Reading the Bible with Dead Guys: Charles Hodge on Romans 8:32

This article is part of the Reading the Bible with Dead Guys series.

Reading the Bible With Dead Guys is a weekly blog series giving you the chance to read God’s Word alongside some great theologians from church history. With content adapted from the Crossway Classic Commentaries series, these posts feature reflections on Scripture by giants of the faith like John Calvin, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, and more.

Today we’ll hear from Charles Hodge (1797–1878) on Romans 8:32.

"He who did not spare his own Son but rgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son. The love of God is the basis for the confidence and security which includes everything else. The demonstration of divine love which surpasses and guarantees everything else is the gift of his own Son. Paul, having spoken of Christians as God’s sons by adoption, was led to designate Christ as God’s own special Son, in a sense in which neither angels (Hebrews 1:5) nor men can be so called. That this is the meaning of the phrase is evident because:

  1. This is its correct meaning; own Son is contrasted with adopted sons. An antithesis, expressed or implied, is always involved in the use of the word own (see Acts 2:6; Romans 11:24; 14:4; Titus 1:12). The Jews, we are told, took up stones to stone our Lord because he was “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Christ is the Son of God in the sense that he has the same nature as God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

  2. The context requires it, since Paul had spoken of those who were sons in a different sense just before.

  3. Paul and the other sacred writers designate Christ as Son of God in the highest sense, as sharing the divine nature.

But gave him up for us all. He was delivered up to death (see Galatians 1:4; Romans 4:25; Isaiah 53:6; 38:13). For us all — not merely for our benefit, but in our place. This idea, however, is not expressed by the special meaning of the Greek preposition translated for but is implied from the nature of the case. The benefit secured by a sacrifice is secured by substitution. It is offered for the benefit of the offender because it is offered in his place.

No restriction or limitation is to be put on the word all in this verse other than that which the context and its analogy in Scripture imposes. God, says Paul, gave up his Son for us all; whether he means all rational creatures, or all men, or all those whom he determined thereby to redeem, and whom he had foreknown and predestined to eternal life, depends on what the Scripture elsewhere teaches on the subject.


Charles Hodge

Takes readers through this epistle one passage at a time, providing commentary on the themes set forth by Paul in Romans. A Crossway Classic Commentary.

How will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? If God has done the greater, he will not leave the lesser undone. The gift of Christ includes all other gifts. If God so loved us as to give his Son for us, he will certainly give the Holy Spirit to make that gift effectual. This is presented as a reason for confidence.

The believer is assured of salvation not because he is assured of his own constancy, but simply because he is assured of the unchanging nature of the divine love, and he is assured of this because he is assured of its greatness. Infinite love cannot change. A love which spared not the eternal Son of God but freely gave him up cannot fail to achieve its goal.

This article was adapted from Charles Hodge’s commentary on Romans, part of the Crossway Classic Commentaries series edited by Alister McGrath and J. I. Packer.

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