Romans 5 - The Assurance


I’ve ran this with Bob Wilson and he did not find it so persuasive but I’ll give it a go here and see what others might think. Indeed Bob may be right but I am still inclined to think there is something to the following. Let me state that I’ve been one more persuaded by the traditional interpretation of “All will be made alive” to only refer to a comparison. However I’m more than willing to alter my views on that score. The following verse however, leads me to believe that in fact Universalists may be right about “All”.

In Romans 5:10 we read: (NAS Version)
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

It dawned on me that this “might” be one of the most powerful Universalist verses paul writes. The reason is because his assurance of being saved is not based on his faith, choice, behavior, or anything else except: While he was a sinner (non volitional) he was reconciled (non volitional) which garauntees his salvation.

I believe Bob’s response was that most people wills imply read this as only being relevant to the believer since that is who Paul is writing.

My contention is that the verse literally renders that Pauls assurance is on something he did not choose. However, it could be rednered that paul’s assurance is that God’s love is so that he reconciled his enemies than how much more will a believe be saved.

So I see Bob’s point of view, but I still am inclined to think that Pauls assurance is his being reconciled which was something that was against his choice.

Any thoughts? And please, be fair (if I’m smoking something, let me know)


It certainly seems plausible to me. However, I do find it interesting to note how differently things read in the light of the ideas one brings to a passage. So I, being convinced of the truth of UR already, seek to read everything else in light of that conviction. How can one do otherwise? Those who come to the table - the text - with convictions of ECT or final separation via annihilation doe precisely the same thing. How can it be other wise??

If Paul held to a conviction of UR, it’s hard to imagine that idea not bleeding out into everything else he wrote. Even if he wasn’t making a UR point directly.

My thinking is that here Paul is assuming that everyone who reads his words would know that yes, of course he (and they) were enemies. So in saying “if” we were enemies (which of course we WERE) and we were reconciled… he really does underline God’s unilateral actions in coming to rescue/redeem/reconcile the enemy. (If anyone claims not to be an enemy, presumably they would not need to be reconciled. But since in a real sense all are enemies at some point, all would need and receive reconciliation - right?)

But it is very interesting that he talks about the saving aspects as being different from that of being reconciled; he contrasts being reconciled (by the death) with being saved (by the life). So what does THAT mean? Is reconciliation not enough? Or is he simply A) recognizing that this whole salvation thing involves a process of transformation over time and emphasizes here that God is in charge of the whole affair and B) emphasizing the fact that it’s hard to separate the life and death of Christ as separate entities and acts; it’s all one whole designed to effect the redemption of His creation…

Wondering how others see this. I may be the wrong person to ask though aug because I see my task now as looking for the UR implications in EVERYTHING I read!!! (You know what I mean I trust!! :laughing: :laughing: )



Well, I’ve noted before (long ago in my thread on the usees of “atonement/reconciliation” in the NT, that just like all the other NT uses of the word this verse involves God (and/or the Son) reconciling us: God (Father and/or Son, not going into debate of ortho-trin vs. other theologies :wink: ) does the action, we sinners are objects of God’s action. We are not the doers of the action, and God (neither Father nor Son) is not the object of the action.

In short, God is reconciling us to Himself; no one (whether us or the Son) is reconciling God (Father or Son) to us.

The volition of reconciliation is primarily on God’s side (even if St. Paul occasionally uses the form of the word that indicates reciprocal action on our side, too. I’m sick at home today so I don’t have my textual apparatus handy, and I don’t recall whether this is one of those examples.) I’d say that’s a strong indication that we’re talking about an action God takes before we are on ‘His side’. As it says in the verse, “while we were enemies”. We didn’t seek reconciliation with God; God sought reconciliation with us.

I think an Arminian is going to have trouble denying the appearance of assured persistence and hope for success in this verse (which treats our salvation as being both already accomplished and even more surely to be accomplished. Paul is expressly using a “how much moreso” a fortiori appeal.)

The Calvinist won’t have any problem with that assurance, of course (since God’s persistence in salvation is a huge Calv selling point in evangelizing vs. Arms. :smiley: ) The Calvinst has a problem with the comparative “all” earlier. Not a problem for Arms (since the scope of God’s salvation is a huge Arm selling point in evangelizing vs. Calvs. :smiley: )

During the past year, I literally watched two (very tightly wound :mrgreen:) opponents to universalism, one Calv and one Arm, shoot invective and logic at each other over this section of scripture, each of them pointing out that if the other accepts X-point there is no way to avoid being a universalist like me. What was weirder was that their rationales for interpreting less scope in one place and less persistence in the other, wasn’t primarily on exegetical grounds, but seemed quite explicitly to be “but if we interpret it that way, then universalism must be true!” The choice for interpretation was defensive in each case vs. universalism.

(I should note that this isn’t necessarily faulty procedure in principle; each of them was surely arguing along the line from what they considered most clear–finally hopeless punishment of some kind–to less clear, i.e. what the salvation of Romans 5 was supposed to entail. Each may have also been arguing along a similar line from where they thought their doctrine was more established elsewhere, thus again from more clear to less clear.)


Well, as you know, I’ve stated else where that I’ve been on EU’ist who has not embraced that Paul means “All will be made alive” as every individual will gain eternal life. I’ve agreed with Marshall’s (Universal salvation - the current debate) interpretation of those verses.

But here, I’m tapping into a possible interpretation that leads me to believe that Universalists are right. I agree with TV, it is the very reason that leads me to believe Paul did not mean literally “all will be made alive”. For certainly Universalism is not blatant and thus I’ve been inclined to see it that Paul may have not been a Universalist in a complete sense.

But here in verse 10, it makes me wonder. I am wondering if it is possible to render Paul as (paraphrased for communicationg my point):

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled (and being believers), we shall be saved by His life.

I’m not sure it would make sense. It seems Paul’s point is that our assurance of being saved is JUST AS the same as our assurance of being reconciled (it’s non volitional). If it’s not then it seems to render Paul’s words meaningless. For if our choice abbrogates our assurance of salvation, then why is it that our being reconciled as sinners should bring assurance of our salvation?



I’d like to add one more comment to my thoughts.

My view at the moment that our being reconciled is non volitional is due to Paul’s words “through the death of his Son”. Pauls argues in other places that “While we were sinners, Christ died for us”. I take this to mean that while we were sick in our sin and cursing God, he displayed his love for his enemies. Elsewhere Paul states “God not counting men’s sins against them, was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself”. Or as in Col 1 “By making peace upon the cross”. Obviously God demonstrates his bringing men to salvation by bringing the Jew (God in Jesus) and Gentile (sinners) into one new man - typologically speaking.

Thus, I tend to believe that our being reconciled is non-volitional from the viewpoint of the Cross.



I agree that reconciliation is not enough. In Christ’s death ALL were consumed in him (as far as I understand). So Paul seems to state those who are reconciled are assured to be saved. The LFW position holds that those who are reconciled are not those who reject God. But that is why my objections are leading me further from LFW/ECT. For surely here those who were rejecting God (Paul for instance) seem to have been reconciled WHILE THEY WERE SINNERS.

I’m leaning heavily now in Talbott’s favor on “All will be made alive in Christ”.


IF you are not saved until you repent, and IF a repentant person is not an enemy…


It occurs to me that it probably doesn’t make as much difference if Paul was a Universalist per se, as it does whether God, who inspired his words was. :mrgreen:


Funny Mel, But it is Paul God is using to communicate to us and so we must deal with Paul.

Sorry for being so incoherent in my previous posts. I hope people can read through my inability to write and get the point I’m trying to make.


Literally, it seems to imply that reconciliation occurs prior to repentance. Repentance isn’t what an enemy do.
But literality may be not the way to go…


That seems likely to me as well. Reconciliation is what makes repentance (metanoia) even possible.


I thought that reconciliation was unilateral, that both sides were at peace with the other?


The issue of reconciliaton is a worthy study indeed. But I believe v.10 here in chapter 5 does not require it to be synonmous with reconciliation in a salvation sense. In fact, it seems it’s not, yet it is (as far as I can tell) the very reason which assures Paul that his salvation is secured.

If Paul was not a Universalist, and in fact believed that he might be endlessly tormented in Hell (due to LFW), then how could he be so sure that Christ’s life would give him life? His words “how much more” seem to convey that our being reconciled was unilateral THEN how much more BEING RECONCILED (the very reconciliation he just spoke of, which is not usually identified as salvation) shall Paul be saved.

I in other words do not think Paul could have meant anything but Universalism here in v.10. Anything else, seems to dissolve the obvious assurance he is promoting.



After thinking about this for a few days, here’s what I think I’m trying to say. Two ways of reading it:

a) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more shall we be saved by His life.

b) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

I find these two readings to be different in that the first is how the LFW position renders it.




I think that’s a very good point.

I often see it argued that the only meaning a passage can have is that which the (human) wirter intended the original readers to understand, and I’ve always believed that principle of exegetical interpretation is flawed (if only because Peter says that much of the Old Testament was written for us, and that the human writers didn’t understand the full meaning themselves.)

Thank you.