In our first study, we examined Romans 8:19, in the context of
of the creation. The primary focus of the study is Paul’s employ
of the terms apokaradokia and apekdechomai.
In this study, the focus moves more specifically to the subject
of the end. There can be no doubt that the resurrection and
the revealing of the sons of God are intertwined.
“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for
the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)
When I first began studying Romans 8 and eschatology, I
experienced a great deal of anxiety in seeking to understand
I always kept coming back to my hermeneutical compass. That
compass were the temporal terms used by the Lord and the
apostles when speaking of eschatology. Let me attempt to
illustrate by some of the rhetoric we’ve heard in the debates
between presidential hopefuls Senator John McCain of Arizona,
and Senator Barack Obama, of Chicago.
On the question of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq,
Senator McCain allegedly refused to sign his approval for the
withdrawal of troops because the proposal contained a deadline.
In other words, the idea of withdrawal was completely off the
table. It was not in his sight.
On the other hand, Senator Obama allegedly voted for the
withdrawal because it did have a deadline. Now, consider
Senator McCain sees the war as unending because he has
no time frame for a deadline other than what he perceives as
victory. This is so akin to the subject and position of futurist
eschatology that I’m afraid it will be missed.
To the contrary, Obama’s decision was made out of the context
of a deadline, i.e. a time frame and his decision was just the
opposite of McCain.
Are You Aware of this Problem in Eschatology?
Most students and interpreters are not aware of the problem
with interpreting the resurrection and in understanding the body
in Romans 8:23. Due to preconceived opinions and assumptions
about the resurrection, it is such a deeply ingrained assumption
that it precludes asking the question in the first place.
When one does not understand the problem, it’s impossible for
them to begin asking the right questions or make certain decisions.
That is largely the reason for the disparity of understanding
between futurists and Preterists.
Elements of Romans 8:23 and Apekdechomai
1. Those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit
2. The eagerly waiting for the adoption
3. The Redemption of the body.
The eager expectation as we described in lesson one, is the
earnest waiting for the outcome of Christ’s return. Those who
eagerly await this outcome have the first firstfruits of the
That means they have the miraculous measure of the Spirit
which set them apart from the unbelievers. This also identifies
them as first century saints. Only those in the first century
who were the first Christians could be firstfruits.
It necessarily follows that those who had the firstfruits of the
Spirit were the first ones to receive the Holy Spirit. There is no
question of a Roman presence on Pentecost, (Acts 2:10) and
of course these formed the nucleus of that congregation. However,
the point is mute as all those in the first century who received
the Holy Spirit had the firstfruits, (James 1:18).
The second fact is that of hoping for the adoption. This means
that per our study in Romans 8:19, the goal of the revealing of
the sons of God equates with the adoption. Thus, whatever it
means to reveal the sons of God equates with the accomplishment
of the adoption.
Several factors come to focus here. First, the adoption is the
deliverance from the law of Moses. This is incontrovertible.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth
His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those
who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption
as sons.” (Galatians 4:3-5).
Notice also how the adoption is related to sons of God. “And
because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son
into your hearts, crying out, “Abba Father!” Therefore you are
no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God
through Christ.” (v. 6-7)
Now that we have established that adoption is deliverance
from the law, it greatly impacts ones interpretation of
resurrection of the body.
What is interesting is the fact that Christ, at the mount of
transfiguration, and in the presence of Moses and Elijah,
discussed his “decease.” The word translated decease is
exodus. Thus, Christ in his death was making an exodus
from the Old Covenant world of bondage.
This important aspect of his death is often missed. Jesus died
to the Old Covenant. That is the redemptive significance of
his death, i.e. to deliver Israel from the bondage of corruption,
i.e. the law.
The word corruption does not mean that he law itself was corrupt
(Romans 7:12-14), but that it was the result of those who sought
to obtain salvation, (Romans 10:1-3; Hebrews 10:1-4).
Thus, the Galatians text above demonstrates that those who
are delivered from the obtain the adoption as sons. This takes
us naturally to the next step in that which was eagerly expected.
Returning to the text in Romans 8:23, the adoption is
appositionally, called the redemption of the body. In other
words, redemption of the body stands in apposition to the
adoption and thus is its textually equivalent.
Here are the conclusions we have reached. The text establishes
without controversy that the adoption equals deliverance
from the law, (Gal 4:3-5). The adoption is the redemption of the
body, i.e. the resurrection, (Romans 8:23). Therefore, the
resurrection is deliverance from the law.
The above conclusion takes one full circle back to the point of the
revealing of the sons of God. In both Romans 8:14-19, and
Galatians 4:3-7, the outcome is deliverance from bondage which
the apostle equates with deliverance from the law of Moses.
Added to this is the fact that Paul uses the term “creation” in
Hebrews 9:11 to speak of the Old Covenant economy. “But
Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with
the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands,
that is, not of this creation.
Creation here is a reference to the Old Covenant system
consisting of atonement through the blood of bulls and goats.
Hence, Christ’s priesthood was not of that creation. Thus in
Christ one becomes a new creation as the “former things” pass
away in him.
The Adoption Belongs To Israel
Less some get cold feet in understanding the resurrection as
argued from the position of Israel under the law, Paul’s comments
should forever settle this matter.
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my
brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are
Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises. See
also Acts 24:14-15; 26:6-8)
Thus, the adoption, belonged to Israel for salvation is of the Jews,
(John 4:22). Hence, the reason that resurrection is argued from
the viewpoint of Israel and focuses on their deliverance from the
The subject of resurrection in Romans 8, can be no different than
that in 1 Corinthians 15, and 2 Corinthians 5:5. I know of very
few people if any who would separate those passages in meaning
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