The Promise Realized Through Faith
Rom 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Rom 4:14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
Rom 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Rom 4:16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
Rom 4:17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
Rom 4:18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
Rom 4:19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
Rom 4:20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
Rom 4:21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Rom 4:22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
Rom 4:23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,
Rom 4:24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
Rom 4:25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
v13 – There are two ways to look at this verse, and both are helpful in understanding what Paul is saying to the church. First, that one is not saved by any aspect of works, but completely by faith. This is, of course, what is written throughout the writings of Paul, and the Abrahamic story laid out in Rom 4:1-3. However, what he may also be saying is the promise did not come through the Mosaic Law, since it was not given till around 500 years after Abraham. This shows that Abraham’s justification did not come because of the Law, which had not yet been given to man, but through the faith Abraham had for what God promised him.
v14-15 – If becoming children of God comes through works, then the promise to Abraham is void because faith has no meaning. He goes on to say that the law brings wrath. The idea here is not simply anger, but in the sense of punishment. The meaning here is that the law demands perfection; perfect purity. Any sin that is done condemns the sinner. Moreover, Paul stated in the 2nd chapter, “but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Rom 2:8. I feel comfortable we have all, in some points in our lives, did not obey the truth, but unrighteousness. Also, remember, “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.” Rom 2:12. You are either under the law or not. But either way, we will be judged, found guilty and perish if we commit any sin. And wrapping up this thought, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom 3:23.
v16 – Therefore, since we have no hope of reconciliation with God based on our works only, since we would need to be perfect, there must be a way aside from our works. And that is why it is faith in Jesus Christ that provides the means of reconciliation. This is not limited to the Jews only, but is open to all who believe God. I like the wording here, ‘the one who shares the faith of Abraham’. He believed wholeheartedly what God told him. And He changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude’. Not just of the Israelites, but of all who believe.
v17-18 – Here, Paul clarifies the point that it was not just the Jews. He quotes the following, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” Gen 17:4-5. Looking at v18, we see that Abraham knew that God could do anything, even those things that are seen as impossible, such as his ability to father a son through Sarah. He believed if God said it, then it was possible. Therefore, since God told him he would have a child through Sarah, then it would happen. “They said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘She is in the tent.’ The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’ The LORD said to Abraham, ‘why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.‘” Gen 18:8-15. Sarah may have doubted, but Abraham absolutely did not.
v19-22 – Paul goes on to describe the power of his faith. Against all probability, he believed and placed his faith in that promise. He did not doubt any point of God’s promise. He knew that if God said it, it would come to pass. This is the type of faith we need. There is an old saying ‘if God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.’ This should be the way we live our life. He closes this thought be declaring that this strength of faith was counted/credited to him as righteousness. This is why Abraham was justified. Because he believed God.
v23-25 – In closing this argument, he declares these words are not just for Abraham, but for our sakes as well. Our faith and belief in Jesus Christ, who died, was buried and raised from the dead for our sins, will be counted to us as righteousness. It has nothing to do with our works, but has everything to do with our faith; the same way Abrahams faith and belief was credited as righteousness to him. What saves us is our faith in Jesus who was delivered up for our transgressions and raised from the dead for our justification. This is a beautiful thing, for we have no hope aside from the work of Christ.