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Romans 8:17 seems to say every believer will be an heir of God and also a co-heir of Christ. However, by changing the punctuation, as some scholars say is permissible, the verse points to two different inheritances, or double heirship. In the words, “if children, then heirs – heirs of God,” there is the general sense of heir as each child of the Jewish family would receive an inheritance. Then, with the words, “and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed [or provided] we suffer with Him…,” there is the special inheritance as the firstborn of a family would have a double portion. In verse 17, the Greek word for “if indeed” or “provided” is “eiper.” It is explained that it means a condition that is not yet fulfilled and is dependent on fulfilling that condition. This means not everyone is included. Suffering for Christ is necessary to fulfill that condition whether physical, psychological, or social persecution. Some believers, desiring things of the world, try to circumvent suffering for the Lord. But one must suffer with Him, the “fellowship of His sufferings,” Philippians 3:10. Those who co-suffer will be co-glorified with Christ who is the First-born, even co-reigning with Him, II Timothy 2:12. They will have special privileges in His kingdom sharing in His inheritance, Revelation 2:26-27, 3:21. While all believers are children of God, John 1:12-13, and thus heirs, not all believers will automatically be co-heirs with Christ. Also, not all children are “sons” of God as indicated by comparing Romans 8:14 and Romans 8:16. The “sons” are the matured ones who walk by the Spirit and are led by the Spirit. The believer who conducts himself according to the Spirit possesses the relationship with God and the richness of life 8:1-16. Only those who are victorious to the end are eligible. Paul then continues the topic of suffering that believers, who are evidently co-heirs, must expect. The present sufferings are insignificant compared to the glories that are to be revealed, Romans 8:18. Creation and those with the firstfruits of the Spirit groan awaiting release and redemption until the revealing of the children of God, Romans 8:19-23. With perseverance, these co-heirs eagerly await the redemption of their body, 8:23. This is their hope, 8:24-25. Paul next covers the role of the Spirit, who intercedes for these co-heirs, 8:26-27. Because of their weaknesses, they need this Helper. Paul then connects co-heirs with the role of the sovereign God who outlines His purpose to those “who love God,” “those who are the called according to His purpose,” 8:28-32. God will see the believers who are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” Romans 8:37, through every trial. Nothing will separate them from the love of God. Co-heirs are believers who excel, being totally devoted to God. In the process, they suffer with Christ. They will not only obtain the natural inheritance as heirs of God, but they will obtain a royal inheritance when they will be rewarded to co-reign with Christ.
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