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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(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, qua 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.

Pulpit Commentary

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 5:41and 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.

Parallel Commentaries ...

Greek

For
γὰρ (gar)
Conjunction
Strong's 1063:For. A primary particle; properly, assigning a reason.

all who
ὅσοι (hosoi)
Personal / Relative Pronoun - Nominative Masculine Plural
Strong's 3745: How much, how great, how many, as great as, as much. By reduplication from hos; as As.

are led
ἄγονται (agontai)
Verb - Present Indicative Middle or Passive - 3rd Person Plural
Strong's 71: A primary verb; properly, to lead; by implication, to bring, drive, go, pass, or induce.

by [the] Spirit
Πνεύματι (Pneumati)
Noun - Dative Neuter Singular
Strong's 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

of God
Θεοῦ (Theou)
Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's 2316: A deity, especially the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very.

are
εἰσιν (eisin)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Plural
Strong's 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.

sons
υἱοί (huioi)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Plural
Strong's 5207: A son, descendent. Apparently a primary word; a 'son', used very widely of immediate, remote or figuratively, kinship.

of God.
Θεοῦ (Theou)
Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's 2316: A deity, especially the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very.

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NT Letters: Romans 8:14 For as many as are led (Rom. Ro)

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