Summary: Faith Triumphs in Trouble
Romans 5:1, “ 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Therefore is a transition word Paul uses to move from one argument to another. He will use the word again in v.12 to point out that this is another argument. This argument is the conclusion of the argument Paul has been developing against the religious and moral egoists, who elevate pride and haughtiness above the reality of the Spirit’s indwelling presence. Paul then will turn to argue in v.12 through chapter 8 concerning the Spirit filled life.
Having been justified: The Greek construction-and its English translation-underscores that justification is a one-time legal declaration with continuing results (3:24_, not an ongoing process.
Paul is focusing on the shalom which is a Jewish concept which is significant because it represents the blessings of salvation, which brings wholeness as well as holiness (Is 48:18; 2 Thess 3:16). In order for one to have a right relationship with Yeshua they have to first accept the terms of the contract. One has to receive the peace of the Lord in order to have it. Another part of the package is that through Yeshua the believer also has access to an ongoing source of grace which Paul can describe as the grace in which we stand, the perfect tense of the verb indicating something with ongoing effects. Paul stays that the believer has gained unfettered or free access to this grace. Yet this language may suggest even more because grace here seems to be seen as a sort of sphere which the believer enters and stands within. Yet also the word shalom and shalem are compared for shalom refers to peace while shalem in the Hebrew refers to the complete or whole, while leshaslim to make perfect or to reconcile (leshalem) to pay or to reward. Paul’s though then also goes into Eph 2:12 and thus many of the motifs again focus upon Paul’s Jewishness.
Peace with G-d: Not a subjective, internatal sense of calm and serenity, but an external, objective, reality. G-D has declared Himself to be at war with every human being because of man’s sinful rebellion against Him and His laws (v.10; 1:18; 8:7; Exodus 22:24; Deut 32:21-22; Psalm 7:11; John 3:36; Eph 5:6). But the first great result of justification is that the sinner’s war with G-d is ended forever (Colossians 1:21-22). Scripture refers to the end of this conflict as a person’s being reconciled to G-d. (vv.10-11; 2 Cor 5:18-20).
This is an important theme for Paul, peace and justification. Justification is God’s free gift of righteousness to man, even when he does not acknowledge honor or give thanks to God (1:21), peace corresponds to righteousness in the sense of reconciliation. Paul thus returns to the argument in 3:23-26, where he identifies Yeshua as the scapegoat which was sacrificed on the Day of Atonement to atone for the sins of the people of Israel and the High Priest (Lev 16:5-34), (kaporet) or “mercy seat” (Exo 25:17). The biblical peace offering was a general offering, not peculiar to the service of the Day of Atonement, but peace-offerings also importantly accompanied the people’s renewal of the covenant. The purpose of all the sacrifices was to make atonement (le-hashlim; “to make peace”) between man and God. Peace as righteousness then refers to the reconciliation (at-one-ment) between God and man.
Peace here is not a subjective feeling of peace. Rather this peace is the state of being at peace instead of war. The hostility between God and the believer has ceased. The believer has been reconciled to God.
Justification comes from the Greek word diakaiosis (4:25; 5:18) Strong’s #1347: The Greek noun for justification is derived from the Greek verb diakaioo meaning to aquit or “to declare righteous” (used by Paul in 4:2, 5; 5:1).” It is a legal term used of a favorable verdict in a trial. The word depicts a courtroom setting with God presiding as the Judge, determining the faithfulness of each person to the Law. In the first section of Romans, Paul, makes it clear that no one can withstand God’s judgment (3:9-20). The Law was not given to justify sinners but to expose their sin. To remedy this deplorable situation, God sent His Son to die for our sins, in our place. When we believe in Yeshua Hamasriach, God imputes His righteousness to us, and we are declared righteous before God. In this way, God demonstrates that He is both a righteous Judge and the One who declares us righteous, our justifier (3:26).
We now have peace with God, which may differ from peaceful feelings such as calmness and tranquility. Peace with God means that we have been reconciled with him. There is no more hostility between us, no sin blocking our relationship with Him. Peace with God is possible only because Yeshua paid the price for our sins through his death on the Cross. Verses 5:1-5 introduce a section that contains some difficult concepts. To understand the next four chapters, it helps to keep in mind the two-sided reality of the Christian life. On one hand, we are complete in Yeshua (our acceptance with him is secure). On the other hand, we are growing in Christ (we are becoming more and more like him). At one and the same time we have the status of kings and the duties of slaves. We feel both the presence of Yeshua and the pressure of sin. We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God, but we still face daily problems that often help us grow. If we remember these two sides of the Christian life, we will not grow discouraged as we face temptations and problems. Instead, we will learn to depend upon the power available to us from Yeshua; who lives in us by the Ruach Hakodesh.