What It Means
1By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, we have peace with God. 2Christ has also introduced us to God's gift of undeserved grace on which we now take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. 3But that's not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. 4And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope 5that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.
6Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. 7No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. 8But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
9But there is more! Now that God has accepted us because Christ sacrificed his life's blood, we will also be kept safe from God's anger. 10Even when we were God's enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by the life of his Son. 11And in addition to everything else, we are happy because God sent our Lord Jesus Christ to make peace with us.
This is one of the most glorious passages in the Bible! In one sentence (v 1) Paul summarizes the whole argument of his letter to this point, and then begins to draw out the implications.
By trusting in Jesus Christ we have been reconciled to God.
The first consequence of this is that we have peace with him. Probably the first thing that comes to mind when we read the word “peace” is an end of hostility, an end of struggle, an end of fear of rejection. That’s the negative side of peace, and it’s part of what Paul means here. But Paul, with his Jewish background, is thinking of the positive side as well. The Hebrew word for “peace” is “shalom,” which means “universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be” (Cornelius Plantinga). We have “shalom” with God. Think about that!
Secondly, we have hope, which, believe it or not, grows out of suffering. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that all our problems are solved, or even that we will always be happy (though that is how the CEV translates v 2). What Paul is saying is that we can celebrate even when things are difficult. Why? Because God uses difficulties to produce endurance and character in us. You may know people whom you admire for their Christ-like character. Often it turns out that they have come through times of suffering. Things may be hard right now, but in Jesus Christ we have hope. Not hope that maybe all will be well in the end, but hope in the Christian sense, that we know that all will be well in the end.
Lord Jesus, Thank you for all that you have done for me. Thank you that you love me so much that you died on the cross. Thank you that you love everybody! Thank you for the peace with which you fill our hearts, and for the hope you give us. Thank you that whatever we are going through now, you are in complete control and all will be well in the end. Amen.
Annabel was born in Kew, near London, England. She committed her life to Jesus Christ at a Scripture Union camp when she was 16, and immediately found joy and peace. At Oxford she was active in the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, where she met her husband, Reid. They emigrated to Canada in 1965, where she taught Classics at the University of Regina until 2007. She has two children, Heather in Oslo and Alasdair in Calgary.