Romans 4 – A Paraphrase

Abraham: The Father of Everyone Who Has Faith!

So what should we conclude from all this? Did we find that Abraham is our forefather on the basis of genealogical descent or on the basis of faith?

Because if Abraham was declared righteous on the basis of his works he would have had a genuine right to brag, though not before God! So what does scripture say: “Abraham believed God and his faith was credited to him as righteousness.” This illustrates that a worker’s wage is not credited to them on the basis of grace, but according to a debt that is rightfully owed them. Yet to the person who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.

Similarly, David said an identical thing about how happy a person is whom God credits righteousness without works. He said in a Psalm: “Happy are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sinful acts are covered up away from view” and “Happy is the person whom the Lord does not keep a record of his sinful acts.”

Is this happiness limited to those with or without a foreskin? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. But under what terms was it credit to him? Was it before he got the top of his manly tackle chopped off or afterwards? If you read the story in the Torah you’ll notice that Abraham had faith credited to him not when he was circumcised, but before that, when he was still uncircumcised! Abraham received circumcision in due time, but only as a seal and symbol of the righteousness that comprises of faith, which he already had while he was still uncircumcised. Abraham is and remains the father of the circumcised, who don’t just have the sign of the covenant on their bodies, but who also walk in the trail of faith that Abraham our forefather walked ahead of us while he was yet uncircumcised.

If that is the case, then it was not through the law that Abraham or his descendants received the promise that he would be the heir of the world, but it came through the righteousness that he gained by faith. For if it is only those who have the law are heirs, then faith is futile and the promise are petrified. That is because the law brings God’s wrath against us and where there is no law there is no violation of the law.

Therefore, the divine promises are received by faith, so that it might be according to grace and might be set in stone for every one of Abraham’s descendants. Not only for those who live under the law, but for those who have faith like Abraham. Abraham is the father of us all, law or no law, circumcised or not.

Check out what is written in scripture: “I have made you the father of many nations.” Abraham is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls the things which ain’t to be the things which are.

At one point, when Abraham was in a sad state, when the chips were down, in hope piled upon hope, he still believed in God, trusting him entirely, that he would be the father of many nations, just as God had said to him, “So shall your offspring be, more numerous than the stars.” Without floundering in his faith, even though he knew that his own geriatric body already had one foot in the grave, after he hit the big one zero zero, while Sarah’s womb was dry and deathly like a desert, despite that, he did not fall into unbelief with respect to God’s impossible-looking promise. Instead, he was resolute and steadfast in his faith, and he did what humanity was always supposed to do, he gave glory to God, having complete and utter confidence that God was more than able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith “was credited to him as righteousness.”

The phrase “it was credited to him as righteousness” was not written for Abraham’s benefit alone but for ours. For we are the one’s whom God will also credit faith as righteousness, those of us who believe in the God who brought our Lord Jesus back from the dead.  As we say: Jesus was handed over to death to save us from our sins and he was brought back to live so that we could be declared righteous.

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  • Josh

    “Is this happiness limited to those with or without a foreskin? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. But under what terms was it credit to him? Was it before he got the top of his manly tackle chopped off or afterwards?”

    Very funny. Do you intend to work your way through all Romans?

  • pduggie

    No flippin’ way!