Today’s bible study is Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul’s letter to the Romans contains some of the most familiar and beautifully written verses in the New Testament. Today’s selection is undoubtedly familiar to everyone, and is often included in worship services. It is especially meaningful to us during difficult time and times of uncertainty and turmoil. It is consoling in sorrow and comforting in grief. It is a constant reminder that no matter what, without exception, we will never be separate from the love of God. That is am unconditional love, surpassing all forms of love that we experience during this lifetime.
God’s love in Jesus Christ is the central theme of Chapter 8, and begins by asking the question, ‘Who will separate us?’ The enemies are real and must be resisted and endured, James reminds us. But neither worldly enemies, a reference to Paul’s seven-fold list of hardships, nor transcendent, cosmic powers, again referring to Paul tenfold list, can separate the believer from God’s love manifest in Christ. ‘For your God’s sake we are being killed,’ written by the psalmist, originally a lament and a complaint to God, is reinterpreted by Paul as an expression of confidence, but still acknowledging that the people of God are out of step with this world and will be resisted by it. We will be more than conquerors, not by mustering our own resources or drawing on our own inner strength, but through Jesus Christ who loves us.
Not only is death a threat that can potentiate separation from God, but so is life. Some faith is stronger in the face of threatening death than when confronted with a successful life that appears to get along quite well without God. But even this insidious threat cannot fully separate us from God’s love. Paul lists angels among the harmful transcendent powers that stand between humanity and God and attempt to separate us from God. Other biblical authors refer to angels as God’s good messengers and agents, but Paul’s undisputed letter speaks of them only in this negative sense. Because the universe is not a neutral mass of matter but the creation of the one God, the believer’s life and destiny are secure in the hands of the Creator. This was the faith of Jesus and of Paul. May it be our faith as well.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur and Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor
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