31. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
31. Quid ergo dicemus ad hæc? Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?
32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
32. Qui propno Filio non pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit, quomodo non etiam cum eo donaret nobis omnia?
33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
33. Quis intentabit crimina adversus electos Dei? Deus est qui justificat.
34. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
34. Quis ille qui condemnet? Christus est qui mortuus est, quin potius etiam suscitatus, qui et in dextera Patris est, qui et intercedit pro nobis.
31. What then, etc. The subject discussed having been sufficiently proved, he now breaks out into exclamations, by which he sets forth the magnanimity with which the faithful ought to be furnished when adversities urge them to despond. And he teaches us in these words that with the paternal favor of God is connected that invincible courage which overcomes all temptations. We indeed know, that judgment is usually formed of the love or of the hatred of God, in no other way than by a view of our present state; hence when things fall out untowardly, sorrow takes possession of our minds, and drives away all confidence and consolation. But Paul loudly exclaims, that a deeper principle ought to be inquired after, and that they reason absurdly who confine themselves to the sad spectacle of our present warfare. I indeed allow, that the scourges of God are in themselves justly deemed to be tokens of God's wrath; but as they are consecrated in Christ, Paul bids the saints to lay hold, above all things, on the paternal love of God, that relying on this shield they may boldly triumph over all evils; for this is a brazen wall to us, so that while God is propitious to us we shall be safe against all dangers. He does not, however, mean, that nothing shall oppose us; but he promises a victory over all kinds of enemies.
If God be for us, etc. This is the chief and the only support which can sustain us in every temptation. For except we have God propitious to us, though all things should smile on us, yet no sure confidence can be attained: but, on the other hand, his favor alone is a sufficient solace in every sorrow, a protection sufficiently strong against all the storms of adversities. And on this subject there are many testimonies of Scripture, which show that when the saints rely on the power of God alone, they dare to despise whatever is opposed to them in the world.
|When I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall not fear evils, for thou art with me.| (Psalm 23:4.)
|In the Lord I trust: what shall flesh do to me.|
|I shall not fear the thousands of the people who beset me.| (Psalm 3:6.)
For there is no power either under or above the heavens, which can resist the arm of God. Having him then as our defender, we need fear no harm whatever. Hence he alone shows real confidence in God, who being content with his protection, dreads nothing in such a way as to despond; the faithful are doubtless often shaken but are never utterly cast down. In short, the Apostle's object was to show, that the godly soul ought to rely on the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, and not to depend on outward things.
32. He who has not spared his own son, etc. As it greatly concerns us to be so thoroughly persuaded of the paternal love of God, as to be able to retain our rejoicing on its account, Paul brings forward the price of our redemption in order to prove that God favors us: and doubtless it is a remarkable and clear evidence of inappreciable love, that the Father refused not to bestow his Son for our salvation. And so Paul draws an argument from the greater to the less, that as he had nothing dearer, or more precious, or more excellent than his Son, he will neglect nothing of what he foresees will be profitable to us.
This passage ought to remind us of what Christ brings to us, and to awaken us to contemplate his riches; for as he is a pledge of God's infinite love towards us, so he has not been sent to us void of blessings or empty, but filled with all celestial treasures, so that they who possess him may not want anything necessary for their perfect felicity. To deliver up means here to expose to death.
33. Who shall bring an accusation, etc. The first and the chief consolation of the godly in adversities, is to be fully persuaded of the paternal kindness of God; for hence arises the certainty of their salvation, and that calm quietness of the soul through which it comes that adversities are sweetened, or at least the bitterness of sorrow mitigated. Hardly then a more suitable encouragement to patience could be adduced than this, a conviction that God is propitious to us; and hence Paul makes this confidence the main ground of that consolation, by which it behoves the faithful to be strengthened against all evils. And as the salvation of man is first assailed by accusation, and then subverted by condemnation, he in the first place averts the danger of accusation. There is indeed but one God, at whose tribunal we must stand; then there is no room for accusation when he justifies us. The antithetic clauses seem not indeed to be exactly arranged; for the two parts which ought rather to have been set in opposition to each other are these: |Who shall accuse? Christ is he who intercedes:| and then these two might have been connected, |Who shall condemn? God is he who justifies;| for God's absolution answers to condemnation, and Christ's intercession to accusation. But Paul has not without reason made another arrangement, as he was anxious to arm the children of God, as they say, from head to foot, with that confidence which banishes all anxieties and fears. He then more emphatically concludes, that the children of God are not subject to an accusation, because God justifies, than if he had said that Christ is our advocate; for he more fully expresses that the way to a trial is more completely closed up when the judge himself pronounces him wholly exempt from guilt, whom the accuser would bring in as deserving of punishment. There is also a similar reason for the second clause; for he shows that the faithful are very far from being involved in the danger of condemnation, since Christ by expiating their sins has anticipated the judgment of God, and by his intercession not only abolishes death, but also covers our sins in oblivion, so that they come not to an account.
The drift of the whole is, that we are not only freed from terror by present remedies, but that God comes to our aid beforehand, that he may better provide for our confidence.
But it must be here observed, as we have before reminded you, that to be justified, according to Paul, is to be absolved by the sentence of God, and to be counted just; and it is not difficult to prove this from the present passage, in which he reasons by affirming one thing which nullifies its opposite; for to absolve and to regard persons as guilty, are contrary things. Hence God will allow no accusation against us, because he has absolved us from all sins. The devil no doubt is an accuser of all the godly: the very law of God and their own conscience convict them; but all these prevail nothing with the judge, who justifies them. Therefore no adversary can shake or endanger our salvation.
Further, he so mentions the elect, as one who doubted not but that he was of their number; and he knew this, not by special revelation, (as some sophists falsely imagine,) but by a perception (sensu - feeling) common to all the godly. What then is here said of the elect, every one of the godly, according to the example of Paul, may apply to himself; for this doctrine would have been not only frigid, but wholly lifeless had he buried election in the secret purpose of God. But when we know, that there is here designedly set before us what every one of the godly ought to appropriate to himself, there is no doubt but that we are all encouraged to examine our calling, so that we may become assured that we are the children of God.
34. Who is he that condemns? etc. As no one by accusing can prevail, when the judge absolves; so there remains no condemnation, when satisfaction is given to the laws, and the penalty is already paid. Now Christ is he, who, having once for all suffered the punishment due to us, thereby declared that he undertook our cause, in order to deliver us: he then who seeks hereafter to condemn us, must bring back Christ himself to death again. But he has not only died, but also came forth, by a resurrection, as the conqueror of death and triumphed over all its power.
He adds still more, -- that he now sits at the right hand of the Father; by which is meant, that he possesses dominion over heaven and earth, and full power and rule over all things, according to what is said in Ephesians 1:20. He teaches us also, that he thus sits, that he may be a perpetual advocate and intercessor in securing our salvation. It hence follows, that when any one seeks to condemn us, he not only seeks to render void the death of Christ, but also contends with that unequalled power with which the Father has honored him, and who with that power conferred on him supreme authority. This so great an assurance; which dares to triumph over the devil, death, sin, and the gates of hell, ought to lodge deep in the hearts of all the godly; for our faith is nothing, except we feel assured that Christ is ours, and that the Father is in him propitious to us. Nothing then can be devised more pestilent and ruinous, than the scholastic dogma respecting the uncertainty of salvation.
Who intercedes, etc. It was necessary expressly to add this, lest the Divine majesty of Christ should terrify us. Though, then, from his elevated throne he holds all things in subjection under his feet, yet Paul represents him as a Mediator; whose presence it would be strange for us to dread, since he not only kindly invites us to himself, but also appears an intercessor for us before the Father. But we must not measure this intercession by our carnal judgment; for we must not suppose that he humbly supplicates the Father with bended knees and expanded hands; but as he appears continually, as one who died and rose again, and as his death and resurrection stand in the place of eternal intercession, and have the efficacy of a powerful prayer for reconciling and rendering the Father propitious to us, he is justly said to intercede for us.