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October 2018 TRANSCRIPT

Romans Class SRL, Medellin


Prepared by: Walter Eriksen
LESSON 12 Romans 4:1-12
God’s Righteousness for Justification (3:21–5:21)
Proved by the Example of Abraham

Scripture for lesson 4 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does

the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who
works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him
who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the
one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

and whose sins are covered;


8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted

to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised?
It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the
righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of
all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make
him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith
that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

1. ON VERSE 1: What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
1.1. Paul’s using Abraham: probably the strongest, most appropriate, and best defense against objectors.
1.1.1. Abraham, the Patriarch of ethnic Jews, spiritual paternal father of faith to all elect, Jews and
Gentiles.
1.1.2. To whom we ought all to be conformed; and there is also but one way and not many ways by
which righteousness may be obtained by all.1
1.2. our forefather: Paul’s (according to the flesh), within the current context, also his spiritual father together
with all Jews and now Gentiles whom God gave to His Son who died so he could bring them to the Father.
1.2.1. Let me tell you of my neighbor friend whose name is also Paul, a Jew, a socialist philosophically,
teacher in the largest university in Florida maybe in the US.
1.3. Moo, D. J. The chapter reveals the expansion of Abraham’s “fatherhood” to include the spiritual
paternity.
1.4. (“we”) is limited not just by physical descent but also by a narrow, “old era” perspective from a “new
era” perspective, Abraham is the father of all believers, both Jewish and Gentile (cf. 4:11–12).2
1.5. Sproul, R.C.: The principal character of the illustration is Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch, who is
called, in the New Testament, the ‘father of the faithful’.

1
Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 153).
Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
2
Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 259-260). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Co.
1.5.1. Paul points to him as his exhibit A, his principal model of one who is justified by faith. Paul is
reminding his readers that he, himself, is a Jew when Abraham is called ‘our forefather’.3
2. ON VERSE 2: For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
2.1. Calvin, John: If Abraham was justified by works, he might justly glory: but he had nothing for which he
could glory before God; then he was not justified by works.4
2.2. Moo, D. J: The question about Abraham’s being justified by works is no idle one.
2.2.1. The Jewish interpretation of Abraham stressed his works as the essence of his piety and the basis
for his extraordinary, exemplary relationship to God.
2.2.2. has something to boast about, but not before God Paul contests the conclusion “but not before
God.”
2.2.3. When God’s viewpoint is considered, Abraham has no right to boast at all.5
2.3. Sproul, R.C calls this a ‘condition contrary to fact’. He doesn’t say that Abraham ‘was’ justified by
works, but rather if Abraham were justified by works. The language here indicates that Abraham was not
justified by works. Paul is envisaging a hypothetical situation that is, in fact, not the case.6
3. ON VERSE 3: For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as
righteousness.”
3.1. MOO, D.J.: Of considerable importance for Paul’s use of the text is the meaning of God’s “reckoning”
Abraham’s faith “for” righteousness.
3.1.1. Comparing other verses in which the same grammatical construction as is used in Gen. 15:6
suggests that the “reckoning” of Abraham’s faith as righteousness means “to account to him a
righteousness that does not inherently belong to him.”
3.1.2. Abraham’s response to God’s promise leads God to “reckon” to him a “status” of righteousness.
3.1.3. The essential point, that Abraham’s relationship with God is established as an act of God’s grace
in response to Abraham’s faith, is the same in both Genesis and Romans.7
3.2. MORRIS, LEON: To believe what God says means to trust him, and Paul makes this clear as he develops
his argument throughout this chapter. Abraham did not perform some great work of merit, but simply
trusted God.8
3.3. SPROUL, R.C.: It is not that God looked down upon Abraham, and said, ‘There is a righteous man; I
will justify him on the basis of his obvious righteousness.’ Rather, because Abraham believed, God

3
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (pp. 80-81). Great Britain: Christian Focus
Publications.
4
Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 154).
Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
5
Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 260-261). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Co.
6
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 81). Great Britain: Christian Focus
Publications.
7
Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 261-262). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Co.
8
Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 196–197). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B.
Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
counted him as righteous. If we had to wait until we were perfectly righteous before we could be justified,
none of us would make it.9
4. ON VERSE 4: Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
4.1. Calvin, John: the question is not here how we are to regulate our life, but how we are to be saved: and
he argues from what is contrary, that God confers not righteousness on us because it is due, but bestows
it as a gift. 10
4.2. MOO, D.J.: God is never obliged by his creatures; justification is a gift, freely bestowed, not a wage,
justly earned. That God acts toward his creatures graciously—without compulsion or necessity—is one
of Paul’s nonnegotiable theological axioms.11
4.3. Morris, Leon: It might fairly be said that Genesis does not speak of God as owing anything to Abraham
or of Abraham as meriting anything from God12
4.4. Sproul, R.C.: we see the clear distinction between merit and grace. If I am truly virtuous, then a just and
holy God need not exercise grace to redeem me. If I am truly righteous, he must let me enter into the
kingdom of God on the basis of pure justice, because my virtue requires reward.
5. ON VERSE 5: And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is
counted as righteousness,
5.1. Sproul, R.C.: The trusting person does not stand before God in the capacity of a paid laborer, receiving
his due for work done, but as a believer. they had the blessing that their iniquities had been forgiven and
their sins covered. Therein is justification13
6. ON VERSE 6-8: just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness
apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

6.1. Moo, D.J.: Paul’s association of Ps. 32:1–2 (Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose
sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there
is no deceit.) with Gen. 15:6 (And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.)
6.2. the Psalm verses closely associate the forgiveness of sins (v. 1) with the Lord’s “not reckoning” a person’s
sins against him (v. 2).
6.2.1. In other words, it is not the “reckoning” of people’s good works but God’s act in not reckoning
their sins against them that constitutes forgiveness.
6.2.2. This perfectly accords with Paul’s concern to portray justification as a free act of God that has no
basis in a person’s works.
6.2.3. Two implications: First, it is clear that the forgiveness of sins is a basic component of justification.
Second, Paul reveals again his strongly forensic(legal) understanding of justification. —they are
“acquitted” rather than condemned.14

9
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 82). Great Britain: Christian Focus
Publications.
10
Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 158).
Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
11
Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 263). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
12
Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 197–198). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B.
Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
13
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 85). Great Britain: Christian Focus
Publications.
14
Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 266). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
6.3. Sproul, R.C.: Here is one who receives the blessing of God: God transfers righteousness to his account
apart from works.15
7. ON VERSE 9-12: Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say
that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after
he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of
circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose
was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be
counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but
who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
7.1. Calvin, John: for the circumcised: the Jews gloried in it as a meritorious observance of the law: and on
this account it was that they regarded themselves better than others, as though they possessed a higher
excellency before God.16
7.2. Moo, D. J.: was counted to Abraham as righteousness before or after he had been circumcised?
7.2.1. Paul’s clear and direct: “was not when he was circumcised but when uncircumcised.”
7.2.2. The chronological progression Abraham’s faith “is reckoned for righteousness” when God
promised him a son (Gen. 15); but it is not until much later—twenty-nine years, according to the
rabbis—that he is circumcised (Gen. 17)17
7.3. Morris, Leon: In agreement with Genesis 17:11(it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.)
Paul says that it was a sign.
7.3.1. This sign is further explained as a seal. In antiquity a seal was often a mark of ownership.
7.3.2. God did this in order that Abraham might be the father of all believers, circumcised or
uncircumcised.
7.3.3. Paul singles out for mention those who have not been circumcised.
7.3.4. The true children of Abraham are not those who took his circumcision as a model, but those who
received God’s gift in faith as he did. Paul could be seen as a pattern of faith (1 Tim. 1:16; But I
received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect
patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life), but Abraham was more;
he was the spiritual father of all believers (cf. Gal. 3:7), the father of the household of faith. 18
7.4. Sproul, R.C.: The point being made is that Abraham was justified before he ever did any of the works
of the law.19
8. NOTE: All believers, weather Jew or Gentile, have the same Spiritual Father. When I share this with a Jewish
friend and them the Apostle Paul tells us that about Abraham.

15
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 85). Great Britain: Christian Focus
Publications.
16
Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 163).
Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
17
Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 268). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
18
Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 202-203). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B.
Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
19
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 86). Great Britain: Christian Focus
Publications.