What is the "Creation" of Rom. 8:19-23?
A friend recently asked about the "creation" of Rom. 8:19-23. We answer that question.
"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Fro we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
The "creation" of Romans 8:19-23 refers to humankind. The creation/humankind was subjected to the futility and vanity of physical and, ultimately, eternal death. God did not subject man to this vanity willingly, but in hope that man would search out God and repent from sin, and so attain to immortality through Jesus Christ.
There are two groups in
the text: "they" and "ourselves
also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit".
"They" refers to the Gentiles. "Ourselves
which have the first fruits of the Spirit" refers to the
Jews. The Jews were the firstfruits of the
Spirit by the gospel. (Eph. 1:12;
The "whole creation" equals "every nation" of the great commission (Mk. , 16) or all mankind. All nations of men groaned and travailed in pain, waiting for "manifestation of the sons of God" or resurrection from the dead. Not "they" (the Gentiles) only, but "we ourselves which have the first fruits of the Spirit" (the Jews). Both groups groaned in travail for salvation from the bondage to sin and death.
The "redemption" and "adoption" of "our body" (v. 23) refers to the receipt of the individual's immortal body in heaven above. We are adopted sons now through faith, repentance, and baptism (Gal. 4:5, 5; Rom. ), but the fullness of our sonship will not be realized until receipt of our eternal inheritance in heaven above.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified,: and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Rom. , 30).
"Being conformed to the image of Christ" looks to our glorification in heaven at our resurrection. The eschatological resurrection occurred in AD 70 (Dan. 12:2, 7; Rev. 20:11-15). This was announced by a trumpet (I Cor. ). This trumpet was inaudible to mortal man on earth, being directed only to the spirits in Hades, and is best understood as the voice of Christ, the Archangel of God (I Thess.4:16). However, it is my opinion that there is another trumpet mentioned by Paul: "the last trumpet" that calls each of us from this world to the next, which also marks the "change" of our body from physical to spiritual and mortal to immortal. "For we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet" (I Cor. ). That the trumpet which raises the dead and the "last trumpet" are not the same trumpet is seen in the absence of the definite article in the Greek. Paul says "the last trumpet" will mark each of our change, but "a trumpet" would raise the dead. And since the dead are already raised, but you and I have not been changed, then there must be a last trumpet that will call each of us out of this world and will mark the time when we put on immortality.
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