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Romans 4

SUMMARY.--Abraham not Justified by Works, but by Faith. His Faith Reckoned for Righteousness. David Describes the same Blessedness. This Blessedness of Forgiveness for Gentiles as well as Jews. Abraham Counted Righteous Before He Was Circumcised. The Promise of a Redeemer and of a Land Made to Abraham Before He Was Circumcised. The Greatness of Abraham's Faith. To All, Whether Jew or Gentile, Righteousness will be Imputed, Who have Abraham's Faith.

      9-12. Cometh this blessedness upon the circumcision only. The next question is, Who shall enjoy this blessing of forgiveness? Shall it be Jews only, or shall the uncircumcision, the Gentiles, enjoy it? Abraham's faith was counted for righteousness; will this be true of all, both Jews and Gentiles? 10. How was it then reckoned? To settle the question, whether this blessedness applies to Gentiles as well as Jews, the inquiry is made whether Abraham was a Jew or Gentile when it was said of him, "His faith was counted for righteousness." He was not circumcised for at least fourteen years after this statement was made of him. Compare Genesis 15:6 Genesis 17:25 . He was then justified, without circumcision, while yet a Gentile. 11. He received the sign of circumcision. The outward mark in the flesh. A seal. A seal is often appended to a legal document as a proof. The covenant is made before the seal is annexed. Circumcision was not the covenant, but an outward mark of a covenant that before existed. The righteousness, of which it was a seal, had been acknowledged many years before. That he might be the father of all them that believe. Both Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised. The righteous, uncircumcised Abraham belonged to the latter class. 12. The father of circumcision. Of the circumcision described in chap. 2:29 . Abraham is the "great father," the father, not of the circumcision only, but of all who have such faith as he had before he was circumcised. When Abraham was "counted righteous through faith," there was no difference between Jew and Gentile. Christianity, by its revelation of "righteousness through faith," leads back to the same condition.

      13-15. For the promise. The reference is to the substance of various promises to Abraham for himself and his seed. See Genesis 12:7 Genesis 13:14 Genesis 15:18 . Was not . . . through the law. Was not through law, the article being wanting in the Greek. No body of law had been given. The Mosaic law was given many years afterward. The law of circumcision had not been enacted. It was through the righteousness of faith, not of law, or works of law, that Abraham secured the promise. 14. For if they which are of the law (of law, the article wanting) are heirs. If keeping law makes men heirs, then faith is void. It sets aside God's plan of "counting faith as righteousness," and destroys the promise which depends on faith. 15. Because the law worketh wrath. The law threatens punishment to all who break its enactments, and since none keep it perfectly, it works punishment for all. Whereas, if no law had been given, there could be no transgression of its demands.

      16-22. Therefore it is of faith. The inheritance promised to Abraham and his seed. It comes through faith, and hence is a free gift (of grace). That it might be sure. It could not be sure if it had to be secured by the righteousness that is of law, since none can keep the law perfectly. But all can secure it through faith. To all the seed. To all children of Abraham, whether those of the law, the Jews, or those of the faith of Abraham, who become his children by exercising his faith, whether Jew or Gentile. See Gal. 3:7 . 17. As it is written. Gen. 17:5 . A father of many nations. The name of the patriarch was changed from Abram (a father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). Before him whom he believed. This is to be joined with verse 16 , "who is the father of us all . . . before . . . God." Who quickeneth the dead. Abraham had to believe that the Divine power, which can give life to the dead, would give new life to his aged body and that of Sarah. 18. Who against hope. Though an old man, and his wife an aged woman, far beyond the time of child-bearing, he yet believed the promise that he would have numerous offspring. 19. Being not weak in faith. Strong in faith, though weak in body. His own body now dead. Its vital powers exhausted. But God could quicken the dead, and he had the promise of God. 20. He staggered not. He accepted the promise with unfaltering faith. 21. Being fully persuaded. He was certain that God not only could, but would do what he promised. 22. Therefore it was imputed, etc. The faith that secures God's righteousness is a faith that does not falter, but accepts and acts upon God's promises.

      23-25. Now it was not written for his sake alone. But in order that we might have an example of God's plan of justification. 24. For us also. If we believe our faith shall save us. On him that raised Jesus. The same God who quickened Abraham's body, as good as dead, raised up our Lord. 25. Who was delivered for our offences. "He died for us;" "was made sin for us." He was to be "cut off, but not for himself." Raised again for our justification. The resurrection of Christ was his own justification against the condemnation of the world. In his justification, all for whom he died, who have laid hold on him by faith and are found in him, are justified with him, in that their sins are forgiven. Without the resurrection, the sepulcher of Christ would be the grave of all our hopes. This is beautifully symbolized in baptism. "We are buried by baptism into death," his death, "planted in the likeness of his death," figuratively die with him. We are also "planted in the likeness of his resurrection." We rise with him, "new creatures," justified by his resurrection.

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