In Romans 8:21 we read in the ESV:

that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

I could make sense of "...obtain the freedom of the children of God", and I could understand "...obtain the glory of the children of God". But when I read and think about "...obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God", I'm left scratching my head, wondering what it means for glory to have freedom?

NASB and Young's literal have a similar wording. But NKJV and NIV have wording along the lines of "glorious liberty" (which makes more sense to me). Am I overcomplicating things here by looking at a too literal rendition of the verse?

4 Answers 4


This type of genitive, if indeed it is understood as "glorious liberty," is known as "attributive genitive" or "descriptive genitive."

If X and Y are nouns, such that "X of Y,"

then let Y be converted to an adjective,

and let Y precede and describe X.

Another example would be Rom. 6:6, where the KJV has "body of sin." This could be understood as "sinful body." The latter noun becomes an adjective and then precedes the former noun.

  • "body of sin" = "sinful body" (Rom. 6:6)
  • "liberty of glory" = "glorious liberty" (Rom. 8:21)
  • "Gehenna of fire" = "fiery Gehenna" (Mark 9:47)
  • 1
    @GoneQuiet: Not really. See Mark 9:47: τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρὸς. This is literally, "the Gehenna of the fire," though it is understood as the attributive genitive, "the fiery Gehenna." Likewise, Rom. 8:21: τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης, literally, "the liberty of the glory," which is understood as, "the glorious liberty."
    – user862
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 22:06

'Freedom of the glory of the children of God.' This is a phrase which implies that the creation was also made weak and frail in the fall. Therefore it is not at 'liberty' or 'freedom' from the curse of sin. This need for liberty from the curse brings the words into a logical order. Freedom from the curse is to be obtained through restoration just like the church. Even the creation (as beyond the church, i.e. nature) will be liberated by the resurrection of Christ, just as we are. Therefore, creation will one day be introduced into the same liberty of glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18).

Our glory is essentially one of freedom, for we are restored into a pure and incorruptible relationship with God forever, as objects of his underserved favor and riches. This is true liberty, which nature must also be brought into under the Lordship of the lamb, forever and ever. It is a glorious liberty because the wealth of blessings from which God's love and omnipotent desire to care and give in endless wealth to the church forever and ever is breathtakingly wonderful and the source of praises to God from both men and angels. Even the angels learn and grow by witnessing these awesome riches being poured out, endlessly and in increasing measures, upon the everlasting objects of God's love. The liberty of nature will shine under this same glory for every molecule will sparkle in the expression of God's joyful love surrounding Christ's beloved bride.


The repeated use of "sons" is also significant. The move from being servants to sons is a big deal.

"So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." Gal. 4:7

"For all who are eled by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Rom. 8:14-15

The liberty is kingly. Christ's obedience as our High Priest led to His exaltation and He shared that with the Firstfruits Church (which Church is the context here). If Adam had obeyed the Law he would have enjoyed the liberty of the glory of God by entering into His rest, but he chose slavery and became a servant.

The liberty of a king is his submission to God's Law as his light. He becomes the Law incarnate by the Spirit. The "trainer wheels" of the childhood of the Law become redundant. The ministry of angels (those who administered the Old Covenant as our guardians) is finished, which is what we see in the Revelation - one by one, the angels carry out their final missions and leave the heavenly sanctuary empty, ready for the OC saints and NC apostles to enter and be enthroned as a new government. Those who were previously under the flaming sword (Adam/Passover) are now qualified to bear it as God's representatives.

So, basically, the freedom of the glory is the liberty of judicial maturity. The Father gave the "car keys" to the first qualified Son, and He includes us in His government by His Spirit.


Romans 8:21

that also the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God;

means we are set free from the servitude of the lies we once believed, to; in and by God being realized in us we are set free.

  • 1
    I would have to disagree. We might think of "corruption" today in the sense of "corrupt cops" or "corrupt politicians" (for example), but it didn't possess that sense in the 1st century Jew's (e.g., Paul) vocabulary. It essentially meant "mortality," as opposed to "immortality" which is often seen in conjunction with "incorruption" (cp. 1 Cor. 15:42, 15:52-54). Paul is basically saying that he desires to be immortal. That occurs upon "the redemption of the body" (Rom. 8:23), i.e. the resurrection of the dead.
    – user862
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 23:29

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