Romans 2014 Chapter 4 Commentary

Tod Kennedy, taught July and August 2014

Section 2. God Credits His Righteousness Through Faith

Chapter 4, Righteousness is credited through faith apart from circumcision and the law

  1. Romans 4:1-8. Abraham and David illustrate the truth that God gives His righteousness to people through faith (to people who believe him) and not by works. Paul contrasts faith with works. Works results in earned reward and the right to boast. Faith is not a work. Faith results in righteousness credited to the one believing. God justifies the one believing, and the believer has not earned his justification.
    1. This chapter stresses that faith in God’s promise is credited for righteousness. The content of the faith is not emphasized. The object of faith in Romans 4 is what God says. Abraham was not justified by works. Abraham had no reason to boast because he was justified by faith, not by works. He believed God and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. Key words in this chapter include
  • justified (dikaioo̅, δικαιοω) S#1344. Show justice, do justice, give a favorable verdict, to make free of a charge
  • believed (pisteuo̅, πιστευω aorist active indicative) S#4100
  • credited (logizomai, λογιζομαι aorist passive indicative, to calculate, to ponder, to consider, is translated credited or credits in Romans (3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,22,23,24 Eight times in Rom 4.1-12.) S#3049
  • righteousness (dikaiosune̅, δικαιοσυνη). S#1343
  • Grace S#5485
    1. Romans 4.1-3. Paul used Abraham to demonstrate that God has always justified people by faith and never by works for eternal salvation.
    2. Romans 4:4-5 are Paul’s conclusion. Verse 4, if one gets paid for work, that pay is not a favor (charis, χαρις grace favor), it is earned. On the other side, if one does not work, but believes (pisteuo̅ , πιστευω present active participle, dative destination recipient) in Him, his faith is credited as righteousness. The faith results in God crediting righteousness to him.
    3. In Romans 4:6-8 Paul appeals to David to teach that God forgives sin apart from works. Paul refers to Psalm 32:1-2 where David, a believer who sinned, writes how blessed he is whom God has forgiven his sin. Forgiveness comes without works.
  1. Romans 4:9-12. Faith righteousness was credited to Abraham before he was circumcised. Circumcision was simply a sign that he had faith righteousness. Therefore Abraham is the father of all who believe God, and circumcision is not involved. The circumcision ritual will not help anyone gain God’s righteousness. Abraham’s faith pattern is what all believers follow.
    1. Romans 4.9-10. Paul asks and then answers the circumcision question. Paul says circumcision will not bring righteousness. Abraham had righteousness credited to him before he was circumcised.
    2. Romans 4.11-12. He later voluntarily received the sign which was circumcision. Circumcision was also a seal that indicated that Abraham was righteous and that righteousness was credited to him because he believed God. God confirmed absolutely that righteousness was only credited by faith. Furthermore, Abraham became the spiritual father of those who believe like he did. He set the pattern; the pattern is faith.
  • received (lambano̅ , λαμβανω aorist active indicative) S#2983
  • sign (se̅meion, σημeιον a distinguishing mark, portent) S#4593.
  • seal (sphragis, σφραγις something that certifies or authenticates) S#4973.
    1. The principle here is that righteousness is credited based upon faith for both the uncircumcised and the circumcised. Note that faith is the issue for both groups. See Romans 4.1-9 for the subject of this chapter, justification and righteousness by faith.
  1. Romans 4:13-15. This section begins with γαρ (Romans 4.13,14,15). It explains the above. God promised Abraham and his seed that he will be heir of the world through faith, before the Mosaic Law was given. Furthermore, the Law brought wrath because people violated the Law. Law, works, and wrath nullify faith and God’s promise of descendents, land, blessing.
    1. Romans 4.13-14. God’s promise (epangelia, επαγγελια) that Abraham or his descendents would be heir (kle̅ronomos, κληρονομος) of the world (Romans 4:13) probably means that Abraham through his Hebrew descendents culminating in Jesus Messiah will inherit or possess the world. This comes through faith, not through Law. This will find its fulfillment in the future kingdom on earth. Hebrews 1:2, God appointed Christ heir (kle̅ronomos, κληρονομος) of all things. See Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:17-18. The LXX Genesis 22:17 speak of seed (singular) inheriting kle̅ronomeo̅, κληρονομεω and it refers to all those who come from Abraham. The Hebrew of Genesis 22:17 has yarash, to take possession of, possess, inherit. Romans 4:14 says that heirs are heirs by faith in God’s promise. (Multiple aspects of the promise to Abraham describe the land blessings.
    2. Romans 4:15 reminds readers that the Law brings God’s wrathful judgment. When there is no law, there can be no violation of Law. At first this may seem to us odd that Paul brings in this point, but his purpose in doing so is to remove all possible objections to grace, promise, and faith.
  2. Romans 4:16-22. Paul concludes that God works by grace through faith. Those under the Law and those not under the Law all benefit from God’s promise by grace through faith. Both Abraham, though old and normally unable to father a child, and Sarah, also unable to bear a child, demonstrated this principle. They believed God even though circumstances were against what God said. Abraham grew strong in faith and gave all glory to God for fulfilling His promise of a son. Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.
    1. Romans 4:16-21. Both Abraham, though old and normally unable to father a child, and Sarah, also unable to bear a child, believed God. Abraham grew strong in faith and gave all glory to God for fulfilling His promise of a son. This section emphasizes that faith is believing what God has said; faith is not working in order to earn something.
    2. Romans 4:22-25. Abraham is a lesson to all of us about faith in God’s promises. Paul refers to Genesis 15:6. Righteousness will be credited to everyone who believes God who raised Jesus our Lord (Romans 4:24). This Jesus was delivered over to the Jews and Romans to die for our sins and transgressions on a Roman cross. Jesus was raised because our justification was complete (Romans 4.22-25).
  • credited (logizomai, λογιζομαι to calculate, to ponder, to consider is translated credited or credits in Romans 4:3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,22,23,24)
      • delivered (paradidomi, παραδιδομι aorist passive indicative
      • transgressions (parapto̅ma, παραπτωμα violation of a moral standard, offense, sin)
      • raised (egeiro̅, εγειρω aorist passive indicative)
      • because (dia, δια plus the accusative usually has the force of cause)
      • justification (dikaio̅sis, δικαιωσις accusative, setting right, justification, acquittal)
  1. Romans 4:23-25. Abraham is a lesson to all of us that we should believe God’s promises. Paul refers to Genesis 15:6 to demonstrate this truth. Righteousness will be credited to everyone who believes God who raised Jesus our Lord. This Jesus was delivered over to the Jews and Romans to die for our sins and transgressions on a Roman cross. Jesus was raised because our justification was complete. When we believe God’s promise about justification through Jesus Christ we also have faith righteousness credited to us.
  2. John Witmer in his commentary on Romans in the Bible Knowledge Commentary writes “In chapter 4, Paul presented several irrefutable reasons why justification is by faith: (1) Since justification is a gift, it cannot be earned by works (4:1-8). (2) Since Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, circumcision has no relationship to justification (4:9-12). (3) Since Abraham was justified centuries before the Law, justification is not based on the Law (4:13-17). (4) Abraham was justified because of his faith in God, not because of his works (4:18-25).”
  3. So What? Application or main point
    1. Abraham and David illustrate the truth that God gives His righteousness to people through faith (to people who believe him) and not by works.
    2. Faith righteousness was credited to Abraham before he was circumcised.
    3. God promised Abraham and his seed that he will be heir of the world through faith, before the Mosaic Law was given.
    4. Paul concludes that God works by grace through faith, not by law and works.
    5. Abraham is a lesson to all of us that we should believe God’s promises. Paul refers to Genesis 15:6 to demonstrate that justification is through faith—believing God’s promise.

Select words from Romans 4.

  • Abraham αβρααμ (Romans 4.1,2,3,9,12,13,16) S#11
  • Circumcision περιτομη (Romans 4.9,10,11,12) S#4061
  • David δαυιδ (Romans 4.6) S#1138
  • Faith πιστις S#4102 or believe πιστευω S#4100 (Romans 4:3,5,9,11,12,13, 14,16,17,18,19,20,24)
  • Grace χαρας (Romans 4.4,16) S#5485
  • Heir κληρονομος S#2818 (Romans 4.13,14
  • Imputation-credit λογιζομαι (Romans 4:3,4,5,6, 8,9,10,11,22,23,24) S#3049
  • Jesus our Lord ‘ιησουν τον κυριον `ημων (Romans 4.24) Lord S#2962
  • Justified δικαιοω S#1344 Justification δικαιωσις S#1347 (Romans 4:2,5,25)
  • Law νομος (Romans 4:13,14,15,16) S#3551
  • Promised επαγγελλομαι promise S#1861 επαγγελια S#1860 (Romans 4:13, 14, 16, 20, 21)
  • Resurrection ‘εγειρω (Romans 4.24,25) S#1453
  • Righteousness δικαιοσυνη S#1343 (Romans 4.3,5,6,9,11,13,22)
  • Work εργον S#2041 (Romans 4.2,4,5,6)