Romans, Lesson 9: The Hope We Have in Christ

shining-face-bmp-610x351Paul showed the absurdity of turning what God originally did to bring someone into His Old Covenant into what people did for God.  “If the adherents of the Law are to be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is nullified” (Romans 3:14).  Someone is an heir because he inherits, not by what he does. 

Paul now begins with a possible response: Then why did God give the Law if it nullifies faith?


Gift and Law

Read Romans 4:15

  • In one’s standing with God, what does the Law do? Why?


“transgression”: Greek, parabasis: The “stepping over” of a specific law.  Only where a specific law exists can sin take the specific form of a “transgression.”  The Law, then, has the purpose to make someone aware he is not good enough (Romans 3:20 also teaches this).


Read Romans 4:16

“faith”: Greek, pistis: Trust, belief.  It can also refer to someone’s faithfulness.  A Christian’s faith is in the faithfulness of Christ.  If God’s promise were based on the Law, then it would exclude all who are not under the Law, that is, the Old Covenant.  Paul is still using “Law” to mean the Mosaic Law, the Torah.

“grace”: Greek, charis: Being on the receiving end of one’s favor.  It can also mean gift.  This is more than stopping the bad, but being given the good.

  • Who are included as Abraham’s offspring?


Read Romans 4:17

  • Who did the doing so Abraham could be the “father of many nations”?


2 Maccabees 7:28: “I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God made them all from that which did not exist.”

  • Using creation as a model for faith, how does someone believe in Christ?


Abraham and Peace with God

In his telling of Abraham’s story, Paul does not bring out the moments of Abraham’s unbelief.  For example, when God made the promise, “Abraham fell on his face and laughed,” asking himself if a child could be born to a man who was 100 old and a woman who was 90.  Abraham even insisted Ishmael be his heir (Genesis 17:17-18).  Paul, instead, weaves the accounts of Genesis 15 and 17 only to highlight when Abraham’s faith, not unbelief.

Read Romans 4:18-22

Vs. 18: “hope… against hope”: Literally, “beyond hope in hope.”  “Par’ elpida ep’ elpida,” a turn of rhetorical phrase describing Abraham’s faith, which trusted that God could act in spite of the circumstances.

Vs. 19: “as good as dead… barrenness”: Paul uses “dead” twice to bring out the impossibility of Abraham and Sarah having children.  Abraham was nekreo, “put to death” while Sarah’s womb was nekrosis, “death.”  A dead man and a dead womb can’t produce a child.

  • How does being dead produce a good picture for us when it comes generating faith?


  • Instead of a “look at me” attitude (Jewish Christians at Rome), whom did Abraham glorify? Why?


Read Romans 4:23-5:1

Abraham believed in God who fulfills the promise
Christians believe In God who raised Jesus


Abraham and all who believe in Christ believe in the same God: The God who fulfills promises and raises the dead.

“credited”: Greek, logizomai: “considered, accounted,” which is a spoken action (“word” as a verb) by God.

  • In vs. 25, how does Paul split up the effect of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection?


Jesus was handed over because of our transgressions (stepping over God’s standards): crucifixion.  Jesus’ crucifixion allows God to be merciful to us.

Jesus was raised because of our justification (being made righteous): resurrection.  Jesus resurrection allows God to bestow us with grace.

  • Through Jesus, what do we have with God the Father?


From Faith to Hope

Read Romans 5:2

  • Through Jesus, we have access to whom?


“access”: Greek, prosagoga, noun.  The Septuagint used the Greek verb, prosageo, “access, approach” for the specific rituals of the Day of Atonement and access into God’s divine presence (Exodus 29:4, 10; Leviticus 16:1-21; Numbers 5:16; Deuteronomy 2:19).  Paul used this term also in Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12 in such a sacrificial connection.

  • Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, what does this give us concerning the future?


“glory of God”: This is more than being in God’s full and glorious presence.

  • 1 John 3:2: “We are now God’s children, but what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:12: We comforted and encouraged you, urging you to live in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:14: God called you to this [salvation] through our gospel, so that you would possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This “glory of God” is not only being in God’s presence but even “sharing in his [Jesus’] divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  At the resurrection, we will experience and share in God’s divinity through Jesus.  We will not become a “god” in our essence or being (heresy) but only in this way—through what He shares with us as His created beings.  This what we Lutherans call the “mystical union.”

Experiencing God’s glory, His “godness,” is a powerful hope, which God will bestow on us as a gift at the resurrection.  Because this hope is so powerful, it helps us endure.

Read Romans 5:3-4

“sufferings”: The troubles, trials, and distresses that beset believers precisely because they are believers.

  • What is on the tail end of our sufferings?


If sufferings can give rise to hope, then a Christian can “boast” in suffering just as he boasts in the hope of receiving God’s glory.  The Christian sees God working our eternal good, even in suffering, just as He did so with Christ.  The way of the cross (suffering) and resurrection (glory) also become ours.

Read Romans 5:5

“love”: Greek, agape.  The Greek, eros, denotes the passionate love that seeks unity with the one desired.  The Greek, philia, denotes the binding of people with like interests.  Agape refers to a disposition of the will in which the good of the other is sought simply for the good of the other.

  • Why will the hope we have not be put to shame?


The hope we have in receiving God’s glory is not an illusion.  It is founded on God’s love of humanity, shown to us in Christ Jesus.  How much did God love us?  Paul now answers.

Read Romans 5:6

“weak”: Greek, asthentas: ill, sick.  Coming off the heels of Abraham being “dead,” the idea here is one of being physically alive (though weak because we are dying) but being spiritually dead.  Paul, however, is understating this truth, becoming more explicit in his later descriptions.

“ungodly”: being without God.  This is a state of being, not simply the way someone acts or lives.

  • What did Jesus do for those who did not have God?


Read Romans 5:7-8

  • What was our status with God?


  • Even so, what did Jesus do anyway?


  • What are the implications of this for the hope we have?


Read Romans 5:9-10

Paul now moves from the lesser to the greater.

“weak… sinners… ungodly… enemies of God”: Notice Paul’s progression of our status with God apart for Christ.  We become worse and worse, not just “without God,” but even His enemies!

  • If Jesus dying for us while we were estranged from God, even enemies, gives us hope, what does that mean for those who are reconciled?


Read Romans 5:11

  • What Jesus did gives us hope for the future. What does it do right now?


Click here to go to the next Lesson.