So, over the past two Sundays, I’ve been preaching on Romans 8. It’s been fun to approach these things as a series. This Sunday, the Lectionary takes us to Romans 8:26-39 to finish the chapter. Trygve David Johnson has a nice look at this text at Theolog’s Blogging toward Sunday.
The end of Romans 8 is definitely in my top three favorite biblical texts. It’s just incredible stuff. Now normally I don’t turn to commentaries, especially this early in the week, but today I figured I might as well use that investment known as the New Interpreter’s Bible that sits on my bookshelf. I’m glad I did. This is quite possibly the longest commentary on fourteen verses in the whole twelve-volume set — in sum, this section covers about twenty pages.
As I read, though, I found the text illuminated in such an incredible way. There’s nothing quite like this — so many passages to fill so many sermons, so many inspiring words that illuminate a text that was already inspiring to begin with. Still, the end almost had me in tears.
We paraphrase, in conclusion, the final two verses of the section. Paul has spoken, and we must speak, of the love of the one true God. This love of God calls across the dark intervals of meaning, reaches into the depths of human despair, embraces those who live in the shadow of death or the overbright light of present life, challenges the rulers of the world and shows them up as a sham, looks at the present with clear faith and and the future with sure hope, overpowers all powers that might get in the way, fills the outer dimensions of the cosmos, and declares to the world that God is God, that Jesus the Messiah is the world’s true Lord, and that in him love has won the victory. This powerful, overmastering love grasps Paul, and sustains him in his praying, his preaching, his journeying, his writing, his pastoring, and his suffering, with the strong sense of the presence of the God who had loved him from the beginning and had put that love into action in Jesus. This is the love because of which there is no condemnation. This is the love because of which those justified are surely glorified. And this is the love, seen surpremely in the death of the Messiah, which reaches out to the whole world with the exodus message, the freedom message, the word of joy and justice, the word of the gospel of Jesus.
— N.T. Wright, “Romans,” The New Interpreter’s Bible
With that said, I’m not sure that there’s much more to be said. But anything you’d like to offer would still be appreciated!