Romans Chapter 8:18-23 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 18— Because1 I believe that the sufferings in the present time2 are nothing (to esteem one bit) compared to the glory, which shall be revealed to us.3 (Matthew 5:11ff; II Corinthians 4:17ff; I Peter 1:6ff. 4:13).
1. The Apostle confirms that the Lord’s Glory will follow suffering.
2. The sufferings which we must endure during the present time before the Lord comes. Here, as in other places in the New Testament, the Lord’s return is thought to be soon.
3. The Glory belonging to the believer is now hidden (in Heaven). Christ will bring it to them when he returns. See 1 Peter 1:4ff.
Verse 19. Because1 the creation2 is longing3 and waiting for God to reveal His sons.4
1. The proof follows that such a revelation will come.
2. The word “creation” means: a) action by which something is made, b) the created world, c) some part of the created world (context determines the part meant). The Apostle means the rational creation which we call nature. Because of human sin this nature has met with damnation (Genesis 3:17) under which she sighs, longing for liberation that will come with the revelation of God’s sons. Emotions that describe nature in this way are usual in the Bible. See among others Psalms 19:6; 98:8; Isaiah 14:8; 55:12.
3. The Greek word in the original actually signifies someone standing with head stretched forward looking longingly for something that is eagerly desired.
4. The believers are now God’s children, but the Glory which is part of this childhood is not yet revealed. This revelation will occur when the Lord comes. 1 John 3:2.
Verse 20 — Because creation has been subjected to vanity,1 not voluntarily,2 but for the sake of the One who has subjected it3 for an expectation.4
1. That is to say its corruptibility.
2. Without a fight against her original nature. Possibly Paul uses the expression “not voluntarily” in that it was humanity’s fall that happened as a result of free will.
3. The reason for nature’s subjection to corruption is because of the Fall of humanity and because God has subjected her. The creation, to which humanity belongs, is an organic completion. Breaking one part causes a disturbance in the whole. The more important the part broken, the bigger the disturbance in the whole. Humanity was the most important part in creation and, therefore, her fall a bigger break in the whole. It was like the head or the heart in creation’s larger body that was broken, and the effect extended destruction through the whole body. This was because God had designed creation according to His will. Things were arranged such that creation was subject to corruption when humanity fell to sin. Thus Paul says it was for God’s sake that she became subjected.
4. She became subjected to corruption with the hope that one day she would be liberated.
Verse 21 — while even the creation itself1 shall be liberated from the destruction of bondage2 for the freedom of God’s children’s in glory.3
1. We see here that Paul means the natural creation.
2. That bondage which is part of the destruction. The continuing destruction that happens in nature is a continuation and even an expression of nature’s subjection to vanity (v. 20).
3. Liberation from the corruption of the glory of God’s children. With respect to their bodies even God’s children are currently subject to corruption. But when Glory comes, they will be liberated from it. This liberation will come to nature which has received the destruction of bondage because of human sin and shall now partake in humanity’s restoration (compare Matthew 19:28). The organic connection within creation was destroyed because of humans and the resurrection of humanity shall restore it also. Salvation in Christ reaches not just to humanity, but to nature also. Christ’s work is to heal all that has been broken because of human sin.
Verse 22 — Because we know that all of creation breathes together1 and suffers a childlike need together2 even until this time.3
1. The different parts of creation sigh together. Paul presents the longing of creation for liberation as united in sighing about her bondage.
2. Nature finds herself in a childlike need from which a new order shall come in which nothing will be destroyed again. Nature “suffers childlike need together,”—all nature’s parts embrace this childlike need. Paul gives an excellent picture of nature’s current condition.
3. Since the Fall, this childlike need has continued. This childlike need will end when the current condition of nature is destroyed (I Corinthians 7:31) by fire (II Peter 3:10), after which she shall appear in a new, imperishable shape (II Peter 3:12).
Verse 23 — But not only (she) alone but also we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,1 we ourselves2 sigh also within ourselves,3 waiting to be children,4 our bodies’ redemption.5
1. We believers are the first to receive the gift of the Spirit as a deposit in the perfect Glory for which we are waiting. Compare II Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14.
2. The Apostle repeats with emphasis: we ourselves.
3. In our hearts.
4. About the meaning of this word see comments to verse 15. The spirit of being someone’s child is a spirit that belongs to and distinguishes a child’s existence. This spirit is God’s Spirit.
5. To be a child in its highest means both the inner child’s recreation and also physical liberation from all deficiency (I Corinthians 15:51; II Corinthians 5:2; Philippians 3:21) including the restoration of the whole person to be what she, by God, was destined from the beginning (compare Matthew 5:9; Luke 20:36). Therefore, the child is essentially something of the future and, as such, an object of hope for the believers. Note that the body’s liberation from deficiency is called a redemption. Compare Luke 21:28.