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Romans 5:1-11: Jesus Died for Sinners
Individuals: Take time to think back about your past week. Where have you seen God work in your life or answer prayer? Write down any prayer requests you have.
Group: Open the study by sharing life updates, reviewing highs and lows of your past week, or sharing prayer requests and praises.
Icebreaker: Describe a time in your life when you had a broken relationship. Did you ever restore that relationship? If so, how did you restore that relationship? If not, why did you choose to not restore the relationship?
All: Begin the study with a word of prayer, asking God to open your heart for today’s study. You can also pray for any prayer requests now, or save that for the end.
Read today’s passage: Romans 5:1-11.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
What is the context for this passage?
As he continues writing Romans, Paul is hammering home the idea that our justification before God comes through faith alone. We must have faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. In Romans 4, Paul uses Abraham as an example of someone who practiced faith. This faith was credited to him as righteousness. In the same way, David talked about being given righteousness when his sins were forgiven. Paul makes the point that this promise of receiving righteousness for faith is not only for Abraham but for us as well. This righteousness allows us to be justified before God.
Read the passage again.
Explore a different version if you have one available. If you are online, here is Romans 5 in NIV through Bible Gateway. You can change the version by using the dropdown menu at the top right of the page.
Try to summarize the passage in your own words.
Answer these three questions about the passage:
1. What does the passage say about God?
Jesus is the avenue through which we gain access to God’s grace (vs. 2). If we want to have peace with God and not be under his wrath, we must have faith in Jesus. As much as our society wants to tell us otherwise, Jesus is the only path to peace with God.
God gives us hope (vs. 2). God is the only true source of hope. He is the only one who is faithful to keep his promises. Because we can be confident in God’s promises, we have true hope that God will follow through on his plan.
God is glorious (vs. 2). Like we saw in last week’s lesson, the glory of God sets God apart as someone to be worshipped. This week, we learn that God’s glory is what gives us hope.
God loves us (vs. 5, 8). This passage tells us two great things about God’s love. God’s love for us was so great that he sent his Son to die for us while we were still sinners. And if we have faith in Jesus, God will pour his love into our hearts by sending the Holy Spirit to us.
God gives us the Holy Spirit (vs. 5). The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity—as much a part of God as God the Father and God the Son (Jesus). If we choose to believe in Jesus, God gives us the amazing gift of not only salvation but also sending the Holy Spirit—himself—to dwell in us.
Jesus died for people when they were still sinners (vs. 6, 8). Jesus didn’t die just for those who deserved his sacrifice. If that was the case, he wouldn’t have had to die, because none of us deserve his sacrifice. Instead, Jesus died for sinners like you and me.
2. What does the passage say about people?
People are justified by faith (vs. 1). To be justified means to stand before God as someone who is righteous. The only way we can achieve this is by placing our faith in Jesus.
People can have peace with God through faith in Jesus (vs. 1). When we have faith in Jesus, we can stand justified before God. If we are justified before God, then instead of God’s wrath raining down on us when we stand before him in our sinful condition, we can have peace with God because he only sees the righteousness of Jesus.
People who have received God’s hope should tell others about it (vs. 2, 11). As humans, we often like to boast about our accomplishments or tell stories about our lives. This passage tells us that the only thing we should be boasting about is God and the hope that we can have in him. If we understand even a small part of what God has done to save us, we should want to tell others about it.
People should accept any sufferings that come from following Christ (vs. 3). We live in a broken world, and suffering is a natural outcome of that brokenness. The Bible tells us that any time we experience suffering, we should use that to help us grow and to focus on the hope that comes from knowing Christ.
People can receive God’s love that has been poured into us by the Holy Spirit (vs. 5). When we have faith in Christ, God pours his love into us by sending us the Holy Spirit to live in us. The Holy Spirit is God living in us to guide us and help us be mirrors of God’s love to others.
People are powerless to save themselves (vs. 6). Our society tells us that as long as we are “good” people, we will go to heaven. Or they say that there are many ways to God, and it doesn’t matter which one you choose. This passage makes it clear that none of us can save ourselves. We are powerless to do anything on our own. Only Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and our faith in him can save us.
Some people are willing to die for others (vs. 7). God has placed in some people the willingness to die to keep others safe. This is a rare characteristic, but it is a reflection of what Christ did for us.
People who are still in sin are enemies of God (vs. 10). People are born into a sinful state, and this sinful state makes us the target of God’s wrath. As long as we are in this sinful state, we are enemies of God.
3. What does the passage say about God’s plan?
God’s plan is that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope (vs. 3–4). Suffering, both natural suffering (e.g., sickness) and forced suffering (e.g., persecution), is part of our human experience. This passage tells us that no matter what we face or how hard it is, God uses those things to mature us into people who reflect him. First, we develop perseverance to handle the suffering, then that perseverance helps us build good character traits to become more like Christ. Through this process, we find that God is our true source of hope for a better future.
God’s plan is that Jesus’ blood will justify his people (vs. 9). When God sent Jesus to earth to be the sacrifice for our sins, his plan was that Jesus’ blood would cover the sins of his people so that they can stand righteous before God—we can be justified before God because of Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross.
God’s plan is that those who believe in Jesus will be saved from his wrath (vs. 9). The result of us being justified by Jesus’ blood is that we will no longer have to face God’s wrath. God only has wrath for sin and evil. Because we are justified by Jesus’ blood, and that blood covers us in Jesus’ righteousness, God no longer sees our sin. He only sees Jesus’ righteousness. Therefore, he no longer has wrath against us.
God’s plan is that we will be reconciled to him through Jesus’ death (vs. 10–11). The final step in this process is that the broken relationship between God and man that was caused by Adam and Eve’s first act of sin in the Garden of Eden can be restored because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
God’s plan is that we will be saved through Jesus’ life (vs. 10). Although this passage doesn’t state it clearly, verse 10 hints at this truth—when Jesus died on the cross, he didn’t stay dead. He rose again and is alive even today. If Jesus had stayed dead, there would be no hope for us. No salvation, no justification, no reconciliation. But Jesus conquered sin and death by rising again. Because of this, all these other acts of grace can be ours.
How does the passage fit into the overarching story of the Bible?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a passage if you have a little outside knowledge from other passages in the Bible. This section will help provide that outside perspective.
The Bible gives a very clear picture of God as holy and righteous and humans as wicked and sinful. Because of this, we are deserving of God’s wrath. But God desires to have a relationship with the people he created, so he developed a plan through which people could again have a right relationship with him. His plan was to send Jesus to earth to live a perfect life and die on a cross as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins.
The most amazing part? Jesus went through with this plan while we were still sinners. He didn’t wait for everyone to want to be obedient to God. He came and paid the price without depending on people to make the choice to follow him.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, several things happen for those who choose to have faith in him. First, our sins are paid for and God’s wrath is appeased (we are saved from God’s wrath). Second, we are justified before God because we are covered in Jesus’ righteousness (justified means we are declared righteous in God’s sight). Finally, we can be reconciled to God and have that broken relationship restored because God sees us through Jesus’ righteousness rather than our own wickedness (reconciled means to restore a relationship between two parties).
Of course, there are other things that happen when we choose to have faith in Jesus, but those three things are the focus of this passage. Salvation, justification, and reconciliation. They might seem like big words that are hard to understand, but they hold the key to how we can become right with God.
Individual: Answer the following questions thoughtfully for yourself.
Group: Pose these questions for discussion.
All: If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts to these questions. Feel free to use the comment section to start a discussion about this passage.
What else strikes you about this passage?
How does the passage affect how you view God? How you view yourself?
How does this passage affect how you will live your life?
For Bible Essential studies, you can use my thoughts as your devotional, or you can download and use the journaling sheet to work through the passage on your own. If desired, you can then compare your thoughts to mine. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically. Journal sheets are available for individual or group use.
If you plan to lead a group study, a PowerPoint presentation is also available.
You can access these resources by clicking here: Romans 5 Resources