Romans 4 Abraham’s Faith

Jun 14, 2020 // By:Dave // No Comment

God gives Abraham a sign of the covenant which is circumcision 

Declares him righteous as a reward or account of his faith 

The Jews then take the sign as a tool to establish their righteousnrsss instead of letting it be a sign of the righteousness 


1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?

2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.



Abram is first mentioned in Gen 11 (happens to also be the Babel dispersion)


father of  Shem,  verse 10

father of  Arpachshad, 

father of  Shelah, 

father of  Eber,

father of  Peleg, 

father of  Reu,

father of  Serug, 

father of  Nahor, 

father of  Terah, verse 26

9 generations after the flood

Gen. 11:29 Abram and aNahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was bSarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was cMilcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah 1and Iscah.

Gen. 11:30 aSarai was barren; she had no child.

Gen. 11:31 ¶ Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out 1together from aUr of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and 2settled there.

Gen. 12:1 ¶  Now athe LORD said to Abram, 

1Go forth from your country, 

And from your relatives 

And from your father’s house, 

To the land which I will show you;

Gen. 12:2  And aI will make you a great nation, 

And bI will bless you, 

And make your name great; 

And so 1cyou shall be a blessing;

Gen. 12:3  And aI will bless those who bless you, 

And the one who 1curses you I will 2curse. 

bAnd in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Gen. 15:3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”

Gen. 15:4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”

Gen. 15:5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

Gen. 15:6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

reckoned reckoned  H2803   חָשַׁב  chashav = credit, accounted towards

righteousness  H6666   צְדָקָה  tzedaqah = according to God’s standard

back to Rom 4:3


credited  G3049  λογίζομαι  logizomai = credit, accounted towards

righteousness  G1343  δικαιοσύνη  dikaiosunē = act of doing right before God’s standards

Abraham received a deposit in what was an empty righteousness account.

Because He believed the promise of God (regarding having children he had no natural hope of ever seeing) his act of faith was credited to his as if he had acted rightly according to all of God’s standards.


third woman mentioned: Keturah, is mentioned in Gen 25:1-6.  Abraham married her after Sarah’s death.

some scholars think this is Hagar returned to Abraham with Ishmael later.

I dont agree. In Gen 25:6 tells us abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them east (away from his son Isaac) the narrative continues, telling us Abraham dies at age of 175 in verse 7, and that his sons Issac and Ishmael hurried him in verse 9, that he was buried with Sarah in verse 10.  Ishmael was still there when Abraham died, so he clearly was not sent away. The other sons, meaning a different mother, were sent away.  Meaning Hagar and Keturah cannot be the same woman.  (plus Gen 25:12-13 introduces the descendants of Ishmael as father of  Hagar (not of Keturah), also indicting a different mother)

This was the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham. (and of course the lineage goes all the way down to Jesus Himself (through whom all nations are truly blessed).

How could Abraham achieve righteousness through the law ?

What laws did he have to obey ? (who came first Abraham or Moses ?)

4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.

You will be paid according to what you earn with your work (if that is your desire)
If you insist on being paid according to your work under the law, you are paid accordingly.

what is our work under the law ?

sin (Rom 3:20 knowledge of sin) (Rom 6:23)

what are the wages of sin ?


what is death ?

separation from God

so what is due to those who want to be paid according to their works ?

5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

“but” is the start of this sentence, not “and”, these are separate ways to approach God and do not mix. Paul indicates that a choice must be made as to which way the unrighteous must approach God.

who are the unrighteous ?


6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:




Psalm 32

Why does Paul reference this Psalm ? (what purpose does it serve his presentation) ?

right in verse 6   “… whom God credits righteousness apart from works”

He is saying “it’s been there the whole time. Just look at it” 🙂

9 Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised;

what is all this ?  

what is this blessing ?

righteousness credited through faith in God

is this blessing of forgiveness only for circumcised, or also for uncircumcised ?  Faith was credited as righteousness.  

When was it credited ? when he was circumcised or uncircumcised ?

verse 10 while not circumcised

11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

Abraham received the sign of circumcision while uncircumcised, huh ?

verse 11 tells us this was a seal of righteousness through faith.

righteousness is not a matter of being physically circumcised. 

righteousness is not available only to those who are physically circumcised. 

the physical circumcision was a mark upon the flesh to indicate belonging to God

the seal of righteousness described here is another type of mark upon those who believe God and that faith is credited to them as righteousness before God

it is a spiritual mark that expresses itself in works, not the result of works.

13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;

15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

why does the law only bring wrath ?

law only reveals and condemns our sin

What does Paul mean “where there is no law” ? (how can there be no law)

in context of receiving or achieving righteousness before God, there is no law if we choose faith instead

(if we are not under the law, then we cannot be condemned by a violation)

16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

17 (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

All the nations could not be blessed if righteousness was to obtained by the law.

But by faith, people called out of all nations may be justified by faith in Christ. which is an act of God’s grace, His righteousness apart from the law.  By this faith, the dead are made alive and that which did not previously exist, now exists.

life to the dead can mean:

  • new born life to a dead womb
  • thriving lineage for Abraham who’s lineage was dead
  • spiritual life for the believer who was dead in sin

calls into being that which does not exist can be:

  • parallelism of life to the dead
  • can also refine the idea that God’s promise to Abraham involved a lineage, people, and even nations that did not yet exist.
  • adding that it is God calling forth these things (calling or summoning as in John 6:44)

let’s read on and see if the text explains itself …

18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.”

why does Paul say that Abraham hoped beyond hope ?

verse 19 explains:

  • his body was as good as dead (called back to life by God)
  • already 100 years old
  • his wife had been barren their entire marriage (dead womb also to which life is given)

19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;

20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,

21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.


perform what ?

are we talking about his willingness at 100 years old to try to get Sarah pregnant ?
I think a different performance is in reference:  He does something in faith before his wife is even pregnant.

I had already gotten Hagar pregnant some 13 years ago. He had tried to fulfill God’s promise with his own efforts. That was not a work of faith.

good to notice here that part of Abraham’s faith is express in his willingness to perform a circumcision before he receive news of his wife’s pregnancy. Gen 17:10-12 circumcision is given to Abraham as a sign of the covenant.

Gen 17:5 God tells Avram (exalted father) that his name is now Avraham (father of many)

verses 10-12 circumcision

verse 15 he tells Avraham that his wife Sarai (princess) shall now be called Sarah (struggle, contend)

verse 16 God assures Avraham that she will bear a son, that He would bless her to become the mother of nations and that kings of peoples would come to her.

in verse 17, Avraham responds unexpectedly …

he falls to his knees and laughs !

Gen. 17:17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

Gen. 17:18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!”

Gen. 17:19 But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Gen. 17:20 “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.

Gen. 17:21 “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”

Gen. 17:22 When He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

Gen. 17:23 ¶ Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.

Gen. 17:24 Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

Gen. 17:25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

Gen. 17:26 In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son.

Gen. 17:27 All the men of his household, who were born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him,

24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,

25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

He was delivered over to what ?


Isaiah 53:5

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

wrath (pleased God to crush Him)

Isaiah 53:10

But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

death (my God, my God, why have You forsaken me) John 19:30

“raised because of our justification

what does this mean ?

the word for because can mean “because of” but also means “in order to produce”

clearly Jesus did not rise again because of our justification (as in “caused by it”)  we have none.

His resurrection is proof of God’s power over death, Jesus paying our sacrifice and staying in the grave would mean He didn’t pay in full.

He paid the debt of sin so completely that He overpowered it, overwhelmingly satisfied it and God’s wrath against sin.

Jesus being raised from the dead was proof of His righteousness and being declared so by the Father.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). We share in the justification of Jesus. Because of his right standing with God, his people are made righteous too.

what is so special about Abraham’s faith that gives application for us ?

He acted on his faith before he saw the fruit of God’s promise

We need right standing before God to have relationship with Him

As we walk this path God has chosen for each of us …

Focus less on the whys and where’s of the path , the turns and timing

Focus more on who we are walking with , Jesus Himself 

The purpose of the path is not the destination, (the path like circumcision does not establish our rightness before God)

Example of taking my wedding band out for dinner and placing it across the table with a glass of wine , then claiming I am married and have a committed relationship with my wife … “see… there is the ring”

the primary purpose is the walk itself (the walking with Him is a sign of the new covenant, it does not establish it)

He transforms us along the path as we excercise our faith and walk with Him 


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