1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 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. 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. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Romans 4:1-25 (KJV)
most repeated word: Faith (10 times) Righteousness (8 times)
Shortest Verse (9 words) Rom 4:22, And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Longest Verse (45 words) Rom 4:11, 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:
Middle Verse(s) (of 25 verses) Rom 4:13, For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Middle Five Words (of 550 words) [‘but through the righteousness of’] Rom 4:13, For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, [but through the righteousness of] faith.
crucial words “righteousness” and “Faith”.
The context shows us that Abraham believed God, when God told him he would have a son, when his body was too old to do so. Thus, Abraham put his faith completely in God, and not himself – and thus it was counted to him for righteousness. this gives us our true picture of salvation and works. We are declared righteousness when WE cease trying, and allow God to work the salvation in us.
That’s one of the key teachings of this chapter.
Why else does it say Abraham believed God? If God just gave us the ceremonial law of Moses, and left it up to us, then we could glory in that. “I did it! With my own arm I saved myself!”
But we can’t. The law leads us to Christ, concludes us in sin, that we may see by faith are we saved – faith and belief in Christ.
While Calvinists seem to make a cardinal point of their doctrines that “belief” is a “work”, the Bible itself makes a distinction between the two, as this chapter has shown. Verse 2 explains that if Abraham had saved himself by works, he could have gloried in that. Verse 3 – THE VERY NEXT VERSE – Abraham believed God.
See also verse 5 –
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:5 (KJV)
verse 5 makes a distinction between works and belief. Therefore, according to the Bible, belief is not a work.
remember, we don’t make a pre-determined doctrine, then search the Scriptures for proof texts for it, as John Calvin did – but rather, we read the Bible, allow it to teach us, and go from there. Let GOD determine what your doctrine will be, not john Calvin, not David Stern’s commentary, not Jacob Armenius, not even Charles Spurgeon! And Spurgeon would no doubt boom a basso, “Amen!”
Chapter 4 gives us a new thought – Abraham is not only the father of the circumcision (the Jews) but also of those who believe by faith, as Abraham was saved by faith.
Let’s have no more “there were different methods of salvation” teachings – the Bible makes it clear – Abraham was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, even as we!
What else does this mean? In Judaism, when someone converts, their Hebrew name is not “David Ben Jordan” or “David Ben Vince”… but “David Ben Avraham”. Abraham is your immediate father now, not whoever your physical father used to be.
Paul is teaching something deep here – he is connecting Abraham counted righteous through faith, and salvation by grace through faith.
If you’re saved, your father now is Abraham.
So… why do we need two house nonsense? The Judah and Ephraim thing is completely unneeded, according to Romans 4!
“Well, I want to understand how I fit in to Israel!”
Read Romans 4.
“I don’t understand!”
Then read it again. In due time, you will come to understand that Gentiles have a place in believing Israel, as explained here and many other places. If you remain unclear what it is… relax. I’m sure Jesus Christ will be glad to explain it to you personally. “Lord? May I ask you a question?”
I really doubt the living word of God will mind if you voice questions about the bible He wrote! I’m sure He will GLADLY teach us if we ask Him to!
Trust me, we have eternity together. He’s going to explain things in the Bible we didn’t even NOTICE to have questions about!
22-24 explain imputation. We’re going to talk about this a lot more tomorrow.
The chain of logic you’re reading right now will continue now for several chapters!