All Things Work Together for Good

Romans 8:28, Part 1

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8:28 is one of the most important and most treasured verses and promises in the Bible. In this lab, John Piper begins a series of three labs pulling apart the critical pieces in these twenty-four words for understanding and embracing our sovereign and good God.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:48)

What Does ‘Good’ Mean? (01:48–05:30)

“We do not know what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). But there is something we do know. What do we know? We know that all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28).

  1. What does “good” mean? First, it is “good” to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Romans 8:29). We will be like him one day in sinlessness and purity.
  2. Second, being conformed to him, we will be in a position to see and praise him, the One who goes before us and is lifted above us (Romans 8:29).
  3. The last good of Romans 8:28 is our final glorification (Romans 8:30).

What Are the ‘All Things’? (05:30–11:03)

  1. All things — positive or negative, painful or pleasurable — are by his design, and sustained by him, and for his glory (Romans 11:36).
  2. God will work all things according to the counsel of his will, and his will is for our good (Ephesians 1:11–12).
  3. Everything we need in this life will be ours, including painful things that are necessary to bring us to glory (Romans 8:31–34).
  4. Even death is yours. Death itself will serve our ultimate, lasting life (1 Corinthians 3:21–23).
  5. All our sufferings will serve our future glory (Romans 8:18–21).
  6. All of our groaning will work together for our good (Romans 8:23–25). At least one way this happens is that suffering produces hope (Romans 5:3–5).

Study Questions

  1. Try to define “good” in Romans 8:28. Clearly, it does not mean comfort or ease or health or prosperity. So what does it mean here?
  2. When Paul says “all things,” what kinds of things does he have in mind?
  3. Read Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 3:21–23, and Romans 5:3–5. Do those verses change or shape the way you read Romans 8:28? If so, in what ways?
Piper: “We will have everything we need in this life, including painful things necessary to bring us to glory.”

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.