Romans 8:22. How does the whole creation groan? Does it literally groan? Romans 8:23 What is meant by “we are the first fruits of the Spirit”?
Romans 8:22-23 speaks about groaning. Why does the whole creation groan? The answer is found in the verses which come before them. In Romans 8:18-21 we are told that the creation was subjected to futility and that it waits to be freed from corruption. The creation includes the earth, stars, planets, plants, animals, and human beings. It is not as beautiful or as productive as it was originally designed. Because of Adam’s sin, the creation was cursed. Here is God’s message to Adam,
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” (NASB) Gen. 3:17
The entire creation became subjected to sin along with Adam and Eve, and as a result, it is not as beautiful as it was before Adam sinned. The ground is not as productive as it could be. The entire creation was changed in ways we do not completely understand.
Both Romans 8:19 and 22 tell us that the creation has been groaning and suffering as it waits to see the saints – those who believe in Jesus.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (NASB) Rom. 8:22
Dr. J. Vernon McGee has this to say about the creation’s groaning,
Some have called our attention to the fact that nature sings in minor key. The wind blowing through the pine trees on a mountainside and the breaking of the surf on some lonely shore – both emit the same sob. The music of trees has been recorded, and it is doleful. The startled cry of some frightened animal or bird pierces the night air and chills the blood. Surely nature bears audible testimony to the accuracy of Scripture.
J. V. McGee. Thru The Bible. Nelson Publishing. vol. IV, p. 703.
We do not know in how many ways the creation groans, but scripture says that it waits for each believing person until God brings a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-5). Does this imply that the creation thinks or is the apostle figurative? We do not know.
Every one who trusts or depends on Jesus Christ also groans as we wait for heaven.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (NASB) Rom. 8:23
The English form of the Greek word for the phrase “first fruits” is APARCHA. It refers to “the first part of the harvest.” The apostle is saying that the Holy Spirit gives us our first hint of what heaven will be like. His ministry to us is the first hint or taste of heaven. I know that I would rather be in heaven than here on this earth. I do not mean that I am sad to be here, but I know that heaven is very awesome. The earth is not. Come quickly Lord Jesus!
Romans 8:22-23 looks forward to the end of the world when all the saints of God will be revealed. In a sense the creation waits for a new birth too! It waits for the new creation. Come quickly Lord Jesus!