The God of Hope

From Commentary on Romans (1517)

“Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (15:7). “To the glory of God,” means that God might be glorified by his good work. And this indeed is a wonderful glorification of God, that God is glorified when we receive the sinners and the weak. For it is to his glory that he deals with us as a benefactor. Therefore this serves God’s glory, that is to say, it becomes an occasion to him to manifest his friendliness, when we bring people to hm who are to receive a blessing from him. Therefore, we should not bring to God those who are strong, holy, and wise — proud, and works-righteous unbelievers. In these, God cannot glorify himself, because he can impart to them no blessing, since they, as they think, are not in need of such blessing…

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of circumcision for the truth of God” (15:8). Paul here explains why he admonished them, namely, in order that they might glorify God, because in Christ God had accepted them out of pure grace. They, the Gentile Christians, were not such as were the Jews to whom Christ had been promised and who therefore received him as their Messiah assured to them by divine promise… Paul stresses the divine mercy which is freely given and gratis, so immediately he shows also in what respect it is mercy that is given so freely, that is, the heathen received the same divine mercy promised and given to the Jews.

He says, “Rejoice you Gentiles with his people” (15:10). This goes forth from Jerusalem. Therefore Paul adds, “Gentiles,” and he explains the term “Jerusalem” with “his people.” The passage represents different passages in the psalms, as Psalm 67:5, “Let the people praise you, O God; let all the people praise you” or Psalm 97:1, “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad.” …

“The God of hope” (15:13). God is both the source and goal of the Christian hope. The expression, “the God of hope” is indeed strange. By this expression, Paul distinguishes between the true God and false gods… Whoever trusts in the true God forsakes all these earthly things and lives alone by hope. Therefore, the expression “the God of hope” means the same as “the God of those who have hope.” For he is not the God of those who fear and despair… God is the giver of hope, or rather he is honored by hope. For where there is hope, God is worshipped.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. His Commentary on Romans is based on lectures delivered during was written during the time of his spiritual awakening, and includes exploration of the themes of God’s gracious work that would shape his subsequent teaching, Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches.  This translation of the text is by Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954).


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