Romans 8:14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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(14-17) This life in the Spirit implies a special relation to God—that of sons. I say of sons; for when you first received the Holy Ghost it was no spirit of bondage and reign of terror to which you were admitted, but rather the closest filial relation to God. This filial relation is attested by the Divine Spirit endorsing the evidence of our own consciousness, and it includes all that such a relation would naturally include—sonship, heirship, nay, a joint-heirship in the glory of Christ, who is Himself pre-eminently the Son.

This idea of “sonship” is also worked out in the Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 3:25; Galatians 4:1-7). It is the Christian transformation of the old theocratic idea. The Israelite, quâ Israelite, had stood in this special relation to God; now it is open to the spiritual Israel of whatever race they may be. The idea itself, too, is largely widened and deepened by the additional doctrines of the continued agency of the Spirit and of the Messiahship of Jesus. The sense of sonship is awakened and kept alive by the Spirit; and of all those in whom it is found, the Messiah Himself stands at the head, ensuring for them a share in His own glory.

Romans 8:14-16. For as many as are led, guided and governed, by the Spirit of God — As a Spirit of truth and grace, of wisdom and holiness; they are the sons of God — That is, they stand related to God, not merely as subjects to their king, or servants to their master, but as children to their father; they are unspeakably near and dear to God, being spiritually begotten of him, and partaking of his nature. See on John 1:12. For ye — Who are real Christians; have not — Since you believed on Christ with a living faith; received the spirit of bondage — A servile disposition, produced by the Spirit of God convincing you that you are in a state of guilt and wrath; again — Such as you had formerly, before your conversion; to fear — Condemnation and wrath from God, which you knew you had merited, and therefore to fear him with a servile fear, and death with a fear producing torment. But ye have received the Spirit of adoption — An assurance of your reconciliation with and filial relation to God, through the influence of the Spirit of Christ, Galatians 4:6; producing in you such confidence toward God in approaching him, as dutiful children feel toward a loving father. Whereby — By which Spirit; we — All and every believer; cry — The word, χραζομεν, denotes a vehement speaking, with desire, confidence, constancy; Abba, Father — The latter word explains the former. By using both the Syro-Chaldaic and Greek words, the apostle seems to point out the joint cry both of the Jewish and Gentile believers; who, in consequence of that assurance of God’s favour, and adoption into his family, with which their minds were filled, since they had received the gospel, felt that disposition of reverence for, confidence in, and grateful love to God, which is here properly termed the Spirit of adoption: that is, the spirit of children. We may observe here, that both the spirit of bondage to fear, or servile spirit, and the Spirit of adoption, or filial spirit, as above explained, are produced by one and the same Spirit of God, manifesting itself in various operations, according to the various circumstances of the persons; first causing them to see and feel themselves to be in bondage to the guilt and power of sin, to the world, to Satan, and obnoxious to the wrath of God; and then assuring them of their deliverance therefrom, and of their reception into the favour and family of God, as his sons and daughters. The Spirit itself Αυτο το Πνευμα, the self-same Spirit, whereby we cry. Abba, Father; beareth witness — Greek, συμμαρτυρει τω πνευματι ημων; witnesseth together with our spirit — Or our enlightened and renewed conscience, by his internal and gracious operation, giving us to know and feel with assurance, gratitude, and joy, that we are the children of God — By special adoption and regeneration. For it is by his influence, and his alone, that we can know the things that are freely given to us of God, namely, what they are, their nature and excellence, and that they are ours, 1 Corinthians 2:12. And hence this Spirit is said to be the seal of our sonship, and the earnest of our inheritance in our hearts, 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30. Happy they who enjoy this testimony clear and constant! Some, by the testimony spoken of in this verse, understand the extraordinary or miraculous gifts of the Spirit. These undoubtedly were a divine testimony to the mission of Christ, and the truth of the gospel; but certainly (according to our Lord’s own declaration, that many, whom he never acknowledged to be his, would say to him in the day of judgment, that they had prophesied and cast out devils in his name, &c.) they are not a satisfactory proof of the truth of any one’s grace, the reality of his conversion, or of his being a child of God. Accordingly this apostle testifies, 1 Corinthians 13:2, If a man have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and have such miracle-working faith, as to be able to remove mountains, that, with respect to real religion, he is nothing, if he have not love, namely, to God and man.

8:10-17 If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall endure for ever. The righteousness of Christ imputed, secures the soul, the better part, from death. From hence we see how much it is our duty to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If any habitually live according to corrupt lustings, they will certainly perish in their sins, whatever they profess. And what can a worldly life present, worthy for a moment to be put against this noble prize of our high calling? Let us then, by the Spirit, endeavour more and more to mortify the flesh. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit brings a new and Divine life to the soul, though in a feeble state. And the sons of God have the Spirit to work in them the disposition of children; they have not the spirit of bondage, which the Old Testament church was under, through the darkness of that dispensation. The Spirit of adoption was not then plentifully poured out. Also it refers to that spirit of bondage, under which many saints were at their conversion. Many speak peace to themselves, to whom God does not speak peace. But those who are sanctified, have God's Spirit witnessing with their spirits, in and by his speaking peace to the soul. Though we may now seem to be losers for Christ, we shall not, we cannot, be losers by him in the end.For as many - Whosoever; all who are thus led. This introduces a new topic, illustrating the benefits of the gospel, to wit, that it produces a spirit of adoption, Romans 8:14-17.

As are led - As submit to his influence and control. The Spirit is represented as influencing, suggesting, and controlling. One evidence of piety is, a willingness to yield to that influence, and submit to him. One decided evidence of the lack of piety is, where there is an unwillingness to submit to that influence, but where the Holy Spirit is grieved and resisted. All Christians submit to his influence; all sinners decidedly reject it and oppose it. The influence of the Spirit, if followed, would lead every man to heaven. But when neglected, rejected, or despised, man goes down to hell. The glory belongs to the conducting Spirit when man is saved; the fault is man's when he is lost. The apostle here does not agitate the question how it is that the people of God are led by the Spirit, or why they yield to it when others resist it. His design is simply to state the fact, that they who are thus led are the sons of God, or have evidence of piety.

Are the sons of God - Are adopted into his family, and are his children. This is a name of endearment, meaning that they sustain to him this relation; that they are his friends, disciples, and imitators; that they are parts of the great family of the redeemed, of whom he is the Father and Protector. It is often applied to Christians in the Bible; Job 1:6; John 1:12; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1-2; Matthew 5:9, Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35. This is a test of piety which is easily applied.

(1) are we conscious that an influence from above has been drawing us away from the corrupting passions and vanities of this world? This is the work of the Spirit.

(2) are we conscious of a desire to yield to that influence, and to be conducted in the path of purity and life? This is an evidence that we are the sons of God.

(3) do we offer no resistance; do we follow cheerfully, and obey this pure influence, leading us to mortify pride, subdue passion, destroy lust, humble ambition, and annihilate the love of wealth and of the world? If so, we are his children. God will not lead us astray; and our peace and happiness consists only in yielding ourselves to this influence entirely, and in being willing to be conducted by this unseen hand "beside the still waters of salvation."

14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, they, &c.—"these are sons of God." Hitherto the apostle has spoken of the Spirit simply as a power through which believers mortify sin: now he speaks of Him as a gracious, loving Guide, whose "leading"—enjoyed by all in whom is the Spirit of God's dear Son—shows that they also are "sons of God." This proves the latter part of the foregoing verse: Such as by the Spirit do mortify sin, shall live, for

they are the sons of God; and that appears, because they

are led by the Spirit of God. He doth not say, as many as live by the Spirit, but, as are led by the Spirit; to show (says one) that the Spirit must be the guide and ruler of our life, as the pilot is of the ship, and as a rider is of his horse. The phrase is borrowed (says another) either from those who are guided and directed as a blind man in his way; or from those who, wanting strength of their own, are borne and carried of others: so we are both ways led by the Spirit, for we can neither see our way, unless the Spirit direct us; nor have we strength to walk in it, unless the Spirit assist and draw us along. The Spirit leads and draws us irresistibly and necessarily, and yet not violently or against our wills; though we were unwilling before, yet we are made willing afterwards; so willing, that we desire and pray to be led by the Spirit. See Psalm 25:5 143:10 Song of Solomon 1:4.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,.... Not by the spirit of the world, or of the devil, or by their own spirits: the act of leading ascribed to the Spirit is either in allusion to the leading of blind persons, or such who are in the dark; or rather to the leading of children and teaching them to go; which supposes life in those that are led, and some degree of strength, though a good deal of weakness; and is a display of powerful and efficacious grace, and is always for their good: the Spirit of God leads them from sin, and from a dependence on their own righteousness, in paths they formerly knew not, and in which they should go, in the paths of faith and truth, of righteousness and holiness, and in a right, though sometimes a rough way; he leads them to the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and to the fulness of grace in him; into the presence of God, to the house and ordinances of God; into the truths of the Gospel, from one degree of grace to another, and at last to glory; which he does gradually, by little and little he leads them to see the iniquity of their hearts and natures, to lay hold on Christ and salvation by him, into the doctrines of grace, and the love and favour of God, and proportionally to the strength he gives: now such persons,

they are the sons of God: not in so high a sense as Christ is; nor in so low a sense as Adam was, and angels are; much less in such sense as wicked magistrates be; nor merely as professors of religion in common; but by adoption, not national, such as that of the Jews, but special; and which has some agreement with civil adoption, it being of persons to an inheritance, which they have no legal right unto, and it is done freely: though there is a difference between the one and the other; for in divine adoption there is no need on the adopter's side; nor no worth on the side of the adopted; proper qualifications are conveyed to them for the enjoyment of the inheritance, and which is enjoyed, the father and firstborn being living, and is an inheritance which vastly exceeds all others: now this blessing of being the sons of God, is owing not to ourselves, nor to our earthly parents, but to God; to the Father, who predestinated to it, and fixed it in the covenant of grace; to Christ, it is by him, as the Son of God, it is through him, as the Mediator, and it is for him, it is for his glory; and also to the Spirit of God, who manifests it, works faith to receive it, witnesses to it, and seals up to the full enjoyment of it. This favour is an instance of surprising grace, exceeds other blessings, makes the saints honorourable, is attended with many privileges, and lasts for ever: such who are in this relation to God, ought to ascribe it to his grace, to require him with thankfulness, and a becoming conversation, to be followers of him, and to love, honour, and obey him.

{16} For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

(16) A confirmation of this reason: for they are the children of God who are governed by his Spirit, therefore they will have everlasting life.

Romans 8:14. Reason assigned for the ζήσεσθε. “For then ye belong, as led by God, to the children of God (for whom the life of the Messianic kingdom is destined, Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7).” Theodore of Mopsuestia: δῆλον οὖν ὅτι οἱ τοιοῦτοι τὴν μακαρίαν ζωὴν παρὰ τῷ ἑαυτῶν πατρὶ ζήσονται.

ἄγονται] i.e. are determined in the activity of their inward and outward life. Comp. Romans 2:4; Galatians 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:6; Soph. Ant. 620: ὅτῳ φρένας θεὸς ἄγει, Oed. C. 254 (Reisig, Enarr. p. LXI.); Plat. Phaed. p. 94 E: ἄγεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν τοῦ σώματος παθημάτων. The expression is passive (hence the dative), though without prejudice to the freedom of the human will, as Romans 8:13 proves. “Non est enim coactio, ut voluntas non possit repugnare: trahit Deus, sed volentem trahit,” Melancthon.

υἱοὶ Θεοῦ] Thus Paul elevates the hallowed theocratic conception, Romans 9:5, to the purely moral idea, which is realized in the case of those who are led by the Divine Spirit (which is granted only to those who believe in Christ, Galatians 3:26). The οὗτοι is therefore not unemphatic (Hofmann)—which would make it quite superfluous—but has an excluding and contrasting force (these and no others, comp. Galatians 3:7). Next to it υἱοὶ has the stress (hence its position immediately after οὗτοι, see the critical remarks), being conceived already as in contrast to δοῦλοι; see Romans 8:15. The υἱοὶ Θεοῦ are those who have been justified by faith, thereby lawfully received by Him into the fellowship of children with a reconciled Father (Romans 8:15), governed by the Holy Spirit given unto them (comp. Galatians 4:6), exalted to the dignity of the relation of brethren to Christ (Romans 8:29), and sure of the eternal glory (of the inheritance). For a view of the relation in question under its various aspects in Paul, John, and the Synoptics, see on John 1:12.

Romans 8:14. Ye shall live, for as many as are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons, and life is congruous to such a dignity. υἱὸς suggests the rank and privileges of the persons in question; τέκνον (in Romans 8:16 f.) their kinship in nature to God. Yet this cannot everywhere be urged in the N.T.

14. For] This word points back to “through the Spirit” in Romans 8:13. That brief reference to the Divine Helper of the soul suggests and brings in the marvellous passage now following, down to Romans 8:27, in which the Holy Spirit’s work is the primary subject throughout.

as many as are led, &c.] The emphasis in this ver. is about equal on each clause; on the condition, (spirituality of will,) and the privilege, (son-ship). Only the spiritual are children of God; and the spiritual are nothing less than children of God.

led] As by their ruling principle. For illustration of the truth here referred to, see John 16:13, and Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:22-23. The phrase is exactly parallel to “walk after the Spirit.” The Galatian passage is enough to shew that St Paul intends not enthusiastic exaltation, but heart-subjection to the pure rule of God’s will, in thought, word, and work; a subjection on the one hand perfectly voluntary in man, on the other hand perfectly due to the Divine Agent and Teacher.

sons] On this sacred word, as used here, cp. John 1:12-13; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Galatians 3:26; Php 2:15; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:4-5; and below.

14–39. Security of the Justified: the Holy Spirit’s aid given to them: Eternal Glory prepared for them: the Divine purpose leads them thither

Romans 8:14. Ἄγονται) In the middle voice: are led willingly [This is the sum of the antecedents (the preceding statements); υἱοὶ Θεοῦ εἰσιν, the sum of the consequents (the statements that follow) is, υἱοὶ Θεοῦ εἰσιν.—V. g.]—εἰσὶν υἱοὶ Θεοῦ) Others read υἱοὶ Θεοῦ εἰσιν or υἱοί εἰσι Θεοῦ. There are thus three readings, of which Baumgarten defends the first, I the second, which is supported by the third, inasmuch as the word υἱοὶ is placed first for the sake of emphasis; and it was the emphasis that induced me to touch upon this variety in the readings.[93]—ΥἹΟῚ sons) The Spirit is given to sons, Galatians 4:6. At this passage Paul enters upon the discussion of those topics, which he afterwards comprehends under the expression, He glorified, Romans 8:30, but he does not describe unmixed glory, but only such glory, as that, the taste of which is still diluted with the cross. Therefore the sum of what he says is: through sufferings [we must pass] to glory; patient endurance [or else, support] is interwoven with sufferings. Hence the whole connection of the discourse will be obvious.

[93] Υἱοὶ εἰσιν θεοῦ is read by BGg Vulg. (Amiat. MS.) Orig. 1, 574c Hilary. But (Δ)DAC Fuld. MS. of Vulg. f, Orig. 1, 685c Cypr. have υἱοὶ θεοῦ εἰσιν Rec. Text with Iren. has εἰσιν υἱοὶ θεοῦ.—ED.

Verses 14-17. - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the Spirit of adoption, wherein we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. In ver. 14 is introduced a further ground for the assertion in ver. 13, ζήσεσθε; viz. the felt sonship to God of those who have so received his Spirit as to be led (i.e. practically actuated) by it. We say "felt" because, though in this verse the sonship is alleged as a fact, yet, in the following verses (15,16) the inward experience of true Christians is appealed to as evidence of such sonship. Then, in ver. 17, the thought is carried out, that sonship implies inheritance, and hence a share in the glorified eternal life of Christ. (This conclusion makes further evident what was meant to be implied above in the expression ζήσεσθε.) "When, after your conversion," the apostle would say, "ye received the Spirit, it did not inspire you with the fear of slaves, but with filial love and trust. And this you know also is the feeling that we give vent to in the congregation, when we cry out [κράζομεν, denoting emotional utterance], Abba, Father." This last expression is given by St. Mark as our Lord's own in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). We may conclude that the Aramaic word ἀββᾶ was the one used by him, and heard by St. Peter, who is said to have been St. Mark's informant in the composition of his Gospel; the equivalent Greek word, ὁ πατήρ, having been added originally by the evangelist in explanation (cf. Mark 5:41 and Mark 7:34 for similar instances of St. Mark giving Christ's own expressions, with their Greek equivalents). Afterwards it may be further supposed that the Greek-speaking Christians came to use the whole phrase, as it had been delivered to them, in their own devotions, as representing our Lord's own mode of addressing the Father, and so as expressing peculiarly their union with Christ, and their filial relation to God in him. It is probable also, from the way St. Paul here introduces the expression (κράζομεν, changing from the second to the first person plural), that it was in customary use, perhaps at some special parts of the service, in congregational worship. It occurs once more in a passage closely corresponding with the one before us, and which should be studied in connection with it (Galatians 4:6). It is to be observed how, in ver. 17, the idea of our sonship now, and consequently of our being joint-heirs with Christ, leads up to a resumption of the now prevailing thought of our present condition in the mortal body being no bar to our final inheritance of life. It is our being as yet in these mortal bodies that is the cause of our present suffering; but he also was in the body, and he also so suffered; and our sharing in his sufferings really unites us the more to him, and the more ensures our final inheritance with him (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:5, 7; Philippians 3:10). The apostle introduces next a deep and suggestive view, both in explanation of our now being subject to suffering, and in confirmation of our expectation of future glory notwithstanding. He points to nature generally, to God's whole creation, so far as it is under our view in this mundane sphere, as being at present "subject to vanity," and, as it were, groaning under some power of evil, which is at variance with our ideal of what it should be, and from which there is a general and instinctive yearning for deliverance. Our present sufferings - all those drawbacks to the full enjoyment of our spiritual life - are due to our being at present in the body, and so forming part of the present system of things. But that general yearning is in itself significant of a deliverance; and so the sympathetic witness of nature confirms the hope of our higher spiritual yearnings, and encourages us to endure and wait. Such is the general drift of the passage, continued to the end of ver. 25. Particular thoughts and expressions will be noticed in the course of it. Romans 8:14Sons (υἱοί)

See on John 1:12; see on Matthew 1:1. There is an implied contrast with the Jewish idea of sonship by physical descent.

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