Second Reading: Romans 8:31b-34

Acquittal Before The Trial

Popular Translation

31b If God is on our side, who is our enemy? 32 God didn't stop his own Son from being killed for us. So, how can he stop himself from giving us everything good, along with Jesus? 33 Who will bring charges against God's favorite people? God is the One who freed us from any charge. 34 Who will say we're guilty? Jesus Christ is our defender. He died and, more important, rose again. He is right at God's side. And he asks favors from his Father for us.

Literal Translation

31b If God is for us, who (is) against us? 32 (The One) who did not spare (his) own SON, but for all of us gave HIM over, how can he not also give everything to us with HIM? 33 Who will call in (the debts) against the favorites of God? God (is) the (One) making (us) right (before himself). 34 Who (is) the (One) condemning (us)? JESUS CHRIST (is he) the (ONE) having died, but even greater having been raised, who is also at the right (hand) of God, who is also begs (God) for us.

8:32 "(The One) who did not spare (his) own SON" This verse echoed Genesis 22:16. God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his only son, Isaac, and replaced human sacrifice with that of a ram.

In this slice of Paul's famous letter to the Romans, he used the theme of hope to move from the suffering of the present to the glory of the Second Coming. Romans 8:18-30 spoke of groaning in creation, ourselves, and life in the Spirit. According to Paul, these groanings were a foretaste of events to come.

The last event, of course, was the Last Judgment. According to Jewish lore, angels would act as prosecutors against the evils of humanity in the divine court. Paul countered this notion with Christian hope rooted in an intimate relationship with God. This hope echoed Isaiah 50:8-9a (RSV):

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. Behold, the Lord YHWH helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Paul asked rhetorical questions about charges ("debts" to be called in) by an imaginary prosecutor. Who would have been foolish enough to prosecute someone the judge favored and already forgave? [8:33] Why would God the judge condemn someone he already forgave, for whom his own Son intercedes? [8:34]

These few verses revealed Paul's view of the Last Judgement. Christians had already received the gift of reconciliation and divine life in grace. Their status before God at the end of time was certain. Acquittal was verdict even before the court convened.

Paul's hope should be ours, in spite of daily struggles and the uncertainty of modern life. We have no fear before the Lord. After all, we are his favorites!

How does the Good News give you hope in the future? How does hope sustain your faith even in the tough times?