About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Peace And Joy  (ch. 5:1-11)


To begin chapter 5 I need to point out a textual discrepancy in the original Greek texts.  The majority of the Greek text reads in English, "let us have peace."   The minority of texts reads in English "we have peace with God.Ē  I think you can see the difference between the two texts.  Most of our English texts, including the NIV, translate this phrase as "we have peace with God".   The reason for the NIV's translation is most likely based on context.  Romans 5:1 seems to be a conclusion based on what Paul has said previously.  That's why we see the word "therefore" in the NIV. 


The NIV basically states that because we are justified, we now have peace with God.  The NIV does not admonish us to have peace with God as the majority of Greek texts seems to imply. 


The reason for this discrepancy is based on just one Greek letter.  One letter changes the verb tense from an indicative to a subjunctive.  It's quite possible that this difficulty is due to an error in the copying process.  This confirms the traditional teaching of the doctrine of inspiration.  Traditionally speaking, only the original text of the Bible is inspired, not any of its copies or various translations we have today.           


With the above in mind, my commentary is based on the NIV's version of verse 1.  The first word we see here in chapter 5 is the word "therefore'.  This means that in light of all that has been said prior to this point in his dialogue Paul concludes with the following.  He says that now that we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.  Remember the process of atonement.  Atonement is the process by which we are made to be friends of God.  We are no longer enemies.  Another way to say it is that we have been reconciled to God.  Once we were apart from God.  Now we are back in relationship with Him. 


Note the progression here.  We are first justified.  That means the designation of sinner that has been placed on us has been replaced by the designation of saint.  We are thus not punished for our sins.  God's wrath has been removed from us.  We have been reconciled to Him, which is the process of atonement. 


Notice Paul says that we have peace with God.  Notice also that Paul does not end there.  He qualifies the peace we have with God.  All religions claim to have peace with God, but Paul says that Christians have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Biblical truth on this matter is that there is only one God, and He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to find peace with God, other than through Jesus. This is one very important truth that is presently being eroded away in the teaching of the church.  There is no Christian faith without this important truth.  


When Paul speaks of having peace with God, he is speaking of being reconciled to Him.  The word "peace" is in relation to the word "wrath".  Since we are no longer under the threat of God's wrath, we are on His side.  He thus has peace with Him.  We're not talking about an inner peace and tranquility here.  We're talking about an external peace, a peace that exists between us and God.         


Verse 2 says that we have gained access into Godís grace in which we stand.  We have received grace from God, but this verse takes grace a step further.  We have actually entered into Godís grace.  We have entered into the world of Godís grace where we find constant love and protection.  It's not just a matter of receiving grace.  It's a matter of living, of existing, in the grace of God. 


Paul says that we stand in this grace.  To me this standing suggest that we can confidently stand firm in the world of Godís grace.  We can feel good about being protected by His love. We, like Abraham, can be assured what God has promised, He will fulfill.  "We can rejoice in the hope of Godís glory", Paul goes on to say.  We are like Abraham, knowing that all that God has promised will someday come to us. 


I see God's grace as being a circle.   When we give our lives to Him, He invites us into His circle of grace.  Grace has boundaries in which we must live.  We can step outside the boundaries of grace, but if we do, we lose any benefits that we had while living in the circle of God's grace.  Entering into this circle of grace is by faith, Paul says.  It's by trusting Jesus with your very life.  Yet, faith, or trust, doesn't just get us into the circle; it keeps us in the circle.


Note the word "hope" in verse 2.  We often talk about faith, but hope, is also a Biblical word, although we don't understand hope as the world understands it.  It's not that we hope to win the lottery.  Biblical hope is an assurance that we will receive from God what we help for, and, what we hope for are those things that He has promised.  We don't hope for things He has not promised.  Hope as nothing to do with luck as we see in our world around us.   


We see in verse 3 that Paul doesnít stay too long with the thought of a joyous future.  He gets back to the reality of the present very quickly.  He says that we donít just rejoice in the future, but we also rejoice in our sufferings.  Now why did Paul have to throw that into the discussion? 


Paul is telling us, because we trust in Jesus for our justification, we stand in Godís grace.  If we stand in the grace of God, we have the ability to rejoice in suffering, and we know that Paul did suffer.  With all of the good news of salvation that Paul has just taught us, it did not relieve the believer of suffering, either from natural causes or by persecution from an anti-Christ culture.  As a matter of fact, Paulís suffering was on account of the teaching he spread across the Roman Empire .  So, standing in the circle of God's grace does not mean we will not suffer.  We suffer because we live in a fallen world.  We suffer because Jesus told us that because the world hated Him, it would hate us.   


I believe the specific suffering Paul is talking about here is the suffering of persecution by the pagan society in which he lived.  I say this because of the Greek word that is translated as suffering here.  In other parts of the New Testament this word is associated with persecution because of one's association with Jesus.   


In verse 3 Paul says that suffering produces perseverance.  We know that Paul knew how to persevere.  He never gave up.  Like Paul, if we stand in God's grace, and when we suffer, no matter what kind of suffering it is, it will produce perseverance in our lives.  This is one important character quality that we must have to continue the good fight of faith. 


In verse 4 Paul says that perseverance will create a good mature of character in us.  Once our character has been developed to this point we can know real hope.  This true hope, Paul says, will not disappoint us.  Why?  It's because our hope is in God.  Sometimes we stress faith to the exclusion of hope, but we are allowed to hope.  Also, hope doesn't mean we have a lack of faith, as some might think.  Again, Biblical hope is not the same as worldly hope.  Biblical hope is an unwavering assurance that what God promises us, He will deliver to us.   


Some hyper-faith Christians put down hope.  They actually see it as a lack of faith.  They say that if you have to hope for something to come true, then you're not really sure it will come true, and if you are not sure, you do not have faith, and you should not expect to get what you hope for.  This thinking is based purely on a worldly definition of hope and not the Biblical definition of hope. Once again, Paul speaks of a Biblical hope in this passage.   


Because of the order Paul puts these things in, it suggests to me that one who has suffered patiently knows real hope, more than one who has not suffered and endured.  We should not think that suffering is bad or not of God.  Sometimes we suffer because of our own bad choices.  Sometimes we suffer because of things beyond our control.  In these cases we rejoice and allow God's character to be worked out in our lives.   


W. E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words defines hope as "a happy expectation of good or confident expectation." 


We see a new thought being introduced by Paul here.  He has talked a lot about faith and trust in Jesus but now he is saying that we also can hope in Jesus as well.


Why does hoping in Jesus not disappoint?  It's because, as Paul states in verse 5, "Godís love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who God has given us."  Here is the second mention of the Holy Spirit in Romans.  Paul is very specific here.  He says that we have been given the Holy Spirit.  Paul will speak about this later, but the fact that a true believer has been given the Holy Spirit is vital in our discussion.  It is the Holy Spirit who unites us with God.  Biblical hope is thus a product of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Notice how the present and future verb tenses are blended together in Paul's thinking.  We have hope for the future because the Holy Spirit lives within us in the present. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no valid hope.   


We should note here that the reception of the Holy Spirit into one's life is linked to being justified.  This tells me that if one really does accept God declaration of him being righteous, at that very moment, he receives the Holy Spirit.  The receiving of the Holy Spirit is not a second work of grace as some believe. 


Verse 6 says, "You see, that at just the right time Ö Christ died for the ungodly."  In my thinking God has a time for everything, and that time is always right.  He had a time to come to earth.  He had a time to die on the cross.  He has a time to return in the future.  Itís a set time.  He wonít be one day late, or one day early.  He will be right on time.  I donít feel that we can either hasten or delay His return, as some believe.  Some people, like Restorationists, don't really believe that God has a time table when He plans on doing certain things.  For example, they say that Jesus will return only when Christians reach a certain level of maturity and the kingdom of God rules the world.  Then and only then, can Jesus return to earth.  Until then, He sits and waits for our day of perfection.  I strongly oppose that idea.   


Paul says that Jesus died for the ungodly.  He has well proved that we are all ungodly.  Some of us may think of dying for a good person, but Jesus died for us while we were yet in sin.  That is real love.


Note in verse 6 that Paul says that Christ died for us when we were still powerless.  That means if we were once powerless, we are now powerful.  Sin had made us powerless.  Justification and the Holy Spirit have taken away this state of powerlessness.  We should know this to be true.                       


The word "powerless" is important.  We should understand that we are all powerless apart from Christ.  Sin has made us powerless and depraved.  This is called the doctrine of the depravity of man.  To understand the gospel of salvation we must understand the human need.  We are all powerless when it comes to attaining salvation.  There is nothing we can do on our own to be saved, and, even in the process of salvation; we need help from the Holy Spirit every step of the way.  Understanding the powerlessness of mankind is something that is often overlooked these days in the teaching of the church.       


In verse 7 Paul makes the simple point that most people wouldn't die for a righteous man, although some might. This is merely a point of logic that relates to what he says in verse 8.  In verse 8 Paul says that Christ died for us while we were sinners.  He says that this demonstrates God's love.  The death of Jesus is a demonstration of God's love.  Paul does not say it here, but the death of Jesus is also a demonstration of God's justice and judgment.  Because God is just, someone must be punished for our sin.  Punishment was accomplished by the death of Jesus.  Love was demonstrated because Jesus was punished on our behalf.  Again, love and justice met together on the cross. God's sense of justice was satisfied when He punished Jesus.  His love was demonstrated because Jesus was punished on our behalf.  We can't repeat this great Biblical truth enough.  It must be burned into our hearts and souls.        


In verse 9 Paul says that since we have been justified by His blood, we will be saved from His coming wrath.  He hasnít left that subject of wrath behind just yet.  He is still reminding us that there is a day of wrath, but those God has justified will not experience this wrath.  They will be saved.  We are saved from lots of things as Christians.  Godís wrath is one big thing we are saved from.  This salvation is in the future.  We need to note here the future aspect to salvation, but our salvation is not all futuristic. That is to say, we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.  Salvation is spoken about in all three ways in the Bible.  Salvation is a process. 


Many Bible teachers view God's wrath in two respects.  For those who believe in a time of great tribulation before the end of this age, they see that time as the time of God's wrath, and rightly so in my opinion.  God's wrath is also seen in eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire as seen in the book of Revelation.  


Paul goes on to say in verse 10, that if when we were enemies to God, He reconciled us to Himself, how much more goodness will come our way since we are now His friends.  Remember, becoming friends with God is what reconciliation means, and who wouldn't want to be friends with God.  That makes all the sense in the world.  We are now friends with God because of what Jesus did.  What a truth to know.  Friends are kind to one another.  Friends don't show their wrath to one another. 


If you're familiar with the book of Hebrews, verse 10 is written in a style that we see throughout Hebrews.  We don't know for sure who wrote Hebrews because the text doesn't say.  Some say it was Paul, and here in verse 10 is one reason for their thinking.


In verse 11 Paul says that we rejoice because we have been reconciled to God.  Paul surely did rejoice, and I'm sure most of the first century Christians rejoiced as well.  I'm not sure that the modern Christian rejoices as much as Paul did.  The reason why Paul rejoiced is because he knew these great theological truths that he has been talking about well.  They were burned into his mind, heart, and soul.  They became a part of who he was as a human being.  The modern Christian knows little about these truths, so how can they rejoice.  


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