A Commentary by John Stott
Romans. 5:11 f).
We also rejoice in God.
What is extraordinary about this sixth and last affirmation is that, verbally speaking, it is identical with the Jewish attitude which Paul has condemned in 2:17, which NIV paraphrases, ‘You…brag about your relationship to God.’ Literally, however, 2:17 reads ‘you boast in God’, and 5:11 reads ‘we boast in God’. The verb, the noun and the preposition are all the same. Yet by a true instinct most translators have rendered the verbs differently, ‘boasting’ or ‘bragging’ there, ‘rejoicing’ or ‘exulting’ here. For Christian exulting in God, according to Paul, is quite different from Jewish bragging about him. The latter was a boast in God as if he were their exclusive property and they had a monopoly interest in him, whereas the former is the opposite. Christian exultation in God begins with the shamefaced recognition that we have no claim on him at all, continues with wondering worship that while we were still sinners and enemies Christ died for us, and ends with the humble confidence that he will complete the work he has begun. So to exult in God is to rejoice not in our privileges but in his mercies, not in our possession of him but in his of us.
In spite of our knowledge that for Christian people all boasting is excluded (3:27), we nevertheless boast or rejoice in our hope of sharing God’s glory (2), in our tribulations (3) and above all in God himself (11). This exulting is *Through our Lord Jesus Christ*, because it is through him that *we have now received* (‘the’ or ‘our’) *reconciliation* (11). It seems clear from this paragraph, then, that the major mark of justified believers is joy, especially joy in God himself. We should be the most positive people in the world. For the new community of Jesus Christ is characterized not by self-centred triumphalism but by God-centred worship.
Tomorrow: Romans 5:12-21. 2). The two humanities, in Adam and in Christ.
The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Romans: Christ the Controversialist. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.