St. Paul’s Letter To The Romans Chapter 8

Beloved Lord,

You have defined through the Holy Spirit what true life is
for the Christian.  To live in the kingdom of darkness is to live a walking
death but to live in the power of the Holy Spirit is to live with a soul that is
infused with the life of the Most Holy Trinity.  Through our rebirth into Your
family we walk in the light of Christ, although we can only dimly see in this
earthly exile the promise of the vibrant life that will be ours when we cross
the threshold of physical death into eternal life.  We know, however, that You
are God of the living and we can have confidence that when we are finally united
with You and achieve our final salvation, then we will be more alive that we
ever were in this earthly existence.  Send Your Holy Spirit, Lord, to guide us
in our study of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans and his teaching on living life
in the Spirit.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit.  Amen.


+ + +

“Paul shows here
that those who are under the law, because they live according to the flesh, are
under sin and condemnation.  But those who are in Christ are not under
condemnation because they do not walk according to the flesh.” 
Diodore of
Tarsus [died 390], Commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans 

“My dear friends, do not be
taken aback at the testing by fire which is taking place among you, as though
something strange were happening to you; but in so far as you share in the
sufferings of Christ, be glad, so that you may enjoy a much greater gladness
when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for bearing Christ’s name,
blessed are you, for on you rests the Spirit of God, the Spirit of glory.”

1 Peter

In chapter 7 Paul
began to present a contrast of the old order of living under the Law and the new
order of living under the power of the Spirit by first presenting the negative
affects of the Law before the coming of Christ.  After Adam’s sin animal
sacrifice was established as a temporary measure to cover sins and prevent
eternal death, but animal sacrifice could not offer salvation because no animal
could be perfect enough to remove the ravages of sin and the judgment of death
it imposed on mankind.  The commands not to sin imposed under Mosaic Law were
imposed externally and, therefore, could not provide the inward transformation
that was needed for salvation [Romans 7:7].
Christ alone, by His atoning death became the perfect sacrifice, destroying our
unspiritual nature [our nature of flesh] in His own person and destroying the
power of sin which reigned over mortal flesh.  Leaving the negative aspects of
living under the old law, Paul now turns to the positive factor which is
liberation from condemnation brought through the new order’a life internally
transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Through our baptism into Christ’s
death, burial, and resurrection we have been released from the condemnation of
sin. We no longer live according to the law of the flesh but according to the
law of the Spirit of God.  We are not only forgiven our sins but we are also
given the means to continue to overcome sin through the power of God the Holy
Spirit filling and indwelling the new lives we received when we were “born from
above” [John
] into the family of God.  Now Paul invites the Roman faith community
to rejoice in this victory and the new age of freedom inaugurated by the Holy


Please read Romans 8:1-13:
Life in the Spirit

1 Thus,
condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because the law of the Spirit which gives life
in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 
3 What the Law could not do because of the
weakness of human nature, God did, sending his own Son in the same human nature
as any sinner to be a sacrifice for sin, and condemning sin in that human
4 That was so that the Law’s
requirements might be fully satisfied in us as we direct our lives not by our
natural inclinations but by the spirit. 
5 Those who are living by their natural
inclinations have their minds on the things human nature desires; those who live
in the spirit have their minds on spiritual things. 
6 And human nature has nothing to look forward to
but death, while the spirit looks forward to life and peace,
7 because the outlook of disordered human nature
is opposed to God, since it does not submit to God’s Law, and indeed it cannot,
8 and those who live by their natural
inclinations can never be pleasing to God. 
9 You, however, live not by your natural
inclinations, but by the spirit, since the Spirit of God has made a home in
you.  Indeed, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to
10 But when Christ is in you,
the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because you have been
11 and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from
the dead has made his home in you, then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead
will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in
  12 So then, my brothers, we have no obligation to
human nature to be dominated by it.
13  If you do live in that way, you are doomed to
die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the habits originating in the body,
you will have life.”


In Romans chapter 7:24 St. Paul
asked the rhetorical question “Who will rescue me from this body doomed to
His simple answer in verse 25 was
that Jesus Christ is our rescuer, but in chapter 8 Paul
provides a more in depth response.  The two opening verses introduce what main
theme of this chapter: the Christian has been set free from the condemnation of
sin and death by “the law of the Spirit of life” in Christ Jesus.
Life is what the Holy Spirit guarantees!

Paul will present this theme in five parts:

1.      verses 18-23:
Creation anticipating Christ

2.      verses 24-25:
The hope of faithful Christians

3.      verses 26-27:
The coming of the Spirit


After the fall of Adam and Eve which resulted in the
inheritance of the dis-graced condition of all humanity, original sin, which
became our inheritance, set two directions or two choices before those of us who
were born into this dis-graced state:

    1. Either we continue to seek the will of God in our lives and
      fight against the inclination to enter into sin, or
    2. We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the selfish desires
      of the flesh and seek our own life apart from God.

In essence this is the choice between supernatural life
through the Holy Spirit, or the animal life of the flesh.


Question: What is it that Paul assures us has set the
Christian free?

Answer: The Holy Spirit

Question: In Romans 8:2 Paul
assures us that “the law of the Spirit which gives life in Christ has set you
What are the conditions from which the Christian is liberated?  In verse 3 what
does Paul identify as the source of this gift of the Spirit?

Answer: The freedom that comes from the New Law of the
Spirit in Christ Jesus has liberated the Christian from sin and death.


Freedom comes to us from the New Law of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. The New Law of the Gospel that we receive through Jesus Christ is
a law of love, grace, and freedom.  These 3 aspects that are present in the New
Law were absent in the Old Law:

  • It is called the “law of love” because it makes us act out
    of the love which has been infused into our souls by the Holy Spirit.
  • It is a “law of grace” because through it we receive God’s
    grace which gives us the strength to resist sin and to continue to grow in grace
    through the Sacraments.
  • It is also called the “law of freedom” because it sets us
    free from the condemnation of the old law and from the position of a servant and
    raises us to the position of son-ship as a co-heir with Christ.

This freedom is a direct result of the saving work of God the
Son [also see 6:18, 20, 22; 2
Corinthians 3:17
; and Galatians
, 13]. See
CCC# 1972


Question: What is the source of this life of freedom
lived “according to the Spirit?”  Hint: see CCC# 1266 & 1999

Answer: The source is sanctifying grace.  It is the
gift of grace the Christian receives in baptism when he becomes infused with the
life of the Trinity through the power of the Holy Spirit to heal [of sin] and to
sanctify our souls; it is a grace that permanently adheres to the soul of the
Christian.  However, the sanctifying grace that has liberated us from domination
of the flesh and places us under the Law of the Spirit does not prevent sin from
continuing to threaten our freedom.  St. John Chrysostom warns the Christian:
“We need to submit to the spirit, to wholeheartedly commit ourselves and
strive to keep the flesh in its place.  By so doing our flesh will become
spiritual again.  Otherwise, if we give in to the easy life, this will lower our
soul to the level of the flesh and make it carnal again.”
St. John
Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, #13



Paul has mentioned God’s Spirit only three other times in
this letter; in Romans 1:4; 5:5; and 7:6.  Now Paul
will focus on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and will refer to His direct
influence 19 times in chapter 8 alone [see verses 2, 5 (3x), 6, 9 (3x), 11 (3x), 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26 (2x), &


Question: How were “the Law’s requirements”
satisfied in Jesus the Messiah?  See Leviticus
; Numbers
; 2
Corinthians 5:21
; Philippians
; Colossians

Answer: Jesus took on our sinful human nature in order
to break the fatal grip of sin on humanity by making the human race one with His
obedience and saving justice.  He assumed upon His own human self the
condemnation that should have been ours, thus satisfying “the Law’s
Sinless He bore our sins.  He felt in His human nature every
temptation, every suffering, and every human weakness.  In the person of His
Son, God became vulnerable to the vengeful attack of sin in all its forms and
furies and yet He lovingly bore the burden for us and conquered both sin and
death upon the throne of the Cross: Philippians
, “Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God
something to be grasped.  But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was
humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”


St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that in fulfilling God’s plan for
our salvation Jesus could have rejected our human nature and could have come in
the glorious body of His Resurrection but, St. Thomas reasoned, “since man
has 3 states’namely innocence, sin, and glory’Christ assumed from the state of
glory the beatific vision; from the state of innocence, freedom from sin; and
from the state of sin, the necessity of being subject to the penalties of this
life.” Summa Theologiae III, q.13, a.


The limits of our human flesh include hunger, physical
fatigue, suffering, and death’all of which are the action of sin upon humanity.
By permitting Himself to be subject to the fragility of our physical bodies,
Christ experienced everything we experience living in a body of flesh. His human
experience makes it impossible for us to claim that God in His exalted state
cannot understand our physical limitations and struggles.  He became like us to
save us and we can have the confidence that He will never abandon us just
because we are subject to those limitations.


Question: In 8:4-8 what
contrast does Paul make and why it is these two forces are completely opposed to
one another?

Answer: He is contrasting life ordered to the flesh as
opposed to life in the spirit.  The desires of the flesh and the ministry of the
Holy Spirit are not compatible.  Man must choose to be ruled by one or the
other.  Although we still retain our flesh it is now alien to those of us who
have been “born of the spirit” because we have died to the flesh and in our new
lives we live in the spirit of Christ’we live “not according to the flesh but
according to the spirit
[8:4, New
American translation].


Question: How do we escape the requirements of the law
and the condemnation of sin?  See Jeremiah
; 2
Corinthians 3:3
; Galatians

Answer: The requirements of the law and condemnation
for sin can only be satisfied through faith and union with Jesus Christ.  When
we are united to Christ our new life of faith is fulfilled in love’loving others
as Jesus has loved us.  There is no longer any external law dictating our
outward behavior.  Our inner life is now a life living through the power of the
Spirit who has superseded and replaced the old order that condemned us.  We live
by Jesus command: You must love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew

Question: Who is the neighbor we are commanded to love
under the new order?  How is this differently defined from the old order? See Leviticus
and Luke 10:25-37

Answer: In the Old Covenant one’s neighbor was defined
as a member of the covenant community.  But with eternal blessings come greater
love.  We are commanded to share the love of Christ with all members of the
human family.


Question: In Romans 8:6 Paul
contrasts the human nature that has nothing to look forward to but death and the
Christian living in the life of the Spirit who looks forward to life and peace.
What are the “life” and the “peace” the Christian is promised?

Answer: Eternal life is the “life” and perfect
communion with God is the promised “peace”.  The Christian looks forward to the
beautific vision and to bodily resurrection.


In Romans 8:9 Paul
makes the powerful statement: “You, however, live not by your natural
inclinations, but by the spirit since the Spirit of God has made a home in you.
Indeed, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to
  Paul is making the strong statement that only those who are reborn in
the spirit can belong to God and have the right to called children in His
family.  It is a concept he will expand in Romans


In verses 10-11
Paul assures the Christian that with Christ living in us “the body is dead.”

Question: How is it that our physical bodies are
dead?  See Ephesians

Answer: The reality is that every day we are
alive in our physical bodies is another step toward death.  No matter what we
“invest” in our earthly bodies, it is a short term investment.  The body,
because of the effects of sin is doomed to physical death and is an instrument
of spiritual death.  Yet, through the regenerative waters of our baptism we are
alive in the spirit of Christ.  He has justified [made righteous in the site of
God] the believer, and we look forward to a final resurrection at the end of
time when we will receive new bodies which are imperishable.  Living in the
spirit of Christ, Christians look forward to being alive in a way that makes the
present reality of life in the flesh a pale counterfeit kind of living.
Investing in life in the Spirit is a long term investment that will reap
enormous benefits because God stands behind that investment.


In verses 12-13
Paul draws a conclusion from what he has written so far in this chapter’that the
Christian is no longer dominated by a fallen human nature, and  if the Christian
chooses to put the “flesh” to death by continuing to live in the Spirit he will
have life.  Paul then begins a discussion of the consequences on Christian life
through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


Please read Romans 8:14-17:
The Christian as a child of God

14 All who are
guided by the Spirit of God are sons of God; for what you received was not the
spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the spirit of
adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ 
15 The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to
bear witness that we are children of God.  And if we are children, then we are
heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, provided that we share his
suffering, so as to share his glory.”


The reality of God the Holy Spirit’s presence brings not only
new life but a new relationship with God’a relationship of spiritual adoption.
Through our adoption we become partakers of the divine nature and of eternal
life and Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane in Mark 14:36 is
placed on our lips because the Spirit makes us children of God: “‘Abba,
Father!” he said, ‘For you everything is possible.  Take this cup away from me.
But let it be as you, not I, would have it.'”
In this prayer we unite
ourselves to Christ’s sufferings as well as to His glory.

Question: How does Paul express this spiritual
adoption in 2
Corinthians 6:18
and Galatians

Answer:  Galatians
: “So too with us, as long as we were still under age, we were
enslaved to the elemental principles of this world; but when the completion of
the time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to
redeem the subjects of the Law, so that we could receive adoption as sons.  As
you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son crying, ‘Abba,
Father’; and so you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an
heir, by God’s own act.”
In both the Romans and Galatians passages Paul is
speaking of the two aspects of redemption: freedom from slavery to sin, and
adoption as children of God.  This adoption through the Spirit makes us the
joint-heirs of what Christ has won for us and therefore guarantees our
inheritance of eternal life.  See CCC#2782; 2784


Question: Do adopted children choose their families?
What is the implication for Christians being adopted into the family of God?

Answer: In Greek the word huiothesia,
[hwee-oth-es-ee’-ah] “adoption”, was a technical term expressing the
legal assumption of a person into the status of son-ship in a natural family.
Paul is taking this word, used in 1st century legal language in the
Roman world, and is applying it to both Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians
who through the Sacrament of Baptism have become members in God’s covenant
family.  However, it is interesting to note that it is not the adoptee who
“adopts” but the family and so Paul’s term expresses the prerogative of
election’of being chosen by the “family” of the Most Holy Trinity to become sons
and daughters of the new and everlasting Covenant in Christ.  The use of this
word is also reminiscent of the election of the “children” of Israel as Yahweh’s
chosen people’God Himself chose the children of Israel out of all the peoples of
the earth.  The Christian who first comes to justification by faith is also
elected but there is also a difference in this new covenant adoption because no
where in the Old Testament were the old covenant people ever invited to call God
by this intimate form of address: “Abba,” an Aramaic word meaning “father” in
the intimate sense in which an American child might use the word “daddy.”  The
use of such an intimate address is unheard of in the Old Testament’not even in
such passages as Deuteronomy
; Exodus
; Hosea
; Isaiah
; Jeremiah
; and Wisdom

Question: Looking at Deuteronomy
and comparing it to Romans 8:15-16
what is the difference in the relationship that is suggested?

Answer: Deuteronomy
expresses a corporate relationship with Israel as a covenant
people who are children of Yahweh.  However, Galatians
and Romans 8:15
express a personal relationship of child to father and in this sense the father
is God and the child is each individual Christian believer who has been
justified by faith through the Sacrament of Baptism.  The only exception to this
is found in Psalms 89:27
when David speaks prophetically of the Messiah: “He will cry to me, ‘You are
my father, my God, the rock of my salvation!’  So I shall make him my
first-born, the highest of earthly kings.”
This gift of divine
son/daughter-ship is only an inheritance through Christ.  See CCC# 257-60


The concept of individual son/daughter-ship through the
ministry of the Holy Spirit is not a gift given to the children of Israel in the
Old Testament but it is promised by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 43:1-7
in a prophecy of future salvation: “Bring back my sons from far away and my
daughters from the remotest part of the earth, everyone who bears my name, whom
I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, whom I have made
].” St. Peter proclaimed, speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, “Only
in him is there salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this
is the only one by which we can be saved.”
  It is through bearing the name
of Jesus Christ that we become sons and daughters of the Most High God.


There is also another deeply theological link to be made to
the Christian position as heirs in Christ Jesus.

Question: An heir has the promise of a future
inheritance.  What does this promise of a future inheritance call to mind from
the promises of the Old Testament covenants that preceded and foreshadowed the
New and everlasting Covenant in Christ? What is the theological and
eschatological significance of the promise of this “inheritance”? Hint: see Exodus 32:13;

Answer: In Exodus 32:13
after the fall from grace of the children of Israel in the sin of the Golden
Calf, Moses, as God’s covenant mediator, “reminds” Yahweh of His promises when
he says: “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom you swore
by your very self and made this promise: ‘I shall make your offspring as
numerous as the stars of heaven, and this whole country of which I have spoken,
I shall give to your descendants, and it will be their heritage for ever.”

Through our baptism we have become the spiritual progeny of Abraham and as such
inheritors of the 3 promises made to him in Genesis chapter
that became the foundation of the 3-fold covenant of Genesis chapters
, 17,
and 22.
Abraham is the physical father of the children of Israel to whom Yahweh promised
the inheritance of the covenant and the Promised Land that had been given to
Abraham.  This promise of “the land” become the inheritance of the universal
Church of Jesus Christ in an inheritance that comes to embrace the whole body of
eschatological blessings promised to Abraham and to Israel as a people.  In Romans chapter
Paul reclaimed this promise for Christians through the Gospel of Jesus
Christ by arguing that “For the promise to Abraham and his descendants that
he should inherit the world…”
This is indeed our inheritance: the
universal Catholic Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and the promise of the inheritance
of the true “Promise Land” of the heavenly Kingdom.


In Romans 8:17
Paul places this “inheritance” on a Christological standard.  The Christian
becomes an heir of the Father = God but also a co-heir of Christ who is the
“Firstborn” or re’shiyt in the Hebrew, and is therefore the primary heir of the

Question: In Romans 8:17
what condition is placed upon our inheritance in union with the Father’s
firstborn who is Jesus Christ?

Answer: Through our baptismal union with the Son we
have inherited a dynamic insertion into the life of the Trinity and since the
Trinity is a union that cannot be divided even though it is a union of 3, we are
fully united to Christ in His mission as Savior. This union is not static but is
active, efficacious, and complete.  Paul makes it clear that as Christians we
must share in Christ’s suffering in order to share in His glory.
This is a
theme that formed the context for Paul affirmation of “hope” in chapter 5:3-4.
He will revisit this same mysterious connection between suffering and the hope
of glory in the end of this chapter.  The point Paul makes is to form a
surprising connection between Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection and Christian
inheritance in eternal blessings.  In our earthly life it is necessary to take
up the Cross of Christ and follow Him because the way to glorification is
through the imitation of Christ by offering up our sufferings in this life as He
did in His.  Notice the progression of this promise connecting the Old Covenant
promises, the election of divine son/daughter-ship, and suffering being united
to glory in the following passages:

  • Galatians
    : “And simply by being Christ’s, you are that progeny of Abraham, the
    heirs named in the promise.”
  • Galatians
    : “…and so you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then
    an heir, by God’s own act.”
  • 1 Peter
    : “My dear friends, do not be taken aback at the testing by fire
    which is taking place among you, as though something strange were happening to
    you; but in so far as you share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, so that
    you may enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.  If you are
    insulted for bearing Christ’s name, blessed are you, for on you rests the Spirit
    of God, the Spirit of glory.”


Question: While the gift of our divine son/daughter
ship is individual, our sufferings are not meant to be only our own.  How are
our sufferings meant to be uniquely different from normal human suffering?

Answer: Our sufferings are offered up for Christ’s
sufferings when we unite our suffering to His.  When we unite our human
sufferings to His human sufferings we do not suffer alone but we suffer in union
with the suffering He offered up for our salvation and the salvation of the
entire world.  Christians do not waste the value of your sufferings by
suffering alone!
  Christ did not come to do away with human suffering.  It
is part of our fallen human condition which is why He assumed our suffering in
order to bring about our redemption.  He didn’t come to do away with suffering
but He did come to unite our suffering to His.  Jesus has show the way in
suffering for us’now Christian suffering united with His redemptive suffering
also become redemptive!  Our suffering is not only the overflow of His suffering
but through suffering with Christ our participation in his glorification is
assured.  In Colossians 1:24 Paul understood the nature of our suffering jointed
to the redemptive suffering of Christ when he writes, “It makes me happy to
be suffering for you now and in my own body to make up all the hardships that
still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his Body, the
Paul is writing of his own redemptive suffering for the sake of the


Unlike most human heirs who greedily horde their inheritance
and are unwilling to share their earthly wealth with other children in the
family of their earthly fathers, God the Son offers us a share in His
full inheritance’but as co-heirs we must cooperate in that inheritance.
Jesus of Nazareth suffered in order to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth
and anyone who is His co-heir and continues His work must share in His suffering
while cooperating in faith and love to carry the Gospel message of salvation to
the world [as we are commanded to do in Matthew
]’the promised inheritance of eternal life is certainly a gift of
grace far beyond any amount of temporal suffering.  The short term suffering
yields a long term investment of eternal love and peace’an observation which is
expressed Paul’s
opening line
in the next portion of this chapter.


In addressing the presence of human suffering in the lives of
Christians notice how Paul proceeds in three stages using the word “groan”:

  1. verses 19-22,
    “creation, until this time, has been groaning”=  stenazo
  2. verses 23-25,
    “even we are groaning”= systenazo
  3. verses 26-27,
    “the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans”= stenagmos


Please read Romans 8:18-27:
The Christian Destiny of Glory

18 In my
estimation, all that we suffer in the present time is nothing in comparison with
the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us,
19 for the whole creation is waiting with
eagerness for the children of God to be revealed. 
20 It was not for its own purposes that creation
had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed
21 with the intention that the
whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought
into the same glorious freedom as the children of God. 
22 We are well aware that the whole creation,
until this time, has been groaning in labor pains.
23 And not only that: we too, who have the
firstfruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting
with eagerness for our bodies to be set free. 
24 In hope, we already have salvation; in hope,
not visibly present, or we should not be hoping’nobody goes on hoping for
something which he can already see. 
25 But having this hope for what we cannot yet
see, we are able to wait for it with persevering confidence.
26 And as well as this, the Spirit too comes to
help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the
Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put
into words;
27 and he who can see
into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit
makes for God’s holy people are always in accordance with the mind of


Question: How did the Fall of man affect all of
Creation?  See Genesis  2:17
& 3:7-19; CCC #

Answer: With the introduction of sin into the world
and its by product of decay and death, the harmony which God had originally
established with man and all of creation is broken.  After the Fall both man and
creation become enslaved; death and decay will rule the natural world’the
natural world, created as a home for man, came to share in the fallen destiny of
mankind but also in the promise of redemption.


Question: How did the redeeming work of Christ not
only redeem mankind but provide the means for the renewal of all of Creation?
Why is all of Creation anticipating the fulfillment of God’s plan for salvation
history?  See CCC# 1042-1050; 2 Peter 3:13;
& Revelation

Answer: At the end of time as we know it, Christ will
return and the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness.  God has promised that
the earth, all living beings, and the entire cosmos will be renewed and
transformed and the just will reign with Christ forever’glorified in body and
soul just as the material world will be renewed and transformed [see 1
Corinthians  15:28
].  In this new creation God will establish his dwelling
among men [Revelation
].  All humanity, the visible cosmos, and the earth are destined to be
transformed and returned to the state in which God first created it.  As St.
Irenaeus wrote in the end of the second century, “so that the world itself,
resorted to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the
service of the just..”
At that time all of creation will share in the
glorification of Jesus Christ [see CCC # 1047].


In Romans 8:22
Paul reveals that all of creation is longing “groaning” for the return of Christ
and the promised transformation and glorification which will return creation to
its original state.  Paul compares this “groaning” to the labor pains of a woman
in childbirth.

Question: Was Creation intended to be a place of chaos
and disorder?  See Genesis 2:4-6
and 3:16-19

Answer: Perhaps this is a new way to look at the
“groaning” of the world in natural disasters like hurricanes which also bring
the “groaning” of suffering to mankind.  The natural world suffers from disorder
and chaos’this is not the way God first set out the creation of the world when
the Holy Spirit [Genesis 1:2]
divided the waters of chaos and seven times pronounced all of creation “good” in
Genesis 1:
, 10,
13, 18, 21, 25, and 31.  The
natural world was intended to be the home for man in which he could live in
perfect communion with his Creator.


In Romans 8:24-25
Paul returns to his theme of the theological virtue of “hope” that he introduced
in chapter 5.

Question: What are we waiting for with “persevering
confidence” that is based on our “hope”?

Answer: Paul is touching on the past and future
aspects of our redemption and salvation.  Salvation is not a one time event but
a process.  Christ won our salvation for us on the Cross but we also look
forward in “hope” to our final salvation when we will be received into the
beautific vision of God.


Question: In Romans 8:23 why
does Paul say that we are also “groaning”?  Who helps us in our groaning? Hint:
see verses
and CCC # 2630.

Answer: All Christians long for union with the Most
Holy Trinity in our final redemption and the hope of living the glory of the
beautific vision.  We also look forward to the promise of our second
resurrection when we receive our glorified bodies [our first resurrection was in
our baptism]. This great hope is almost too much to be able to comprehend in our
limited natural state, but it is God the Holy Spirit who helps us, prays with
us, and intercedes for us “with sighs too deep for words” to receive
this final and eternal gift.  Ever child who truly loves his family, longs to be
at home with his family.  Our “family” is the Most Holy Trinity and our spirits
long to be at home with Him.


In this last verse Paul is impressing on his audience the
necessity of constant prayer’as Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 6:5 in
the Sermon on the Mount and in Matthew
ff; just to name two important passages dealing with the power of
prayer in the Gospels.  Paul addresses the necessity of prayer in the life of
the Christian in Romans 12:12;
Corinthians 7:5
; Ephesians
; Philippians
; Colossians
; 1
Thessalonians 5:17
; 1 Timothy
; and 5:5. Paul
writes in his letters that he is constantly in prayer for the faith communities
to whom he has written [see Romans 1:10; Ephesians
; Philippians
; Colossians
, 9; 1
Thessalonians 1:2
Thessalonians 1:11
; Philemon verse
], and he requests that they also pray for him [see Romans 15:30;
Corinthians 1:11
; Ephesians
; Philippians
; Colossians
; 1
Thessalonians 5:25
; 2
Thessalonians 3:1
; Philemon verse
; Hebrews


Question: Who is it who inspires the prayers of the
faithful? See CCC# 739-41.

Answer: The Holy Spirit enables the Christian to pray
as a child to the Father Himself [see Romans 8:15, 26-27; Galatians
; Ephesians
; Jude verse

  • Ephesians
    : “In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on
    every possible occasion.”
  • Jude
    verse 20
    : “But you, my dear friends, must build yourselves up on the
    foundation of your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit..”


The Holy Spirit enables us pray through Christ who intercedes
for us at the right hand of the Father [see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25;
1 John

  • 1 John 2:1: “My
    children, I am writing this to prevent you from sinning; but if anyone does sin,
    we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the upright.”
  • Hebrews 7:25:
    “It follows, then, that his power to save those who come to God through him
    is absolute, since he lives for ever to intercede for them.”


Please read Romans 8:28-39:
God has called the Christian to Share in His Glory

28 We are well
aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in
accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good. 
29 He decided beforehand who were the ones
destined to be molded to the pattern of his Son, so that he should be the eldest
of many brothers;
30 it was those so
destined that he called; those that he called, he justified, and those that he
has justified he has brought into glory.” 


In Romans 5:5 and
8 Paul spoke of
God’s love for the justified, poured into their hearts by the work of the Holy
Spirit.  Now Romans 8:28
Paul writes of those who love God, using the same Greek verb agapan,
which by the Christian definition came to mean “self-sacrificial love”‘the
love Jesus commanded us to give to one another just as He has loved us [John 13:34].  Paul
writes:28 We are well aware that
God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with
his purpose, and turns everything to their good.” 
For Paul it is this
“agape love” that defines what it means to be a Christian. 

Question: What promise is made to the Christian in verse 28?  It
is a promise St. James repeats in James 1:12-18

Answer: All who love God, believing in all He has
taught and living according to that teaching’thereby seeking His will in their
lives, have the promise that no matter what happens’for good or for ill, in
success or in suffering’all that they experience in their journey of faith is
part of God’s plan of salvation for their lives and every experience will be
turned to the benefit of their salvation if they preserver and trust in God.
The reason good can come from everything experienced in the Christian’s life is
that this promise is not dependent on the Christian.  Good comes because it is
God Himself who takes the initiative and it is through His intervention that
“turns everything to their good.”  St. James wrote in his letter to the
universal Church, “Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: all that is
good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father
of all light; with him there is no such thing as alternation, no shadow caused
by change.”
James 1:16-17.
Paul’s promise of God’s love and faithfulness to the Christian is an assurance
that would have been familiar to his Jewish audience from the writings of the
Old Testament prophets concerning God’s love and faithfulness to covenant

  • Deuteronomy
    “From this you can see that Yahweh your God is the true God, the
    faithful God who, though he is true to his covenant and his faithful love for a
    thousand generations as regards those who love him and keep his
  • 1 Kings
    : “Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon
    stood facing the altar of Yahweh and, stretching out his hands towards heaven,
    said, ‘Yahweh, God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven above or on
    earth beneath, as loyal to the covenant and faithful in love to your servants
    as long as they walk wholeheartedly in your way.”

[also see Exodus 15:13;
; 2
Chronicles 6:14
; Nehemiah
; etc.]


This assurance of God’s faithful love, however, does not keep
us from trials and suffering’but there is the promise that good can come from
these if not to us to others who are working out their salvation.  The Saints
who have suffered for Christ understand this promise:

  • Saint Catherine of Siena advised those who rail again God
    for the trials that befall them: “Everything comes from love, all is ordained
    for the salvation of man; God does nothing without this goal in mind.”
  • Saint Sir Thomas More consoled his daughter shortly before
    his martyrdom: “Nothing can come but that that God wills.  And I make me very
    sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be
    the best.”


The Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects on the mystery
of God’s plan in the lives of believers and in the world in CCC# 314: “We firmly
believe that God is master of the world and of its history.  But the ways of his
providence are often unknown to us.  Only at the end, when our partial knowledge
ceases, when we see God ‘face to face’, will we fully know the ways by
which’even through the dramas of evil and sin’God has guided his creation to
that definitive Sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth.”


In Romans 8:29-30
Paul introduces an affirmation of Christian destiny in which our hope lies [see

Question: Paul tells us that Jesus is to be the eldest
of “many brothers.”  Who are the “many” to which Paul refers?

Answer: Christians who have been reborn through the
Sacrament of Baptism into the family of God, who acknowledge God as their
“Father” and, therefore, Jesus as the eldest “brother.”


In Romans 3:23
Paul had written that without the Gospel of Jesus Christ all human beings have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now through the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, Paul assures us, God has not only communicated His righteousness and His
saving power but also has revealed how His plan of salvation intends that all
human beings are called to a destiny of salvation.  The New Jerusalem Bible
translates this verse as:  “He decided beforehand who were the ones destined
to be molded to the pattern of his Son..
.but it can also be
translated, “Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined…”.  Paul does
not mean to suggest, as some Christians attracted to the Reformation doctrine of
John Calvin have interpreted this passage, that God has decided before hand who
is to be save and who is to be damned and that our free will has no effect in
cooperating with our salvation.  According to Calvin, the elect are predestined
[Latin prae = before + destinare, to destine, ordain] to receive
irresistible grace while others are predestined by God to receive the impulse of
the will to sin and so are not given salvific grace.  Every human being
cooperates in God plan through his free will to accept or reject God’s planned
destiny of his individual soul.  However, since God is all-knowing and is not
bound by time or space, He does know which choice each of us will make.  Paul is
affirming this fore-knowledge of God in Romans 8:29-30.  Paul does not mean, nor
does Catholic teaching hold that predestination by God denies human free will.


Sacred Scripture clearly teaches that it is God’s desire that
everyone come to salvation.  If this is indeed God’s desire then He would
not predestine anyone to damnation:

1 Timothy
: “I urge then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercessions
and thanksgiving should be offered for everyone, for kings and others in
authority, so that we may be able to live peaceful and quiet lives with all
devotion and propriety.  To do this is right, and acceptable to God our Savior:
he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the


It was God’s plan from the time of the fall of Adam that the
Christ’s death would be for all humanity’not for a predestined group.  Jesus was
sent to be Savior of the world!


Jesus the New Adam died for the sins of humanity:  just as
one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of
righteousness leads to justification and life for all:


Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice’for all humanity and
for all time:


But because Jesus is God He knows the mind and heart of all
people, therefore, He knows who will respond in faith to His universal call to
salvation:  “…but Jesus knew all people and did not trust himself to them;
he never needed evidence about anyone; he could tell what someone had in


In Ephesians
Paul writes, “Thus he chose us in Christ before the world was made
to be holy and faultless before him in love, marking us out for himself
beforehand, to be adopted sons, through Jesus Christ.”
Paul expresses this
same teaching of God’s plan of salvation for humanity in 2 Timothy
, “so you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to our Lord, or
ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but share in my hardships for the sake of
the gospel, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be
holy’not because of anything we ourselves had done but for his own purpose and
by his own grace.  This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus,
before the beginning of time, but it has been revealed only by the appearing of
our Savior Christ Jesus.”


The Catechism addresses the destiny of humanity for salvation
in CCC# 257:
“…Such is the ‘plan of his loving kindness’, conceived by the Father before
the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: ‘He destined us in love to be
his sons’ and ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son,’ through ‘the spirit of
son-ship.’  It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation
after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued
in the mission of the Church.”
And in CCC# 381, our destiny to
be reborn in the image of God the Son [see Romans 8:29]:
“Man is predestined to reproduce the image of God’s Son made man, ‘the image
of the invisible God’ (Colossians
), so that Christ shall be the firstborn of a multitude of brothers and
sisters (cf. Ephesians
; Romans
That it is this destiny of redeemed man to image Christ is what
St. Cyril taught to the newly baptized in the 4th century of
Jerusalem: “God, indeed, who has predestined us to adoption as his sons, has
conformed us to the glorious Body of Christ.  So then you who have become
sharers in Christ are appropriately called ‘Christs.”
Cyril of Jerusalem:
Catechism mystogogia 3,1


Addressing this tension between the exercise of our free will
and God’s foreknowledge the Catechism teaches in CCC# 600: “To God all
moments of time are present in their immediacy.  When therefore he establishes
his eternal plan of ‘predestination,’ he includes in it each person’s free
response to his grace…”
.  It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that
all humanity is called to cooperate in God’s divine plan of salvation and all
who respond to that call [“the elect”] are justified according to His plan, and
are united to the image of God the Son, fulfilling their destiny as justified
believers who receive a share in the glory of His presence.  Catholic scholars
down through the centuries have dedicated themselves to trying to reconcile the
tension between our free will and God’s foreknowledge but all agree in the end
with St. Paul’s assessment in Romans
that God’s knowledge of human destiny is an unfathomable mystery:
“How rich and deep are the wisdom and knowledge of God!  We cannot reach to
the root of his decisions or his ways. Who has ever known the mind of the


At this point in the letter Paul’s words burst forth in a
hymn of God’s love and faithfulness!

Please read Romans 8:31-39:
A Hymn to the Love of God Made Manifest Through Jesus Christ

31 After
saying this, what can we add?  If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 Since he did not spare his own
Son, but gave him up for the sake of all of us, then can we not expect that with
him he will freely give us all his gifts? 
33 Who can bring any accusation against those that
God has chosen?  When God grants saving justice who can condemn?
34 Are we not sure that it is Christ Jesus, who
died’yes and more, who was raised from the dead and is at God’s right hand’and
who is adding his plea for us? 
Can anything cut us off from the love of Christ’can hardships or distress, or
persecution, or lack of food and clothing, or threats or violence;
36 as scripture says: ‘For your sake we are being
massacred all day long, treated as sheep to be slaughtered? 
37 No; we come through all these things
triumphantly victorious, by the power of him who loved us. 
38 For I am certain of this: neither death nor
life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing
still to come, nor any power,
39 nor
the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be  able to
come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our


Paul has written that it is through Jesus Christ that
Christians have been freed from the dominion of sin and death; freed from love
of self and slavery to the old law.  He has assured Christians that through
their rebirth into the family of God they have been given the freedom and power
over the forces in life that drag humanity down into iniquities that lead to
destruction of body and soul.  Jesus Christ in assuming humanity’s fragility has
triumphed through His death and resurrection and has not only conquered all
these forces, but He has communicated that victory to those who have accepted
God’s call to salvation and have been “molded to the pattern of his Son,
……those that he called, he justified, and those that he has justified he has
brought into glory
].”  These are the ones Paul first wrote of in Romans 1:17,
“Anyone who is upright through faith will live!”  Now in a jubilant hymn
of praise Paul sums up all the gifts of divine love which had been given to
humanity through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Paul begins his hymn with another set of rhetorical questions
in verses
that are the basis of the Christian’s confidence in God’s plan of
salvation realized in Jesus Christ:

“After saying this, what can we add?  If God is for us,
who can be against us?” 
“Since he did not
spare his own Son, but gave him up for the sake of all of us, then can we not
expect that with him he will freely give us all his gifts?”
“Who can bring any accusation against those that God has
chosen?  When God grants saving justice who can condemn?”
“Can anything cut us off from the love of Christ’can
hardships or distress, or persecution, or lack of food and clothing, or threats
or violence;
36 as scripture says:
‘For your sake we are being massacred all day long, treated as sheep to be


It is as though Paul is assuming the role of a prosecuting
attorney in a law court examining the Christian who is called to testify to his
faith.   Old Testament parallels can be found in Job chapters 1-2 and in
Zechariah chapter 3.


Question: In Romans 8:32
Paul writes: “Since he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for the
sake of all of us…” 
Does this verse call to mind any Old Testament
prefigurement of the Passion of the Christ?  Hint: see Genesis

Answer: Since the late 2nd century the
Fathers of the Church have seen in this passage an allusion to Abraham in
obedience to God offering up in sacrifice his own son, “his only son”.
Father Fitzmyer points out in his commentary on Romans that the Greek of Paul’s
passage is the same Greek phrase used in the Old Testament Septuagint
translation of Genesis
.  For Paul’s Jewish Christians this allusion would serve to remind
them of God’s plan for salvation in Jesus Christ from the time God chose Isaac,
as a “type” or prefigurer of Christ.  God spared Abraham’s son’from whom the
Messiah would come through physical descent in His humanity.  But God’s Son
would not be spared’He would be offered up in sacrifice for the sins of
humanity.  For the Jews this act of faith on Abraham’s part in offering up for
sacrifice his son Isaac is called the aqedah [literally, the “binding”]
and was understood by the Old Covenant people to be a definitive moment in
Abraham’s covenant relationship with Yahweh and in their future as a covenant


In verse 33 Paul,
using the language of the law court, asks his question in the role of the
prosecuting attorney: “Who can bring any accusation against those that God
has chosen?”
  The literal translation is: “Who is the one to
[see Fitzmyer page 533].  This is a question that will be
asked in the Final Judgment before the throne of God when Satan will come
forward in an attempt to accuse us of our sins [see Revelation
, 7-10,
This verse recalls another “courtroom” scene in Zechariah
chapter 3
.  Please read that passage.  Please note that the name “Joshua” is
in Hebrew “Yeshua”, which means “Yahweh saves”; it is the same name the angel
Gabriel commanded that God’s Son should be given in Luke 1:31-32.  In
chapter 3
the priest Joshua/Yeshua represents God’s covenant people.

Question: Who is it who accuses the high priest

Answer: Satan, the fallen angel who is the enemy of
humanity. [see Isaiah
; Ezekiel
; 2
Corinthians 11:14
; Revelation

Question: In this passage Joshua/Yeshua represents the
covenant people of God. How is he dressed and what does the condition of his
clothes represent?

Answer: He is dressed in filthy rags, symbolic of

Question: Who rebukes Satan and defends Yeshua?

Answer: The messenger of Yahweh’the word “angel” means

This word in the Greek is, angelos, and in Hebrew is,
‘mal’ak.  The Greek word “angelos” will also be used for the disciples of
Jesus who are His messengers of the Gospel message and for St. John’s emissaries
who deliver Jesus’ messages to the seven churches in the book of Revelation [see
and the Revelation
Bible Study
].  The term “messenger” [angelos in the Greek
translation; mal’ak in the Hebrew text] is used to describe Biblical
prophets in the Old and New Testaments.  For example in:

  • 2
    Chronicles 36:15-16
    : “Yahweh, God of their ancestors, continuously sent
    them word through his messengers because He felt sorry for His people and his
    dwelling, but they ridiculed the messengers of God, they despised His words,
    they laughed at His prophets…”
  • Haggai 1:13
    “Haggai, the messenger of Yahweh, then passed on Yahweh’s message to the
  • Malachi 3:1 as
    quoted by Jesus in Matthew
    speaking of John the Baptist: “Then what did you go out for?  To
    see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet:  he is the one of
    whom scripture says: ‘Look, I shall send my messenger to clear a way before
  • Luke 7:24 “And
    when John’s messengers
    (angelos) had gone He (Jesus) began to talk
    to the people about John..”
    ; and
  • Luke 9:51-52 “Now it happened that as the time drew near for
    Him to be taken up, He (Jesus) resolutely turned His face towards Jerusalem and
    sent messengers (angelos)  ahead of Him.”

In other words, don’t just assume an “angelos” is a heavenly
being who serves God.  Jesus is also an “angelos” in the sense that He is God’s
messenger to redeem the world.


Question: What happens to Joshua/Yeshua’s dirty
clothes? What does this signify?

Answer: They are removed and he is dressed in clean
clothes; signifying that his sins have been cleansed.

Question: When Yeshua the priest is dressed in the
clean clothes what does Yahweh’s messenger tell him?

Answer: That He (the messenger) has removed the
priest’s sins.

Question: Who is this messenger?  Who has the power to
remove sins?  Hint: see Matthew 1:21;
Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21

Answer: The “messenger” or “angel” is the
Pre-Incarnate Christ.

Question: In the verse which begins: “The angel of
Yahweh then made this declaration to Joshua…”,
the priest is no longer
addressed as a representative of the covenant people but this passage begins a
promise that is give to Joshua personally and to a future priesthood.  What
prophecy does Yahweh make to the priest Joshua/Yeshua at the end of the
chapter?  Who is “the Branch”?  Hint: see Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah
; 33:15

Answer: All that has transpired in the vision of the
heavenly court is “an omen of things to come..” Yahweh promises to sent
His servant the Branch, this is the messianic title for the son of David who
will bring redemption to the people of God: “Look, the days are coming,
Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign
as king and be wise…”
.  In a single day the Branch will remove the sins of the people.  This
was accomplished by Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.

Note: Jesus will make an allusion to the final verse this
passage when He speaks to Nathaniel in John 1:43-51 and
inspired by the Holy Spirit Nathaniel will realize that Jesus is the promised
“Branch” of this passage [see the study
on the Gospel of John, chapter 1


Question: Who is it who will come to the defense of
the Christian when he/she stands before God’s throne of Judgment in the heavenly
court?  Hint: see Romans 8:34

Answer: Jesus is our defender!


Now Paul asks his final question in his assumed role as God’s
prosecuting attorney: “Can anything cut us off from the love of

Question: How does Paul answer his own question and
what kind of initial list does he present?

Answer: The answer is a definitive “NO!”  Paul offers
a list of temporal hardships that cannot have power over us to remove us from
the love of God.


Next Paul quotes Psalms 44:22:
“For your sake we are being massacred all day long, treated as sheep to be
This psalm is a petition for God to save His people from
temporal persecution and physical death.  It begins by reminding Yahweh of His
mighty acts in redeeming the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt and ends
with the plea in verse 26: “Arise!  Come to our help!  Ransom us, as your
faithful love demands.”

Question: Did Yahweh answer David’s plea to redeem the

Answer: Yes, a thousand years later God sent His Son
to redeem the people from eternal death by allowing His Son to be “treated as
sheep to be slaughtered”
and thereby redeeming all mankind.


In Romans 8:35-36
Paul continues in his examination of what can separate us from the love of
Christ.  In the answer to his own questions, spoken on behave of the Christian
responding to this examination, Paul affirms God’s dominion over the entire
cosmos and all that it contains.

Question: In verses 38-39
what powers are listed that are subject to God’s authority and what do these
“powers” or “elements” represent?


  1. Death: sin is the author of death but Christ has conquered
    both sin and death which no longer have power over justified believers;
  2. Life: God is the author of life and it is through the saving
    work of Christ that the Christian has received the gift of eternal life;
  3. Angels and principalities and “nothing already in
    existence and nothing still to come, nor any power”
    : “Angels” may
    refer to fallen angels.  Powers and principalities are powers that are hostile
    to humanity; these demon powers, like fallen angels and earthly princes, are
    still subject to the power of God [see Ephesians
    ; 3:18].
  4. Nor the heights nor the depths:  Represent the opposite
    extremes of Heaven and the grave.

“…nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come
between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
assures us that neither power from the natural world, nor any power from the
supernatural realm can rupture the union of love between Christ and the


But, what about free will?  Can the Christian of his own free
will rupture that union?

Question: Compare the list in Romans 8:35-36
and 38-39
with the list in Romans 1:26-32
and 1
Corinthians 6:9-11
.  Is the Romans 8 list a
list of sins or trials?

Answer: Paul is listing trials not sins in 8:35-38 clear
distinction from what he had to say about the list of sins in 1
Corinthians 6:9-11
.  The misinterpretation of this passage led Martin Luther
to believe that even sin couldn’t separate us from Jesus Christ.  Luther
concluded that man suffered from a total depravity of nature but Christ’s
sacrificial death covered our sinful nature like snow covers a dunghill.  This
is a doctrine the Catholic Church rejects.  Catholics believe that we are not
simply covered, as in the coving of sins in the Old Testament but that we are
reborn and transformed.  Our new life in the Spirit provides the fertile soil in
which the Holy Spirit continues to provide Christian growth as long as we seek
to imitate Christ in our lives.


Some Protestant churches, confused in their understanding of
faith and works, have come to understand through the teachings of Martin Luther
that nothing, not even sin can separate us from our salvation.  Some Protestant
churches have understood this doctrine to mean once one is “saved” their
salvation is eternally secure.  This is often called the doctrine of “eternal
security”  or “security of the believer.”  Luther did not see sin as a hindrance
to salvation as long as one prayed and confessed sins [quoting from the letters
of Martin Luther]:

  • “It does not matter what people do; it only maters what
    they believe. God does not need our actions.”
    [Luther’s Works, Erlangen,
    vol. 29, page 126].
  • “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but have stronger faith and
    rejoice in Christ, who is the victor of sin, death, and the world.  Do not for a
    moment imagine that this life is the abiding place of justice: Sin must be
    committed’sin cannot tear you away from him, even though you commit adultery a
    hundred times a day and commit as many murders.”
    [Letter from Luther to
    , August 1, 1521].


Luther was not advocating sinning so grace could abound all
the more but that repentance eliminated all the stain of sin and offered
complete restoration with no ill effects, and as long as one prayed and
confessed the sin the sin could not cost one’s salvation to be lost since the
sin had already been forgiven by Jesus through His sacrifice on the Cross.
Luther believed that so long as one was truly “saved” through a profession of
faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord’salvation through “faith alone”‘one was saved
no matter what the sin.  St. John the Apostle, however, taught that not all sins
can be healed by prayer.  Read 1 John 3:3-10; 5:16, and CCC# 1854-61. Mortal sin
requires confession to a priest who hears the confession “in the person of
Christ”.  Sin can be forgiven, even mortal sin, but the accountability for sin
must also be addressed through an act of penance. Forgiveness is one thing but
accountability is another.  Confession, genuine contrition, forgiveness and an
act of penance are all necessary for restoration of fellowship with God.


Some of our Protestant brothers and sisters point to Romans 8:38 as
a proof text for the doctrine of “eternal security” or “security of the
believer”: “For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any
power nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be
able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our
But this verse speaks of God’s love not our salvation, and this verse
lists demons [principalities], and angels, and things of creation but it does
not list sin.  To each of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, which
represent in the “perfect” number 7, representing in essence all the churches
that form the one true Church of Jesus Christ, Jesus warns that only those who
persevere to the end and “prove victorious” will receive the gift of
salvation.   If salvation is already assured why is such a warning necessary and
why is there a need for perseverance?


St. Paul certainly warned the faithful of the Christian
churches in his letters that they must guard their salvation:

  • Philippians
    : “So dear friends, you have always been obedient; your obedience
    must not be limited to times when I am present.  Now that I am absent it must be
    more in evidence, so work out your salvation in fear and
  • 2
    Corinthians 5:9-10
    : “For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be
    seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the
    body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad.”
  • Romans 2:6-9:
    “For those who aimed for glory and honor and immortality by persevering in
    doing good, there will be eternal life; but for those who out of jealousy have
    taken for their guide not truth but injustice, there will be the fury of
  • Romans 11:22:
    “Remember God’s severity as well as his goodness; his severity to those who
    fell, and his goodness to you as long as you persevere in it; if not, you too
    will be cut off.”


Paul writes of safeguarding his own salvation as one who is
running a race with a clear goal’that goal being salvation.  He concludes the
passage by writing: “I punish my body and bring it under control, to avoid
any risk that, having acted as herald for others, I myself may be
Corinthians 9:27


And just prior to this passage in Romans 8:38-39
Paul wrote in Romans 8:24-25:
“In hope we already have salvation; in hope, not visibly present, or we
should not be hoping’nobody goes on hoping for something which he can already
see.  But having this hope for what we cannot yet see, we are able to wait for
it with persevering confidence.”
Paul is writing that we “hope” for heaven
because, no matter if we have been justified through out baptism and faithful in
our journey to ultimate salvation, we know we still have a change to lose it
through our own free will by entering into sin.  We must therefore; cling to the
promises of Christ, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God
and only we can separate ourselves from the salvation Christ has won for us.


“Spiritual souls
are not separated by torments, but carnal souls are sometimes separated by idle
gossip.  The cruel sword cannot separate the former, but carnal affections
remove the latter.  Nothing hard breaks down spiritual men, but even flattering
words corrupt the carnal.”
Caesarius of Arles [470-542], Sermons




Questions for group discussion:

Question: Once your name is written in the Book of
Life can it be removed’can you loose your eternal salvation? Read and discuss Revelation
; 1 John
; CCC# 1861..

Answer: According to Revelation
the answer is “yes”.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God and
our salvation through Jesus Christ but our own free will.  We can willfully
reject our salvation through choosing sin over faithful obedience.  This is why
Catholics reject the Protestant notion of “eternal security” or “once saved
always saved.” Catholics view salvation as a life-long journey and our salvation
as a gift we must safe-guard at all cost.  The Protestant doctrine of “eternal
security” denies the doctrine of man’s free will which includes man’s right to
choose or to reject obedience to God’s authority and thereby to choose or reject
salvation. Catholics view this doctrine as dangerous because it gives a false
sense of security in that a person could sin and sin without repentance and
could falsely believe their salvation was never in jeopardy.


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