Peace and Reconciliation
Romans Lesson #047
December 29, 2011
J. Vernon McGee was a crusty old curmudgeon. You hear him still on the radio even though he has been with the Lord for probably 20 years or more. He got his accent in Waxahachie, TX. Two great stories about Dr. McGee I like. When he first was accepted at Dallas Seminary, he had been accepted at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia, which was a liberal Presbyterian seminary. He either went there for a year, or he went up and visited and decided that they were way too legalistic. I do not understand how liberals got legalistic, but they were. He decided he wanted to evaluate the grace orientation of Dallas Theological Seminary, so he walked into the main building of the seminary smoking the largest cigar he could find. He was still accepted as a student, so he decided they were grace oriented enough.
In the early 1970s, he was invited to speak at chapel at Dallas Seminary. I guess they did not give him any parameters. People assume that you know what the routine is. He showed up about five minutes before chapel. The chaplain at that time was Dick Seume, former pastor of Berachah Church here in Houston. Dick informed him that they would open in prayer, sing a hymn, and then he would have approximately 20 minutes for his message. Chapel was only 30 minutes long. McGee was kind of stunned and did not say anything at the time. When it came time for him to speak and he was introduced, he got up and said, “Men, I was just informed that I only had 20 minutes to speak. No one can say anything significant about the Bible in 20 minutes. Let’s bow our heads and close in prayer.” Only McGee could get away with that. When you are talking about significant, important things of eternal value, sometimes an hour is not enough.
I always think of missionaries who go over to India or places where there is little Bible teaching. People drive 7–8 hours to stand for 4 hours to listen to the teaching of the Word and then drive home 6–7 hours. Some of us have trouble driving 15 minutes for a 45 minute message once a week. Whatever the application of that is, may the Holy Spirit apply it to your soul!
We are looking at this concept of peace that is expressed in Romans 5:1. Paul begins with a conclusion coming out of 2-½ chapters where he sets up the need and the description of exactly what justification is. We cannot justify ourselves; there is no way that any human effort or work could justify oneself. Justification is either by the work of another or by our own works—it has to be one or the other. He says, in drawing a conclusion from chapters 2–4, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This lays a groundwork for what is going to be said in the coming chapter.
It is interesting as you read through the various commentators and expositors of this chapter, how different their views are. There is so much in this chapter that it creates a certain level of confusion. There are some who see it as an extension of the discussion on justification in terms of dealing with what happens at phase 1. There is a clean break in chapter 6, and it goes into sanctification.
There are others who see this as a little bit of both, starting off primarily as an introduction to sanctification with the focus on the spiritual life. There are others who see this as a pure or true hinge chapter. I think that is more correct. It has elements related to the instant of our salvation (phase 1, justification) and the immediate implications of the benefits of our justification and also the implications or consequences of that that open the door to further development in terms of our ongoing spiritual life. There is a connection here. He foreshadows what he will say in chapters 6–8, as well as going back to and bringing to a conclusion that which he has already stated about justification.
In the last couple of lessons, I looked at the word peace. We have peace with God, but what does this mean? If we were left with only verses 1-2, we might even think that this peace with God is not phase 1 but phase 2. We might think it is not just an absolute status that we have with God, but that it is an ongoing relationship that must be focused on. There are some translations that take it that way because there is a textual problem in verse 1 in terms of the statement of what “we have.” Some translations take it as “let us maintain peace with God,” which would be a phase 2 activity.
Because it was Christmas and because we really do need to understand this concept of peace, I took a look at peace in the Old Testament, specifically in a messianic context looking at Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 7–9 and those messianic prophecies. The key word for peace in the Old Testament is the noun shalem, which is the root from which we get shalom, and which is the word used in Hebrew even today for a greeting, saying hello or goodbye, wishing someone well. It has a wide range of applications. The root meaning is to be complete, sound or fulfilled, but it also has other aspects or nuances to it.
In the Old Testament, shalom is used over 250 times. The Septuagint translates it sometimes with the Greek word for salvation. That would relate to peace with God. Sometimes it is translated peace (over 50 times) and specifically in context of war. In other places, it is translated with the idea of complete. In some places, it is very close to the idea from the Greek word we have studied TELEIOS meaning completion or maturity, reaching a wholeness in a relationship rather than something that is partial. Especially because there is so much war and violence in the Old Testament, the primary meaning of peace would relate to the absence of physical war, conflict or strife. But it is more than just a cold war status; it is also the fact of restored harmony between former enemies.
That is an important idea that is brought over into the New Testament. The concept of reconciliation is that the human race is at enmity with God; we are hostile to God and in a state of alienation. Through reconciliation, we have peace with God or restoration of harmony. It is not just the absence of conflict but the positive aspect of harmony with God, and our relationship with Him is completely restored.
The Old Testament also relates this to righteousness, as in Isaiah 32:17. Shalom also refers to the peace offering that speaks of peace between God and man.
I know it was a bit confusing when I looked at Luke 2:14 and brought in the idea that this announcement by the angels “and on earth peace …”, that this was not talking about reconciliation. That is just not the context. The whole context of the first two chapters in Matthew and Luke has to do with the announcement of the Messiah coming. The messianic prophecies related to the nation Israel were that He would establish a kingdom that was a kingdom of peace. There is a correlation with peace with God and reconciliation, but that is another idea that is not the focal point here.
Sometimes we are guilty of Rorschach exegesis. Every now and then, I do the same thing. We see the word peace and that reminds us of peace with God over in Romans 5. The Rorschach test is the inkblot test. You see something that looks familiar, so you immediately correlate it over to something else that is familiar. You fail to take into account the fact that that is not really what that original passage is talking about. It is looking at another aspect of the word.
The word has a number of different meanings. I remember hearing a number of different good Bible teachers when I was younger making statements such as ‘The Bible never uses the word peace in terms of world peace or absence of military conflict. It always relates to either the individual’s relationship with God or, in terms of the Christian life, having an absence of fear, worry or anxiety.” But that is not really true either. The word peace in the New Testament is used a number of different ways.
Look at how the Lord uses it in two particular passages. In Matthew 10:34, Jesus said, “Do not think that I come to bring peace on earth …” I can just hear some liberal saying, “This is a conflict in the Bible. Here He is the Prince of Peace, and here He says He is not bringing peace. The Bible contradicts itself.” We have to look at context again to understand the meaning and what Jesus is actually saying in passages like this. At this stage in His ministry on the earth, He is teaching the disciples that His message is going to bring conflict; it is not going to initially bring peace in terms of restoration of relationships.
Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (Verse 35) For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; (verse 36) and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ ” He is talking about the fact that truth divides. Sometimes we get in our liberalized Western civilization world – the idea that any kind of division, any kind of disharmony, any lack of peace is in and of itself bad. But that is not what the Scripture says.
Paul recognizes this in 1 Corinthians where he states that when the truth comes, it will divide. That is part of the nature of truth in a fallen world. It will cause division and opposition. If we are not teaching the truth in a way that it will expose people’s commitments to human viewpoint thinking and thus result in division, then we are compromising the truth. This is often seen today in the way numerous evangelical churches approach the idea of truth.
I have recently been reading a book that has given me some ammunition that I did not have before. It is called New Evangelicalism: The New World Order by Paul Smith. It may not open a lot of your eyes because a lot of you do not know all the players who are mentioned in the book. When my friend Tommy Ice found this book about six months ago, I thought he had converted back into Pentecostalism he was so excited about it. I started reading it and called Tommy, and he was afraid I was converting to Pentecostalism. A lot of what is going on in this book is a description of the history of evangelicalism from the end of World War 2 to the present and how we got to the state we are in today.
Some of you have children, relatives, friends who go to megachurches. There are really two different kinds of megachurches. There are some that are large because of the grace of God, and there is some measure of truth taught there. There are those who are following certain church growth strategies that came out in the late 60s and 70s. The promoters of this are people like Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven church, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Then you have Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Those models of the megachurch they developed really had their roots in the late 70s and early 80s.
What has happened since then is a new level of deterioration and apostasy in the so-called evangelical community. That is the development of what is called the emergent church. The emergent church just about throws out any kind of doctrinal absolute in any way, shape or form. They sit around on a bunch of couches and basically play “let’s share whatever you think God’s Spirit told you yesterday.” Nobody is studying the Word, and they do not believe in any absolutes. They have gone completely post-modern in their view of truth because their foundational assumption is that if we are going to be able to address the post-modern world, we have to do it within a post-modern framework.
I do not remember the Apostle Paul saying that if you are going to reach a pagan Greco-Roman world, you have to do it within a pagan Greco-Roman framework. You never use the devil’s tools to convince people to leave the devil’s world. It just does not really work.
New Evangelicalism exposes a certain dimension of things that have happened over the last 30–40 years, and it traces this shift back to something that happened in the pre-World War II era. That was, the final collapse theologically of Princeton Theological Seminary, which occurred in 1929, when the trustees of Princeton finally approved a completely liberal doctrinal statement. Through the 19th century, Princeton Seminary had stood as a bulwark of biblical truth for the infallibility and the inerrancy of Scripture. Even to the present time, some of the greatest theologians that this country has ever produced in terms of their writings about the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture were the great Princetonians, such as Charles Hodge and his son Archibald Alexander Hodge. A.A. Hodge (named for his father Charles’ mentor) was the founding theology professor at what had originally been the College of New Jersey established in the mid-1700s to train pastors. Later it became known as Princeton Theological Seminary. A.A. Hodge had a son named Casper. Those three generations of Hodges held the line on inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. One of their protégés was Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. (We used to laugh in seminary that you could not be a theologian if you did not have some kind of alliteration in your name [A.A. Hodge, B.B. Warfield, C.C. Ryrie]).
In 1929 when Princeton finally succumbed to the onslaughts of liberal theology, which claimed that the Bible is just another human book written by sinful, fallen writers and contained error. There were five or six key men who left the faculty at Princeton and moved about 30 miles south to Philadelphia and founded a seminary called Westminster Theological Seminary about 1930. Westminster was the covenant/Presbyterian counterpart to Dallas Theological Seminary, and they both produced a lot of sound theologians and emphasized the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word.
Coming out of World War II and having a great desire to evangelize the world, there was a desire to get away from some of the negative caricatures of fundamentalism that had developed in the battle against liberalism in the early 1900s. They wanted to soften some of those militant edges and still maintain the same conservative theology emphasizing the fundamentals of the faith.
Fundamentals of the faith were that Jesus Christ is fully God, who entered into human history and became a man; belief in the substitutionary atonement, miracles, virgin birth, physical bodily return of Christ to the earth in the future. What was the foundation for all of it was the belief in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scripture as the infallible Word of God.
Coming out of World War II, you had the rise of people like Billy Graham. Many of you remember young Billy Graham, when he was just a real firebrand and extremely conservative, but he quickly softened as he got a broader audience.
Another great evangelist of that era was Charles E. Fuller. Fuller founded a seminary in Pasadena, CA in 1950 called Fuller Theological Seminary. It had a sound doctrinal statement. They were firmly committed, as he was, to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God. Interestingly enough, in the early 50s (1950, 1953), only 75% of the students entering Fuller Seminary believed in the inerrancy of the Word of God, but when they left, only 40% believed in the inerrancy, even though the school allegedly stood for it. By the early 1960s, they were getting rid of inerrancy and infallibility of the Word.
This is just one of several places in the U.S. where what had been conservative evangelical groups committed to the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word were having major battles. Harold Lindsell, who was one of the original faculty members at Fuller Seminary, wrote a book about these battles that came out just prior to my matriculation at Dallas Seminary in 1976 called The Battle for the Bible. That was required reading in my first semester in a bibliology class with Dr. Ryrie.
I lived through a lot of this period, and I read books about what was happening. A number of the key players that were there were also associated with some other things I was researching in my doctoral work at Dallas Seminary. I had 2-hour long interviews with these men in their offices. As I started to read this book that Tommy had recommended, I was getting excited because certain dots that had not previously connected in my mind were starting to connect again, and I could see what lies behind the modern church growth movement.
This whole idea comes out of a lot of really nasty, evil human viewpoint, socialist/world peace apostasy that was bred in the early part of the 20th century and has produced an evil fruit today. If you think things are bad politically because you hear more about it every day, the political world is in great shape and wonderful health compared to the so-called conservative evangelical community. It is worse than I could have possibly imagined.
What we see here is that these kinds of divisions are what happens when you stand for truth. All of that that I just went through was for the purpose of showing what happens historically when truth is compromised, when you do not stand for truth, and when you begin to water down the truth of God’s Word, so that the Bible is not the infallible and inerrant Word of God but just contains the Word of God. Or the Bible is better than any other book, but it is not a perfect book. When you start diluting truth, then you are going to get along with a lot more people, but it is going to lead to destruction.
Jesus is talking about the fact that He is communicating truth in a world that rejects it. As a result, peace, in terms of harmonious relations among people, is going to be lost. In the next 20 years, what we are going to see is that churches like ours that take a firm stand for the Word of God are going to become fewer in number. For some reason, we are no longer producing a generation of pastors to pass the truth on to. They are not there, not interested, getting married before they go to seminary, having children, waking up too late to go get the kind of training they ought to have. I think that is part of God’s judgment: when people do not want the truth, God is not going to give them shepherds who will give them the truth. We have a paucity of pastors that can fearlessly proclaim the truth.
Another thing is that we are losing people in the pew due to age—World War II generation and the generation just after that—at incredible numbers. We see this in our congregation and other congregations as we see people age a little bit and are not able to get out as often. Their eyesight goes, and they cannot drive at night. There are other maladies that come along, and they are not able to be as involved as they once were.
Another factor is that after you have fought a battle for a long time, it is easier to just fold your hands and go someplace where you are not on the front lines so much. I see that happen. I cannot believe the number of older Christians that I know who have left really solid, large churches here in Houston and have gone to churches were I know the truth has been compromised. It is a large church, and they can be somewhat anonymous, less is expected of them, and the surroundings are much more attractive and accommodating.
I know of some other churches in this city where the pastors seek to dig down into the Word, and they have people who say, “Why do we ever need to hear what the Greek or Hebrew says?” We need to know this because this is the Word of God, and we need to understand it accurately.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:35 that He came to set a division between father/son, mother/daughter, mother-in-law/daughter-in-law, and even those who are our closest friends will separate from us because of our stand for the truth.
Jesus said the same thing in a little different way in Luke 12:51–53. “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” This is one way that peace is used in Scripture: it is talking about just the harmonious relationships on a human level within a family.
Another way that peace is used in the New Testament is one of my favorite verses that the Holy Spirit threw in to Acts. He has various ongoing progress reports about the growth of the church in Acts. In Acts 9:31, he says “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified …” What you do not see by my just putting that one verse in there is that the previous verse says that the Apostle Paul left town and went back home to Taurus for awhile because he had been causing such a ruckus by his intensity and his desire to debate the truth in Jerusalem with the religious leaders. After he left, there was peace in Israel and the churches, and everybody could just relax.
What we learn from a study of peace is that, first of all, God alone is the source of peace. He is called many times “the God of peace.” That is an attribute of His, not in the same sense as sovereignty, righteousness, justice, love, eternal life, but He is the God from whom peace comes. He is not a god who is a god like Satan, of chaos and disharmony and evil, but He is the God of peace, as seen in passages like Romans 15:33 “[Paul says] now the God of peace be with you all.”
And 1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” Great passages that show that the churches should be orderly and organized because God is orderly and organized. It is not a matter of confusion or chaos and people just all coming together and waiting on God the Holy Spirit to move them to say whatever they think God is telling them to say. God is not the author of confusion.
Hebrews 13:20 states “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” He is the source of peace.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul again ends a letter “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely …” God alone is the source of peace.
Peace with God is the opposite of enmity with God in a number of passages, especially the passage we are in which deals with the concept of reconciliation. The human race is depicted in Scripture as being in a state of alienation, of opposition, of enmity. We are enemies and hostile to God, and yet God is going to change that status to one of peace.
Peace with God is used in reference to a positional peace. Romans 5:1 “… we have [present tense] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” But peace is also used as part of our experiential sanctification. Just as we are justified and just as we have positional righteousness in Christ, we also are expected to live out in terms of experiential righteousness. We have peace, but we also have to grow in our peace with God. Every time we sin, we put ourselves back out of fellowship, and there is disharmony in that relationship. We have passages such as 2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way …” That is a process; it is not something they already have absolutely and totally. He is praying that they would continue to grow in peace.
2 Timothy 2:22, Paul tells the young Timothy “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness [That is experiential righteousness. If you are a believer, you already have positional righteousness, but you have to grow and mature.], faith [ongoing faith of our spiritual growth, not faith in Christ at phase 1], love [growing to spiritual maturity and expressing love for one another and for God], peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” So this is an experiential peace, in terms of spiritual life and spiritual growth.
Galatians 5:22-23 states that as we walk by means of the Spirit, part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law.”
Romans 8:6 makes it very clear in contrasting the believer who walks according to the flesh or is carnally minded vs. the believer who walks according to the Spirit and is in fellowship and growing spiritually. “For to be carnally minded [to walk by the flesh or sin nature] is death [Not physical death, not spiritual death but carnal death. Your spiritual life is ineffective and inoperative because you are out of fellowship], but to be spiritually minded [walking by the Holy Spirit] is life and peace.” We have peace as a quality of our spiritual life and growth.
Peace with God is used both in terms of positional and experiential sanctification. Peace is also used to express an inner mental attitude of the believer who rests, trusts, relaxes in God’s plan and provision in contrast to a mental attitude of fear, worry, anxiety, or a troubled state of mind.
I thought that was so interesting when I was reading through the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2, how many people were troubled. If an angel appeared to you, I guess you would be troubled too. It is like being sent to the principal’s office, except the principal just suddenly shows up in front of you, and you immediately wonder why in the world this is going on. Joseph is troubled; Mary is troubled; Herod is troubled and all the people are troubled because Herod is troubled. The Prince of Peace is coming to end all the trouble.
Jesus uses it this way in John 14:27 (part of the upper room discourse) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you …” The peace that we have is His peace; it is not something that we gin up within ourselves through some sort of mental attitude dynamics course or some kind of motivational training. We do not go on some late night TV show to watch some motivator tell us what we need to do in order to have more focus and stability in our lives. It has to do with our spiritual walk, the product of God the Holy Spirit, the peace that Jesus has. “… My peace I give to you; not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
That last phrase is important because at the beginning of chapter 14, Jesus is responding to Peter’s question “Lord, where are you going?” The Lord begins the chapter by telling them, “Let not your heart be troubled … where I am, there you may be also.” We are to be able to relax and not worry even in the most chaotic circumstances when we just do not know how things are going to turn out. Often I have said and others have said that God is going to do one of three things whenever we encounter adversity. He is going to save us from it, so we avoid it all together. He is going to save us through it. He is going to save us out of it; He will take us home. The trouble with option 2 and 3 is we do not know how long that lasts until we are actually absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. What we worry about is the pain, suffering, adversity and tribulation that may last 15, 20, 30 years before we finally get pulled out.
We are to trust God. We are not to be in a state of anxiety or worry, living one day at a time. That is what the Lord says. We have His peace, so we need to learn to focus on the fact that God has given us His peace. It is a promise we can claim, and we can relax and not give thought to tomorrow. There is a sense there in worry that we do worry in a legitimate way about tomorrow. We think about what we are going to do tomorrow—do I have a presentation at work or do certain things tomorrow. I have to be prepared for those things. We wrestle with them in our mind. It is all part of concentration and pulling things together, so we do a good job.
That is not the kind of worry that Jesus is talking about here. Jesus is talking about the kind of worry that keeps us awake at night because we are trying to keep control, maintain control, grab control of elements or people in our life because they are out of control. We think that if we can just somehow control it, life will be okay. We cannot do it; we have to rest in God.
We have John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation …” We will always have adversity; we can count on it. But because we are in Christ, we have peace even in the midst of the most incredibly difficult circumstances. “… be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” In 1 John, because He has overcome the world, we can overcome the world.
Peace is used to describe the positional change from enmity to amity, from hostility to friendship between man and God based on the payment of the sin penalty. The message of peace was often used as a synonym for preaching the gospel. Acts 10:36 “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—” Why? Because He is the Messiah who will come and bring peace in all of its dimensions.
What is Peace?—Components of peace (slide)
- The absence of physical conflict. This may be physical conflict between two people or between two nations.
- The absence of mental conflict. You are in a state of worry, high anxiety, and fear about circumstances. What is going to happen, what will take place, how will I take care of myself, how am I going to handle the future, how will I face tomorrow? Tomorrow will take care of itself (Matthew 6:34).
- The absence of conflict between Jew and Gentile. Jew and Gentile were not at peace with one another in terms of the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament. There was a wall of separation between them (Ephesians 2:11 ff).
- The absence of personal conflict. That is how Jesus is using it in the passages where He said, “I did not come to bring peace.” That is, He did not come to bring an absence of personal conflict. That is different from how peace is used in terms of His title the Prince of Peace.
- The absence of spiritual conflict; enmity and hostility between God and mankind. Jesus has come to solve that problem at the cross. Because that problem is solved at the cross which relates to reconciliation, then these other circumstantial types of conflict can then be eradicated because those are related to sin. Once the major problem is resolved at the cross, then these other problems can be resolved.
There will never be an absence of physical conflict, emotional conflict, the conflict between Jew and Gentile (which was resolved at the cross) or personal conflict until the sin problem is dealt with. That does not end it for us; that gives us a basis while we are still living in our fallen bodies and in the devil’s world to deal with it.
When Jesus returns to establish His kingdom, then there will be world peace and an absence of conflict. Those who are living on the earth are going to still have some problems because they still have sin natures. That is why there will be a worldwide war at the end of the millennial kingdom. This is when Satan is released from his prison at the end of 1,000 years and will lead a rebellion against God. All those who follow him will be destroyed instantly by God.
Back to Romans 5:1. Paul is going to develop the implications of being justified. “Therefore, having been justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I mentioned in the introduction that there is some debate over how to understand that phrase “we have peace.” The Greek word is ECHOMEN. The ending is either an omicron “men” or an omega “men.”
In the 1st century AD, one reason why we probably have a textual problem like this develop (if one person was speaking and the scribes were writing it down) is that the distinction between a short o for omicron vs. the long o in omega had disappeared, so that the omega and omicron were pronounced virtually the same in Greek. It would be easy to mistake that word hearing it. ECHOMEN with the omicron is a present active indicative, and with the omega it is a subjunctive. Indicative is a statement of reality “we have faith”. OMEN with the omega would represent an encouragement or a statement, such as “let us maintain peace with God” in the sense of staying in fellowship or growing in our spiritual life. “Let us exploit the peace that we have from justification.”
There are a lot of different manuscripts with support for either reading. It is not just a clear cut case. In fact, reading a number of scholars, they will all point out that in terms of the external evidence, which is what they mean by the documents and manuscripts that we have (thousands of manuscripts), it is really weighted in the favor of the subjunctive. The internal evidence goes against that. It has to do with the flow of the argument, what the apostle is talking about, things like that.
Even scholars who generally do not go along with the Majority Text reading, go along with it in this case, which is the reading that we have. “We have peace with God.” I think that is the superior reading. It is not “let us enjoy peace” or “let us maintain peace,” but I think it is pretty clear it must be taken as the indicative “we have peace with God.” That peace is through our Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul is talking about a consequence of being declared righteous.
Romans 5:2 “Through whom [Jesus Christ] also we have access by [by means of or from] faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” He uses two key words in this verse – rejoice and hope. Verses 3–4 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation [adversity) produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Connect the hope in verse 2 to the hope at the end of verse 4 and beginning of verse 5 because hope is a key idea that goes through this particular section.
Then we have the mention of joy and rejoicing in verse 2, and in verse 11, which is the end of this section, Paul says “And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have no received the reconciliation.” So reconciliation is brought in. That terminology is only really used in a couple of passages in the New Testament—here and in 2 Corinthians 5. Joy and hope are brought together. Peace and reconciliation are the other key words. Love is mentioned several times as well, especially in verses 5 and 8. In verses 8 and 10, we have the emphasis on us being enemies of God. This is a major passage on understanding the relationship of justification to reconciliation.
Romans 5:2 “Through whom [Jesus] also we have access by faith …” Access is an interesting Greek noun PROSAGOGE, which means approach, access, or admission. It reminds us of Hebrew 4:16 which speaks of the fact that we can now come boldly before the throne of grace because of the high priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we have access, and it is by faith that we have access into this grace. This grace is used as sort of a word play for the whole gospel. Everything related to the gospel is based on grace, so it stands for everything.
“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace [everything we have freely received from God] in which we stand …” It is a perfect tense verb for stand, meaning an action completed in the past that continues. Even out of fellowship, we are positionally in Christ; we always stand in grace positionally.
This connects us over to Ephesians 2 in understanding this whole concept. At one level, it looks like it is talking about reconciliation between Jew and Gentile, but that reconciliation between Jew and Gentile is ultimately based on reconciliation with God. Because reconciliation with God was accomplished on the Cross, Paul is arguing in Ephesians 2, then the barrier between Jew and Gentile which was the Law has been removed. Now in Christ, there is one body. Jew and Gentile is not an issue spiritually in the church age.