22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Not only does creation groan in its fallen state for future redemption (8:22), but Christians also groan for that day as well (8:23).
From verse 22 to 27 the word “groan” occurs three times. These groanings refer to three different objects:
Creation, v. 22
Believers, v. 23
The Holy Spirit, v. 26
Verse 22 is a conclusion to the preceding discussion on the curse of creation. We have in the next verses the proof of the Christian hope.
Paul appealed to previous knowledge among the Romans. The Greek indicates a state of knowing from perception; it is common knowledge that creation is in trouble.
that the whole creation
There is no aspect of creation that is free from the pain of the consequence of sin.
groans and labors with birth pangs together [emphatic] until now.
In God’s economy pain is not meaningless. The meaning of pain is something like childbirth. It is difficult to go through the pain but it brings the wonder of a baby into the world. Pain is a precursor to glorification (v. 21).
Up to the time that Paul wrote Romans, creation groaned in pain as a result of Adam’s sin and the subsequent curse on creation. One day God will reverse the consequences of the fall and transform creation into something completely new. The entire created order waits for this event.
The only reason creation suffers is because of the sin of man.
Since creation suffers because of man’s sin, the ultimate cure of man’s sin is the final redemption not only of our souls but of everything that pertains to creation. This is the ultimate and final emancipation.
Christians do not experience meaningless pain but meaningful pain like that of childbirth. These are not death pangs but birth pangs. This kind of pain is a precursor to glorification. Believers can endure temporary suffering by a glimpse of our future glory.
Presently Christians are aware of their limitations in this world. They do not groan in a selfish sense but with the insight that there is hope beyond the grave.
What was going on with the Roman believers that Paul wrote this letter.
David, You can read the background of Romans here: https://versebyversecommentary.com/books/introduction-to-romans/