The Believer’s Joy in God
And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (5:11)
A sixth and final link in the unbreakable chain that eternally binds believers to Christ is their joy, their great exultation, in God. This may not be the most important or the most profound evidence of our security in Christ, but it is perhaps the most beautiful. And although this divine evidence is subjective, it is none the less real. Why do we exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ who gave us access to Him? Because from Him we received the reconciliation. He gave it as a gift to us.
The abundant joy that God gives His children through the Lord Jesus Christ includes grateful joy in their salvation and simply in who God is.
Surely one of the reasons David was a man after God’s own heart was his rejoicing in the Lord for the Lord’s own sake. “O magnify the Lord with me,” he declared, “and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:3). Other psalmists echoed that same joy. One wrote, “For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name” (Ps. 33:21), and another, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise Thee, O God, my God” (Ps. 43:4).
Perhaps nowhere outside of Scripture has this deepest level of Christian joy been expressed more beautifully than in the following stanzas from Charles Wesley’s magnificent hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
Hear Him ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come;
And leap ye lame for joy!
Where these six links bind the believer to the Lord, there is true eternal salvation and every reason for full assurance of it.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
I have been expounding Romans 5:1–11 for five studies now—this is the sixth—and in every one of these studies I have said that the point of these verses is to assure Christians of their salvation. They are to know that they are eternally secure in Christ so that they might be able to rejoice in God fully. In this study we find the same idea. I might be inclined to apologize for this repetition were it not for the fact that this is clearly the emphasis of the chapter—and that it is going to continue in one form or another until the end of chapter 8.
This has not been mere repetition, however, since the thesis (which is repeated) has been supported by a variety of arguments:
- We can be assured of salvation because God has made peace with us through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
- We can be assured of salvation because, through that same work of Christ, we have been brought into a new relationship with God in which we continue to stand.
- We can be assured of salvation because of the sure and certain hope that we shall see God.
- We can be assured of salvation because of the way we are able to react to sufferings in this life. We see God’s purposes in them and therefore rejoice in them, which unbelievers cannot do.
- We can be assured of salvation because God sent Jesus Christ to die for us, not when we were saved people, as we are now, but when we were God’s sworn enemies.
In this last section, Paul provides yet another argument or, what is probably more accurate to say, draws his previous arguments together: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
In the sayings that have come down to us from the great Rabbi Hillel there are some principles for Bible interpretation that Paul, as a Jewish thinker, frequently used in his writings. One is called qal wʾchomer, from the Hebrew words for “light” and “heavy.” It refers to a form of arguing in which, if a lesser thing is true, a greater thing must clearly be true also. Here is an example from the teaching of Jesus: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11). Obviously, if we who are evil know how to do good to those who are close to us (this is the “light” part of the comparison), God, who is utterly good (this is the “heavy” part), will do good to his children.
A second principle related to the light/heavy argument is the opposite, an argument from the “heavy” to the “light.” It argues that if something great is true, then something lesser in the same category will obviously be true also. Paul uses this principle twice in these verses:
- “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (v. 9), and
- “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life!” (v. 10).
Each of these arguments is based upon things God has already done for us through the death of Christ. They are great works: justification on the one hand, and reconciliation on the other. They are so great that they are used by God to commend his love to us, as Paul stated earlier. But if God has already done such great works on our behalf, justifying us in Christ when we were ungodly and reconciling us to himself when we were his enemies, God will obviously continue his work in the lesser task of seeing us through life and through the final judgment.
Saved from God’s Wrath
When we look at verse 9, we have a tendency to think that we have already heard everything this verse has to teach. After all, “wrath” is the term we began with back in Romans 1:18, and the doctrine of “justification” was developed fully and compellingly in Romans 3. Besides, Romans 5:9 seems to be almost an identical repeat of verse 1 of this chapter. It is true, of course, that this is the first time we have encountered the word saved in the letter. But what have we been talking about all this time if it has not been salvation?
To understand what is happening we have to realize that “saved” is used in at least three different ways in the Bible, in three different tenses. Sometimes it refers to something past, at other times to something present, sometimes to things yet to come.
Let me illustrate. Suppose you are a Christian and that someone asks you, “Are you saved?”
How do you respond? I suppose you would most likely just say, “Yes, I am.” But it would be possible for you to answer in three different ways, the answer you gave (“Yes, I am”) being only one of them. If you are thinking of what Jesus accomplished on your behalf by dying for you on the cross, it would be correct to have answered as you did, for Jesus did save you by his substitutionary death.
But if you are thinking of the present and of what God is accomplishing in you day by day, it would also be correct to say, “I am being saved.” Paul himself uses the word this second way in 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This verse means that God works through the power of the cross to save us from sin now.
Third, you could think in future terms and answer the question by saying, “No, I am not saved yet, but I will be when Jesus returns.” In this case you would be looking forward to your future glorification when the work begun in the past by Jesus and continued into the present by the power of the Holy Spirit, who works in us, will be perfected. In that day we will be delivered even from the presence of sin and made like Jesus forever.
I mention these three tenses of the word, because it is important to see that it is in the third sense, the future sense of salvation, that Paul speaks here. He is not denying the other tenses, particularly not the first. But he is thinking of the judgment to come and is saying that because we have already been justified by God on the basis of the death of Christ, we can be certain of being saved from the outpouring of God’s wrath in the final day. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “The apostle’s argument is that this method, this way of salvation that God has planned, is a complete whole, and therefore, if we have been justified by Christ’s blood we are joined to Christ, we are in Christ, and we shall therefore be saved by him completely and perfectly.”
Or we could put it like this: If God has already justified us on the basis of Jesus’ atoning death, if he has already pronounced his verdict, any verdict rendered at the final judgment will be only a confirming formality.
Arguing from the “heavy” to the “light” is, if anything, even more apparent in verse 10, where Paul speaks of reconciliation. I begin with the “heavy” part. What is this “heavy” thing God has done for us?
It is the very work we were looking at in detail in the last study. There we were dealing with the love of God, and we saw that the basis upon which God commends his love to us is that it caused him to send his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were yet sinners. Our sinfulness was spelled out in three powerful terms, and these (as we saw) are followed by a fourth term in verse 10. Paul describes us as powerless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. Let us review those terms:
- “Powerless” means that we are unable to help ourselves. It is what theologians mean by total depravity, not that we are all as bad as we could possibly be, but that we are all equally and totally incapable of doing anything to save ourselves. We are not able to seek out and eventually come even to understand the way of salvation.
- “Ungodly” means that we are opposed to God in his godly nature. We do not like him for being who he is.
- “Sinners” means that we are violators of God’s moral law, particularly that second table of the law meant to govern our conduct toward other persons.
- “Enemies,” the word used in the verses we are studying now, is the worst term of all. It means not only that we dislike God in his godly nature, but that we are so opposed to God in that nature that we would destroy him if we could. Like a soldier approaching his counterpart in an enemy army in wartime, we consider it a matter of “kill or be killed.” We think of God’s law as suffocatingly oppressive and destructive of who we want to be. So we are set on destroying God or at least destroying his influence so far as the living of our lives is concerned.
But, says Paul, it is while we were like this that God reconciled us to himself through Jesus’ death. “Reconcile” means to remove the grounds of hostility and transform the relationship, changing it from one of enmity to one of friendship. In our case, as Paul has shown earlier, it meant taking us out of the category of enemies and bringing us into God’s family as privileged sons and daughters. If God did that for us while we were enemies, Paul reasons, he is certainly going to save us from the final outpouring of his wrath on the day of judgment, now that we are family members.
If God has done the greater thing, he will do the lesser. If he has saved us while we were enemies, he will certainly save us as friends.
Rejoice in God
The last verse of our text, which also marks the end of the first half of Romans 5, says that now, having been reconciled to God, “we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. …”
There is a sense in which this idea returns us to where we started out, since the first sentence of Romans 5 speaks of just such a rejoicing: “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” But careful reading will show that the object of our rejoicing is not the same in both cases. In verse 2, our rejoicing is in “hope of the glory of God.” That is, it is in our glorification. Knowing that we are going to be glorified is a cause of great joy for us. However, in verse 11, the object of our rejoicing is not our glorification, important as that is, but God himself who will accomplish it. And, of course, of the two ideas the second is obviously the greater. To rejoice in God is the greatest of all human activities.
We affirm this in the response to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Question: “What is the chief end of man?”
Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
Up to this point I have not marked the number of ways and times Paul has referred to God in the first half of Romans 5, but this is the place to do it. In the first paragraph, he has referred to each person of the Trinity: “… we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. … And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. … And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit …” (vv. 1–2, 5, emphasis added). In the passage as a whole, the Holy Spirit is referred to once, God the Father seven times, and the Lord Jesus Christ five times, plus four more times in which Jesus is referred to by a personal pronoun.
What exactly shall we rejoice in, if we are to “rejoice in God”? We can rejoice in any one or all of his attributes. Our passage suggests these:
- God’s wisdom. Several chapters further on in Romans, after Paul has traced the marvels of God’s great and gradually unfolding salvation work in history, he will cry out: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33). But even at this point in our study we can marvel at a wisdom so great as to be able to save powerless, ungodly, sinful enemies.
The question is: How can God save sinners without ignoring or otherwise condoning their sin? How can he save those who are filthy without dirtying himself? How can he be both just and the justifier of the ungodly? The answer is: through Christ, through his death for us. But we would not have known this or even have been able to suggest it by ourselves. It took the wisdom of the all-wise God to devise such a plan of salvation.
There is also a special display of God’s wisdom in the way suffering works for our good, as Paul has shown in verses 3 and 4.
- God’s grace. Grace is usually defined as God’s favor to the undeserving. But we rejoice in God’s grace because, in our case, grace is favor not merely to the undeserving but to those who actually deserve the opposite. What do “enemies” deserve, after all? They deserve defeat and destruction. God did not treat us that way, however. Rather, he saved us through the work of Christ.
- God’s power. We often forget God’s power when we think about salvation, reserving this theme for when we contemplate creation. But the Scripture speaks of God’s power being displayed preeminently at the cross. In fact, the earliest reference to the cross in the Bible does this: Genesis 3:15. In this verse God is speaking to Satan, describing what will happen when the Mediator comes: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” In this verse the cross is portrayed as a battlefield on which Satan and his hosts will be defeated. And so it was! The power of God was revealed at the cross when Satan’s power over us was broken. We rejoice in God’s power when we think of the cross, as well as in his other attributes.
- God’s love. There are a number of attributes of God that may be learned from nature, chiefly his power and wisdom, and perhaps his grace. But the only place we can learn of God’s love is at the cross. Perhaps that is why this attribute is the only one explicitly developed in our passage: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8). It is when we look to the cross that we begin to understand what love is and how much God has loved us.
- God’s immutability. Several times in these studies I have referred to immutability as something for which unregenerate men and women hate God, because he does not change in any of his other attributes. But it is important to say that, although in our unregenerate state we may hate God for his unchanging nature, in our regenerate state we find this something to rejoice in, since it means that God will not waver in his love and favor toward us. Having loved us and having sent the Lord Jesus Christ to save us from our sin, God will not now somehow suddenly change his mind and cast us off. His love, grace, wisdom, and other attributes will always remain as they have been, because he is immutable.
Arthur W. Pink wrote of God’s immutability: “Herein is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If he varied as we do, if he willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if he were controlled by caprice, who could confide in him? But, all praise to his glorious name, he is ever the same.”
Do We Rejoice?
The last verse of this section says, “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. …” This is a positive statement: “We rejoice!” It has led one commentator to say, “The one clear mark of a true Christian is that he always rejoices.”5 But do we rejoice? Have we actually come as far as Paul assumes we have in verse 11?
Honesty compels us to admit that often we do not rejoice in God.
Why is that? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a number of reasons, which I list for the sake of our self-examination:
- A failure to grasp the truth of justification by faith only.
- A failure to meditate as we ought, that is, a failure to think about what we do know.
- A failure to draw the necessary conclusions from the Scriptures.
I do not know if these are your failures (if you have failed to rejoice in God) or whether there is some other hindrance in your case, as there may be. But whatever the cause, anything that keeps us from rejoicing in God is inappropriate and should be overcome by us. I challenge you to overcome it. I challenge you to think about these great truths, meditate upon them, learn how great the love, power, wisdom, and grace of God toward you are. Then glory in God, as those who have known God throughout the long ages of human history have done before you. It will make a profound difference in your life, and you will be a blessing to others.
11 As Bruce, 125, has pointed out, “where reconciliation is mentioned in the New Testament, God or Christ is always the Reconciler, and man is the object (or among the objects) of reconciliation.… God’s abhorrence of sin does not make him the enemy of sinners or seek their ill.”
5:9–11 / Paul’s magisterial exposition of the transforming love of God reaches its apogee in verses 9–11. Paul utilizes a rabbinic comparison from lesser to greater, or from light to heavy, known in Hebrew as qal wāḥômer, the object of which is to inspire confidence that God is utterly trustworthy to complete the work of salvation, for if God’s love delivered Christ to death for sinners, how much more will it save them from his wrath! God has already done the really difficult thing in justifying rebellious sinners; how much more may those who are justified take confidence that God will preserve them in the state of reconciliation. If God delivered Jesus from death, the same God will also deliver believers from sin and death to life, a point Paul reemphasizes in 8:11. Chapter 5 began with the present state of righteousness, but it now shifts boldly to the future: the cross not only forgives past sins, it assures the justified of their future hope and glory.
Paul continues his decisive contrast between God’s will and human resistance, describing unjustified sinners as God’s enemies (v. 10). The story is told that as Henry David Thoreau lay dying he was asked by his sister if he had made peace with God. Thoreau reportedly answered, “I did not know we had argued.” It was a witty reply, but wide of the gospel. Thoreau evidently believed that human nature is basically good, and that apart from a fault here and there God finds little objectionable in the human race. Paul disagrees. Humanity cannot reconcile itself to God. If there is to be reconciliation it must be effected from God’s side, not ours. On our own and apart from grace we are entrenched in rebellion. We are not distant relatives of God; we are insurrectionists against a worthy king (Mark 12:1–12). It took nothing short of the death of God’s Son to persuade humanity to lay down its arms and accept the gift of reconciliation.
The verb tenses in verses 9–11 encompass the entire life of the believer in God’s love: we were God’s enemies, we have been justified, we shall be saved. God’s redeeming love is past, present, and future. In theological terminology Paul is speaking of justification, the act whereby we were made right with God; sanctification, the process by which God renews us according to his purpose; and eschatology, the completion of salvation in the future and the fulfillment of hope. For the present, the believer lives between two worlds, a theme which Paul will develop in chapter 6. Paul refers to the renewed life variously as a race (Phil. 3:12; 1 Cor. 9:24), dying and rising (2 Cor. 4:16), a fight (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12), a struggle (Rom. 5:3–5), and a battle (Eph. 6:10–20). But in one thing the believer takes confidence: the cross stands as an irrevocable demonstration of God’s faithfulness in the past, and hence believers can trust God for all things in the future. His love is our hope. St. Chrysostom put it thus, “If God gave a great gift to enemies, will he give anything less to his friends?”
The passage concludes with a new term in verses 10–11, reconciliation. Reconciliation is the act whereby God makes the sinner right with himself, thus ushering the justified sinner into real participation in the life of the risen Christ, which is characterized by peace (v. 1) and hope (v. 2). The concept of reconciliation builds a bridge into chapters 6 and 7. Katalassein, “to reconcile,” was rare, if not unknown, in Hellenistic usage, and consequently no more familiar to Paul’s first readers than it may be to us. In writing to the Corinthians Paul used the term with reference to being a “new creation,” meaning first to be reconciled to God, and second, the surrendering of self as an “ambassador of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:16–21). Reconciliation thus carries the double significance of God’s doing something for us and with us.
The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32 wonderfully illustrates reconciling love. Willful and defiant, the younger son demanded his share of the father’s blessing, later to be rudely awakened in the outside world. Returning to his father and expecting what he deserved—censure, humiliation, and (if lucky) probation—the boy received what he did not deserve—shoes, ring, robe, banquet, and most of all, his father’s delight in the infinite worth of one who was lost and now found. Reconciliation is being found by—and surrendering to—the love of God.
We also rejoice in God (11)
What is extraordinary about this sixth and last affirmation is that, verbally speaking, it is identical with the Jewish attitude which Paul has condemned in 2:17, which niv paraphrases, ‘You … brag about your relationship to God.’ Literally, however, 2:17 reads ‘you boast in God’, and 5:11 reads ‘we boast in God’. The verb, the noun and the preposition are all the same. Yet by a true instinct most translators have rendered the verbs differently, ‘boasting’ or ‘bragging’ there, ‘rejoicing’ or ‘exulting’ here. For Christian exulting in God, according to Paul, is quite different from Jewish bragging about him. The latter was a boast in God as if he were their exclusive property and they had a monopoly interest in him, whereas the former is the opposite. Christian exultation in God begins with the shamefaced recognition that we have no claim on him at all, continues with wondering worship that while we were still sinners and enemies Christ died for us, and ends with the humble confidence that he will complete the work he has begun. So to exult in God is to rejoice not in our privileges but in his mercies, not in our possession of him but in his of us.
In spite of our knowledge that for Christian people all boasting is excluded (3:27), we nevertheless boast or rejoice in our hope of sharing God’s glory (2), in our tribulations (3) and above all in God himself (11). This exulting is through our Lord Jesus Christ, because it is through him that we have now received (‘the’ or ‘our’) reconciliation (11).
It seems clear from this paragraph, then, that the major mark of justified believers is joy, especially joy in God himself. We should be the most positive people in the world. For the new community of Jesus Christ is characterized not by a self-centred triumphalism but by a God-centred worship.
5:9–11. To complete the enumeration of the benefits of peace with God, Paul declares that we are saved—now and forever. A number of contrasts in verses 9–10 make his point:
|Saved Now (v. 9)
||Saved Forever (v. 10)
|Justified: declared free of guilt and righteous in God’s sight, once and for all.
||Reconciled: put an end to the hostilities between warring parties, allowing for ongoing relationship.
|Justified by his blood.
||Reconciled through the death of his Son.
|Saved from wrath.
||Saved through his life.
Here, salvation has both a “now” and a “not yet” aspect. For the one who has placed faith in Christ, justification, based on Christ’s shed blood as a substitutionary sacrifice, guarantees that he or she will never experience the wrath of God. Jesus Christ experienced that wrath in the believer’s place. Paul is primarily speaking eschatologically regarding wrath (shall we be saved; future tense); the wrath of eternal judgment that will be poured out upon all those who reject his free offer of the gift of grace. The believer is here and now saved from God’s wrath through him.
While justification is a forensic term, establishing the legal basis upon which the believer is freed from sin, reconciliation is a relational term. When two parties are reconciled, it means they are no longer hostile toward one another. Whatever had been a matter of difference between them has been removed. They have reconciled their differences and are prepared to move into the future together. Both justification and reconciliation are accomplished through the death of Christ, but the former focuses on death while the latter focuses on life. It is for that reason that Paul says in verse 10 that having been reconciled, we shall be saved through his life!
Christ’s death as a sacrifice was different from the Old Testament sacrifices for many reasons, not the least of which is that he did not remain dead. It is through his resurrected life that we are saved today, tomorrow, and forever. Not only did he come back to life after being our sacrifice; he came back to life in order to be our high priest: “Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:24–25). Jesus serves (present tense) as a high priest in the true tabernacle in heaven (Heb. 8:1–2) so that “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
Justification did not bring about perfection in our lives; only a status, a standing, of perfection in God’s sight. Those justified still sin, and the reason we will be saved in spite of our sins (the reason our sins do not become an offense to the Father and create a condition of “irreconciliation”) is because Jesus Christ continually intercedes for us with the Father, applying the benefits of his death in the heavenly tabernacle. Is it any wonder that Paul says we also rejoice in God? Through the death and the life of Jesus Christ, we have received, and we maintain, reconciliation with God. His death is the basis of our justification and reconciliation; his life is the basis of our sanctification and our ultimate salvation. Being justified, reconciled, sanctified, and glorified is better than living a long life anticipating the wrath of God. Every believer has cause to rejoice in what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Such are the benefits of peace with God. It now seems that Paul was ready to conclude this portion of his letter to the Romans with a brief summary statement about how death and sin were overcome by the justification “that brings life for all men” (Rom. 5:12, 18). Instead, he appears to interrupt himself and pen one of the most profound theological treatises in the history of the church. He sets forth in great detail the basis for justification by faith—how sin entered the world and destroyed the peace man had with God, and how sin was removed (paid for) so that peace with God (and life for man) might be restored.
Before looking at Paul’s treatise in detail, let us examine the bigger picture of the second half of Romans 5. In essence, verses 12–19 form one long conditional sentence interrupted in the middle by a lengthy explanation of both the subordinate clause and the main clause. Here is how it works:
Subordinate clause: Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (v. 12). It is the hosper (just as) at the beginning of verse 12 that makes this a conditional clause. It begs for a main clause to complete its thought! But the main clause does not come until six verses later in verse 18.
Main clause: So also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men (v. 18). The houtos kai (so also) picks up the thought begun with just as in verse 12 and completes it in verse 18. Therefore, the heart of Romans 5:12–21 is a conditional scenario: Just as … so also. There is obviously more to it than that, but that is the structure of Paul’s argument.
The next step is to ask and answer, Just as “what”? and so also “what”? To continue our use of the peace of God as Paul’s overall thought in this chapter, here is what he will say in ever-expanding levels of detail:
- Just as Adam … so also Jesus Christ.
- Just as Adam disobeyed God … so also Jesus Christ obeyed God.
- Just as Adam disobeyed God and lost peace with God … so also Jesus Christ obeyed God and restored peace with God.
- Just as Adam disobeyed God and lost peace with God for all who are physically related to him … so also Jesus Christ obeyed God and restored peace with God for all who are spiritually related to him.
That is where Paul is headed in this last section of chapter 5. It is essentially a contrast between Adam (the first Adam) and Jesus Christ (the second Adam). One final note: structurally, it helps to note where Paul broke off his conditional clause (the protasis) and where he picked up again with the main clause (the apodosis). Here is how the section works:
Verse 12: just as … (the protasis).
Verses 13–17: Paul interrupts his conditional sentence to contrast Adam and Christ.
11. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now already received our reconciliation.
The structure of this sentence reminds one of verse 3 (“And not only this, but …”). In view of the context the meaning is probably, “Not only shall we be saved (verse 10b), but even now we exult.” See 5:2, 3. Rejoicing in God because of blessings both present and future reminds one of the words, “In this you greatly rejoice … with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:6, 8).
Not all glorying or boasting can be recommended, however. As Rom. 2:17, 23 had indicated, Jews were boasting or bragging about the fact that they, in distinction from all other nations, possessed God’s holy law. In the church at Corinth there were people who bragged about Christian leaders (1 Cor. 3:21), and about special gifts or attainments (2 Cor. 11:18). And in his letter to the Galatians Paul refers to men who bragged about the number of Gentiles they had “converted” (caused to be circumcised, Gal. 6:13). Does that sound up-to-date?
Over against all such sinful leaping for joy Paul informs the Romans, “We exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And indeed, if, in speaking about the blessed results of Christian labor, one constantly keeps his attention focused on Jesus Christ, God’s Chosen Servant, who was the very opposite of a boaster (Matt. 12:18–21; Phil. 2:5–8), and derives all his power from him, all will be well.
This is the One, says Paul, “through whom we have now already received our reconciliation.” For those who, in faith and humility leap for joy when they consider the blessings they have already received there are even more glorious blessings in store in the hereafter.
No wonder that, in connection with blessings received through Jesus Christ, Paul is able to say, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17).
5:11. Believers boast not only in the “hope of the glory of God” (v. 2) and in tribulations (v. 3), but in God Himself.
5:9–11. The participle translated have … been justified (“declared righteous”) ties these verses to the argument at the beginning of the chapter (cf. v. 1). The immediate connection, however, is with what preceded (vv. 6–8). God gave proof of His love by having Christ die in the place of humans “while we were still sinners.” Because of the sinner’s response by faith (v. 1) to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God has declared him righteous. Certainly that now-declared-righteous person will not be forsaken by God’s love, which has been poured out effusively in his heart. Since the divine dilemma of justification (3:26) has been solved on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood (cf. 3:25), certainly Jesus Christ will see that justified sinners will be saved from God’s wrath. Believers will never be condemned to hell (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1) nor will they be the objects of God’s coming Tribulation wrath (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9).
Here this same truth is repeated in different words (Rom. 5:10). Reconciliation, the third great achievement of Jesus’ sacrificial death on Calvary, is presented (also v. 11). This great triumvirate—redemption (3:24; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7); propitiation (Rom. 3:25 [niv: “sacrifice of atonement”]; 1 John 2:2; 4:10 [niv: “atoning sacrifice”]); reconciliation (Rom. 5:10–11; 2 Cor. 5:18–20; Col. 1:22)—is totally the work of God, accomplished through the death of Jesus Christ. Redemption pertains to sin (Rom. 3:24), propitiation (or satisfaction) pertains to God (3:25), and reconciliation is for people (cf. we were reconciled). Reconciliation is the removal of enmity that stands between people and God (cf. “enemies” in 5:10; Col. 1:21). Reconciliation is the basis of restored fellowship between people and God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20–21).
If (Rom. 5:10) may be rendered “since”; it assumes that the reconciliation through the death of His Son is true. In addition, reconciliation was done when we were God’s enemies (lit., “being enemies”). Since reconciliation was accomplished by Jesus’ death, certainly His life is able to insure the complete and final salvation of believers. “His life” is His present life (not His life on earth) in which He intercedes (Heb. 7:25) for believers. He died for His enemies; surely He will save those, His former enemies, who are now fellowshiping in Him. Because Christians, God’s reconciled ones, share in Christ’s life, they will be saved. Not only is future salvation assured, but we also rejoice in God (“but also boasting [kauchōmenoi] in God”) here and now. This is what Paul already exhorted believers to do (Rom. 5:1–3). The assurance and guarantee of it all is the fact that through … Christ … we have now received reconciliation (lit., “the reconciliation”). Since God has reconciled godless enemies to Himself, they should enjoy that peace with Him.
5:11 And now we come to the sixth benefit of justification: we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We not only rejoice in His gifts but in the Giver Himself. Before we were saved we found our joys elsewhere. Now we exult whenever we remember Him, and are sad only when we forget Him. What has produced this marvelous change, so that we can now be glad in God? It is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like all our other blessings, this joy comes to us through Him.
The seventh benefit enjoyed by the justified is found in the words We have now received the reconciliation. Reconciliation refers to the establishment of harmony between God and man through the sacrificial work of the Savior. The entrance of sin had brought estrangement, alienation, and enmity between man and God. By putting away sin, which had caused the alienation, the Lord Jesus restored those who believe on Him to a state of harmony with God. We should note, in passing, that God did not need to be reconciled. It was man who needed it, because he was at enmity with God.
5:11 Not only shall the justified person escape the wrath of God by the death of Christ, but also he or she shall obtain joy in God because of Christ’s life. The word translated rejoice is the same as is translated glory in v. 3. The blessings which justification brings to its recipients terminate in joy through our Lord Jesus Christ. This last expression is identical to that found in v. 1 of this chapter. All that we have we owe to Him, the Lord Jesus Christ.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 287–288). Chicago: Moody Press.
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