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Romans 8:12-17 – Heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ– if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.


This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. This day in the lectionary schedule is also known as Trinity Sunday. It will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, May 27, 2018. It is important as Paul wrote of the debt all human beings owe to the Father, which has to be understood as beyond the time we spend on earth in the flesh.

Again, it is modern paraphrasing that identifies “sisters” in the above translation. Paul wrote, “Ara oun , adelphoi  ,” which says, “So then  ,  brothers”.  This states the result of (“So then”) what Paul had stated prior (Romans 8:1-11), with that now being “brothers.”  Because one has to believe that Paul wrote divinely (not just as some ordinary guy), every word he wrote has divine purpose, which should not be overlooked.  Therefore, “brothers” must be understood, rather than slap “sisters” to that word.

The word “adelphoi ” is set alone by commas, placing importance on its meaning.  It is a stand-alone statement of “brotherhood,” as “brothers” or “brethren.” The word “adelphoi ” says nothing about “sisters.” The Greek word “adelphé” means “sister” and “adelfés” says “sisters.” The exclusivity of women is NOT the point of what Paul wrote.  It should be read as a word similar to “mankind,” which includes all human beings under one heading.

By placing commas around the plural form of the word “brother”, Paul was placing emphasis on the relationship ALL Christians share. Both men and women are “brothers”, as “Sons of God”, because they ALL have been reborn as Jesus Christ. By adding the word “sisters,” the glaring differences between males and females is entered into the interpretation erroneously.

It is unnecessary, as ALL Christians are the wives of God (regardless of human gender), just as ALL Christians are reborn as the Son of God (regardless of human gender), making ALL Christians be brothers of the same Father.  One must get beyond the modern training that gender be given equal status, because that is only a distraction away from the truth.

The same qualifications for a knight of the round table are the same for a Saint.

Seeing “brothers” as ALL who are related spiritually, one should then see this familial relationship with the Father as being what makes one a debtor. Thus, following the pause of a comma after “brothers,” this becomes stated as “we are debtors” (literally “debtors we are”).  This makes “debt” be relative to this announcement of “brothers.”

From that realization, Paul discounted how “brothers” were “not to the flesh.”  From this statement, one must grasp how it is the “flesh” that differentiates a man from a woman.  Thus, it is the “flesh” that separates “brothers” from sisters. This statement says (in essence): “Do not mistake “brothers” as saying “brothers and sisters,” because the debt owed has nothing to do with one’s sexuality on the earthly plane.

When Paul wrote, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die,” this was reference to all mortal human beings, who come in the shapes and forms of men and women, males and females. The only reason souls are incarnated (reincarnated) in different shapes and forms is to reproduce. Souls cannot reproduce souls, as souls are immortal, thus asexual by nature. The flesh reproduces so souls can be reincarnated.

To put that in gender terms, souls are masculine “energy,” while bodies (regardless of human gender) are feminine “energy.” God can be seen as masculine, as the Father, whereas the Earth is called a Mother.  In this sense, my use of “energy” should be seen as non-physical, but a compatibility, such as is positive and negative.  It is similar to the notion that opposites are attracted to one another, as compliments.

Thus, the feminine flesh of a baby (regardless of human gender) is penetrated by the masculine soul.  The flesh of the baby receives that breath of life.  The soul’s asexuality then aligns with the human gender, based on the flesh.  This union then stimulates an innate drive to procreate. That innate drive is a need of the flesh, because the flesh knows it is temporal and must reproduce to continue the possibility of life returning to the worldly plane, as returning souls need flesh to inhabit.

The aspect of “the Spirit,” as translated in verse 13, where we read, “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live,” is inaccurate.  The Greek actually shows “pneumati” in the lower case (“πνεύματι”). This is then a reference to “the breath” of life, which is the entrance of a “soul” into a form of flesh. A “spirit” that is a soul is eternal; but a returning soul into a form of flesh is not commonly holy.  There are exceptions, such as Jesus, born of a woman.

Verse 13 is also divided by commas, where the better translation can make this lack of holiness more evident.  Literally, the verse states, “If however the breath (wind, soul spirit)  the deeds of the body you put to death  you will live.” This is not a statement of God’s reward to a soul of eternal life, but a promise of reincarnation to a soul.  Reincarnation is a new “breath of life” in human form.  Still, that “spirit” of life brings about the opportunity to achieve eternal life – IF the normal deeds (normal “doings, acts, functions”) of a body of flesh lead an eternal soul to lose its host body (a mortal death).  If a soul directs its body wisely, then it will be reborn into a new body of flesh (i.e.: a newborn baby).

The condition (the “IF”) is then based on the soul somewhat controlling the actions of a body. This admits there will be sins accrued that will prevent the reward of everlasting return to the Father, but enough good deeds will have been done to warrant another chance on the physical plane.  It is just as do not punish a first grader to hard labor in the fields for failing to make the grades that would allow it to go to the second grade.  We also do not graduate straight A first graders to the college level.  This is a mirror of how much is required to be one with God again.  However, should the soul allow the body (by evil influence) to earn itself eternal damnation, then the soul will not find new life in human form. This is the proverbial “Hell.”

When Paul then wrote, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,” the capitalized version of “Pneumati” was written (“Πνεύματι”). This is then a reference to those of humanity who are led by the Holy Spirit. The translation of verse 14 shown above, as using the neuter gender word “children,” actually states “huioi,” which means “sons.” The proper translation here then supports the initial claim of being “brothers,” as now the presence of the Spirit  makes one be identified as “son of God.”

This parental relationship with God is then stated as a relationship that reproduces the Son, Jesus Christ.  This masculine association also means the “Spirit,” which is masculine in nature, has caused this relationship to be. Since this masculinity is asexual, there is no sexuality implied by being “sons of God.” Spirits and souls have existed from the Creation and have no need (no ability whatsoever, for that matter) to reproduce.  This is, again, the masculine “energy” of Spirituality being within the feminine “energy” that is a human body.

Angels are neither male of female, in the sense that human beings are. Angels have no sex organs, which includes breasts that would only have a human purpose, such as to nurse babies.

It is then important to see how there is no capitalization of the word “spirit” in verse 15, where we read above it stating, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.” When one realizes the difference between the “spirit” of life (God’s breathing an eternal soul into flesh) and the “Spirit of God” (the Holy Spirit), then one can see how this translation is saying the renewing of a soul into flesh, giving that flesh life, is not done by God so that the soul will enter into a state of “slavery,” which is an addiction of the flesh to sin.

The reborn soul (reborn into new flesh) is meant to lead the flesh to serve God, not to “fall back into fear,” where “slavery” is to Satan and his material realm. Instead, a soul, as an extension of God that needs redemption to return to God, is placed back into new flesh so it can lead the flesh to “receive a spirit of adoption.” One is adopted by God when one is reborn anew (the transformation of the same soul in the same flesh) as Jesus Christ.

One is not adopted prior to birth into the flesh.  One is adopted after one has lived enough life to understand sin and experience guilt from sin.  Then one has to petition for adoption by repentance for the sins one feels remorse from.

That represents a spiritual change within, which means one’s whole being (soul in flesh) opens to God, through acts of repentance.  One becomes active in learning the messages of holy Scripture.  When one has proved to God one’s sincerity for seeking atonement, the love of God will enter one’s being.  The result of that union brings about a reproduction of the Son of God, so one is truly in the name of Jesus Christ.  True Christians are then those who become the “brothers” of all other Saints on earth (regardless of human gender). Until that transformation takes place, one is “a spirit to slavery” that all human beings are, since the soul is a slave to the flesh, just as the flesh is a slave to the soul.

Human beings are slaves to mortality. The only way to break those chains is through Jesus Christ.

Where Paul wrote about “you have received a spirit of adoption,” here again is an overlooked statement about “brothers” and “sons.”  The Greek actually states “elabete pneuma huiothesias,” where the literal translation says, “you have taken hold of (or received) the spirit [lower case] of adoption as sons.”  The implication of divine adoption can be read into this, but not as total adoption, as the sons of God.  The lower case “spirit” is a statement that one’s soul has “received” or “taken hold of” the ways of righteousness, as far as one can do good alone.  This is how one shows oneself worthy to progress to that point of being “adopted as a son” of God.

Still, the form of the word making the statement about adoption is masculine, thus more properly translated as “adoption of sons.”  This can be seen as how God saw the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, prior to their official recognition as sons of God on Pentecost Sunday, the day after Jesus ascended to the Father.  While The Acts of the Apostles places focus on the male disciples becoming “adopted sons of God,” it still must be assumed that women (such as Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Cleopas, and other females in the crowds who received the Spirit) were also adopted “sons.” Their female human gender was not a limitation on their adoption worthiness.

Paul then wrote, “When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  Here, both the capitalized and lower case versions of “pneuma” are used. That says that the Holy Spirit has made entrance into one’s soul (one’s spirit), causing a thrill of awareness overcome one’s being, such that it knows (“bearing witness”) the Father is in one’s heart center.

By saying “with our spirit,” this is the baptism of one’s soul by the Holy Spirit’s presence, so both become one. When that happens, all baptized souls become the “children of God,” where “children” is the correct translation, from the Greek “tekna.” The use of “children” comes with the understanding of asexuality, since both human genders are equally incapable of reproduction, therefore “children” is a word deemed neuter gender. The word “children” then also implies a lack of adult mentality, where “children” are dependent on the Father for learning.

The aspect of mentality is then found in Paul writing, “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” It says that the “children of God,” as “sons of God,” will inherit the knowledge of God, which comes through the Mind of Christ. It then lets one realize that this awareness that comes from being “children of God,” “inheriting” the Mind of God’s Son, allowing Christians to become “brothers” in Christ (regardless of human gender) is to realize the debts of sins being washed clean by the Holy Spirit then makes one in debt to the grace of God.

The Mind of Christ frees our spirits from thinking we are slaves to a mortal body that will die. The Mind of Christ frees our spirits from the fears of a mortal existence. The Mind of Christ is the realization that we are indeed “heirs” to the same Holy Spirit that was made man by God and sent into the world as Jesus of Nazareth.

This selection then ends with Paul writing, “If, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him,” which again poses a conditional requirement.  This tells how one knows that one’s “spirit” has indeed been “led by the Spirit of God.” IF that condition has been met, then “we suffer with him.”  The word “sumpaschó” means “I suffer together with,” but this is synonymous with “sympathize.”  This means one suffers by knowing so many in the world are still blind to being adopted by God.

The Greek word “sympaschomen” states “we suffer together with,” which implies the Spirit of God, as one being with Jesus Christ. This says that the Mind of Christ is what enables one to withstand the suffering that causes others to lament.  Personally, one knows the same agony that one faces when denying the pleasures and comforts offered by a sinful world. Still, that experience of suffering is what proved oneself as worthy for adoption by God.

The bond of togetherness – one’s soul spirit with the baptism from the Holy Spirit having brought about the Mind of Christ – is what brings one the “glory of being together with” (“sundoxazó”) Jesus Christ. This is how one can claim to be in the name of Jesus Christ. This is also how ALL who are likewise baptized by the Holy Spirit are “brothers” in Christ, where ALL SAINTS also share the same “glory [from being] together with” Jesus.

As a reading selection for the First Sunday after Pentecost, where the ministry of Apostles has begun, symbolically having taken its first step, we must then see how this is called Trinity Sunday because the Father, Holy Spirit, and Son have been reignited in a soul. All who have this Trinity within them are then “brothers” as having been reborn as Jesus Christ.  Christians are those who have truly become the adopted sons of God (regardless of human gender).

This is the message of the accompanying Gospel reading from John, where Jesus of Nazareth tried to explain this necessary requirement for salvation to Nicodemus, only to see how easy it is to deny this message. The first step of ministry leads to many others, where the “glory of being with Jesus Christ” does not stop with one soul being saved – one’s own. Christian souls are saved for the purpose of sending Jesus Christ into the world, as one with oneself, to save others. The brotherhood of Christianity goes well beyond the limitations and divisions of mortal life on earth, where men and women are called to serve the LORD as His Son.

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