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©Bonnie LaBelle

Chapter 8:31-39 (ESV)

Posted on December 31, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 8:31-39 (ESV) - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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.

Question to consider: What are “these things” to which Paul refers?

Often people will use the phrase “God works all things for good” as an assurance that our individual plans and desires for this world will work out to our liking even if God brings them about in an unexpected fashion. 

If Paul was talking about our worldly success, don’t you think things would have turned out differently for him? Paul suffered greatly from the wounds he endured in persecution, ultimately went blind (which would have been very difficult for one who liked to study the scriptures and write letters), spent the better part of a decade in and out of prison, was slandered by those who tried to undermine the gospel, and finally died a martyr’s death under the wicked hand of Nero.

Paul’s actual definition of God working out all things for good was that God predestines, calls, justifies and finishes our faith in glory. It is these things for which Paul asked, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The “all things” God graciously gives us are pertaining to that which justifies us and helps us to persevere in the faith so that no one can bring a charge against us or condemn us. All of these things come from Christ who died, who was raised, who currently reigns at the right hand of God, and who intercedes for us as our perfect high priest.

As further proof that we should not expect worldly glory, Paul writes of our connection with the love of Christ being held firm in the midst of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword and invokes Psalm 44:22 emphasizing that our tribulation could even mean our death. Of course Paul experienced all of these things and thus proved his own point. The reason he went into such detail about Christ loving us in the midst of all of these things is because those who opposed the recipients of this letter would use their tribulation and difficulties as evidence that they had been abandoned by God or that Christ’s love had failed them.

In fact, the love of Christ is stronger than anything in creation that may try to break us. We become more than conquerors in that we can survive all that the enemies of Christ may throw at us. Not only do we conquer our tribulations by enduring in the faith in light of them, but we are more than conquerors because we will be raised up as children of God and receive an inheritance in glory that makes our sufferings pale in comparison. While the love of Christ will never fail us, we do well to heed Christ’s warning to abide in Him (John 15). We abide in Christ when we continue to receive Him in word and sacrament and remain in fellowship with one another. The more we separate ourselves from Christ and His body of believers, the easier it will be for the things of this world to distract us and cause us to stumble.


Dear heavenly Father, please give us a faith that can endure the trials and tribulations of this world and help us to abide in Christ and focus on the hope of glory that is in Him until it is fully realized. May we consider ourselves to be blessed for having been persecuted for the name that is above every name. Amen.