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Recently Added
to Exposition of Romans:


1:16–17—No shame in the gospel for Jews and Gentiles (part 1)
(July 11th 2018)
Romans 8:31-34—God’s offering of his own Son proves that he is for us!

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 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?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 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.

Paul was a masterful rhetorician as we saw in chapter 7. Now in the closing verses of this chapter he brings his argument to a climax with a technique of classical rhetoric called a peroration. Its purpose was to recap the main points of the speech and to make an emotional appeal for agreement and action.

These four verses picture a courtroom setting such as at the judgment seat of Christ where believers will give an account of themselves (see 14:10). Having given up his own Son to pay the penalty for our sin, this divine judge frees us of all charges.

“God is for us,” and we are to see these four simple words as a summary of what Paul has said so far in this epistle. And don’t let the “If” confuse you. Paul’s wording shows that he wants us to assume his statement is true—without doubt God is on our side. That God gave up his Son for us is all the proof we need that he is for us, and there is no limit to his grace (see 5:20–21).

“These things”
Paul’s conclusion looks back to “these things.” What are they—the verses directly above, chapter 8 as a whole, a set of chapters, or the bulk of the epistle to the present? I am drawn to Richard Longenecker’s and Douglas Moo’s conclusions that “these things” refer primarily to chapters 5–8. Both scholars note that the themes of verses 31–39 closely parallel the blessings of justification by faith that Paul lays out in chapter 5: grace, peace with God, love, hope, and assurance of victory.

Verse 32 echoes the argument of 5:9–10 that God’s greatest gift—the death of his own Son—guarantees all other blessings. Moo believes we should not restrict the meaning of “all things” to “salvation as such but include all those blessings—spiritual and material—that we require on the path toward that final salvation.”

God is on our side
Condemnation can come from God, Satan, other people, or—and this is a problem Christians should never have but too often do—ourselves. No charge against us will come from God, who now declares us justified. And the Son who died for us is now alive in the throne room testifying always to his Father that we are blameless. John refers to him as our advocate (1 John 2:1).

Before we were saved Satan was a seducer, advertising sin as fun and of no consequence. Now that we are saved Satan is the accuser. Through deception he tries to get us to condemn ourselves so he can immobilize us with guilt and shame. Friends, do not fall for the lie that God is disappointed with you. Paul’s gospel message has dismantled this lie word-by-word, line-by-line.

When we sin, still God is for us, now to repent and return to fellowship with him. As Robert Utley says, “Jesus’ death solved the sin problem. Now it is a ‘believe and receive’ problem.” Sin—we are dead to it. God—we are alive to him. The fact God is for us motivates us to live for him.

A transition word: God’s elect
In referring to us as God’s elect or chosen ones in verse 33, Paul assigns for the first time to all believers a title that once belonged exclusively to Israel. Two things are worth noting about this title.

First, some Jewish converts to Christ in the Roman church may have been somewhat offended, thinks Longenecker, that Gentile believers now share this revered title. Even were they not offended, Paul still had sufficient reason to explain the implications of Christ’s work for the status of Israel and her relationship with the church. This he will do in the chapters ahead.

Second, the word elect is closely related to several Greek words in the prior verses and chapter 9. Those words are called (verse 28 and twice in verse 30) and God’s purpose of election in calling Jacob (9:11). Longenecker points out that these words share the same stem as elect. Upon hearing all these words read out loud, astute members of the Roman church may have discerned elect as signaling Paul’s imminent turn to the subject of Israel.

God shines his face on the elect
God always makes his face shine on his chosen ones. As it was with Israel so it is with all those who trust in the Son today. God wanted Israel to know without doubt that he was for them, so he commanded the blessing that Aaron and his sons were to pronounce over the people. And now that blessing is on us. Here is the last paragraph of my book’s “Afterthought” followed by God’s commanded blessing.
My friend, as you read the blessing…, understand that God is speaking directly to you, from his heart to yours. Know that God intends to bless you. He wants you to see his smile of acceptance and to experience his grace and peace.

The Aaronic Blessing
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be
gracious to you;
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give
you peace.
So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel,
and I will bless them.
(Num 6:24–27)

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