He wrote, “For creation not willingly was subjected to futility because of the one who subjected it, in hope.”
Although “futility” (mataiotēs) occurs in only two other New Testament references (Eph 4:17 and 2 Pet 2:18), the Greek translation of the Old Testament uses it fifty-three times, with thirty-nine citations in Ecclesiastes.
Since Adam and Eve obeyed the creature rather than the creator (Gen 3:1–7), their actions profoundly affected the mandate and promise of Gen 1:26–29. As a result, creation no longer functions as the Lord originally intended.
“Not willingly” (hekōn) emphasizes the unjust and involuntary servitude of creation in this state of affairs.
That this condition was “on account of him who subjected it” indicates that God functions as the agent of this state.
By succumbing to temptation, Adam lost rather than gained control over the created order (Gen 3:4–7, 17–19). In keeping with the threats of Deut 28:15–24, Isa 24:3–7 eloquently expresses the consequences of breaking the covenant.
But all is not lost. Countering the pessimistic view of the first century that death and decay reign supreme, Paul concluded this verse with “in hope” due to the condition under which the curse took place.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
[Related posts include Co-Heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16–18); Creation’s Eager Expectation (Rom 8:19); Set Free from the Slavery of Corruption (Rom 8:21–22); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); The Lord Provides Food (Gen 1:29–30); A Well-Watered Garden (Gen 2:8–14); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); Serpents in the Ancient Near East (Gen 3:1); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); Thorns and Thistles (Gen 3:17–18); A Return to the Ground (Gen 3:19); Ancient Literature; and Greek Translation of the Old Testament]
[Click here to go to Chapter 9: Painful Toil (Genesis 3:17–21)]
 Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1:413.
 Logos 7 word search on “ματαιοτης” (mataiotēs) in Swete’s version of the Septuagint.
Danker, et al., “ματαιοτης” (mataiotēs), BDAG, 621.
Harry Alan Hahne, “The Whole Creation Has Been Groaning,” in Apocalyptic Vision (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010), 19–26, 19, http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/106707.pdf.
Plotinus, The Six Enneads, 2nd Ed. (trans. Stephen Mackenna, revised by B. S. Page; London: Faber and Faber, 2007), 2.3.9,97, Https://archive.org/stream/plotinustheennea033190mbp#page/n9/mode/2up.
 Keener, IVPBBCNT, Rom 8:20
 Dunn, Romans 1–8, 470.
 Hahne, “The Whole Creation has been Groaning,” 21, http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/106707.pdf.
 Ciampa, “Genesis 1–3 and Paul’s Theology of Adam’s Dominion in Romans 5–6,” 109.
Mounce Robert H., Romans (NAC; Nashville: Broadman &Holman, 1995), 184.
 Schreiner, Romans, 435.
 Keener, IVPBBCNT, Rom 8:20
 Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 516.
 Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1:414.
N. T. Wright, Paul in Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 22.