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Romans Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

justified by works. The supposed contradiction between Paul and James has been widely noted. Paul says Abraham was not justified by works; James says he was (James 2:21). The point is that Abraham was justified by faith in God's Word, but he then was asked to demonstrate that his faith was genuine by his works. He was justified before God by faith but was justified before men by his works (see James 2:21-24).

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

what saith the scripture. The Scripture cited is Genesis 15:6. As Paul notes later (Romans 4:9-15), Abraham was justified by faith before he was given the sign of circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14) and before the law was given, so justification by faith is God's original and basic standard (that is, of course, a genuine faith in God and His Word, a faith which then causes one to obey God's Word).

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

Romans 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Saying. This quote is from Psalm 32:1-2. This was David's psalm of thanksgiving after his repentance over his notorious sin of adultery and homicide. Paul thus notes that justification by faith was true both before and after Moses—before, in Abraham, Israel's great patriarch, and after, in David, Israel's greatest king.

Romans 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

not impute sin. By the marvelous provision of imputation, our sins were debited to the account of Jesus, the Son of man, whereas His perfect righteousness was credited to our account. “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). See also James 2:23; Philemon 17-18.

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.

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

Romans 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Romans 4:12 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.

Romans 4:13 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.

Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

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

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,

father of us all. Abraham is the father not only of the Jews, physically speaking, but of all who are justified by faith, spiritually speaking. “They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).

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.

father of many nations. This promise (Genesis 17:5) has been literally fulfilled, as well as spiritually. Abraham is the ancestor not only of the Israelites, but also of all the Arabic nations, as well as the Edomites, Midianites and others that are now either extinct or amalgamated with others. Probably most of the Middle Eastern Islamic nations have at least some degree of genetic descent from Abraham.

Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

that which was spoken. This promise was “spoken” by God (Genesis 15:5).

Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

able also to perform. The essence of saving faith is taking God at His Word, no matter how difficult it may seem. God's promise to Abraham was beyond all reason and human experience, but Abraham believed it! This should be our example with regard to the promises that are yet to be fulfilled.

Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

therefore. Note the cause-and-effect relation between strong faith in God's promises and His imputation of Christ's righteousness to us.

Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.