Boasting in Hope and Suffering (Romans 5:1-5)

“Therefore, since we have been set right by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus the Messiah, through whom we have gained entrance into this grace in which we stand; and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us.”


Romans 5:1 is the conclusion of Romans 1:18-4:25 (“therefore”). We have been set right (justified) with God and have peace with God.

Romans 5:2-5 summarizes the content of Romans 5:6-8:39 (a la NT Wright). The themes of suffering, hope, and Holy Spirit anticipate chapter 8.

The conclusion serves as the hinge between Romans 1-4 and Romans 5-8, which is “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus the Messiah.”

Two Movements of the Sermon

We boast in the hope of sharing the glory of God.

The Hebraic thought-world shapes Paul’s language:  Messiah, shalom, access (as in temple), and standing (as in the temple). Through Jesus, we are able to enter into the presence of God, that is, we have access to and stand in the grace.  We stand in the presence of God because of restored shalom between God and humanity.

What we have fallen short of (Rom 3:23) and what we were created to be (the glory of God), we now boast in the hope of sharing in the glory of God. We boast in the hope of becoming like God, being fully conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).

Transition:  we boast in hope (that I understand), but it doesn’t make much sense to “boast in our sufferings” (I usually lament them, complain about them, and protest them).  This is disturbing and counter-intuitive, and it seems to mean that there is some value in suffering and that some how God is doing something in the midst of our suffering.  How do we boast in suffering? Why might we boast in suffering?

2. We boast in our sufferings.

We boast because we know….   Suffering has meaning, value, and even purpose because “we know….”  What do we know?

What is suffering? The word is more like “afflictions” (cf. Rom 8:35). Will “afflictions” separate from the love of God? No! Does “standing in the grace of God” keep us from “afflictions.” No! The “grace of God” does not entail a rose-garden utopian life.

There is something about “affliction” that is profitable. Afflictions do something for us; they produce something. Affliction includes the groaning of creation itself—life’s hardships.

Suffering produces endurance or perseverance. The word means to “stand up under the pressure.” Pressure forms something (cf. Rom 12:12, “endure affictions”). Endurance is produced; it is worked out in life. And it works something!

Perseverance produces character. “Character” does not fully capture the meaning. ASV: “approvedness.”  It is “tested character” or “approved character.”  Test or trial is built into the word. Testing is a motif that runs through the whole narrative of God. God tested Abraham (Gen 22:1), Israel to see what was in their heart (Deut 8:2), Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:31), and Paul (1 Thess 2:4). Affliction tests, probes, forming; it is character formation.

Character produces hope, which is our first boast in this text. Paul comes full circle. We boast in hope because we stand in the grace of God, and suffering, as we stand in that grace, produces hope. We don’t produce this hope on our own.  On the contrary, this hope is possible—and it is co-produced—by the presence of the love of God in our hearts through the power of the indwelling Spirit (Rom 15:13). Hope comes alive through the affliction.

Transition:  If we don’t have a sense of standing in the presence and grace of God, beloved by God, then affliction will deform rather than form; it will destroy rather than produce character. The problem with affliction is not the affliction; the problem with affliction is where we are standing. When we are beloved, affliction has a positive value—it produces hope!

  • Christological Move

Jesus suffered with us and for us, and when we suffer, we suffer with Christ (Rom 8:17). Jesus himself was perfected (formed) by the things he suffered (Heb 2:10). When we suffer, we participate in the suffering of Christ, and this suffering perfects us as it produces endurance, character, and hope.

As we follow Jesus, we, too, will suffer before entering into glory. If we follow Jesus into the water, we will be thrown into the wilderness. And we will be tested, just as he was.

This formation, in our lives, takes a long time; the crucible of life forms us over the long haul.


When we know that we are beloved by God, we know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope arises in concert with the love of God present in our heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. We boast in the hope of glory, and we boast in our afflictions.

Leave a Reply