Romans 5:1-11


In our last session we began looking at the second major section of Romans.  This section, which begins in the middle of chapter 3 and goes through chapter 8, focuses on God’s response to our sin problem.  Through His Son, He offers us a way out.  Paul tells us in this section of Romans that the heart of the gospel is that salvation is available to us through a faith relationship with Jesus.  In this section Paul develops the idea of “justification by faith.”  No less than nine times in this section Paul uses the words justification or justify or justified.  This part of Romans is the most complete treatment of the concept of justification in the Scripture.  There are five major movements in this section of Romans.

  • Romans 3:21-31 – A description of justification (We saw in these verses in our last session nine key principles about justification by faith.)
  • Romans 4:1-25 – An example of justification (Paul points to Abraham, the father of Judaism, as the supreme Old Testament example of justification by faith.)
  • Romans 5:1-11 – The blessings of justification
  • Romans 5:12-21 – The basis of justification
  • Romans 6:1-8:30 – The results of justification
    • Victory over sin (Chapter 6)
    • Freedom from the Law (Chapter 7)
    • Life in the Spirit (Chapter 8)


The Blessings of Justification (Romans 5:1-11)

Notice that Romans 5:1 begins with the word “therefore.”  Warren Wiersbe points out, “Since Romans is a book of logic, it is a book of ‘therefores’.”  More than 20 times in Romans Paul uses the word therefore.  It is normally used as a word of transition to introduce the results of something previously stated.  The statement in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith…” looks back to what Paul said in chapters 3 and 4 about the salvation God has made available to us through the sacrifice of His Son.  For those who accept God’s offer of salvation, there are some wonderful benefits.  In Romans 5:1-11 Paul lists six of the major benefits. 

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have…” – The present tense of the very “have” indicates these are benefits of salvation that we experience in the present time.

  1. Peace with God (v.1 – “…peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”) – It is important to understand what is meant by the phrase “peace with God.”  This is not a reference to an inward feeling of tranquility or to what we would call peace of mind.  Paul describes that kind in Philippians 4:7 with the phrase “peace of God.”  The “peace of God” is an inner calmness that God grants those who are dependent on Him.  But “peace with God” has to do with our relationship with God.  The idea behind that phrase is that for those who have been justified by faith, their warfare with God has ended. 

Before a person accepts God’s offer of salvation, that person is in conflict with God.  Verse 10 of this chapter describes those who have not been justified by faith as “enemies” of God.  This enmity between God and the unredeemed can be expressed in several ways:

    • For some, it is expressed in open, flagrant defiance of God as was the case of those people described at the end of Romans 1 who openly and without shame lived immoral lives.
    • For others, it may take the form of a proud, impenitent heart in the midst of religious activity as was the case of the Jews described at the end of Romans 2 who thought they were right with God merely because they were Jewish by birth and observed certain religious rituals.

Both of those attitudes represent rebellion against God and put us in the position of being His enemies or at war with Him.  But justification by faith changes all that.  The warfare between God and us is ended and in its place there is peace. 

When the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon, they were separated from their holy city, Jerusalem, and the Temple that represented to them the very presence of God.  In their captivity, they felt completely cut-off from God.  In announcing their return, God said to them through the prophet Isaiah, “Comfort, O comfort My people … speak kindly to Jerusalem and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed…” That is precisely what happens to those who are “justified by faith.”


  1. Access to God (v.2a – “…through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand…”) – The word translated “introduction” is used only three times in the New Testament.  In addition to this verse, it also occurs in Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12.  The word was used by the Greeks to describe the process of ushering someone into the presence of royalty. 

Each time the word is used in the New Testament it is used in reference to Jesus ushering us into the presence of God.  The point of this phrase is that Jesus, through His sacrificial death, ushers us into the arena of God’s grace in which we stand continually before God. 

That is in direct contrast to the Jewish system in which only one day a year, the Day of Atonement, the high priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies in the Temple.  The holy of holies represented the presence of God.  On that day the high priest would enter and make a sacrifice for the sins of the people while the people waited outside of the holy of holies.  The high priest could not usher the people into the presence of God.  After the sacrifice was made, the high priest exited the place representing God’s presence.  But what a difference the death of Christ makes!  In Christ we have a High Priest who ushers us into the very presence of God.  We no longer have to stand on the outside while another person enters God’s presence on our behalf.  (See Hebrews 4:14-16)

  1. Hope of sharing in the glory of God (v.2b – “…we exult in hope of the glory of God.”) – Peace with God takes care of the past, giving us the assurance God does not hold our past sins against us.  Access to God takes care of the present, giving us the assurance we can come to Him at anytime for the help we need.  Hope in the glory of God takes care of the future, giving us the assurance that one day we will share in God’s glory.

The word “hope” does not mean something for which we wish or something about which we are not sure.  It carries the idea of confident expectation.  In the biblical sense, to have hope means to have a sure and certain expectation.  The sure and certain expectation of those who have been justified by faith is sharing in “the glory of God.” 

Romans 3:23 tells us that because of our sin we have fallen short of the glory of God.  But that is not the end of the story.  God did not give up on us!  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, we can be certain of we will experience the glory of God.  There is not agreement among Bible scholars as to the precise meaning of the phrase.  Some say it is:

·         The splendor of God or the image of God that was supposed to be reflected in us but was lost or diminished when we chose to rebel against God and choose our way over His.

·         The unqualified approval and acceptance of God.

·         Heaven and that Paul is speaking of the assurance that we will spend eternity with God.

However you interpret the phrase, it means we have the assurance that something wonderful awaits us in the future because we have been justified by faith.  And it is so certain that we “exult” or rejoice in just the thought of it!

  1. The ability to overcome adversity (vv.3-5a – “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…”) – The phrase “…we also exult in our tribulations…” is interesting. The word translated “tribulations” literally means great pressure.  It was the word used to describe the process of the crushing of grapes in a wine press or olives in an olive press.  In this verse the word is not referring to any particular kind of pressure.  It is broad enough to mean almost any kind of difficulty – persecution, sorrow, sickness, pain, loneliness, anxiety, etc.  Notice Paul does not say that we rejoice because of tribulation.  Instead, he says we rejoice in tribulation.  How is that possible?  It is possible to rejoice in suffering when we understand that God can use our suffering for good in our lives (see Romans 8:28).  In these verses Paul lays out a three step process to describe how good can come from our suffering:

·         Step 1 – Suffering produces perseverance – The word translated “perseverance” is a compound word made up of a verb meaning “to stay” and a preposition meaning “under.”  The word means to have the ability to bear up under or stay under difficulty.

·         Step 2 – Perseverance produces character – The word “character” was used to describe someone who had been put to the test and found true.  In ancient times the word was used to describe metal that had the impurities purged from it by fire.  The idea is that as we walk through the fires of suffering with perseverance, we emerge stronger, purer, better, and nearer to God.

·         Step 3 – Character produces hope – This step brings us back full circle to where Paul began in verse 2 when he said “…we exult in the hope of the glory of God…” The reason we can rejoice in suffering is that suffering produces in us that hope.  As one writer put it, “Hope is not the tuition we pay as we enroll in the school of adversity.  Rather it is the diploma awarded to those who by the grace of God do well on the tests.” [LBC, p.51]

  1. Recipients of God’s love (vv.5b-8 – “…because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”) – In these verses Paul points out two evidences of God’s love for us:

·         God’s love for us is evidenced “…through the Holy Spirit who was given to us…” – The verb “was given” is a tense that refers to completed action in past time.  That is, at some point in the past, if you have been justified by faith, you were given the Holy Spirit.  When you became a believer the Holy Spirit took up residence in your life.  The presence of God’s Spirit in you is one evidence of God’s love for you.

·         God’s love for us is evidenced by the death of Jesus on our behalf – In these verses Paul paints an unflattering picture of us, using words such as “helpless…ungodly…sinners…enemies…”  But then he points out that even while we were in that state, God loved us enough to allow His Son to die for us!

  1. Assurance of future salvation (vv.9-10 – “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  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 save by His life.”) – The Scripture speaks of salvation in three tenses—past, present, and future.  We were saved.  We are saved.  We will be saved.  The theological terms for these phases of salvation are justification, sanctification, and glorification.

In these verses, Paul looks primarily in two directions.  He looks back at what we were before becoming Christians and at what the sacrificial death of Jesus accomplished for us.  Then, he looks forward at what we can expect to experience because the resurrected Lord is continuing to work on our behalf.

Verse 11 (“And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom we have now received the reconciliation.”) reminds us that our focus should not primarily be on the past or the future but on the present.  In the present we “exult” or rejoice (the third time Paul has used this word in this paragraph) in our relationship with God through Jesus.