Romans 8:28, an Exposition                                                                           by Jack Kettler


In this study, the meaning of and encouragement found in Romans 8:28 will be considered.  


“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


Breaking down the phrase “we know” from Strong's Lexicon:


“we know

Οἴδαμεν (Oidamen)

Verb - Perfect Indicative Active - 1st Person Plural

Strong's Greek 1492: To know, remember, appreciate.”


Strong's Concordance:


“eidó: be aware, behold, consider, perceive

Original Word: οἶδα

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: eidó

Phonetic Spelling: (i'-do)

Definition: be aware, behold, consider, perceive

Usage: I know, remember, appreciate.”


Note: “We know” is in the perfect active tense means that it is already completed, thus, inspiring confidence. Consider a few other passages from Romans and how the Apostle Paul uses the Greek word Οἴδαμεν:


“Romans 7:14

GRK: οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι

KJV: For we know that the law”


“Romans 7:18

GRK: οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι

KJV: For I know that in”


“Romans 8:22

GRK: οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι

KJV: For we know that the whole” (underlining emphasis mine)


Now consider God’s action in the Romans 8:28 passage, “are called:”


Strong’s Lexicon:



οὖσιν (ousin)

Verb - Present Participle Active - Dative Masculine Plural

Strong's Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.”



κλητοῖς (klētois)

Adjective - Dative Masculine Plural

Strong's Greek 2822: From the same as klesis; invited, i.e. Appointed, or, a saint.”


Together, both οὖσιν (present indicative) and κλητοῖς (appointed, or a saint) indicate present realities.


Is there a condition found in the text? Consider, “called according to his purpose.” It is apparent that the condition is found in God’s purpose and not anything depending on a man’s action. Thus, the condition is found in God’s purpose, which further strengthens the certainty of this promise.


The Strong’s Concordance confirms this:


“prothesis: a setting forth, i.e. fig. proposal, spec. the showbread, sacred (bread)

Original Word: πρόθεσις, εως, ἡ

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine

Transliteration: prothesis

Phonetic Spelling: (proth'-es-is)

Definition: a setting forth, proposal, the showbread, sacred (bread)

Usage: a setting forth, the show-bread; predetermination, purpose.”


The certainty is seen in other passages from Paul using similar grammatical structure:


“Romans 9:11

GRK: κατ' ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις τοῦ θεοῦ

NAS: that God's purpose according

KJV: that the purpose of God

INT: according to election purpose of God”


“Ephesians 1:11

GRK: προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ

NAS: according to His purpose who works

KJV: according to the purpose of him who worketh

INT: having been predestined according to [the] purpose of him who the”


“Ephesians 3:11

GRK: κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων

NAS: with the eternal purpose which

KJV: the eternal purpose which

INT: according to [the] purpose of the ages”


Parallel Translations:


New International Version

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”


New Living Translation

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”


English Standard Version

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”


New American Standard Bible

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


Holman Christian Standard Bible

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”


American Standard Version

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.”


English Revised Version

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.”


“Young's Literal Translation

And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose.”


Helpful Cross References:


Acts 13:48

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”


Romans 8:30

“Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”


Romans 11:29

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”


1 Corinthians 1:9

“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”


1 Corinthians 1:24

“But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”


Galatians 1:15

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,”


Interestingly, in the above passages, the verb tenses are present or past tense, meaning the grounds for hope is a present reality.


Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:


“28. And we knew, &c.] Here appears a fresh assurance of safety. We have seen (1) the certainty of the son-ship of the believer; (2) the fact that his sorrows are only the prelude of glory; (3) the Divine assistance afforded him by the Holy Spirit, especially in prayer. Now, before the final appeal, we have an express statement of the truth that the children of God are the objects on His part of an Eternal Purpose, which must issue in their final blessedness, and must thus turn “all things” at last to good for them. This is stated as a confessed certainty, well known in the Church.


all things] In the amplest sense. See Romans 8:38-39 for illustration. No doubt St Paul has especially in view the sufferings of the saints, which would often tempt them to say “these things are against me.” But peace and rest, on earth, are perils also; and even such trials therefore need a similar assurance. —St Chrysostom’s dying words were, “Glory be to God for all things.”


work together] As means in the great Worker’s hand. It is instructive to note this expression in a passage where also the Divine Decrees are in view. The eternal Will takes place not arbitrarily, but through means; and those means are immensely various, and mutually adjusted by supreme Wisdom only.


for good] Chiefly, no doubt, the final Good is meant, the fruition of God in eternal Glory. But all true good by the way is included, as part of the path thither.


that love God] As His children; in whose hearts His love has been “outpoured by the Holy Ghost” (Ch. Romans 5:5). Observe that this note of saintship stands first in this memorable passage; not eternal election, but that conscious love to God in Christ which is its sure fruit, and without which no speculation of mysteries brings the soul near to Him. —It is the True God alone who makes this His unalterable demand; “Thou shalt love me.”


to them who are the called] Identical with “them that love Him.” See on Romans 1:6, for the profound meaning of “the call.” 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 is a clear illustration, in contrast with Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14. In the Gospels the word “call” refers to outward hearing; in the Epistles to inward reception, due to a special and sovereign influence from above. —See too Revelation 17:14.


according to his purpose] Same word as Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9. See especially the last passage and Ephesians 1:11, for the sense in which St Paul uses the word here. It is the intention of “Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will;” and it is absolute and sovereign, in the sense not of arbitrary caprice, (God forbid,) but in that of its being uncaused by anything external to Himself. The gift of life is “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose.” His “good pleasure” was, “before the world began,” “purposed in Himself.” (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11.) In the next verses, St Paul explains his meaning further. — (The word “His” is not in the Gr., but is certainly right in translation.)” (1)



In closing:


Romans 8:28 inspired this writer while working 60 hours each week to build a six-figure income in a yearly 400 hundred million dollars per year sales company. When this writer won a top twenty business builders of the year award, Romans 8:28 was announced as this writer’s favorite inspirational passage. However, and more importantly, spiritually, this passage is not necessarily about material success but rather a confidence in God’s promises for the task of those active in missions, in personal spiritual assurance, and in general sustaining one’s life. 


To further buttress this closing’s spiritual observation:


Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Another argument to comfort us under the cross, from the benefits of it;


We know that all things, &c. It is not matter of guess only and conjecture, but of certainty and assurance. How is this known?


1. By the testimony of God; the Scripture tells us as much, Psalm 128:1,2 Isa 3:10.


2. By our own experience; we are assured of it by the event and effects of all things, both upon ourselves and others.


All things, even sin itself; because from their falls, God’s children arise humbler and more careful. Afflictions are chiefly intended; the worst and crossest providences, those things that are evil in themselves, they work for good to the children of God.


Work together; here is their operation, and their co-operation: First, they work together with God. What the apostle says of himself and others in the ministry, 2 Corinthians 6:1, that may be said of other things, especially of afflictions; they are workers together with God. Some read the words thus, God co-operates all too good. Again, they work together with us; we ourselves must concur, and be active herein; we must labour and endeavour to get good out of every providence. Once more, they work together amongst themselves, or one with another. Take this or that providence singly, or by itself, and you shall not see the good it doth; but take it in its conjunction and connexion with others, and then you may perceive it. One exemplifies it thus: As in matter of physic, if you take such and such simples alone, they may poison rather than cure; but then take them in their composition, as they are made up by the direction of a skillful physician, and so they prove an excellent medicine.


For good; sometimes for temporal good, Genesis 1:20; always for spiritual and eternal good, which is best of all. All occurrences of providence shall serve to bring them nearer to God here, and to heaven hereafter.


According to his purpose: these words are added to show the ground and reason of God’s calling us; which is nothing else but his own purpose and good pleasure; it is not according to our worthiness, but his purpose: see 2 Timothy 1:9.” (2) 


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)




1.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, H. C. G. Moule, Romans, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Romans, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 506.


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com