Paradoxical Standing In The Peace Of God Romans 5:1-11

Peace-with-God

 

The peace of God is rooted in both testaments with an express idea of being whole, complete, calm, having a relationship of goodwill between God and humans. In this peace, we can stand in relationship to God, knowing that He has bestowed on us the grace which is revealed by faith and accepted by us through the written word. The term peace appears in almost every New Testament letter and is in conjunction with the rendering of faith. Possessing the peace of God means that until salvation, there is a constant war undertaking between God and man. Our disobedience is rooted in our sinful condition and Paul has already expressed that His wrath is upon us (Rom. 1:18).  In this paper, I will argue that the true peace of God can only be obtained by our faithfulness and through the atoning work of Christ. Humanity can become reconciled with God by grace and through faith in Christ. The motive for the atoning work of Christ is fueled by love and the blessing of justification is conditioned through faith which results in a peaceful standing with God. Without this peace, we become enemies of God and our spiritual adoption is null and void. The salvation effect is indicative of our call to faithfulness and the ministry of reconciliation can finally be made available because of the atonement. It is noteworthy that Paul links justification and reconciliation together in these passages and ties them in with our peaceful standing in God by faith.

 

Genre, Form and Structure

            The passage is written in a narrative genre that is an expositional argument which interprets an Old Testament passage in services of a larger theological argument.[1] Also, there are allusions found throughout the biblical narrative that is not directly quoted from the Old Testament. Paul uses a rhetorical question in verses 9-10 for an effect that doesn’t require the reader for a definitive answer. The understanding of each genre type will provide the necessary concepts depicted within the context of the passage. When viewing the passage as a whole, some commentators have a variety of ways of examining the text. Some structure it by the fruits of justification, a transition from the treatment of justification to that of the spiritual life and others find it as the key to understanding the effects of justification.[2] We find that the apostle Paul is listing the blessings which accrue to the believers who have deemed their faith as righteousness. There is a continuous flow of these spiritual blessings proceeding each other beginning with peace, joy, hope and love. The chapter deals with the scope and consequences of justification through faith and its salvific message which is specifically addressed in verses 1-11. The versification system that is represented does delineate an accurate division of the selected passage. The text is a self-contained unit of thought within a broader context of the benefits conferred by the Gospel. The believer in this passage has peace, righteous and joy as a result of being justified through faith in Christ. If it were to be divided it would be broken down by each spiritual blessing but it would take away from the totality of the doctrine of justification. For three and a half chapters we have seen Paul deal with righteousness, judgment and justification and now moves into the redemptive act of Christ on the cross and considers its consequences.[3] This idea is carried from the beginning of verse 1 to ending before the death of Adam in verse 12.

Paul is opening the expositional argument with what he stated in the previous chapter concerning Abraham that we are justified by faith, not by works. Scripture never states that our inherent goodness of faith declares us just as if our merits had anything to do with it. God can declare us just because of our faith and imputes Christ’s righteousness to us. Just as Abraham was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom.4:3) we too can discover the inner rest of peace entirely by God’s grace and receive forgiveness from the past. When viewings the context of the passage, many commentators and scholars attest to the same findings and views in the passage.

 

Literary and Theological Context

 

            When looking at the passage in a broader and immediate context we see grace and law within the text. Grace is established through the atoning work and sacrifice of Christ on the cross which we are brought into. The law which reveals enmity towards God and the source of our sin has been abolished through the second Adam and the result is eternal peace with God. When looking at the previous verses we see a continuation of faith manifested from Abraham and justification proved through him. Paul has been outlining the way of salvation and how understanding the Old Testament context points the way forward to Christ. Paul has made it clear that he sees God as saving by grace. Now he proceeds to show that this was true of Abraham, the great progenitor of the race.[4] There is a promise which is realized only through faith not acting on the principle of the law but grace. This promise is made readily available to us all as offspring of Abraham and will be credited as righteousness. This futuristic declaration points to an eschatological view on justification. At the present, we are made right before God but the consummation of glorification waits until the day of judgment.

The proceeding verses deal with the solidarity in Adam and in Christ, portraying the old and new covenant of work and grace. What began in the first Adam has been accomplished in the second and Paul’s Christology features this dynamic shift. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor.15:22) and reveals to us a difference in disobedience and obedience. The original sin of man has formed a wedge in our relationship with God but the result of the obedience of Christ removes it.

The idea of justification through faith alone is seen throughout the book of Romans and is the central message of the Gospel proclaimed by Paul. The idea of justification addresses the relationlessness which is produced by our sin as a limitless self-realization.[5] The classic Pauline statements concerning the justification of human beings (e.g., Gal 2:15–16; Rom 5:1) characteristically employ forms of the verb dikaioun (“to justify”). The noun dikaiosynē, which appears frequently in Paul and elsewhere in the NT, is more appropriately translated by the word “righteousness” or, as in common classical and Hellenistic usage, “justice.” Strictly speaking, only in Rom 4:25 and 5:18 does the word dikaiōsis (“justification”) appear. In Rom 5:16 the noun dikaiōma, here set in opposition to katakrima (“condemnation”), probably means “pronouncement of acquittal.”[6] There are a few references to some Old Testament passages found in Psalms 22:5; 25:20 and 31:1-2. The Old Testament Levities needed to be in a state of purification and no one who had a blemish would be able to have access to the temple and offer anything to God (Lev.21:18-19). In verse 2 this rite of passage is deemed unnecessary as our access is by grace and paved through faith.

There are certain keywords and phrases that need a greater exegetical study. These terms include peace, access, tribulation, ungodly, righteous, reconciled and joy. In understanding these words and their meaning, it will allow us to truly reveal the biblical context of the passage. These words tie into the Pauline message on justification and expound on its doctrine. The theological principle that the passage presents deals with the subjective aspect of reconciliation and its results because of faith. The restoration to fellowship is the result of our justification and is the ethical condition of reconciliation.[7]

 

Historical, Social, and Cultural Context

           

In interpreting the passage some historical issue that arises stems from the atonement and the death of Christ not for all but that all died in Christ (2 Cor.5:14). His death on the Cross is not only a parabolic suggestion of the divine reconciliation, it is this reconciliation, its completion, its reality.”[8] Paul addresses this within the context of the passage as a reminder that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and through our Lord (v.2) defines the means by which peace with God is achieved. The historical context draws from it the suffering that Paul recommends that believers boast of their afflictions, hardships, and persecutions. This suffering as Christ suffered brings with it a sense of unity to all believers in a covenant mutuality under the lordship of Christ. Developing an attitude of joy in our troubles is a character’s trait of the Christian and if our present-day suffering leads to glory, it will lead to a mature lifestyle and peace with God. The passages don’t mention any rulers of ancient times, tribal leaders, kings or queens. There are no mentioned of any ethnic groups found either.

The cultural concept of sacrifice can be developed in verses 6-8 as a giving up to a deity but was usually in relation to the Mosaic law. Cain gave his first fruits of the earth and Abel the first fruits of his flock (Gen.4:3,4) under the Levitical system of that time. Offerings were part of the daily lives of second temple Judaism and upon this altar, gifts and sacrifices were presented to atone for the sins of the people. This coincides with Christ becoming the propitiation needed for the sin of the world. Another cultural concept we see is the indwelling of the spirit in a person that may have some degree of influence or power over them in verse 5 of Romans. This wasn’t just seeing in some ecstatic state or theophany but a direct filling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of the believers. Many forms of this spirit presented themselves in the culture as demonic possessions which Jesus encountered on numerous occasions throughout his public ministry. Persecution was a part of the life of the early followers of Christ which resulted in harassment, violence, and even martyrdom. Emperor Nero attempted to shift the blame for the fire in Rome to the Christians and ordered their arrest and execution. The imperial government and local authorities persecuted the church and as a result, started a movement that continues today. Gender doesn’t seem to be an issue within the text and no mention of it is found as the term “us” is used to including all.

There is a challenge in the passage that exhorts the believers to rely on their faith as a means of justifiable standing with God in the midst of suffering. Rome allowed the Jews to worship their God especially during the Pax Romana which lead to the expansion of Christianity. This peace provided an opportunity to fellowship with God in different cultural settings within the community.

When reading the rest of the passage certain text enlighten its meaning. According to verses 10, we are called enemies. Paul uses this strong language to convey a point that our sin had completely put us in the wrong with God. Wrath and enmity come hand in hand and God’s hostility to evil is imminent. Our estrangement required us to be removed from the sin of the world and be reconciled and receive total amnesty from our depravity.

 

Application

 

There is an ebb and flow from the descent in Adam to the ascent in Christ. The greatness of God’s righteousness where the believer has a new status with God. In that status, there is a peace and hope through the giving of the Holy Spirit. By those means can reconciliation occur because of the atoning work and shed blood of Christ. Each step in the process of faith leads to everlasting peace with God. The purpose of this passage can be summed up in a later chapter when Paul admonished the church at Rome that he has predestined those he called, and those he called he has justified and those he has justified he has glorified (Rom.8:30). This effective calling of the Gospel brings with it the salvific message and our response to repentance and faith. Apart from the works of the law are we made right (Rom.3:28) and these works don’t justify us but only through faith in Christ (Gal.2:16) can we receive true peace. Scripture is clear that we are never saved on the basis of our works or moral standings.

Although not exhausted, this research on justification still presents some limitations, debates, and difference of opinions when looking at the broader picture of faith and works. The epistle of James seems to indicate that works are a man justified and not by faith alone (James 2:24). Is there an apparent contradiction between the two or does James use a different sense of the word other than how Paul uses it? This is where grammatical understanding and a knowledge of the Greek language plays it part. This is an important perspective that would need further research and inquiry in order to assimilate the proper meaning of faith.

In today’s postmodern world there is nothing more desired than to live at peace with all men. Just as exclaimed in the prophet Jeremiah when the people utter peace and there is none to be found (Jer.6:14). Faith is the anchor that binds one’s soul, take that away and their strength is cut off. That’s why it’s so important to implement faith in our day to day life. In our church setting were ministry may not seem abundant or at home when the bills can’t be paid. Enacting true faith in the finished work on the cross is where we will find peace in life’s storms. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27) is our response to faith when it’s difficult to do so. The Gospel frees us to uphold the law (Rom.3:31) because of our weakness Christ died so that grace may abound. In his perfect peace, we have the freedom and liberty to stand before Him as our hearts and minds are guarded in Christ Jesus.

 

Bibliography

 

[1]  Mangum, D. (2014). The Lexham Glossary of Literary Types. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2]           Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 217). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

[3] Barrett, C. K. (1991). The Epistle to the Romans (Rev. ed., p. 95). London: Continuum.

[4]           Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 193). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

[5]           Jungel, Eberhard. 1999. “On the Doctrine of Justification.” International Journal Of Systematic Theology 1, no. 1: 24. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (Fall, 2017).

[6]           Hays, R. B. (1992). Justification. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, p. 1129). New York: Doubleday.

[7] Ladd, George Eldon, and Donald Alfred. Hagner. A Theology of the New Testament. William B. Eerdmans, 2001.

[8]  Bloesch, D. G. (1997). Jesus Christ: Savior & Lord (p. 162). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John Blondo says:

    This is legit. Gonna take a while to read

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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