Romans 8:35-39

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 30, 2008


Paul has been making his case that God is for us, not against us.

(Rom 8:32 NKJV)  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love; love which chooses its object

separatechorizo (not the Mexican pork sausage) – to separate, divide, part, to depart; to leave a husband or wife; of divorce

We get our word “horizon” from this – the horizon is the separating line between the sky and the earth.

What kinds of things separate a husband and wife? I’m not talking about what the Biblical grounds for divorce are, I’m talking about what are the real reasons that people divorce?

Poor communication.  Lack of forgiveness.  Trouble with finances.  Anger.  Unfaithfulness.  Pornography.  Lack of trust.  Letting love grow cold.

Can anything separate us from the love of Christ?

tribulationthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress; that which presses upon the spirit.

It’s used to describe what a woman goes through in childbirth:

(John 16:21 NKJV)  "A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

Jesus promised that we’d have this kind of “pressure”

(John 16:33 NKJV)  "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Even though “pressure” can’t stop Jesus from loving us, it might make us walk away from Him.

(Mat 13:21 NKJV)  "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Jesus doesn’t stop loving me when I’m under pressure.

distressstenochoria – narrowness of place, a narrow place; dire calamity, extreme affliction; affliction as arising from cramping circumstances, ordinarily a stronger word than thlipsis.

Sounds like being between a rock and a hard place. 

Jesus doesn’t stop loving me when life is difficult.

So why don’t I feel His love?

Perhaps the problem isn’t on His end of things.  Perhaps the problem lies in my backyard, on my desk.
Perhaps the problem is that I’m looking for “feelings” instead of trusting in the truth.  Paul wrote,
(2 Cor 5:7 NKJV)  For we walk by faith, not by sight.
I need to live my life based on faith, my response to God’s Word, not based on my “sight”, my “feelings”, how I am looking at my circumstances.

persecutiondiogmos – persecution; from dioko – to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away

(Acts 8:1 NKJV)  Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem…

Jesus doesn’t stop loving me when others do.

faminelimos – scarcity of harvest, famine.

I don’t know if we can really relate to this word.  We may be in tough economic times right now, but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to experiencing “famine”.

(Acts 7:11 NKJV)  "Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.

(Acts 11:28 NKJV)  Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.

(Rev 6:8 NKJV)  So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

Jesus doesn’t stop loving me when I lose my job.

nakednessgumnotes – nakedness of the body

Will Jesus stop loving me because I don’t have the right clothes to wear?

perilkindunos – a danger, a peril

Paul will use this word eight times, along with “nakedness” to describe his own life:

(2 Cor 11:23-28 NKJV)  Are they ministers of Christ?; I speak as a fool; I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. {24} From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. {25} Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; {26} in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; {27} in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; {28} besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

swordmachaira – a large knife , used for killing animals and cutting up flesh; or a small sword, as distinguished from a large sword

Jesus doesn’t stop loving me when my life is in danger.


A marriage that lasts.

The word “separate” was a word used for divorce.
The sad thing is that some of these things are the things that cause marriages to split up.

When I’m under pressure. When life is difficult. When others stop loving me. When I lose my job. When my life is in danger.

The love we have in our marriage should be like Jesus’ love for us:
(Eph 5:25 NKJV)  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
As we’re going to see, nothing can stop Jesus from loving us.  Nothing should stop us from loving each other.
(Eph 4:31-32 NKJV)  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. {32} And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
A gal named Nancy Kennedy writes,
I'm sitting in yet another hospital waiting room.
Ever since my husband, Barry, first underwent open heart and quadruple bypass surgery 15 months ago, I've been in this waiting room—or one just like it—more times than I can count on one hand, waiting for him to come out of the operating room.
In little more than a year's time, my vocabulary has increased to include words and phrases such as aneurysm, atrial fib, and EP study with ablation. They all mean I have to put on a cheery face, kiss Barry good-bye, and promise I won't worry about him or forget to eat lunch and lock the garage door at night while he's in the hospital again.
With all Barry's surgeries and procedures, we've had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year—one of the worst in our 32 years together. Yet, ironically, it's also turned out to be the best.
I learned just how deeply Barry loves me. As he was all prepped and waiting to go into surgery to repair his aortic aneurysm, Barry looked at my friend Tara, who was waiting with us, and said, "Make sure Nancy takes care of herself. Promise me, or else I'll worry."
He wasn't worried about being sliced open again—he was worried about me.
I came to faith in Christ three years after Barry and I married, and for almost 30 years I prayed about my husband's relationship with the Lord. Then the day of Barry's open-heart surgery, he told me if he died, I'd see him again, because he knew Jesus was his Savior. He prayed with me, he prayed with a friend, and he prayed with his surgeon. Barry hasn't stopped praying—he prays with me every day.
What I'd asked God for all these years—to heal the spiritual rift in my marriage, to bring my husband and me close—God had given. He'd performed heart surgery on us both, ripping us apart and knitting us back together.
Barry and I talk often about this past year, how it's been awful—and awfully good. We wouldn't wish this kind of year on anyone and wouldn't want to go through it again, but we're glad it happened.
We thank God for the good days and the bad, because in all our days God's held us both securely in his grip. We've known God's incredible kindness to us. Our hearts are in his hands.
We've had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year—and I praise God for it.
Condensed from an article on "Walk with Me," a Today's Christian Woman blog © 2007 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Walk with Me; Nancy Kennedy, "The (Not So) Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year," Walk with Me, a Today's Christian Woman blog (12-5-07)

:36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

sakeheneka – on account of, for the sake of, for; for this cause, therefore

killedthanatoo – to put to death

accountedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

slaughtersphage – slaughter; from sphazo – to slay, slaughter, butcher; to put to death by violence

The last verse ended with a mention of the “sword” …

Now Paul quotes from:

(Psa 44:22 NKJV)  Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.


Difficulties go with being a Christian.

We are going to go through hard times.  Very hard times.  It’s a part of being a Christian.  It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us, He does.  We need to be ready and willing to face the difficulties.
"Ready for Either" is the significant legend that underspans the seal of the Baptist Missionary Union, which presents an ox standing with a plough on one side, and an altar on the other.
Sometimes its under the harshest conditions that we will flourish:
Where in the world will you function best for God?  The story is told of a distinguished botanist who was exiled from his native land and obtained a job as a gardener in the United States.  One cold winter day his employer received a valuable plant.  Unfamiliar with the plant and its needs, he placed it in the greenhouse under the glare of the sun.  When the plant began to die, the man asked the gardener to look at it.  Quickly identifying its origin, he explained, "This is a plant which thrives in cold weather."  He immediately took it outside and exposed it to the frost, heaping pieces of ice around the flowerpot.  Before long the plant became healthy and flourished again.
Dr. Tad Stewart took a church in Teheran, Iran. He was married, had a wonderful family. And there they were on the streets of Teheran, Iran, during revolution and revolt and riot. The government under the Ayatollah closed his Presbyterian church. It was a small, struggling Presbyterian church. Hardly had any members. Very few showed up for worship. But the government came in and burned all the Bibles and Sunday school curriculum, and took the church newsletters, ripped them up, threw them away, and put them in the garbage. Then they took a big padlock and locked the door of the church. They wiped their hands and said, “Aha! We have closed Christianity in Iran.”
Tad Stewart and his wife opened their small home, and on Sunday mornings people would go through the underground network. Nobody dared to say where they were going, but they came along the streets early in the morning while it was still dark and they came to the home for breakfast and for worship. Church attendance grew until it doubled, and then it tripled. People had no Bibles, only what they had at home. And they smuggled them. You would have thought they were pure gold.
Tad said when he opened the Bible and read it, because it had been taken from the people, they finally realized what a treasure was theirs. He said, “When I read from it, you could have heard a pin drop.” He said it was as if this was the very Word of God. He said for the first time in people’s lives they began to take it seriously. Suddenly electricity and faith broke out in that church, and soon that church grew and made an impact all over the city of Teheran, all over the nation of Iran, and even over that part of the Middle East.
It’s amazing what came out of locking the church, burning the Bibles, burning the Sunday school curriculum. “How could anything good come out of that?” the skeptic asks.
Ah, but the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God, I tell you, is stronger than human strength.

-- Thomas Tewell, "The Foolishness of God," Preaching Today, Tape No. 171.

Don’t be quick to dread the difficult times.  You may find yourself flourishing there.
I learned a high appreciation for pain’s warning function while collaborating on three books with Dr. Paul Brand, the missionary surgeon who discovered that all the disfigurement that makes leprosy such a dreaded disease traces back to the loss of pain sensation. Theologians blithely attribute pain to the Fall, ignoring the marvelous design features of the pain system. Every square millimeter of the body has a different sensitivity to pain, so that a speck of dirt may cause excruciating pain in the vulnerable eye whereas it would go unreported on the tough extremities. Internal organs such as the bowels and kidneys have no receptors that warn against cutting or burning—dangers they normally do not face—but show exquisite sensitivity to distension. When organs such as the heart detect danger but lack receptors, they borrow others’ pain cells (“referred pain”), which is why heart attack victims often report pain in the shoulder or arm. The pain system automatically ramps up hypersensitivity to protect an injured part (explaining why a sore thumb always seems in the way) and turns down the volume in the face of emergencies (soldiers often report no pain from a wound in the course of battle, only afterwards). Pain serves us subliminally as well: sensors make us blink several times a minute to lubricate our eyes and shift our legs and buttocks to prevent pressure sores. Pain is the most effective language the body can use to draw attention to something important.
Philip Yancey, "That Hurts," Books & Culture (May/June 2008), p. 32

:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

more than conquerorshupernikao (“beyond” + “conquer”; “hyper-conquerors”) – to be more than a conqueror, to gain a surpassing victory

who loved usagapao to love, that “agape” word

In verse 35 we were reminded that nothing could separate us from the love of Christ.

We don’t just “survive” our difficulties, God wants us to be “more than conquerors”.


Winning the right way.

How do you “survive” your hard times?  How do you “cope”?
Sometimes we escape the pressures with all kinds of things whether it’s drugs, sex, food, or buying stuff.  If we don’t face our difficult circumstances by focusing on His love, I’m not sure there’s any real benefit to us.
In Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Herb Miller writes: Two Kentucky farmers who owned racing stables had developed a keen rivalry.  One spring each of them entered a horse in a local steeplechase.  Thinking that a professional rider might help him outdo his friend, one of the farmers engaged a crack jockey.  The two horses were neck and neck with a large lead over the rest of the pack at the last fence, but suddenly both fell, unseating their riders. The professional jockey remounted quickly and rode on to win the race.  Returning triumphantly to the paddock, the jockey found the farmer who had hired him fuming with rage. “What’s the matter?” the jockey asked.  “I won, didn’t I?” “Oh, yea,” roared the farmer.  “You won all right, but you crossed the finish line on the wrong horse.” In his hurry to remount after the fall, the jockey had jumped on his competitor’s horse.  Success is meaningless unless we win the race properly.

-- Judy C. Knupke, Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 4.

You’re going to have a hard time getting across the finish line as a “conqueror” unless you become convinced of His love for you. When you focus on His love, you won’t just barely survive, you gain a surpassing victory.

:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

persuadedpeitho – persuade; to trust, have confidence, be confident

Perfect tense – something that happened in the past and the results continue on to the present.

I stand convinced”; Paul has looked at the facts and has become convinced about something.

death – Some people are afraid of what happens at death.

Paul’s attitude about death:
(Phil 1:21-24 NKJV)  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. {22} But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. {23} For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. {24} Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

When Paul was faced with a possible death sentence, he felt it was good no matter which way it went.  He wasn’t afraid of death because death would bring him directly into the presence of God.

We may not be concerned about our own death keeping us from the love of God, but sometimes it’s a little hard when someone close to you dies, someone you’ve counted on, someone who is important to you.

life – sometimes the thing we fear most is life.

angelsaggelos – a messenger, envoy, one who is sent; an angel

principalitiesarche – beginning, origin; the first person or thing in a series, the leader; principality, rule; of angels and demons

powersdunamis – strength power, ability (different word than the one used in Eph. 6:12, exousia)

It is possible that Paul is describing different kinds of angels:

(Eph 6:12 NKJV)  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Paul is convinced that no supernatural being can keep us from God’s love.

We live in a world that can treat supernatural evil as a fairy tale.  We might go to a scary movie at Halloween time and be scared, but when we sit at home with the lights on, sometimes we don’t worry too much about evil beings.
We don’t need to be afraid, but we do need to be careful.
(1 Pet 5:8 NKJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

things presentenistemi – to place in or among, to put in; to be upon, impend, threaten; close at hand; present

The things that are right in front of us, like David facing Goliath.

things to comemello – to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something; to intend, have in mind

It sounds to me a lot like the “what ifs”.  These are the things that may or may not happen.  Just the possibilities.

Too many times we get so discouraged from worrying about things that never happen.

:39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

heighthupsoma – thing elevated, height; elevated structure i.e. barrier, wall

depthbathos (“bathysphere”) – depth

Since Paul includes both “height” and “depth”, everything in between is included as well.

We might say, “Well Paul, but you don’t know how “BIG” my problem is”, or, “You don’t know how “DEEP” this thing goes!”

createdktisis – the act of founding, establishing; anything created

Just in case Paul forgot something, this covers it.

Some suggest that though no other person could come between you and the love of God, perhaps we ourselves might be able to get in the way and cause Him to stop loving us.

But you are a created thing.  You can’t stop Him from loving you.

shall be abledunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favorable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom

Future tense. Nothing shall have the power or ability to …

to separatechorizo – to separate, divide, to depart; to leave a husband or wife

Same word used in verse 35.

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence


Rest in His love

He loves you.  Let yourself be overwhelmed with it.  It isn’t going away.
It is knowing that He loves you that leads to the peace that comes, knowing that He’s going to take care of you.
(1 Pet 5:5-7 NKJV)  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." {6} Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, {7} casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
caremerimna care, anxiety
He caresmelo to care about
I found it interesting that when this word is used in the gospels about Jesus, it’s used by the disciples when they are questioning whether Jesus cares for them.

(Mark 4:38 NKJV)  But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

(Luke 10:40 NKJV)  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."

He does care.  We can cast our anxieties on Him because He does care.
Top 10 Predictions No Matter Who Wins the Election (got this from Kim Beller in an e-mail…)

10. The Bible will still have all the answers.

9. Prayer will still work.

8. The Holy Spirit will still move.

7. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.

6. There will still be God-anointed preaching.

5. There will still be singing of praise to God.

4. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.

3. There will still be room at the Cross.

2. Jesus will still save the lost.

1. Jesus will still love you.

Isn’t it great to know who is still in control?