Romans - Lesson 36

Romans 8:23-27

Lesson 36
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Romans 8:23-27

III. The Assurance Provided by the Gospel: The Hope of Salvation (5:1–8:39)

A. The Hope of Glory (5:1-21)

1. From Justification to Salvation (5:1-11)

2. The Reign of Grace and Life (5:12-21)

B. Freedom from Bondage to Sin (6:1-23)

1. "Dead to Sin" through Union with Christ (6:1-14)

2. Freed from Sin's Power to Serve Righteousness (6:15-23)

C. Freedom from Bondage to the Law (7:1-25)

1. Released from the Law, Joined to Christ (7:1-6)

2. The History and Experience of Jews under the Law (7:7-25)

a. The Coming of the Law (7:7-12)

b. Life under the Law (7:13-25)

D. Assurance of Eternal Life in the Spirit (8:1-30)

1. The Spirit of Life (8:1-13)

2. The Spirit of Adoption (8:14-17)

3. The Spirit of Glory (8:18-30)

E. The Believer's Security Celebrated (8:31-39)


Class Resources
  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.


This transcript follows the main points of the speaker but is not always word-for-word.


Romans 8:23-27


Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.


A. We Are Destined for Glory: While it does seem to me that this is one of the few texts that contribute to New Testament theology of creation. There aren’t too many. Nevertheless, Paul is integrating this text into a larger argument which is about the glory that we believers are destined for. So you see the parallelism that he comes back to now in verse 23. As creation groans, waiting for its liberation; so we believers who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan as we wait for our adoption to sonship. Paul has already talked about our adoption to sonship earlier in verse 15. Here we have a classic already/not yet point about New Testament theology. We are adopted already, we are God’s children and yet there is something incomplete about that process of adoption. We are still looking ahead to the finalization of our adoption in the future. Paul says that in the meantime we groan. This word is used in the Exodus when it talks about the people of Israel in Egypt. It talks about the present distress and suffering and also speaks about the hope for deliverance that is coming. It is an imagery that Paul has already used in verse 22 about creation groaning in the pains of childbirth. There is that image of suffering and pain that nevertheless is looking toward a joyful positive outcome. This text reminds us of our situation as believers, one foot in the old age and one foot in the new, one foot in the old realm and one foot in the new realm. We are in the process of becoming what God has destined us to be. He has already done this work in us; we have the Spirit and we have been adopted but our bodies have not been raised as of yet. They haven’t been redeemed yet, Paul says in this verse. So, now we suffer, we groan, looking ahead to the deliverance which we are going to experience. The next point Paul comes to is that we groan with a sense of assurance from God that he is for us and working on our behalf.


B. The Spirit Has Confidence: In verses 26-30, we are sustained as we groan by prayer, providence and predestination. Paul says that the Spirit intercedes for us with groans about things that words cannot express. What is this ministry of the Spirit Paul is referring in verses 26-27? Often times, when we encounter situations that we would classify as being messed up, often you just don’t know what to pray for, but the Spirit has the confidence in it all. When we are unclear and uncertain about how to pray, there is a ministry of the Spirit going on that is effective and always within the will of God. Some of you know the name Gordon Fee? I have worked with him on the translation committee for many years now. Gordon is in the Pentecostal movement. He interprets this groaning as something to do with tongues. There are a number of respectful scholars in addition to lay people that take this view. As I view speaking in tongues, it isn’t a gift given to everybody. Here, Paul seems to be talking about something that all Christians experience. Interpreted in a variety of ways, we could disagree on perhaps the specifics, but the central truth that in our weakness and our groaning in this world; by the Spirit, God comes to our aid. There is a providential working of God throughout this life that the Spirit is active and engaged in doing on our behalf. That ministry is always there, but I think when we are in our deepest need, we turn and realize our resources are inadequate when that ministry becomes especially obvious and comforting. When Paul says things that words that cannot be expressed; does he mean that they are sounds that don’t take the form of words or does it mean that it is inaudible? The Spirit is doing something in the heart, inaudible to us in terms of pleading for us to God.


C. Groaning in the Spirit; Tongues: Several students talk about tongues in relation to what was said above in terms of the Spirit groaning. They end up getting a bit heated over the issue of tongues. (It is somewhat difficult to follow what is being said.) One person asked, are you saying that the Spirit speaks in tongue through you? In Pentecostal circles, the Spirit manifests itself, not just in tongues but in other gifts as well. At Pentecost, they heard everything in their own languages. A traditional Pentecostal might say that it was tongues while others might say that it is a personal administration of the Spirit. People say that it is a gift given to individuals where they by the empowerment of the Spirit can pray to God in a heavenly language. But where does this lead to? It could be impersonal, a key theme that edifies the church. You are dealing with a personal situation and I’m not sure where I would go with that. 1st Corinthians 14, Paul says that if anyone who speaks in a tongue isn’t speaking to people but instead to God. So, is it with groaning that the Spirit is speaking or is it in our groaning that the Spirit is doing something? To us it isn’t words, but is it some kind of heavenly language?  It seems to me that the Spirit is ministering outside of us. It is kind of like the Scripture that says that Christ is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. It is almost like the Spirit has that same ministry which isn’t through us but apart from us. It seems to be strange how the Spirit is using our capabilities in praying to God.


(Back to the lecturer) I don’t think there is much doubt that the Spirit is the one doing the groaning. I don’t think you can debate that. The Spirit intercedes through wordless groans. It would be very difficult to shift the subject here. The Spirit intercedes through our wordless groans, but that could still mean the Spirit is groaning as we become instruments of the Spirit, being heard in a sense. It doesn’t rule that out. The key question is how we translate the Greek word that means ‘wordless,’ in the ESV; it is translated as ‘too deep for words.’ It is a word that could mean thoughts that I keep to myself that I would never express in words. That is wordless, something that never comes audible in any sense. Or it could be groans that take the form of words like what people would understand as tongues; they are audible sounds but it doesn’t take the form of a natural human language. It is a pictorial way of Paul making a point; remember that he wants to use the word groaning here. This is a key word: creating groans, we groan, and the Spirit groans. It is part of a word play and a word picture that Paul is using to say, ‘when we don’t know what to say; when we don’t know how to verbalize a prayer need, the Spirit does.’ He is making that perfect request known to God. This is why Luther in his typical provocative way can say things like, ‘it is a very good thing when you don’t get what you pray for.’ Why? Because that shows God is over-looking our stupidity in the way we pray sometimes, not giving us what we ask for but giving us what the Spirit is praying for. Luther exaggerates a bit, but he makes a point, that Paul is also making here. I don’t think the spirit is working apart from us; granted that Paul’s emphasis here on the way the Spirit is indwelling us; it has been given to us, to rest within us. It is the Spirit in terms of his work within our hearts that Paul is talking about here. It is also possible that Paul is simply saying when we don’t know what to pray for; when we are weak and uncertain about how to express our need to God. To some extent that is always true, isn’t it? We never have perfect understanding of God’s will. Often, we can pray for things that are foolish, that aren’t what God wants us to have.


D. The Ministry of the Spirit: There is a ministry of the Spirit that we may not be conscience of at all that is making the perfect request before God on our behalf. This is the function that the Spirit often has in Paul. He uses the language of first fruits in verse 23. It is a kind of a down payment idea; Paul uses a similar word in Ephesians 1 and in 2nd Corinthians 5 where he talks about the Spirit as what God has given us now; a down payment for all the glory to come. The spirit then acts as a bridge between our already and not yet. Already God has done these things and puts us in a position to wait for a lot yet to come. But to bridge that gap, that is the ministry of the Spirit. That is what Paul is talking about here.