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Romans 5:3

ESV Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
NIV Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
NASB And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
CSB And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,
NLT We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
KJV And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
NKJV And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

What does Romans 5:3 mean?

Paul is describing some of the benefits for those who, by faith in Christ, have been justified and made right before God with our sins forgiven. These benefits are only available to believers—the "we" Paul uses here indicates saved Christians, not the entire human race. So far, Paul has shown that we live in a state of being at peace with God forever, no longer in danger of receiving His angry justice for our now-forgiven sin. Also, by faith, we have obtained access to God's grace and are even now receiving it. Finally, we have joy that comes from having the absolutely sure hope of experiencing the glory of God for eternity.

In this verse, Paul points to a benefit of salvation we experience immediately. For those in Christ, our suffering matters. It counts for something. For those who die without Christ, suffering is merely suffering. It is pain and loss and frustration, resulting in no particular benefit, and coming to no resolution. For those in Christ, however, suffering has a point, since we're destined for something higher. It accomplishes great good in us, in fact.

Of course, this teaching also implies that Christians still suffer on this side of eternity. Being in Christ does not end our personal, temporary suffering on earth. That suffering does, however, produce something Paul here calls "endurance," which itself produces other powerful, positive characteristics in us. Endurance is the ability to keep going when we feel like stopping, as long distance runners train themselves to do. In this context, endurance is about our ability to trust God for longer stretches of time and through greater degrees of difficulty. Suffering, in other words, is an opportunity to trust God at a deeper level through harder stuff.

James introduced his letter with this exact idea when he said, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:2–3).

Paul and James both see this reality as reason for rejoicing. They understand "rejoicing" to be a choice we make to declare even our hardest circumstances as God's good for us, in the sense that He is calling us closer, and to trust in Him more deeply.
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