Hope of the Glory of God – Romans 5:2-5

Since we have access to the Father, we can boast in the “hope of the glory of God” (5:2b). Hope in Paul’s letters tends to be eschatological, looking forward to the future resurrection from the dead.  Our hope in this context is in some way present (we are presently boasting in the hope of glory). In the next chapter Paul will describe our salvation as a resurrection from the dead; we were dead in our sin, but we have been crucified with Christ so that we are now alive in him.

Boasting is usually a negative idea for Paul, in chapter 4 one who is justified by works can “boast” about their good works, Ephesians 2:8-9 salvation is by grace through faith so that no one can boast. But here Paul says we can take pride in the certainty we will participate in the future glory of the resurrection.

Image resultOur present/future justification means we can rejoice in our suffering (5:3-4). The verb translated “rejoice” is the same as boasting in the previous verse (καυχάομαι). Suffering is typically not something a Roman person would boast about, and a Jewish person might associate suffering with the curse of the law. But Paul says those who are in Christ ought to boast in both our future hope and our present suffering. Why?

Suffering (θλῖψις) produces endurance (ὑπομονή). Suffering can include any kind of oppression or affliction, whether that is natural (from and illness) or from some sort of persecution. What sort of suffering would the Roman church have faced at this point in history? Some were expelled from Rome because of their Christian faith, likely the Jewish Christians were alienated from their families, and the Gentiles appear to have rejected their family gods and the gods who made Rome great, even denying that Caesar is Lord is dangerous.

Endurance produces character (δοκιμή). By enduring suffering, we develop character. The noun refers to the results of testing something, perhaps to discover if it is genuine or to assess its value. Like testing gold in fire, a person’s character as revealed by suffering.

Image result for calvin and hobbes builds characterCharacter produces hope (ἐλπίς). Our developing character produces hope, knowing that the suffering is entirely worthwhile. By way of an analogy, people who train for an athletic context suffer physically from their training. Someone training to run the marathon in the Olympics must change their entire lifestyle in order to compete at that level.

Our hope will not disappoint (καταισχύνω). This verb is sometimes used for disgrace or dishonor, or even humiliate (t.Judah 12:5). If hope refers to our status as justified at a future judgment before God, we can be confident that when we do stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the hope we have in the death of Jesus as payment for our sin will not come up short, leaving us facing a penalty for our sin.

In contrast to being humiliated by an unpaid debt at the final judgment, our debt is fully paid by the death of Jesus so that we can stand before the judgment seat of Christ without the possibility of being ashamed by an unpaid sin debt.

5 thoughts on “Hope of the Glory of God – Romans 5:2-5

  1. Boasting is usually something more negative for Paul but here it is something that is more positive. Whenever I hear this it sounds like it is something that is more like pride! We can be prideful in what God has done for us and honored that He would choose to save us from our sins. We can also boast but I think it is more about what God has done than what we have received. God has done so much for us and our boasting should be done for His glory, and not to say that we did anything to deserve it. I also love the sequence that Paul gives when it comes to suffering which eventually leads to hope. We suffer but we can hope that eventually the suffering will come to an end. I love that the hope will not disappoint, it will be even more than we could ever imagine!

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  2. I like the contrast Paul makes between humans boasting about themselves and humans boasting about the hope they have in God. Paul usually states that no person has the right to boast because they have not done anything worth boasting about, but then in Romans 5:3-4 Paul says that we should rejoice in our suffering because our suffering will eventually produce hope. We are able to boast in our suffering that leads to hope because it is something that God has done for his children and nothing that humans could ever do for themselves. Boasting about God’s love is always a good thing because it is done for his glory, not our own. It is wonderful to know that the hope that I have in Jesus Christ will not be put to shame, and that is something that I will boast about until the day I die.

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  3. The idea of suffering persecution like the Roman church would have experienced is foreign to us but we can understand being rejected for our faith by family and friends. I think that when this type of persecution appears in our lives we are truly spreading the gospel like Paul would have wanted and the eternal hope becomes real to us. When we face rejection we look forward to the day when Christ claims us as his own even if friends and family reject us. This is the ultimate hope and assurance. It is appealing if looked at through a story of deep suffering but if our lives are good and we are not facing rejection for Christ daily than are we really doing much for the kingdom? Who are we not sharing our hope with?

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  4. I agree with what Adam said earlier, regarding how it is not so much about our own salvation being boasted, rather it is about being proud of what God has done for us. I tend to look at this section in that light as well, since Paul was using “boasting” in a positive context here, compared to when Paul’s general disdain for boasting. I liked the break down of the journey from suffering to hope that Professor Long wrote, because the post made it easier to understand how the different components lead to each other. Although the Roman Christians and Gentiles would have balked at the idea of rejoicing in suffering, they needed to know that suffering is the way of life when it comes to being a Christian. What I mean by that, although we have the greatest joy containable since we have received the Holy Spirit, this also means that we are contrary beings to sinful society. Secular society does not like to think they are doing things the wrong way. We do not like to fight against our urges and temptations, and for many of us we do suffer for a time to overcome certain temptations that may be painful for us to let go of. As Christians, we are going to be persecuted in some form or another, and have been persecuted ever since Jesus fulfilled what He was meant to accomplish. Which brings me back to why Paul needed to explain although we suffer, we can rejoice despite the pain and turmoil because we are going to be rewarded for that suffering after Christ’s return. Later on, in Romans chapter 8, Paul mentioned ” We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved,” (v.v. 22-24a). Moo explains in chapter 12, “the pain of an expectant mother is a natural and common biblical metaphor for hope,” because there is such joy after the frustration and pain are over, because knowing the awaited baby has arrived brings joy. I never would have thought of childbirth in that way before, or at least would not have connected it metaphorically to our suffering and the hope we have for the future, but it is very fitting once contemplated. My point is, that if we are able to hold onto this gift and hope we received, then despite our sufferings we should be able to boast of what the Lord has done. Holding back because of fear of suffering is not an option, because we have a duty to uphold, a duty to spread the good news to everyone. We can and should boast in the Lord, because we want people to hear what God did for them. We should not go about it in a self-righteous way, but in a manner that makes the outsider feel they are being let in on this “secret” that we hold.

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