9 Aug 2018
A Commentary by John Stott
Literally, ‘through him [sc. Christ] we have obtained our introduction into his grace in which we have taken our stand’
‘Grace’ is normally God’s free and unmerited favour, his undeserved, unsolicited and unconditional love. But here it is not so much his quality of graciousness as ‘the sphere of God’s grace’(NEB),our privileged position of acceptance by him.
Two verbs are used in relation to this grace, denoting respectively our entry into it, and our continuance in it. Both are in the perfect tense. First, we have gained access into this grace. Prosagoge occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in Esphesians 2:18 and 3:12. A better translation that ‘access’ (which might suggest that we take the initiative to enter) would be ‘introduction’ (which acknowledges our unfitness to enter, and our need for someone to bring us in). The Greek word has ‘a certain touch of formality’ about it, although it is uncertain whether the imagery is of a person being brought into God’s sanctuary to worship or into a king’s audience chamber to be presented to him.
Secondly, we have taken our stand firmly in or on this grace into which we have been introduced. Justified believers enjoy a blessing far greater than a periodic approach to God or an occasional audience with the king. We are privileged to live in the temple and in the palace. The perfect tenses express this. Our relationship with God, into which justification has brought us, is not sporadic but continuous, not precarious but secure. We do not fall in and out of grace like courtiers who may find themselves in and out of favour with their sovereign, or politicians with the public. No, we stand in it, for that is the nature of grace. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love (8:38f.).
c.) We rejoice in [our] hope of the glory of God (2b)
Christian hope (elpis) is not uncertain, like our ordinary everyday hopes about the weather or our health; it is a joyful and confident expectation which rests on the promises of God, as we saw in the case of Abraham. And the object of our hope is the glory of God (2), namely his radiant splendour which will in the end be fully displayed. Already his glory is being continuously revealed in the heavens and the earth. Already it has been uniquely made manifest in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, most notably in his death and resurrection. One day, however, the curtain will be raised and the glory of God will be fully disclosed. First, Jesus Christ himself will appear ‘with great power and glory’. Secondly, we will not only see his glory, but be changed into it, so that he will ‘be glorified in his holy people’. Then redeemed human beings, who were created to be ‘the image and glory of God’, but now through sin ‘fall short of the glory of God’ (3:23), will again and in full measure share in his glory (8:17). Thirdly, even the groaning creation ‘will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God’ (8:21). The renewed universe will be suffused with its Creator’s object of our sure hope. We exult in it. And our vision of future glory is a powerful stimulus to present duty.
We pause after Paul’s first three affirmations about the ‘blessedness of the justified, and reflect. The fruits of justification relate to the past, present and future. ‘We have peace with God’ (as a result of our past forgiveness). ‘We are standing in grace’ (our present privilege). ‘We rejoice in the hope of glory’ (our future inheritance). Peace, grace, joy, hope and glory. It sounds idyllic. It is – except for Paul’s fourth affirmation.