“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, 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 (as it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations’) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:16-25
In the last part of our study about Romans, we saw the Apostle Paul continue his argument that Jews and Gentiles are saved through faith on the basis of God’s grace (favor) based on the life of Abraham. Paul reminded his Jewish audience that the “seed” covenant God made with Abraham would be a blessing to all people of the world – Jews and Gentiles.
“And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.”
και μη ασθενησας τη πιστει ου κατενοησεν το εαυτου σωμα ηδη νενεκρωμενον εκατονταετης που υπαρχων και την νεκρωσιν της μητρας σαρρας
και μη ασθενησας τη πιστει (kai mē asthenēsas tē pistei) “and not having become weak in the faith” .. asthenēsas means “feeble, without strength”
ου κατενοησεν το εαυτου σωμα ηδη νενεκρωμενον (ou katenoēsen to heautou sōma ēdē nenekrōmenon) “he considered of himself the body already having become dead”
εκατονταετης που υπαρχων (hekatontaetēs pou hyparchōn) “a hundred years old about being”
Abraham’s faith in God was not feeble even though he considered his body as already dead because of his advanced age. God made Abraham a promise and Abraham believed God.
και την νεκρωσιν της μητρας σαρρας (kai tēn nekrōsin tēs mētras Sarras) “and the lifelessness of the womb of Sarah”
Sarah was barren, but even that combined with Abraham’s advanced age did not cause Abraham to become weak in faith.
“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God”
εις δε την επαγγελιαν του θεου ου διεκριθη τη απιστια αλλ ενεδυναμωθη τη πιστει δους δοξαν τω θεω
εις δε την επαγγελιαν του θεου ου διεκριθη τη απιστια (eis de tēn epangelian tou theou ou diekrithē tē apistia) “at however the promise of God not he did waver through unbelief” .. epangelian means “a summons, promise” and comes from the word epaggelia which meant a legally sanctioned promise .. diekrithē means “separate, distinguish, discern, doubt, hesitate, waver” .. it comes from the word for “judge” .. apistia means “distrust, unbelief”
Abraham faced a tough test of his faith in God, but he did not waver (doubt, hesitate) at God’s promise that he (Abraham) would become the father of many nations. He did not “distrust” God, even though that would certainly have been the natural thing to do in his circumstance.
God’s promise is the focus of Paul’s argument for salvation by faith without works. God could have established salvation through any process He preferred and what He preferred was salvation by faith without works.
As Paul wrote earlier in his letter to the Romans –
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:27-28
How can God do that? Because He promised Abraham and we are party to that promise through faith in Jesus Christ.
αλλ ενεδυναμωθη τη πιστει (all enedunamōthē tē pistei) “but was strengthened in faith” .. enedunamōthē means “filled with power, made strong”
Not only did Abraham not waver at God’s promise, he was actually strengthened in his faith through the test. That is an important example of what God is doing in our lives as He tests our faith. His purpose is to strengthen us spiritually.
δους δοξαν τω θεω (dous doxan tō theō) “having given glory to God”
Abraham’s response to having his faith tested was that it was strengthened as he gave glory to God. Quite remarkable how tested faith works!
“and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
και πληροφορηθεις οτι ο επηγγελται δυνατος εστιν και ποιησαι
και πληροφορηθεις οτι ο επηγγελται (kai plērophorētheis hoti epēngeltai) “and having been fully assured that what He had promised” plērophorētheis means “fully carry through, fully believe, fully persuaded, full assurance”
Abraham had no doubt about God keeping His promise to him. He was fully persuaded, fully convinced that it would happen just as God said.
δυνατος εστιν και ποιησαι (dunatos estin kai poiēsai) “able He is also to do” .. dunatos describes what is possible .. God has the power (ability) to accomplish His promises .. poiēsai means “to do, act, cause” .. God is able to do all that He promises.
Abraham looked at the material facts (e.g. he was old, Sarah was barren) and chose instead to believe God’s supernatural promise.
“And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
διο και ελογισθη αυτω εις δικαιοσυνην
διο και ελογισθη αυτω εις δικαιοσυνην (dia kai elogisthē autō eis dikaiosunēn) “therefore also it was credited to him unto righteousness” .. elogisthē means “count, charge with, credit to, take into account” .. dikaiosunēn means “judicial approval”
Paul used the word several sentences earlier in Chapter 4 –
“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” verse 3
“Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.” verse 9
“How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.” verse 10
God is the One who keeps accounts for everyone and credits to those accounts as He will. God credited much to Abraham because of his faith in God’s promises.
“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him”
ουκ εγραφη δε δι αυτον μονον οτι ελογισθη αυτω
ουκ εγραφη δε δι αυτον μονον οτι ελογισθη αυτω (ouk graphē de di auton monon hoti elogisthē) “not it was written now on account of him alone that it was credited to him”
Paul pointed to Abraham and wrote that this amazing process of God crediting righteousness to one’s personal account was not just for Abraham —
“but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead”
αλλα και δι ημας οις μελλει λογιζεσθαι τοις πιστευουσιν επι τον εγειραντα ιησουν τον κυριον ημων εκ νεκρων
αλλα και δι ημας οις μελλει λογιζεσθαι (alla kai di hēmas hois mellei logizesthai) “but also on account of us to whom it is about to be credited” .. logizesthai means “to reckon, to consider” and comes from the root word for logic .. this “crediting” is logical, reasonable” .. it is the process of reaching a logical and reasonable decision
God’s promise to Abraham is “also for us.” How do we receive such an amazing gift?
Through faith in Jesus Christ.
τοις πιστευουσιν επι τον εγειραντα ιησουν τον κυριον ημων εκ νεκρων (tois pisteuousin epi ton egeiranta Iēsoun ton kurion hēmōn ek nekron) “to those believing on the One having raised Jesus the Lord of us out from the dead”
We can receive the amazing gift God promised Abraham because God raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead! That’s the Gospel of God. It is the center of our faith – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
ος παρεδοθη δια τα παραπτωματα ημων και ηγερθη δια την δικαιωσιν ημων
ος παρεδοθη δια τα παραπτωματα ημων (hos paredothē dia ta paraptōmata hēmōn) “who was delivered over for the trespasses of us” .. paredothē means “to hand over, to give up” .. paraptōmata means “a falling away, trespass, sin”
και ηγερθη δια την δικαιωσιν ημων (kai ēgerthē dia tēn ikaiōsin hēmōn) “and was raised for the justification of us” .. ēgerthē means “to waken, raise up” .. ikaiōsin means “acquitted, absolved of wrongdoing, pronounced righteous”
Wow! God “delivered up” Jesus because of “our offenses,” our sins. Jesus died for us and in place of us. God made a judicial decision that His Son would be “delivered up” for our sins. God was “just” in that decision.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17
“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:23-26
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” Romans 4:4-5
God “raised” Jesus from the dead because of “our justification.” We are justified in God’s sight as Judge of Life because of His promise and our faith in Christ. May I say again .. WOW!
We are greatly blessed by God through the promise He made to Abraham thousands of years ago and through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross two thousand years ago. We believe what God promised and that “faith is accounted for righteousness.”
“The nature and power of Abraham’s faith are shown. He believed God’s testimony, and looked for the performance of his promise, firmly hoping when the case seemed hopeless. It is weakness of faith, that makes a man lie poring on the difficulties in the way of a promise. Abraham took it not for a point that would admit of argument or debate. Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God’s promises. The strength of faith appeared in its victory over fears. God honours faith; and great faith honours God. It was imputed to him for righteousness. Faith is a grace that of all others gives glory to God. Faith clearly is the instrument by which we receive the righteousness of God, the redemption which is by Christ; and that which is the instrument whereby we take or receive it, cannot be the thing itself, nor can it be the gift thereby taken and received. Abraham’s faith did not justify him by its own merit or value, but as giving him a part in Christ.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
“And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Not because his faith was strong, and he had a full assurance of it, but because it was right, resting on the promise of God, and relying upon his power and faithfulness to perform it; for though the righteousness of faith is not imputed to any sort of believers, not to mere nominal ones, yet to all such as have true faith, though it may be but weak; for faith, as to nature, kind, and object, though not as to degree, is the same in all true believers, and the same righteousness is imputed to one as to another.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
“Application of the foregoing. The history of Abraham is a type of the dispensation of grace; his faith, the imputation of righteousness to him, and his reward, each severally a type of the same things in the Christian. Even in details the resemblance holds. Abraham put faith in a God “who quickeneth the dead,” and in like manner the Christian must put faith in God as the Author of a scheme of salvation attested by the resurrection of Christ. The death of Christ was the ground of that scheme, the resurrection of Christ its proof, without which it would not have been brought home to man.” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
“Here God the Father is represented as the proper object of justifying faith, in whose power, and love, and faithfulness to his promises, the penitent sinner, that would be justified, must confide for the pardon of his sins, acceptance with God, and the whole salvation of the gospel. For as Abraham’s faith, which was counted to him for righteousness, consisted in his being fully persuaded that what God had promised concerning the number of his seed, &c, he was able and willing to perform; so the faith which is counted for righteousness to believers in all ages must be so far of the same nature, as to imply a full persuasion that what God hath declared and promised, namely, in the revelation which he hath made us of his will, he is able and willing to perform, and actually will perform. This persuasion, however, must be in and through the mediation, that is, the sacrifice and intercession, of Christ. Who was delivered — To ignominy, torture, and death; for our offences — Namely, to make an atonement for them.” Benson Commentary
“Verses 24–25 show the prominence of the resurrection in the basic gospel message. It was the central theme of the apostolic kerygma and dominated the early evangelistic preaching of the apostles (cf. Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 13:30). It must continue to hold that central place in all preaching that reaches out to those who have never accepted Christ. Psychological insights on how to co-opt God for one’s own advantage are not only powerless to effect change but obscure the real gospel in the attempt to make it relevant. Verse 25 appears to reflect an early Christian confessional creed. The neat parallelism and the rich theological significance of the Greek nouns betray an ecclesiastical origin. Jesus is the one who was delivered up to death. Isaiah the prophet foretold that the messianic Servant would “pour out his life unto death” (Isa 53:12). Yet he was “raised to life for our justification.” God’s entire redemptive plan is summarized in this final verse of chap. 4. Christ died for our sins and was raised again for our justification. The two are inseparably bound together. Without his death there would be no basis for acquittal. Without his resurrection there would be no proof of the redemptive reality of his death. Jesus Christ, crucified and raised to life, is God the Father’s gracious provision for the sins of a fallen race. The simplicity of the message makes it clear for all who will hear. The power of the message is experienced by those who reach out in faith.” The New American Commentary, Volume 27 – Romans, Robert H. Mounce, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995
We will move to Romans Chapter 5 as we continue our study of the Gospel of God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.