Romans 8:14-17 and Waldenström’s Commentary
Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström’s comments from the Swedish text, 2nd Edition, 1902. — Ed.
Verse 14 — Because1 all who are powered by God’s Spirit,2 are God’s children.3
1. All those who kill the deeds of the flesh shall live, as Paul now shows in verse 14-17.
2. Those who in their inner and outer lives allow themselves to be directed by God’s Spirit. See Galatians 5:18 and compare II Timothy 3:6.
3. Verbatim: God’s sons. See comments to Luke 20:36 regarding the expression “God’s children.” If someone is driven by God’s Spirit, it is because he is God’s child through faith. When someone becomes a child of God, he receives God’s Spirit ( Galatians 4:6) otherwise he does not.
Verse 15 — Because you have not received the spirit of slavery1 that brings fear,2 rather you have received God’s Spirit3 in which4 we cry out5 Abba Father.6
1. The spirit of slavery is a spirit that belongs to and is characteristic of the condition of slavery.
2. The result of the spirit of slavery is that one is afraid of God. This fear was shown in their former condition before they became believers. But the spirit they have now received, is not a spirit that results in fear again.
3. God’s Spirit is a spirit that belongs to, and is characteristic of, the condition of God’s children. This Spirit is God’s Spirit. The word, which is here translated “God’s children” denotes that action whereby someone is adopted as a child, and then the condition from such an adoption is placed. What Paul here calls “adoption as a child” (see verse 23, chapter 9:4, Galatians 4:5, and Ephesians 1:5), John calls “born of God” ( see 1 John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18.).
4. This spirit is the element, whereby the believer’s inner life moves. Compare verse 9, chapter 9:1, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Ephesians 2:18.
5. The expression “cry” here denotes “devout” (zealous) prayer. When one is zealous one becomes loud.
6. The word Abba is a Hebrew word that means father. Even the Greek speaking Christians prayed to God, using the word Abba. Though this was for them a foreign word, they also used their own word for father. For them it also became a name—[Father].
Verse 16 — The Spirit bears witness together with our spirit,1 that we are God’s children. (Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30.)
1. Note how the Apostle distinguishes between the spirt of the believer and the spirit both of which they have received. Compare verse 26, chapter 1:9; 9:1. The human spirit is, so to speak, the connecting point for the Spirit of God’s intrinsic activity in them. The believer’s spirit gives witness, that is to say believers are conscious in their own spirit that they are a children of God—as long as they know that they believe in Jesus. But “together” with the witness of their own spirit they also have the witness of God’s Spirit confirming the same. And this witness consists of because God’s Spirit powers them. Because God’s Spirit powers someone, it shows, that God’s Spirit lives in them and this, in turn, is a witness that they are God’s children.
Verse 17 — But if we are children, we are also heirs, namely God’s heirs and co-heirs with Christ,1 so if we suffer together,2 we may also be glorified together (with Him).3 (Acts 14:22; Galatians 4:7.)
1. The believers, together with Christ, will one day take possession of the eternal life and of the eternal glory that belongs to their Heavenly Father. It is called an “inheritance” because the rule in earthly life is that a child takes possession of his property only after the father dies.
2. To suffer together with Christ is to subject oneself to suffering for His sake ( Matthew 10:38; 16:24). This suffering, which is contained in the world’s hatred and expressions (John 7:7; 15:18; 17:14; and others) is a participation in Christ’s own suffering. Compare Matthew 20:22; 1 Peter 4:13; II Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24; and II Timothy 2:11.
3. The goal of suffering is glorification. See Matthew 5:11. However, if the believer withdraws from suffering with Christ, he loses out on the inheritance and the glory.