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Romans 5:1-2 meaning

Paul is reiterating that since we have faith in God, we are counted as righteous. He is moving into what this means for our daily life.

It is only chapter 5 (of 16), and this is the tenth occurrence of the Greek word "dikaioo" (translated here justified). Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (v 1). The following is a list of the verses where "dikaioo" occurs up to this point and a paraphrase of the point Paul makes in each verse:

  • Romans 2:13 - If anyone wants to be justified before God by the law of God, they must keep 100% of the law 100% of the time.
  • Romans 3:4 - God is always justified by what He says whether humans believe it or not.
  • Romans 3:20 - Not a single person will be justified before God by keeping the law.
  • Romans 3:24 - Being justified before God comes freely by grace through the redemption, which is in Jesus Christ.
  • Romans 3:26 - Jesus is the justifier of those who believe in Him; Jesus is the one whose blood pays the price.
  • Romans 3:28 - Therefore we conclude that man is justified by faith, completely independent of the law.
  • Romans 3:30 - There is only one God and He justifies all men the same way, and that is through faith: both the circumcised as well as the uncircumcised (Jew or Gentile).
  • Romans 4:2 - Abraham was justified by his great deeds before men, but not before God. Even Abraham was justified before God by faith.
  • Romans 4:5 - Anyone who believes in the God who justifies the ungodly has his faith counted as righteousness (righteousness being a translation of the noun form of "dikaioo").
  • Romans 5:1 - Having been justified by God, we now are at peace with God.

Looking at this sequence of the uses of "dikaioo" (justified or justifies) provides a nice summary of Paul's argument against the competing Jewish "authorities" to this point. This letter to the Roman believers will also help Paul's ministry partners Aquila and Priscilla, who host a church in their house in Rome, to counter the arguments of the competing Jewish "authorities" (Romans 16:3, Acts 18:2, 18, 26). Paul has hammered home that righteousness before God comes only by grace through faith and not by the law. None of our actions matter in gaining this justification in God's sight, only God's; God is the one who counts our belief as righteousness. We can only be justified by faith. But now Paul takes a new direction and begins to discuss the practical outcome of being justified before God by faith.

The first reality is that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. How does this tell us what the rest of our lives should look like? How should we then live? Chapter 5 will examine this question. Now that we have peace with God, as Paul states in verse 1, we can continue to live in His grace. So now Paul's emphasis will be on how we should live by faith in our daily lives, tapping into the resurrection power of Jesus.

To be justified in God's sight is a gift we receive, and does not depend upon our deeds. But the life we live depends wholly upon the choices we make. Therefore, we need to keep these two concepts separated: we are born of the Spirit through a gift freely given, but it is left to our choice whether to live in that Spirit, or to continue to walk in sin and in the flesh. Paul will acknowledge this, and admonish us to choose to live in the Spirit.

Chapter 5 will set the table to address another of the allegations made against Paul's gospel—of righteousness by grace through faith—by those slandering his gospel message of justification (Romans 3:8). This objection will be raised in Romans 6:1, where Paul's opponents will claim that Paul's gospel message leads to the conclusion that we ought to sin as much as possible so God's grace will abound all the more, and therefore show God to be all the more merciful. Paul will counter this by arguing that this is totally wrong because it is self-destructive.

Since we now stand in God's grace, we are in the safest and most permanent place possible, because God is dependable and unchanging: Through [Jesus Christ] also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God (v 2)The Greek word translated have in verse 2 is in the perfect tense, so the access we have obtained to stand in God's grace is continual and unceasing. That is certainly something to cause rejoicing.

That we stand in God's grace means we are positioned in God's grace. It is our station, our permanent position in Him. Our position in Christ is steady and unchanging, because of the unchanging nature of God. Although our position in Christ is permanent and unchanging, our condition depends upon our actions. God has granted us stewardship of three types of choices: who we trust, what we do, and the perspective we choose.

Because we stand in this grace, we ought to choose a perspective of gratitude, and exult in hope of the glory of God. The phrase glory of God as Paul uses it here is something that is not yet seen but is eagerly hoped for. What is it that we hope for once we stand in the grace of God? To discover what this might be, we can study the phrase glory of God, which is a translation of the Greek "doxa theos." "Doxa theos" appears several times in the Bible. The following is a list that includes "doxa autos" or glory of them (when them refers to God) as well as "doxa pater," glory of the Father.

  • Matthew 16:27 - Jesus will come in the "doxa autos" (glory of them, i.e., of God) with His angels and give to each person a reward according to their works.
  • Mark 8:38 - "Doxa autos" refers to the glory of Jesus returning to earth as king.
  • Luke 17:8 - Of the ten lepers healed, only the foreigner returned to give glory to God, "doxa theos," by coming back to thank Jesus for healing him.
  • John 11:14 - The woman was healed that the glory of God might be shown.
  • John 11:40 - "Doxa theos" is shown when Lazarus is raised from the dead.
  • John 12:43 - Many Pharisees believed in Jesus but did not confess Him openly because they loved the "doxa" (praise or glory) of men more than the "doxa" of God.
  • Acts 7:55 - Stephen sees Jesus standing by the throne of God in heaven described as "doxa theos."
  • Romans 3:23 - We all fall short of the "doxa," the praise or glory of God.
  • Romans 4:20 - Abraham was strong in faith, and by believing God's promise is true, he gave "doxa theos."
  • Romans 6:4 - Jesus was raised by the glory of the Father, so we ought to walk in newness of life.

Which of these applications does Paul say they are exulting and looking forward to with hope? It could be all of them.

  • We have joyful hope for the return of Jesus to judge, renew, and restore the earth if we are living faithfully.
  • We can live in thanksgiving like the grateful leper healed of his disease leading to death, as we have been healed from a spiritual disease of spiritual death.
  • As we walk in newness of life, we can glorify God by demonstrating the healing of our "psuche" (souls or lives), as the healed woman did.
  • The great opportunity before us, as we now stand in the unfailing grace of God, is to walk by faith in the newness of life and power of the Spirit, and thereby demonstrate the glory of God with that resurrected life, even as Lazarus and Jesus did.
  • We have opportunity to choose the "doxa" or praise of God over the praise of men, to our immense benefit, and which itself brings "doxa" to God.
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