The Spirit And Prayer: Romans 8:26-27 -- By: John Herbert, III

Journal: Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal
Volume: MBTJ 03:1 (Spring 2013)
Article: The Spirit And Prayer: Romans 8:26-27
Author: John Herbert, III

The Spirit And Prayer: Romans 8:26-27

John Herbert, III1

The work of the Spirit is a prominent theme in Romans 8. Romans 8:26 and 27 are the final explicit installment in Paul’s discussion of the ministry of the Spirit, and the main focus of these two verses is prayer. “No passage of Scripture provides greater encouragement for prayer. The Spirit comes to the aid of believers baffled by the perplexity of prayer and takes their concerns to God with an intensity far greater than we could ever imagine.”2

Paul’s statement in these two verses is intended to be one of encouragement to believers through their time in this depraved body on earth. The truths of these verses may be mystifying at times, but through careful study one will find that they are indeed encouraging.

The work of the Spirit described in these two verses is the second in a string of three truth statements designed to help sustain believers. Because of depravity, believers are not capable of knowing what to pray unless God’s will is explicitly stated. However, in these two verses Paul encourages believers because the Spirit is interceding as only he and the Father understand, and it is through this ministry that intercession is made according to God’s will, on behalf of the believer.

Romans 8:26

Paul begins his statement on prayer and the Holy Spirit with the declaration that the Spirit helps us with our weaknesses. Paul begins with the word ὡσαύτως, which means “(in) the same (way), similarly, likewise.”3 The Spirit helps the believer’s infirmities similarly to something in the preceding context. “Strange as it may seem, the contextual considerations have little or no bearing on the actual interpretation of the verses themselves.”4 Although the actual interpretation may not change, it will change how one views the structure of the chapter, thus affecting the understanding as a whole.

One interpretive option is that “likewise” could refer back to “groanings” found in vv. 22 and 23; the creation groans, we groan, and the Spirit groans.5 This is an appealing option that is sup...

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