It is said that the simplest words carry the deepest meaning. Here, in a few simple words we have one of the ‘exceeding great and precious promises’.
These six words form the core of this well-loved verse, but whilst Paul could say of this great truth ‘we know’, not all of us find it easy to share his confidence, especially in times of great stress and trial. A closer study, therefore, cannot be other than profitable and encouraging to the believer, so let us take two words at a time and see what they teach.
This phrase, though seldom used in normal conversation, occurs well over one hundred times in the New Testament, and in the various contexts, provides most useful material for study.
We read in various passages of God the Father and the Son creating and controlling all things; but in our verse the reference is not so much to creation as to every circumstance and happening in our lives. All these, says God,
and the word used here is the same as in Mark 16. 20 and 2 Corinthians 6. 1. Some think that the word ‘God’ could be understood here, making it: ‘work together with God’. In Psalm 119. 91 we read, ‘all things are thy servants’, R.v. Not only is God in complete control of all things, whether in creation or events, but they are serving His purposes, and working for and with Him. Not only is He in full control of all things, and not only are they working together as His servants, but they work together
and never for ill. Down through the ages God’s people have proved this, a wonderful example being the case of Joseph. Here was a lad of seventeen years, the apple of his father’s eye, torn from his family and sold into slavery in a foreign land, yet many years later, when he made himself known to his brethren, what did he say? ‘Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, … it was not you that sent me hither, but God’, Gen. 45. 5, 8; ‘Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good’, Gen. 50. 20.
So God has even Satan’s evil intentions under control. How exasperating and frustrating for that old serpent to find his works so under control as to serve God’s purposes, but what a comforting thought for us!
Great God of wonders, all Thy ways Display Thine attributes divine.
So in shadow or in sunshine, may we find increasing help and comfort in this verse, as indeed we shall if we take God at His word, knowing as Paul did, that not some things, or most things, but ‘all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose’. Having gained this assurance, we shall find ourselves able to ‘give thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’.