Skip to Main Content

Romans: 5:1-11 Notes

Romans 5:1-11 - EXEGESIS:


1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

"Being therefore" (v. 1a) points back to the foundation that Paul established in chapters 1-4 that none is righteous (3:9-20) but we are justified by the grace of God as a gift (3:24)-a reality that we appropriate by faith (4:13-25).

"justified (dikaiothentes-from dikaioo) by faith" (v. 1a). The word dikaioo means to be made just or righteous-not guilty. This is important, because God is holy, and those who are guilty cannot be admitted into God's presence. Those who have been justified can.

  • But Paul says that Christ died for our sins while we were yet sinners. We are justified by his blood-by his sacrifice. Therefore, we have been reconciled to God (Romans 5:8-10)
  • Dikaiothentes is perfect tense, indicating a completed action. It might better be translated "having been justified." Our justification has already been accomplished. As Paul made clear in 3:21-26, it is by the grace (undeserved gift) of God that we are justified (3:24), but our faith gives us access to that grace (3:26)-i.e., it is grace rather than faith that saves us, but faith makes it possible for us to experience grace.

"we have peace (eirenen) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 1b). Paul uses the Greek word for peace-eirenen-but as a Jew his understanding of peace with God is grows out of the Hebrew shalom. Shalom suggests something more than the absence of hostility. It speaks of "the well-being, prosperity, or salvation of the godly person" (Moo, 299).

  • In the context of this verse, "peace with God" bespeaks spiritual harmony with God-having one's heart and will allied with God's will. While a harmonious relationship with God naturally leads to inner peace, it is peace with God that Paul means here. It is possible for us to have peace with God only because of the work of "our Lord Jesus Christ."
  • Paul is writing to Christians in Rome, who would be familiar with the Pax Romana (Roman peace). Rome established peace through domination. It pacified by force of arms and insisted that conquered peoples acknowledge Caesar as Lord.
  • But the peace offered by Christ is not achieved by domination but by love.

"through whom we also have our access (prosagogen) by faith into this grace in which we stand"(v. 2a). This word prosagogen suggests more than mere access. It suggests being ushered into the presence of the king. Through the salvation work of Jesus Christ, we have been ushered into the presence of "this grace in which we stand." Grace, of course, is "God's unmerited favor toward humanity and especially his people, realized through the covenant and fulfilled through Jesus Christ" (Myers, 437). Grace is not just something for which we hope, but is something that we already possess. The grace that we possess is so substantial that Paul calls it "this grace in which we stand."

"We rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (v. 2b). Paul has spoken earlier in this epistle of boasting but never favorably-his earlier references had to do with our boasting of our works (2:17, 23; 3:27; 4:2), and we have done nothing that justifies boasting. However, it is appropriate for us to boast of what God has done for us. Such boasting is a kind of proclamation that spreads the word about God's generosity.


3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 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.

"Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings" (v. 3a). In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul boasted of his sufferings, which demonstrated the selfless quality of his ministry (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).

  • How can a person boast about suffering? Paul is no masochist, so he is not suggesting that we should solicit suffering or find pleasure in it. His counsel is instead rooted in his faith that God transforms Good Fridays into Easters-that God embeds a blessing in every hardship for those who trust him.
  • In his second letter to Timothy, Paul speaks of suffering for Christ, but goes on to say, "Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

"knowing that suffering works perseverance" (v. 3b). In vv. 3-5, Paul outlines the blessings that come through suffering. Suffering produces endurance-and endurance produces character-and character produces hope-and hope does not disappoint us.

"and perseverance, proven character (dokimen); and proven character, hope" (v. 4). Dokimen has to do with testing, so Paul is saying that endurance produces a tested or a proven character-the solid character of a veteran rather than the uncertain character of a recruit (Morris, 221). This then produces hope, because the veteran, having triumphed over adversity in the past, can hope to triumph over adversity in the future.

"and hope doesn't disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (v. 5). No matter what happens, God loves us. We are beloved sons and daughters whom God will never abandon. God provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, so we can be sure that God will provide for us (Matthew 6:25-34).


6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

"For while we were yet weak" (v. 6a). By using "we," Paul includes himself among the weak and ungodly.

"at the right time" (v. 6b). There are at least three ways that the time was right:

  • It was the right time in history. The Pax Romana (Roman peace) made it possible for people to travel and communicate widely, making it easier to spread the Gospel.
  • It was the right time in our lives. We were needy because of our sin, and Christ's death and resurrection satisfied our need for reconciliation and forgiveness.
  • It was the right time eschatologically-the time that suited God-that fit God's plan for the salvation of the world.

"Christ died for the ungodly" (v. 6c). This is an astounding idea. Christ didn't die for godly people (which we would expect) but for the ungodly (hard to imagine).

"For one will hardly die for a righteous man" (v. 7a). This fits our experience. Many people might consider risking death in behalf of a good cause or a good person, but few of us would knowingly risk our lives to save a rapist or a murderer or a drug addict.

"Yet perhaps for a righteous person someone would even dare to die" (v. 7b). Again, this fits our experience. A father runs in front of a moving truck to save his child. A mother drowns trying to rescue her child. A soldier throws himself on a live grenade to save his buddies. A secret service agent throws himself in the path of a bullet to save the president.

"But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"(v. 8). It doesn't seem to make sense that Christ would die for sinners, but Jesus says, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do" (Matthew 9:12). Jesus' logic is compelling. Why would he save people who do not need it? Why wouldn't he save sinners-those in need of salvation?

▪ We might have expected this verse to say that Christ proved his love for us by dying for us, but instead it says, "God commends his love toward us" by Jesus' death (see 1 John 4:10).


9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

"Being now justified" (v. 9) equates to "were reconciled" (v. 10). "By his blood" (v. 9) equates to "through the death of his Son" (v. 10). "Saved from God's wrath" (v. 9) equates to "saved by his life" (v. 10).

"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's wrath through him" (v. 9). Both verses 9 and 10 argue from the greater to the lesser. If God justified us by the blood of his Son, he will surely spare us from his wrath (v. 9). If God has reconciled us by his Son's death, he will surely save us by the Son's life-i.e., by his resurrection (v. 10).

"Justified" (v. 9) and "reconciled" (v. 10) have similar but different meanings. Justified has a courtroom ring to it. To be justified is to be declared innocent-to be vindicated. Reconciled has to do with relationships, suggesting a bringing together of those who have been estranged. There is a natural progression, then, from justified (v. 9) to reconciled (v. 10a) to saved (v. 10b). One could hardly be reconciled to a righteous God without first being justified, and one could hardly be saved without first being reconciled.

"For if, while we were enemies" (v. 10a). In what sense were we ever enemies of God. Jesus said that Satan

was God's enemy (Luke 10:18-19). James tells us that "whoever wants to be a friend of the world (Greek:

kosmos) makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4). The kosmos is the world that is opposed to God.

"we were reconciled (Greek: katallasso) to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life" (v. 10b). The idea of reconciliation is important in Paul's epistles. He mentions reconciliation ten times in Romans (5:10, 11; 11:15); 1 Corinthians (7:11); and 2 Corinthians (5:18, 19, 20).

  • Reconciliation involves a change in a relationship from bad to good--from enmity to friendship. When used of nations, it involves establishing peace between nations that were previously at war with one another.

Note that it is God who reconciled us--restored us in our relationship with God through the death of his Son. This is not something we could have done for ourselves. It required God's initiative, because our unholiness was incompatible with God's holiness.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (v. 11). Paul earlier said that our boasting is excluded (3:27)-by which he meant our boasting of our accomplishments.  It is appropriate, however, to boast about the gift of God's grace that has justified us, reconciled us, and saved us (vv. 9-10). It is appropriate to sing for joy in celebration of our salvation. It is appropriate to shout it from the housetops. To do so is to proclaim the saving power of Christ-which proclamation will draw others to Christ and help them to share in that salvation.

Rom. 5:1-11 - Exposition -

There is a question among commentators as to the precise relationship of chapter 5 to the preceding and following material. Does it go with the chapters before, i.e., 1:18-4:25 or with the chapters that follow in 5:12-8:39? You will note in the argument section above (under "Background Material and Argument of the Book") that we have taken the chapter as maintaining stronger ties to what precedes than to what follows. But this is exactly the point. We are not saying by this that there is no connection to what follows, only that the passage seems more integrally connected to what comes before. Indeed, Paul's ideas of justification, faith, boasting, wrath, and hope have all been introduced earlier (and will be later as well). But we note as well that his reference to ideas such as the indwelling of the Spirit and reconciliation have not explicitly been cited yet and must await further comment. Therefore, the function of the passage is most likely to summarize and conclude chapters 1:18-4:25 as well as to introduce material soon to be developed in 5:12-8:39. It thus functions, as many commentators have said, as a bridge: it joins land dealing with justification and land dealing with sanctification.

5:1 The expression Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith (Δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως, dikaiōthentes oun ek pisteōs) sums up all that has been said from 1:18-4:25. Sinful man is declared legally righteous or justified by faith (and not by works). The expression "declared righteous" is an aorist, passive participle in the Greek text. The aorist tense is well suited to express the once-for-all nature of justification as a verdict which is pronounced over the sinner in light of his faith in Christ.

Justification, Paul says, leads to peace (εἰρήνην, eirēnēn) with God. This is not the subjective apprehension of God's peace we as believers enjoy as a result of the Spirit's ministry (cf. Phil. 4:6-7). Rather, it refers to the "state of the union," so to speak, between God and the Christian; they are no longer at war and have been brought together in relationship (cf. 5:10). The background for Paul's idea of peace is likely to be found in the OT and particularly the prophetic vision of a day of salvation which would be characterized by shalom or peace between God and man. It is that state or condition to which Paul speaks-the state or condition anticipated by the OT prophets and brought to inaugural realization through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ (see notes on 3:25ff). Christ inaugurated this era of salvation peace by appeasing God's wrath on the cross. Objectively, then, there is peace between God and the believer (3:25). Later in Romans 5:1-11 Paul will develop the idea of peace along the lines of reconciliation (5:10-11).

As with all of God's blessings they are realized through...Christ (διὰ...Χριστοῦ, dia Christou), having already been decreed through him according to the unconquerable plan of God (Eph 1:3-14). Paul is never at a loss to tie things together in Christ.

5:2 The believer not only has peace with God, but also through Christ has obtained access (τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐσχήκαμεν, tēn prosagōgēn eschēkamen) into this position of grace (τὴν χάριν ταύτην, tēn charin tautēn), where grace refers to the unalterable state of peace resulting from justification.

The particular focus and background of the noun prosagōgē is interesting. It is used in two distinct, yet related ways in the NT. It can refer to one's "introduction" into a relationship or it can refer to "ongoing access" in an existing relationship. Paul's use of the same term in Ephesians 2:18; 3:12 seems to suggest that what is in view in Romans 5:2 is continued access to God, and not so much on the initial introduction into the relationship. But the use of the aorist past tense "declared righteous" stresses a past event and the perfect  "have...obtained" fits well with a past event (or present). 1 Peter 3:18 uses the verb in the sense of "introducing" believers to God for the first time. On the whole, however, it is difficult to make a decision in this case and we may certainly conclude that Paul would affirm both and that both may well be intended here (Rom 5:10).

The background of the term may involve images of access into God's presence in the sanctuary or it may involve access into the presence of the king and royalty. Given its use here in connection with God's grace, it certainly has connotations of privilege and honor for the believer. As those who have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ we stand (ἑστήκαμεν,  hestēkamen) in the place of God's grace.

Paul says that we also rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (καυχώμεθα ἐπ ᾿ ἐλπίδι τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, kauchōmetha ep elpidi tēs doxēs tou theou). The term "rejoice" can also be translated as "boast" and so, in contrast to the world which boasts in its accomplishments or to the Jew who boasts in his obedience to the torah (2:23; 3:27; 4:2; 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 4:5; 10:17), the Christian boasts in God alone, specifically in the hope of His glory. By "hope" Paul does not mean what the world means when it uses that term. Rather, his is a confident expectation because it is grounded in the fact that the future has broken into the present and the Christian now possesses the Spirit (5:5; Phil 1:19-20). Thus, even though Christians are constantly in a struggle and suffering (5:3-5), their firm assurance is that someday, the glory that was lost through sin (3:23) will be restored to them and they will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2-3). Included in this hope is the confident expectation to be delivered from God's wrath through Christ.

5:3-4 But, Paul says, we not only rejoice or boast in the hope of our incredible future, we also boast in our present experience. And there is no way the present can overturn the certainty of the future (8:38-39), for we possess the Spirit (5:5). Therefore, we rejoice in sufferings (ται`ς θλίψεσιν, tais thlipsesin) and we do so knowing suffering produces endurance (εἰδότες ὅτι ἡ θλῖψις ὑπομονὴν κατεργάζεται, eidotes hoti hē thlipsis hupomonēn katergazetai). It is strange that Paul should move from the brightness of our future hope to the darkness which so often envelopes our present circumstances. But he may have done this in order to counteract Jewish antagonists who denied that Christians enjoyed the justified life now since they are still struggling with suffering and problems. Paul contradicts this thesis by showing that the present in no way jeopardizes the future (5:5).

Whatever the particular reason was that Paul decided to talk about our present experience, one should not fail to see the implied comparison with Abraham in 4:19-21 and his hope in the midst of hopeless circumstances. Even though we as Christians are in the midst of enormous trials, and we believe in hope against hope, as it were, we like Abraham will overcome and we will see the promise of our glorification realized (Rom 8:30).

But we should rejoice in these trials and sufferings because they produce endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. Thus, the Divine design, in this life, is to fit us for the next by enlarging our present spiritual capacity for hope! Our sufferings, if responded to like Abraham-not wavering, but being strengthened in the faith-lead to endurance (ὑπομονὴ, hupomonē), that is, the ability to hold up and not fold up; to joyfully keep trusting God in the face of opposition to his promises (2 Cor 8:2). This resolve, in turn, gives rise to character (δοκιμή, dokimē) which has been tested and is without defect, like gold in a fire (James 1:2-3; 2 Pet 1:8). When we endure in suffering, we develop character. It is in the development of this character that our capacity for hope (ἐλπὶς, elpis) is increased and our present experience of the future deepened (through the Spirit).

5:5 The hope about which Paul speaks does not disappoint (οὐ καταισχύνει, ou kataischunei), because like Abraham's hope, it is derived from God (through the Spirit), not from our circumstances (4:19-21). Those who trust in Christ will in no way end up embarrassed or disappointed for so having committed themselves to him. Paul's words recall the prayer of the psalmist and his earnest expectation that he would in no way be disappointed (Ps 22:5; 25:20; cf. also Isa 28:16).

The reason this hope does not disappoint us, that is, the reason Christians maintain a confident expectation to be delivered from God's wrath, is because of the love of God (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, hē agapē tou theou). Though some interpreters understand this phrase to mean "our love for God" (an objective genitive) this is highly unlikely and provides at best a shaky foundation for the certain hope about which Paul speaks. It is better to read it as "God's love for us" (a subjective genitive) in keeping with the language of "pouring out" and the focus in the passage on God justifying us. God grounds our future in the certainty of his own sovereign work (cf. 5:8).

God's love has been poured out (ἐκκέχυται, ekkechutai) into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (πνεύματος ἁγίου, pneumatos hagiou) who was given to us (τοῦ δοθέντος ἡμῖν, tou dothentos hēmin). Paul is not talking about the objective love of God shown to us in the cross (3:25; 5:8), but rather the subjective apprehension (i.e., in our hearts) of God's love. For Paul this is primarily an emotional experience with a force greater than the doubt inflicted through trials (cf. Phil 4:6-7).

The language of "pouring out," "in our hearts," and especially the mention of the "Holy Spirit" in the same breadth, is covenantal in nature and recalls certain aspects of the promise in Joel 3:1-4 LXX (cf. Acts 2:17, 33; 10:45; Titus 3:6), Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NET). Thus, Paul writes Romans in light of new covenant inauguration which makes our hope certain as we wait expectantly for its consummation (Rom 8:16, 22-26; 2 Cor 3:7-18; Luke 22:15-20). The apostle suggests similar ideas in Ephesians 1:13-14 and 2 Corinthians 1:21-22:

But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment. (NET)

In both 2 Cor 1:21-22 and Ephesians 1:13-14 the certainty of the future is bound up with the present ministry of the Spirit and this should be seen as the inaugural realization of OT hope.

5:6-8 In vv. 6-8 Paul gives the objective foundation for justification and the gift of the Spirit: it is the work of Christ on the cross-a work which highlights the amazing love of God in contrast to the conditional and impotent love of man.

First, it is important to note that Paul refers to us as helpless (ἀσθενῶν, asthenōn) and in some sense this word parallels "ungodly," but it denotes our total inability to save ourselves or reconcile ourselves to God. Human depravity and inability are core doctrines in this letter and indeed in Paul's letters in general (Rom 3:9-20; Eph 2:1). There is no way a person can position themselves in such a way so as to impose a claim on God. Second, we are ungodly (ἀσεβῶν, asebōn)-a term which has particular religious connotations wherein a person is completely impious and without respect for the sacred (cf. 4:5; 1 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 4:18; 2 Pet 2:5, 6; 3:7; Jude 4, 15).

Paul says, that even for wretches like us, Christ died and that he died at just the right time (κατὰ καιρὸν, kata kairon). But what does he mean by "at the right time"? In Galatians 4:4 the apostle argues that Christ was sent by the father in the "fullness of time" (cf. Eph 1:10). In Mark 1:15 Jesus begins his preaching about the kingdom with the words: "the time has come." John's repeated emphasis on the timing of Jesus' death shows the divine timetable at work (cf. 2:4; 4:21, 23; 5:25, 28; 7:6, 8, 30; 12:23, 27; 13:1; see also Heb 9:26). These references show that the coming of Christ was according to a divine ordering of things and this is perhaps what Paul means here in Romans 5:6 (cf. 3:26).

The overall point of verse seven is clear even though the precise significance of its parts is debated. Its presentation of faulty human love stands as a marked contrast to the love which God himself demonstrated in Christ. But what does Paul mean by the contrast between a righteous (δίκαιος, dikaios) man and a good (ἀγαθός, agathos) man? Some scholars argue that there is no contrast in the Greek text and the terms mean essentially the same thing. But a contrast seems to be the point of what Paul is saying and there is evidence that the two terms were contrasted by the Gnostics who held that that the God of OT was dikaios while the God of the NT was agathos (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 1. 27.1). The point, then, as it applies to men, is that a person will rarely (if ever) die for a purely righteous person, though for a person who was good, that is, benevolent and generous, a person might dare to die.

But God demonstrates (συνίστησιν, sunistēsin) his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Χριστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀπέθανεν, Christos huper hēmōn apethanen). God did not wait for us to clean up our act or get it all together. While we were sinners Christ died for us. His love is pure and in complete contrast to fickle human attempts at love. His love resulted in the ultimate sacrifice. Love is known by its demonstrations.

5:9-10 The form of the argument Paul adopts here in vv. 9-11 is from the lesser to the greater or according to the rabbinic principle, qal wa"h£o'mer: "having done this, how much more, then." Paul argues that if God did the more difficult thing of justifying sinners, how much more, then, can he save (i.e., deliver) them through Christ from the future wrath (ὀργή, orgē), i.e., the future judgment (cf. John 5:28-29). If God has made a way in which he can legally declare the sinner righteous, to declare a verdict of acquittal, then there is no way that any future judgment-as he himself is the judge-can threaten that verdict and the new relationship into which the justified sinner has entered.

In v. 10 Paul returns again to the theme of justification and peace with God (cf. v. 1), only this time he speaks of it in terms of reconciliation. Reconciliation is thus another angle through which to understand our new relationship with God. It implies a reconciler, but the focus is not on the satisfaction of just legal requirements, but rather on the bringing back into relationship of two parties formerly at war with one another. It is a more personal lens through which to view our new relationship with God and is intimately related to the idea of peace in 5:1.

But the emphasis in the passage is on the fact that we were reconciled (κατηλλάγημεν, katēllagēmen) to God, not that he was reconciled to us. We are the offending party (1:18-3:20). We were God's enemies (ἐχθροί, echthroi). It is difficult to understand how some scholars can argue that the term "enemies" indicates a more passive than active hostility. First, Paul has argued at length that men are not only hostile to God himself, but also to the very thought of God. The unregenerate mind is always investigating and creating ways to vanquish the knowledge and truth of God (cf. Rom 8:7-8). They want to suppress the truth about God to the point of extinguishing it, if they can. In the very least they invent ways of overturning it (Rom 1:18-3:20). Second, the fact that men need to be reconciled shows that their hostility to God is active and personal. All that can be said about a view that maintains less than an active and open hostility between men and God probably has its origin in the naïve epistemological optimism of the modern period.

The expression through the death of his son (διὰ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, dia tou thanatou tou huiou autou) in v. 10 parallels by his blood (ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ, en tō haimati autou) in v. 9 and again stresses the eternal price God paid in order to accomplish reconciliation and justification for those who were enemies and sought, at all points, to overthrow the very knowledge of God himself (cf. 1:2-4; 8:32; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 4:10).

Paul says that if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, how much more then shall we be saved by his life (σωθησόμεθα ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ, sōthēsometha en tē zōē autou)? The reference to "saved by his life" is not a reference to being saved through Christ's present intercession in heaven, though "by his life" does refer to Christ's resurrection life. Paul's point seems to be that not only have we been reconciled to God and delivered from his wrath, we will also be completely saved someday from sin and death by Christ's resurrection life and our union with him. If this interpretation is correct, then 5:9-11 anticipate certain aspects of the theology of chapter 6. Paul's point is that the one who participates in the benefits of the death of Christ will certainly also share in the benefits of his resurrected life.

5:11 Though there is some discussion as to the grammatical connection between v. 11 and v. 10, the overall sense of the passage is clear. Paul is moving back to the present experience of the believer after having given due consideration in vv. 9-10 to the future and the believer's eternal hope with God. Paul says that the believer can be certain to be delivered from God's wrath, but not only this (οὐ μόνον δέ, ou monon de) they can also rejoice in God  now (νῦν, nun) through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom they have now received reconciliation. Their rejoicing is a present reality because they have reconciliation now. Reconciliation to God means relationship with God, which in turn means righteousness and life in the kingdom of God (Rom 14:17). For Paul the future has broken into the present.


CONTEXT: The proof of this doctrine being now concluded, the apostle comes here to treat of its fruits, reserving the full consideration of this topic to another stage of the argument (Rom. 8:1-39).

V1. Therefore being--"having been." justified by faith, we have peace with God, &c.--If we are to be guided by manuscript authority, the true reading here, beyond doubt, is, "Let us have peace"; a reading, however, which most reject, because they think it unnatural to exhort men to have what it belongs to God to give, because the apostle is not here giving exhortations, but stating matters of fact. But as it seems hazardous to set aside the decisive testimony of manuscripts, as to what the apostle did write, in favor of what we merely think he ought to have written, let us pause and ask--If it be the privilege of the justified to "have peace with God," why might not the apostle begin his enumeration of the fruits of justification by calling on believers to "realize" this peace as belonged to them, or cherish the joyful consciousness of it as their own? And if this is what he has done, it would not be necessary to continue in the same style, and the other fruits of justification might be set down, simply as matters of fact. This "peace" is first a change in God's relation to us; and next, as the consequence of this, a change on our part towards Him. God, on the one hand, has "reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:18); and we, on the other hand, setting our seal to this, "are reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). The "propitiation" is the meeting-place; there the controversy on both sides terminates in an honorable and eternal "peace."

V2. By whom also we have--"have had" access by faith into this grace--favor with God. wherein we stand--that is "To that same faith which first gave us 'peace with God' we owe our introduction into that permanent standing in the favor of God which the justified enjoy." As it is difficult to distinguish this from the peace first mentioned, we regard it as merely an additional phase of the same [MEYER, PHILIPPI, MEHRING], rather than something new [BEZA, THOLUCK, HODGE]. and rejoice--"glory," "boast," "triumph"--"rejoice" is not strong enough. in hope of the glory of God--On "hope,"

VV3, 4. we glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience--Patience is the quiet endurance of what we cannot but wish removed, whether it be the withholding of promised good (Romans 8:25), or the continued experience of positive ill (as here). There is indeed a patience of unrenewed nature, which has something noble in it, though in many cases the offspring of pride, if not of something lower. Men have been known to endure every form of privation, torture, and death, without a murmur and without even visible emotion, merely because they deemed it unworthy of them to sink under unavoidable ill. But this proud, stoical hardihood has nothing in common with the grace of patience--which is either the meek endurance of ill because it is of God (Job 1:21 Job 1:22 , 2:10), or the calm waiting for promised good till His time to dispense it come (Hebrews 10:36); in the full persuasion that such trials are divinely appointed, are the needed discipline of God's children, are but for a definite period, and are not sent without abundant promises of "songs in the night." If such be the "patience" which "tribulation worketh," no wonder that

V4. patience worketh experience--rather, "proof," as the same word is rendered in 2 Corinthians 2:9 , 13:3 , Philippians 2:22 ; that is, experimental evidence that we have "believed through grace." and experience--"proof." hope--"of the glory of God," as prepared for us. Thus have we hope in two distinct ways, and at two successive stages of the Christian life: first, immediately on believing, along with the sense of peace and abiding access to God (Romans 5:1); next, after the reality of this faith has been "proved," particularly by the patient endurance of trials sent to test it. We first get it by looking away from ourselves to the Lamb of God; next by looking into or upon ourselves as transformed by that "looking unto Jesus." In the one case, the mind acts (as they say) objectively; in the other, subjectively. The one is (as divines say) the assurance of faith; the other, the assurance of sense.

V5. And hope maketh not ashamed--putteth not to shame, as empty hopes do. became the love of God--that is, not "our love to God," as the Romish and some Protestant expositors (following some of the Fathers) represent it; but clearly "God's love to us"--as most expositors agree. is shed abroad--literally, "poured forth," that is, copiously diffused (compare John 7:38 , Titus 3:6). by the Holy Ghost which is--rather, "was." given unto us--that is, at the great Pentecostal effusion, which is viewed as the formal donation of the Spirit to the Church of God, for all time and for each believer. (The Holy Ghost is here first introduced in this Epistle.) It is as if the apostle had said, "And how can this hope of glory, which as believers we cherish, put us to shame, when we feel God Himself, by His Spirit given to us, drenching our hearts in sweet, all-subduing sensations of His wondrous love to us in Christ Jesus?" This leads the apostle to expatiate on the amazing character of that love.

VV6-8. For when we were yet without strength--that is, powerless to deliver ourselves, and so ready to perish. in due time--at the appointed season. Christ died for the ungodly--Three signal properties of God's love are here given: First, "Christ died for the ungodly," whose character, so far from meriting any interposition in their behalf, was altogether repulsive to the eye of God; second, He did this "when they were without strength"--with nothing between them and perdition but that self-originating divine compassion; third, He did this "at the due time," when it was most fitting that it should take place (compare Galatians 4:4), The two former of these properties the apostle now proceeds to illustrate.

V7. For scarcely for a righteous man--a man of simply unexceptionable character. will one--"any one" die: yet peradventure for a good man--a man who, besides being unexceptionable, is distinguished for goodness, a benefactor to society. some--"some one." would--rather, "doth." even dare to die--"Scarce an instance occurs of self-sacrifice for one merely upright; though for one who makes himself a blessing to society there may be found an example of such noble surrender of life" (So BENGEL, OLSHAUSEN, THOLUCK, ALFORD, PHILIPPI). (To make the "righteous" and the "good" man here to mean the same person, and the whole sense to be that "though rare, the case may occur, of one making a sacrifice of life for a worthy character" [as CALVIN, BEZA, FRITZSCHE, JOWETT], is extremely flat.)

V8. But God commendeth--"setteth off," "displayeth"--in glorious contrast with all that men will do for each other. his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners--that is, in a state not of positive "goodness," nor even of negative "righteousness," but on the contrary, "sinners," a state which His soul hateth. Christ died for us--Now comes the overpowering inference, emphatically redoubled.

VV9, 10. Much more then, being--"having been" now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

V10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being now--"having now been" reconciled, we shall be saved by his life--that is "If that part of the Saviour's work which cost Him His blood, and which had to be wrought for persons incapable of the least sympathy either with His love or His labors in their behalf--even our 'justification,' our 'reconciliation'--is already completed; how much more will He do all that remains to be done, since He has it to do, not by death agonies any more, but in untroubled 'life,' and no longer for enemies, but for friends--from whom, at every stage of it, He receives the grateful response of redeemed and adoring souls?" To be "saved from wrath through Him," denotes here the whole work of Christ towards believers, from the moment of justification, when the wrath of God is turned away from them, till the Judge on the great white throne shall discharge that wrath upon them that "obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and that work may all be summed up in "keeping them from falling, and presenting them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 1:24): thus are they "saved from wrath through Him."

V11. And not only so, but we also joy--rather, "glory." in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by--"through" whom we have now received the atonement--rather, "the reconciliation" (Margin), as the same word is rendered in Romans 5:10 and in 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:19 . (In fact, the earlier meaning of the English word "atonement" was "the reconciliation of two estranged parties"). The foregoing effects of justification were all benefits to ourselves, calling for gratitude; this last may be termed a purely disinterested one. Our first feeling towards God, after we have found peace with Him. is that of clinging gratitude for so costly a salvation; but no sooner have we learned to cry, Abba, Father, under the sweet sense of reconcile-ation, than "gloriation" in Him takes the place of dread of Him, and now He appears to us "altogether lovely!"

On this section, Note, (1) How gloriously does the Gospel evince its divine origin by basing all acceptable obedience on "peace with God," laying the foundations of this peace in a righteous "justification" of the sinner "through our Lord Jesus Christ," and making this the entrance to a permanent standing in the divine favor, and a triumphant expectation of future glory! (Rom 5:1 Rom 5:2). Other peace, worthy of the name, there is none; and as those who are strangers to it rise not to the enjoyment of such high fellowship with God, so they have neither any taste for it nor desire after it. (2) As only believers possess the true secret of patience under trials, so, although "not joyous but grievous" in themselves (Heb 12:17), when trials divinely sent afford them the opportunity of evidencing their faith by the grace of patience under them, they should "count it all joy" (Rom 5:3 Rom 5:4 ; and see James 1:2 James 1:3). (3) "Hope," in the New Testament sense of the term, is not a lower degree of faith or assurance (as many now say, I hope for heaven, but am not sure of it); but invariably means "the confident expectation of future good." It presupposes faith; and what faith assures us will be ours, hope accordingly expects. In the nourishment of this hope, the soul's look outward to Christ for the ground of it, and inward upon ourselves for evidence of its reality, must act and react upon each other (Romans 5:2 and Rom 5:4 compared). (4) It is the proper office of the Holy Ghost to beget in the soul the full conviction and joyful consciousness of the love of God in Christ Jesus to sinners of mankind, and to ourselves in particular; and where this exists, it carries with it such an assurance of final salvation as cannot deceive (Rom 5:5). (5) The justification of sinful men is not in virtue of their amendment, but of "the blood of God's Son"; and while this is expressly affirmed in Rom 5:9 , our reconciliation to God by the "death of His Son," affirmed in Rom 5:10 , is but a variety of the same statement. In both, the blessing meant is the restoration of the sinner to a righteous standing in the sight of God; and in both, the meritorious ground of this, which is intended to be conveyed, is the expiatory sacrifice of God's Son. (6) Gratitude to God for redeeming love, if it could exist without delight in God Himself, would be a selfish and worthless feeling; but when the one rises into the other--the transporting sense of eternal "reconciliation" passing into "gloriation in God" Himself--then the lower is sanctified and sustained by the higher, and each feeling is perfective of the other (Romans 5:11).