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In All These Things…



Romans 8:36-37, “As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”


A Note On Translation

First, notice that I translated the word immediately following the citation of Psalm 44:22 as “but” rather than “no.” This is attested in a few English translations (Berean Literal, NASB, NAS 1917), but most often it is translated “no.” I went with “but” because that seems to be the most natural translation of the particular Greek word in this context. “No” could give the sense that Paul is refuting the main idea of the citation (the daily death of God’s people), while “but” gives a qualified agreement, implying something like: “Yes, we are dying daily (as Paul makes clear in other places, 2 Cor 4:17-18 as an example) BUT in those daily deaths we are abundantly victorious through Him who loved us through death and into Victory.”

Both translations, of course, work….in both of them Paul is not conceding the surface assertion of the text—that God’s people are on the losing end of history—instead, He affirms the reality of their suffering but only as it has been transformed in the light of their Savior who loved them through His own death and resurrection.


How Is Suffering Turned To Victory?

We are more than conquerors in the midst of our sufferings, in what way? Through Him who loved us. Through the personal agency of the One who loved us….that is how we are victorious in our sufferings. Now, this is interesting because how did He love us? He loved us by becoming “as a lamb for the slaughter”….He loved us by enduring in Himself the full equivalency of everything Paul lists in verses 35 and 38-39 as being unable to separate us from His love.

These things cannot separate us from His love because His love moved Him to bear these things in Himself for our sake. Yes…..in fact, when we become as those afflicted with pestilence or danger or nakedness or sword, we will only find ourselves in a context of communion with the living Lord who became these things Himself in love for us….far from separating us from His love, far from cutting us off from Him, far from proving that He is against us, if—and when—we find ourselves in these situations of suffering, we will be—if anything—more conscious of His love knowing that He endured this for my sake

Therefore, the suffering does not overcome us, rather it becomes the situation for our overcoming because the path of victory has been blazed before us by the love of Christ who suffered and rose for us…..and it is a path through suffering. The love of Jesus Christ that dies and rises again has turned the Via Dolorosa into the Via Victoria—for Himself, and for all of His beloved ones.



Victors Because Inseparable From His Love

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that [nothing]…can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.“

Why is Paul able to say that Christians are more than conquerors through Him who loved them? BECAUSE nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Christians are more than conquerors through (agency) Christ who loved them and they are more than conquerors because (ground) nothing can separate them from His love. In the previous paragraphs I tried to explain what it means to be more than a conqueror in the midst of suffering through Christ (whose dying and rising love has turned the via Dolorosa into the via Victoria)…..but now I want to consider what it means that this dynamic—our victory in suffering through Christ—is grounded upon the reality that we cannot be separated from His love.

One simple implication is that, if anything could separate us from the love of God in Christ, then Paul could not say that we are more than conquerors “in all these things.” To be separated from the love of God in Christ is to be conquered, not a conqueror…to be overcome, not an overcomer. To be loved is to overcome, to be cut off from love is to be overcome.

So, why is it that to be inseparably bound to the love of God in Christ is to overcome? Is it not because this love is the love that is “strong as (and stronger than) death” (Song 8:6)? Because this love is the love that breaks the wild stallions of suffering and turns them into chargers for the victory chariot of His beloved ones? Is it not because this love is the love that died and rose again and so—as I said above—has turned death into the path of the disciple’s conquest of the world? Just as an ant bound to an arrow will go where that arrow goes, so too the Christian bound to the “arrow” of God’s love in Christ will go where that arrow goes: through suffering into victory.


Summing it Up

In the midst of suffering we surpassingly overcome through the personal agency of Jesus Christ who loved us with His own death and resurrection, thus turning all of our suffering—which He has vicariously borne—into a path of fellowship with and victory in Himself (more than conquerors because we do not just endure suffering and come out as the victor, rather, suffering itself serves the advancement of our fellowship with, joy in, and likeness to Christ who is our life).

And this dynamic is invincibly true because nothing can break the bond of God’s love for us in Christ which causes us to be counted among those for whom the Son to died and rose and so turn suffering into a path of victory.


A Final Analogy

We might picture Christ as an unsinkable life raft who—in love—has been thrown into the level 5 rapids of our suffering. The love of God might be imagined as the motive that threw the raft into the river, and also as the raft’s own choice to enter the river, and also as the entire plan for the raft to bring us to the ocean. God’s sovereign grace may be pictured as a strong man in the raft with us who keeps us from falling out of the raft. Finally, victory is coming out of the river into the wide, still, glittering ocean….

We are more than conquers in the midst of the raging rapids through the agency of the raft which has entered the rapids with us (“Him who loved us”)…..and we know that these rapids will serve only to advance us to victory (“more than conquerors”) through the agency of the raft because the man in the raft with us (sovereign grace) will let nothing tear us out of the raft but will keep us in it until we reach the ocean (“[nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”).