Justification by Faith Applied (5:1-11)

Lesson ▪ 2002-03
Tags: Romans 5:1-11; Justification; Faith; Boasting
Excerpted from God’s Righteousness Revealed: An Exposition of Romans


The fifth chapter of Romans is transitional. In fact, it is difficult to know whether it fits best with the preceding section (on justification), with the following section (on life in the Spirit), or as a unit to itself. It certainly introduces elements that have not been in view in the previous chapters—most notably those related to the Christian’s experience following justification. The tone is no longer argumentative, but application-oriented.

Verses 1-11 address believers—those who have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ (v. 1). Here Paul discusses two results of justification, focusing particularly on a type of boasting that is a positive part of the Christian life.

Peace with God (vv. 1-2a)

Justification brings us into a peaceful relationship with God. No longer are we enemies (v. 10), but friends (John 15:15), children (Rom. 8:14ff), and joint-heirs with Christ (8:17). In this context, peace is not a subjective experience, but an objective reality. Nevertheless, enjoying the peace of God (Phil. 4:7) is contingent on being at peace with God.

Paul develops this thought further: Justification grants us access into a state of grace. No longer are we in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:6-7), bound to the law (7:4), or under condemnation (8:1). We have received this access in a decisive manner by exercising faith in the work of Christ.13 Through Christ we have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18).

Boasting of Christ’s Work (v. 2b-11)

Justification entitles us to boast. That is the idea of the verb kauchaomai, which occurs three times in the remainder of the passage (vv. 2 [“rejoice”], 3 [“glory”], and 11 [“joy”]). Paul uses this word (and its cognate nouns kauchema and kauchesis) when denying the incompatibility of boasting of one’s works with justification by faith (2:17; 2:23; 3:27; 4:2). Therefore, boasting is not inherently wrong; rather, the object of one’s boasting is what determines whether it is appropriate. As we will see, Paul affirms boasting of what Christ has done for us.

Boasting is here approved in reference to three objects:

  • in hope of God’s glory (v. 2b)

Paul seems to be looking ahead to the ultimate perfection of believers, when we will no longer fall short of God’s glory (cf. 3:23). We may be certain that one day we will be fully, finally free from sin and devoted to His glory.

  • in tribulations (vv. 3-10)14

Until we are perfected, however, we will face difficulties of many kinds. Nevertheless, we should exult in trials because God will order them to our good. Through tribulation we learn endurance; by enduring we achieve a “tested character” (Moo 303), and this character ultimately leads to hope (vv. 3-4). Hope, Paul says, does not disappoint, because the Holy Spirit has poured out God’s love in our hearts (v. 5). Verses 6-10 are essentially an explanation of how this love has been poured out.

God has demonstrated his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (v. 8). He did not do so when we were lovable, but powerless and ungodly (v. 6). His love was not based on our goodness or righteousness (v. 7). As a result, Paul argues, we may be certain of our future salvation. If Christ shed his blood in order to secure our justification, surely God will deliver us from wrath in the judgment (v. 9). If God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ’s death, Christ’s resurrection surely guarantees our final salvation.

  • in God Himself (v. 11)

Paul concludes his argument by stating succinctly that we may boast in God, alluding particularly to the work of reconciliation which He has accomplished in us through Jesus Christ.


This passage addresses believers; as a result, its principles are most directly applicable to the saved.

  • We should accept God‘s gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. This is an indirect application, for the passage assumes that the readers are already justified. Nevertheless, exercising faith is the only means of reaching the blessings of justification.
  • We should live in the truth that we are already at peace with God. This means ceasing in our efforts to perform so as to earn God’s favor.
  • We should sever ties with the world that alienate us from God. As believers we can live such worldly lives that we are actually expressing enmity toward God (Jas. 4:4). If we do so, we are actually denying the reality of our positional relationship with God.
  • We should take advantage of the access that we have been granted. We should endeavor to grow in the knowledge of God, to communicate with Him, to revel in the sphere of grace.
  • We should let the reality of Christ’s work in our lives permeate us to the point of joyful confidence (i.e., boasting). We should boast of our assurance of future glorification, of God’s presence in tribulation, and of our secure relationship with Him.
  • We should endure trials in hope of God’s sanctifying work. The Holy Spirit has already made God’s love known to us in our justification, so we can be confident that any difficulties we encounter are under God’s sovereign control.


13 “We have” (v. 2) is from the Greek eschekamen, a perfect tense verb that indicates past action with results that continue to the present.
14 Paul’s argument structure may seem disproportionate here. Seven verses separate the second and third references to boasting. The intervening discourse is not off topic, though, for it establishes the reason why we may legitimately boast in tribulation (vv. 3-5). A sub-argument explains how the Holy Spirit has poured out God’s love in our hearts (vv. 6-10).