Q: What Does Romans 8:28 Mean?

Many Christians are confused about the apostle Paul’s statement, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

God often does not spare us from the most horrendous illnesses, tragedies, and adversities that sin on this earth brings. Nor does He usually tell us why He allows awful things to happen to us. When we go through tragedy, we often question God’s love for us.

When Paul wrote Romans 8:28, his life was filled with suffering, persecution, pain, imprisonment, and threats of death for preaching the gospel (2 Cor. 4:8–11; 11:23–28). How are we to interpret his statement? The verse is a direct revelation from God that we must interpret in the context of the whole chapter.

Paul said, “We know that all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28). That is, we perceive through intuition or sense perception that God is working in all Christians for our good. The word all is inclusive, referring to every experience we face, good or bad. The word work is present tense and speaks of God’s continual work throughout our lives for good. God directs, blends, and coordinates the mixture of experiences we have for our ultimate good.

The word good does not refer to what we think is good for us but, rather, what God in His love thinks is best to conform us to the image of Christ (v. 29). The prerequisite for God’s intervention is our ongoing love for Him. When times get tough, we must trust that He loves us.

Paul identified the recipients of this promise as “those who are the called according to His purpose” (v. 28). Called refers to God’s “effectual call” in our lives, whereby we respond to the gospel by faith and become saved.

Everyone experiences adversity in life, Christians and non-Christians alike; but Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who offers intercessory prayer for us according to God’s will (vv. 26–27).

All afflictions are allowed by God for “His purpose” (v. 28). Nothing happens outside God’s plan, and what happens is for our ultimate “good.” God is sovereign over every event in a Christian’s life (Isa. 46:9–11).

So remember, even when events feel like they’re crushing you and your life is in chaos, God is still in charge and loves you. Nothing can separate you from His love and goodness (Rom. 8:35, 38–39).

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