Summary: An explicit statement of Christian experience wrapped in an implicit statement of the doctrine of the Trinity.
HOPE IN THE TRINITY
This short paragraph gives us an explicit statement of Christian experience wrapped in an implicit statement of the doctrine of the Trinity. The “Therefore” of Romans 5:1 links with the argument in the previous chapter, whereby it is established that ‘to him who does not work (to establish his own salvation) but believes (like Abraham) on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness' (Romans 4:5). So, “Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace” (Romans 5:1a).
Isaiah spoke of this long beforehand: ‘And the work of righteousness (Jesus’ righteousness!) shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever’ (Isaiah 32:17). Now, what peace is this but “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1b)? Peace with the Father, through the ministration, at great cost to Himself, of the Son.
How was this peace accomplished? Well to answer this question, again we do not have to look far beyond the preceding context. Righteousness ‘shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, who was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised because of our justification’ (Romans 4:24-25).
“Through Him,” Paul continues, “we have admission by faith into this grace in which we have taken our stand” (Romans 5:2a; cf. Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12). The boldness of our access to God, far from being presumptuous, is based in our introduction into His presence by Jesus. There we can firmly take our stand without fear of reproach because of what Jesus accomplished at the Cross on our behalf.
Here, too, we “boast in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2b). Christian “hope” does not mean nebulous desire, like a child’s craving for an ice cream which may or may not be given him. It is more certain than that, because it is based in the promises of God (e.g. Titus 2:11-13; 1 John 3:2-3; Romans 8:16-17). And the object of our hope is the glory of God Himself (Habakkuk 2:14).
“Boast” is the same word as in the following verse, where we “boast” in our “tribulations” (Romans 5:3a). This is not worldly boasting, as if we accomplished anything by ourselves, but is rather a part of our testimony as to what God has done for us. When the Lord said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made manifest in weakness’; Paul’s response was, ‘Most gladly then will I boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The “tribulations”, however, spoken of here in Romans 5:3a are a synonym for the hostilities faced by Christian people in every age. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have tribulation (same word): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).
Like it or not, we are called to ‘suffer with Christ’, but not without recompense (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Suffering is not an end in itself: “Suffering produces endurance; endurance produces character; and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4; cf. Romans 15:4). And hope reassures us, because “God’s love is shed abroad in our hearts (as from an ever-flowing fountain) by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).
So, peace with God is the retrospective fruit of our having been justified by faith in God’s Son. Our being able to make our stand in grace is the present fruit of our justification by faith in God’s Son. And our boast in hope of the glory of God points to the prospective fruit of our justification by faith in God’s Son.
God’s love ‘gave His only begotten Son’ (John 3:16). The Son died for our sins and rose again having accomplished our justification (cf. Romans 4:25). The Holy Spirit opens the hearts of God’s people to receive, from the fountain of God’s love, all the benefits emanating from the Cross of Jesus (Romans 5:5).
To God be the glory: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.