As a kid (and even now as an adult), chain reactions have always fascinated me. From blocks to dominoes to far more intricate setups, the series of events triggered by one small movement remind me of the connectedness of things and the providence of God.

These connections are everywhere in the Bible (see Romans 8:28–30; James 1:2–4; 2 Peter 1:3–11). Let’s consider the chain reaction triggered by our justification in Romans 5:1–5. We’ll do so with some notes taken from the Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Justification and the First Result

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

The apostle now turned to a presentation of the experiential results (suggested by the connective oun, trans. therefore) of the believers’ justification — God’s declaring them righteous — on the basis of faith (cf. 3:21-4:25). The participial clause since we have been justified (cf. 5:9) through faith describes antecedent action to the main clause, we have peace (echomen) with God. Some of the important Greek manuscripts read, “Let us have peace (echōmen) with God.” This seems to be the preferred reading. If so, then the sense is, “Let us keep on having (in the sense of enjoying) peace with God.” Peace has been made by God through our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 2:14a), which fact is demonstrated by God’s justification. A believer is not responsible for having peace in the sense of making it but in the sense of enjoying it.

Justification and the Second Result

Through whom 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.

Romans 5:2

The Lord Jesus, besides being the Agent of the believer’s enjoyment of peace with God, is also the One through whom we have gained access (prosagōgēn, “privilege of approach” to a person of high rank; used elsewhere only in Eph. 2:18; 3:12) by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Though the phrase “by faith” is not supported by the best Greek manuscripts, it is the human means of the access. Believers in Christ stand in the sphere of God’s grace (cf. “grace” in Rom. 3:24) because Christ has brought them to this position. He is their means of access.

In the Greek text the sentence, And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, is coordinate to the clause, “We have peace” (5:1). Like that clause, this one too may be translated, “Let us keep on rejoicing.” Because of Christ, Christians eagerly anticipate the time when they will share Christ’s glory, in contrast with their falling short of it now (3:23). In that sense He is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27; cf. Rom. 8:17-30; 2 Cor. 4:17; Col. 3:4; 2 Thes. 2:14; Heb. 2:10; 1 Peter 5:1, 10). Certainly such a prospect is cause for joy and even boasting! (Kauchōmetha, “rejoice,” is lit., “boast” or “exult,” here in a pure sense; this Gr. word is also used in Rom. 5:3, 11 where it is trans. “rejoice.”)

The Next Steps in the Chain

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4

Believers can enjoy the peace with God that has been achieved and the glorious future in God’s presence that awaits them. But how should they react to the experiences of life that are often adverse and difficult? They are to rejoice in their sufferings. The word “rejoice” is kauchōmetha, the same word in verse 2. “Sufferings” is thlipsesin, “afflictions, distresses, pressures.” James wrote along the same line: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). This is more than mere Stoic endurance of troubles, even though endurance or steadfastness is the first result in a chain-reaction outgrowth from distress. This is spiritual glorying in afflictions because of having come to know (from oida, “to know by intuition or perception”) that the end product of this chain reaction (that begins with distress) is hope.

Suffering brings about perseverance (hypomonēn, “steadfastness,” the ability to remain under difficulties without giving in; cf. Rom. 15:5-6; James 1:3-4). Only a believer who has faced distress can develop steadfastness. That in turn develops character (dokimēn [“proof”] has here the idea of “proven character”), which in turn results in hope. As believers suffer, they develop steadfastness; that quality deepens their character; and a deepened, tested character results in hope (i.e., confidence) that God will see them through.

The Final Result of the Chain

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:5

A believer’s hope, since it is centered in God and His promises, does not disappoint him. “Disappoint” means “put to shame because of disappointment” in unfulfilled promises. This affirmation concerning hope in God is a reflection of Psalm 25:3, 20-21 (cf. Ps. 22:5; Rom. 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6). The reason this hope (resulting finally from affliction) does not disappoint is that God has poured out His love into our hearts. God’s love, so abundant in believer’s hearts (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16), encourages them on in their hope. And this love is poured out by (better, “through,” dia with the genitive) the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

The Holy Spirit is the divine Agent who expresses to a believer the love of God, that is, God’s love for him. The reality of God’s love in a believer’s heart gives the assurance, even the guarantee, that the believer’s hope in God and His promise of glory is not misplaced and will not fail. This ministry of the Holy Spirit is related to His presence in believers as the seal of God (Eph. 4:30) and as the earnest or down payment of their inheritance in glory (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14). Later Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit Himself has been poured out in believers (Titus 3:6). Each believer has the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9) in the sense that He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 John 3:24; 4:13).

Learn More About the Results of Your Justification

We hope that you’re encouraged by what God is doing in your life. The resources we provide in our app are intended to help you connect with God as you read and study his Word. May he use them to start a chain reaction in your life! Visit our store to learn more about the Bible Knowledge Commentary and begin to discover more of what God has done for you in Christ.

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