Our devotional reading for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost focuses on the Romans reading and comes from Concordia Commentary: Romans 1–8.
Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
While we live in this world, we go through many challenges and trials. Though it may feel like God is absent in our life, we cling to His Word and His promise that He is always there for us. His Son has suffered for us and suffered with us. By His suffering on the cross, we have forgiveness and eternal life. And in knowing that, we can take comfort indeed.
“Indeed, I count that the sufferings of the present time [are] not of equal value [compared] to the glory which is about to be revealed to us” (8:18). This verse sets the stage for the entire discussions to follow. “In fact, the whole of vv. 19–30 may be said to be in one way or another support for, and elucidation of, v. 18.”
The first word in 8:18 is a familiar one, the verb “credit, count, account.” Together with “not of equal value [compared] to,” it forms an idiom of financial comparison. In a positive expression, this involves “counting” or “calculating” things that are equal in value (see the third textual note on 8:18). Here, however, the calculation is negated. “The sufferings of the present time” are not of equal value when compared to what is on the other side of the ledger.
The phrase “the sufferings of the present time” introduces the dominant topic under discussion from here through 8:30, and even to 8:39. Paul is driving toward a satisfactory answer to explain how and why these “sufferings” are to be endured and even overcome. This phrase is connected to 8:17, where Paul refers to our present sufferings with Christ by using the compound verb “we are suffering with [him].” His use of “the sufferings” in 8:18, however, is not simply equivalent to that thought; neither is it the same as when this noun “sufferings” was in the phrase “the passions of the sins” in 7:5. . . .
In light of what Paul has already written about the believer’s present life through our Lord Jesus Christ, he now faces the conundrum of theodicy. How and when will a righteous God deal with the problem of human suffering? Rather than specifically answering that question, Paul instead addresses how believers are enabled to endure “the whole gamut of suffering, including things such as illness, bereavement, hunger, financial reverses, and death itself.” It is significant that Paul does not deny the painful reality or the extent of the problems being addressed. Instead, his answer is one of comparison. Believers should calculate the value on one side of the ledger, the debits of present sufferings, and contrast it with the unlimited positive balance which God has already credited to us (as used eleven times in Romans 4; see the commentary on 4:3).
On the surplus side of the ledger is “the glory which is about to be revealed to us.” Paul uses a number of key terms in this final phrase of 8:18. Utilizing another commercial metaphor, 1:23 describes how humanity bartered away the glory bestowed upon them by their Creator: “they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God.” As a result, they all forfeited this glory: “for all sinned and are lacking the glory of God.” Then Paul has also spoken of the future glory awaiting those who receive eternal life from God (2:7, 10). As in 5:14 and 8:13, Paul uses “about to” in 8:18 to express both the imminence and the divine certainty of the glory which is about to be revealed. “Reveal” is used thematically in 1:17 to describe the present revelation of the righteousness of God in the Good News being proclaimed already now. But here it is used to point ahead toward the full manifestation of our eschatological glory.
Devotional reading is from Concordia Commentary: Romans 1–8, pages 667–68 © 2013 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.