Almost any list of encouraging Bible verses will include Romans 8:31: “What, then, shall we say in answer to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
But what are “these things”? Does the verse say that we believers will never face opposition or failure? Any experience as a Christian will amply demonstrate that many people can be “against us”; Persecution is a very real problem for Christians worldwide. So what does this passage mean?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
What is the context in Romans?
Romans is a letter written by the apostle Paul to believers in Rome around AD 56-58. C., according to Got Questions. Paul had never visited Rome, but Christianity appears to have been present there for several years. The church was well-founded and well known.
Although the intense persecution under Emperor Nero had not yet begun, just a few years after writing Paul’s letter, Christians would be blamed for the burning of Rome. The feeling against them was already a problem. He notes that most early Roman Christians were of Jewish descent and would have slowly returned after the Jews were exiled from Rome in AD 49 under Emperor Claudius, a mandate that did not expire until he died in AD 54. Kenneth Berding.
Thus, out of context, the statement that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” would have seemed just as confusing to the original readers. They could have replied: “All of Rome is against us!” Fortunately, for them and today’s readers, there is context.
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“If God is for us” The context of this passage.
Romans 8 begins with the statement, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Paul goes on to expound life in the Spirit. “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). He explains that we are children of God.
Then he goes to suffering. “Now if we are children, we are heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17 ). Paul explains that our present sufferings pale compared to the glory to come. The Spirit will be with us to help us, and God works all things for good. The Christian is meant to be conformed to the image of the Son: called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:29-30).
This is where the verse in question appears. “So what will we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
Paul continues his rhetorical questions after this. “Who will accuse those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? … Because I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God who is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
What do other translations say?
While the verses often look different in various translations, Romans 8:31 stays pretty much the same. From the traditional King James Version to more modern translations like the Standard English Version and the New Living Translation, the verse remains, “if God is for us, who can be against us? Translators of all generations have seen the same meaning in these words. What do they mean then for the readers?
“Who will be against us?” What Romans 8:31 Means
In context, the verse is preceded by Paul’s statement that God has good purposes for the Christian. It is followed by a declaration that no one can press charges against the Christian since God justifies him. Paul completes it by proclaiming that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Therefore, in context, Paul’s question of “who can be against us” seems to be asking who can condemn the Christian. The answer is nobody. God has chosen us as his children and heirs. God is the judge. If He is for us, no one can condemn us. And, as Paul demonstrates in Romans 8:35-39, nothing can separate us from that love. Therefore, we are secure in Christ.
What does this verse not mean?
As discussed above, stating that no one can be against the Christian is nonsense. Both human and spiritual forces were fighting against us. We will face opposition, and many verses warn us against it. For example, 2 Timothy 3:12 states, “Indeed, all who want to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
The verse also does not say that nothing can defeat a Christian. Christians can still lose sports, jobs, even their lives. Losing is not a matter of “not having enough faith” or “not trusting God enough.” This verse does not state that everything will work out in this life if we have faith.
Rather, no evidence can be presented against us in a cosmic courtroom. God is in the process of sanctifying us. Those who trust in Christ can no longer be condemned.
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Breath for today
This verse gives us hope, not that we will always prevail, but that our eternal destiny and God’s love are secure. Although we may suffer, we will not be destroyed. No matter how bad things seem, we must remember that “God is for us”; He loves us deeply. We are his children, with Jesus as our older brother (Romans 8:29).
The verse is compelling on its own, but in the context of Romans 8, the passage is a powerful reminder of God’s great love and his excellent plans for us.