Romans 4 illustrates the concept of faith through the life of Abraham. To correctly interpret this chapter we must read Genesis 15:1-6 and Genesis 17:1-14, 22-24. Then we must factor in when and to whom was the Law given. When we have all these reference points clear, then we see how Paul makes his argument that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not by the Law or Circumcision.
Today we look at Romans 4:1-12.
Abraham an illustration (1)
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
God does not impute sin against a justified man (2-8)
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Abram trusted in the promise of God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. God promised him a seed from his own body. He was 85 years old at the time. Yet he believed.
3) Abraham’s salvation a pattern for both Gentiles and Jews (9-12)
9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
We learned in the Introduction that the promise was given before the covenant to be circumcised. At that point he had not been circumcised. So Abram/Abraham could not have been justified by circumcision.
Righteousness does not come from works but in believing God’s promises. Today it is through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His blood to pay our sin debt.
Tomorrow we will look at Romans 4:13-24.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001