Given that v. 37 says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” I think that the commonly known translation (“the love of Christ”) is correct. If Paul had intended to say “our love of Christ,” I believe he would have written it that way. The fact is that a lot of things separate us from our love of Christ. They are called mortal sins.
The definite article means “the” when it has a nominative or a accusative ending (subject or predicate part of sentence), and generally means either “of-the” or “to-the”, when followed by a genitive or dative ending, respectively.
There is no need to put an extra “the” in a sentence to merely say “of”. A word that has a genitive ending (genitive means belonging to, possession, etc. ) automatically means “of something” as in belonging to something.
In this particular sentence, there are TWO definite articles in the question:
τῆς – of-the (Feminine).
τοῦ – of the (Masculine).
We should always be able to read them as “of-the” or just “the” and still have the sentence make sense in English.
τίς ἡμᾶς χωρίσει ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγάπηςτοῦ Χριστοῦ
" What shall-separate us away-from the love of-the Annointed ? "
When I look at this sentence;
I am not so sure that it can not be read in both directions; Paul might mean a love belonging to Christ, and a love for Christ. I question the assertion that Paul means only the love for us by Christ. I wonder because Paul didn’t make the genders of the nouns or definite articles agree.
I’m not going to say you’re wrong, as I would need to look at other examples to be absolutely sure of what is going on; but I have a strong reservation.
When masculine and feminine nouns are placed next to each other, it tends to indicate a marriage or unitive relationship. For example, idea of the “wife of XXX” might be written out in Greek as “the wife (Gyne-eg: feminine) of-XXX (genitive)”, but sometimes the idea is expressed in abbreviated form as “The (feminine definite article alone) XXX (Name with masculine genitive ending).”
So, the idea of marriage or familial relationship can be expressed as the mismatch in genders of two nouns which are next to each other. eg: The female version of a male.
I agree with David Bj, that mortal sin is the death of love in man for God. So, there is strong evidence that God’s love is meant in Romans.
However, since God is love, (Agape love, cf: 1John 4:8) then it is impossible for God not to have love for us in some sense of the word.
On the other hand, I don’t think it’s entirely correct to say that God must create/recreate/save us, because he loves us. (An incarnational aspect of love). Yet, there is a strong tendency of Christians to want to do that.
I think an important counter-point to keep in mind is that God did not even have to create us. He was love (internal to the trinity) even before we existed / even if we never had existed. Love does not require us. We are not a necessary manifestation of love that must be responded to by God. Rather we are a free choice in God’s love.
So, I do think that the “love” Paul is speaking of can be mutual and can be poured out in larger or reduced measure by God. God could, theoretically, divorce us. cf: Jeremiah 3:8.
To quote from your post: “I am not so sure that it can not be read in both directions; Paul might mean a love belonging to Christ, and a love for Christ. I question the assertion that Paul means only the love for us by Christ.”
And: “So, the idea of marriage or familial relationship can be expressed as the mismatch in genders of two nouns which are next to each other. eg: The female version of a male.”
A question or two, Might it be that Christ’s love for us, empowers us to love Him?
And if we love Him, are we not His Spouse and the Child of God?
Then, would we be, His spouse and sister? (Abraham and Sarah?)
There is no doubt, Jim, that we could not love him if he had not first loved us.
So, yes, his love for us does empower us to love him.
Paul clearly asserts in places that we are saved by a one flesh union with Jesus, the Christ. He made a way for us into heaven through his flesh. The only way that we share flesh with Christ is through the Eucharist, so the Eucharist is literally both the wedding feast and also the one flesh union.
See: Ephesians 5:29-32
“…the two will become one flesh… This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.”
So, we are clearly his spouse, but in a non-sexual/intercourse sense.
He has effected the joining of flesh through an alternate/supernatural means.
The joining in marriage is not an analogy, but a sacramental reality.
So, I’m not sure saying Abraham and (partial sister) Sarah really fits.
Many within the church are not close blood relatives in any event, and I (coming from the gentiles) am a person who was “far off” and not a closer relative in terms of human relationships.
It’s the knowledge of God which was scorned and lost at the Fall of man. God exists, God is trustworthy, true, and good. God loves man boundlessly, immensely. Atonement was made, reconciliation is achieved by all who believe. Man’s way, apart from God, is no way at all-the way of a lost fool.