Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship . . . ? (Romans 8:35)
In this beloved passage of Scripture, in which Paul went on to say that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” does it not seem odd that Paul would ask “Who shall separate us,” rather than “What shall separate us”? Paul listed trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword as possible reasons for separation from the love of Christ, so it might seem that his use of the word “Who” here was incorrect; generally we associate “who” with a person, not with things like “hardship” or “danger.” However, we know that Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, so there is no “incorrect” wording in this passage or any other. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), we must look a bit deeper to see what God intends for us to understand.
I don’t know about you, but Paul’s list is rather formidable, and it certainly can feel like a “who” when trouble, hardship, persecution, etc., come knocking at our door. Trouble and hardship feel personal, do they not? I believe Paul was intentionally setting up a contrast with the True Who, the One who is far greater than any “who” this sin-stained world can bring against us. The Lord Jesus Christ, through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection, demonstrates that He is the True Who.
- Trouble is no match for the True Who.
- Hardship is no match for the True Who.
- Persecution is no match for the True Who.
- Famine is no match for the True Who.
- Nakedness is no match for the True Who.
- Danger is no match for the True Who.
- The sword is no match for the True Who.
There is no “who” in the entire universe that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Remember, every “who” on Paul’s list represents serious struggles that often become storms that we must face in this life. None of these things are good or welcome guests. But God has promised to take every one of them and ultimately work them in our lives for a good and glorious outcome. In conforming us to the image and likeness of the Son, the Father will use every means necessary; often, those means include the waves of challenge that wash over us.
Remember, greater is the power of the True Who that is in you than any power that comes against you. And that means you are, indeed, more than a conqueror through Him who loves us.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!