Romans 5:3 MEANING

Romans 5:3
(3) But much more than this. The Christian's glorying is not confined to the future; it embraces the present as well. It extends even to what would naturally be supposed to be the very opposite of a ground for glorying--to the persecutions that we have to undergo as Christians. (Comp. especially Matthew 5:10; Matthew 5:12, "Blessed are the persecuted;" 2 Corinthians 11:30; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "glorying in infirmities;" Acts 5:41, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame;" 1 Peter 4:12-13; "think not the fiery trial strange, but rejoice.") Attention has here been called to Bacon's aphorism, "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity of the New." This is a very profound side of the Christian revelation.

(3, 4) A climax in which are put forward higher and higher grades of fortitude and constancy.

Verses 3-5. - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations (or, our tribulations) also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost which is given to us. The peace, the joy, the hope, that come of faith might be supposed unable to stand against the facts of this present life, in which, to those first believers, only peculiar tribulations might seem to follow from their faith. Not so, says the apostle; nay, their very tribulations tend to confirm our hope, and so even in them we also glory. For we perceive how they serve for our probation now: they test our endurance; and proved endurance increases hope. And this hope does not shame us in the end, as being baseless and without fulfilment; for our inward experience of the love of God assures us of the contrary, and keeps it ever alive. The word δοκιμὴ ("experience," Authorized Version) means properly "proof," and is so translated elsewhere. The idea is that tribulations test, and endurance under them proves, the genuineness of faith; and approved faithfulness strengthens hope (cf. Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13, "He that endureth (ὑπομείνας, corresponding to ὑπομονὴν here) to the end, the same shall be saved "). By "the love of God" is meant rather God's love to us than ours to God. What follows in explanation requires this sense. Of course, it kindles answering love in ourselves (cf. "We love God, because he first loved us"); but the idea here is that of God's own love, the sense of which we experience, flooding our hearts with itself through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It may be observed that, though assurance of the fulfilment of our hope is here made to rest on inward feeling, yet this is legitimately convincing to those who do so feel. As in many other matters, so especially in religion, it is internal consciousness that carries the strongest conviction with it, and induces certitude. The verses that come next set forth the grounds of our sense of God's exceeding love to us.

5:1-5 A blessed change takes place in the sinner's state, when he becomes a true believer, whatever he has been. Being justified by faith he has peace with God. The holy, righteous God, cannot be at peace with a sinner, while under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. This is through our Lord Jesus Christ; through him as the great Peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man. The saints' happy state is a state of grace. Into this grace we are brought, which teaches that we were not born in this state. We could not have got into it of ourselves, but we are led into it, as pardoned offenders. Therein we stand, a posture that denotes perseverance; we stand firm and safe, upheld by the power of the enemy. And those who have hope for the glory of God hereafter, have enough to rejoice in now. Tribulation worketh patience, not in and of itself, but the powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation. Patient sufferers have most of the Divine consolations, which abound as afflictions abound. It works needful experience of ourselves. This hope will not disappoint, because it is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of love. It is the gracious work of the blessed Spirit to shed abroad the love of God in the hearts of all the saints. A right sense of God's love to us, will make us not ashamed, either of our hope, or of our sufferings for him.And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also,.... The tribulations of the saints are many and various, through the hatred of the world, the temptations of Satan, their own corruptions; and are the will of their heavenly Father; what Christ has foretold, and they expect; and here particularly design such as are for Christ's sake, which being supported under, and carried through, they glory in: not that these are desirable in themselves, and to the flesh; but they glory in them as they are for Christ's sake, and in a good cause; as they are trials of grace, and of use for the exercise of it: and as they are in the exercise of grace, amidst these tribulations, and are comforted under them, and are helped to have regard to the heavenly glory. The ground of which glorying is, that these afflictions are the means of promoting patience, experience, and hope:

knowing this, that tribulation worketh patience; patience is a grace, of which God is the author; it is one of the fruits of the Spirit; the word of God is the means of its being first implanted; and afflictions are the means of promoting it, when they are sanctified; otherwise they produce impatience, murmurings, and repinings; there is great need of patience under them; and, by divine grace, they are the matter and occasion of exercising, and so of increasing it.

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