Amongst all the Pauline epistles, Romans is the most rich in theology, filled with gems of pure gospel, due to the necessity of the Roman church then. Claudius had exiled all Jews from Rome due to rioting by a man named Christus, but upon the death of Claudius about 5 years later, many Jews returned to the city. The Roman Church had in that time become a purely Gentile Church, free from the Jewish traditions. The sudden influx of Jews in the city meant that there was not only cultural awkwardness in the city, but also in the Church. The book of Romans thus served to clarify, correct, and also encourage. Romans 5:5 is encouraging, amidst a chapter where our blessings from God through our justification by faith has been elaborated on.
In Christ our hope will never disappoint, never fail, never deceive. In some versions the phrase used was hope makes us not ashamed – this sentiment is echoed in Phil 1:20. Paul also explains in Romans 1:16 [ArticleRorrrr] that there is no reason to be ashamed of the gospel. It doesn’t put us to shame, and it doesn’t give us any reason to be ashamed. Biblical hope, according to John Piper, is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. We are confident that our hope will not disappoint. But why?
Paul explains, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Hope is not dependent on our love for God or our actions or faith. Our ability to hope is not earned. It has been freely given by God to us in abundance, for He poured out his love into our hearts. Because our hope depends on God‘s love on us, which is constantly in abundance, it will never disappoint. If we believed that our hope depends on our love of God, or our faith in God, or our obedience to God, then we have reason to be worried, because our faith in God is never constant. But God is constant. And thus hope never disappoints.
Here Paul talks about hope in the context of sufferings, perhaps one of the finest ever said on the topic of suffering – we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us [Rom 5:3-5]. It is not difficult to be hopeful in good times, when the future looks bright and sunny. It is perhaps the hardest to stay hopeful in bad times, when the future looks dark and gloomy. Here Paul assures us that the Christian hope is one that can stand even in times of suffering, because this hope is not one based on us or our circumstances, it is a hope that is based on God‘s love of us through the Holy Spirit, the first of which is constant, and the second of which is constantly working on us. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Every Christian influence is worked onto us by God through the Holy Spirit.
When Paul wrote this letter to the Roman Church, he has never been to Rome. We know from his later epistles that he would be imprisoned in Rome. In his second imprisonment, when none of his brothers supported him and all his friends deserted him [2 Tim 4:16]; this was what he told Timothy – But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom [2 Tim 4:17-18]. It was a time when Paul knew that his time for martyrdom was near. He did not grumble, he spoke not against those who abandoned him but indeed interceded for them, and he placed his hope not on the worldly life, but on the eternal life. Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.
In talking about Suffering, how can we not talk about Job? In Job 19, in the midst of immense suffering, and in the face of heated accusations by his friends, and in the process of feeling like God has abandoned him, in the middle of crying out against his friends and against God, he suddenly proclaims, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth [Job 19:25]. In the face of such suffering, just when we expect that Job will give up his faith and surrender his hope, he once again renews his faith; renews his hope. Even in a hopeless situation, he turns back to God, even if at that point God doesn’t seem like a redeemer to Job, his faith still lies in God, because he knows that there is no other way, there is no other solution. Only God can be his reprieve. His hope did not disappoint, even in times of immense affliction. Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.
they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.