“For I am convinced 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.” – Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)
An in-depth study shows us that this subdivision of Romans, chapters 5-8, ends just as it began. The same reference is made to “God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 5:1, 8:39). Paul references four pairs of things plus two more powers which are individually mentioned.
- neither death nor life: we cannot be separated in our life and even death won’t bring about any divorce between God and the believer.
- nor angels nor principalities: all angels, whether good or bad, real or imagined, (principalities are fallen angels or demons) are unable to separate us from the love of God in Christ.
- nor things present nor things to come: present circumstances or a foreboding future—can do nothing to separate us from the deep love which God grants us.
- nor height nor depth: even distance of space fails to separate us from God’s love,
- nor powers: this refers to miracles or to persons in positions of authority.
- nor any other created thing: in case anything or anyone might be left out, nothing created, even oneself can cause separation between God and the believer.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” “– But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35,37 (NASB)
Paul asks another rhetorical question, to say “no one will ever be able to separate us from the love Christ has for us.” This is not our love for Christ but Christ’s love for us. In verse 37 Paul emphasizes that we have the victory, because we have conquered each of the threats “through Him who loved us.” The word translated ‘tribulation’ in the version we use here is also translated ‘affliction.’ In fact this Greek word means ‘persecution, affliction, and distress. Friends, each of these threats are real matters in the lives of those who believe in and profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is not simply Paul spouting philosophical concepts. No, for if we read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 we find Paul had already suffered the first of these seven hardships before he took to writing this letter* to Christians in Rome who were facing them as well. The apostle was speaking not only by inspiration but also from experience, therefore, when he stated that none of these things can bring about separation between believers and their Lord. He knew what he was saying!* Nothing exists that can separate us from God’s love. It is unbreakable!
*William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 12-13:291.
“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. Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Paul is so thoroughly convinced; he is willing to throw down a challenge. He challenges heaven, and earth, and angels, and men, and principalities and powers; and not only that, but all things past, present and to come; all creatures, internal or external, including ourselves; all states, death or life, height or preferment, depth or dungeon, prison or stripes. There are no exceptions in this affirmation. Any thought that anyone of us who truly believe will ever be able to sever our unbreakable union with Jesus, our Savior, is misunderstanding this truth. It is absolute. It is Jesus who paid the price to purchase our lives from eternal damnation and secure our lives with Him for eternity. Jesus never has and never will and cannot go back on His promises. When we have times of doubt, we should at that time recall this promise. We have not been separated; we cannot become lost again. The regenerated cannot become unregenerated. Some who think they have managed their salvation by their means will find themselves still lost, not lost again. God’s promise is so strong and unbreakable that we are kept for eternity by that promise.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”… “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35 & 37 (ESV)
Now, who or what is going to do it? Will it be times of tribulation or persecution? Perhaps it will be when we have nothing left ⸺ nothing to wear and no food to eat? Will distress over a perceived danger or death? That might do it? Or not. The Apostle Paul is writing to Christians in Rome. He tells them that none of these threats, which are real, and may even be visited upon us, defeat us. We have won the victory through the power of Him who loved us ⸺ Jesus, the Son of God. It’s a promise that nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ. Is this true for you? It is promised to all who in faith have believed and accepted the gift of eternal life from Jesus. If we have, let our enemies come collectively or singly, we need not care. Let them come one and all. we have no foes that can overcome us. Why? Because God has justified all who believe. We do not dread death. Why? Because Christ has suffered death for us. Our judgment is past, we dread no separation, and we anticipate no failure.