22 For we know that the
whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 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. 24 For we were
saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one
still hope for what he sees? 25
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know
what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be
uttered. 27 Now He who
searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because
He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of
"Observe (v22), how he shames the hearer, saying almost, 'Be not thou worse than the creation, neither find a pleasure in resting in things present. Not only ought we not to cling to them, but even to groan over the delay of our departure, hence. For if the creation doth this, much more oughtest though to do so, honoured with reason as thou art…and if the creation, devoid as it is of mind and reason, and though in ignorance of these things, yet groaneth, much more should we."
"That is, the perfect glory [referring to adoption from v23]. Our lot indeed is at present uncertainty to our last breath, since many that were sons have become dogs and prisoners…"
"We are not to seek our all in this life, but to have hope also. For this is the only gift that we brought in to God, believing Him in what He promised shall come, and it was by this way alone we were saved. If then we lose this hope, we have lost all that was of our own contributing…this dowry was the only one that thou didst bring in to the bridegroom. Hold it then fast and keep it: for if thou demandest to have every thing in this world, thou has lost that well-doing of thine, through which thou didst become bright, and this is why he proceeds to say, 'But hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?' That is, if thou art to be looking for everything in this world, what need is there for hope? What is hope then? It is feeling confidence in things to come. What great demand then doth God make upon thee, since He Himself giveth thee blessings quite entire from His own stores? One thing only, hope, He asks of thee, that thou too mayest have somewhat of thine own to contribute toward thy salvation."
"As then God crowneth him that undergoes labours, and hardnesses, and countless toils, so doth He him that hopeth. For the name of patience belongs to hard work and much endurance. Yet even this He hath granted to the man that hopeth, that He might solace the wearied soul."
"'For we know not what we should pray for as we ought.' And this he said to show the Spirit's great concern about us, and also to instruct them not to think for certainty that those things are desirable which to man's reasonings appear so. For since it was likely that they, when they were scourged, and driven out, and suffering grievances without number, should be seeking a respite, and think it was advantageous to them, and ask this favour of God, by no means (he says) suppose that what seems blessings to you really are so. For we need God's aid even to do this. So feeble is man, and such a nothing by himself. For this is why he says 'For we know not what we should pray for as we ought.'In order that the learner might not feel any shame at his ignorance, he does not say 'ye' know not, but 'we' know not. And that he did not say this merely to seem moderate…"
"'But the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which can't be uttered.' This statement is not clear, owing to the cessation of may of the wonders which then used to take place…God did in those days give to all that were baptized certain excellent gifts, and then name that these had was spirits…and one had gift of prophecy, and foretold things to come; and another of wisdom, and taught the many; and another of healings, and cured the sick; and another of miracles, and raised the dead, another of tongues, and spake different langauges. And with all these there was also a gift of prayer, which also was called a spirit, and he that had thus prayed for all the people. For since we are ignorant of much that is profitable for us, and ask things that are not profitable, the gift of prayer came into some particular person of that day, and what was profitable for all the whole Church alike, he was the appointed person to ask for in behalf of all, and the instructor of the rest. Spirit then is the name that he gives here to the grace of this character, and the soul that receiveth the grace, and intercedeth to God, and groaneth. For he that was counted worthy of such grace as this, standing with much compunction, and with many mental groanings falling before God, asked the things that were profitable for all. And of this the Deacon at the present day is a symbol, when he offers up the prayers for the people.
'But he that searcheth the hearts.' You see that it is not about the Comforter that he is speaking, but about the spiritual heart. Since if this were not so, he ought to have said, 'He that searcheth the Spirit.' But that thou mayest learn that the language is meant of a spiritual man, who has the gift of prayer, he proceeds, And He that searcheth the hearts knowest what is the mind of the spirit, that is, of the spirit man. 'Because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.' Not (he means) that he informs God as if ignorant, but this is done that we may learn to pray for proper things, and to ask of God what is pleasing to Him…this was with a view to solace those that came to Him, and to yield them excellent instruction. For He that furnished the gifts, and gave besides blessings without number, was the Comforter."
(in closing) "And what is there that God hath not done for us? The world He hath made corruptible for us, and again for us uncorruptible. He suffered His prophets to be ill-treated for our sake, sent them into captivity for us, let them fall into the furnace for us, and undergo ills without number. Nay, He made them prophets for us, and the Apostles also He made for us. He gave up for us His Only-begotten, He punisheth the devil for us, He hath seated us on the Right Hand, He was reproached for us. (Ps.69:9) Yet still, when we are drawing back after so great favour, He leaveth us not, but again entreats us, and on our account inciteth others to entreat us, and on our account inciteth others to entreat for us, that He may shew us favour."
"And yet God hath never said such words to thee as 'Stand off, since thou art an imposter, always coming to church, and hearing My laws, but when abroad, setting gold, and pleasure, and friendship, and in fact anything above My commandments. And now thou makest thyself humble, but when thy prayers are over, thou art bold, and cruel, and inhuman. Get thee hence, therefore, and never come to Me anymore.' Yet this, and more than this, we deserve to have said to us; but still He never did reproach us in any way, but is long-suffering, and fulfills everything on His own part, and gives us more than we ask for. Calling this to min then, let us relieve the poverty of those that beg of us, and if they do impose upon us, let us not be over exact about it. For such a salvation is it that we ourselves require, one with pardon, with kindness, with much mercy along with it…let us not then be as bitter judges of others as we can, lest we also get a strict amount demanded of us. For we have sins that are too great to plead any excuse. And therefore let us show more mercy towards those who have committed inexcusable sins, that we also may lay up for ourselves the like mercy beforehand."
"And yet be as large-hearted as we may, we shall never be able to contribute such love toward man as we stand in need of at the hand of a God that loveth man. How then is it other than monstrous, when we are in need of so many things ourselvse, to be over exact with our fellow servants, and do all we can against ourselves?…let us not speak against ourselves, but even if they come out of idleness or wilfulness, let us bestow…for to these we give money, and bread, and clothing, but for ourselves we are laying up beforehand very great glory, and such as there is no putting into words."
"Tell me then, if when you were grown old, and were living in poverty, and any one were to promise suddenly to make you young, and to bring you to the very prime of life, and to render you very strong, and preeminently beautiful, and were to give you the kingdom of the whole earth for a thousand years, a kingdom in a state of the deepest peace, what is there that you would not choose to do and to suffer to gain this promise? See then Christ promises not this, but much more than this…"