Romans 8:18 is a well-known scripture written by Paul. Rome was the center of civilization at the time of Paul’s epistle.
His letter, written to Romans, is considered one of the most important books in the Bible.
Formerly called Saul, he began as a notorious persecutor of Christians. One such casualty of Paul’s oversight was the stoning of Stephen, described in Acts 7 and 8. Stephen is considered the first Christian martyr whose stoning Paul supervised.
He wrote this masterpiece of literature around 56 A.D.
What Is Romans 8:18 (Verse and Background)
Paul wrote Romans 8:18 to the Christians in Rome. In all of his letters he draws on his background as a Hebrew scholar, pharisee and student of Gamaliel. This is the primary reason Paul knew so much about the Hebrew scripture and prophetic links to Jesus as the Messiah.
Gamaliel was a highly respected Rabbi who famously suggested that if the “Christ followers“ were “of men” the movement would soon die out. He said, however, that “if it is of God, no man can stop it.” (Acts 5:34).
So why did Paul write this verse (or letter)?
Paul wrote Romans 8:18 to encourage new believers of various backgrounds to come together in Christ. He intended to reach the Gentiles, Jews, pagans, and antinomians.
Jews who became “followers” believed in one God with many laws. Many of them felt they should still keep the laws. Gentiles may have believed in many gods or none at all, but as followers of Christ they had trouble following rules. Antinomians felt they could be “christian” but do as they wanted. Rome was quite a cosmopolitan place and Paul knew this. He presented his case in a logical and lawyerly fashion from beginning to end.
Keep in mind that even though in the New Testament the letter to the Romans follows Acts (written by Luke), Paul didn’t write it until after he had already written Galatians, Thessalonians and Corinthians (also read my Bible reading plan for beginners)
Luke did not write the book of Acts until after Paul had written Romans.
It can get quite confusing. The study of why the New Testament is organized the way it is might be an interesting study in itself.
Saul met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus within 2 years of Christs earthly presence, his experience is described in Acts 8 and 9.
Meaning Of Romans 8:18 (Literal or Figurative)
To understand this verse it is necessary to understand the circumstances the Christians were living under.
This section of Romans can be divided into two sections. First Paul tells the believers that their salvation is assured in Jesus. Their spiritual selves are secure.
They have been forgiven through the work of Christ’s life and then death on the cross.
The second section addresses their actual physical situation and the question of suffering. In modern terms we might hear “why do bad things happen to good people?”
In this case bad things were happening to good people. Christians were being persecuted. Paul formerly was searching them out himself to imprison so he definitely knew the details of what he describes.
But Paul emphasizes that all suffering is a result of the original curse. A few verses later Paul speaks about “all creation groaning as in childbirth”. And just as in childbirth the suffering and pain is quickly forgotten with the joy of birth.
>> also read about: Bind My Wandering Heart To Thee
We will know suffering on earth just the same as Christ experienced it. But we also “suffer” just through everyday circumstances. Finance, family, marriage, friends, anxiety, problems we face all the time could be thought of as a lack of blessings. Does it mean we are not saved, bad people, being punished? No of course not.
So Paul states that whatever we “suffer” here on earth is nothing compared to our future with Christ.
Our perspective and focus should be on eternity. The whole picture cannot be measured without also considering what happens after death and into eternity.
Romans 8:18 Verse
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Another translation states it this way.
We are suffering right now, but when we compare
this suffering to what Christ promises us there will be no comparison.
Romans 8:18 Commentary and Application
In Luke 16 Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a beggar. After death the rich man was surprised that all his “blessings” were earthly and therefore over when he died. Lazarus however suffered greatly on earth but on dying found his reward in eternity (also read my 6 best prayers for busy moms)
Peter also wrote of the glory in eternity with Christ.
1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Nothing gives food for thought like the loss of a loved one. When a Christian person dies it is truly only the beginning of our eternal lives.
When my father died in his sleep a few years ago one of his friends exclaimed “Wow he just went to bed and stepped into heaven!”
My mother’s recent passing was not so easy and yet she had the same assurance of eternity which makes our sorrow turn into singing.
Paul wrote the letter to believers in Rome in 56 AD. He couldn’t know that 2000 years later we would be still be studying it, looking to it for guidance.
This is one of the wonderful things about the Bible. It addresses the human condition and God’s answers to each and every problem we might have. Romans is famously known for the “Roman Road of Salvation”
While this article specifically focused on one verse, the entire book can be read for the entire explanation of Christianity and the hope within us.
While we can’t understand all the suffering in the world nor the seeming unfairness of it, I do know we can trust in God’s justice, his Word and his ultimate triumph.
This life is very short and Paul reminds us that our focus should be on the bigger picture of eternal glory. Our true home with God and his son Jesus Christ.