The 6th and 7th questions of Romans 8:31-39 is this: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” “Will hardship…?” The answer to the sixth question, again, is “Nobody!” The answer to the seventh one is “No!” The context is important.
Here is what Paul deals with as a challenge to the love of Christ (8:35), which is shorthand for the “love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (8:39):
Hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword (8:35) and death/life, angels/rulers, present things/future things, powers, height/death, nor anything else in all of creation (8:39).
I find this list odd: one would think Paul might mention family or opponents of the gospel, or even Satan, but Paul speaks here of obvious physical challenges in v. 35 and broadens that to the systemic powers at work behind those physical challenges in v. 39. In essence, Paul claims that suffering cannot separate those “in Christ” from God’s gracious love.
Suffering has its way of testing one’s mettle.
Wright focuses on the love of God shed abroad in our hearts; I wonder if this is Paul’s point. I sense that Paul’s “love of Christ”/”the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” to be focused elsewhere: namely the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Contemplation of God’s faithfulness to Christ in the death and resurrection, I’m suggesting, prompts Paul to speak of God’s faithful love to those “in Christ.” God’s love is inseparable.
Tomorrow: Romans 9–11 begins.