Romans Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 8
1. Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua.
This chapter crowns the first half of the book of Romans, resolving the issue raised in Chapter 7 and solving humanity's overriding problem, sin. The answer is the Ruach HaKodesh, who is in us if we are living in union with the Messiah Yeshua. In vv. 5-13 Sha'ul expands on what it means to live in union with him. Therefore. Bible interpreters' office humor: when you see a "therefore," you'd better find out what it's there for. This "therefore" is a weighty one; it sums up the first seven chapters and means: "Because of who Yeshua is and everything he has done in history on behalf of sinners." No longer any condemnation from the Torah (7:4&N).

I believe that the structure of Sha'ul's argument relating Chapters 7 and 8 is reflected best if 7:25 and this verse are joined, with the words "although" and "nevertheless" added, thusly:

'To sum up: although with my mind I am a slave of God's Torah, but with my old nature a slave to sin's "torah," nevertheless, therefore [i.e., because of Yeshua, as explained above], there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua."

The Greek, however, does not justify putting this rendering in the text itself; for this reason I have consigned it to the notes. 

2. Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the “Torah” of sin and death.
Torah of the Spirit... "Torah" of sin and death. What are these two? Here is the wrong answer: Yeshua gave a good Torah of the Spirit which produces life, in contrast with the bad Mosaic Law that produces only sin and death. But this interpretation not only contradicts Sha'ul's arguments in Chapters 3 and 7, but is implicitly antisemitic as well (see 3:20bN).

The right answer is that the Torah of the Spirit is the Mosaic Law properly apprehended by the power of the Holy Spirit in believers, what Sha'ul elsewhere calls "the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds" (usually rendered, "the law of Christ," Ga 6:2&N). The second "torah" is written in lower-case and put in quotation marks, because it is "sin's 'torah"'(7:21-23&N), in other words, not a God-given Torah at all but an гпп-Torah. More specifically, it is the Mosaic Law improperly understood and perverted by our old, sinful nature into a legalistic system of earning God's approval by our own works (3:20b&N).

This interpretation of v. 2 can be paraphrased and expanded (on the basis of 7:4N) as follows:
"The Torah, as understood and applied through the Spirit, thereby giving life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the aspects of the Torah that stimulate me to sin (7:5-14), fill me with irremediable guilt (7:15-24) and condemn me to death." 

3. For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature,
4. so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants.
For what the Torah, taken here, apparently, to mean merely a collection of words, could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature, the "flesh" (see 7:5N), cooperate, God did. All power resides in God, and he did what his own teachings, instructions and commands could not of themselves do by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature just like our own sinful one, literally, "God sending his own Son in likeness of flesh of sin." Although Yeshua was a human being and had a truly human nature (Greek sarx, "flesh"; see 7:5N), his "flesh" or "nature" was not like that of other humans because it was not sinful, and he did not sin. He encountered temptations just like those we face, but he conquered them without sinning by the power of the Holy Spirit (MJ 2:17-18,4:15; Mt 4:1-11; Yn 3:34).

God did this (sent his Son) in order to deal with sin, because sin is such a serious disturbance in creation that nothing less could overcome it. In the Tanakh the central purpose of the whole book of Job is to show that only God can solve the problem of sin in the universe. God gives Satan (the Adversary; see Mt 4:IN) permission to test Job (Chapters 1-2); Job loses his possessions, children and health and spends most of the book protesting his fate, justifying himself and fending off the counterproductive advice of his friends. Even God's appearing to him personally as trie Creator (Chapters 38-39) merely silences him. Only when he perceives that God alone can handle Behemoth and Leviathan, who are stand-ins for Satan (Chapters 40-41), does he "repent in dust and ashes," and his well-being is restored.

The phrase could also be translated, "[God sent his Son] as a sin offering." While true, and while such a rendering evokes Tanakh imagery, it fits the context less well.

And in so doing he. God, executed the punishment against sin in human nature, literally, "he condemned sin in the flesh," so that the just requirement of the Torah that sin against a perfectly holy God must be punished by death might be fulfilled in us and not merely in Yeshua, because we are united with him and have died with him (6:3-6). Also, being united with him means that we do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Holy Spirit wants, literally, we "walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit." This completes the explanation of why believers are no longer under the Torah's condemnation (v. 1). But a new question is raised: why is it important to do not what the old nature wants but what the Spirit wants? The answer follows in vv. 5-13. 

5. For those who identify with their old nature set their minds on the things of the old nature, but those who identify with the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
6. Having one’s mind controlled by the old nature is death, but having one’s mind controlled by the Spirit is life and shalom.
7. For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah — indeed, it cannot.
8. Thus, those who identify with their old nature cannot please God.
In 6:11 Sha'ul proposed a radical solution to humanity's problems: "Consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with the Messiah Yeshua." The present verses explain the radical psychology underlying his radical solution. The primary psychological fact of life — deeper than any analysis of id, ego and superego; or of genetic, physiological, behavioral, environmental or educational conditioning; or of birth traumas, complexes, sexual experiences, interpersonal communication, family background or games people play — is that the sinful "old nature" (the "flesh," 7:5&N) is utterly irredeemable. This is why no self-help measures, psychotherapeutic methods, educational programs, environmental changes or resolutions to improve can enable us to please God; all of them are based on having the mind controlled by the old nature, which is death, rather than by the Spirit, which is life and shalom — not only "peace" but "tranquillity, safety, well-being, welfare, health, contentment, success, comfort, wholeness and integrity," in short, everything secular and popular psychology promise but cannot deliver. This is why Yeshua said, "You must be born again from above" (Yn 3:7), and Sha'ul wrote, "If anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new!" (2C 5:17). If there were no new nature, Sha'ul's psychology would offer the most pessimistic picture of the human condition — as he himself admits (1С 15:16-19). But since there is a new nature, only Sha'ul's solution of letting one's mind be controlled by it, through the Holy Spirit, offers any real hope to mankind; all other psychologies offer palliatives and ultimate failure. Verses 7-8 explain why this so. These two verses also undergird the claim that Sha'ul had a high regard for the Torah (see7:12N). 

9. But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him.
The Spirit of God and the Spirit of the Messiah are equated with each other in at least one Jewish source (see citation in MJ 3:2-4N). 

10. However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous.
11. And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
God's powerful Holy Spirit, living in believers, guarantees that God will fulfill his promises and gives believers rock-solid hope even when passing through times of distress and apparent despair. See vv. I4-27&N, Ep 1:14. 

12. So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature.
13. For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.
If by the Spirit you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live. KJV says,".. .mortify the deeds of the body...." This is not a mandate for "mortification of the flesh," in the sense of asceticism or masochism, which Sha'ul elsewhere says have no spiritual value (7:5N, Co 2:16-23&N). Rather, he is only restating whal he has been urging since v. 5. The phrase, "practices of the body," refers to the body's bad habits which ihe sinful old nature has produced; previously Sha'ul wrote similarly of the body's "various parts" which a believer should not "offer... to sin as an instrument for wickedness" (6:12-13,19; 7:5,23). Unless you, the believer, continually and actively, by the power of the Holy Spirit, "put to death" your body's bad habits to which it has become accustomed and conditioned by your old nature, these bad habits will certainly find expression, so that you will certainly die, spiritually and eternally as well as physically. By actively and continually setting the mind on the Spirit (v. 6), you will live, as explained in vv. 10-11. 

14. All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.
The first point of assurance is that the Spirit is God's Spirit, he who moved over the face of the waters on the first day of creation (Genesis 1:2), he who inspired the prophets (e.g., Isaiah 61:1). It is by him, coequal with God the Father and Yeshua the Son (Mt 28:19&N, 2C 3:17-18N). that we are led. 

15. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear; on the contrary, you received the Spirit, who makes us sons and by whose power we cry out, “Abba!” (that is, “Dear Father!”).
16. The Spirit himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of God;
17. and if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah — provided we are suffering with him in order also to be glorified with him.
b—17 Second, our assurance is built on our being adopted as God's sons. We do not come in a spirit of slavery, implying alienation, but one of deep intimacy, like children who lovingly call their father "Daddy" — which is what Abba really means (see Mk 14:36N). Moreover, the filial relationship to the Father is not only personal but legal, so that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah, our brother (v. 29; see also Ep 3:6).

This adoption as God's sons is only for those who are led by God's Spirit, that is, only for those who have put their trust in Yeshua, because it is he who sends the Spirit (Yn 14:26), and those who do not have Yeshua do not have the Father either (1 Yn 2:23). But in the case of believers, the Spirit of God himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of God. The adoption process will become complete when "our whole bodies are redeemed and set free" (v. 23). Other verses on adoption: Yn 1:12, Ga 4:4-5, Ep 1:5. Adoption is an aspect, along with reconciliation, of being restored to God's favor from our former condition as his enemies (5:10-11).

Many Western societies stigmatize persons who have been adopted, but God's view of adoption is very positive: believers who are adopted become first-class sons, even joint-heirs with the Messiah. Moreover, first-century attitudes toward adoption must have been very positive too, else this passage would not have resonated with its readers. Were this biblical perspective more prevalent today, adoption could become a major solution to the problem of abortion. The confrontation between "right to life" and "freedom of choice" would not be altogether eliminated, but its scope would be greatly reduced. Then pregnant women not able or not wanting to raise their children could be grateful to the adoptive parents and to a changed society for resolving their situation in a way that allowed a life to continue instead of being cut off. The children could grow up gratified at having been chosen by their adoptive parents, just as believers are thankful to have been adopted and transferred from death to eternal life by God the Father, whom we are to imitate (Mt 5:48). 

18. I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future.
Of what are we heirs? We don't fully know yet: the glory... will be revealed to us in the future. But we do know that to obtain it we must share in the Messiah's sufferings (including his death — but also see Co 1:24&N). 

19. The creation waits eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed;
20. for the creation was made subject to frustration — not willingly, but because of the one who subjected it. But it was given a reliable hope
21. that it too would be set free from its bondage to decay and would enjoy the freedom accompanying the glory that God’s children will have.
22. We know that until now, the whole creation has been groaning as with the pains of childbirth;
23. and not only it, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we continue waiting eagerly to be made sons — that is, to have our whole bodies redeemed and set free.
24. It was in this hope that we were saved. But if we see what we hope for, it isn’t hope — after all, who hopes for what he already sees?
25. But if we continue hoping for something we don’t see, then we still wait eagerly for it, with perseverance.
Our inheritance involves an ecologically ruined world that will one day be restored (Ac 3:21,1С 15:23-28, MJ 2:8-11, Rv 21:1). It was made subject to frustration because of human sin (Genesis 3:16-19) — the intractability of the physical world is not merely a natural law, and one day it will end (for an imaginative fictional portrayal of such a phenomenon see the Final two chapters of С S. Lewis's The Last Battle, in his series, "The Chronicles of Narnia"). Of this we have a certain hope, tor which we are waiting eagerly, but with patience. This is the larger context of whatever suffering, discouragement and doubt we experience — a context of hope. 

26. Similarly, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we don’t know how to pray the way we should. But the Spirit himself pleads on our behalf with groanings too deep for words;
27. and the one who searches hearts knows exactly what the Spirit is thinking, because his pleadings for God’s people accord with God’s will.
Should we feel overwhelmed by being trapped in an as yet unredeemed universe, we have a third assurance (see 14aN. 14b-17N) provided by the Spirit: he prays properly our heart's deepest yearnings, even when consciously we don't know how to do it.

How do we know that the Spirit will empower us to obey the Torah, as promised in vv. 1-13? From his yet more fundamental ministry as guarantor of our Good News-inspired hope that we who trust Yeshua will one day share in the very glory of God. The theme of this passage, then, is that God's Spirit in believers gives all the assurance and confidence we need for victory, no matter what sufferings, discouragements and doubts we meet along the way. 

28. Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;
29. because those whom he knew in advance, he also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers;
30. and those whom he thus determined in advance, he also called; and those whom he called, he also caused to be considered righteous; and those whom he caused to be considered righteous he also glorified!
With the reminder that the Spirit's pleadings "for God's holy people accord with his will" (v. 27) we leave the ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh and move on to the assurance offered by God the Father himself in having an unthwartable purpose (Greek prothem, which can also be rendered "plan") for his people (v. 28). This purpose or plan originated in the unfathomable past: knew in advance... determined in advance (v. 29; compare Ep 1:3-14&NN; on the issue of predestination versus free will see 9:19-21&N). It expresses itself in present history: called... caused to be considered righteous (v. 30). And it continues on into the world to come: glorified (v. 30) — in the past tense, showing that even though from our limited human viewpoint glorification is still in the future, from God's viewpoint it is already accomplished, hence for us a certainty on which we can rely.

Throughout all of this, the believer's responsibility is to love God (v. 28), as always (Deuteronomy 6:5), and to be sure, through faith in Yeshua, that he is included among the called (v. 28). 

31. What, then, are we to say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32. He who did not spare even his own Son, but gave him up on behalf of us all — is it possible that, having given us his Son, he would not give us everything else too?
33. So who will bring a charge against God’s chosen people? Certainly not God — he is the one who causes them to be considered righteous!
34. Who punishes them? Certainly not the Messiah Yeshua, who died and — more than that — has been raised, is at the right hand of God and is actually pleading on our behalf!
35. Who will separate us from the love of the Messiah? Trouble? Hardship? Persecution? Hunger? Poverty? Danger? War?
36. As the Tanakh puts it, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long, we are considered sheep to be slaughtered" (Psalm 44:23(22)).
If we, Yeshua's followers, are considered sheep to be slaughtered by trouble, hardship, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger and war (v. 35), so too he was "led like a sheep to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7).

Psalm 44, quoted in this verse, speaks of Israel as oppressed by enemies and scattered among the nations, yet faithful to God's covenant; the psalmist prays for God's deliverance and acknowledges the futility of self-effort ("I do not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me," v. 7(6)). In quoting one verse Sha'ul implicitly is applying the entire psalm to those who have come to trust in the Gospel, thus expanding on what he wrote in v. 18 above. 

37. No, in all these things we are superconquerors, through the one who has loved us.
38. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers, neither what exists nor what is coming,
39. neither powers above nor powers below, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.
The chain of assurances provided in vv. 28-30 makes Sha'ul confident enough even to challenge his own argument. If God is for us, who can be against us? Not God (vv. 31-33), not his Son... the Messiah Yeshua (vv. 34-37), and in fact no one, nothing (vv. 35, 38-39), will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua our Lord. The certainty is absolute — except for a very important nagging question raised in 9:1-5 and requiring three chapters to answer (see 9:1-11:36&N). 

next chapter...