Saturday

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (vv. 24-25)

Romans 8:22-27 Saturday 10 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 139


Background

Maternal images crop up in a number of places in Paul'swritings. As well as alluding to Old Testament femalepersonifications of divine wisdom in his Christology (eg 1Corinthians 1:24, 30; 2:6-8; Ephesians 3:9-11), the apostle also uses birthimagery to describe his call (Galatians 1:15; 1Corinthians 15:8). Here in his letter to the Romans though,Paul's use of the imagery of labour is his most startling andvivid.

Paul uses an illustration of pain through childbirth (verse 22),which even now only female hearers or readers of his letter canfully appreciate, to describe the anguish of the wait of creationfor the end of sin's control which commenced with the Fall. Inverse 23 he widens the use of that image to include Christianbelievers. To fully comprehend Paul's argument here it is necessaryto understand the nature of the process of adoption in Roman times.Firstly there was a private transaction which altered the status ofthe child of new parents; then there was a public proclamationwhich announced the fact to the wider world. For followers of Jesusthen, the 'private transaction' of reception of the first fruits ofthe Holy Spirit in earthly life commences a wait for the 'publicproclamation' of resurrection on the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). That believers do notunderstand what this will entail is why their wait is sustained bya hope based not upon knowledge but upon faith (verses 24-25).

Believers wait, though, not alone but in the company of the HolySpirit who both helps them in their prayers when words fail them(verse 26) but also intercedes for them (verse 27). Here the unityof purpose of Father and Spirit sustains believers as they wait fortheir promised inheritance in the Son.


To Ponder

  • Is the image of Christian life as one where we 'groan inwardlywhile we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies' a helpfulone? Why/why not?
  • How does Paul's description in verses 26-27 resonate with yourexperience of the Holy Spirit's role in your personal prayers?
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