Romans 4:9-17

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Text: Romans 4:9-17

ABRAHAM'S RIGHTEOUSNESS

INDEPENDENT OF CIRCUMCISION

INTRODUCTION:

In Romans 1:16-17 we have noted the theme of Romans. It is the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. The one who is made righteous by faith in Christ's finished work on the Cross at Calvary is the one who will have eternal life.

The first major section of Romans deals with man's lack of righteousness. It shows the need for the righteousness of God. All humanity lacks the righteousness of God, and, therefore, stands condemned before God and deserving of spending eternity in hell. Romans 3:21 begins the second major division of the book of Romans. It deals with God's provision of righteousness: justification by faith and extends from Romans 3:21 through 5:21. In Romans 3:21-31 we see God's righteousness provided by faith, and in Romans 4 we see righteousness by faith illustrated in the life of Abraham.

Remember what it means to be justified by faith. It pictures God as the judge rendering His official verdict. It is a declaration of righteousness. We are forever afterwards treated by God as righteous, even though we are still sinners. It has to do with our relationship to Christ. We have placed our trust in Him as our personal Savior. It has nothing to do with any supposed righteousness on our part because there is none. It has nothing to do with the way we live as if we could earn the forgiveness for sin or admittance into heaven. It has nothing to do with church membership. The fact is that you can be a member of this church and not make it to heaven, and you can make it to heaven without being a member of this church or any other church.

In Romans 4:9-17 we see that Abraham's righteousness was by faith and was independent of circumcision. This proves that righteousness is available for Gentiles as well as for Jews.

We remind ourselves that Abraham is the father of the Jewish nation. All Jews are descended from Abraham through his son Isaac. Therefore, the Jews were quite proud of their relationship to him.

No one doubted Abraham's salvation. Was the way in which Abraham was saved consistent with what Paul has been writing, that we are saved by faith rather than by any works which we might do? Romans 4:9-17 shows that Abraham was saved in exactly the same way we must be saved. He believed what God said.

In verse nine Paul raises a question. The question amounts to this: Is the promise of blessedness described by David in Psalms 32 to be fulfilled in those who are Jews, or is it going to be fulfilled in the Gentiles as well? He answers it by showing when Abraham's faith was reckoned as righteousness. Therefore, in verses 10-17 we see several reasons why righteousness is available for Gentiles as well as for Jews.

A Question -

I. IS RIGHTEOUSNESS GIVEN TO GENTILES AS WELL AS TO JEWS? - 4:9

Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

Paul asks, Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?

This blessedness is the blessedness referred to in verses 6-8.

Romans 4:6-8 - 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.

The circumcision refers to the group of people whose males have been circumcised or the group of people represented by circumcision, whereas the uncircumcision refers to the group of people not represented by circumcision. Thus, the circumcision is referring to the Jews, and the uncircumcision is referring to the Gentiles.

For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness

The reason this question is asked is that Abraham is the one who received circumcision as the sign of the covenant made by God to him, and he is also the one whose faith had been reckoned for righteousness.

Does circumcision have anything at all to do with justification by faith? If so, then the blessedness of not having sin imputed would be applied only to the one who had been circumcised which means to the group of people represented by circumcision, i.e. to the Jews, and not to the uncircumcision, i.e. not to the Gentiles.

Righteousness is available for Gentiles as well as for Jews because:

II. RIGHTEOUSNESS WAS RECKONED TO ABRAHAM BEFORE HE WAS CIRCUMCISED - 4:10

Romans 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

Was righteousness reckoned, imputed, counted, or set down to Abraham's account before he was circumcised or after he was circumcised?

It is not really clear how old Abraham was when he was justified by faith, but I personally believe it was before he left Ur of the Chaldees and that this resulted in his leaving Ur.

We know that Abraham was 75 years old when he departed out of Haran.

Genesis 12:4 - So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

We know that Abraham was justified by faith.

Genesis 15:6 - And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

We know that Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.

Genesis 16:16 - And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

We know that Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised.

Genesis 17:24 - And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

Again, was righteousness reckoned, imputed, counted, or set down to Abraham's account before he was circumcised or after he was circumcised?

Clearly, righteousness was reckoned, imputed, counted, or set down to Abraham's account before he was circumcised.

Thus, if Abraham was justified (or declared righteous) by faith before he left Ur of the Chaldees, which is what I understand, he was justified (or declared righteous) more than 24 years before he was circumcised. If Abraham was justified (or declared righteous) when he left Haran, he was justified 24 years before he was circumcised. Even if Abraham was not justified (or declared righteous) until Ishmael was born, he was justified (or declared righteous) at least 13 years before he was circumcised. Hence, his righteousness was independent of his circumcision. Regardless of when Abraham was justified or declared righteous, he had already been justified or declared righteous long before he was circumcised.

Righteousness is available for Gentiles as well as for Jews because:

II. CIRCUMCISION WAS ONLY A SEAL OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT ABRAHAM HAD ALREADY OBTAINED BY FAITH - 4:11A

Romans 4:11 a - And he received the sign of circumcision a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. . . .

Romans 4:11 a - And he (i.e. Abraham) received the sign of circumcision (i.e. Abraham received the sign which is circumcision, i.e. Abraham received circumcision), a seal (i.e. a confirmation, an authentication, or an attestation) of the righteousness of the faith which he had (i.e. of the righteousness which his faith produced) yet being uncircumcised (i.e. while he was still uncircumcised). . . .

Righteousness is available for Gentiles as well as for Jews, not only because circumcision was only a seal of the righteousness Abraham had already received by faith, but also because:

III. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH PRIOR TO CIRCUMCISION ENABLES ABRAHAM TO BE THE FATHER OF ALL BELIEVERS - 4:11B -12

Romans 4:11 b-12 - (11b) . . . 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.

The point of these verses is that all those who have faith in (or believe) God as Abraham did are also able to be justified by faith just like he was.

Romans 4:11 b-12 - (11b) . . . That (in order that or for the purpose that) he (i.e. Abraham) might be the father (i.e. the spiritual father) of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised (even though they are Gentiles); that righteousness might be imputed unto them (i.e. unto the uncircumcised or unto the Gentiles) also (i.e. as well as to Abraham).

Thus, Abraham is the spiritual father of all that believe, even though they are not physically descended from him, and even though they may not be circumcised. Righteousness will be set down to their account, i.e. imputed, counted, or reckoned to them also if they will place their trust in God's provision of salvation.

Abraham is the father of circumcision to those who are circumcised, and he is also the father of circumcision to those who are not circumcised. Yet, he is not the father of all the uncircumcised; it is only of those who also walk in the steps of the faith which he (i.e. Abraham) had. . . .

Romans 4:12 And the father (i.e. the spiritual father) of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk (Walk is literally to are in line with or stand beside). It is used figuratively in this verse, meaning who hold to, who agree with, or who follow.) in the steps (i.e. footsteps) of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet (i.e. while he was yet or while he was still) uncircumcised (which means before he was circumcised).

The steps of that faith of our father Abraham refers to the footsteps that Abraham took which were produced by the faith that Abraham possessed.

Others walk in the steps of the faith when they believe God as Abraham did. The reason that Abraham can be the father of the circumcision to those who are uncircumcised is that he believed God and was, therefore, justified by faith before he was circumcised. Circumcision merely represented God's covenant with him (i.e. with Abraham) and was, therefore, a constant reminder of it. Those who are justified by faith are those who walk in his (i.e. in Abraham's) footsteps.

Righteousness is available for Gentiles as well as for Jews, not only because circumcision was only a seal of the righteousness Abraham had already received by faith, and not only because justification by faith prior to circumcision enables Abraham to be the father of all believers, but also because:

IV. THE PROMISE THAT ABRAHAM SHOULD BE THE HEIR OF THE WORLD WAS INTENDED TO BE BROUGHT TO PASS BY MEANS OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH RATHER THAN BY MEANS OF KEEPING THE LAW - 4:13-17

Romans 4:13-17 - (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.

Romans 4:13 (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.

The promise, that he should be the heir of the world is nowhere found in exactly these words in the Old Testament. Therefore, it is best to understand this as a reference to God's promise that Abraham should be the father of many nations (Genesis 15:6 ; 22:15-18). Abraham is the father of those who believe, and as such he is the heir of the world.

Genesis 15:6 - And he (i.e. Abraham) believed in the LORD; and he (i.e. the LORD) counted it to him (i.e. to Abraham) for righteousness.

Genesis 22:15-18 - 15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Back to Romans 4:13

Was not to Abraham suggests {was} not made to Abraham or {was} not intended to come to pass to Abraham.

Through the law means that this promise was not made to Abraham or to his seed through . . . law of any kind.

This promise was made to Abraham and to his seed through the righteousness of faith, i.e. the righteousness produced by faith. Thus, those who believe God are declared righteous. Faith is the ground on which God gives righteousness to the individual.

We see that -

Faith and law are mutually exclusive - vv. 14-15

Romans 4:14 (14) For if they which are of the law (i.e. by means of law) be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.

If introduces a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. It is not really true, however; but it is assumed to be true for sake of argument. If should, therefore, be understood in the sense of assuming that.

The condition is if they which are of the law be heirs.

The conclusion is faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Assuming that the promise comes to pass for the heirs by means of keeping the law, then faith as a means of obtaining the promise is made void (i.e. made invalid or made of no infect); and the promise God made to Abraham is null and void.

However, since the promise does not come to pass for the heirs by means of keeping the law, then faith as a means of obtaining the promise is not made void. Of the law is by the means of law.

The tense of make void indicates action completed in the past with its result continuing. It was made void, and it is still void.

The promise would then be made of none effect, i.e. made ineffective, made powerless, made idle, or nullified. The tense of made of none effect also indicates action completed in past time with its result continuing. It likewise was rendered ineffective in the past and remains ineffective.

Romans 4:15 (15) Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Romans 4:15 (15) Because the law (i.e. the Mosaic Law) worketh (i.e. produces or brings about) wrath (Wrath suggests a settled and abiding state of mind, often with revenge in view rather than a mere sudden outburst of anger. Wrath is the reaction of God's holiness toward that which is evil.): for where no law is, there is no transgression. (A transgression is an overstepping of a law or a breaking of it. Where there is no law, there cannot possibly be a transgression of it. You can't break what's not there.

We also see that -

The promise is by faith that it might be by grace - v. 16

Romans 4:16 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.

Romans 4:16 Therefore (i.e. because of this, i.e. because if righteousness comes as a result of keeping the law, faith is made of no effect {v. 14} and because the law results in wrath, and because the law has been broken.) it (i.e. the promise) is of faith (i.e. by means of faith rather than by means of law {v. 14}), that it might be by grace (i.e. God's purpose in providing the promise by means of faith rather than by means of law is in order that the promise might be received or obtained according to undeserved merit, rather than according to deserved merit, which would be the case if the promise were according to law); to the end (i.e. in order that) the promise (i.e. the promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations) might be sure (i.e. might be reliable, might be dependable, or might be certain. Its meaning is opposite that of made of none effect in v. 14.) to all the seed (a reference to all Jews and Gentiles who are descended spiritually from Abraham because they, too, have believed God); not to that only which is of the law (which indicates that, if the promise were fulfilled by means of the law, the promise of God would only affect those under the law), but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham (The promise is also sure or certain to the one who is of the faith of Abraham, i.e. to the one who has faith as Abraham did); who is the father of us all (i.e. the father of both Jews and Gentiles who believe).

Finally, we see that -

The promise by faith is for all the seed, Jews as well a Gentiles - v. 17

Romans 4:17 (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.

Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations {quoted from Genesis 17:5 , where God is the speaker and Abraham is the one who has been made a father of many nations},) before him (i.e. God) whom he (i.e. Abraham) believed, even God, who quickeneth (is who makes alive or who gives life to) the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were (As the Creator, God is able to bring things into existence out of nothing. Therefore, it was no problem for God to bring Isaac into existence when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old.).

CONCLUSION:

The conclusion of the matter is that righteousness comes by means of faith and is available for all people, not for Jews only.

Have you placed your trust in Christ as Savior?

If not, won't you do so today?