New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:17 joint-heirs. The Son has been given all the nations and the uttermost parts of the earth for “thine inheritance” (Psalm 2:8). He created all things and is “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2). This is something of what it means for us to be adopted children and thus to share His inheritance! Note also Ephesians 1:11,14; I Peter 1:4; etc.
8:19 creature. “Creature” in Romans 8:19-21 is the same word as “creation” in Romans 8:22. This important passage (Romans 8:19-23) is the main New Testament exposition of God’s primeval curse on His creation because of sin (Genesis 3:14-19), and its promised future deliverance. The latter awaits the unveiling to the world of all those who have been brought into God’s spiritual family.
8:20 vanity. “Vanity” is equivalent to “futility.” Because of sin, the creation was made to operate under a law which specifies a universal process of decay and death. This law of morpholysis is recognized by science as a basic principle pervading the whole universe. It is also called the law of increasing entropy (meaning turning inward) or the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Every system in the physical and biological worlds has a tendency to turn inward and “feed” on itself to maintain its structure and activity, but this simply causes it to run down, disintegrate and die, unless it somehow becomes opened to outside sources of energy, information, food, etc. Even if it does remain an open system, this internal tendency continues to act in opposition to the incoming energy. Since even the latter will eventually be exhausted, the whole creation is thus in bondage to this principle of futility, or “in-vainness.” But since this law has been imposed by God, He also can remove it, and so there still is “hope.”
8:21 corruption. “Corruption” is equivalent to “decay,” and this is yet another way of stating the entropy principle. Everything tends to decay, running down from a created state of organized complexity to one of randomness and disorganized chaos. This law is thus called a “bondage;” the universe is enslaved by it, and there is no natural principle available to supersede it. Such a law is clearly the exact converse of the notion of evolution, which views the universe as gradually organizing itself over long ages by natural processes into its present state of high complexity and activity. The entropy law, which is supported without exception by all observation and scientific study, thus seems to stipulate that evolution on any significant scale is impossible. It also explains the fact that it has never been observed to occur in the present and the fact that there is no evidence it ever occurred in the past!