"For I am reckoning that the sufferings of the current era do not deserve the glory about to be revealed for us. For the premonition of the creation is awaiting the unveiling of the sons of God"
Believers may suffer as a result of their faith. It may qualify them, as "joint enjoyers of Christ's allotment," to participate in His reign (Rom. 8:17). Such suffering is difficult to define, and is probably very individual. It is generally to be "with the evangel" (2 Tim.1:7-9), "as an ideal soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Tim.2:3), and includes the persecution which results form "wanting to live devoutly in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:21). Such, no doubt, can take many forms.
Believers also participate in the sufferings which result from "the slavery of corruption" (Rom.8:21), our inheritance of death from Adam. This condition is common to "the creation," including all mankind descended from Adam.
Not only are our bodies corrupting and dying, but we also are subjected to vanity. As Schofield wrote, "It (vanity) is to be born, to toil, to suffer, to experience some transitory joy, which is as nothing in view of eternity, to leave it all, and to die." We, "who have the firstfruit of the spirit" participate in this, that is, in flesh, and we "are groaning in ourselves," in these bodies, awaiting our deliverance.
"The inspiring point of the passage is that this condition has a purpose, will end, and is not to be compared with "the glory about to be revealed."
The creation, including unbelieving mankind, had a premonition that the slavery will end. We, who are believers, and in whom God's spirit makes its home, have definite and wonderful statements in the scriptures about our release.
How did creation come to be subjected to vanity? It was because of God —notwithstanding the common preaching that "it wasn't God's fault." No, of course it was not God's "fault." It was no mistake; it was deliberate; creation had no alternative, it was in expectation, and our experience under it has a purpose.
God has an expectation that it will all culminate in glorious freedom. Is that consummation limited to believers? No! It is for all creation. There is no more reason to limit the scope of this passage than to limit the "all" to be reconciled through the blood of Christ's cross (Col.1:20).
Unbelievers have a premonition of this. We, who have the firstfruit of the spirit, have an expectation. Not a "hope" that might or might not happen, but a sure and certain expectation of glory. "For to expectation were we saved." It is an expectation of glory, and it is in Christ Jesus. Whenever Christ, our Life, should be manifested, then we also shall be manifested in together with Him in glory.
Our expectation is beyond our highest imaginings, and it is "in accord with the operation of the might of His strength, which is operative in the Christ" (Eph. 1:17).