Romans 4 - Righteousness By Faith

INTRODUCTION: Those who become justified from their sin are made righteous by God, and their sins are forgiven. Justification cannot be earned no matter how many good deeds a person may try to do to become just and righteous before God. Righteousness can only be a gift attributed to an individual because of faith in the all sufficient sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and his resurrection from the dead. This chapter of Romans is in my own paraphrase, to some extent in an amplified style, prepared by examining several translations, and with some use of a Greek lexicon.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King James Bible.


A - JUSTIFICATION NOT BY WORKS, BUT BY FAITH

Romans 4 "1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father found as it pertains to us as his descendents? 2 For if Abraham had been justified by things he accomplished, he would had something by which he could claim glory, but he had nothing to present to God. 3 For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 The compensation received for work is not considered to be a gracious gift, but rather due payment for service rendered. 5 But the one who does not offer a work to God to gain approval, but believes on God who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

COMMENTS: Paul said if Abraham had been justified before God by works that he had done, he would be able to claim some glory for himself, and that glory might be considered attainable by his descendents because they would somehow inherit similar justification through his blood line. But Abraham had nothing to present to God, but rather the scripture says Abraham believed God, and that belief was counted unto him for righteousness. Genesis 15 "5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."

When someone performs work for another, they can expect some form of payment which would not be considered a gift to them. But the Lord gives his righteousness as a gift to the ungodly person who believes in a gracious God. Paul quoted the opening verses from Psalm 32 to show that David knew works are not sufficient to bring justification because only God can forgive iniquities, and cover sins. What a blessing it is when God does not impute sin to the person who has put their faith in God. Anyone who believes they can earn justification before God, believes in their own self-worth, which is contrary to the words of the prophets and of Christ. . Habakkuk 2 "4 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." John 5 "24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."


B - FAITH CAME BEFORE CIRCUMCISION

Romans 4 "9 Does this blessing of God then come upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was considered and applied to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then considered: was it after he was circumcised, or before he was circumcised? It was while he was yet uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, as a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was not yet circumcised: that he might be the father of all who believe, though they are not circumcised. Righteousness can be attributed to 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 before he was circumcised."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted his readers to realize that scripture verifies that justification was not only for those who became circumcised to follow the law of the Jews, but for everyone who received justification by faith. Abraham's faith was credited to him for righteousness before he was circumcised, and the circumcision was afterward a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was not yet circumcised. Through this, Abraham can be the father of all Jews and Gentiles who believe God's promise, if they walk in the same faith that Abraham had even before he was circumcised.


C - HEIRS THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH

Romans 4 "13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his offspring, 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 made of non-effect: 15 Because the law is enforced by punishment: but where no law exist, there can be no transgression or breaking of the law. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the offspring; not to those only who have the law, but to those also who are of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations, before him whom you believed, even God, who makes alive the dead, and calls those things which are 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 your offspring be."

COMMENTS: The promise that Abraham would be heir of the world was not made to Abraham or to his descendents through the keeping of the law, but through the righteousness of faith. If righteousness could be earned by keeping the law, the promise given for faith alone would be made void. Also, the law requires punishment if any part of it is broken, and Paul had in earlier parts of this letter demonstrated that no person can keep the whole law. then, for those who do not accept the laws of Moses, there is no basis for them to present good works to God by keeping the law, because they do not consider themselves to be guilty of any violation. Therefore, to all people justification must be by faith which is the sure promise made to Abraham to be applicable to all who believe in God. Paul again emphasized that which was recorded in scripture to show that Abraham Who "against hope believed in hope." Genesis 17 "4 As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee." This promise was made after natural childbirth was no longer to be expected for Abraham or for Sarah. Genesis 18 "11 Now Abraham and Sarah [were] old [and] well stricken in age; [and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." God is also able to give eternal life to those who will believe in him, regardless of any circumstances that might seem to make that to be impossible!


D - RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED BY FAITH IN THE RISEN CHRIST

Romans 4 "19 And being not weak in faith, he considered his own body not as though dead, when he was about a hundred years old, nor that Sara's womb was dead: 20 He did not lose confidence or waver 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 and ascribed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was ascribed and 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."

COMMENTS: Abraham and Sarah had faith even though Sarah laughed within herself when she heard she would have a child in her old age. Abraham also first laughed within his heart, and asked God to bless Ishmael before Isaac was born. Genesis 17 "15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah [shall] her name [be]. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be [a mother] of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham." After this, Abraham did not lose confidence or waver in his faith of the promise as he gave glory to God and this was imputed to him for righteousness. At the set time in about a year, Abraham and Sarah were the parents of baby Isaac.

Though we may also sometimes feel weak in our faith, we must renew our strength by patiently trusting in God's promise, not by our own strength as Paul said in another letter. 2 Corinthians 12 "8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." This statement from Paul should be thoughtfully considered by every Christian. We can be confident that we have received the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith when we place our full trust in God and believe that he raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for bringing me to the realization that I have nothing to offer to you, but that you have so very much to offer to me since I have placed my full faith in trust in your grace by Christ Jesus. Paul has helped me to further understand that justification cannot be earned in any way by my achievements regardless of their supposed magnitude. By faith without works you have imputed to me the righteousness of Christ, and I thank you for the blessing that my iniquities are forgiven, and my sins are covered.

Lord, I praise you for making me an heir to your righteous kingdom by faith through grace. What a blessing to me that I became an heir with Abraham by faith, and was spared from the penalty under the law. Lord, you make alive those who were dead, and establish forever things that seem impossible to the ways of man. I believe your written Word and therefore I believe that Christ my Lord was delivered to death for my offences, and was raised from the dead for my justification. I give glory and praise to my risen Savior! Amen.

Published 12 March 2016