Romans 4: Righteousness by Faith

How can we be helped by the examples set by others?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:1 What was our forefather Abraham’s experience?
1 Corinthians 10:11 All these things should be an example for us. They were written to encourage us to listen to the Lord and follow him as we approach the end of this age.
Hebrews 11:37–39 They were stoned, sawed in half, and killed with the sword, subjected to torture and the threat of death to pressure them to recant their faith. Left in poverty, beaten and crippled, wearing the skins of sheep or goats, they wandered the wilderness and mountains, sleeping in caves and dugouts. With greater honor than those in the world, all were known for their  great faith, yet they died without receiving the promise.
2 Peter 2:6 God judged the sin and destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving a mound of ashes to warn people of the consequence of sin.
King James
Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Hebrews 11:37–39 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
2 Peter 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.

How do human values differ from God’s values? Why are they different?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:2 When his deeds revealed his righteousness, he had reason to boast before men. But God used a different basis for judgment.
King James
Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

How does believing God contribute to righteousness?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:3 What does Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and his faith was recognized as righteousness.
King James
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

What differences exist between compensation and gifts?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:4 Money paid to workers for their deeds is compensation, not a gift.
King James
Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

For what reasons should we be working for the Lord?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Psalm 62:12 Lord, you are faithful and just, because you reward people according to their deeds.
Proverbs 16:3 Surrender your plans to the Lord, and he will direct your thoughts.
Matthew 23:11 “Whoever is the greatest among you must be everyone’s servant.”
John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. He prunes the branches that bear fruit so they will produce more.”
Romans 4:5 God’s judgment of righteousness couldn’t have been compensation, because it was given before the works had been done. Therefore, righteousness must be a result of faith, not works.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my good friends, be strong in the Lord, passionate about doing his work, knowing that your effort will always have great value.
King James
Psalm 62:12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Why do righteous acts follow faith instead of preceding it?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:6–8 In his song, King David describes the man who is judged righteous by God even though he hasn’t yet done the good works, saying, Blessed is he whose violation of the Law has been pardoned, whose guilt has been forgiven. Blessed is he whose desires are open and honest before God, without pretense or deception.
King James
Romans 4:6–8 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.

What are God’s blessings based upon?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:9–10 Is this blessing reserved for the circumcised, or for others as well? We know that Abraham’s faith made him right in God’s eyes. Did this happen after he was circumcised? No, it was not after but before.
King James
Romans 4:9–10 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

How should we identify ourselves as “children of Abraham”?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Luke 3:8 “The way you live proves whether you have left your sins and turned to God. Do not say to one another, ‘We are all right because we are Abraham’s descendants.’ That does not mean anything. God can make these stones into children of Abraham.”
John 8:39 “Our father is Abraham.”
“If you were Abraham’s children, you would act like him.”
John 8:44 “You come from your father, the devil, and your desires are like his. From the beginning, he was a murderer and opposed the truth, because truth was not in his nature. When he lies, he speaks from his heart, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Romans 4:11–12 Circumcision was a physical sign of an already established relationship with God, making Abraham the father of all the uncircumcised who believe and are made righteous. He is also the father of the circumcised who exercise the same kind of faith that he had when he was not circumcised.
Galatians 3:7 The true children of Abraham, God’s chosen people, are those who live by faith, not the Law.
King James
Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
John 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Romans 4:11–12 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.
Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

What effect should faith have upon our actions?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:14 If obedience to rules and regulations were the basis for God’s favor, then faith would have no value and the promise, which is based on faith, would be nullified.
Hebrews 11:6 Unless we believe in God and the rewards that follow, we’ll neither approach him nor seek to please him.
James 2:15–17 Suppose a brother or sister has no coat and nothing to eat. If you only say, “You have my blessing. Go in peace and be warm and satisfied,” but you do nothing to help, what did he or she gain? So you see, a declaration of faith alone is dead without the actions that give it life.
King James
Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
James 2:15–17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Why does the Law bring judgment and Grace does not?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:15 The law brings judgment to its violators, but actions that follow our faith bring no violation.
King James
Romans 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Without the written Word or the voice of any prophet, what did Abraham have to follow?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:16 God’s promise is based on faith, making it a gift to all those who believe—those who have the same commitment as Abraham our father had, hearing and obeying God.
King James
Romans 4:16 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,

How can God speak of the future as if it had already happened?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:17 From Scripture, we know that God—who brings the dead to life and speaks of the future as if it had already happened—said to Abraham, I have made you a father of many nations.
King James
Romans 4:17 (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.

For what reasons might Abraham have believed God when the promise was outside the realm of physical possibility?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:18–20 At a time when Abraham was too old to hope for a son, he believed God anyway, and because of that faith, he became the father of many nations, just as God had promised. Abraham was so strong in trusting God’s Word that he ignored the fact that he was almost a hundred years old and his wife, Sarah, was past the age of child-bearing. Since God had the power to change his circumstances, Abraham believed the promise and glorified God.
King James
Romans 4:18–20 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;

How could Abraham be absolutely sure of God’s promise?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:21–22 He was absolutely sure God was able to do what he said he would do, and this was the faith that brought about his right standing with God.
King James
Romans 4:21–22 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

How did Abraham’s faith result in right standing with God?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:21–22 He was absolutely sure God was able to do what he said he would do, and this was the faith that brought about his right standing with God.
King James
Romans 4:21–22 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

What does Abraham’s experience say about what is possible in our relationship with God?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:23–24 Scripture records this accounting of faith as righteousness, not just for Abraham’s benefit, but for us as well. We also will be judged righteous if we believe God, who raised up Jesus Christ our Lord from the dead.
King James
Romans 4:23–24 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;

Because of Christ, what kinds of changes should we expect in our lives?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 4:25 Because of our transgressions—that is, our sinful thoughts and actions, Jesus was condemned to die. But he was raised from the dead so we might live, made acceptable to God.
2 Corinthians 3:18 Like someone looking into a mirror, when we see the Lord in the glory of the new contract, we become more like him, being changed from glory to greater glory by the work of his Spirit.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, we may be God’s children, but we don’t yet know what we will become. But the more of him we see, the more we’ll want to be like him, for we shall see how great he really is.
King James
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.