Re: Romans 8:19 (James Clardy)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Mar 19 1996 - 13:27:36 EST

On 3/19/96, wrote:

> 1) In Romans 8:19 is THS KTISEWS a reference to "human family," "non-human
> creation," "lower creation," or the "entire created world?" I'm trying to
> eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the children of God".)
> 2) Also, does anyone have an idea as to the meaning of THN APOKALUPSIN,
> which I have translated "unveiling?" Dunn suggests that this "unveiling" is
> the revelation of the "status" of the children of God. He does not, however,
> really indicate what he understands that "status" to be. He does personify
> this so that creation, as it were, becomes the audience watching the human
> actors as they play their parts upon the stage. There are others who see
> this revelation as some kind of resurrection experience or eschatalogical
> unveiling.

This sequence is utterly fascinating as Paul uses partly traditional
language and then extends it with some fresh imagery. I think he does
indeed refer to all of creation (cf. vs. 22), and that he uses the
traditional and recurrent apocalyptic eschatological language of "pangs of
childbirth" for the time of tribulation immediately preceding the
establishment of God's rule and the consummation of all of God's purposes.
The universe is in childbirth and is about to be delivered of its child,
the age-to-come, wherein, among other things, "the children of God" are to
be revealed. This passage has always made me think with a smile that Paul
foresees the forthcoming repeal of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I
think you could compare Phil 3:20-21, where Paul uses a different image:
the coming of Christ is like a visit of the emperor who will come to bring
the POLITEUMA of heaven to earth and transform us believers into a form
like his own.

As for "unveiling" or "revelation," I've always connected this to Paul's
peculiar eschatological dualism--his portrayal of the condition of
believers as a simultaneous existence in both flesh and spirit, hence with
a partially frustrated existence which will be wholly transformed and
integrated when Christ comes, when what we in a sense already ARE will
become fully evident to ourselves and to each other, no longer disguised by
the trappings and vestments of this perishable world-order in which we
necessarily participate as long as we continue to await the coming of

At any rate, it seems to me that Paul's talking about all of nature, all of
creation, as participating in these labor pains and as eager to experience
the transformation of all things into the age to come.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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