Romans 8: An Introduction


The eighth chapter of Romans has rightly been described as one of the most beautifully rich chapters in all of Scripture. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that it is “one of the brightest gems of all… that in the whole of Scripture the brightest and most lustrous and flashing stone, or collection of stones, is the Epistle to the Romans, and that of these this is the brightest gem in the cluster.”[1]  Indeed, it took Dr. Lloyd-Jones 77 sermons to get through Romans chapter 8 when he preached through the book of Romans!

Octavius Winslow, who also wrote a series of devotions and meditations expounding Romans 8, said that this chapter is “a mine of sacred wealth, as inexhaustible in its resources, as those resources are indescribable in their beauty, and in their excellence and worth, priceless. It would, perhaps, be impossible to select from the Bible a single chapter in which were crowded so much sublime, evangelical, and sanctifying truth as this eighth of Romans. It is not only all gospel, but it may be said to contain the whole gospel.”[2]

The chapter itself can boast of having the Holy Spirit talked about more than any other chapter in all of Scripture, save perhaps for 1 Corinthians 15. The word “Spirit” appears 21 times in Romans 8, which means that the Spirit is mentioned at least once every two verses! In that sense, it is indeed a very spiritual chapter (of course, still recognizing that all Scripture is inspired by God the Spirit). It’s emphasis upon the Spirit is intentional in that Paul, the author, is dealing with how a Christian is to walk with assurance during times of trial and suffering. And so already, in the very way Paul repeats a certain theme or topic (in this case the Holy Spirit), we’re led to a deep truth about the Christian life: it is a life not devoid of suffering, and yet that suffering is redeemed and used in and by the Spirit working in us.

The chapter both begins and ends with profound encouragement. Paul starts by declaring and reminding believers that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” and then, in the words of Octavius Winslow, the chapter moves us along a path “where flowers bloom, and honey drops, and fragrance breathes, and music floats, and light and shade blend in beautiful and exquisite harmony to the radiant point of no separation from Christ.”[3] Indeed, the last lines of Romans 8 are some of the most beloved and well known words which bring comfort to any soul enlivened by God’s Spirit: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Lord willing, we can read and meditate together through this treasure-trove of Gospel comfort. I echo that old godly Presbyterian Thomas Jacomb who began his study of Romans 8 by saying that “this chapter, for sublimity of matter, variety of evangelical truths, support and comfort to believers, is not inferior to any part whatsoever of the Holy Scriptures. Which, if so, I have then pitched upon a subject very well worthy of my best endeavors; and none will blame me for attempting to open so rich a cabinet.”[4]  I’m praying that your heart, dear reader, will not only find those riches of encouragement and strength through this study, but that you will be brought to love more deeply the greatest treasure of our Triune God whom Romans 8 points us to.

Stephen Unthank (MDiv, Capital Bible Seminary) serves at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Maricel and their two children, Ambrose and Lilou.

 

 



[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: Exposition of Chapter 7:1-8:4, The Law: Its Functions and Limits, (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001) p. 258

[2] Octavius Winslow, No Condemnation in Christ Jesus, (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), p. v

[3] Ibid., vi.

[4] Thomas Jacomb, Sermon on the Eight Chapter of the Epistle To The Romans, Verses 1-4 (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996), p. 5

 

Stephen Unthank

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