The Big Picture

Romans 8

Principle for Bible Reading

John Piper has completed thirty labs working verse-by-verse through Romans 8. In this last lab, he sums up all that we have learned and explains how the highest points relate to each other. We need to be regularly stepping back in our Bible reading to see the bigger picture.

The Levels of Romans 8

John Piper uses levels to summarize Romans 8. Many of you will not be able to recreate this yourself today, and that is completely fine. The point here is to pick up principles for seeing connections and relationships between the bigger ideas in a passage or chapter. We hope this lab helps pull the pieces together from the series and models a broader way of thinking through a text that complements and completes a careful verse-by-verse study.

View the outline.


Brief Introduction to Levels (00:00–02:11)

We will attempt to summarize Romans 8 in three steps:

  1. Summarize the main points of each section in a chapter in one sentence.
  2. Identify the relationship between those main points. Which statements support or follow from the others?
  3. Diagram those relationships to

Summarize the Main Points (02:11–08:06)

  1. Romans 8:38–39: God’s love for us goes back into eternity and is unshakeable.
  2. Romans 8:29–30: God’s love for us gives rise to an unbreakable chain of salvation.
  3. Romans 8:28 (cf. 8:21): God’s unshakeable, unbreakable love causes him to work all things together for our good, namely our glory.
  4. Romans 8:18–27: God is working all things for our good through our suffering and by our suffering.
  5. Romans 8:15: All of this produces our full assurance that we are God’s children forever.
  6. Romans 8:4–14: And this unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit in us, enabling us to kill sin and to love people.
  7. Romans 8:1–3: These points (#3–6) are supported by the work of Christ on the cross, where God condemned our sin.

Summary of the Greatest Chapter (08:06–10:18)

The whole of Romans 8 is in the service of present holiness and love — a kind of love that lays down its life for the lost, and thus brings great glory to God (cf. Matthew 5:16).

Study Questions

  1. Look back over all of Romans 8. What are the 5–8 high points in Paul’s argument? If you had to summarize what you’ve learned and share it with someone, which 5–8 points would you include.
  2. Now, try to explain the relationship between those summary points. With each new point, how does it relate in Paul’s argument to what came before and what comes after?
  3. Take some time to pray over all that you’ve learned. Offer these truths — specific truths from specific verses — back to God in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.
Piper: “The whole of Romans 8 is in the service of holiness and love, a love that lays down its life for others.”

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is the final lab in 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.