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 – Romans 2:8
Meaning of Romans 8:28
The meaning of the verse, “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,” is that a Christian will experience hardship and trouble. However, the reader can understand that God will resolve all their issues in the end. It does not imply that the reader will easily get to heaven by just being a Christian. Hence, Apostle Paul assures Christians that those who love God will have to endure a tough life in order to fulfill their life’s purpose. “All things” here means pain or suffering. Apostle Paul only directs this verse to Christians who love God and are also loved by Him for their faith.
Interpretations of Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 is a commonly quoted bible verse in churches by preachers but is widely misinterpreted. Here are some explanations a reader could derive from the verse.
Interpretation #1 Not loving God means a person is rejecting God
In the interpretation of the verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,” the readers usually describe an agnostic person. An agnostic person is someone who believes in God but also believes that God doesn’t care for his people. The author Paul here wants to tell people that those who don’t love him are rejecting him. There are also Christians in this world who are extremely religious out of fear of God but don’t love him and might be rejecting God, according to the Apostle Paul. So, although God loves everyone, he has more affection toward those Christians who love him even during hard times.
Interpretation #2 Christians always experience good
The reader can interpret Romans 8:28 as Christians always being lucky or blessed in their lives. One might think that one can get good jobs, good marriage, and the good life just by being a Christian or a believer. one might also interpret that God’s children will never have to experience any kind of trouble or hardships in their lives just by going to church, reading the bible daily and following the ten commandments. Hence, the meaning of the verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,” is that only good things happen to a person if they are a believer/Christian.
Interpretation #3 God shows favoritism toward his children
In this interpretation of the verse, “to them who are the called according to his purpose,” the reader assumes that God tends to show bias towards his children. The word “called” means chosen, and it implies that God has chosen only certain people in the world to fulfill his purpose. The reader is likely to turn towards other sources for help and support while believing that the rest of the church also treats the Christians unfairly. Though God mentions that there is a purpose for everyone in the same verse, he or she may also feel inadequate along with feeling disappointment. Hence, the reader perceives Roman 8:28 as God showing favoritism towards his followers.
Interpretation #4 To enter heaven, God’s children should face challenges
In this version, the reader compares the following adage, “good things don’t come easy”. He or she can see a life of hardship as a gateway to heaven. The meaning of the phrase, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” is that God’s children need to face troubles and overcome them in order to attain heaven after death. Thus, being a Christian is not easy and involves a difficult life so that they can be prepared for their life in heaven. He or She can believe that God likes to prepare his children on earth for heaven like a parent toughens his/her child for life’s difficulties. This could be because he wants to mold or shape his children into good human beings.
Interpretation #5 God calls and equips people who love Him sincerely
The final interpretation of the verse, “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,” the reader, especially a Christian, strongly believes that God chooses people who love him with all their heart and armors them with strength, resilience, and endurance to face troubles and hardships in life. God also promises an afterlife with him to every believer who can overcome temptations and remain sincere in their career and relationships. Apostle Paul may have said these words to bring a source of comfort for Christians facing difficulties.
Historical background of Romans 8:28
Romans 8 is the eighth chapter of the letter to the Romans in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It was written by Paul the Apostle while he was in Corinth in the mid-50s AD, with the help of his secretary, Tertius. The central essence of Romans 8 is salvation, suffering, hardships, endurance, and the holy spirit. The book of Romans is also the longest and last written among Paul’s authentic epistles. Romans 8:28 particularly talks about those who love God and are saved. He means the verse as a source of comfort for Christians who find themselves in hardships often.
Literary Devices of Romans 8:28
The verse of Romans 8:28 appears like a statement but has few interesting literary devices. Here are some of them.
Antithesis – The verse is a good example of antithesis because in the first phrase, the author mentions his readers loving God, and in the second phrase, it opposes the idea and mentions God’s calling for them, which also implies that God calls those whom He loves.
Chiasmus – there is also a good use of both clauses balancing first and second phrases, making it a good example of chiasmus. For example, “to them that love God, to them who are the called.”
Symbolism – The Verse Romans 8:28 is also a symbol of faith as well as God’s promise to His children.
Alliteration – The verse has good use of consonant sounds in quick succession at the beginning of the words. For example, the sound of /th/ in ‘for good to them that love God’.
Consonance – The verse has good use of consonance in the second phrase. For example, the sounds of /d/ and /s/ in ‘to them who are the called according to his purpose.