What does Romans 8:16 mean?
ESV: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
NIV: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
NASB: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
CSB: The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,
NLT: For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
KJV: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
NKJV: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Verse Commentary:
Paul has written in the previous verse that it is by God's Holy Spirit, given to us by God when we became His children through faith in Christ, that we call out to God as "Abba" or Father. Paul gave another name to the Spirit: "Spirit of adoption." God adopted us into His family.

Bit by bit, Paul is revealing exactly what the Holy Spirit does in and through those who are in Christ. In Romans 8, he emphasizes that communication between us and God is one of the key works of God's Spirit in us. That communication goes in both directions. By the Spirit, we can communicate with God at the most basic level. We cry to Him and He hears from us "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:26–27 goes even further, showing that the Spirit is the one who takes our prayers, even when we don't know what to pray, to the heart of our Father.

In this verse, the communication goes the other way. God communicates from His Spirit to our spirit that we are His children. His Spirit "bears witness," keeps communicating to us over and over that we belong in God's family now that we are in Christ. He confirms to us what is true on some deep and unspoken level.

The confidence we carry that we belong to God, not because of our goodness or effort but because of His love for us, comes directly from God's Spirit with us.
Verse Context:
Romans 8:12–17 describes our position in Christ as God's children; those who have been saved through faith in Christ. First, though, Paul warns us that we owe nothing to our old lives in the flesh. That's not who we are any longer. No, since we are led by God's Spirit, we are God's children. God has not given to us a spirit of slavery, but a spirit of adoption into His family. By God's Spirit, we cry out to Him as our ''Abba,'' which is an informal term for ''Father.'' He confirms in our spirit, too, that we are His children.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 8 begins and ends with declarations of the Christian's absolute security before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love. Having believed the gospel, we now live in the Spirit of God. That allows us to call God Abba Father. We suffer with Christ, and we suffer along with all creation while we wait for God to reveal us as His sons. With the help of the Spirit, we are confident that God is for us and loves us in Christ.
Chapter Context:
In Romans 7, Paul revealed his frustration of trying to do good only to be thwarted by his sin. He begins Romans 8, though, with the triumphant statement that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. We live in the Spirit, and we relate to God as a child does to a father. The Spirit helps us in this season of suffering along with all of creation while we wait for our adoption to be complete with the redemption of our bodies. We are confident, though, that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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