33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
What is a “rhetorical question”? It is any question a speaker or writer poses without expecting an answer, in order to stimulate thinking, to add emphasis, to make an important point, or to move an audience of listeners or readers to think deeply about a certain subject or idea. The letters of the Apostle Paul include excellent examples of the rhetorical question.
Paul’s two rhetorical questions in Romans 8:33 and 34 remind the Roman Christians (and all believers throughout history) that Jesus, Who died for our sins and rose again from the dead, saves all who place their faith and trust in Him. Paul also confirms the vital doctrine of “eternal security.” Christ’s redemptive work on the cross and His resurrection mean eternal salvation for His followers. Salvation is forever.
Paul’s point is that no power can take our salvation from those who trust in Christ. No one, not even Satan himself, that notorious accuser and deceiver, can bring any charge against us Christians. Paul’s rhetorical questions in both verses expect no answer. Instead, they serve to stimulate thinking, to add emphasis to his theme, to make an important point, and to move his audience of listeners and readers to think deeply about their salvation.
God justifies us through Jesus Christ His Son, because Jesus suffered the just penalty for our sin. He bore on our behalf the punishment we deserved and He did not. Christians therefore have “immunity from prosecution” and sentencing. Jesus suffered the death penalty in our place.
What’s more, as Paul reminds us, the risen Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us, His followers. With such a powerful Intercessor, High Priest, and Advocate in a position of supreme authority, who can condemn us? Satan tries to lure us into sin, too often successfully, but his accusations and attacks have no effect on our salvation.
Jesus not only intercedes for us, He also empowers us through His Spirit to resist and even flee the temptations Satan sets like traps for us. Even when we succumb to Satan’s schemes, Paul assures us that our sins will not alter the redemption Jesus earned for us. Once saved, always saved!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How many other rhetorical questions can you find in Paul’s letter to the Romans? Make a list of them as you review his epistle.
- Read the account of Zechariah’s vision of the high priest Joshua’s dialog with God in the presence of Satan in Zechariah 3:1-10. How does this passage in Zechariah 3 demonstrate the meaning of Paul’s two rhetorical questions in Romans 8:33 and 34: “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?” and “Who is the one who condemns?” According to Zechariah’s vision, what happened to Joshua?
- Read Jesus’ words in John 10:27-29. How does the passage in Romans 8:33-34 echo Jesus’ own assertion in the account John presents? Notice how Jesus repeats one special phrase. How does Jesus’ repeated phrase relate to the doctrine of eternal security?
Pray Acts 1:8 over your family members today. Pray that each of them will respond to God’s call on their lives to know Him. Pray that each of them would be moved each day to follow Jesus, our Hope, daily, and share Him with people everywhere.