Romans 5:1-2 begins a new section in Romans in which the implications of chapters 1-4 are applied to salvation, living as a Christian, the question of the Jews’ salvation, and practical matters in chapter 12 and following. Chapter 5, verse 1 has one of the most important “therefores” ever.
What is drawing to conclusion? Chapter 1 says all Gentiles are under God’s wrath. Chapter 2 says the Jewish people are under God’s wrath. Chapter 3 shows us that a right standing before God is possible by faith as God declares us righteous via justification. This is not earned, merited, or accomplished by us. It is entirely earned, merited, and accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross in our place for our sins. His righteousness is given to us as a gift which grants us eternal standing before God and eternal glory to Jesus. It is a gift to us and glory to him. In chapter 4, we find that even Abraham, the hero of the Old Testament story, was saved by faith. How can anyone think they are saved by a good life if even Abraham had to be saved by faith? This leads to this wonderful “Therefore.” “Therefore” means, based on all that I have said thus far, it means this.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1–2, ESV)
Here is where we are going. These two verses show that justification has a past, a present, and a future dimension. The past was when I was justified. The present is peace and grace. The future will be hope and glory. When I get that, I rejoice in all of it.
Verse 1 is an unusual verse of the Bible in that there is virtually no difference across the English translations. Almost word for word it’s the same. It couldn’t be any clearer and Paul said it in straightforward language. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Christian’s Past – Declared Righteous Forever
“Therefore.” Based on what? “Since we have been justified by faith.” Notice that he uses “since” not “if.” “If” would insinuate a condition or an uncertainty. Not “if.” “Since we have been justified by faith.” There is Paul’s summary of what four chapters have explained in detail anticipating counterarguments both from Gentiles and Jews. He has countered each objection and comes to this verse and summarizes all of it with, “since we have been justified by faith.” There’s his bottom line. Since right standing before God is granted by personal trust and not personal effort or merit, there is a wonderful byproduct in justification. What is it? “Peace with God.”
Before we get to that, how is this “past”? To be a Christian is to be declared righteous by God. To be justified. There are no non-justified Christians running around. At some point in each Christian’s life, we go from guilty before God to righteous before God. The Greek language has ways of indicating a time stamp—past, present, or future. The word for “justified” is past tense. Simple past tense. A beginning. A moment. Something happened. “Since we have been justified by faith.” Justification has ongoing blessings which the next six chapters will display. But all of that requires a beginning. Do you have one? Or are you just perpetually circling the field but never landing the plane of faith? Land it. Believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and be declared righteous by God forever.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2018 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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