Last time we dealt with verse 31’s reflection on the surety of “these things” – our future glory.
- We saw that the surety of our future glory is found in God’s faithfulness – He is for us.
And though the “who” try to thwart God’s glorification plan of believers…
- Nobody, no “who”, can successfully stand against our glorification.
Today we will unpack verses 32-34.
- Romans 8:32–34 (ESV) — 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
- In verse 32, Paul continues his glorification apologetic.
Paul’s logic here is simple enough – a greater-to-the-lesser argument:
- God is a spare nothing “grace-giver” (unstated premise).
- He “grace-gave” His Son “for us all”.
- “All things” are not nearly as valuable as “his own Son”.
- So God will certainly “grace-give” us “all things”.
Given this, we can formulate a Romans 8:32 paraphrase:
- God the Father is a spare nothing grace-giver! He gave his Son…He will certainly give us glorification!
Tom Schreiner sums up Paul’s point:
“Since he has done the greatest thing imaginable—sacrificing his Son to death for their sake—then it surely follows that the Father in his grace will grant them everything along with his Son”
Doug Moo points out that Paul is fond of assuring us with greater-to-the-lesser arguments.
- Romans 5:8–9 (ESV) — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
So, Paul wants the church at Rome (and us) to think through the implications of what God has done.
- Was the giving of the Son an historical event?
- Was it something that actually took place?
So elect of Rome stop doubting your future!
- It doesn’t matter that you groan and suffer now.
- It doesn’t matter that the “who” are against you.
What matters is that God is a spare nothing “grace giver”.
- Something clearly demonstrated on the cross.
So live in hope!
- A hope full of historical content.
Though the effects of Garden Exile linger…
- Groaning, suffering, doubt…
- There will never be a glorification exile.
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
In these verses, Paul brings us into God’s law court.
- “The presumed setting is a type of heavenly courtroom where the fate of Christians supposedly hangs in the balance” – Michael Bird.
We know this because the language is, “dominated by judicial imagery” – Doug Moo.
- “Charge”, “justifies”, “condemn”, “interceding”.
This is not just New Testament language:
- Isaiah 50:8 (ESV) — 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.
Paul’s point with this language is to further illustrate:
- How God is for us and…
- Why the “who” will fail (Schreiner).
Paul’s language bears this out.
- Who will “bring any charge”?
- God “justifies”
- Who is to “condemn”?
- Jesus is “interceding”
So once again, Paul brings up the nefarious “who”.
- A “who” we encountered last week.
- A “who” that we will unpack when we get to verse 38.
The “who” are trying to bring charges against us.
- They are trying to condemn us.
But Paul reminds us that the “who” can bring no charge or condemnation.
- It is God who justifies and it is Jesus who is interceding.
- Romans 8:1 (ESV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Justification and Condemnation:
We have already talked about justification and condemnation – because Paul has.
- So I want to focus in on the idea of Jesus interceding.
Suffice it to say, N.T. Wright sums up Paul’s justification point.
- “God has declared all those who believe in the gospel to be in the right, and no one will be able to overturn God’s verdict” – N.T. Wright.
- Not even the “who”.
And what is the Gospel as described by Paul in our text?
- The Gospel that makes us right?
- It is succinctly found in verse 34.
Paul’s verse 34 Gospel:
- Jesus “died”.
- Jesus was “raised”.
- Jesus was exalted – “at the right hand of God”.
- Jesus “is interceding for us” – currently, right now!
So who is not the Gospel?
- You and your testimony!
Let’s unpack this intercessor stuff.
Jesus as Intercessor (vs. 34):
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Paul raises the specter of a “condemner” – the “who” that keep creeping up.
- “To be sure, Satan, the ‘accuser,’ may seek to do so; so may our enemies and, perhaps most persuasively of all, our own sins” – Doug Moo.
But even though all this is going on…
- Paul assures us that Jesus is “interceding for us” (vs. 34).
This idea of Jesus as intercessor is present throughout the New Testament.
- Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) — 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
- Hebrews 9:24 (ESV) — 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
- 1 John 2:1 (ESV) — 1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
- Acts 7:55 (ESV) — 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
- This shows that we even have human accusers/condemners.
I have two questions about Jesus as intercessor.
- (1) What exactly is Jesus doing as He intercedes?
- (2) And why, given the indicatives of the Gospel, does Jesus need to intercede – doesn’t this imply that the work on the cross isn’t done?
(1) To answer our first question, we look to the definition of the word in context – ἐντυγχάνω.
- The BDAG puts it like this – to intercede here is to “appeal to someone against a third person”.
- Similarly, Bill Mounce says it refers to Jesus pleading our cause.
So with these we have Jesus:
- “Appealing” and “pleading” to the Father on our behalf.
- And He is doing so in opposition to the one bringing charges against us.
And the EDNT confirms that this takes place in a judicial setting:
Intercession, “belongs primarily to the conceptual world of the ruler’s court… where accusations against another, and where requests on behalf of another are made with the hope of receiving a hearing”.
These give us an idea of what Jesus is doing.
- But we have to flesh this out even more.
- And it will help us to know in what capacity Jesus is interceding.
Given all the judicial language and the court setting…
- It seems Jesus intercedes as a type of divine advocate – a lawyer.
- “we have an advocate with the Father” – 1 John 2:1.
- But that is not the only, nor the most important capacity of His intercession.
Jesus also intercedes for us in His capacity as our High Priest – back to Hebrews 7.
- Hebrews 7:22–26 (ESV) — 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
So what is the role of the High Priest? (From LBD)
- Covenant enforcer – temple duties and Sinai covenant
- Heart circumciser
- “Handling of sacrifices and offerings” – LBD
- Entrance into holy of holies on Day of Atonement.
These functions of the High Priest…
- Found their perfection and completion in Jesus Christ.
John Murray says of this priestly intercession:
“For nothing serves to verify the intimacy and constancy of the Redeemer’s preoccupation with the security of his people, nothing assures us of his unchanging love more than the tenderness which his heavenly priesthood bespeaks and particularly as it comes to expression in intercession for us” – John Murray.
- Our God participates in our life – continually!
So these observations help us understand what Jesus is doing as He intercedes.
(2) So what of our second question:
- If “it is finished” – Jesus’ cry on the cross:
- Why does Jesus have to intercede?
- There are a couple of good answers to this question.
The first answer is:
- Jesus intercession is ongoing because the “who” and their charges are ongoing.
- Jesus continually intercedes because the charges keep coming and will come.
- Again, more on this when we get to verse 38.
The second answer comes from John Piper.
Jesus’ intercession is, “the ongoing presentation of the reality established at the cross, and through faith, by the Spirit. God the Father doesn’t just look back to the cross. He looks straight ahead into the face of the living, righteous Jesus Christ who is our righteousness…” – John Piper (Ask Pastor John).
In other words, looking at the Gospel described in verse 32:
- Jesus “died”.
- Jesus was “raised”.
- Jesus was exalted – “at the right hand of God”.
- Jesus “is interceding for us”.
We can see that the intercession is not a separate thing from the Gospel.
- It is part of the Gospel – it is part of the foreknown and predestined plan of God.
- It is part of how we are brought into God’s family.
- How we are made into the image of Christ.
The continual intercession of Christ is His ongoing expression of His death, resurrection and exaltation.
- It can be put this way – what does Christ plead on our behalf?
- “Christ pleads His death!” – John Piper.
And, importantly, this continual intercession of Jesus the Righteous…
- Glorifies Christ and the Father – continually!
BTW – Christ’s intercession compliments the Spirits’.
- “The intercession of the Spirit for us in our hearts has its counterpart in the intercession of Christ for us at God’s right hand.” – CNUOT.
N.T. Wright leaves us with this application.
“This thought [of Jesus’ intercession] is a great comfort, especially when the going is tough, as it often was for Paul and as it often will be for those who follow and live by his gospel” – N.T. Wright.