Romans 8:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 8:28, NIV: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28, ESV: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28, KJV: "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 8:28, NASB: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Romans 8:28, NLT: "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Romans 8:28, CSB: "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."

What does Romans 8:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Here again, we find a verse which is extremely popular, often mis-applied, and even controversial. Despite its incredibly comforting message, some Christians have had an awkward relationship with this verse over the years. That is in no small part due to how easy it is to take this verse out of the context of Romans 8. Stripping these words of their context destroys the essence of what Scripture is saying. It is also possible to interpret the verse correctly, and still misuse it to dismiss the genuine pain and suffering of another person.

Paul has been describing the life of Christians on this side of heaven as one of groaning as we long to escape the suffering of this life and to be with our Father God in person (Romans 8:18–23). We wait in the sure hope of the day our bodies will be resurrected and we will share in God's glory (Romans 8:24–25).

What about all the hard things that come along while we are waiting? Paul seems to offer the promise of this verse as a comfort for us.

Crucially, though, this promise is limited to "those who love God," and "those who are called according to His purpose." In short, that means the promise is for Christians: for saved believers, who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ (John 3:16–18; 14:6; Romans 3:26). No matter our feelings on a given day, loving God is part of what it means to live in Christ. That's who we are. Each of us is also called to fulfill God's purposes.

In other words, this verse cannot rightly be applied to non-Christians. Those who reject God do not express their love for God by coming to Him through faith in Jesus. For those who die without Christ, things will not have worked out for the better; they will have rejected the opportunity to take advantage of this promise (John 3:36).

What is the promise? That, for those who are saved, all things will indeed work together for good. "All things" should be taken to mean each and every circumstance one might experience, even pain or suffering. "Work," or "work together," must be understood in light of God taking action in the world. He is the one who causes all things to work together or, perhaps, works in and through all circumstances toward a specific end. What is that end? "Good."

The word "good" does not necessarily mean happy or painless or financially successful or our idea of the best possible outcome on any given day. God's ultimate good for us is to glorify us in eternity (Revelation 21:1–4). Beyond that, God works in and through us toward an ultimate good that serves His purpose for the universe.

The comfort of the verse is that nothing in this life of waiting and suffering is wasted. It is all meaningful for those in Christ, even if that doesn't diminish our pain in the moment.