Romans 8 concluded Paul’s flow of thought beginning in Romans 5. The repeated terminology Paul employed in Romans 5-8 (“glory” in 5:2 and 8:18, 21, and 30; “peace” in 5:1 and 8:6; “hope” in 5:2, 4, 5 and 8:20, 24, 25; “affliction” in 5:3 and 8:35; “save” in 5:9, 10 and 8:24; and “endurance/patience” in 5:3, 4 and 8:25) frames these chapters as a literary unit. In Romans 5-8, Paul argued that death reigns over those in Adam, but eternal life over those in Christ (Rom 5:12-21); sin rules over everyone in Adam, but righteousness over all who have been united with Christ (Rom 6:1-23); law dominates all in Adam, but grace reigns over those who belong to the Messiah (Rom 7:1-25). Paul’s argument concerning the supremacy of justification by faith would not be complete without Romans 8. The apostle of the Spirit had more to say. To further solidify the believer’s security in Christ, Paul instructed them of the work of the Holy Spirit in the justified status. Paul’s ultimate concern was that Jews and Gentiles, equally secure in Christ, should come together as a living sacrifice to sing God’s praise (Rom 12:1-2; 15:1-9).
In Romans 8, Paul reiterated themes from the Prophets and Psalms to portray the believer’s security in Christ and the Spirit within the narrative of Scripture.
(1) In Rom 8:5-7, Paul wrote that the Spirit controls the mindset of believers, reflecting Jeremiah’s promise of the new covenant. Jeremiah prophesied that God would establish a new covenant with His people and write His law on their hearts (Jer 31:31-34). Paul portrayed the Spirit as God’s means of instructing believers, controlling their mindset. Because the Spirit lives in believers, the Spirit instructs them concerning God’s law. As a result of the Spirit’s presence and instruction, believers enjoy a mindset of life and peace while those outside of Christ rebel against God and exhibit hostility toward Him.
(2) In Rom 8:10-11, Paul described the Spirit’s life-giving ministry in terms Ezekiel used to portray the Spirit giving new life to Israel. Paul wrote in Rom 5:5 that God’s Spirit lives inside of the believer, giving hope in God’s love even during times of persecution. Throughout Romans 8, Paul returned to the ministry of the Spirit. Just as the Spirit gave life to Jesus’ crucified body (Rom 1:4), the Spirit will give life to all who believe in Jesus. The Spirit’s ability to raise the dead reiterates Ezekiel’s prophecy in Ezek 36:22-37:14. Ezekiel announced that God would send His Spirit upon His people, changing their hearts and awakening them from spiritual death. Paul wrote that the Spirit not only awakens believers from a dead spiritual state (Rom 2:28), but also gives believers new physical bodies after death. He said, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you” (Rom 8:11).
(3) In Rom 8:36, Paul quoted Ps 44:22 to affirm that persecution, despite all of its disastrous consequences, cannot separate believers from God’s love in Christ. In Psalm 44, the psalmist contrasted God’s glorious deliverances for Israel in previous generations with the present disgrace he and his contemporaries had to endure. And the psalmist blamed God. He claimed that God had cast off His people even though they had not done anything to deserve such treatment. “Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered” (Ps 44:22). Israel suffered because God sent ungodly nations against His people to discipline them for their unfaithfulness to the covenant. Since Israel persisted in unfaithfulness, the covenant was broken, and Israel suffered the consequences of their sin. In Rom 8:18-30, Paul wrote that the presence of the Holy Spirit assures the believer that they will receive eternal glory—despite the afflictions they suffer for Christ. Paul wrote in Rom 5:5 that the presence of the Holy Spirit provides the believer with hope despite the fact that believers suffer for Christ. Paul returned to this theme in Rom 8:18 saying, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Even the inanimate creation, Paul argued, was marred in the fall of Adam and now longs for the final redemption of God’s children so that it too can cease from suffering (Rom 8:21-25). Paul contended that in Christian sufferings, those who have received the righteousness of God are more than victorious through God’s love for them (Rom 8:37). Only Christ—not the Mosaic law, the land of Canaan, circumcision, Sabbath-observance, or food laws—provided security over death, angels and rulers, things present, things to come, powers, height, depth, or any other created thing.