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Tuesday
May202008

Romans 8:18-39: Steps 1-4

What I’m doing in this little demonstration is showing you (more or less) how I go about studying a passage of scripture if I really want to know what it means. I like to do in-depth study by writing an interpretive paraphrase. To see the general procedures I’m using to do the interpretive paraphase of this passage, go here.

Step 1 is to place the passage in the context of the book of Romans. Here’s a really rough summary of the book of Romans up through chapter 8:

  • Everyone is sinful and as a consequence everyone is under the wrath of God (1:18-3:20).
  • But there is a solution to the predicament we are all in: Christ saves people from the wrath of God by justifying them through faith (3:21-5:21),
  • And saves them from the power of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. (6-8)
The previous portion of chapter 8 is about life in the Spirit. Directly before this passage, Paul is writing about sonship in the Spirit. If we are sons, we’re told, we are joint-heirs with Christ, that is, if “we suffer with him so that we may be also glorified with him.”


Step 2 is to paragraph the passage. I looked at many translations and several of them paragraph it in the same way.  I’ll just copy them.

  • 8:18-24
  • 8:26-30
  • 8:31-39

Steps 3 and 4 are to copy one verse in the chosen translations and underline the key words and phrases. Here are these steps done for verse 18.

  • ESV: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time(A) are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
  • NASB: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (A)are not worthy to be compared with the (B)glory that is to be revealed to us.
  • NET: For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared23 to the glory that will be revealed to us.
  • NLT: Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

You can probably see why I’ve identified these particular words and phrases as key ones, except perhaps in the case of  “to us.” I underlined that because while I was copying and pasting the verse from various translations I noticed that the NIV and NKJV both say “in us” instead of “to us,” so I thought I’d like to look into that difference a little more.

Next up I’ll move on to step 5, examining the key words in verse 18 one by one.

Any questions or comments on what I’ve done so far? 

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Reader Comments (4)

Would it be beneficial to place the passage in the context of the entire book of Romans rather than just in the context of the first eight chapters?

May 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKim in On

Yes. The real way to go about it is to outline the whole book. But I hate outlining so much that that I'll do anything to avoid it. So doing a summary instead is one of the ways I've changed how I go about things to suit me. If I had to come up with an outline I'd never get started.

Usually, I'd summarize the whole book, but to be honest, I still don't understand exactly how 9-11 fit in, so I've simply avoided going there yet. Since Paul's argument is a building one (at least up to this point), I think it will work to just understand the flow of the argument so far and then fit this passage in with what goes before it.

May 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

Very good method. Using different translations can show us so much.

By the way, I broke Romans 8:28 down on my blog Saturday. Great chapter.

May 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I was thinking myself what a huge task it would be to outline the whole thing. I've been doing brief summaries, and I'm at chapter 11, but the thought of outlining it in detail is definitely daunting.

May 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKim in On

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