Abraham’s Righteousness Apart From Works
Verse 1 – What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?
In other words, Paul was asking the Jews, How does your doctrine of justification by faith agree with what the Scripture’s say of Abraham?
Verse 2 – For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something of which to boast, but not before God.
If Abraham was justified on the grounds of his own merits, he would have reason to boast, or to claim praise, but not in the sight of God. Therefore Abraham was not justified by his won works.
Verse 3 – For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Tradition must give way to the clear statements of the Scripture. Genesis 15:6 is the text Paul cited. The reason why it was counted to him for righteousness was that, it was such a strong, direct, and unwavering, act of confidence in the promise of God.
Do we as Christians have such confidence that what God says about us, is true? We should! God cannot lie!
Verse 4 – Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Pay and gifts are as different as works and faith.
Verse 5 – But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
God saves the ungodly, sinners, and His enemies, (because all are enemies until they come to Christ). Though Jews took Abraham to be a paragon of virtue, Paul declared that he was just a sinner saved by grace. He was justified by faith, just as any Christian is.
Verse 6 – just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works.
Paul was telling them that David understood the same doctrine of justification without works.
Verse 7 – “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
Verse 8 – Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
It would be arrogant to think our sins are too great to forgive. David quoted verses 7 and 8 because he knew God had forgiven him of terrible sins, adultery, murder, and lying, and these sins were deliberate, as most of ours are. David understood that, in God’s accounting ledger, his sins were wiped out and righteousness was inscribed in their place.
“To whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” The Lord will not charge us with our sins, or regard as guilty. To pardon sin as if the sin had not been committed. Because God has forgiven all of our sin, should we not then forgive others?
Abraham’s Righteousness Apart from Circumcision
Verse 9 – 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.
Verse 10 – How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.
God’s blessing to Abraham took place before Abraham was circumcised, so Paul tells the Jews that, righteousness is for the Gentiles also. (Remember, back in the Book of Acts where there was always a dispute between Jewish believers, believing that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised?) Paul wrote and proved it was not a matter of ceremony, but of God’s gift to the believer.
Verse 11 – 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,
Circumcision identified a man belonging to the nation of Israel. It was also to be a seal of righteousness a man had received by faith. Abraham was the model of the very doctrine which Paul was defending.
Verse 12 – 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.
Verse 13 – For the promise that he would be the father of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
The law demanded obedience and perfect performance. Therefore the promise to Abraham could have never been obtained through the law. The promise was given through righteousness by faith from Abraham. If you know your Bible, Abraham was before the law was even given.
Verse 14 – For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,
For those who live by the law seek justification by the law, then faith is useless, if they are the true heirs, because they could not obtain it.
verse 15 – because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
The word “wrath” here is punishment. So the meaning here is that, the law of God, demanding perfect purity, and denouncing every sin condemns the sinner, and consigns him to punishment. As the apostle had proved in Romans 1;2, and 3 that all are sinners, so it followed that if any attempted to be justified by the law, they would be involved only in condemnation and wrath.
Abraham’s Righteousness By Faith
Verse 16 – Therefore it is faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
verse 17 – (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed even God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
When God told Abraham that “I have made you a father of many nations”, Abraham didn’t have any heirs. God speaks in past tense, because it’s already done!
Verse 18 – who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
Verse 19 – And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
Verse 20 – He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
Even though Abraham was about 100 years old and Sarah was well past child-bearing age, Abraham believed God’s promise, and God strengthened Abraham’s faith. Did you catch that? This applies to all believers: God gives you a promise of something you are hoping for; you believe in your heart what God says is true; God will strengthen your faith to continue to believe Him, no matter how long it takes, just as He did with Abraham.
Verse 21 – and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Verse 22 – And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Verse 23 – Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
Verse 24 – but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
Verse 25 – who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
When we believe, an exchange takes place. We give Christ our sins, and He gives us His righteousness and forgiveness. Christ did the work, now believe and receive!