The Expository Files.

Justification By Faith As Presented In Romans Four

-Part 2-

Romans 4

{It is the belief of the writer that JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH involves: a heart bowed in loving allegiance to and trust in Jesus Christ, which produces voluntary and unqualified submission to His authority, expressed in obedience. In this two-part study of Romans chapter four, I offer some of the strongest scriptural evidence that has led me to this conviction. -web}

Highlights From The Last Article (Rom. 4:1-4):

1. The typical Jew took great pride in his genealogy; gloried in human merit (trust in your own ability to keep law) and circumcision; boasted about his loyalty to the law of Moses, while clinging to human tradition and cherishing an exaggerated respect for men.

2. Abraham was a hero in the Jewish mind, but his case actually proves what the unbelieving Jews militantly rejected: JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.

3. Two Questions can help us focus on Paul's point in Romans 4:1-4.



a. by keeping the law of Moses? No.
b. by self-reliant performance and
impeccable obedience? No.
c. by circumcision? No.
d. by pedigree? No.

Abraham was righteous by faith; an obedient faith, which is to say: HE DIDN'T DEPEND UPON SELF, HE DEPENDED UPON GOD. He heard God, believed God, and obeyed God! This is the very thing we are called upon to do in response to the gospel.

Continuing The Study With David (Rom. 4:5-8):

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Romans 4:5-8, KJV).

The phrase "him that worketh not" is not describing the disobedient person, or the person who has an inactive faith! This teaching does not exclude all works, it excludes those who depend solely upon their own work; the self-reliant instead of those who trust and obey God. To him who does not rely on himself but on God, "his faith is counted for righteousness." {Note, from here on it is understood, when we speak of the faith that justifies, IT IS A FAITH THAT PROMPTS OBEDIENCE.}

The case of David is the case of a man who turned to God and did what God said, for a benefit he could not acquire on his own: FORGIVENESS.

In the case of both Abraham and David, what was it that made them righteous before God? Did these men have perfect lives to put God in debt to them? Neither did. They were made righteous by hearing, believing and doing the bidding of God, even though they had sinned! This is justification by faith, and this is how the gospel works.

The Rest of The Chapter Elaborates on This.

Notes on Rom. 4:9-25

Verse 9 - A Question, a Premise and an Implied Answer.

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 4:9, KJV).

The question: "Does this blessedness then come on the circumcised only, or on the uncircumcised also?" Premise: " was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness." Implied answer: The blessing of justification is available to all, on the basis of faith.

Verses 10-12 - Part of Paul's argument was simply a question of time or history; faith was reckoned to Abraham before he was circumcised. This established that God has, He can and does justify a person apart from circumcision on the basis of an active faith.

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 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: 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 4:10-12, KJV).

Verse 13 - Here there is another matter of time or history; good things were promised to Abraham before he was circumcised, and before the law of Moses existed.

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 4:13, KJV).

Verse 14 - If keeping the law of Moses was the means of becoming heir of GodOs promises to Abraham, then faith would be ruled out; without faith, you don't have the promises because they were made to Abraham "through the righteousness of faith."

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

Verse 15 - Many Jews were wanting to think of being heirs or recipients of the promises by keeping the law, and re-enforcing the ordinance of circumcision. But, all anyone ever got out of trying to keep the law of Moses was, condemnation.

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

Verses 16,17 - Under the gospel, righteousness is BY FAITH, not "through the law," therefore it is "according to grace." This is now available to all.

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, (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. (Romans 4:16,17, KJV).

Verses 18-25 - Abraham would have a son. Though this seemed unlikely, God said it, so Abraham believed it; he was "fully convinced" simply because God said it. This illustrates "justification by faith," and "it shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead."

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. 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 Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.(Romans 4:18-25, KJV).

In Summary:


The Jews gloried in human merit - but Abraham was justified by faith, not his own performance (4:1-8).

The Jews gloried in circumcision - but Abraham was justified by faith, about 14 years before he was circumcised (4:9-12).

The Jews gloried in the law - but Abraham was promised that he would be the heir of the world some 430 years before the law was given (4:13-17).

The point: IN ORDER TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD, we must have the same quality of faith Abraham had (4:18-25).


O...contrary to hope...O
O...not being weak in faith...O
O...did not consider...O
O...did not waver...O
O...was stengthened...O
O...gave glory to God...O
O...fully convinced...O

"Paul has said man is justified by faith, clearly distinguished between trusting in self as a law keeper and trusting in Christ as God's expression of grace and mercy. But 'faith' may mean anything from an academic agreement with testimony, to complete confidence expressed in action. He offers Father Abraham as an example of the kind of faith that is 'counted for righteousness'." {Robert Turner, READING ROMANS, p.#38}.

 By Warren E. Berkley 
 From Expository Files 3.2; February 1996