Being justified [made right, made righteous, made just, etc.], therefore, by faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access in faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast on the hope of the glory of God.

Paul has been explaining how we have no righteousness in ourselves. All of us, rather, are sinners. But God revealed a righteousness apart from the law by sending Jesus Christ. This righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Now that we have been made right before God, apart from the law, we have a new relationship with Him. Before we were objects of his wrath. Now we have peace. Before we were closed off to Him. Now we have access to Him. Before we had no basis for boasting. Now we boast in the hope of God’s glory (or God’s glorious hope).

The access that we have gained is not, literally speaking, access to God, but is access into the grace in which we now stand. This is an odd turn for Paul since he speaks elsewhere of grace as being the initiative that God takes on our behalf. It precedes our faith. It is because of God’s grace that we are able to believe. But now, he seems to be saying that, because of our faith, we are able to stand in grace. The answer would seem to be that grace stands at both ends of our faith. It is the source, or the grounds, of our faith. But it is also the goal of our faith. We believe because God was gracious to us. And because we believe we are able to stand in God’s grace. It encompasses us all around.

And Paul has one more strange turn. At the end of Romans 3 he argued quite forcefully that we have nothing in which to boast. We have nothing of our own to bring to God by which we might gain God’s favor. But now, looking at the word that is translated as “rejoice” at least by the NIV, Paul says that we “boast” in the hope of the glory of God. So then, as Paul will say elsewhere, we have nothing in which to boast except for God himself. Paul answered the question at the end of Romans 3, “Where then is our boasting?” by saying that it is excluded. But that is really only a preliminary response. For the unredeemed it is true that there is no boasting. We have nothing in ourselves to bring to God. But for those who have been made right before God–the audience of Romans 5:1–we do have something in which to boast, namely the hope we have in the glory of God.

One more note on verbs. We have four verbs in this passage. Five verbs if we count the opening participle, which we will do just for kicks. The participle connects us to the previous context. “Now that we have been made righteous” or “since we have been made righteous.” The remaining four indicative verbs are of two kinds. We have two perfect verbs indicating a past completed action, but which have continuing results. “Have” or “have been” as auxiliaries in English helps us get the sense. So we get “We have had” or “we have gained” or simply “we got” access into God’s grace. This is a past event that has been completed but which is still in force now. So we could say, “We got [in the past] access to God’s grace, and we still have that access now.” The second perfect verb is what describes that grace. It is the grace “in which we stand.” “Stand” is a perfect verb and I suppose could just as easily be translated “we have stood”, resulting in a translation “in which we have stood, and are still standing now.” The complete idea could be expressed, “In the past we got access to God’s grace in which we stood, and we still have that same access now to that same grace in which we are still standing.

I would take these past actions to be part of what Paul is saying with the opening participle “having been made righteous.”

The other two verbs are present tense. They are telling what we are presently doing. The result of all this is that now “we have” peace with God through Jesus our Lord, and “we boast” in God’s glorious hope [or the hope of God’s glory]. Our peace and boasting are the present results of those past actions.

Thanks be to God for his glorious grace on our behalf, that enabled us to believe in his son Jesus, and that became the goal of our faith–that grace in which we have stood. Thanks be to God that we now have peace with him and we are able to boast, but only in hope.