Dig into the deep truths of Romans. Each lesson consists of approximately one page of text which includes some commentary, historical context, and interpretation leading to application. This text is paired with observation and application questions.

Romans is an in-depth study of the entire book, broken up into 28 studies.

*Easily made into a semester long study by doing two short lessons each week

Sample Study

Study 16: Romans 8:18–30

The Spirit Intercedes for the Saints

Read Romans 8:18-30


Observation Questions

1. According to verses 24-25, what is the relationship between hope and things seen?

2. What is the role of the Spirit in prayer?

3. According to verses 28-30, what is promised to those who love God?


Paul has already explained in the previous verses one of the primary ministries of the Holy Spirit, that of convicting us of our sin and leading us away from it. Here he explores two of the other works of the Spirit—encouragement and intercession. When Jesus promised the comforter, he knew the one of whom he spoke; the Spirit is the ultimate counselor. After explaining our connection to the very earth and cosmos in our waiting for Jesus’ return, Paul assures us that the Spirit waits with us.


Verse 18

Comparing present suffering to future glory is like trying to compare apples to oranges; that’s what Paul is saying. You just can’t put the two in the same category. Later he references the pain of childbirth and the actual joy of the baby being born. Can we compare those two? Sit back and think about the hours you spent laboring, or the months you spent filling out forms and doing background checks and planning for adoption, and the pain that entailed, the stretching and the waiting and the endlessness of it. Rate those hours and days, if you will, with a level of exertion or unpleasantness, maybe on a scale of 1 to 10. Now consider the joy you experienced holding that baby in your arms. Does the joy fit on a scale of 1 to 10? Do the two compare? Does it seem silly to try to compare the two? This is what Paul is telling us. They don’t come close to each other.


Verses 19-25

We’re not the only ones waiting. All of creation waits with us with “eager longing.” The Greek word from which these words are translated paints a picture of someone standing on her tiptoes, standing with her head raised, stretching her neck to see what is coming over the horizon (Stott, 238). And what is the world looking for? What is there to see? the revealing of the sons of God, adoption as sons, redemption of our bodies. We do not know exactly what is to be revealed on the day when our adoption is made complete. We do know that our bodies will be redeemed, no longer subject to decay, temptation, sickness, or death. But the full picture of our redemption and adoption, that is a picture we will only see clearly on that amazing day. What we can be sure of is that it is so glorious, so hopeful, so full of weight and beauty that every limb and gust of wind, every cell and organism, every rare creature and backyard squirrel is pictured here to be paused, poised, ready at any moment to celebrate it. That is how anticipated and hoped for our redemption is to all of the universe.


Verses 20-22

The redemption and healing of the universe is somehow tied to our own. God is the actor in this sentence. He frustrated all of nature in the Fall and bound its future up with ours. As long as we are living under the Fall, creation is bound to decay, pain, disintegration, and frustration.


Verses 24-25

This is where we live—in the in between, in the already–not yet, battling our sin yet living with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, saved from God’s wrath but still doing what we don’t want to do, looking forward in hope to glory but longing and groaning in the pain of this world. This is the place of sanctification, where we as believers confidently expect a promised future that will make the despair of this world fade like the pain of childbirth fades once the child is in our arms.


Verses 26-27

Likewise. This refers to the relationship between hope and the Holy Spirit. Just as our hope sustains us in the drudgery of waiting, so the Holy Spirit sustains us in the ambiguity and frailty of our current existence. As all of creation groans, waiting for our redemption, the Spirit groans with us and over us. He identifies with the church as she waits and longs for the final day, and he even prays for us, with and without words. We often do not know what to pray, for deliverance from our sufferings or for strength to endure them (Stott, 245). And so prayer is a joint effort between the children of God and the Spirit of God.


Verses 28-30

These verses are often quoted. Sometimes their familiarity can breed unbelief or cause us to miss what is really being proclaimed. Let’s read them in a paraphrase: The truth is, for those who love God, he is constantly, specifically, and powerfully working on their behalf. He is using their joys, their suffering, their bodies and minds, their network of relationships, their groanings, their diseases, their prayers, and everything in between to increase or advance their well-being, and ultimately their salvation. He has a premeditated, perfectly planned purpose for each of them; in their lives there are no accidents or missteps on the part of God. For he knew them, which in the mind of God meant that he already loved them. He decided beforehand that they would be his and that he would, through suffering, make them to be like Jesus, both in their character and in their conduct. In God’s mind, the change, the transformation, is so sure, so guaranteed, that he speaks of their glorification in the past tense.


Reflection Questions

4. Recount an experience or situation when the hope of heaven or God’s glory made your suffering seem less overwhelming?

5. What is one thing about your body or mind that you are looking forward to being redeemed?

6. What does it look like when the Spirit shapes your prayers? What emotion or image comes to mind when you think about the

Spirit interceding for you “with groanings too deep for words”?

7. What do you think this verse means: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those

who are called according to his purpose”? Have you experienced what it is describing in your own life?

8. Paul is using these words to describe you: predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Are these the names you call yourself? If not, which name do you need to lean into and embrace more as truth?


Focus verse

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

Reflections, curiosities, frustrations: