What does Romans 5:3 mean?
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;
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Romans 5:1–11 describes the amazing benefits that come with being declared righteous before God by faith in Christ's death for our sin. God has made peace with us. We stand in His grace, and we rejoice in the sure hope that we will share in His glory. Our suffering brings growth, which leads to even more potent hope. God has proven His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are saved from God's wrath and reconciled to God in Christ.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 5 begins by describing some of the benefits that come with being declared righteous by God because of our faith in Christ. We have peace with God, and we stand in His grace. We rejoice both in the hope of God's glory and in our temporary suffering. We have hope that will not disappoint, because God has already proved His love for us. Paul then compares the work of Adam in bringing sin and death into the world with the work of Christ in dying for sin in order to offer God's free gift of grace to all who believe.
Chapter Context:
After proving that all men are guilty of sin and incapable of earning salvation, Paul explained how faith—not works—is the means by which God declares us righteous. Romans 5 begins with a powerful, joyful revelation of all that comes with being justified in God's eyes by our faith in Christ. We have peace with God. We stand in God's grace. We have hope for eternal glory and meaning in our current suffering. God has proven His love for us in the death of Christ for our sin while we were still sinners. Adam introduced sin and death to the world, and they continue. Christ, though, by dying for our sin brought God's grace to all who believe. The next chapter begins by refuting a common misconception about salvation by grace through faith.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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