(ROMANS 8: 17)


"If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him." A.V.

"If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him." R.V.

"If we are children then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." N.I.V.

"If children, also heirs; heirs on one hand of God, joint heirs on the other of Christ, since we suffer with [him] in order also we may be glorified with [him]." Greek Interlinear.


Long years ago C. F. Hogg pointed out to me that the second clause in this verse contains in Greek the un-translated particles men . . . de, and should be rendered "heirs indeed of God, but joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him." Upon these particles that excellent classic W. H. Isaacs says that it is "a construction which in normal Greek has no purpose but to express an antithesis" (The Epistle to the Hebrews 73).  All children indeed inherit from the father - his life, love, care, training; but not all share the large portion of the first-born son.

Forty years ago there circulated in the West of England a small magazine entitled Counties Quarterly.  Being asked to contribute an article I sent a paper on John 9: 4, "We must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day," which stressed various things which must be done in this life or not at all, such as, to trust Christ for salvation, be baptized, remember the Lord in the breaking of the bread, witness for Him, win souls, and finally, suffer with Him if we would be glorified with Him.  The above passage was cited in the translation and sense just mentioned.

It transpired that the magazine was owned by the Editors of Echoes of Service and the matter proposed for insertion was submitted to them.  Mr. W. E. Vine wrote to the Editor a courteous note that, as this use of the passage was a matter of dispute, perhaps it were better to omit the sentence.  He added that the Greek construction in the place (eipher "if" with the indictive of the verb) does not create a condition but means "since we suffer with Him we shall be glorified with Him."

The difference is momentous.  The latter sense implies that all children of God will share the glory of Christ, the former that this honour is contingent upon sharing His sufferings.  The sense adopted here will govern our understanding of many other passages.

I readily altered my paper but said to myself, "Mr. Vine is a Greek scholar, which I am not; but I will look into this."  There was then living in Bristol a classic scholar, a Cambridge M. A., who had been classic master at Derby Colledge, and was at this time a coach of university students.  Men like C. F. Hogg used to consult him.  His name was F. W. Reynolds.

I mentioned to him this passage and what Mr. Vine had said as to the force of "if" with the indicative of the verb.  He replied; "That is what we were always taught on the blackboard at Cheltenham College."  I agree that this was the rule in classical Greek but suggested that it did not always hold in New Testament Greek and asked him to look at 2 Tim. 2: 11, 12:- 

If we died with Him,

we shall also live with Him:

If we endure,

we shall also reign with Him:

If we shall deny Him,

He also will deny us:

If we are faithless,

He abideth faithful;

for He cannot deny Himself.

Now, I said, here are four parallel poetic clauses, and having all the same grammatical construction they must all be construed alike, and it is the same construction as in Rom. 8: 17 It is impossible to take the "if" here as meaning "since," for it were contrary to fact to say "since we deny Him ... since we are faithless," for not all believers deny Him or are faithless to Him.  So that the same writer, writing later on the same subject, uses the same construction to express a condition upon which depends the realization of the hope stated, and this must govern the earlier statement in Rom. 8: 17 or he will be made to contradict himself.

For a while Mr. Reynolds looked steadily at his Greek Testament, and said, "You are certainly right."  I added: Is not this an example of what scholars now know, that the New Testament was not written in classical Greek, but in the every day speech of the people?  To which he assented.

The sense "since we suffer we shall therefore be glorified" robs the eipher "if" of any real weight.  The particle is rendered by scholars in this place, and in verse 9 preceding, "if indeed," "if at least." "provided that" (Darby, Alford). E. H. Gifford (Speaker’s Commentary) says: "eiper ... represents the ‘fellowship of His sufferings’ (Phil. 3: 10) as an indispensable condition of sharing His glory."  Obviously this is the plain and simple force of the English Versions "if so be."  On these verses 9 and 17 Fritz Reinicker says: "eiper, if in reality (wenn wirklich) - expresses an expectation the justness of which must first be tested" (Sprachlicher Schlussel zum Griechischen N. T. 412).

Further, the unconditional use nullifies the final clause  "if so be that we suffer that we may be also glorified." Where hina with the subjunctive of the verb cannot but have the conditional force "in order that we may be glorified." "If so be ... in order that" cannot have the meaning "since ... therefore."



Upon eiper comp. 1Cor. 15: 15: "Whom He raised not up, if indeed [eiper ara] dead men not raised": and Moulton and Milligan (Vocab. of Gk. Test. 182) : "For the emphatic eiper ‘if indeed,’ cf. ‘please return to the city, unless indeed [eiper me] something most pressing occupies you’."