For some of us, unconditional love can seem like an oxymoron. Accepting God’s love with no strings attached seems unreal. Things done to us in our lives by people who were supposed to love us have violated what love is.
Additionally, we may have done too many things we believe have soured God on us, so we wonder how He could love us as we are. We may feel we have to work for His love, prove ourselves, or check boxes of expectations.
However, several verses in Romans 8 can give each of us comfort and hope about unconditional love. Rom 8:37-39 offers a list of what will never separate us from the love of the Lord. Prior to investigating these three verses, let’s look at the context in which they are seated.
Rom 8:37 says, “But in all these things we . . .” So, we need to see what “these things” are and how they apply to God’s love. Without understanding these things, we do not have the full image of what Paul was trying to say. The immediate context begins in 8:31 but the entire chapter paints the whole picture.
From Rom 8:1-36, Paul mentions what causes fears of separation, but the passage assures of God’s love, victory, and security. Paul used a play on words in verses 28, 31, 32, and 37 about “things.” He included the perichoresis, the joint-working relationship, of the Trinity:
God the Spirit as Indwelling Creator-Redeemer for Help (1-13); Family (14-17); Hope
(18-25), Intercession (26-27); and Good things (28-30);
God the Father as Creator-Redeemer for Life and New Life (18-25, 29-39);
God the Son as Creator-Redeemer for Help (32); Salvation (32-33); Intercession (34);
Position in Heaven (34); Victory (37); Hope (37-39); and Love (38-39).
These inner- and inter-workings of the Triune God provide the framework of His love.
Even with this information, we may still have questions concerning the ways God loves us. Paul used rhetorical questions about “these things” to give insight. In 8:31, the question is, “If God is for us, who is against us?” The answer provides an intense portrait of His actions on our behalf.
God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all (32). This verse reminds us of Rom 1:24, 26, and 28. The Greek word “paredoken” means God delivered people over to wrath for their sins for their refusal to repent. Rom 8:32 says that God delivered Jesus over to answer His wrath for everyone’s sins.
In His love, God substituted Christ to pay for our wrong choices (our sin and rebellion). Therefore, “How will He not also with Christ graciously give us all things?” God has freely provided salvation, so we can accept the truth of unconditional love.
All things also involve His defense. In 33-34, Paul uses a parallel set of questions: Who will bring a charge against God’s elect (33)? And who is the one who condemns (34)? Only God can bring such charges and resulting condemnations, but He does not do so (Rom 8:1). No one else’s charges or condemnations can stand before God.
Instead, He justifies. Jesus brings the justification. He died. He arose. He ascended. He intercedes and the Father sees us as justified. The question, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ (35)?” includes such charges.
Circumstances might make us question God’s love and goodness when we are suffering, but the list in 8:38-39 answers this concern, too. “BUT” in all these things (37),“we overwhelmingly conquer.”
The Greek word “hyper-nikomen” often has been translated as “more than conquerors.” However, we can get a clearer illustration of what this word implies. We understand being hyper as “over and above active.” We get nike from the ad to “get up and go.” So, we rise up and overwhelmingly prevail!
Are we convinced yet? Paul was; he said, “I am persuaded completely!” As with Paul, we can become convinced by setting our minds on these things of the Spirit (8:5); remembering the Spirit and the Son intercede for us (8:26, 34); accepting that only God and Jesus have the right to condemn and they will not. Paul said, “NO-THING can separate us from God’s love”:
1) Neither death nor life; angels nor principalities; things present nor things to come; neither powers, nor height nor depth;
2) Nothing created: Everything except God and His love—including us—is created. We cannot separate ourselves from His love.
We can do nothing to earn His love; we can do nothing to lose His love. This love is in Christ Jesus our Lord and is given through the Holy Spirit. We can consider our circumstances as no-thing to be compared to the glory that God will reveal to us (8:18).
Dr. Sharon L. Gresham has a Bachelor in Mathematics and English, a Masters of Arts in Theology from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and her PhD from B. H. Carroll Theological Institute. Dr. Gresham is a Resident Fellow at Carroll. Her PhD studies fall in the field of New Testament, particularly in the Epistle of James. She teaches “Christian Disciplines,” “The Letter of James,” and “The Johannine Letters” for Carroll. She and her husband Benny of 52 years have ministered to churches in the United States, Guam, and South Korea. They are the proud parents of two married adults and grandparents of seven. Sharon is founder and director of Ashes to Crowns Ministries.