Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Nor height, nor depth.—No remoteness in space. (Comp. Psalm 139:8 et seq. “If I ascend up into heaven,” &c.)
Any other creature.—Any other created thing.
The love of God.—It is to be observed that for the shorter phrase, “the love of Christ,” the Apostle now substitutes the fuller but, as it would seem, equivalent phrase, “the love of God in Christ.”
Nor depth - Nor the lowest circumstances of depression, poverty, contempt, and want; the very lowest rank of life.
Nor any other creature - Nor any other created thing; any other thing in the universe; anything that can occur. This expresses the most unwavering confidence that all who were Christians would certainly continue to love the Lord Jesus, and be saved.
Shall be able - Shall have power to do it. The love to Christ is stronger than any influence which they can exert on the mind.
The love of God - The love which we have to God.
Which is in Christ Jesus - Which is produced and secured by his work. Of which he is the bond, the connecting link. It was caused by his mediation; it is secured by his influence; it is in and through him, and him alone, that people love God. There is no true love of God which is not produced by the work of Christ. There is no man who truly loves the Father, who does not do it in, and by the Son.
Perhaps there is no chapter in the Bible on the whole so interesting and consoling to the Christian as this; and there certainly is not to be found any where a specimen of more elevated, animated, and lofty eloquence and argumentation. We may remark in view of it,
(1) That it is the highest honor that can be conferred on mortal man to be a Christian.
(2) our trials in this life are scarcely worth regarding in comparison with our future glory.
(3) calamities should be borne without a complaint; nay, without a sigh.
(4) the Christian has every possible security for his safety. The purposes of God, the work of Christ, the aid of the Holy Spirit, and the tendency of all events under the direction of his Father and Friend, conspire to secure his welfare and salvation.
(5) with what thankfulness, then, should we approach the God of mercy.
In the gospel, we have a blessed and cheering hope which nothing else can produce, and which nothing can destroy. Safe in the hands of God our Redeemer, we may commit our way to him, whether it lead through persecutions, or trials, or sickness, or a martyr's grave: and triumphantly we may wait until the day of our complete adoption, the entire redemption of soul and body, shall fully come.
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).Nor height, nor depth; i.e. neither the height of honour and worldly advancement, nor the depth of disgrace and worldly abasement. Some take height and depth for a comprehensive expression, which the Scripture uses, when he takes in all, and leaves nothing out.
Nor any other creature; this is added to the rest, as an &c. at the end of a sentence; and to supply whatever our fancies might in this case, frame to themselves. Or the apostle here makes an end of his induction; and because it had been endless to reckon up all the creatures, he closeth in this manner: If there be any other creature.
Shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord; which he bears to us, as members of Christ, and by faith united to him: see Romans 8:35, and the notes there.
nor any other creature. This takes in the whole compass of created beings in heaven, earth, and sea; and most strongly expresses the inseparableness of the saints from the love of God, by anything or creature whatever; nothing in the whole universe
shall be able to separate us the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord: by "the love of God", is not meant the saints' love to God; for though this is sometimes called the love of God, it is from him, as the author of it, and to him, as the object of it, and may be said to be in Christ, or by him, and can never be lost; yet the apostle would not have expressed such a strong confidence and full persuasion about this, and would rather have said, had this been his meaning, that nothing shall be able to separate our love from God, or God from our love, and not us from the love of God; besides, he is speaking of that love by which we are more than conquerors, and manifestly intends the love with which God loves his people, particularly the love of God the Father: and this is "in Christ Jesus our Lord"; he has expressed it in and through Christ, in choosing and blessing them in him, and in sending him to die for them; and it still continues in him, and is in him as their Lord, head, husband, and Redeemer; and is a reason why nothing can separate them from it: which is to be understood, not of the effects of love, and the application of it, which may be suspended for a time; nor of the manifestation and sense of it, which believers may be without for a while; nor of any sort of separation from God, for saints themselves may be separated from him, with respect to intimate sensible communion and fellowship; but the sense of this passage is, that they can never be separated from the love of God, so as that that union which is made by it between God and them can ever be dissolved, or they cease to have any share or interest in his love. This the apostle was persuaded could never be.Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)39. height—depth] Vastness of intervening space. The Lord who loved us is “above all Heavens” as to His bodily presence: but His love reaches thence to our “depth” below, and holds us fast.
any other creature] A phrase meant to be absolutely inclusive—of everything except the Uncreated One. And it is the Uncreated who loved us!—The previous phrases had logically included “all creatures;” but St Paul would fain preclude even the least definable causes of apprehension.
shall be able] At any possible future time.
the love of God, which is in, &c.] A deeply instructive equivalent for “the love of Christ,” Romans 8:35. The “love of Christ” is the Divine Love felt for us by the Eternal Son. And this, because He is the Eternal Son, is also the Divine expression of the love felt for us by the Eternal Father, who “sent His Son to be the Propitiation for our sins,” and, in giving His Son, gave His Son’s love to be our bliss and light.
This closing passage of ch. 8, taken as the climax of the whole previous part of the Epistle, is a remarkable illustration of the vital connexion between revealed Truth and sacred Love. It is out of the dogmatic statements and discussions of the previous passages that this utterance of adoring love and confidence comes forth.
Here closes the more strictly dogmatic part of the Epistle. But the next three chapters, though less purely dogmatic, are, incidentally, full of definitions of truth. Not till ch. 12 comes in the “practical” part of the Epistle, in the ordinary sense of that word.Romans 8:39. Οὔτε ὕψωμα, οὔτε βάθος, nor height nor depth) Things past and future point to differences of times, height and depth to differences of places. We do not know, the number, magnitude, and variety of things, comprehended in these words, and yet we do not fear them. Height here, in sublime style, is used for heaven; depth for the abyss; with which comp. ch. Romans 5:6-7; Ephesians 4:8-10, that is, neither the arduous and high ascents, nor the precipitous and deep descents, I shall not say, of the feelings, of the affections, of fame, and of pecuniary resources, Php 4:12, nor shall I say [the arduous ascents, etc.], of walls, of mountains, and of waters, but even of heaven and of the abyss itself, of which even a careless consideration has power sufficient to make the human mind beside itself [to fill it with strange awe], produce in us no terror. Furthermore, Paul does not say in Greek, ὕψος, βάθος, as he does elsewhere in another sense; nor ὕψωμα, βάθυσμα (as Plutarch says, ὑψώματα τῶι ἀστέρων, the heights of the stars, and Theophrastus, βαθύσματα τῆς λίμνης, the depths of the lake) but ὕψωμα, βάθος; using purposely, as it were, the derivative and primitive, which strike the ear with variety in sound. Ὕψος, the primitive noun, signifies height absolutely; ὑψωμα, a sort of verbal noun, is not so much height, as something that has been elevated, or made high; ὕψος belongs to God, and the third heaven, from whence we receive nothing hurtful; ὕψωμα has perhaps some likeness in sound [resemblance by alliteration] to the word στερέωμα, firmament, which is frequently used by the LXX. interpreters; and in this passage certainly points to those regions, to which it is difficult to ascend, and where the powers of darkness range, exalting themselves awfully against us [2 Thessalonians 2:4, exalteth himself, Ephes. Romans 2:2, Romans 6:12]: βάθος, how far soever it descends, does no injury to us.—κτίσις, creature) whatever things exist outside of God, and of what kind soever they are. He does not so much as condescend to mention visible enemies.—δυνήσεται, shall be able) although they should make many attempts.—χωρίσαι, to separate) neither by violence, Romans 8:35, nor in the way of law [just right], Romans 8:33-34.
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