Scripture reading: Romans 8:1-4


  • Two weeks ago we considered this text which describes the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of life (vv.1-13).
  • Today we continue in Chapter 8. Paul summarizes his thoughts on the Spirit of Life in vv.12-14, then transitions in vv.14-17 to describe the Spirit as the Spirit of adoption.

Exegesis of Romans 8:12-17

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

  • “flesh” – σάρζ, the array of quasi-autonomous powers resident in the body (movement, communication, imagination, intellection, volition, etc.). “Flesh” is not inherently bad but is a part of God’s good creation! When used for God, our “flesh” is a source of good. But when used selfishly and independently, it is a source of evil.
  • “the deeds of the body” –. reference to what happens when the flesh is used independent of God’s influence: cf. Gal 5:16-24.
  • “put to death” – don’t give life to those things!
  • “by the Spirit” – don’t try to resist the deeds of the body through the flesh. Gospel of sin management. EX: Jesus’ temptations: hunger, acknowledgment, fulfill purpose.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

  • Our behavior betrays our pedigree: John 8:39-47.
  • How do you know who is a child of God?

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

  • “spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” – specifically with respect to religious performance and condemnation (cf. Rom 7:14-8:1; Jn 15:15) but more generally to every illegitimate fear (cf. Lk 12:4-5).
  • “Spirit of adoption” – the assurance of your legal right to be a bona fide member of God’s family and a deep psychological sense that you belong (cf. John 1:1:12)
  • “Abba! Father!” – Aramaic and Hebrew term of endearment: “Dear Father” (cf. Gal 4:4-7). Jesus used “Father” 165x. The Son of God became a son of Adam (Heb. adam, “man”) that the sons of Adam might become the sons of God.

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

  • “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit” – both objectively (by deduction: Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; by fruit: Gal 5:22) and subjectively (Rom 5:5; cf. John 5:37-44). Both types are needed.
  • “heirs of God” – what do we inherit of Gods? Eph 4:13-14: Holy Spirit is deposit, guaranteeing…
  • “fellow heirs with Christ” – he is the firstborn (προτóτοκος) of the new human family and our elder brother (Heb 2:11)
  • “provided we suffer with him” – Why suffering? God’s principal means of weaning us from our love of this world and training us in godliness.
  • “in order that we might be glorified with him” – God’s ultimate purpose is the repristination and glorification of the whole of creation! More next week (vv.18-25).


  • Examine yourself: Are you living a distinctly Christian life? If not, why not? (Psalm 136:23-24).
  • Every day, ask the Holy Spirit to “bear witness” with your spirit that you are the Father’s child and to “pour out” God’s love for you into your heart (Romans 8:16; 5:5).