Then what should we say Avraham, our forefather, obtained by his own efforts?
For if Avraham came to be considered righteous by God because of legalistic observances, then he has something to boast about. But this is not how it is before God!
For what does the Tanakh say? "Avraham put his trust in God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness."p
Now the account of someone who is working is credited not on the ground of grace but on the ground of what is owed him.
However, in the case of one who is not working but rather is trusting in him who makes ungodly people righteous, his trust is credited to him as righteousness.
In the same way, the blessing which David pronounces is on those whom God credits with righteousness apart from legalistic observances:
"Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered over;
Blessed is the man whose sin ADONAI will not reckon against his account."
Now is this blessing for the circumcised only? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say that Avraham's trust was credited to his account as righteousness;
but what state was he in when it was so credited - circumcision or uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision!
In fact, he received circumcision as a sign, as a seal of the righteousness he had been credited with on the ground of the trust he had while he was still uncircumcised. This happened so that he could be the father of every uncircumcised person who trusts and thus has righteousness credited to him,
and at the same time be the father of every circumcised person who not only has had a b'rit-milah, but also follows in the footsteps of the trust which Avraham avinu had when he was still uncircumcised.
For the promise to Avraham and his seedr that he would inherit the world did not come through legalism but through the righteousness that trust produces.
For if the heirs are produced by legalism, then trust is pointless and the promise worthless.
For what law brings is punishment. But where there is no law, there is also no violation.
The reason the promise is based on trusting is so that it may come as God's free gift, a promise that can be relied on by all the seed, not only those who live within the framework of the Torah, but also those with the kind of trust Avraham had - Avraham avinu for all of us.
This accords with the Tanakh, where it says, "I have appointed you to be a father to many nations." Avraham is our father in God's sight because he trusted God as the one who gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence.
For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, "So many will your seed be."
His trust did not waver when he considered his own body - which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old - or when he considered that Sarah's womb was dead too.
He did not by lack of trust decide against God's promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God,
for he was fully convinced that what God had promised he could also accomplish.
This is why it was credited to his account as righteousness.
But the words, "it was credited to his account . . . ," were not written for him only.
They were written also for us, who will certainly have our account credited too, because we have trusted in him who raised Yeshua our Lord from the dead -
Yeshua, who was delivered over to death because of our offences and raised to life in order to make us righteous.