Romans 4

Romans 4:1

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?

Our forefather according to the flesh. Abraham was the father of Israel, humanly speaking.

Romans 4:2

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

(a) If Abraham was justified by works. Abraham was justified by faith (see Rom. 4:3, 9), not works (see also the entry for Jas. 2:21).

(b) He has something to boast about. The merciless law silences boasting mouths by revealing that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Rom. 3:19, 23). Those who take a high view of themselves, such as the self-righteous Pharisee, can never be made right with God (Luke 18:14).

Romans 4:3


Credited to him as righteousness. Abraham was reckoned righteous before the cross on account of his faith in God.

Before the cross, no one could be made righteous. The gift of righteousness had not been given and the “one act of righteousness” had not be done (Rom. 5:18). This is why Old Testament saints such as Abraham were credited with righteousness on account of their faith in God (Gen. 15:6 Rom. 4:9, 22, Gal. 3:6, Jas 2:23). In the old days, righteousness was credited to those who believed; now righteousness is created in the believer. Back then, righteousness was imputed; now it is imparted.

Pre-cross believers who were credited as righteous include Abel (Matt. 23:35, Heb. 11:4), Noah (Gen. 6:9, Heb. 11:7, 2 Pet. 2:5), Lot (2 Pet. 2:7-8), Simeon (Luke 2:25), John the Baptist (Mark 6:20), Joseph the husband of Mary (Matt. 1:19), and Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50). These people and many others were reckoned or credited with righteousness on account of their faith in God.

Romans 4:5

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

(a) The one who does not work, but believes. Faith is not work but a rest (Heb. 4:3). Faith is not a verb but a noun. Faith is being persuaded that God is who he says he is, has done what he said he’s done, and will do what he has promised to do.

Abraham “was fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom 4:21). Faith is being fully persuaded. When you are fully persuaded, you can rest. The issue is settled. Your mind is made up and your heart is at ease. See entry for Faith.

(b) The ungodly. To be ungodly is to have contempt for the things of God. The ungodly are opposed to God, but God is not opposed to them. Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6) and his desire is to justify them.

(c) Credited as righteousness; see entry for Rom. 4:3.

Romans 4:6

just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Credits righteousness; see entry for Rom. 4:3.

Romans 4:7


Forgiven. The original word is sometimes translated as remission and means a letting go or dismissal. On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (see entry for Luke 24:47). After the cross, the apostles described forgiveness as a gift to receive (see entry for Acts 13:38).

Romans 4:8


We are the blessed people who sins and trespasses God is not counting (2 Cor. 5:19). Because of his great love, God chooses to remember your sins no more (Heb. 8:12, 10:17).

Romans 4:9

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Credited as righteousness; see entry for Rom. 4:3.

Romans 4:11

and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

(a) The righteousness of the faith. The gospel reveals the righteousness of God that is received by faith (Rom. 1:17). This divine righteousness is sometimes referred to as the righteousness of faith or faith righteousness (Rom. 4:13, 9:30, 10:6, Php. 3:9, Heb. 11:7). Faith righteousness can be distinguished from works righteousness which is based on our own efforts (Tit. 3:5). The righteousness of the law (Rom. 10:4-5, Php. 3:6, 9) is an example of works righteousness.

(b) The father of all who believe. “Abraham, the believer” (Gal. 3:9) was not the first person in the Bible to have faith, but those who are of the faith are considered sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7).

Romans 4:12

and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

Father Abraham. Abraham, the great pioneer of faith, is the father of all who believe (Rom. 4:11).

Romans 4:13

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

(a) The promise to Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4). “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you” (Gen. 17:6). God further promised that through Abraham’s seed or offspring “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). Since those who are belong to Christ are Abraham’s spiritual descendants, we inherit the promises made to Abraham (Gal. 3:29).

(b) Heir of the world. In Christ we are heirs of the kingdom (Col. 1:12, Jas. 2:5), heirs of the earth (Matt. 5:5, Rom.4:13), and heirs of all things (John 17:10, Heb. 1:2, Rev. 21:7).

For these promises of an inheritance to come true, Someone has to die, and Someone did. “I confer on you a kingdom,” said Jesus to the disciples on the eve of his death (Luke 22:29). If the kingdom is already ours, then so is the earth and all things. It is not God’s will for you to be enslaved to debt or bound with anxiety regarding the future. You are dearly-loved child of God and a co-heir with Christ. As he is – whole, healthy, and prosperous – so are you in this world.

See entry for Inheritance.

(c) The Law. We don’t earn the promise through our good works or law-keeping. We inherit it by faith.

(b) The righteousness of faith is the righteousness of God that is received by faith (see entry for Php. 3:9).

Romans 4:15

for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

(a) Wrath. The law inflames and empowers sin which in turn kills us (Rom. 7:9, 13).

(b) Law. The Law of Moses (see entry for Rom. 2:12).

(c) No violation. You can’t break a law that doesn’t exist. Prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments, people were sinning in ignorance and dying as a result (see Rom. 5:13–14). Things got worse after the law was introduced, because the law excites the flesh making sin even more damaging (Rom. 7:13).

Some misread this verse as “where there is no law there is no sin.” But there has been sin in the world since the time of Adam (Rom. 5:12), and there is still sin in the world. Every day people fall short of all that God has in store for them.

Romans 4:16

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

(a) It is by faith. Our inheritance comes by faith and not through works or law-keeping (Rom. 11:6, Gal. 2:21).

(b) In accordance with grace. All the blessings of God come by grace and are received by faith (Eph. 1:3, 2:8).

(c) The faith of Abraham was evident in the way he responded to the call of God. God said go and he went (Gen. 12:1). When he got to Canaan, God said stay and he stayed. That’s faith (Heb. 11:8-9). Then God said “I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars,” and Abram believed God and was considered righteous for doing so (Gen 15:6). When you agree with God that’s faith. Agreeing with God makes you right with God (see entry for Rom. 3:28) and pleases God (Heb. 11:6).

(d) The father of us all who believe; see entry for Rom. 4:11.

Romans 4:20

yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,

(a) The promise of God for Abraham was that the old man would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen. 22:17).

(b) He did not waver in unbelief. Abraham’s faith was remarkable. He had been asked by God to offer his only son on the altar.

(c) Grew strong in faith. Abraham had many years of developing his faith. God called him out of his father’s land and he went. God told him to stay in tents in Canaan and he stayed. By the time he got to Isaac, his faith had grown strong.

You can be weak in faith (Rom. 4:19, 14:1) or you can be strengthened in the faith (Acts 16:5, 1 Th. 3:2). You can waver in unbelief or you can stand firm in your faith (1 Cor. 16:13, Col. 2:7, Tit. 1:13, 2:2, 1 Pet. 5:9). One of the ways we strengthen our faith is by growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18). As our understanding of God’s love deepens, it strengthens our trust in him. As God gets bigger, our faith in him grows stronger.

Romans 4:21

and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

Fully assured. Faith is being fully assured or persuaded that God is who he says he is, has done what he said he’s done, and will do what he has promised to do. When you are fully persuaded, you can rest. The issue is settled. Your mind is made up and your heart is at ease. As creatures of persuasion we are designed to operate from our convictions. Either you will be convinced that God loves you or you won’t be. If you’re not convinced, you will waver in indecision and stagger in unbelief.

See entry for Faith.

Romans 4:22


Credited to him as righteousness; see entry for Rom. 4:3.

Romans 4:25

He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

(a) Delivered over because of our transgressions. Jesus died to set you free from sin.

(b) Raised because of our justification. Jesus’ resurrection proves you have been made right with God.

(c) Justification. The original word is a noun that means acquittal. It is related to another word that means innocent. In Christ you are sin-free, guilt-free, and wholly innocent of all claims against you. See entry for Justification.

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1 comment

  1. Chapter 4 … well done
    I love your comparison/contrast of credited vs created righteousness, that was fresh bread to me. Thank you so much

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