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35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;

we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 


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35, 36. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?—This does not mean "our love to Christ," as if, Who shall hinder us from loving Christ? but "Christ's love to us," as is clear from the closing words of the chapter, which refer to the same subject. Nor would the other sense harmonize with the scope of the chapter, which is to exhibit the ample ground of the believer's confidence in Christ. "It is no ground of confidence to assert, or even to feel, that we will never forsake Christ; but it is the strongest ground of assurance to be convinced that His love will never change" [Hodge].

shall tribulation, &c.—"None of these, nor all together, how terrible soever to the flesh, are tokens of God's wrath, or the least ground for doubt of His love. From whom could such a question come better than from one who had himself for Christ's sake endured so much? (See 2Co 11:11-33; 1Co 4:10-13). The apostle says not (remarks Calvin nobly) "What," but "Who," just as if all creatures and all afflictions were so many gladiators taking arms against the Christians [Tholuck].

36. As it is written, For thy sake, &c.—(Ps 44:22)—quoted as descriptive of what God's faithful people may expect from their enemies at any period when their hatred of righteousness is roused, and there is nothing to restrain it (see Ga 4:29).

37. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us—not, "We are so far from being conquered by them, that they do us much good" [Hodge]; for though this be true, the word means simply, "We are pre-eminently conquerors." See on Ro 5:20. And so far are they from "separating us from Christ's love," that it is just "through Him that loved us" that we are victorious over them.

38, 39. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers—whether good or bad. But as the bad are not called "angels," or "principalities," or "powers," save with some addition to show that such are meant (Mt 25:41; Col 2:15; Eph 6:12; 2Pe 2:4—except perhaps 1Co 6:3), probably the good are meant here, but merely as the same apostle supposes an angel from heaven to preach a false gospel. (So the best interpreters).

nor things present, nor things to come—no condition of the present life and none of the unknown possibilities of the life to come.

39. nor any other creature—rather, "created thing"—any other thing in the whole created universe of God

shall be able to separate us, &c.—"All the terms here are to be taken in their most general sense, and need no closer definition. The indefinite expressions are meant to denote all that can be thought of, and are only a rhetorical paraphrase of the conception of allness" [Olshausen].

from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord—Thus does this wonderful chapter, with which the argument of the Epistle properly closes, leave us who are "justified by faith" in the arms of everlasting Love, whence no hostile power or conceivable event can ever tear us. "Behold what manner of love is this?" And "what manner of persons ought we to be," who are thus "blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ?"

Note, (1) There is a glorious consistency between the eternal purposes of God and the free agency of men, though the link of connection is beyond human, perhaps created, apprehension (Ro 8:28). (2) How ennobling is the thought that the complicated movements of the divine government of the world are all arranged in expressed furtherance of the "good" of God's chosen (Ro 8:28)! (3) To whatever conformity to the Son of God in dignity and glory, believers are or shall hereafter be raised, it will be the joy of everyone of them, as it is most fitting, "that in all things He should have the pre-eminence" (Col 1:18), (Ro 8:29). (4) "As there is a beautiful harmony and necessary connection between the several doctrines of grace, so must there be a like harmony in the character of the Christian. He cannot experience the joy and confidence flowing from his election without the humility which" the consideration of its being gratuitous must produce; nor can he have the peace of one who is justified without the holiness of one who is saved" (Ro 8:29, 30) [Hodge]. (5) However difficult it may be for finite minds to comprehend the emotions of the Divine Mind, let us never for a moment doubt that in "not sparing His own Son, but delivering Him up for us all," God made a real sacrifice of all that was dearest to His heart, and that in so doing He meant for ever to assure His people that all other things which they need—inasmuch as they are nothing to this stupendous gift, and indeed but the necessary sequel of it—will in due time be forthcoming (Ro 8:32). (6) In return for such a sacrifice on God's part, what can be considered too great on ours? (7) If there could be any doubt as to the meaning of the all-important word "Justification" in this Epistle—whether, as the Church of Rome teaches, and many others affirm, it means "infusing righteousness into the unholy, so as to make them righteous," or, according to Protestant teaching, "absolving, acquitting, or pronouncing righteous the guilty" Ro 8:33 ought to set such doubt entirely at rest. For the apostle's question in this verse is, "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect?" In other words, "Who shall pronounce" or "hold them guilty?" seeing that "God justifies" them: showing beyond all doubt, that to "justify" was intended to express precisely the opposite of "holding guilty"; and consequently (as Calvin triumphantly argues) that it means "to absolve from the charge of guilt." (8) If there could be any reasonable doubt in what light the death of Christ is to be regarded in this Epistle, Ro 8:34 ought to set that doubt entirely at rest. For there the apostle's question is, Who shall "condemn" God's elect, since "Christ died" for them; showing beyond all doubt (as Philippi justly argues) that it was the expiatory (character of that death which the apostle had in view). (9) What an affecting view of the love of Christ does it give us to learn that His greatest nearness to God and most powerful interest with Him—as "seated on His right hand"—is employed in behalf of His people here below (Ro 8:34)! (10) "The whole universe, with all that it contains, so far as it is good, is the friend and ally of the Christian; and, so far as it is evil, is more than a conquered foe" (Ro 8:35-39) [Hodge]. (11) Are we who "have tasted that the Lord is gracious," both "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1Pe 1:5), and embraced in the arms of Invincible Love? Then surely, while "building ourselves up on our most holy faith," and "praying in the Holy Ghost," only the more should we feel constrained to "keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 20, 21).




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