VERSE OF THE DAY
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
Can anything separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from his love? If we have no food or clothes or face danger or even death, will that separate us from his love? As the Scriptures say,
“For you we are in danger of death all the time.
People think we are worth no more than sheep to be killed.”
But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown his love for us.
Love is who God is Nothing can separate from the Love of God love came first by death upon the cross
ROMANS 8:26-39. AN OVERVIEW
This much beloved passage celebrates that God is always present and always willing to help in our hour of need (v. 26)—that “all things work together for good for those who love God” (v. 28)—that, if God is for us, it really doesn’t matter who is against us (v. 31)—and that there is no power strong enough or circumstance dire enough to separate us from the love of God (vv. 35-39).
ROMANS 8:35-36. IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO IS AGAINST US?
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (v. 35). Christians were subjects of persecution from Jews and Romans alike. Famine implies hunger, and a hungry person can think of little but food. Hunger was a key element in Jesus’ temptation (4:2-4). Romans used nakedness to shame men who were being crucified. Sword implies violent death. Paul had suffered many of these, and they had not destroyed his faith.
“Even as it is written, ‘For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter’” (v. 36). Paul quotes from Psalm 44:22, which expresses the distress of those who are subject to martyrdom for their faith. The Psalmist was obviously familiar with such treatment, and Christians of Paul’s day were too.
ROMANS 8:37-39. WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS
37No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37). The love of God enables us to be “more than conquerors”—to rise above every adversity.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord“ (vv. 38-39).
Paul lists ten potential adversaries in four pairs and two singletons:
• Death, nor life: Death is fearsome in its inevitability and finality, but life can be fearsome too—painful—grinding. But Christ gives us hope of eternal life—a life that is both enduring and blessed—lived in the presence and love of God. Christ also helps us to see the slings and arrows of this life from a higher perspective that diminishes their scale and makes them seem less terrible.
• Angels, nor principalities: We are surprised to see angels in this list, because we think of angels as God’s messengers, but there are also angelic forces opposed to God (Rev. 12:7). Rulers can refer either to spiritual or earthly powers. Consider the host of tyrants who have reigned in the past century and the millions of people—often their own subjects—who have died at their hands. Paul assures us that, while rulers might separate us from life in this world, they cannot separate us from the love of God and the life that he offers.
• Things present, nor things to come: We are surprised not to see “things past” on this list, because people are often gripped by events of the past (whether good or bad) and saddled by guilt from past sins. Paul focuses instead on “things present” and “things to come”—the challenges that we face in the present and the trials that we fear in the future. It can be painful to read the terrible things that newspapers report, but Christ assures us that God is moving history toward a glorious goal instead of a dismal end.
• Powers: These could be spiritual or earthly powers.
• Height, nor depth: This could be a reference to astrology. If so, Paul is saying “that neither the height (when a star is at its zenith) nor the depth (with all its unknown potential) is strong enough to separate us from God’s love” (Morris, 342). Or it could be a reference to the heights of space and the depths of oceans, meaning that we have nothing ultimate to fear from comets above or tectonic forces below. Or it could refer to the heights and depths of our emotions, meaning that neither our great joys nor our great sorrows can separate us from God.
• Any other created thing: If Paul were to try to be comprehensive regarding everything that we might fear, the list would go on forever—so he ends the list with this catch-all phrase that assures us that nothing—absolutely nothing—”will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
Bartow, Charles L., in Van Harn, Roger E. (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: The Second Readings: Acts and the Epistles (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001)
Gaventa, Beverly R. in Brueggemann, Walter; Cousar, Charles B.; Gaventa, Beverly R.; and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV — Year A (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995)
Craddock, Fred B.; Hayes, John H.; Holladay, Carl R.; and Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year, A (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1992)
Dunn, James D. G., Word Biblical Commentary: Romans 1-8, Vol. 38A (Dallas: Word Books, 1988)
Morris, Leon, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co, 1988)
Wright, N. Thomas, The New Interpreter’s Bible: Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Vol. X (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002)
Copyright 2008, 2011, Richard Niell Donovan
What does Romans 8:35 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]
This chapter has indicated that those who are in Christ (Romans 3:23–26) can look forward to a future of sharing in God’s glory (Romans 8:18). At the same time, we are not there yet. For now, we suffer along with the rest of sin-ravaged creation. We groan in longing for our home with the Father. We patiently wait for the hope to be fulfilled (Romans 8:19–23). Paul urged his readers to understand, however, that though suffering continues, God is still for us. He has been for us since before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and He has proven His love for us by sacrificing His own Son to make it possible to adopt us as His children (John 3:16–18).
Paul now writes that we must never interpret the darkness of earthly life as evidence of God’s lack of love for us. Nothing we do can keep Christ from loving us, and nothing that happens to us can mean that Christ no longer loves us. Paul builds a list of some of the worst things that can happen in this life, including trials, hardship, persecution for our faith in Him, hunger, lack of clothing or shelter, physical threats, or death by violence. None of this can separate us from Christ’s love. None of this means Christ does not love us. Just the opposite is true. He loves us enough to bring us through these things (John 16:33).
Paul would have known this better than almost anyone. He himself experienced most, if not all, of those hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23–29) and remained convinced of Christ’s love for him.
Romans 8:31-39 is one of the most encouraging and affirming passages in all of God’s Word. Paul has established that God is for all of us who are in Christ; for those who have been saved by their faith. No charge or accusation made against us can stand, because God has provided for our justification and Christ is interceding for us. Paul makes two lists of all of the things in the universe that cannot separate us from God’s love for us in Christ. Hard things will happen, indeed. Yet, none of them will cause our Father to stop loving us, nor are any of them signs that He has abandoned us. Our salvation is entirely, absolutely secure on account of His great love.
Romans 8 begins and ends with declarations of the Christian’s absolute security before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love. Having believed the gospel, we now live in the Spirit of God. That allows us to call God Abba Father. We suffer with Christ, and we suffer along with all creation while we wait for God to reveal us as His sons. With the help of the Spirit, we are confident that God is for us and loves us in Christ