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THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 1 TO 11:
5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
5:8 But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
5:9 Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Section 7 Romans 5:1-11
THE GLORY OF GOD IS CENTRAL TO THE GOSPEL
Structure of Section 7
|7(a)||5:1,2||Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God|
|7(b)||5:3-10||Rejoicing in tribulations|
|7(c)||5:11||Rejoicing in God|
Subject of Section 7
This section deals with the past, present, and future of the believer in the light of the glory of God. The apostle explains three things. First, how can one who formerly came short of the glory of God, as 3:23 says he has, look forward to, and rejoice in, that glory? Second, how can a believer rejoice even though he is passing through tribulations? And third, how can a believer rejoice in who and what God is? The answers are found in the past, present and future work of the Lord Jesus on the believer’s behalf. It is important to notice the various renderings of the same word “rejoice” in the passage. In verse 2- “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”; verse 3- “glory in tribulations also”; verse 11- “joy in God”. See also “boasting” in 3:27, and “glory” in 4:2.
7(a) Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God
5:1 Therefore– the passage develops the consequences of the justification by faith that has been explained in the previous main section, 3:21-26, before the parenthesis of 3:27-4:25. The passage deals only with believers.
Being justified- a past event with continuing effect.
By faith- that is, on the principle of faith. Faith has no virtue in itself, so is not the means of justification, but it is the condition laid down by God, the basis on which He is prepared to reckon men righteous.
We have peace with God- the anger of God because of our sins has been removed. This is judicial peace, arrived at in strict accordance with justice, and not as a result of the slackening of God’s demands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ- nothing we have done personally has contributed to this position, it is entirely due to what Christ has done at Calvary. Peace with God is not conditional at all, whereas the peace of God is, see Phil. 4:6,7.
5:2 By whom also we have access- as well as ensuring that there is settled peace between ourselves and God, the Lord Jesus is also “The way”, the One who introduces His people to the Father’s presence, John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18. It is one thing to be reckoned righteous by the Divine Judge, it is a further thing to have access into His immediate presence.
By faith- which lays hold of unseen things, Hebrews 11:1, and accepts without reserve the testimony of God’s word.
Into this grace wherein we stand- the word that describes the attitude of God in His unmerited favour towards His people is now transferred to the favour itself. Compare 2 Corinthians 8:6,19, where the word used for the attitude which gave the gift is then used for the gift itself. By the grace of God believers have a settled place (they “stand”) in the presence of Him who, were they still in their sins, would be their unsparing judge, and from whose face they would be banished.
And rejoice in hope of the glory of God- sinners have no interest in the glory of God, being occupied with themselves. Believers on the other hand eagerly anticipate the day when God will reveal Himself in all His beauty and majesty. Their hope is conditioned by God’s glory. Far from dreading the actual sight of the glory of God in Christ, the believer rejoices at that prospect, a sure sign that his sins have been dealt with. Hope in the Scriptures is not a doubtful thing, but a certain prospect. This is confirmed by the fact that in 1 Timothy 1:1 the Lord Jesus is said to be our hope, and there is no uncertainty with Him. Believers shall not only be in the presence of God in all His glory, Psalm 27:4, but shall radiate that glory, Rev. 21:11, and magnify it eternally, Rev. 5:13.
7(b) Rejoicing in tribulations
5:3 And not only so- the apostle has established that peace with God ensures that we face the future sight of God with confidence, now he shows that it enables us to face calmly the trials of the present.
But we glory in tribulations also- the believer does not simply glory (rejoice) whilst passing through tribulations, but actually views the tribulations themselves as a reason for rejoicing.
Knowing that- glorying in trials is not on account of indifference to pain, but intelligence as to God’s purpose.
Tribulation worketh patience- the heavy log which the oxen dragged around the threshing-floor to press the grain out from the ear, was called a tribula. Tribulation is relentless pressure. The believer is able to rejoice in this pressure, because it is a means to an end. Patience is not simply a passive acceptance of the seemingly inevitable, but a positive resolve to endure to God’s glory.
5:4 And patience experience- this word denotes “proof”; in other words, the trials, when passed through with endurance, afford proof of the genuineness of the believer’s profession. Compare the seed growing on stony ground, Matthew 13:5,6,20,21 with that which grew in the good ground, Matthew 13:8,23. The heat of the sun ( which symbolises the ”tribulation or persecution because of the word”, verse 21) withered the rocky ground plant, whereas the ears of a healthy wheat plant were ripened by the same sun.
And experience, hope- far from causing the believer to be downcast,tribulations should produce a confident reliance on the faithfulness of God.
5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed- to have confident expectations whilst in the midst of trying circumstances is not an embarrassment to a believer, nor will those expectations fail to be realised, causing disappointment.
Because the love of God is spread abroad in our hearts- literally understood, the love of God is deluged; just as every part of the earth was flooded in Noah’s day, so every part of the believer’s heart is affected by the love of God. There is, in principle, no nook or cranny where bitterness can be harboured. Note the word “is” not “was”, as if only the moment of conversion is in view. The love of God is currently flooding the heart of the believer within, whilst tribulation is his portion from without. We should distinguish between the general love of God for sinners that He has expressed historically by giving His only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and His special love for His people.
By the Holy Spirit which is given unto us- note that there is no doubt that the believer has the Spirit of God within. Note also that He is given, not earned, see Galatians 3:2, where the apostle makes clear that possession of the Spirit does not depend on works of merit, but solely on whether a person has genuinely believed the gospel. The Holy Spirit does many things in our hearts, as chapter 8 will show, but here He assures us of Divine love, which has been demonstrated so clearly at Calvary.
5:6 For- there follows a description of the nature of the Divine love which is within the believer’s heart.
When we were yet without strength – being completely powerless to earn Divine love, like the impotent man of John 5. The “yet” suggests that we had tried to merit God’s love without success.
In due time- the “time appointed” and “the fulness of the time” of Galatians 4:2,4, when the Son came to display the Father’s love.
Christ died for the ungodly- Israel were looking for the Christ to reign in righteousness; in fact He came to die in righteousness and love; “greater love hath no man than this…lay down his life…”, John 15:13. See also Song of Sol. 8:6,7. The ungodly are those who have no respect for God, and who represent the strongest possible test for the love of Christ; will He be prepared to die even for these?
5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die– because the life of a righteous man condemns the sinner’s life, there is little prospect of the sinner sacrificing his life for his sake.
Yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die- there is a slim possibility that a man will even go so far as to dare to die (i.e. bring oneself to die) for one who has done him some good, “the good man”.
5:8 But- in contrast to those who are reluctant, or who only dare to die when they have been shown good.
God commendeth- which means He recommends as worthy; God’s love is not a peradventure or a dare, (which are worthless if not carried out), but has been fully demonstrated to be worthy by being put into effect.
His love toward us- His own particular and special love, which is unique to Himself, for it demands nothing before it is shown, and is lavished upon the unlovely.
In that while we were yet sinners- not righteous or good, the sort of people that men possibly dare to die for, but rather those who are neither righteous nor good, 3:10-18.
Christ died for us- an actual, historic, accomplished event, giving expression to God’s intense love.
Verses 8 and 9, summarise the teaching of 1:1-5:7, dealing with sinful actions; verse 10 anticipates the teaching of 5:11-8:39, dealing with the sinful state.
This may be set out as follows:
|Verses 8 and 9||Verse 10|
|ACTIONS||STATE OR CONDITION|
|Sinners, guilty of sinful acts||Enemies, our nature and condition|
|Christ, free of sinful acts||Son-His nature in relation to God|
|Died- an act accomplished||Death- a state entered|
|“Much more”||“Much more”|
|Justified- an action by God||Reconciled- state before God|
|Saved-as Christ intercedes||Saved by His risen state|
Note the feaures of Divine love in the believer’s heart:
Unique, for it is His own love.
Unhindered, for it is shed abroad.
Unrivalled, for there is no “scarecely” or “peradventure” about it.
Undeserved, for we were without strength, having no resources.
for we were sinners, having no righteousness before God.
for we were ungodly, having no respect for God.
for we were enemies, having no relationship with God.
for it is while we were sinners that Christ died for us.
5:9 Much more then- Divine love not only meets us in our tribulations in the present, but it safeguards us in the far more awesome Day of Judgement to come.
Being now justified by His blood- the death of Christ was not simply a demonstration of love, but met the claims of Divine Justice to the full, hence instead of death the apostle speaks of blood, for it is the blood which makes atonement for the soul, Leviticus 17:11. Divine justice demands that life must be forfeited if sins are committed, but God is prepared to accept the life of a suitable substitute. That substitute is Christ.
We shall be saved from wrath through Him- the eternal wrath of God which sinners shall know, believers shall not know, not because they have lived perfect lives since they first believed, but because they have One who makes intercession for them if any condemnation is brought against them either now or in the future, Romans 8:34.
Having enlarged, in verse 9, on the statement of verse 8, “Christ died for us”, with special reference to the justifying power of His blood, the apostle now emphasises His reconciling work, again based on His death. For sin not only makes men guilty before God, but also banishes them from His presence.
5:10 For if, when we were enemies- as sinners we needed to be justified, but as enemies we needed to be reconciled, brought into a harmonious relationship with God.
By the death of His Son- death speaks of banishment, whereas Son speaks of nearness, but here the two are brought together; He who is nearest and dearest, dies for those who are furthest and enemies.
Much more- if God brought us near by the death of His Son, what will He not do now that He has been raised from the dead, showing that the work of Calvary is sufficient? See Romans 8:31,32.
Being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life- if Christ was prepared to die for His enemies, what will He not do for His friends? If He reconciled us to Himself when we were at war with Him, He will not banish us now that we are at peace with Him. Believers are preserved free of condemnation because Christ is in resurrection, the sure sign that His death at Calvary satisfied God, Romans 4:25.
7(c) Rejoicing in God
5:11 And not only so- we not only rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and in tribulations, but we joy in God too.
But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement- atonement is one of the results of propitiation. By His death on the Cross the Lord Jesus satisfied every demand that all aspects of the glory of God made upon us, and in so doing enhanced every one of them, see John 12:28; 13:31,32. Now that he is brought into harmony with God by Jesus Christ, the believer is able to rejoice in the glory of God that was magnified at the Cross. Every Divine attribute was brought into full display at Calvary. By gaining an appreciation of the work of Christ at the cross, the believer progresses in the knowledge of His God in all His glory. Far from being terrified now by that glory, he triumphs and rejoices in it. The work of propitiation has been shown by the apostle both in chapter 3:25 and now here, to be at the heart of the gospel. It is vitally important to try to grasp the immensity of what Christ did at Calvary, and to beware of thinking of His death only in terms of our own justification and forgiveness, blessed as those things are.
It is necessary for the Moral Governor of the universe to clear Himself in relation to every sin that has ever been committed. If he does not do so, He will be in danger of the charge of compliance with that sin. Outrageous as that charge would be, the Devil is evil enough to make it. To protect Divine Honour in this matter, Christ “Put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”, Hebrews 9:26. When God made Him sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21, He bore the penalty for sin in His own person. This must not be confused with punishment for sin, however, which the unrepentant sinner will endure for all eternity. In strict justice it is not possible for one person to be punished for the wrongdoings of another, but it is possible for another to endure the penalty of another’s sins. It is perfectly possible for Christ to endure the penalty for sin, and yet the sinner bear the punishment for that same sin in the Lake of Fire.
We must beware of confusing the work of Christ with the effect of the work. The work was propitiation, which has its own effect Godward of course, but the effect manward for those who believe is reconciliation. There is no limit to the work of propitiation, for it is measurable only in terms of the infinite person who accomplished it. Reconciliation is limited, however, being restricted to those who in the language of Romans 5:11, “Have received the atonement”