JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH IS THE FOUNTAINHEAD FOR CONFIDENT CHRISTIAN LIVING IN LIGHT OF FUTURE GLORY –
FRUITS OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
Context: Assuring us that justification by faith is sufficient to carry us through eternity; it will never let us down.
(the foundation of our salvation will bear the weight of our lives)
John Murray: In verses 1–11 the apostle exhibits the privileges which emanate from justification and belong to the justified. We cannot escape the notes of assurance and exultation. . .
Thomas Schreiner: Three consequences of righteousness are articulated: peace, access to grace, and hope. The last receives the greatest attention in the text (vv. 2b–5), validating the contention that hope is the central motif in the text. Paul argues that hope is strengthened even in afflictions, since a chain of effects occurs when troubles strike: troubles beget endurance, endurance produces tested character, and the result of tested character is hope. Contrary to hopes in this world, this hope will not bring shame on the day of judgment because the experience of God’s love in the present through the Holy Spirit demonstrates infallibly that believers will not experience God’s wrath on the last day.
Frank Thielman: The paragraph [:1-11] describes lives that are the mirror image of the wicked and impious people in 1:18 – 2:27. The people described there failed to worship and glorify God as their creator (1:18–23, 25, 28) and produced suffering within the world by their violence toward each other (1:29–32). They also boasted in God but did not obey him (2:17). In contrast, God has transformed the believers whom Paul describes here from God’s impious enemies into friends who stand in his grace (5:1), experience his love (5:5), and boast in what God is doing and will do for them (5:2–3, 11). Unlike the people of 1:18 – 2:27 who experience the outpouring of God’s wrath now (1:18) and will experience it in the future (2:5, 8), God has changed the believers of 5:1–11 so that they are at peace with him (5:1, 10–11) and have assurance of salvation from his wrath in the future (5:9). . .
In this paragraph, Paul makes two affirmations about the lives of those who have been justified by faith.
- First, he says that the love of God provides a firm foundation for the hope of believers that they will share in God’s glory. God’s love for them is clear from the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and from the sacrificial, atoning, and therefore justifying death of Christ.
- Second, Paul affirms that even in the present, with its inevitable experiences of suffering, believers can live in joyful confidence that God has reconciled them to himself. Although they were once his enemies, they are now at peace with him. He loves them, and they do not, and will not, fall under the wrath that he justifiably pours out on the wicked.
R. Kent Hughes: This passage is remarkable for several reasons. With its exalted language, it is hymn-like. There is also its air of conﬁdence. Paul does not argue his case as he did in the preceding chapters. He simply states the facts in a marvelous chain of conﬁdent assertions. Our passage is also personal, as Paul switches to the ﬁrst person plural—this is his experience along with all true believers. Lastly, the passage is remarkable because the joy of these verses is contagious. Every Christian can deepen his or her optimism and capacity for joy by understanding the beneﬁts of justiﬁcation as they are given by Paul in Romans 5:1–11.
Michael Gorman: In these verses, then, Paul speaks briefly of a unified experience of the Spirit, suffering, love, and hope that he will develop in chapter 8. He says that Christians can and should “boast” (some translations say “rejoice” or “celebrate”). They should do so both in their hope of divine glory (5:2)—the fullness of God’s presence and conformity to Christ’s resurrected body—and in their sufferings (5:3). This is Paul’s redirecting of pride, or honor, away from the self (3:27–28; 4:2) and onto God. It is based ultimately in the story of Christ, whose own suffering led to glory, and in whose sufferings and glory Christians are graced to participate (see 8:17).
S. Lewis Johnson: Now we look at it now and the apostle says, first of all, the believer is safe, and he can be sure of it because of the tribulations of God. He says, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” That’s with reference to the past. Our past, having been covered by the blood of Christ, is now a past that is over for us. We have peace with God. Not only that, he says, but “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” That’s something that has to do with the present. We’re able to approach this God and bring our petitions to him, for the way has been opened by our mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him, we are able to approach the God of this universe. Furthermore, Paul says, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We can look forward to the future, and expect that we should ultimately experience, not only the approval or the affirmation of God, but really the glory of God itself. So the whole key to this, right here in the opening section, is the relationship that we have to the Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have peace.
I. (:1) WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD = RECONCILIATION = A HEALED RELATIONSHIP
“Therefore having been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
- objective peace
- present possession
- a settled reality
- God has ceased His hostilities against us!
John Toews: Paul establishes the inauguration of “being made righteous” as a past fact. Righteousness here, as elsewhere in Romans, is clearly a relational term, defined by peace, access, and reconciliation. The opening participle could be translated as having been established in right relationship with God.
John Murray: At the beginning of this chapter we have the intimations of climactic and triumphant conclusion. The “therefore” indicates that an inference is being drawn from the doctrine that had been unfolded and demonstrated in the preceding chapters (3:21 – 4:25). . .
“Peace with God” denotes relationship to God. It is not the composure and tranquillity of our minds and hearts; it is the status of peace flowing from the reconciliation (vss. 10, 11) and reflects primarily upon God’s alienation from us and our instatement in his favour. Peace of heart and mind proceeds from “peace with God” and is the reflection in our consciousness of the relation established by justification. But it is the objective relation that is in view here when Paul speaks of “peace with God”. It is “through our Lord Jesus Christ” that we have this peace.
Frank Thielman: Exactly how the resurrection of Christ contributes to peace with God does not come out explicitly here, but in 8:34 Paul will say that since Jesus has been resurrected and exalted to God’s right hand Jesus continues to intercede on behalf of believers and so they need never fear condemnation.
Grant Osborne: Paul’s readers were intimately acquainted with the Pax Romana (Roman Peace), enforced by the power of Rome. It represented about as much security as the world could offer. While living under this uneasy peace, Jesus had told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV). Peace with God is only possible through Christ, because on the cross he met the conditions required for peace. Not only was “the punishment that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV) borne by him, but he also fully lived up to his given title, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). (See also Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20.)
Michael Gorman: The pax Romana, like most imperial versions of peace, was the consequence of oppression and death. Rome’s peace and God’s peace are antithetical realities, as we will see more fully in 5:6–8. In fact, Rome had made Pax, along with Iustitia and Fides (justice and fidelity), as well as other Roman values, into deities in what is called the “cult of the virtues.” Paul would tell us that such deities are idols; the true God effects peace and justice through absorbing violence, not inflicting it. The true God desires fidelity to a savior who conquers only by love.
Steven Cole: The full title, “our Lord Jesus Christ,” looks at all that He is for us. First, He is our Lord, which focuses on His deity and His sovereign authority. We are His subjects or slaves. When you become a Christian, there is no option to believe in Jesus as your Savior, but to wait before you submit to Him as your Lord. He is both Savior and Lord, which means that you begin the Christian life by submitting all of yourself that you are aware of to all of Christ that you know. As you grow in Him, you learn more of who He is and what He commands and you see more areas in your life that you need to submit to Him, including your thought life. Jesus is the only rightful Lord of everything.
As Jesus, He is fully human. He took on human flesh in the incarnation, yet apart from sin. He lived in perfect dependence on the Father, in perfect obedience to His will. He went to the cross to atone for our sins (Rom. 3:24-26).
As Christ, Jesus is God’s Anointed One, the promised Messiah (“Christ” is Greek and “Messiah” is Hebrew for “Anointed One”). As such, Jesus is God’s appointed prophet, priest, and king. As God’s anointed prophet, Jesus spoke the very words of God to us (John 8:16-17). As God’s high priest, Jesus offered Himself once for all to atone for our sins. Now He lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:24-28). As God’s anointed king, Jesus is the rightful Sovereign over our lives. He is coming again to rule the nations with a rod of iron and to tread the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (Rev. 19:15).
This means that the only way to have peace with God is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way of salvation (Acts 4:12).
II. (:2a) WE HAVE ACCESS TO GOD’S GRACE THROUGH CHRIST’S MEDIATION
“through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith
into this grace in which we stand;”
Significance of perfect tenses
- Illustration: victim of AIDS has no hope, nowhere to turn for help
- Illustration: curtain in the temple torn — Matt.27:51
R. Kent Hughes: Equally at the root of joy is the grace of God. Reading verses 1 and 2 together makes this very clear. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Grace is God’s riches to us. Grace is the unsought, undeserved, and unconditional love of God. Grace is God pursuing us until he has found us and persevering with us ever afterwards. For Paul, grace and peace always go together. Even Paul’s greeting in the opening verses of Romans shows this: “Grace to you and peace . . .” (1:7). To stand in grace is to stand also in peace.
The effect of grace and peace together is to produce an exultant approach to life.
John Murray: A question arises as to the precise import of the word “access”. Does it mean introduction or access? If the former, then the accent falls upon the action of Christ as mediator in bringing us nigh to God and instating us in this grace. If the latter, then the accent falls upon our approach to God in drawing nigh. Paul’s use of this same term elsewhere (Eph. 2:18; 3:12) favours the latter interpretation and in that event the privilege afforded believers of free access to God is placed in the foreground. Hence, while the mediation of Christ in the bestowment of justification is the leading thought of the verse, yet in connection with this grace of justification the particular emphasis falls upon the fact that the free access or approach to God, which the grace of justification imparts, is itself mediated through Christ. Even in our drawing nigh to God with confidence we are dependent upon Christ’s mediation—it is through him that we have come to have access and this access is an abiding privilege resultant upon the action which justification involves. The element of acceptance with God, as an implicate of justification, is no doubt in the forefront, since that aspect of justification is particularly appropriate to the thought of access.
Thomas Schreiner: What is this grace in which believers stand? Some identify it as justification (Murray 1959: 160; Cranfield 1975: 259), and others as the realm of grace (Dunn 1988a: 248; Conzelmann, TDNT 9:395; D. Moo 1991: 309). Probably the latter is in view, since the word “justification” isn’t used. In any case, Paul wants to assure believers that they will stand in the final judgment, since they are now in the realm of grace (Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 10:12; so Wilckens 1978: 289–90).
Frank Thielman: The term “access” (προσαγωγή) occurs only here and twice in Ephesians (2:18; 3:12) in biblical Greek, but it is a fairly common term outside the Bible. It could describe the “access” that ships might gain to a city through its good harbor (Polybius, Histories 10.1.6) or the “access” that the friends of a great ruler might provide for others to their powerful friend (Xenophon, Cyr. 7.5.45). Since Paul has just spoken of Jesus as Lord and that title seems to be especially connected with his resurrection, he was probably thinking of access that believers have to God’s favor because of his continued intercession for them at God’s right hand (8:34). In addition, the term “grace” with the demonstrative pronoun (τὴν χάριν ταύτην) points back to the completely free nature of the justification and redemption that came through Jesus’s death (3:24). The perfect-tense verbs “we have” (ἐσχήκαμεν) and “we stand” (ἑστήκαμεν) emphasize the continuation of this new, gracious situation for believers.
Douglas Moo: God’s free giving to us does not stop when we become Christians. It continues to be poured out on us so much that we can be said to live in a constant state of grace (cf. 5:21; 6:14, 15).
Michael Bird: Here “grace” does not appear to mean an initial saving grace, like mercy, but something more akin to the continuing favor of God on his people. It is a grace that means we always have a VIP pass into the hallways of heavenly power.
III. (:2b-3a) WE ARE ASSURED OF FUTURE GLORY SO THAT OUR HEARTS HAVE BEEN SET FREE TO TRULY REJOICE EVEN IN PRESENT SUFFERIN
A. (:2b) Rejoicing in Anticipation of Our Glorious Future
“and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
a bright future that gives us hope in the present
Douglas Moo: Paul introduces what becomes the theme of this paragraph: the hope we have as Christians to share in God’s glory.
Frank Thielman: Boasting often has negative connotations in Romans. . . The boasting here in 5:2 is this second type of boasting (cf. 5:11) [ = positive boasting in what God has done for the believer]. God has given the believer a hope as certain as God is trustworthy (4:18) that believers, like the resurrected Jesus himself, will experience the incorruptible state of “glory” (τῆς δόξης) in which God himself dwells (cf. 1:23; 2:7). Prior to believing the gospel, Paul and his readers in Rome had no hope for this eschatological glory because of their sin (3:23), but because of the death and resurrection of Jesus they can be sure that they will share in Jesus’s resurrection glory (8:17, 18, 21, 30).
B. (:3a) Rejoicing in the Midst of Present Tribulations
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations,”
John Murray: Paul was a realist; he was not so absorbed in the glory of the future that he closed his eyes to the realities of the present. He was aware of the tribulations which encompassed his own life as well as the life of other believers, and the exultant joy evoked by hope could not discount the realism of the distresses and afflictions in which the pilgrimage to the attainment of that hope was cast. The remarkable feature of the attitude to tribulation is that the exultant rejoicing entertained with reference to future glory is also entertained in reference to the tribulations. Paul did not commiserate himself or other believers in the sufferings endured. Nor did he passively submit to these tribulations as trials which he recognized to be necessities of the span that separated the present from the future glory. He gloried in these tribulations and he assumed that other believers participated with him in this glorying. We find here an entirely different attitude from that which we are too liable to entertain with reference to the tribulations of the church of Christ. We pity ourselves and we pity others. Not so the apostle.
Frank Thielman: For the believer, suffering provides the basis for testifying joyfully to others about God’s ability to bring good even out of the evil that is now so prevalent.
Douglas Moo: The suffering Paul speaks of here includes all the difficulties of this life. The word Paul uses for “sufferings” in verse 3 is the plural of thlipsis (tribulations). He sometimes uses this word to refer to persecution in the narrow sense—that is, difficulties experienced because of one’s witness for Christ (e.g., 1 Thess. 1:6). Some interpreters think that most New Testament passages about suffering, including this one, have this more restrictive meaning. They are certainly right to claim that suffering “for the sake of Christ” is often the focus (see, e.g., 1 Peter). But even in texts such as these, I am not sure that we can confine the reference to persecution.
In a certain sense, everything that a Christian suffers is “on behalf of Christ.” The evil things we face reflect the conflict between “this age,” dominated by Satan and sin, and “the age to come,” to which the believer has been transferred by faith. All suffering betrays the presence of the enemy and attacks our relationship with Christ. Furthermore, as we have argued, the end of chapter 8 and the beginning of chapter 5 are closely related. This means that the suffering Paul mentions in 5:3 is likely related to the trials he lists in 8:35: “trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword.” More than persecution per se is included.
Steven Cole: There’s nothing wrong with feeling sorrow or pain or grief in the midst of a difficult trial. We shouldn’t deny these feelings in an attempt to look more spiritual. But through our tears and pain, we should be sustained by our hope in the promises of God. We know that He is sovereign over all things and that He cares for us. Exulting in our tribulations does not mean denying the pain.
IV. (:3b-4) WE HAVE A MATURING NEW CHARACTER THAT IS BEING DISCOVERED AND DEVELOPED THROUGH SUFFERIN
A. (:3b) Development of Perseverance
“knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;”
Thomas Schreiner: The chain in verses 3–4. First, afflictions produce endurance (ὑπομονήν, hypomonēn). Those who undergo troubles are toughened up so that they are able to withstand the storms of life. We have our first clue as to how troubles can spawn hope, since Paul often connects endurance with eschatological hope (Rom. 2:7; 8:25; 15:4–5; 2 Cor. 1:6–7; 1 Thess. 1:3). Second, endurance produces δοκιμήν (dokimēn, tested character). The word δοκιμή is not found prior to Paul, but it is clearly related to δοκίμιον (dokimion, testing; James 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:7). Elsewhere the term involves the validation or proof of one’s character (2 Cor. 2:9; 8:2; 9:13; 13:3; Phil. 2:22). After one endures many difficulties, a strength of character develops that was not previously present. Such tested character in turn generates hope. Why does tested character spark hope? Because moral transformation constitutes evidence that one has really been changed by God. Thus it assures believers that the hope of future glory is not an illusion. There is a pattern of growth in the here and now, however imperfect, indicating that we are changing. Believers, then, become assured that God will complete the process he has begun (1 Cor. 1:8; Phil. 1:6).
B. (:4a) Development of Proven Character
“and perseverance, proven character;”
C. (:4b) Development of Hope
“and proven character, hope;”
- sufferings don’t shake our confidence or produce doubt;
- instead they reinforce our hope and help us to keep on rejoicing;
Douglas Moo: Paradoxically, Paul claims at the end of verse 4, suffering can actually lead to “hope.” Just as resistance to a muscle strengthens it, so challenges to our hope can strengthen it.
John Piper: Isn’t the answer that when your faith has been tried in affliction, and persevered, and thus proven genuine and authentic you know you are real and not a fake Christian and that gives you hope that you really are a child of God and will inherit his glory. In other words, one of the great obstacles to a full and strong hope in the glory of God is the fear that we are hypocrites – that our faith is not real and that we just inherited it from our parents and have been motivated by things that are not honoring to God. One of the purposes of afflictions in our lives is to give us victory over those fears and make us full of hope and confidence as the children of God.
So God takes us through hard times to temper the steel of our faith and show us that we are real, authentic, genuine, proven, and in that way give us hope that we really will inherit the glory of God and not come into judgment.
V. (:5) WE HAVE GOD’S LOVING SPIRIT WORKING WITHIN OUR HEARTS TO ASSURE US OF FUTURE GLORY
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
- we are not yet perfect, but our character bears the evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit
- the certain hope of future glory will never disappoint us because we already possess within us the evidence of the love of God thru the Holy Spirit
Frank Thielman: When Paul says that “hope does not bring shame,” he is speaking of the humiliation that one feels when one’s publicly expressed expectations are not realized.
John Murray: “The love of God” is not our love to God but God’s love to us (cf. vs. 8; 8:35, 39). If we should suppose the former, the foundation of the assurance and of the security which this verse bespeaks would be destroyed. What is it that gives solidity to this hope and guarantees its validity? It is the love of God to believers, a love that suffers no fluctuation or reverse. Hence the hope which it promises is as irreversible as the love itself. This love of God must, however, come within our apprehension and appropriation if it is to be the ground of assurance and evoke this confident glorying (vs. 2). This is the significance of the shedding abroad in our hearts. The expression “shed abroad” indicates the abundant diffusion of this love. The hearts of believers are regarded as being suffused with the love of God; it controls and captivates their hearts. And the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God and of Christ (cf. 8:9), the Spirit who “searches all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:10), is the person who sheds abroad this love, and he is the seal of its efficacy and genuineness. It is the Holy Spirit as given to us, and for that reason indwelling and governing, who imparts the assurance of this love. He bears witness to the spirit of believers that they are the children of God (8:16). All the elements of this verse conspire with and converge upon one another to guarantee the certitude of which the text is redolent—the unchangeable love of God, the effectual agency of the Holy Spirit as donated to us, and the heart, the determining centre of thought and life, as the sphere of the Spirit’s operation. This confluence would make anything other than exultant rejoicing incongruous. To impugn such confidence is to impugn God’s veracity.
Thomas Schreiner: Verse 5 examines hope from another angle. The hope that believers have will not bring shame. The conception here is rooted in the OT (Pss. 22:5; 25:3, 20; 119:116; Isa. 28:16), where those who trust in God are assured that they will be vindicated for placing their confidence in him. . . The gift of the Holy Spirit demonstrates that believers will be spared from God’s wrath on the day of judgment. . .
The love of God is experienced when the Spirit is poured out in our hearts, indicating that the Spirit fills believers with the love of God. What Paul refers to here is the dynamic experience of the Spirit in one’s life (cf. Fee 1994: 495–98). Believers know that they will be spared from God’s wrath because they presently experience God’s love for them through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
R. Kent Hughes: It is a beautiful thing to experience God’s peace and grace to the extent that we exult in tribulations as well as in the hope of glory. But how do we know this joy will not someday dissolve into delusion or that it is not a pipe dream now? The answer is, these great beneﬁts are grounded in God’s unbounded love.