Exegetical Question

I know that there are some intelligent exegetes out there in the Lutheran blogosphere, so here’s my question:
In Romans 8:33-35, Paul asks three questions using tis. It seems that many people take the answer to the second question (“Who is the one who condemns?”) as “Christ Jesus, the one who died….” In other words, Jesus is the Judge, and as the Judge, He is the one who has the right to condemn. Fine, but wouldn’t that mess with the artistry of the three questions?

Does it make sense to answer the first question (“Who will bring a charge against the elect ones of God?”) with “God is the one who justifies”? (That article justifies inserting the “is,” right?) Or is Paul answering this question as well with something like, God is the only one who could truly bring a charge against His own elect?

The second half of verse 35 is not an answer to the first part (the third question); it is an expansion of the question. The answer is verses 38-39.

So my contention is that the three questions do not have what immediately follows as the answer, but as the counterpoint to the assumed answers, which is “no one.” Can anyone who knows Paul and/or Greek better than I give me a reason to go one way or the other?

Timotheos

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2 thoughts on “Exegetical Question

  1. Pardon my relatively useless feedback, seeing as I don’t know my Greek well, but I have always read those questions as being answered with “no one.” Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? No one, because when God justifies someone, they are no longer condemned but covered by the love of God in Christ Jesus– I hear the next question as being related to this first part: “Who is he [i.e. mortal man, Satan] that condemns?” Then it starts talking about the intercession of Christ on our behalf, reiterating that no one can separate us from God because we are in Christ. It’s all of a piece, but I don’t hear those questions as being related to God’s rightful ability to condemn, but rather of the lack of the right of men and angels to condemn those with faith in the Gospel.

    So if I’ve read that wrong, I wouldn’t mind hearing some feedback to the Greek geeks out there, either. ;o)

  2. Timotheos,

    I will make argument for the question and answer format:

    1. The answer to the third question can not be reasonably applied to the first two questions (textually), though the implied “no one” may still be valid. The question in the third is “who will separate?” and the verb is resumed in vv. 38-39: “I am convinced… is able TO SEPARATE…” Everything between the question and the second verb chorisai forms an inclusio, or a single unit.

    2. The first two questions are followed by the formula: proper noun + definite article + participle. The formulae translate: “God the justifying one” and “Christ the dying, being raised one, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” The final question does not follow the same pattern.

    Conclusion:
    The proper nouns are the answers to the first two questions. Paul is simply fleshing out his “courtroom drama” metaphor. The court is fixed. The result is settled. With justification established, how do we know that the verdict will stand? Paul answers: “I am convinced that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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