Advance Studies in the book Of Romans Part 5

Romans 4

1-5 How was Abraham saved?

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.

The Doctrine of Salvation: How were Old Testament people saved from Hell? Was it through the keeping of the Law? Was it through the blood sacrifices? Was it faith in Messiah and these previous two points? Nay.

Most Jews went to Father Abraham as their source of salvation (like going to the Catholic Church or going to your being an American). “The Rabbis taught that Abraham had a surplus of merit from his works that was available to his descendants” (Bible Knowledge Commentary). But, how was Abraham made righteous? How was he saved? It wasn’t by works (2); anyone who could be saved by works would be able to ‘glory’…in himself…but God would not get any of the glory. Abraham received righteousness because of his ‘believing’. Paul is referring in this passage to the following verse – Ge 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Paul quoted this again in Galatians 3:6-7,11 – Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Abraham believed God’s promise to him; this promise involved the ultimate coming of Messiah. It takes belief, faith, in order to please God. All have to come to God by faith in order to receive righteousness…salvation.

If you work for salvation (by doing good works) then you have ‘earned’ it and it is ‘owed’ to you (4). You either ‘work’ for it or you don’t work for it; there can be no ‘combo deal’. “When a man works, he earns a salary and this money is put to his account. But Abraham did not work for his salvation; he simply trusted God’s Word. It was Jesus Christ who did the work on the cross, and His righteousness was put on Abraham’s account” (The Bible Exposition Commentary).

You need to be one that ‘worketh not’ for salvation, at all; but, rather believe that the Just One is the only one, way, that can justify you, and then you will be granted as righteous; Salvation is only to them that ‘worketh not’ (5). Oh so many millions are ‘working for their salvation’, and they will work themselves ‘to death’!

“It is not meant that the righteousness of Christ is transferred to them, so as to become personally theirs-for moral character cannot be transferred; nor that it is infused into them, making them personally meritorious-for then they could not be spoken of as ungodly; but that Christ died in their stead, to atone for their sins, and is regarded and esteemed by God to have died; and that the results or benefits of his death are so reckoned or imputed to believers as to make it proper for God to regard and treat them as if they had themselves obeyed the Law; that is, as righteous in his sight;” (Barnes’ Notes).

6-10 David’s blessedness

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.

The Doctrine of Salvation: Verse 7 is found in Ps 32. David also understood that salvation, righteousness, justification, forgiveness was not based on works but on faith. David doesn’t comment at all on works here, for he is trusting in faith for this covering of sins, forgiveness. Just how blessed is the man who has his sins forgiven?! Oh how blessed he is! David understood this. David was saved just as we are saved!

Is it only the circumcision (Jews) that have this blessedness? Was it because of circumcision?

“Circumcision did not confer on Abraham the righteousness of faith, nor was it a pre-required condition of it; it was simply given as “a sign” and for “a seal” of a righteousness which was already in possession. And so of baptism. This does not itself wash away sin; it is not a condition pre-required in order to this; but it is given as “a sign” and for a Divine “seal” of the fact that, for all believers, sin has been put away by the sacrifice of Christ” (The Biblical Illustrator).

Abraham was not yet circumcised when he received righteousness!

“Circumcision was not instituted until about fourteen or fifteen years after [verse 7] (Gen 17:1, etc.); for faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness or justification at least one year before Ishmael was born; compare Gen 15 and Gen 16. At Ishmael’s birth he was eighty-six years of age (Gen 16:16); and, at the institution of circumcision, Ishmael was thirteen years of age and Abraham was ninety-nine years old” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary).

The ‘law system’ had not yet been given (i.e. with Moses). Neither circumcision nor the law figured in to it at all; and this is with ‘Father Abraham’, which all ‘legalistic’ Jews look to for salvation – Matt 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. This blessedness of salvation comes by faith and not by anything else!

11-16a Who gets the promise?

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; …

The Doctrine of Circumcision: What is circumcision a symbol of ? It is a symbol (seal) of the righteousness via faith; and that this righteousness via faith can be to others also, circumcised or not (11,12)! Circumcision is an outward sign of an inward change (heart, faith).

“They have also experienced a spiritual circumcision in the heart (Col 2:10-12), not just a minor physical operation, but the putting off of the old nature through the death and resurrection of Christ. Circumcision did not add to Abraham’s salvation; it merely attested to it” (The Bible Exposition Commentary).

Abraham is the father of the uncircumcised also! Abraham is our father too (we saved Gentiles)! The promise to the Jews was not based upon your Jewishness, but upon faith in Messiah, and today upon being a born-again Christian (13). The promise of the ‘Promise Land’ was not based on the Jews following the Law; rather, on them following the ‘law of faith’. Jews receive special promises but only if they are truly saved (14). Apparently, the Jews thought that they got the promises just by being a Jew and being ‘under the law system’. The law doesn’t give you a blessing but rather a curse, wrath (15). Trangression only deals with the law; you can only ‘transgress the law’. Thus, there was no ‘transgression’ (of the law) prior to the law being given. The promise of being the heir of the world is for them of the ‘faith’, not them that keep the ‘law’ (16). The promise is given by ‘grace’ and not be being earned.

“The allusion seems clearly to be to the promise, “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” In this case Abraham is “the heir of the world” religiously rather than locally. By his Religion he may be said to rule the world. As the parent of that race from whom the world has received “the lively oracles,” of whom it is said that “Salvation is of the Jews,” and “of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” – in this sublime sense is Abraham “the heir of the world”” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary).

16b-21 Father Abraham

16…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.

The Doctrine of Faith: Abraham is our father; in the faith. We need to have the same faith as Abraham had. Abraham had works with his faith (19). How old can a man be and still ‘father children’? How old can a woman be and still ‘give birth’? His faith was really strong and fully persuaded faith; this faith is not dead faith, but faith that produces action (20,21)!

“Faith as defined in Abraham’s experience is not passive assent to what God says; it is an enduring dependence on God’s promise, on which one stakes one’s life and lives accordingly. It is possible, although far from certain, that Paul’s analogy here alludes to the offering and survival of Isaac, Abraham’s son (Gen 22).” (IVP Bible Background Commentary).

God has made many wonderful promises in the Bible; we need to believe that what He has promised, He is able to perform! Which takes more faith? To believe that God can cause a 90 year old woman to be pregnant and give birth, or to believe that God will take your soul to Heaven after you have died?…

Faith is ‘being fully persuaded that, what God has promised, he is able also to perform.’

22-25 Imputation

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.

The Doctrine of Imputation: “The word “imputation,” according to the Scriptural usage, denotes an attributing of something to a person, or a charging of one with anything, or a setting of something to one’s account. This takes place sometimes in a judicial manner, so that the thing imputed becomes a ground of reward or punishment” (International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia).

Abraham’s true, strong, alive faith was real faith, not dead faith; it was faith that produced action, works; this type of faith is imputed for righteousness (22). His faith was not just in that God could, and would give he and his wife a son in their old age, but that the promised seed (Messiah) would come thru them! It was a faith in Messiah!

This example of true faith is for us, also (23,24). We need to have this type of faith also: that God did indeed raise up Jesus Christ from the dead after He had died for our offenses (sins). Apparently it takes about the same amount of faith here (i.e. Abraham’s faith and our faith).