Chapter 04/Romans

Salvation by Faith and Jewish Antiquity

Romans 4

I. Both David and Abraham provide proof of salvation by faith.
A. Faith is the same as forgiveness through Christ.
B. Works refers to meritorious works that would provide salvation without Christ.
II. Abraham’s case proves that salvation is by faith.
A. It proves that salvation for the Jew is by faith.
B. It also proves that salvation for the Gentile is by faith.
III. Abraham’s case also proves that salvation is for the uncircumcised.
IV. Salvation by faith is salvation according to the promise made to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:9-19; 28:14; ).
V. The case of Abraham defines the faith required as faith that must trust God’s promise and power even against logic and against nature.
VI. The Central Idea: Jewish antiquity proves that salvation is by faith available to both Jew and Gentile alike.

I. Abraham discovered that salvation is by faith and not by works (1-3).
A. Abraham was the forefather of those to whom Paul was writing (1).
B. If Abraham were justified by works, he had something to boast about (2).
C. In no case can one boast before God (2b).
D. The Scripture says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (3).

II. David confirms that faith is credited as righteousness apart from works (4-8).
A. When a man works, his wages are not credited to him by grace, but as something merited (4).
1. “Works” is used to refer to efforts to earn salvation by perfect law keeping–without Christ (cf. Gal. 3:10).
a. Work Vs grace.
b. Grace Vs debt.
c. Work = debt.
d. Faith = obedient faith (cf. Gal. 5:6; James 2:19-26).
2. The expression”does not work” is used to refer to depending on God’s forgiveness rather than depending on meritorious works (cf. 5-8).
B. The fact that God justifies the wicked is proof that salvation is not by works, i.e., not by man’s perfect activity, but by forgiveness (5).
1. Since he is wicked, it is evident that he is not perfect–is not worthy of salvation, by works nor by law.
2. In this case all that is left to make him righteous is grace through faith (cf. Eph. 2:8, 9).
C. David says the same as “faith is credited as righteousness” when he says, “offenses have been forgiven,” “sins have been covered,” and “whose sins the Lord will never count against him (5-8).

III. Abraham’s case is proof that Gentiles can be saved by faith (9-12).
A. Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness before he was circumcised (9-10).
B. He received circumcision as a sign and seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised (11).
C. Therefore, Abraham is the father of those who believe but have not been circumcised (11).
1. This was done with a goal that righteousness would be reckoned or credited to them (11).
2. So, if this were not the case, the uncircumcised could not be saved.
D. He is the father of the circumcised only if they walk in the footsteps of the faith Abraham had before he was circumcised (12).

IV. Abraham discovered that the promise of salvation through the seed is not by law but by faith (13-15).
A. The promise to Abraham and his offspring (seed) was not through law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith (13).
B. If the inheritance is by law, faith has no value and the promise is worthless (14).
C. The law brings wrath (15; cf. Gal. 3:10, 11).
D. Where there is no law (i.e., where men have believed and accepted grace and rejected the law method of salvation) there is no transgression because their sins are forgiven (15; cf. 6-8).

V. The promised salvation is by faith so that it might be by grace and might be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offsprings (16-17).
A. Salvation is by faith so that it might be by grace (16)
B. This salvation is guaranteed to all of Abraham’s offsprings (16).
1. It is given to those who are of the law–i. e., to believing Israelites, those circumcised according to the law, not those who seek salvation by law (16; cf. v. 15; Gal. 3:10, 11).
2. It is also given to those who are offsprings by faith, the uncircumcision or the Gentiles (16).
3. Abraham is the father of all believers (16).
a. It is written that Abraham is the father of many nations (17; cf. Gen. 17:4, 5).
b. He is the father of all Christians in the sight of God (17).
C. Just as He gives life to the dead. God calls those righteous who are not righteous by their own right (17).

VI. Abraham’s case is proof that, in order for us to be made righteous by faith, we must believe against that which seems to be the logical conclusion (18-25).
A. Abraham believed against reasonable hope that he would have offsprings (18-21).
1. He was about a hundred years old and his body was as good as dead (19; cf. Gen. 15:1-6; 17:15-21).
2. Sarah’ womb was also dead (19).
B. Abraham did not waver but was strengthened in faith because he believed that God keeps his promises (20-22).
1. God promised him an offspring (20).
2. He was fully persuaded that God had the power to fulfill his promises (20).
C. The fact that Abraham believed that God could and would keep his promise to give him a seed that would be a savior of all men “was credited to him as righteousness” (22).
D. “It was credited to him for righteousness” was written for those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus as well as for Abraham (23, 24).
E. As part of this long-standing plan, Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (25).

CONCLUSION: Salvation by grace through faith to all who believe, Jew and Gentile alike, is a doctrine established by the Jewish Scriptures and by the example of Abraham.

© 2004, Dr. Wm. T. (Bill) Lambert
Professor Emeritus – NT Literature and Interpretation
College of Bible and Religion
Harding University

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