Wednesday, 17 July 2013
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19
In this subsection, verses 18-28, Paul uses the term “for” five times in various ways – “For I consider,” “For we know,” etc. In the preceding verse, “for” was given to explain comparisons between the suffering of this current walk and the glory to come. The “for” now is used to build on that concept of glory. This is important to consider, because if there are ten thousand commentaries on this verse, there are surely ten thousand various opinions on what it exactly means. It is an extremely complicated verse to pin down.
Therefore, looking to the progression of the thought – what it is built from and where it is leading to, should help to provide the clearest sense. This is needed because even translations differ. Is this section speaking of the “creation” or the “creature?” If it is about the “creature” is it speaking of all creation using a generic term for all the various aspects of creation, or is it speaking of living creatures in creation only, or of humans only? If humans, is it speaking of gentiles, Jews or both? Etc. All of these have been proposed and well defended by great and honorable scholars.
As you can see, the differences start right away and build into vast theological avenues. Fortunately, even with the complicated nature of the passage and the differing opinions, it is not a section which leads easily to heresy. So to be wrong, although not a good thing, isn’t something that would lead others to not comprehend the message of salvation.
Verse 21 will state that “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Because the creation (or “creature” depending on the translation) is being tied in with what happens to the “children of God,” it is likely that what Paul is speaking of is the whole of creation. Obviously, creation itself can’t “eagerly wait” in the truest sense. So what this means is that Paul is using personification to make his point.
This is a fallen world which is eagerly waiting for its return to how it was originally intended to be. Things now are not in an ideal state. When man fell, the creation fell with him. This is evidenced by the Genesis account –
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.” Genesis 3:17, 18
And again –
“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea.” Genesis 9:2
The living and non-living creation has been frustrated. The ground was cursed (non-living) and this curse has affected the plant life. Animal life is also not as it was originally designed. The 360-day calendar of the Bible doesn’t match the calendar we currently use. Thus the revolution around the sun is not as it once was. And so forth. In other words, all of creation, although magnificently timed and orchestrated, is still not as it was originally intended to be.
The explanation for this is to be found in the next verse, but what is certain from this verse is that this fallen “creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” When the sons of God are revealed, the creation will be restored to the way it was originally intended. Isaiah speaks about this on several occasions.
Life application: There are complicated passages in the Bible which people disagree on which don’t lead to heresy. There are also concepts in the Bible which when misrepresented do. Let us evaluate those things which are of less weight without arrogance or accusation toward others, but let us hold firm to the truths which would otherwise lead others to heresy, not tolerating that which condemns precious souls.
Lord God, there are myriads of religions and people are fully convinced they are right. But in the end, there can only be once Source of truth. Your word is truth and it confirms itself because it is from Your hand. In the end, misdirected faith is wasted faith. I will not blindly step into the darkness, but only into Your revealed Light. I choose the truth; I choose Jesus. Amen.