The Meaning of Romans 8:28 Explained

Romans 8:28

KJV: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

YLT: And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose;

Darby: But we do know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to purpose.

ASV: And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

Discover Romans 8:28

What does Romans 8:28 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Different translators have interpreted this verse in different ways too. Some saw "God" as the subject and have translated it "God causes ..." (NASB). Others believed that "all things" is the subject and rendered it "all things God works ..." (NIV). However the differences are not significant. The whole chapter, even all of Scripture, presents God as sovereign over all the affairs of life. Consequently we know what Paul meant. God orders all the events of life, not just the intercession of the indwelling Spirit, so they culminate in the blessing of His children (cf. Romans 8:26-27).
"All things" means just that: all things. In the context these things include the adversities the believer experiences. The "good" is what is good from God"s perspective, and, in view of Romans 8:18-27, conformity to the Son of God is particularly prominent ( Romans 8:29). Those who love God could be a group of believers who love God more than others. However since Paul described them from the divine side as the elect of God, those who love God must refer to all Christians (cf. 1 John 4:19). This is the only place in Romans where Paul wrote of the believer"s love for God; everywhere else he referred to God"s love for the believer.
This verse does not say that God causes all things, period. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that God causes sin or evil. He permits these things, but that is much different than causing them. Therefore when tragedy touches a believer we should not conclude that this is one of the "all things" that God causes. Rather this verse says that God brings good out of all things, even tragedies, for the Christian. The causes of tragedy are Satan, the sinful choices of people, and the consequences of living in a sinful world (cf. James 1:13-14): Satan, sin, and sinners. Even though God permits or allows bad things to happen, Scripture never lays the blame for these things on God, and neither should we.

Context Summary

Romans 8:18-30 - Hoping For The Completed Redemption
Creation groans for freedom from the serpent's trail. Like a captive maiden she sighs to be delivered from the curse which sin has brought upon her. The saints groan for the resurrection of the body and their full admission into the complete enjoyment of redemption. The Spirit also groans for the speedy accomplishment of God's purposes-the salvation of the lost, the unity of the Church, and the advent of the Father's kingdom. His yearnings express themselves through the prayers of the saints.
Sorrowful soul, take comfort from Romans 8:28! All things are working; there is no stagnation. They are working together, like the cogs of two wheels revolving in different directions. They are all working for good. The only condition is love on our part. Those who love God are loved by God, and all winds blow from the quarter of God's love. And that love is a sure sign and token that they have been called; and if called, they may be sure that they are on the moving stairway which is bearing them up and on through successive stages to glory. [source]

Chapter Summary: Romans 8

1  Those who are in Christ are free from condemnation
5  What harm comes of the flesh;
13  and what good of the Spirit
19  The glorious deliverance the creation longs for,
29  was beforehand decreed from God
38  Nothing can sever us from his love

Greek Commentary for Romans 8:28

All things work together [παντα συνεργει]
A B have ο τεος — ho theos as the subject of συνεργει — sunergei (old verb, see 1 Corinthians 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1). That is the idea anyhow. It is God who makes “all things work together” in our lives “for good” (εις αγατον — eis agathon), ultimate good. [source]
According to his purpose [κατα προτεσιν]
Old word, seen already in Acts 27:13 and for “shewbread” in Matthew 12:4. The verb προτιτημι — protithēmi Paul uses in Romans 3:24 for God‘s purpose. Paul accepts fully human free agency but behind it all and through it all runs God‘s sovereignty as here and on its gracious side (Romans 9:11; Romans 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9). [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 8:28 mean?

We know now that to those loving - God all things works together - God for good according to [His] purpose called being
Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν Θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ (ὁ θεὸς) εἰς ἀγαθόν κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν

Οἴδαμεν  We  know 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Indicative Active, 1st Person Plural
Root: οἶδα  
Sense: to see.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ὅτι  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὅτι  
Sense: that, because, since.
τοῖς  to  those 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀγαπῶσιν  loving 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀγαπάω  
Sense: of persons.
τὸν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεὸν  God 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
πάντα  all  things 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Plural
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
συνεργεῖ  works  together 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: συνεργέω  
Sense: to work together, help in work, be partner in labour.
(ὁ  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
θεὸς)  God 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
ἀγαθόν  good 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ἀγαθός 
Sense: of good constitution or nature.
κατὰ  according  to 
Parse: Preposition
Root: κατά 
Sense: down from, through out.
πρόθεσιν  [His]  purpose 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: πρόθεσις 
Sense: a setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view, the shewbread.
κλητοῖς  called 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: κλητός  
Sense: called, invited (to a banquet).
οὖσιν  being 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: εἰμί  
Sense: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.

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