work together for good, are described as such

that love God; a character, which does not agree with all the sons and daughters of Adam: love to God is not naturally in men; it is wrought in the soul in regeneration, and is an evidence of it; it grows up with faith, which works by it; without it, a profession of religion is vain; and where it is once wrought, it lasts for ever; it ought to be superlative and universal, constant, warm and ardent, hearty and sincere: such who have it, show it by a desire to be like to God, and therefore imitate him, by making his glory the supreme end of their actions; by being careful not to offend him; by delighting in his presence, in his people, word, ordinances, ways, and worship; and by undervaluing the world, and all things in it, in comparison of him; who is to be loved for the perfections of his being, the characters and relations he stands in and bears to his people, and on account of the love with which he has loved them, and which is indeed the spring and source of theirs. They are further described, as such

who are the called according to his purpose. The called of God and of Jesus Christ; not to any office, or by the external ministry of the word only, but by special grace; from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, from the company of sinful men to fellowship with Christ, from a trust in their own righteousness to a dependence on his, to grace here, and glory hereafter; which is done according to the purpose of God: the persons called are fixed upon by God; none are called but whom God purposed to call; those who are called can assign no other reason of it than the will of God; and no other reason but that can be given why others are not called; the time when, the place where, the means whereby persons are called, are all settled and determined by the will, and according to the purpose of God.

(k) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 21. 1. Sanhedrin, fol. 108. 2. Cosri, fol. 151. 1.((l) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 60. 2.

{25} And we know that {l} all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his {m} purpose.

(25) Eighthly, we are not afflicted, either by chance or to our harm, but by God's providence for our great profit: who as he chose us from the beginning, so has he predestined us to be made similar to the image of his Son: and therefore will bring us in his time, being called and justified, to glory, by the cross.

(l) Not only afflictions, but whatever else.

(m) He calls that purpose which God has from everlasting appointed with himself, according to his good will and pleasure.

Romans 8:28. Third ground of encouragement; comp. on Romans 8:26.

οἴδαμεν δέ] It is known to us, however (as in Romans 8:22). This δέ is not: on the other hand, however, in contradistinction to the sighing discussed since Romans 8:22, as Hofmann thinks—a reference, that must have been marked in some way or other (at least by the stronger adversative ἀλλά). It is the usual μεταβατικόν, and carries us from the special relation discussed in Romans 8:26 f. over to a general one, the consciousness of which must finally place the good courage of the believer on a footing all the more sure.

τοῖς ἀγαπ. τ. Θεόν] the dative of communion. Paul characterizes as lovers of God (κατʼ ἐξοχ.) the true Christians (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Ephesians 6:24; Jam 1:12), as is plain from τοῖς κατὰ κ.τ.λ.

πάντα] everything, i.e., according to the context, all destined events, even those full of pain not excepted (Romans 8:35). On the thought, comp. Plat. Rep. p. 613 A.

συνεργεῖ] works along with, that is, contributes; βοηθεῖ, Hesychius. See Wetstein. The συν does not refer to the common working together of the elements contained in πάντα (comp. Romans 8:22), but to the idea of the fellowship in which he who supports necessarily stands to him who is supported. Comp. on Romans 8:26.

εἰς ἀγαθόν] indefinitely: for good; it works beneficially. Comp. Theogn. 161; Hom. Il. x. 102; Plat. Rep. l.c.; Sir 39:27; Romans 13:4. Reiche erroneously takes it as: “the good of the Christians, their eternal welfare.” In that case, the article at least must have been used as in Romans 14:16; and some witnesses in reality add it. Bengel has the right view: “in bonum, ad glorificationem usque” (Romans 8:30).

τοῖς κατὰ πρόθ. κλητοῖς οὖσιν] These words may mean either (οὖσιν as predicate, joining on): “since they are the called according to His purpose” (so Hofmann), or (taking τοῖς in conjunction with οὖσιν), as to those who (quippe qui, i.e. since they indeed) are the called according to His purpose. So usually; and this latter is the true rendering, because otherwise οὖσιν would be put not only quite superfluously, but also in a way very liable to misconception, since it would occur to every reader, at the first glance, to join τοῖς with οὖσιν. Had Paul meant what Hofmann thinks he did, he would have written simply τοῖς κ. π. κλητοῖς without οὗσιν, or possibly οἵτινές εἰσιν οἱ κ. π. κλητοί.

Respecting the idea itself, there is causally involved in the relation of being the called according to His purpose (for the emphasis rests on κλητοῖς), the certainty that to them all things, etc.; for otherwise that high distinction, which God has conferred upon them according to the purpose of His grace, would be vain and fruitless, which is impossible (Romans 8:30). The πρόθεσις here meant is the free decree formed by God in eternity for imparting bliss to believers through Christ (Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:9). In accordance with that decree, the call of God to the Messianic salvation through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:14) has gone forth to those comprehended in that decree. Therefore, when Paul terms the Christians κλητοί, it is self-evident that in their case the call has met with success (1 Corinthians 1:24), consequently has been combined with the converting operation of the divine grace,—without the latter, however, being found in the word itself, or the word being made equivalent to ἐκλεκτοί. Comp. Lamping, Pauli de praedest. decreta, Leovard. 1858, p. 40 f. Christians are at the same time κλητοί, ἐκλεκτοί (Romans 9:11), ἅγιοι κ.τ.λ.; but the significations of these predicates correspond to different characteristic qualities of the Christian state. Consequently, just as it was quite a mistaken view to interpret πρόθεσις of the personal self-determination of the subjects (Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others), so also it was an unbiblical and hazardous distinction (see against this, Calovius) to put the called κατὰ πρόθεσιν in contrast with those who are called μὴ κατὰ πρόθ. (Augustine, Estius, Reithmayr, and others). Weiss aptly observes, in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1857, p. 79: “Election and calling are inseparable correlative ideas; where the one takes place, there the other takes place also; only we cannot take cognizance of the former as an act before all time and within the divine mind, while the latter becomes apparent as a historical fact.” Comp. also his bibl. Theol. p. 386 f.

Romans 8:28-39. Conclusion of the argument: the Apostle glories in the assurance of God’s eternal and unchangeable love in Jesus Christ.

οἴδαμεν δὲ = further, we know: in a sense this is one ground more for believing in the glorious future: God is ever with us, and will not abandon us at last. πάντα συνεργεῖ (ὁ θεός): συνεργεῖ is naturally neuter, and if ὁ θεός is the true reading, it is probably best to render “God co-operates for good in all things (πάντα accus. of ref as in 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Corinthians 10:33) with those,” etc. τοῖς ἀγαπ. τὸν θεὸν describes the persons in question from the human side; τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν describes them from the Divine side. It is in pursuance of a purpose of God (for πρόθεσις with reference to the eternal purpose of redemption, see Romans 9:11, Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11, 2 Timothy 1:9) that they are called. “Calling” in Paul never means “invitation”; it is always “effectual calling”.

28. And we knew, &c.] Here appears a fresh assurance of safety. We have seen (1) the certainty of the son-ship of the believer; (2) the fact that his sorrows are only the prelude of glory; (3) the Divine assistance afforded him by the Holy Spirit, especially in prayer. Now, before the final appeal, we have an express statement of the truth that the children of God are the objects on His part of an Eternal Purpose, which must issue in their final blessedness, and must thus turn “all things” at last to good for them. This is stated as a confessed certainty, well known in the Church.

all things] In the amplest sense. See Romans 8:38-39 for illustration. No doubt St Paul has specially in view the sufferings of the saints, which would often tempt them to say “these things are against me.” But peace and rest, on earth, are perils also; and even such trials therefore need a similar assurance.—St Chrysostom’s dying words were, “Glory be to God for all things.”

work together] As means in the great Worker’s hand. It is instructive to note this expression in a passage where also the Divine Decrees are in view. The eternal Will takes place not arbitrarily, but through means; and those means are immensely various, and mutually adjusted by supreme Wisdom only.

for good] Chiefly, no doubt, the final Good is meant, the fruition of God in eternal Glory. But all true good by the way is included, as part of the path thither.

that love God] As His children; in whose hearts His love has been “outpoured by the Holy Ghost” (ch. Romans 5:5). Observe that this note of saintship stands first in this memorable passage; not eternal election, but that conscious love to God in Christ which is its sure fruit, and without which no speculation of mysteries brings the soul near to Him.—It is the True God alone who makes this His unalterable demand; “Thou shalt love me.”

to them who are the called] Identical with “them that love Him.” See on Romans 1:6, for the profound meaning of “the call.” 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 is a clear illustration, in contrast with Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14. In the Gospels the word “call” refers to outward hearing; in the Epistles to inward reception, due to a special and sovereign influence from above.—See too Revelation 17:14.

according to his purpose] Same word as Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9. See especially the last passage and Ephesians 1:11, for the sense in which St Paul uses the word here. It is the intention of “Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will;” and it is absolute and sovereign, in the sense not of arbitrary caprice, (God forbid,) but in that of its being uncaused by anything external to Himself. The gift of life is “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose.” His “good pleasure” was, “before the world began,” “purposed in Himself.” (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11.) In the next verses, St Paul explains his meaning further.—(The word “His” is not in the Gr., but is certainly right in translation.)

Romans 8:28. Οἴδαμεν δὲ, Moreover we know) An antithesis to, we know not, Romans 8:26.—τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι, to them that love) The subject is here described from the fruit of those things, which have been hitherto mentioned,—namely, love to God; and this love also makes believers [by a happy art] dexterously to take in good part all things which God sends upon them, and perseveringly to overcome all difficulties and temptations, [Jam 1:12. Paul is an example, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.—V. g.] Presently after, in the case of the called, the reason is given, why a predicate so excellent is attributed to this subject [why such blessed things are predicated of them who love God].—πάντα συνεργεῖ) all things work together, by means of groanings, and in other ways. So 1Ma 12:1, ὁ καιρὸς αὐτῷ συνεργεῖ, time works with (serves) him.—εἰς ἀγαθὸν, for good) even as far as to [up to] their glorification, Romans 8:30, at the end.—τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν, to those who are the called according to His purpose) This is a new proposition in reference to what follows. The apostle designs to give a recapitulation of all the advantages involved in justification and glorification, Romans 8:30, and accordingly returns now first of all to its deepest [most remote] roots, which only can be known from these their sweetest fruits themselves:[98] he at the same time hereby prepares us for the ninth chapter [which treats chiefly of God’s election and calling]: πρόθεσις is the purpose, which God determined to carry into effect concerning the salvation of His own people. κλητοῖς, the called, is a noun, not a participle; inasmuch as οὖσιν is added [which it would not be, if κλητοῖς were a participial adjective], who are the called:—the purpose is unfolded, Romans 8:29, the called, Romans 8:30.

[98] i.e. the root, God’s calling and everlasting election, is known from the blessed fruits (all things working for their good) which it bears to the called.—ED.

Verse 28. - And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, to them that are called according to his purpose. A still further reason for endurance. Not only do these inspired groanings strengthen our hope of deliverance; nay, also we know (whether from God's Word, or inspired conviction, or experience of their effects) that these very trials that seem to hinder us are so overruled as to further the consummation to them that love God (cf. above, Romans 5:3, etc.); and at the end of the verse there is added, as introducing a still further ground of assurance, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς; the significance of which expression is shown in the following versos, which carry out the thought of it. Romans 8:28Work together (συνεργεῖ)

Or, are working together, now, while the creation is in travail. Together refers to the common working of all the elements included in πάντα all things.

For good

Jacob cried, all these things are against me. Paul, all things are working together for good.

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