And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
There are four vital phrases in this one verse. These four phrases underscore that salvation is not by our efforts but by God's rescue, that salvation is not the work of man for God but the work of God for man.
The first phrase is "and are justified." This verb is in the passive tense. You do not justify yourself, but God justifies you. This is something that is done to you not by you. To be justified means that you are declared right with God. In the original language, the word justified is the same root word as the word righteousness.
The second phrase is "by his grace." Grace is God's favor for people who do not deserve it. Grace is something that is absolutely free and undeserved. Grace is a matter not of earning something, but of receiving something. Later in Romans, Paul is so emphatic that grace is incompatible with works and merit: "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace" (11:6).
The third phrase is "as a gift." This phrase simply underscores and emphasizes the second phrase, "by his grace." Again, the point is so strong: We do not deserve salvation, we do not work for it, we cannot earn it, we cannot pay for it. It is free! It is a gift! I have a friend in our church, Michael Smalley, who donated one of his kidneys to his dad. If his dad didn't have a new kidney he would die. His dad didn't pay for the kidney and he didn't earn the kidney, but it was a gift, totally free. That's the way we get into heaven, by a gift.
The fourth phrase is "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Embedded in this word for redemption is the idea of a ransom. The idea is that we were held by sin and the ransom price had to be paid. Jesus paid that price on the cross with his own blood, by his own death. A few years ago there was a spectacular rescue operation of a mine in Chile. Thirty-three miners were rescued after 69 days at a total cost of about $30 million. That's a lot of money, but the ransom price for you was even higher. It was the shed blood of Christ. "Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Lord, thank you for the gospel, that you make us right with you by grace, as a gift, through the redemption in Christ Jesus. All glory be to you.