Romans 8:31
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
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(31-39) Now follows the sublime and triumphant conclusion from the foregoing—expressed with passionate energy and with the most intense consciousness of the reality of a Christian belief in penetrating and sustaining the mind in all outward trials, however severe.

Erasmus remarks on this, that “Cicero never said anything grander.” It is needless to add that, setting aside other considerations, Cicero was not for a moment comparable in spiritual intensity, and therefore in true eloquence, to St. Paul.

Romans 8:31-32. What shall we then say to these things — Related in the third, fifth, and eighth chapters, or conclude upon this review? Surely we may courageously defy all our enemies, and say, If God — Who hath all power in himself, and all the events of time and eternity under his direction; be for us — Our sure, never-failing, everlasting friend, engaged for our salvation and happiness in time and in eternity: or rather, since God is for us; for “ει here, is not a conditional particle; for that would imply doubting. But it stands for επει, since, and is an affirmation.” As if he had said, Since God has manifested so much love to us as to call us by the gospel to repentance, faith in his Son, and new obedience; to incline and enable us to obey the call, and to justify, adopt, regenerate, and constitute us his children; who can be against us — What real hurt can the world, the devil, or all his instruments, do us by all our sufferings from them? We who were called when we were averse; justified when we were guilty; sanctified when unholy; shall, we have reason to hope, be in due time glorified, though now despised, oppressed, and persecuted. Can any or all our enemies, whether visible or invisible, with any success, oppose our enjoying the inheritance of the children of God, with the other blessings promised to the seed of Abraham? He that spared not his own Son — Greek, ιδιου υιου, his proper Son; so the expression properly signifies, being much more emphatical than αυτου, his, or his own: as it is likewise John 5:18, he said also that God was, πατερα ιδιον, his proper Father. Christ is called God’s proper Son, to distinguish him from others who are sons of God by creation, or by adoption, or by office, (in which sense magistrates are termed God’s sons,) that is, by some temporal dignity. But delivered him up — To ignominy, torture, and death; for us all — For every human creature, 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9. How shall he not with him also freely give us all things — Which he sees would promote our salvation, or be subservient to our true happiness, in time or in eternity? After having given us a gift of infinite value, because it was necessary for us, and we could not otherwise be redeemed and saved, will he deny us smaller blessings, which, though inferior, are nevertheless closely connected with our redemption and salvation? After having delivered up to extreme sufferings one infinitely near and dear to him, to preserve us from everlasting and unspeakable torment, shall he, is it reasonable to suppose that he will, withhold from us any thing needful for life or godliness; especially any thing, the withholding of which would obstruct the attainment of the end for which God’s Son was so delivered up?

“To man the bleeding cross has promised all:

The bleeding cross has sworn eternal grace;

Who gave his Son, what gift shall he deny?”

“No argument was ever addressed to creatures capable of being persuaded and obliged, equal to this. For while it convinces the understanding, it raises every tender and devout feeling in the heart, and is a continual source both of hope and gratitude.”8:28-31 That is good for the saints which does their souls good. Every providence tends to the spiritual good of those that love God; in breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, and fitting them for heaven. When the saints act out of character, corrections will be employed to bring them back again. And here is the order of the causes of our salvation, a golden chain, one which cannot be broken. 1. Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. All that God designed for glory and happiness as the end, he decreed to grace and holiness as the way. The whole human race deserved destruction; but for reasons not perfectly known to us, God determined to recover some by regeneration and the power of his grace. He predestinated, or before decreed, that they should be conformed to the image of his Son. In this life they are in part renewed, and walk in his steps. 2. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. It is an effectual call, from self and earth to God, and Christ, and heaven, as our end; from sin and vanity to grace and holiness, as our way. This is the gospel call. The love of God, ruling in the hearts of those who once were enemies to him, proves that they have been called according to his purpose. 3. Whom he called, them he also justified. None are thus justified but those that are effectually called. Those who stand out against the gospel call, abide under guilt and wrath. 4. Whom he justified, them he also glorified. The power of corruption being broken in effectual calling, and the guilt of sin removed in justification, nothing can come between that soul and glory. This encourages our faith and hope; for, as for God, his way, his work, is perfect. The apostle speaks as one amazed, and swallowed up in admiration, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The more we know of other things, the less we wonder; but the further we are led into gospel mysteries, the more we are affected by them. While God is for us, and we keep in his love, we may with holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness.What shall we then say ... - What fairly follows from the facts stated? or what conclusion shall we draw in regard to the power of the Christian religion to support us in our trials from the considerations which have been stated? What the influence is he proceeds to state.

If God be for us - Be on outside, or is our friend, as he has shown himself to be by adopting us Romans 8:15, by granting to us his Spirit Romans 8:16-17, Romans 8:26-27, and by his gracious purpose to save us, Romans 8:29-30).

Who can be against us? - Who can injure or destroy us? Sinners may be against us, and so may the great enemy of our souls, but their power to destroy us is taken away. God is more mighty than all our foes; and he can defend and save us; see Psalm 118:6. "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me." The proposition advanced in this verse, Paul proceeds to illustrate by various specifications, which continue to the end of the chapter.

31. What shall we then say to these things?—"We can no farther go, think, wish" [Bengel]. This whole passage, to Ro 8:34, and even to the end of the chapter, strikes all thoughtful interpreters and readers, as transcending almost every thing in language, while Olshausen notices the "profound and colossal" character of the thought.

If God be for us, who can be against us?—If God be resolved and engaged to bring us through, all our enemies must be His; and "Who would set the briers and thorns against Him in battle? He would go through them. He would burn them together" (Isa 27:4). What strong consolation is here! Nay, but the great Pledge of all has already been given; for,

What shall we then say to these things? Some refer this question to what is said in the verses immediately preceding: others, to what he had said, Romans 8:28; and others go higher, and refer it to all that he said before. Some by these things understand afflictions and sufferings more especially; What shall we say to these, or what need we be disheartened by these? For if God, &c.

If God be for us; i.e. seeing God is for us; it is a note of certainty, not of ambiguity; see Romans 8:9. He takes it for granted, as that which cannot be denied; see Psalm 46:7,11 118:6,7.

Who can be against us? i.e. none can; none can be against us successfully, none can be against us safely; such will harm themselves more than us: see Psalm 56:1. Maximilian, the emperor, so admired this sentence, that he caused it to be written over the table where he used to dine and sup; that having it often in his eye, he might have it also in his mind. What shall we then say to these things? &c. Either to these afflictions, shall we murmur and repine at them? no, since they work together for our good, and are not to be compared with our future glory, which is certain; for if we suffer with, and for Christ, we shall be glorified together: or to these blessings just now mentioned, as the foreknowledge of God, divine predestination, effectual calling, free justification, and eternal glorification, what can be said to these? nothing can be added to them, they are a complete set of blessings, wanting nothing; nor can the greatness of them be fully expressed, or the freeness of God's grace displayed in them, sufficiently declared: what remains for us to do, but to be thankful for them, and glory in them? or what can be said "against" them? nothing at all, they cannot be contradicted or gainsaid; they are true and faithful sayings; they can never be made void, and of no effect, by hell or earth; nor ought our unbelieving hearts to have anything to say against interest in them: or what is to be said, or inferred "from" them? why, the free, sovereign, unchangeable, and everlasting love of God, in providing and bestowing such benefits; and the certainty of salvation, which is infallibly secured hereby:

if God be for us; or, "seeing he is for us", has an affection for us, which appears from the gift of himself, Son, and Spirit, and all the blessings of grace and glory; and is on our side: as that he is on the side of his people, is evident from his preservation of them from the evils of the world and their own corruptions; from the supports he gives them under afflictions and temptations; from his carrying on the work of grace upon them, notwithstanding all the opposition made unto it; and from their safety and security they enjoy by him, notwithstanding the power of their enemies; he is so for them, and on their side, as that he will certainly save them. This he has determined to do, he has sent his Son to obtain salvation for them, his Spirit to apply it to them, and keeps them by his power to the full enjoyment of it: and since this is the case,

who can be against us? none can be against them. There are some that cannot possibly be against them; if Jehovah the Father is not against them, the Son cannot be against them, nor the Spirit; good angels cannot be against them, so far from it, that they rejoice at their good, minister to them, and are a guard about them; the law cannot be against them, because it is fulfilled in them; nor justice, because it is satisfied, and all its demands answered: and though there may be some who may be against them, and oppose themselves to them, yet their opposition is to no purpose; they will never prevail over them to their ruin and destruction; as neither sin, nor Satan, nor the world, nor death itself.

{26} What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

(26) Ninethly, we have no reason to fear that the Lord will not give us whatever is profitable for us, seeing that he has not spared his own Son to save us.

Romans 8:31. What shall we therefore say (infer thence) with respect to these things (Romans 8:29-30)?

εἰ ὁ Θεὸς κ.τ.λ.] Herewith begins a stream of triumphant questions and answers (on to Romans 8:37) which contains what we say.

The ὁ Θεὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν briefly sums up the divine guardianship according to the tenor of Romans 8:29-30.

τίς καθʼ ἡμῶν;] a question not of challenge (Hofmann), with which the following does not accord, but of the sure, already triumphant certainty that all hostile power must be unsuccessful and harmless for us. On εἶναι κατά τινος, comp. Sir 6:12; Wis 4:6; Plut. Nic. 21; and on the contrast of ὑπὲρ and κατά, 2 Corinthians 13:8.

Romans 8:31-39. Inference from Romans 8:29-30. So, then, the Christian has to fear nothing that might be detrimental to his salvation; but on the contrary he is, with the love of God in Christ, assured of that salvation.

This whole passage is (observe the logical relation of ὅτι in Romans 8:29, and οὖν in Romans 8:31) a commentary on Romans 8:28. And what a commentary! “Quid unquam Cicero dixit grandiloquentius?” Erasmus on Romans 8:35. Comp. Augustine, de doctr. Chr. iv. 20. A sublime ὄγκος τῆς λέξεως (Arist. Rhet. iii. 6) pervades the whole, even as respects form.Romans 8:31. τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν πρὸς ταῦτα; the idea underlying all that precedes is that of the suffering to be endured by those who would share Christ’s glory (Romans 8:17). The Apostle has disparaged the suffering in comparison with the glory (Romans 8:18); he has interpreted it (Romans 8:19-27) as in a manner prophetic of the glory; he has in these last verses asserted the presence through all the Christian’s life of an eternal victorious purpose of love: all this is included in ταῦτα. For ὑπὲρ and κατὰ, cf. 2 Corinthians 13:8.31. What shall we then say, &c.] St Paul now applies the whole previous facts and reasons to the final proof of the Safety of the children of God. He seems to refer not only to the former part of this chapter, but to the whole previous argument of the Epistle; for there, rather than in ch. 8, we find the doctrines which are here applied—the sacrifice of Christ, and consequent justification. No eloquence could be nobler than that of these closing verses, taking them merely in point of language. It is the eloquence of profound fact and truth, expressed with the sublime force and beauty of a lofty mind filled with the love of God.

against us] So as to prevail.—“Who” points the reference to personal adversaries; persecutors and tempters, seen or unseen.Romans 8:31. Πρὸς ταῦτα) to [as regards] these things, which have been spoken of in chapters 3 5 8: that is to say, we cannot go, we cannot think, we cannot wish for anything farther. And if any one, by reason of his unbelief, should feel inclined to bring forward anything in opposition to these things (comp. Luke 14:6, to=in opposition to these things) he cannot do it. [It may be justly said, that the gate of heaven is thrown open in this passage, Romans 8:31-39.—V. g.]—εἰ) if. The conditional used instead of the causal, renders the conclusion the stronger. Many are of opinion, that there are three sections [periochœ, complete portions of the discourse] in this passage, every one of which begins by an interrogation with τίς, who? with an anaphora,[99] and has its answer immediately following, which is called anthypophora.[100] But the apostle contemplated a different analysis. There are four sections beginning with this verse; one, a general section; and three special ones: every one of them has glorying concerning Grace in the first instance; and then presently after a suitable question, challenging all opposition, to which the expression, I am persuaded, is an answer. The first, a general section, is this: If God be for us, WHO can be against us? The first special section is this, which concerns the past: He who did not even spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; How shall He not also with Him forgive [But Engl. Vers. freely give] us all things? WHO shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? (Where in the question, the logical consequence is from [is drawn from] glorying concerning the past: for the nature of the subject did not admit of the section being only expressed by preterite tenses. Accordingly there is [besides the Preterites] also a double future in, shall He forgive, shall lay to the charge; but it has a manifest reference to past events. God will forgive all the sins, that have been committed [by believers]. No one can now accuse God’s elect on account of those sins committed by them. And the how and who are thus combined in one and the same section, but there is also a double relation, 1.) God did not spare His own Son. Therefore, He will also forgive us with Him all things. 2.) He delivered Him up for us all. Therefore, no one shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect.) The second section has respect to the present; It is God that justifieth, WHO is he that condemneth; comp. by all means, Isaiah 50:8-9. The third section is concerning the future; It is Christ [that died], etc. WHO shall separate us? For it is a future non-separation which is implied in the shall separate, as appears by comparing this with the end of Romans 8:38. The Past and Present are the foundation of the Future, and often the love of Christ is inferred from His death, ch. Romans 5:5, etc.; Galatians 2:20; Revelation 1:5. An interrogative apodosis such as this is frequent, and is admirably suited to a spirited discourse.—Acts 8:33; Numbers 24:9; Job 9:12; Job 34:29; Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 14:27; Isaiah 43:13; Lamentations 2:13, at the end of verse; Amos 3:8.

[99] The frequent repetition of the same word in the beginnings of sections.—See Appendix.

[100] See Appendix. The answer to a foreseen objection of an adversary, by anticipation, or an answer to an objection actually made, by the statement of an opposite sentiment or fact.Verses 31-34. - What shall we then say to these things? (πρὸ ταῦτα, meaning "with respect to," not "against "). If God be for us, who can be against us? (τίς, not τί, in opposition to ὁ Θεὸς: who - what adverse power - can there possibly be, stronger than God?). He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all (evidently not for the elect only, but for all mankind; cf. on Romans 5:18), how shall he not with him also freely give us (i.e. grant us of his free grace) all things? (πάντα, corresponding to ὑπὲρ πάντων). Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect! (Not, of course, meaning that the elect, in virtue of God's choice of them, cannot, though sinful, be charged with sin; but that no possible adversary - again τίς - can be conceived as arraigning those whom God himself accepts as justified. Observe that the word here is ἐκλεκτῶν, not κλητῶν as in ver. 28. Cf. Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14; Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσι κλητοὶ, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί. Many may be called to a state of salvation, but not all of them chosen finally, as fulfilling the purpose of their calling.) It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. A different punctuation of these two verses is preferred by some, and seems more natural and more forcible; thus: Who shall charge God's elect? God who justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Christ who died? etc. A similar answering a question by asking another is found below in ver. 35. The further thought is thus implied that, if neither God charges, nor Christ, the Judge, condemns, who can do either? The apostle next goes on to say that, there being none to charge and condemn us at last, so also there is none that can remove us from our state of acceptance now. For who or what can possibly prove stronger than Christ's love, which has called us to it? The enumeration that follows of things that might possibly be supposed to remove us shows again that it is not our own sins, but external circumstances of trial, that are being viewed all along as powerless to hinder our salvation.
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