Romans 8:29-30 Commentary

Click chart to enlarge
Chart from recommended resource Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Romans Overview Chart - Charles Swindoll

Source: Dr David Cooper
Click to Enlarge
Romans 1:18-3:20 Romans 3:21-5:21 Romans 6:1-8:39 Romans 9:1-11:36 Romans 12:1-16:27
God's Holiness
God's Grace
God's Power
God's Sovereignty
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
Object of
of Sin
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Restored to Israel
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
Life by Faith Service by Faith

Modified from Irving L. Jensen's chart above

R      Ruin  (Romans 1:17 – 3:20) – The utter sinfulness of humanity
O      Offer  (Romans 3:21-31) – God’s offer of justification by grace
M     Model  (Romans 4:1-25) – Abraham as a model for saving faith
A      Access  (Romans 5:1-11) – The benefits of justification
N      New Adam (Romans 5:12-21) – We are children of two “Adams”
S      Struggle w/ Sin  (Romans 6:1-8:39) Struggle, sanctification, and victory

Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: hoti ous proegno, (3SAAI) kai proorisen (3SAAI) summorphous tes eikonos tou huiou autou, eis to einai (PAN) auton prototokon en pollois adelphois

Amplified: For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be conformed to the derived image of His Son, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren. 

Young's Literal: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;

FOR WHOM HE FOREKNEW: hoti ous proegno (3SAAI):

  • Ro 11:2; Ex 33:12,17; Ps 1:6; Jer 1:5; Mt 7:23; 2Ti 2:19; 1Pe 1:2; Rev 13:8
  • Romans 8 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

For (hoti) introduces the argument to which the preceding words refer. See importance of querying terms of explanation.

As Denny explains "These verses (Ro 8:29ff) give the proof that God in all tings co-operates for good with the called. They show how His gracious purpose, beginning with foreknowledge and foreordination perfects all that concerns them on to the final glory. (Romans 8 Commentary - Expositor's Greek Testament)

Foreknew (4267) (proginosko [word study] from pró = before + ginosko = know) know about something prior to some temporal reference point. For example, to know about an event before it happens, to know beforehand, or to have foreknowledge. Proginosko describes God’s eternal counsel and includes all that He has considered and purposed to do prior to human history. In the language of Scripture, something foreknown is not simply that which God was aware of prior to a certain point, but also includes the idea of that which God gave prior consent to or which received His favorable or special recognition. Hence, proginosko is reserved for those matters which God favorably, deliberately and freely chose and ordained.

Proginosko - 5x in 5v - Acts 26:5; Rom 8:29; 11:2; 1 Pet 1:20; 2 Pet 3:17. NAS - foreknew(2), foreknown(1), knowing… beforehand(1), known(1).

Related Resource:

God's foreknowledge is much more than just having prescience of what will happen in the future, but its full meaning is beyond our finite comprehension. [Acts 2:23] speaks of Christ as being delivered to be crucified "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God."" His works surely were not planned merely by His foreknowledge of what they would be for that would place the power in the hands of man -- some say because it seems "logical" from our perspective that God looked into the future, saw what men would do and then He predestined them to salvation. That's not what Scripture says. That would put the initiative and impetus for salvation in the hands of depraved God hating men. We simply have to acknowledge that we don't have to explain this -- what we do have to do is rest in whatever He says for His ways are higher than our ways. By the way no where in Scripture does it say God foreknew or predestined anyone to hell.

God foreknew that Israel would be His people (Ro 11:2-note), yet He later chose them by His own will. It clearly suggests planning ahead of time, not just knowing ahead of time. Nothing takes God by surprise; His decisions are not determined by our decisions. Yet in every case where God's planning and predestinating are involved (Acts 2:23), it is also true that those who acted according to His foreknowledge carried out those acts of their own volition.

God promises

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (see note Romans 10:13).

And yet God also says that

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (see note Ephesians 1:4).

Our finite minds cannot fully apprehend both truths concurrently, yet we can rejoice in both with our hearts. God understands, because His understanding is infinite, and we rest in that.

Before I loved Him, He loved me
Before I found Him, He found me
Before I sought Him, He sought for me
Yes, Jesus cares for me
-- Ron Hamilton

HE ALSO PREDESTINED CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON:kai proorisen (3SAAI) summorphous tes eikonos tou huiou autou:

When Paul assures the Roman saints that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Ro 8:28-note), he then follows in this verse with God’s work of predestination as a reason why we can be assured of this truth. In short, predestination, far from being given to cause division, is given that it might bring comfort and assurance. The next verse looks at predestination from a futuristic perspective. That is to say, that if one looks to the future when Christ returns, he sees Paul's clear affirmation that God has determined to give believers in Christ perfect, glorified bodies. From eternity to eternity God has acted with the good of his people in mind. But if God has always acted for our good and will in the future act for our good, Paul reasons, then will he not also in our present circumstances work every circumstance together for our good as well? In this way predestination is seen as a comfort for believers in the everyday events of life.

Predestined (4309) (proorizo from pró = before + horízo = to determine, as by a boundary or limit in turn from horos = boundary, limit <> Source of our English word "horizon" = God's boundary between heaven and earth) literally means to mark out beforehand or set the the limits or boundaries in advance of any place or thing. When used of persons, proorizo means to put limitations upon that person thus conveys the idea of to determine his destiny. Though proorizo meant simply to plan in advance, in the New Testament it attracted a special meaning. Here the idea is a divine decree of God, whereby He determined in advance that something should happen.

Here in Romans 8:29 Paul is saying that God has predetermined the destiny or the future of each believer, a glorious future in which he or she will be like Christ, conformed to the image of His Son! And so we see that predestination need not be a frightful word for the believer but in fact a wonderful doctrine which should bring comfort , encouragement and thankfulness to our heart. God is in control. He has a plan for your life and mine! Note carefully that it was not the fact of our faith as foreknown by God that moved Him to "foreordain" us. The blessings and mercies recounted in this section are the result of His eternal purpose in Christ.

Proorizo reminds us that God is the supreme historian who wrote all history before it ever began and it is therefore not surprising that proorizo is used only of God in the NT.

Note that the Scripture never uses predestination to mean that God has predestined certain people to eternal condemnation. A person is condemned because he or she refuses to trust Christ. Stated another way the truth of predestination applies only to saved people. Peter explains the heart of the Father…

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (see note 2 Peter 3:9)

Proorizo is used 6 times in the NAS (Acts 4:28; Rom. 8:29; Rom. 8:30; 1 Co. 2:7; Eph. 1:5; Eph. 1:11) each use translated as predestined. In the KJV, proorizo is translated determine before, 1; ordain, 1; predestinate, 4. These 6 occurrences in the NT, all refer to the predestination of events and peoples by God before all time or before their concrete historical time. In each case proorizo speaks of God's plan for man or events and the inescapable implication is that God's plan will be fulfilled.

Here are the 4 other uses of proorizo (not counting the uses in Ro 8:29-30)…

Acts 4:27-28+ "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, (4:28) to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur."

Comment: The Jews and Gentiles did what and only what God had planned beforehand. God did not force Jesus’ adversaries to engage in acts of violence against their will, for the evidence shows that they took full responsibility. Instead, God allowed them to conspire against Him that He might accomplish salvation for his people. Having done their worst, they merely succeeded in fulfilling God’s eternal plan. These verses contain another striking example of the conjoining of human responsibility and God's sovereignty in the same context, with no hint of this being a problem.

In a parallel passage (although not using proorizo) Luke records that Jesus…

Acts 2:22-23+ "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--the Man delivered up by the predetermined (Greek = horizo = marked out) plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

Comment: Again observe the juxtaposition of divine predestination and human responsibility. That these two truths exist in harmony that is beyond human comprehension is clearly taught in Scripture and must be received on faith in the infinitely wise, omniscient Creator God. He is the Potter and we are but clay!

1Cor 2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 2:8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory

Comment: The meaning is that God’s wisdom in relation to the Gospel of His grace was predetermined by Him before any periods of time began. It was not an afterthought, not a plan contingent upon changed conditions or circumstances. Before time began, our heavenly Father determined to give us His saving wisdom that would lead ultimately to our eternal glorification.

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, (see note)

Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (see note)

Comment: Morris writing on predestination in Ephesians 1 says that "Its over-all purpose is to be "to the praise of his glory" (Ep 1:6, 12, 14, 3:21-notes Ep 1:6, 12, 14; 3:21)… Since our minds are finite, we are unable to comprehend the infinite character of the plan and purpose of God, which is exactly the situation with regard to the clearly Biblical truth of predestination. In no way does this preclude the ability of God to plan also the paradoxical truth of human freedom and responsibility, which also are clearly Biblical (remember God's ability is infinite). We cannot fully comprehend with our minds, but can believe and rejoice with our hearts that God has known and chosen us believers for Himself even before the world began. (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)

J D Watson on prohorizo - So, just as the horizon marks a limit between what we can and can't see, God has placed us within a certain limit, a certain "horizon." He has put us in a place where we can see and comprehend many things but where many other things are hidden from our sight and understanding, many things that are beyond our horizon. Further, even if we walk closer to the horizon, and understand things we never understood before, a new horizon appears. We will never understand it all this side of heaven. This word graphically demonstrates that God has marked out something for each of His elect; He has marked out a destiny. Much of that destiny is hidden from us; it is beyond the horizon. But, praise be to God, he reveals more of it with each new step we take toward it. What is that destiny? What is that purpose? While we don't know it all, we do know some of it. The primary purpose in God's predestination is "that [Christ] might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29), that is, that Christ might be made preeminent. Scripture reveals that the firstborn always had preeminence. God's ultimate object, therefore, is to glorify His Son. Further, Ephesians 1:5 likewise tells us that God predestined us to adoption (see Jan. 2), making us Christ's brethren. Think of it! Each of us is either a brother or sister to our dear Savior. Then in Ephesians 1:11 we read that we are predestined to an inheritance, that is, spiritual riches, in Christ. That is our destiny. So, we would submit that no controversy is warranted. Predestination is simply God's marking out a destiny befitting His foreknown people. (A Word for the Day)

Believer's Study Bible has the following note explaining that..

Predestination and election have always been the subject of theological inquiry. Several truths about election should be noticed in this passage. Here, as in 1Pe 1:2 (see note), God's foreknowledge logically precedes the elective or predestinative act of God.

Another truth to be affirmed is that the Scriptures present salvation as viewed in two very different spheres. The earthly sphere sees man as totally responsible for his actions and faced with the necessity of choosing either to reject or to accept the atonement of Christ. The heavenly perspective in no sense contradicts the earthly, but it does add a new and infinitely more profound dimension. This new dimension declares that God has an elective purpose and that all which ultimately transpires conforms to His purpose, including the salvation of the elect.

Difficulty arises in man's seemingly unending efforts to reconcile the heavenly insight with the earthly perspective. Wrong answers are not infrequently the result of erroneous questions. Instead of attempting harmonization of those truths which are ultimately understood only by God (Ro 11:34-note), one ought to ask the question,

"Why is the doctrine of election present in the Scripture?"

Four distinct answers emerge from this passage:

(1) As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, salvation must be the gift of God alone. Predestination framed in God's foreknowledge assures us that salvation is from start to finish the work of God.

(2) The doctrine of God's elective purpose guarantees the perpetuity of salvation. Unthinkable is the idea that one of God's elect could forfeit his salvation. Those whom He has justified He will glorify. So certain is that sequence that "glorified" is an aorist tense in Greek, meaning that glorification is already a settled issue in the mind of God (Ro 8:30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39). How could God lose one of His elect?

(3) The doctrine of election assures a peculiar providence which attends the way of every believer. If God's heart is set on us in His elective purpose, we may be sure of His concern and providential intervention in our behalf (Ro 8:28).

(4) Finally, that same personal providence bound up in election extends throughout the entire course of history. There is no runaway world. God's hand is systematically guiding the age to its intended consummation (Ro 8:21, 22). (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Wuest commenting on proorizo writes that " The genius of the word is that of placing limitations upon someone or something beforehand, these limitations bringing that person or thing within the sphere of a certain future or destiny. These meanings are carried over into the New Testament usage of the word. Thus, the “chosen-out” ones, have had limitations put around them which bring them within the sphere of becoming God’s children by adoption (Eph 1:5-note), and of being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus (Ro 8:29). 

Someone explained predestination with this simple picture. When we came to Christ, it was like walking through a gate. On the outside were inscribed these words: "Whosoever will, may come." Once we passed through the gate into the Saviour's arms, we could look back and see these words inscribed on the inside: "Chosen from the foundation of the world." We can praise Him for His sovereign and saving grace.

Jesus Himself taught that…

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. (John 3:18-21).

Conformed (4832) (summorphos from sún = together with + morphe = form) refers to the conformity of children of God "to the image of His Son". To resemble his Son; to be of like form with the image of his Son.

Dear reader if you are not being conformed into the image of God's Son, showing a greater and greater likeness to Jesus, you need to do a sober, honest look at your salvation as Paul exhorts in 2 Cor 13:5+  - "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?" Remember we are not speaking about absolute perfection but about general direction ("up" or "down")!

Gilbrant on sunmorphos In Romans 8:29 Paul used sunmorphos to indicate that God has already determined that those who become His sons will be changed to be like Christ, i.e., “conformed to the image” of Jesus. This same concept is repeated in Philippians 3:21 where God again is the One doing the work. In this verse Paul said that God would change the mortal body of the Christian “that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Both instances indicate the goal of becoming Christlike, of having His image. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Here Paul explains the goal of predestination - that believers would "be conformed to the image of His Son"!

As Denny puts it "The Son of God is the Lord Who appeared to Paul by Damascus: to be conformed to His image is to share His glory as well as His holiness. The Pauline Gospel is hopelessly distorted when this is forgotten." (Ibid)

In Philippians 3 Paul describes the physical conformity to the body of Christ's glory writing that in the future the Lord Jesus Christ

will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with (summorphos) the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (see note Philippians 3:21)

A T Robertson on conformed an inward and not merely superficial conformity. Eikon is used of Christ as the very image of the Father (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). See morphe. Here we have both morphe and eikon to express the gradual change in us till we acquire the likeness of Christ the Son of God so that we ourselves shall ultimately have the family likeness of sons of God. Glorious destiny. (Word Pictures in the New Testament).

Howard Hendricks writes that "The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity, but to make you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner, but to make you like the Saviour. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts, but to transform your life.

Vincent "There is another kind of life of which science as yet has taken little cognizance. It obeys the same laws. It builds up an organism into its own form. It is the Christ-life. As the bird-life builds up a bird, the image of itself, so the Christ-life builds up a Christ, the image of Himself, in the inward nature of man.... According to the great law of conformity to type, this fashioning takes a specific form. It is that of the Artist who fashions. And all through life this wonderful, mystical, glorious, yet perfectly definite process goes on 'until Christ be formed' in it" (Drummond, "Natural Law in the Spiritual World"). (Word Studies in the New Testament)

Image (1504)(eikon) properly, "mirror-like representation," i.e. what is very close in resemblance (like a "high-definition" projection, as defined by the context). Eikon is an artistic representation, as one might see on a coin or statue (an image or a likeness, as in Mt 22.20). Eikon can also refer to a visible manifestation of an invisible and heavenly reality form (see Hebrews 10:1-noteIn the context of the regenerate person, his or her image is renewed in the likeness of Christ; reborn in the image of the Creator (Colossians 3:10; cf.; Ephesians 4:24). When the believer is finally glorified, he or she will be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Ro 8:29; 1 Cor 15:49).

On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription:“ James Butler Bonham—no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.” No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers.

Romans 8:28 is an easy verse to believe when the sun is shining, but it's something else entirely in the darkness of human tragedy. We doubt this verse for two reasons. First, Paul says "we know" when most of us don't feel like we know. Second, Paul says "all things" when most of us would rather say "some things." Surely the key word is the word "good." For us, "good" usually means happiness, health, prosperity, and good fortune. Those things are indeed good, but God's good far exceeds our limited vision. (Ro 8:29) tells us that God's good is that we should be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Anything that makes us like Jesus is good. This gives an entirely new perspective to heartaches and tragedies. They are part of God's plan to chip away little by little at our character until Jesus is fully formed in us.


I question whether we have preached the whole counsel of God, unless predestination with all its solemnity and sureness be continually declared.—6.26
I do not doubt that the Lord has settled, concerning every one of his elect, the exact time when they shall pass from death unto life, the precise instrumentality by which they shall be converted, the exact word that shall strike with power on their mind, the period of conviction which they shall undergo, and the instant when they shall burst into the joyful liberty of a simple faith in Christ. It is all settled, all arranged and predetermined in the divine purpose. If the very hairs of our head are all numbered, much more the circumstances of the most important of all events which can occur to us.
We are no believers in fate, seeing that fate is a different doctrine altogether from predestination. Fate says the thing is and must be, so it is decreed. But the true doctrine is—God has appointed this and that, not because it must be, but because it is best that it should be. Fate is blind, but the destiny of Scripture is full of eyes. Fate is stern and adamantine, and has no tears for human sorrow. But the arrangements of providence are kind and good.
"If there are so many that will be saved," says one, "then why do you preach?" That is why we preach! If there are so many fish to be taken in the net, I will go and catch some of them. Because many are ordained to be caught, I spread my nets with eager expectation. I never could see why that should repress our zealous efforts. It seems to me to be the very thing that should awaken us to energy—that God has a people, and that these people shall be brought in.

If any of you do not believe in the predestination of God, you will probably, in some hour of depression, ascribe your sorrows to cruel fate. The human mind is driven at last to this decision, that some things are beyond the control of man and his will, and that these are fixed by necessity. How much better to see that God has fixed them!

The foreordination of God in no degree interferes with the responsibility of man. I have often been asked by persons to reconcile the two truths. My only reply is, "They need no reconciliation, for they never fell out." Why should I try to reconcile two friends? The two facts are parallel lines. I cannot make them unite, but you cannot make them cross each other.

I believe that nothing hap-pens apart from divine determination and decree.

I do not believe that there ever would have been a man delivered from this present evil world if it had not been according to the will, the purpose, the predestination of God. It needs a mighty tug to get a man away from the world. It is a miracle for a man to live in the world, and yet not to be of it. I am sure it would never have been wrought if it had not been according to the will of God our Father.

We shall never be able to escape from the doctrine of divine predestination—the doctrine that God has foreordained certain people unto eternal life.

It is true that everything is predestinated, and that everything that happens is ordered according to the unfailing purpose and will of God.

THAT HE MIGHT BE THE FIRST BORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN: eis to einai (PAN) auton prototokon en pollois adelphois:

  • Ps 89:27; Mt 12:50; 25:40; Jn 20:17; Col 1:15, 16, 17, 18; Heb 1:5,6; Heb 2:11, 12, 13, 14, 15; Rev 1:5,6
  • Romans 8 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Firstborn reflects His priority and supremacy. 

Robertson Christ is "first born" of all creation (Col. 1:15), but here he is "first born from the dead" (Col. 1:18), the Eldest Brother in this family of God's sons, though "Son" in a sense not true of us. (Word Pictures in the New Testament)

That He might be the First Born - The end in this process of our being conformed to the Son's image is the exaltation of Christ.

First born (4416) (prototokos from protos = first, + tikto = to bear, bring forth) can mean first-born chronologically (Luke 2:7) but as used by Paul refers primarily to position, or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the first-born was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the “first-born” and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. He 1:2-note; Re 5:1f-note, Re 5:13-note). Israel was called God’s first-born in Exodus 4:22 and Jeremiah 31:9. Though not the first people born, they held first place in God’s sight among all the nations.

In Psalm 89:27 (note), God says of the Messiah, “I also shall make Him My first-born” (Spurgeon's note) Then the psalmist defines what He means "the highest of the kings of the earth.”

Prototokos - 8x in 8v - Luke 2:7; Rom 8:29; Col 1:15, 18; Heb 1:6; 11:28; 12:23; Rev 1:5

Prototokos - 103x in the Septuagint -

Gen 4:4; 10:15; 22:21; 25:13, 25; 27:19, 32; 35:23; 36:15; 38:6f; 41:51; 43:33; 46:8; 48:18; 49:3; Exod 4:22f; 6:14; 11:5; 12:12, 29; 13:2, 13, 15; 22:29; 34:19f; Lev 27:26; Num 1:20; 3:2, 12f, 40ff, 45f, 50; 8:16ff; 18:15, 17; 26:5; 33:4; Deut 12:6, 17; 14:23; 15:19; 21:15ff; 33:17; Josh 6:26; 17:1; Judg 8:20; 1 Sam 8:2; 14:49; 2 Sam 3:2; 13:21; 19:43; 1 Kgs 16:34; 2 Kgs 3:27; 1 Chr 1:29; 2:3, 13, 25, 27, 42, 50; 3:1, 15; 4:4; 5:1, 3, 12; 6:28; 8:1, 30, 38f; 9:5, 31, 36, 44; 26:2, 4, 6, 10; 2 Chr 21:3; Neh 10:36; Ps 78:51; 89:27; 105:36; 135:8; 136:10; Jer 31:9; Ezek 44:30; Mic 6:7; Zech 12:10

In Rev 1:5-note, Jesus is called “the first-born of the dead,” even though He was not the first person to be resurrected chronologically. Of all ever raised, He is the preeminent One. Here in Romans 8:29 Jesus is the first-born in relation to the church. In all these uses, the first-born clearly means highest in rank, not first created.

Romans 8:30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ous de proorisen, (3SAAI) toutous kai ekalesen; (3SAAI) kai ous ekalesen, (3SAAI) toutous kai edikaiosen; (3SAAI) ous de edikaiosen, (3SAAI) toutous kai edoxasen (3SAAI)

Amplified: And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Moreover, those whom He thus marked out beforehand, these He also summoned. And those whom He summoned, these He also justified. Moreover, those whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Young's Literal: and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

AND WHOM HE PREDESTINED THESE HE ALSO CALLED: ous de proorisen (3SAAI), toutous kai ekalesen (3SAAI):

  • Ro 8:28; 1:6; 9:23,24; Isa 41:9; 1Co 1:2,9; Ep 4:4; Heb 9:15; 1Pe 2:9; 2Pe1:10; Rev 17:14; 19:9
  • Romans 8 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • whom He predestined… He also glorified.


Spurgeon - "Notice that personal pronoun “he” — how it comes at the beginning, and goes on to the end. “Salvation is of the Lord.” This is so often forgotten that, trite as it may appear, we cannot repeat it too often: “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” You might suppose, from the talk of some men, that, salvation is all of the man himself; — that is free agency pushed into a falsehood, a plain truth puffed into a lie. There is such a thing as free agency, and we should make a great mistake if we forgot it; but there is also such a thing as free grace, and we shall make a still greater mistake if we limit that to the agency of man; it is God who works our salvation from the beginning to the end."

Called (2564) (kaleo) (see study of the called) can refer to an invitation, but as discussed below in this context conveys the idea of an effectual call and emphasizes God's sovereign work. God has invited us to join Him in eternity in incorruptible, sinless, glorified bodies. The aorist tense points to the fact that God effectively had called them into His kingdom and service in the past.

Kaleo - 148x in 140v = call(13), called(99), calling(2), calls(7), give(1), invite(2), invited(15), invited guests(1), invites(1), name given(1), named(2), so-called(1), summoned(2).

Matt 1:21, 23, 25; 2:7, 15, 23; 4:21; 5:9, 19; 9:13; 20:8; 21:13; 22:3f, 8f, 43, 45; 23:7ff; 25:14; 27:8; Mark 1:20; 2:17; 3:31; 11:17; Luke 1:13, 31f, 35f, 59ff, 76; 2:4, 21, 23; 5:32; 6:15, 46; 7:11, 39; 8:2; 9:10; 10:39; 14:7ff, 12f, 16f, 24; 15:19, 21; 19:2, 13, 29; 20:44; 21:37; 22:3, 25; 23:33; John 1:42; 2:2; Acts 1:12, 19, 23; 3:11; 4:18; 7:58; 8:10; 9:11; 10:1; 13:1; 14:12; 15:22, 37; 24:2; 27:8, 14, 16; 28:1; Rom 4:17; 8:30; 9:7, 12, 24ff; 1 Cor 1:9; 7:15, 17f, 20ff, 24; 10:27; 15:9; Gal 1:6, 15; 5:8, 13; Eph 4:1, 4; Col 3:15; 1 Thess 2:12; 4:7; 5:24; 2 Thess 2:14; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 1:9; Heb 2:11; 3:13; 5:4; 9:15; 11:8, 18; Jas 2:23; 1 Pet 1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:6, 9; 5:10; 2 Pet 1:3; 1 John 3:1; Rev 1:9; 11:8; 12:9; 16:16; 19:9, 11, 13.

Spurgeon - The general call of the gospel is like the common "cluck" of the hen which she is always giving when her chickens are around her. But if there is any danger impending, then she gives a very peculiar call, quite different from the ordinary one, and the little chicks come running as fast as they can, and hide for safety under her wings. That is the call we want, God's peculiar and effectual call to his own.

Related Resources:

Albert BarnesCalled by his Spirit to become Christians. He called, not merely by an external invitation, but in such a way as that they in fact were justified. This cannot refer simply to an external call of the gospel, since those who are here said to be called are said also to be justified and glorified. The meaning is, that there is a certain connexion between the predestination and the call, which will be manifested in due time. The connexion is so certain that the one infallibly secures the other. (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament)

John Walvoord on Calling - In the New Testament, divine calling relates to four aspects. The first of these is salvation (Rom. 8:28, 30; 1 Cor. 1:9, 24; Gal. 1:6, 15; 2 Thess. 2:13-15; Heb. 3:1; 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:15; 2:9; 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3-6; Jude 1). A second form of calling is to special service, such as being an apostle (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 15:9; Gal. 1:15), missionary (Acts 13:2; 16:10), or priest (Heb. 5:4). A third form of calling is to any occupation, such as being a slave (1 Cor. 7:20-24). A fourth is God's calling to believers to lead holy and peaceful lives (1 Cor. 1:2; 7:15; Eph. 4:1; Col. 3:15; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 3:9). Of significance in God's calling is the contrast between a general call or announcement of the gospel and God's effectual call which results in salvation (Rom. 8:28-30; 9:23-26). In Calvinistic theology this effectual calling to salvation is referred to as “irresistible” (see 8:29). This means that when this call comes it is part of God's program for salvation. It is obvious, however, that when the gospel is presented, the invitation to believe in Christ is not always followed by a favorable response on the part of those who hear. Arminians say this call means that God's common grace extends to all, so that everyone has sufficient grace by which to believe. While the Bible often speaks of grace (for example, Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:5, 8), the terms “irresistible grace” and “sufficient grace” are not used. Christ's words in John 16:8-11, in which He spoke of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, show that a person can be under conviction, fully aware of his or her need to receive Christ as Savior and still fall short of faith in Christ. Conviction, then, is related to God's general calling but is antecedent to an effectual calling to salvation. The call of God for salvation is initiated by God the Father, is made effective by the Holy Spirit, and results in a proper relationship with Jesus Christ as the Savior. Each believer is a “called” one, summoned to escape the darkness and live in the light. (Theological Wordbook)

James Smith - Luke 19:5+ The Call of Jesus Christ is—

1. A Gracious Call, He might have passed by.
2. A Personal Call, "Zaccheus."
3. An Urgent Call, "Make haste."
4. A Humbling Call, "Come down."
5. An Affectionate Call, "Abide at thy house."
6. An Assuring Call, "I must."
7. An Effectual Call, "He made haste."

AND WHOM HE CALLED THESE HE ALSO JUSTIFIED: kai ous ekalesen (3SAAI), toutous kai edikaiosen (3SAAI):


Justified (1344) (dikaioo [word study] from díkaios = just, righteous) means to be declared righteous (dikaios). In simple terms, dikaios describes what is right, what conforms to what is right, the standard of what is right being defined by God not man. The moment one believes he or she is justified instantaneously as a forensic act by God in which He forgives our sins, imputes to us the righteousness of Christ and declares we are now in righteous standing before Him.

Dikaioo - 36x in 39v - acknowledged… justice(1), acquitted(1), freed(3), justified(24), justifier(1), justifies(2), justify(4), vindicated(3).

Matt 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29, 35; 10:29; 16:15; 18:14; Acts 13:38f; Rom 2:13; 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30; 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9; 6:7; 8:30, 33; 1 Cor 4:4; 6:11; Gal 2:16f; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; 1 Tim 3:16; Titus 3:7; Jas 2:21, 24f. 

Justified is in Christ and so is a truth of position. When we were justified by faith we were pronounced righteous in Christ. We are not made righteous. Stated another way, what is imputed is not, imparted. To be justified means that the believer is viewed in Christ as righteous, and is treated as such by God.

Denny explains that in justifying us "God in Jesus Christ forgave our sins, and accepted us as righteous in His sight; ungodly as we had been, He put us right with Himself. In that, everything else is included. The whole argument of Romans 6-8 has been that justification and the new life of holiness in the Spirit are inseparable experiences. (Romans 8 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)

John Murray makes the important distinction between regeneration and justification writing that "Regeneration is an act of God in us; justification is a judgment of God with respect to us. The distinction is like that of the distinction between the act of a surgeon and the act of a judge. The surgeon, when he removes an inward cancer, does something in us. That is not what a judge does—he gives a verdict regarding our judicial status. If we are innocent he declares accordingly. The purity of the gospel is bound up with the recognition of this distinction. If justification is confused with regeneration or sanctification, then the door is opened for the perversion of the gospel at its center. (See study on Relationship of Justified, Sanctified, Glorified) Justification is still the article of the standing or falling of the Church. (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied p. 121)

Related Resources:

Spurgeon on Justification

  • It is admitted by all evangelical Christians that the standing or falling in the church is that of justification by faith.
  • I said that clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we are accepted as if we had never sinned. I correct myself—had we never sinned, we could only have stood in the righteousness of man. But this day by faith we stand in the righteousness of God himself. The doings and the dying of our Lord Jesus Christ make up for us a wedding dress more glorious than human merit could have spun, even if unfallen Adam had been the spinner.
  •  Any church which puts in the place of justification by faith in Christ another method of salvation is a harlot church.
  • I can sympathize with Luther when he said, "I have preached justification by faith so often, and I feel sometimes that you are so slow to receive it, that I could almost take the Bible and bang it about your heads."
  • The doctrine of justification by faith through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ is very much to my ministry what bread and salt are to the table. As often as the table is set, there are those necessary things. This is the very salt of the gospel. It is impossible to bring it forward too often. It is the soul-saving doctrine. It is the foundation doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

AND WHOM HE JUSTIFIED THESE HE ALSO GLORIFIED: ous de edikaiosen (3SAAI), toutous kai edoxasen (3SAAI):

  • Ro 1:1,17,18,33, 34, 35; 5:8, 9, 10; Jn 5:24; 6:39,40; 17:22,24; 2Co 4:17; Ep 2:6; Col 3:4; 1Th 2:12; 2Th 1:10, 11, 12; 2:13,14; 2Ti 2:11; He 9:15; 1Pe 3:9; 4:13,14; 5:10
  • Romans 8 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Glorification is our great future tense salvation which is so certain that here Paul speaks of it using the same tense as justification. Do you worry about losing your salvation? Then drink deeply of this Romans 8:30 asking Your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to illuminate the text to your mind and your heart. 

Glorified (1392) (doxazo from doxa = glory) means to render glorious, to cause to have splendid greatness, to clothe in splendor, to invest with dignity, to give anyone esteem or honor by putting him into an honorable position.

The aorist tense of glorified speaks of God Who sees the end from the beginning and in whose decree and purpose all future events are comprehended and fixed. Once God's marvelous sequence begins with His foreknowledge of those He would call, it is carried through so inevitably that Paul in this verse speaks of us as "glorified" in the past tense. It is already an accomplished fact in the mind and purpose of God. Note that those who were foreknown will all be glorified without loss of a single one.

Doxazo - 61x in 53v - full of glory(1), glorified(20), glorifies(1), glorify(19), glorifying(12), had glory(1), has… glory(1), honor(1), honored(2), magnify(1), praised(1), praising(1).

Matt 5:16; 6:2; 9:8; 15:31; Mark 2:12; Luke 2:20; 4:15; 5:25f; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43; 23:47; John 7:39; 8:54; 11:4; 12:16, 23, 28; 13:31f; 14:13; 15:8; 16:14; 17:1, 4f, 10; 21:19; Acts 3:13; 4:21; 11:18; 13:48; 21:20; Rom 1:21; 8:30; 11:13; 15:6, 9; 1 Cor 6:20; 12:26; 2 Cor 3:10; 9:13; Gal 1:24; 2 Thess 3:1; Heb 5:5; 1 Pet 1:8; 2:12; 4:11, 16; Rev 15:4; 18:7.

Denny remarking on the aorist tense says it well - The tense in the last word (doxazo) is amazing. It is the most daring anticipation of faith that even the NT contains: the life is not to take out of it by the philosophical consideration that with God there is neither before or after. (Romans 8 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)

Norman Geisler -  Are all the called ones saved or only some?

PROBLEM: Paul indicates here that all who are “called” by God are eventually “justified” and “glorified” (Rom. 8:30). But Jesus said that “many are called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:16).

SOLUTION: The word “called” is being used in different senses. This is not uncommon in languages. Take, for example, the following sentence: “The dog would bark by the tree but did not scratch the bark from the tree.” Clearly the word “bark” is used in two different senses. Likewise, Paul and Jesus are using different senses of the word “called” which can be contrasted as follows:

GENERAL CALL -- Call for salvation - For all men- Not effectual
SPECIFIC CALL -- Call of salvation - Only for believers - Effectual for salvation

In brief, when Jesus referred to a “call” He was speaking of a general invitation for all to believe. Paul, however, has reference to the specific “call” of God by which God brings believers to salvation. The first is the call for salvation to all; the last is the call of salvation to some. (When Critics Ask)

Spurgeon Morning and Evening - Morning, May 28  “Whom he justified, them he also glorified.—Romans 8:30

Here is a precious truth for thee, believer. Thou mayest be poor, or in suffering, or unknown, but for thine encouragement take a review of thy “calling” and the consequences that flow from it, and especially that blessed result here spoken of. As surely as thou art God’s child today, so surely shall all thy trials soon be at an end, and thou shalt be rich to all the intents of bliss. Wait awhile, and that weary head shall wear the crown of glory, and that hand of labour shall grasp the palm-branch of victory. Lament not thy troubles, but rather rejoice that ere long thou wilt be where “there shall be neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” The chariots of fire are at thy door, and a moment will suffice to bear thee to the glorified. The everlasting song is almost on thy lip. The portals of heaven stand open for thee. Think not that thou canst fail of entering into rest. If he hath called thee, nothing can divide thee from his love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link; the hammer of hell cannot break the chain. Thou art secure; that voice which called thee at first, shall call thee yet again from earth to heaven, from death’s dark gloom to immortality’s unuttered splendours. Rest assured, the heart of him who has justified thee beats with infinite love towards thee. Thou shalt soon be with the glorified, where thy portion is; thou art only waiting here to be made meet for the inheritance, and that done, the wings of angels shall waft thee far away, to the mount of peace, and joy, and blessedness, where,

“Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in,”
thou shalt rest for ever and ever.

Spurgeon Morning and Evening -  Evening, October 11  “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called.”—Romans 8:30

In the second epistle to Timothy, first chapter, and ninth verse, are these words—“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.” Now, here is a touchstone by which we may try our calling. It is “an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As he that hath called you is holy, so must you be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called, but if you are truly Christ’s, you can say, “Nothing pains me so much as sin; I desire to be rid of it; Lord, help me to be holy.” Is this the panting of thy heart? Is this the tenor of thy life towards God, and his divine will? Again, in Philippians, 3:13, 14, we are told of “The high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Is then your calling a high calling? Has it ennobled your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it upraised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God? Another test we find in Hebrews 3:1—“Partakers of the heavenly calling.” Heavenly calling means a call from heaven. If man alone call thee, thou art uncalled. Is thy calling of God? Is it a call to heaven as well as from heaven? Unless thou art a stranger here, and heaven thy home, thou hast not been called with a heavenly calling; for those who have been so called, declare that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. Is thy calling thus holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, thou hast been called of God, for such is the calling wherewith God doth call his people.

The Best Is Yet To Be - Oswald Chambers loved the poetry of Robert Browning and often quoted a phrase from the poem Rabbi Ben Ezra: "The best is yet to be, the last of life for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand."

As principal of the Bible Training College in London from 1911 to 1915, Chambers often said that the school's initials, B.T.C., also stood for "Better To Come." He believed that the future was always bright with possibility because of Christ. In a letter to former students written during the dark days of World War I, Chambers said, "Whatever transpires, it is ever 'the best is yet to be.'"

For the Christian, this is certainly true when we think about going to heaven. But can we believe that our remaining days on earth will be better than the past? If our hope is centered in Christ, the answer is a resounding yes!

The apostle Paul concluded the stirring 8th chapter of Romans with the assurance that nothing in the present or the future can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (vv.38-39). Because we are held in God's unchanging love, we can experience deeper fellowship with Him, no matter what difficulties come our way.

In Christ, "the best is yet to be." —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we are walking with the Lord,
The future's always bright;
It matters not what comes our way
When faith replaces sight.

You can be confident about tomorrow
if you walk with God today.