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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Romans

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.3–14 : Blessing of God for his blessings (cf. Rom 8.15–34 ).

3 :

In Christ, a theme throughout this section, indicating Christ's mediation of divine blessings. In the heavenly places, heavenly benefits are a present reality for believers.

4–12 :

God chose us … as his children; he provides forgiveness, wisdom, and an inheritance.

4 :

See Col 1.15–17, 22–23 .

5 :

Adoption, see Rom 8.15; Gal 4.5 .

6 :

Beloved, a title for Christ; cf. “beloved son,” Mk 1.11; Col 1.13 .

7 :

His blood, Christ's sacrificial death.

9 :

Mystery, the previously hidden plan of God, which here encompasses all creation.

10 :

Fullness of time, the culmination of human history. To gather … earth, the unification of the cosmos under and through Christ.

13 :

You, the Gentiles ( 2.11; 3.1 ) have also been included in God's blessings. Promised, by the prophet Joel (Joel 2.28–32; Acts 2.14–21 ) or Jesus (Lk 24.49; Jn 14.26; Acts 1.4–5 ).

14 :

Pledge, the same Gk word is translated “first installment” in 2 Cor 1.22 .

8.1–39 : Life in the Spirit.

A turning point in the letter, summing up Paul's previous argument (therefore, v. 1 ) and serving as a foil for the dramatic appeal that follows.

1–4 :

The inclination of human flesh (see 5.20n. ) has prevented earlier generations—including those who received the law at Mt. Sinai—from fulfilling the just requirement of the law ( 2.14–15,26 ). The law is thus weakened by the flesh (v. 3 ). Now that Christ has satisfied that just requirement through his own “act of righteousness” ( 5.18 , translating the same Gk word), those who are in Christ or in the Spirit (v. 9 ) likewise fulfill the law's requirement, in that they walk … according to the Spirit (v. 4 ).

2 :

The law of the Spirit of life and of death, Paul speaks not of two different laws, but of God's law experienced under two opposing dominions, of sin and of righteousness ( 6.12–14; 7.6 ). The Spirit of life, capitalized to refer to the “Spirit of God” (vv. 9,11,14 ; “the Spirit that is from God,” 1 Cor 2.14 ). Paul can use the word “spirit” indefinitely (e.g., “a spirit of slavery … a spirit of adoption,” v. 15 ), or personally (vv. 26–27; 1 Cor 2.10–14 ). The latter use is capitalized in Christian convention, i.e., the Holy Spirit ( 5.5; 9.1; 1 Thess 4.8 ).

3 :

God has done what the law … could not do, Jews in Paul's day regarded Israel's subjection to unjust powers as realizing God's curses on the disobedient ( 9.31; 10.3 ). Paul sees Israel's destiny as bound up with Christ's obedience ( 9.4–5 ).

5–17 :

Life in the Spirit and life in the flesh are contrasted. Paul thinks not of a sharp dualism of “spirit” or “mind” over body, but of different dispositions of the mind (vv. 5–7 ) corresponding to different ways of comport ing one's body ( 6.12–19; 12.1–2 ).

7 :

Hostile to God, 5.10 . Does not submit to God's law, that is, to the law's “just requirement,” which remains the standard of righteous living (v. 4; 2.14–15 ).

9–10 :

Paul shifts from speaking of being “in Christ” (v. 1 ) or in the Spirit to having the Spirit or Christ dwell within oneself ( 6.22; 7.4 ).

11 :

He who raised Christ, 4.17,24; 11.15 .

13 :

Deeds of the body, here Paul uses “body” interchangeably with flesh. see 6.6–8 .

15–17 :

Adoption by the Spirit: Those who live according to the Spirit (or by “faith,” i.e., faithfulness, 4.12,16 ) are the heirs of the promises given to Abraham, even if not his descendants according to the flesh ( 4.1,11–14; Gal 4.5–7 ).

15 :

Abba, an Aramaic word which Jesus may have used in his own prayer (Mk 14.36 ), was used in prayer by Gentile churches (Gal 4.6 ).

17 :

If … we suffer, the tension between suffering and hope in the glory to come ( 5.3–5 ) is characteristic of the Christian life during “this present time” (v. 18; 12.12; 1 Cor 4.8–13 ).

8.18–39 : Suffering, and hope in God's promise.

God's purposes toward his children are much greater than the circumstances of this present time would indicate. This theme is crucial in chs 9–11 .

19–22 :

Paul shares an apocalyptic viewpoint that the present age is evil (see Gal 1.4 ), having been subjected by God to malevolent spiritual forces (v. 20; 1 Cor 15.20–28; Phil 3.21 ).

21 :

Creation itself will participate in the liberation of the children of God.

22 :

Groaning in labor pains, a frequent apocalyptic metaphor (2 Esd 4.42; 10.5–14; Mt 24.8; Mk 13.8; Jn 16.21–22 ).

23 :

The inner testimony of the Spirit (vv. 16,26–27 ) is experienced as intense yearning and hope ( 5.1–5 ). Adoption, see 9.4n.

26–27 :

If we “groan inwardly” (v. 23 ), it is because of the Spirit at work in our prayers, interceding for the saints. This dramatic language is resumed in 9.1–3 .

28–30 :

The alternative translations in the footnote represent the reading in our earliest manuscript. Paul means, not that all circumstances of this life are good for us (the lament in 8.36 is genuine), but that amid all these things God's purpose prevails. Those … who are called, preeminently Israel ( 9.4; 11.2 ); also all those who are “the children of the promise,” including Gentiles ( 9.8,23–26 ). Conformed to the image of his Son, Phil 3.21; 2 Cor 4.4 . Christ the firstborn, 1 Cor 15.20; Col 1.18 .

31–39 :

Previous assurances of God's love ( 5.1–11 ) are reaffirmed; despite all present adversities, God's purpose will prevail.

34 :

The heavenly Christ intercedes for us, as in vv. 26–27 the Spirit intercedes for the saints.

35–36 :

Hardship … or sword, very real afflictions, as Israel's experience testifies; Ps 44.22 is quoted.

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