Romans, Rightly Divided & Verse-by-Verse
Session 11 | Romans 4:13-25
Romans 3:20-5:11 | The Case Fulfilled: A Gospel For All
Romans 3:31-4:25 | Addressing the Shock
Supplemental Resource, Romans Graphically Presented, pg. 20
Romans 4:9-22 | Digging Deeper Into The Abrahamic Example
Supplemental Resource: The Bible Graphically Presented, pg. 25.
-verses 9-12, see session 10
#### Verse 13 – Black
It is important to remember that Paul is giving an illustration of God giving a faith-based promise, and He did so in Abraham. The Abrahamic promise was not...through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Abraham had a “faith righteousness” and not a “law righteousness.”
Sadly, standard Christian thought concludes that the salvation which we are offered today, under the dispensation of Grace, has always been offered in the same way. Such conclusion is non sequiter (“it does not follow”). This verse relates to the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, and should apply to that promise only. It is used to illustrate God’s ability to make faith-based promises, not to prove that this is what God has always done.
#### Verse 14 – Black
Here we learn that the Abrahamic promise was unaffected by the Law, and the Law was therefor unrelated and served a different purpose. Israel was not promised an inheritance based on obedience to the Law. Rather, the Law was a stop-gap measure, providing national solidarity and a means of temporary personal and corporate righteousness until Messiah would come to fulfill the promises to Abraham. The Law could not void the faith-based righteousness upon which the Abrahamic promise was given.
#### Verse 15 – Black
Paul’s argument that the law worketh wrath says that the Law could not be the basis of promise. This is the same argument as 3:20, and repeated many times in Scripture (Rom 5:20, 7:13, Col 2:14, Gal 3:10, 1 Cor 15:56, 2 Cor 3:7, 9). With all these negative words about the Law, why do churches continue to try to put men under the Law?
#### Verse 16 – Black
The Jewish people were recipients of the promise, and, so that the promise might be sure, it was a promise to Isaac and Jacob (who were not of the law) as much as to those who were of the law. Furthermore, the Abrahamic promise has been sure in the past 2000 years since the Law was set aside (with the destruction of the Temple).
Abraham being the father of us all should be taken as all Jews, whether from before the law (such as Isaac) or after (such as Paul’s audience). It should not be taken as Abraham is the father of all peoples. See verse 17 for more evidence of this claim.
#### Verse 17 – Black
The parenthetical note of Abraham being the father of many nations is a quote of Genesis 17:5, but should not be construed to be a reference to the father of the Gentiles in this case. The context is to Abraham’s seed, and the promised seed was through Isaac alone. As evidence, notice that in verse 16 Paul says that the promise is not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham. The pronoun that (used twice) is singular and refers to a particular portion of the seed (v. 16). There is the seed that…is of the law (the Jewish nation) as well as the seed that is of the faith of Abraham (Isaac, Jacob, etc.). The ESV does a disservice to the words, translating as, “not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham.” This sounds much more like a reference to you and me and other Gentiles who have faith like Abraham.
The phrase before him whom he believed… is a completion of the phrase in verse 16 ending in …to all the seed. Someday the entire nation will stand before him (the Lord) whom he (Abraham) believed. Paul closes the thought with a benediction.
#### Verses 18-22 – Black
These verses elaborate on Abraham’s faith in the promise God gave him. They are the expanded version of Genesis 15:6.
Romans 4:23-25 | The Moral Of The Story
Supplemental Resource: The Bible Graphically Presented, pg. 26.
#### Verses 23-25 – Blue Letters
This section of verses must be taken as a whole, being one sentence, but it helps explain Genesis 15:6. The famous statement was not written for his sake alone (v. 23, speaking of Abraham’s sake), but for us also (v. 24). Our premise has been that the first-person plural pronoun (us) is a reference to the Apostles, unless otherwise clarified. Here, the reference is clarified as to us also, to whom it shall be imputed (that is, righteousness shall be imputed). This changes the pronoun reference in this context from the Apostles to those who have imputed righteousness, thus including the Body of Christ.
But, as we have said before, this is certainly not proof that God has always offered salvation by grace and through faith. The Abrahamic statement was recorded so that we would realize that God can and has offered a grace-gift based on faith-alone. Paul now argues that He is doing it again through Jesus Christ.