What does Romans 8:22 mean?
ESV: For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
NIV: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
NASB: For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
CSB: For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.
NLT: For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
KJV: For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Verse Commentary:
The previous verse described a future moment when God's children will be revealed in glory, and all of creation will be freed from bondage to decay and corruption. In other words, all will be made right. Creation will be returned to the state it occupied when first created, before sin entered into the world (Revelation 21:1–4; 1 John 3:2).

Now Paul makes it clear that we are not there yet. In this present moment, all of creation continues to groan together in the pains of childbirth. Clearly, this groaning coming from creation as it suffers in bondage to decay has been going on since sin entered into the world. It's still happening. Paul also adds a hopeful word picture. This groaning is like the pains of childbirth. In other words, the pain is real, vivid, and intense, but it is leading to a moment of "birth" when all will be made right and the pain will be forgotten.

This is similar to an analogy used by Jesus, in John 16:21–22: "When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."

Once again, we see that this passage of Romans does not ignore or dismiss human suffering. Pain is real, and human beings experience suffering in this life. The point here is not that pain is pleasant—on the contrary, it's a miserable thing. What can get us through the pain is knowing what awaits us on the other side. This is much like a woman in labor to deliver a baby. No woman wants the pain, itself, but she is willing to endure it because of the joyful result it brings.

Paul will show in the following verse that not only does creation groan now, but we Christians do, as well. We are also waiting for the day when the suffering will end and all will be made right.
Verse Context:
Romans 8:18–30 talks about the participation of Christians in the everyday suffering experienced by all of creation. We all groan together as a woman in labor while we wait for God to reveal His children. As His children, we are waiting for the Father to complete our adoption by redeeming our bodies so that we can be with Him. God's Spirit helps us in the season of waiting by taking our unformed prayers to God. We trust that God uses every circumstance in our lives for His purposes and that He has chosen us long ago to be 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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