Romans 5:1–5 – Life as Justified People


Romans 5:1–5


Paul summarizes how being justified by faith is the start of a life in intimate relationship with God that is moving toward a glorious future.


In the previous section of the letter (Romans 3:21–4:25), Paul argued that people are only placed in a right relationship with God—that is, justified—by trusting in God’s saving activity in Jesus Christ. Now in 5:1–8:39, Paul describes the character of living in this relationship, providing a snapshot of it in 5:1–5.

Paul begins in 5:1 by assuring believers that, because they have been justified, they now live in peace with God. The NRSV uses the phrase “we have peace with God” in 5:1b, but other manuscripts instead present an exhortation here that reads “let us have peace with God.” Although scholars do not agree on which reading is the one Paul intended, the choice of the NRSV fits the context of the argument so far in the letter. The meaning thereby conveyed is that because all who trust in God’s redeeming work in Christ have already been justified (the Greek verb in 5:1a is past tense), peace with God is a present reality. Peace consists in those who were once alienated from God, or even God’s enemies (Romans 5:10), now living in the trusting relationship with God that God always intended. This is only possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, who is God’s gift that gives believers access to divine grace (5:2), which can be understood fundamentally as God’s favor.

Justification also gives believers the freedom to “boast” or “rejoice” (depending on translation of the Greek verb kauchaomai) in their “hope of sharing the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). This is ultimately an eschatological hope of being in the very presence of God. But this awaited future also gives believers a present hope that allows them to endure the suffering and trials that even those who belong to Christ face in a world that still longs for the fullness of God’s redemption (cf. Romans 8:18–25). Endurance develops in believers the character of Christ, who also endured suffering, which in turn produces a hope that does not disappoint because the Holy Spirit makes God’s transformative love present within believers (Romans 5:5).