on Romans 8 :28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God - To understand this verse aright, let us observe:
1. That the persons in whose behalf all things work for good are they who love God, and, consequently, who live in the spirit of obedience.
2. It is not said that all things shall work for good, but that συνεργει, they work now in the behalf of him who loveth now, αγαπωσι; for both verbs are in the present tense. All these things work together; while they are working, God's providence is working, his Spirit is working, and they are working Together with him. And whatever troubles, or afflictions, or persecutions may arise, God presses them into their service; and they make a part of the general working, and are caused to contribute to the general good of the person who now loves God, and who is working by faith and love under the influence and operation of the Holy Ghost. They who say sin works for good to them that love God speak blasphemous nonsense. A man who now loves God is not now sinning against God; and the promise belongs only to the present time: and as love is the true incentive to obedience, the man who is entitled to the promise can never, while thus entitled, (loving God), be found in the commission of sin. But though this be a good general sense for these words, yet the all things mentioned here by the apostle seem more particularly to mean those things mentioned in Romans 8:28-30.
To them who are the called according to his purpose - Dr. Taylor translates τοις κλητοις, the invited; and observes that it is a metaphor taken from inviting guests, or making them welcome to a feast. As if he had said: Certainly all things work together for their good; for this reason, because they are called, invited, or made welcome to the blessings of the covenant, (which is ratified in eating of the covenant sacrifice), according to God's original purpose first declared to Abraham, Genesis 17:4 : Thou shalt be a father of many nations - and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, Genesis 18:18. Thus this clause is to be understood; and thus it is an argument to prove that all things, how afflictive soever, shall work for our good while we continue to love God. Our being called or invited, according to God's purpose, proves that all things work for our good, on the supposition that we love God, and not otherwise. For our loving God, or making a due improvement of our calling, is evidently inserted by the apostle to make good his argument. He does not pretend to prove that all things shall concur to the everlasting happiness of all that are called; but only to those of the called who love God. Our calling, thus qualified is the ground of his argument, which he prosecutes and completes in the two next verses. Our calling he takes for granted, as a thing evident and unquestionable among all Christians. But you will say: How is it evident and unquestionable that we are called? I:answer: From our being in the visible Church, and professing the faith of the Gospel. For always, in the apostolic writings, all that are in the visible Church, and profess the faith of the Gospel, are numbered among the called or invited; i.e. among the persons who are invited to feast on the covenant sacrifice, and who thus, in reference to themselves, confirm and ratify the covenant. As for what is termed effectual calling, as distinguished from the general invitations of the Gospel, it is a distinction which divines have invented without any warrant from the sacred writings. Our calling, therefore, is considered by the apostle in the nature of a self-evident proposition, which nobody doubts or denies; or which, indeed, no Christian ought to doubt, or can call in question, Taylor's notes.
on Romans 8 :28
And we know - This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all flyings are under the direction of an infinitely wise Being, who has purposed the salvation of the Christian, and who has so appointed all things that they shall contribute to it.
All things - All our afflictions and trials; all the persecutions and calamities to which we are exposed. Though they are numerous and long-continued yet they are among the means that are appointed for our welfare.
Work together for good - They shall cooperate; they shall mutually contribute to our good. They take off our affections from this world; they teach us the truth about our frail, transitory, and lying condition; they lead us to look to God for support, and to heaven for a final home; and they produce a subdued spirit. a humble temper, a patient, tender, and kind disposition. This has been the experience of all saints; and at the end of life they have been able to say it was good for them to be afflicted; Psalm 119:67, Psalm 119:71; Jeremiah 31:18-19; Hebrews 12:11.
For good - For our real welfare; for the promotion of true piety, peace, and happiness in our hearts.
To them that love God - This is a characteristic of true piety. To them, afflictions are a blessing. To others, they often prove otherwise. On others they are sent as chastisements; and they produce complaining, instead of peace; rebellion, instead of submission; and anger, impatience, and hatred, instead of calmness, patience, and love. The Christian is made a better man by receiving afflictions as they should be received, and by desiring that they should accomplish the purpose for which they are sent; the sinner is made more hardened by resisting them, and refusing to submit to their obvious intention and design.
To them who are the called - Christians are often represented as called of God. The word κλητός klētos is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, offer, or calling; Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14. But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament to denote those who had accepted the call, and were true Christians; Romans 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 17:14. It is evidently used in this sense here - to denote those who were true Christians. The connection as well as the usual meaning of the word, requires us thus to understand it. Christians are said to be called because God has invited them to be saved, and has sent into their heart such an influence as to make the call effectual to their salvation. In this way their salvation is to be traced entirely to God.
According to his purpose - The word here rendered "purpose" πρόθεσις prothesis means properly a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others; and is thus applied to the bread that was laid on the table of show-bread; Matthew 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4. Hence, it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or hap-hazard. God does not convert people without design; and his designs are not new, but are eternal. What he does. he always meant to do. What it is right for him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is his purpose or plan. That he has such a purpose in regard to the salvation of his people, is often affirmed; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Jeremiah 51:29. This purpose of saving his people is,
(1) One over which a creature can have no control; it is according to the counsel of his own will; Ephesians 1:11.
(2) it is without any merit on the part of the sinner - a purpose to save him by grace; 2 Timothy 1:9.
(3) it is eternal; Ephesians 3:11.
(4) it is such as should excite lively gratitude in all who have been inclined by the grace of God to accept the offers of eternal life. They owe it to the mere mercy of God, and they should acknowledge him as the fountain and source of all their hopes of heaven.
on Romans 8 :28