Who can be against us?
Reading II : Romans 8:31-34
- The reading from Romans presents a parallel to God’s demand on Abraham.
- God does not demand the sacrifice of Abraham’s son as a price of the covenant relationship.
- God does sacrifice the life of his own Son to preserve the covenant relationship with humankind.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
Paul’s Cheer for Us
Paul cheers on the Christians at Rome, reminding them that “if God is for us, who is against us?” (v. 31). In this same spirit the preacher may choose to encourage her embattled, wavering, or discouraged congregation, reminding them that “we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (v. 28). The tone is emotional and celebratory. The marathon runners are at the halfway mark, and Paul reminds them and us that God has already made it to the end of the race, and God has won. With God’s help, we too can make it to the finish line and participate in God’s victory.
SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible
God’s Unshakeable Love for Us
8:31-39 Our security in life and in recovery is based on God’s unshakable love for us. The love God has for us is not just an emotion but a matter of historical record. God proved his love for us by willingly sending his Son to suffer and die. So why would he hold back any lesser gift? In fact, there is nothing in the whole universe that can separate us from God’s love! What more could God say or do to us to make us more secure in his love?
SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible
God’s gift of salvation to you
Do you ever think that because you aren’t good enough for God, he will not save you? Do you ever feel as if salvation is for everyone else but you? Then these verses are especially for you. If God gave his Son for you, he isn’t going to hold back the gift of salvation! If Christ gave his life for you, he isn’t going to turn around and condemn you! He will not withhold anything you need to live for him. The book of Romans is more than a theological explanation of God’s redeeming grace—it is a letter of comfort and confidence addressed to you.
SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Boice Expositional Commentary
Who Can Be Against Us?
Who can be against us? Why, many people and many things, of course! And not only can they be against us, they are. Theology has spoken of three great enemies of the Christian: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- The world is against us because Christianity is an offense to it and is opposed to its God-rebelling ways. The world will get us to conform if it can; failing that, it will try to do us in.
- Our flesh is also an enemy because it contains the seeds of sin within it; we are unable to escape its baleful influence in this life.
- And, as if that were not enough, we have a powerful enemy in Satan, who is described by the apostle Peter as “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
SOURCE: Content taken from BOICE EXPOSITIONAL COMMENTARY (27 Volumes). James Montgomery Boice, 2007.All rights reserved.
CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY
We are the chosen sons and daughters acquitted by Christ
by Michal Hunt
In the Second Reading, St. Paul assures us that God is on our side. He writes that God did not spare His Son but offered up Jesus as a sacrifice on the Cross to save humanity from sin and death. St. Paul gives us the promise that the elect will emerge victorious from all the attacks and sufferings in life. God who acquits His chosen of their sins through His beloved Son. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we died with Christ to be raised with Him to a new spiritual life and with the hope of reaching Heaven in death and a bodily resurrection at the end of time.
31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. 34 Who will condemn? Christ Jesus, it is who died, or rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us
In verse 31, St. Paul sums up what it means to be a beloved son/daughter in God’s covenant family through the Sacrament of Baptism. St. Paul gives us the promise that the elect will emerge victorious from all the attacks and sufferings they endure in life since it is God who acquits His chosen of their sins through His beloved Son. We have died with Christ in Baptism, and we are also resurrected with Christ to a new life (see Rom 6:4-5). God the Son now sits at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us in our earthly struggles and ready to greet us when we have completed our journey to salvation (see Eph 2:4-6).
SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. Section divisions and titles added.
Triumph of the Spirit
Points to consider
- Now I have just finished listening to the foundation story of Abraham and Isaac, and so have my listeners. The apostle, in this passage, is clearly interpreting what happened to Christ in terms of that story. God did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all.
- The reading is short and every word counts. Some phrases have been translated literally and need to be spoken with care, such as: how will he not also give us everything else – along with him?
- The language reminds me of a courtroom. Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? Let me invoke that same stately demeanor as I read.
- In the passage there are three pairs of questions and answers. The punctuation that was preferred for the lectionary confounds the pattern that the apostle presented with total clarity. Let me apply my knowledge of English syntax and the gospel we have inherited. (1) Who can be against us? Because God has given us everything. (2) Who will bring a charge? Because God acquits us. (3) Who condemns? Because Christ Jesus intercedes for us.
- The passage ends with a recounting of the saving work of Jesus, and I will let my own Easter joy build in the telling of it, starting from the past tense died and concluding with the eternal present tense intercedes. Easter joy? Yes, we pass through our Lents in a serious vein, but we never forget the triumph of the Spirit.
- Climax: In the very first words. If God is for us, who can be against us? The apostle is stating a thesis that he will confirm with appeals to the Lord’s resurrection. I need to have the same conviction in my voice.
- The message for our assembly: The apostle challenges the church of Rome to name anyone or anything that can oppose them. Can we?
- I will challenge myself: To invoke the memory of the prophet Daniel, and the attorneys Clarence Darrow and Johnnie Cochran, as I use my own oratorical skills to state my case and present the confirming evidence.
Ask the presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):
In prior chapters, Saint Paul has proven that God saves us out of love alone, not in response to our good works. This passage is a “Hurrah!” for this gift, and reassurance to those who feel unworthy of it.
Our Liturgical Situation
This passage has in common with today’s gospel the theme of Jesus’ Sonship, and shares with the first reading the image of a father’s willingness to give up a son.
The Historical Situation
The context of this passage within the letter to the Romans is quite complex and difficult to describe. I hope it is not irreverent to say that Saint Paul has worked up a great sweat by a complex theological and historical argument about how we are really saved. Now he’s very relieved to have finished that, and to have proven that God graciously saves us in Christ, and we need only have that faith.
So this passage is a kind of cheer for the victory that God has wrought by saving us. It’s also meant to give heart to people worried about being unworthy of God’s love.
One Literary Consideration
What of the metaphors of someone being “against us,” bringing a charge, condemning or acquitting? The unspoken context is the image of a court of law, where God is judge and a prosecutorial angel would have God find us guilty (which is what Satan tried in the book of Job). But this case is already decided in our favor, as evidenced by these factors: God gave us his Son, so it’s unthinkable that God would not also give us everything else; and no matter who prosecutes, their authority is outweighed by God who acquits us and by Jesus, raised up and interceding for us. Case closed.
Proclaiming the Passage:
The revised New American Bible translation, the one most commonly used in U.S. Catholic congregations, while a little better than its predecessor, still fails to make clear that Paul is asking and answering rhetorical questions here. Think of it this way:
- Q. Who can bring any charge against God’s chosen ones?
- A. Not God, certainly; God acquits us.
- Q. Who will condemn us?
- A. Not Christ Jesus, certainly. He died and was raised for us, etc.
While reading the Lectionary selection aloud to the congregation, recite the text as printed there, but use your inflection and timing to convey the meaning as clarified here.
The Ascension and the Eucharistic Sacrifice
Is there a connection between the Ascension and the Eucharist? If so, what is it, as it relates to both making the Eucharist present on altars around the world at any time and the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist? Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more about this topic from St. Paul’s first letter to the Romans in chapter 8.
How is Christ the new Noah?
A brief overview of how the Flood narrative points to the saving work of Christ and His Church.
- Isaiah 54:9-10: Though creation pass away like the days of Noah, God’s love for his people and promise of peace will not be shaken.
- Matthew 24:38-39 The Flood prefigures the Second Coming and General Judgement.
- Hebrews 11:7: Noah’s faith leads to an inheritance of righteousness.
- 1 Peter 3:18-21: The flood prefigured Baptism which saves by communicating the power of Christ.
- 2 Peter 2:5: Noah was a herald of righteousness and was saved from trial.
Higher Things, Inc.
Noah, the Ark, and Baptism
Pr. Buetow talks about baptism and Noah and the Ark in today’s video short.