A Commentary by John Stott
Romans 8:31-39 c). Five unanswerable questions.
*Question 2: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?* (32).
Again, suppose the apostle has asked the simple question: ‘Will God not graciously give us all things?’ In response, we might well have demurred and given an equivocal answer. For we need many things, some of which are difficult and demanding. How then can we possibly be sure that God will supply all our needs?
But the way Paul phrases his question banishes these doubts. For he points us to the cross. The God concerning whom we are asking our question whether or not he will give us all things is the God who has already given us his Son. On the one hand, and negatively, he *did not spare his own son*, a statement which surely echoes God’s word to Abraham: ‘You …have not withheld [LXX ‘spared’, as in Rom.8:32] your son, your only son.’ (Gn.22:16). On the other hand, and positively, God *gave him up for us all*. The same verb is used in the gospels of Judas, the priests and Pilate who ‘handed Jesus over’ to death. Yet Octavius Winslow was correct to write: ‘Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; – but the Father, for love!’
Here in 8:32, as earlier in 5:8-10, Paul argues from the greater to the lesser, namely that since God has already given us the supreme and costliest gift of his own Son, ‘how can he fail to lavish every other gift upon us?’ (REB). In giving his Son he gave everything. The cross is the guarantee of the continuing, unfailing generosity of God.
*Question 3: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies* (33).
This question and the next (asking who will accuse us and who will condemn us) bring us in imagination into a court of law. Paul’s argument is that no prosecution can succeed, since God our judge has already justified us; and that we can never be condemned, since Jesus Christ our advocate has died for our sins, was raised from the dead, is seated at God’s right hand, and is interceding for us.
So who will accuse us? Once again, if this question stood on its own, many voices would be raised in accusation. Our conscience accuses us. The devil never ceases to press charges against us, for his title *diabolos* means ‘slanderer’ or ‘calumniator’, and he is called ‘the accuser of the brothers’ (Rev. 12:10; cf.Zc.3:1). In addition, we doubtless have human enemies who delight to point an accusing finger at us. But none of their allegations can be sustained. Why not? Because God has chosen us (we are ‘God’s elect’, RSV) and because God has justified us. Therefore all accusations fall to the ground. They glance off us like arrows off a shield. The apostle is surely echoing the words of the Servant in Isaiah 50:8-9:
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
It is the sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who is he who will condemn me?