by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 5 Study # 8 June 24, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1901 ASV Translation:
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I. Paul's "Inclusive" Intent.
A. It is hard to imagine a "category" of entities that Paul overlooked.
B. Even if one could come up with such a "category", or, for that matter, a host of such, it would still be Paul's "point" that we cannot be separated from the love of God. One does not multiply "possible causes" for an "effect" without giving the impression that the intent is to include all possible causes. In fact, for Paul's point to be contradicted, one would have to show that Paul was deliberately omitting the one, or two, items that might bring about the intended "effect".
1. The intended "effect" is separation from the love of God.
2. The possible "causes"...
a. Death and Life.
1) The issue of Death and Life is "experiential awareness". If there is no experience, neither Death nor Life have any significance. If there is no awareness, the same thing is true. The problem with Death is the experience of unmitigated disaster without loss of awareness. The problem with Life is the inescapable quality of function in a cause/effect universe coupled with experience without any loss of awareness. Obviously, Life is the less threatening of these two, but it is in Life that all choices and actions take place. Thus, if there is an attitude, a choice, or an action that can bring about the intended separation of us from God's love, it will be expressed in the realm of Life. So, Life must be included in Paul's list if it is to include all of the "possible separators".
2) Paul's denial of the separating possibilities to both Death and Life is really all he had to say. What other realm is there?
b. Angels and Principalities.
1) This is a curious "category". As far as we know, "principalities" are angels. What Paul may be doing here is going from least to greatest in the "other created beings" category. There exists "rank" among angels of which "principalities" may be the greatest. If this be so, then "angels" means "generic other creature" and "principalities" means "those 'other creatures' who have the greatest potential for impact in God's creation."
2) In any case, both elements of this category of possible excluders are denied the possibility of effectiveness.
c. Things Present and Future.
1) Since the Past is past, it can have no impact that it has not already had. If we are not now separated from the love of God, the Past could have absolutely no part as an "excluder/separator".
2) It is only the present and the future which contain any possibilities and Paul denies them the considered result. But, Past, Present, and Future, are simply descriptors of the realms of Death and Life from the perspective of "events" that will, or might, take place. If neither the Present nor the Future can "do" this thing called "separating us from the love of God, nothing can -- for all must take place in Time.
d. Powers (dunameis -- the cumulative abilities derived from the best mix possible of strength and organizational skills).
1) This element stands alone in the list. It may be Paul's way of moving beyond the category of "others who are not human" into an totally inclusive category of everyone/anything that can "do" to any result.
2) In any case, the word refers to the highest level of ability to accomplish and even this is denied the intended result.
e. Height and Depth.
1) These are the "distance" words that are implied in "separation". If neither can produce the typical result of separation, there is no possibility of separation.
2) Even though this category may be the least threatening, their inclusion simply does what all of the others have already done: eliminate any/all possibility.
f. Any other (hetera -- others of a kind not here listed) created thing or act of creation.