Unspeakable groans… the groans that cannot be uttered that the Spirit make for us



Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8.26

Man and woman of faith, the peace of the Lord with you. With regard to the ‘groanings which cannot be uttered’ of the Spirit, from the text in reference, in many Christian circles there is an interpretative tendency to see in them the tongues that arise from the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 14:21); however, if you read the apostle’s full message throughout this chapter, you will see that the theme of teaching that the apostle is developing is about the ‘Law of the Spirit of life in Christ’:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

(vers.2)

Therefore, the ”groans which cannot be uttered” to which the apostle is referring are not the ”new tongues” which have arisen from the experience of the Baptism in the Spirit; the apostle is referring rather to the communion which the Spirit develops in the spirit of the born-again believer, and which keeps him in constant spiritual contact with the Father even though he, the believer, may not be in prayer all day, the following verse clearly explains this:

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

(vers. 9)

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ states that whoever is born again ‘has’ the Spirit of Christ, and therefore ‘does not walk in the flesh’. This doctrine of ‘not walking in the flesh’ is not an allegorical way of referring to the adoption of faith in Jesus, but the true effect of regeneration on the nature of the believer; ‘regeneration’ being understood as recreation, or as John presents it, a ‘being born again’ of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5). Paul emphasizes this doctrine in the following verses:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God

(vers. 14-16)

So, we can already understand that the ‘groans that cannot be uttered’ do not have to do with speaking in ‘other tongues’, which for the effects of life in Christ are the visible manifestation of the Spirit, but, the ‘groans that cannot be uttered’ (στεναγμοις αλαλητοις), are the ‘hidden’ intervention of the Spirit in favor of the believer, that is, in most cases, the believer is not aware of such activity. The apostle’s expression for ‘groans that cannot be uttered’, in Greek, στεναγμοις αλαλητοις (stenagmis alalitis), has a meaning more like “breath sighs,” implying that just as a man and woman breathe constantly and continuously in order to exist physically, so ‘groans that cannot be uttered’ are the spiritual “breath” that keeps the believer’s spirit alive.

Why does Paul speak of ‘groans that cannot be uttered’ in this section? Because Paul understands that the sufferings provoked by the world to persecute the believer are not only aimed at tormenting him, but more so, at destroying his faith; Paul explains this in the following verses:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

(vers. 18)

Now, Man and woman of faith, note the Apostle’s conclusion. The ‘groans which cannot be uttered’ is a spiritual ‘groan’, I insist, which the Believer does not realize; look at it as the Apostle passes from the development of the ‘groans which cannot be uttered’ to the teaching of how ‘we groan within ourselves’:

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.  …   26but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

(vers. 22 y 23)

So, as you can clearly see, the ‘groans that cannot be uttered’ are not the visible or conscious activity of the believers, but the hidden operation of the Spirit in their favour to keep them alive spiritually, and above all, to keep them strong to resist the persecution of the world; the only one who notices the ‘groans that cannot be uttered’ is the Father, who for the purposes of communication between the believer and Him, and by virtue of this, the Father guides them by His Will, thus concludes the apostle:

And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

(vers. 27)

Who is it that searches the hearts? The one who searches the hearts is the Father through His Holy Spirit, so He knows what the situation is under which everyone is, even before they are presented in prayer, just as Jesus Himself taught His disciples,

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Mathew 6:8

Thus the ‘groans which cannot be uttered’ of the Spirit have united us to the Father, whom we call, Abba Father, and by whom we are constituted more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.


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The biblical quotations are taken from the Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)


Pastor Pedro Montoya

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