The Promise

Romans 4:13-16 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 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 

‘Heir of the world’ this refers to his being a blessing to all nations of the earth. He also will literally inherit the earth along with all those blessed with him (Ps. 37:11; Mat. 5:5; 25:34; Rev. 5:10; 22:4-5).

‘Righteousness of faith’ this promise of heirship did not come through the law but by the Abrahamic covenant of faith (4:13-16; Gen. 12:1-3).

‘Is made void’ [Greek: kenoo] has been emptied (1Cor. 1:17; 9:15; 2Cor. 9:3; Php. 2:7). ‘Made of none effect’ [Greek: katargeo] to make useless; without effect; make of no effect (3:3; 4:14; Gal. 3:17; 5:4); come and bring to naught (1Cor. 1:28; 2:6); done away (1Cor. 13:10; 2Cor. 3:7, 3:11, 3:14); fail (1Cor. 13:8); cease (Gal. 6:11); vanish away (1Cor. 13:8); make void (Rom. 3:31); cumber (Luke 13:7); deliver (Rom. 7:6); loose (Rom. 7:2); put away (1Cor. 13:11); put down (1Cor. 15:24); destroy (Rom. 6:6; 1Cor. 6:13; 15:26; 2Thess. 2:8; Heb. 2:14); and abolish (2Cor. 3:13; Eph. 2:15; 2Tim. 1:10). It is clear from these passages that whatever is abolished is completely null and void. What is it here that is abolished? It is the law of commandments in decrees or the law of dogmatic commandments. The word for ordinances is dogma, translated “decree” (Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; 17:7) and “ordinance” (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14). The law was made to expose sin (Rom. 3:19-20; 7:13; Gal. 3:19-25) and to keep the Jews a distinct people until Christ came. After that, it was no longer needed.

‘Works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression’ No law makes provision for mercy and pardon should it be broken. It works wrath and punishment only.

‘Therefore it is of faith… the faith of Abraham’ We read in James 2:23 that Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness – a quote from Genesis 15:6 which was many years before offering Isaac as in Genesis 22:1-24. Thus, every act of obedience is an act of faith and works combined to maintain justification before God. Abraham proved his faith in God when he was asked to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. It was faith that led him to this act of obedience (Jas. 2:23). Had he refused to obey, it would have demonstrated that he had no faith in God or His Word. It is also clear that this act of faith and works was not his initial justification by faith. That was at least 40 to 50 years before offering Isaac (Gen. 12:1-4; 15:6; Rom. 4:1-6).

‘By grace’ because of this, it can be for all people. Ephesians 2:8 states that by grace are we saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God. A simple statement of how people are resurrected spiritually from death in sins (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 10:9-10; John 3:16; 1Jn. 1:9).

‘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’ this promise of heirship (4:13) was made to everyone that has faith by grace – the same faith that Abraham had and of which he is the father of.

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