Summary: This is the 6th of 30 studies on the Book of Romans
“What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Paul asks what Abraham received from God as a result of works that he did. He goes on to say that if Abraham was justified (made righteous) by God based on any works of his, then he might have had something to boast about, but that’s not the case with Abraham, because we know from the Scriptures that Abraham was made righteous by merely believing what God had promised him – not by any works on his part.
Wage and Gift
He then uses an illustration of everyday labour to drive home the point even further. He says that if someone works for something, then it can’t be called a gift but is really a wage that the person has earned.
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
Faith like Abraham
Paul goes on to say that for the person who does nothing to earn righteousness but merely trusts in God, who makes the ungodly righteous, that person’s faith is counted as righteousness.
Faith like David
He goes on to explain how King David had spoken of this righteousness through faith a long time back in Psalm 32:1,2. David talks about people’s lawless deeds being forgiven by God, and their sins not being exposed (being covered). Once God forgives our sins, He never brings them to remembrance again – we might do that, but never God. He goes on say that blessed are the people to whom the Lord does not impute sin (but rather imputes righteousness). This is something alien to any religion in the world. God is the One we sin against, and on account of our sin, we need to be punished, but God In His Justice, punished His Son Jesus, who bore the penalty for our sin. In His Mercy, God pardons us and in His Grace, God bestows us with righteousness.
Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
The blessing’s available to all
Paul is asking if only the Jews are blessed or does this blessing extend to non-Jews as well. Let’s take a look at when Abraham received righteousness as a result for his faith – was it after he was circumcised or before? It was before.
Circumcision was a seal of justification by faith
Circumcision was only a confirmation of that righteousness he had received while he was uncircumcised.
Abraham, the father of all
This way he becomes the father of all who trust in God, including the uncircumcised so that they too will receive the same righteousness he received through the same trust he put in God. He’s also the father of those who are not only circumcised but also who obey God just like Abraham did while he was still uncircumcised.
For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
The promise of God was through faith – not the law
God’s promise to Abraham or to his seed, that he would be the heir of the world was not fulfilled through him obeying of the law, but rather through him believing God, and being made righteous as a result. (There was no connection to the law at that point, as the law had not yet been given. It was given a long time later through Moses).