Imputed to Him

Romans 4:21-24 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 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

‘Fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform’ his soul was full of confidence that the Word of God bound Him to fulfil what He had promised. After 25 years, it was fulfilled. Faith was imputed for righteousness (4:3-22; Heb. 11:8-12).

‘And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.’ Imputation: justification from all sin. [Hebrew: chashab] to be reckoned or put to the account of one; charge with. Equivalent to the Greek word logizomai, translated numbered (Mark 15:28); accounted (Rom. 8:36; 1Cor. 4:1; Gal. 3:6; Heb. 11:19); counted (Rom. 2:26; 4:3, 5; 9:8; Php. 3:13); laid to their charge (2Tim. 4:16); reckoned (Luke 22:37; Rom. 4:4,9,10; 6:11; 8:18); and impute (Rom. 4:6, 8, 11, 22-24; 2Cor. 5:19; Jas. 2:23).

Imputation is that act of God in salvation whereby He accounts the believer righteous in Christ because Christ bore his sins and because he has properly repented of his sins and met God’s terms of reconciliation (Rom. 3:24-31; 4:1-25; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; Gal. 3:6-9, 13-14).

‘It was not written for his sake alone’ Genesis 15:6 was written for all mankind.

‘If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead’ the condition of the gospel is faith, not only temporary faith, but steadfast and continued faith. We can have joyful faith in, and acceptance of Christ as the substitute for sin and our Saviour whereby one receives salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 4:12; 10:43; Rom. 1:16; 3:24-31; Ephes. 2:8-9); access into grace (Rom. 5:2); fulfilment of the promises (Heb. 6:12); the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:14); righteousness (Rom. 4; 9:30, 32; 10:6; Php. 3:9); sonship (Gal. 3:26); healing (Jas. 5:14-16; 1Pet. 2:24); eternal life (John 3:15-18, 36; 5:24; 6:47); and answers to every prayer (Mat. 7:7-11; 21:21; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 18:1-8; John 14:12-15; 15:7, 16).

Believed in Hope

Romans 4:17-20 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickened the dead, and called those things which be not as though they were. 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 

‘I have made thee a father of many nations’ quoted from Genesis 17:4-5. This is a prophecy fulfilled before New Testament times.

‘Who quickened the dead, and called those things which be not as though they were’ Two things of God here: Resurrection (4:17; 8:11; John 5:21; 6:63; 1Cor. 15:22, 35, 45; 2Cor. 3:6; Gal. 3:21; 1Tim. 6:13; 1Pet. 3:18). Faith (4:17; 8:24-25; Mat. 17:20; 21:22; Mark 9:23; 11:22-24; Heb. 11:1). True faith is counting things that be not as though they were. This is what God exercised when He called the worlds into existence (Heb. 11:3; 2Pet. 3:5; Gen. 1:1; Job 38:4-7).

‘Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken’ here Paul describes the faith of Abraham in order to explain what gospel faith is like (Heb. 11:6; Jas. 1:5-8). ‘So shall thy seed be’ quoted from Genesis 15:5.

‘Hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb.’ Genesis 17:1 reveals God as the Fruitful-One who was to multiply Abraham abundantly; the Life-Giver who was to restore life to Abraham and Sarah who were as good as dead where offspring was concerned. Through Him, they would have future offspring as the dust (Gen. 13:16), stars (Gen. 15:5), and sand in number (Gen. 22:17). In Genesis 21:1 we see the Lord visited Sarah to renew her youth so that she could bear a child and nurse him (Gen. 21:1-2).

‘He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.’ Abraham lived in faith giving God glory in all he did (1Cor. 10:31) and never stumbled in his service to God.

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.

The Sign of Circumcision

Romans 4:9-12 Come 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. 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. 

‘Impute sin’ Imputation: justification from all sin. [Hebrew: chashab] to be reckoned or put to the account of one; charge with. Equivalent to the Greek word logizomai, translated numbered (Mark 15:28); accounted (Rom. 8:36; 1Cor. 4:1; Gal. 3:6; Heb. 11:19); counted (Rom. 2:26; 4:3, 5; 9:8; Php. 3:13); laid to their charge (2Tim. 4:16); reckoned (Luke 22:37; Rom. 4:4,9,10; 6:11; 8:18); and impute (Rom. 4:6, 8, 11, 22-24; 2Cor. 5:19; Jas. 2:23). Imputation is that act of God in salvation whereby He accounts the believer righteous in Christ because Christ bore his sins and because he has properly repented of his sins and met God’s terms of reconciliation (Rom. 3:24-31; 4:1-25; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; Gal. 3:6-9, 13-14).

‘Come this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? … How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?’ the answer to these questions are given in verse 10: “Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.”

‘And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith’ Circumcision, which was a part of the Abrahamic covenant was a sign of the promised Redeemer out of the loins of Abraham, and of His works for all who wished to put off the sins of the flesh and serve God as new creatures. The word “circumcision” came to be synonymous with Jews (3:30; 4:9; Gal. 2:9). Since Christ came, circumcision avails nothing (Gal. 5:6; Col. 3:11). Christian circumcision is in the heart or spirit, not in the flesh (Rom. 2:28-29; 1Cor. 7:19; Php. 3:3; Col. 2:11).

‘Uncircumcised’ Abraham was justified 24 years before circumcision (Gen. 12:1-4; 15:6; 17:1-14).

‘That he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also’ he was justified before he was circumcised that he might be the father of believing uncircumcised Gentiles.

‘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’ he is also father of Jews who walk in his steps and who seek for justification by faith only. The covenant was made with Abraham while he was a Gentile; he became the father of Gentiles in the faith. The Jews were later made partakers of the covenant, but original justification by faith belonged to the Gentiles. When the gospel came they laid hold on it as their original right. The Jews to be saved must come under the Abrahamic covenant in which the Gentiles were originally included. This conclusion of Paul must have confounded the Jews.

‘Steps’ [Greek: ichnos] a track, footstep (4:12; 2Cor. 12:18; 1Pet. 2:21).

Abraham Justified by Faith

Romans 4:1-8 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God. For what said the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that work not, but believe on him that justify the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputed 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 shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? … For what said the scripture?’ Paul here (4:1-3), after proving in Romans 3:21-31 that both Jews and Gentiles could only be saved by grace through faith, shows by examples how Abraham and David were justified. Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, was a heathen, an uncircumcised Gentile, before God pardoned him by grace through faith. He could not have been justified by obedience to the law, which was not until 430 years later (Gal. 3:17). Paul points out that Abraham was pardoned the same way the gospel saves Jews and Gentiles. Why should the Jews condemn Christianity and oppose Gentiles when they were included in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:4)? Paul also proves that this blessing did not come through circumcision, for Abraham had it many years before he was circumcised (4:9-12; Gen. 12:1-3; 15:6; 17:1-14). If Abraham was blessed before and without circumcision, then Gentiles also could be.

‘Our father’ Jews claimed Abraham as their father (9:5; Luke 1:73; John 8:39; Acts 7:2).

‘Believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ before he was circumcised (Gen. 15:6).

‘Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt’ if Abraham worked for and merited justification, then it was not of grace because God owed it to him. But if he believed God for it instead of working for it, then faith was counted for righteousness and God gave it to him as a favour. Since he was called when he was a Gentile idolater and he was justified freely by faith, then all other sinners can likewise be justified (3:21-28; 5:1-11). ‘Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputed righteousness without works’ now the apostle proves his point by showing how David, a man under law, was justified by faith without the law and works (4:6-7; Ps. 32:1-2). Quoting Psalm 32:1-2 “…Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” A fourfold blessing is noted here of the blessed man: His sins are forgiven; his sins are covered; his forgiven sins are no longer imputed to him and his spirit is cleansed of guile (Ps. 15:1-5; 24:3-5).

Rejoice

John 8:56-59 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. 

‘Abraham rejoiced’ the Greek word for rejoice is agalliao which means to rejoice exceedingly; ‘to see’ the Greek word eidon implying not the mere act of seeing with the eyes, but the actual perception of the object; that which is seen, the form, shape, and figure.

Abraham saw three things clearly: The plan of God in sending the Messiah for His people to redeem them and guarantee to them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; and he was happy (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:1-22); He saw the plan of God in the Messiah being sent through his natural seed (Rom. 4:13-22; 9:4-7; Gal. 3:16) and rejoiced by faith (Rom. 4:1-25); He saw the second person of the Trinity in visible form (Gen. 18:1-8, 19-20; 19:24).

‘I am’ this is one of the eternal names of God, proving that He existed before Abraham (Exo. 3:14-15; Mic. 5:1-2; John 1:1-2). The Jews understood that He applied this name to Himself, thus declaring His deity. He claimed to be God, which was blasphemy to them, so to fulfil the law of Leviticus 24:16 they started to stone Him.

For a little while until their wrath cooled; Jesus hid Himself and then He went through their midst out of the temple.

No Place In You

John 8:37-40 I know that you are Abraham’s seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father.  They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 

‘Abraham is our father’ True, according to the flesh, but this does not make true children of Abraham or true Israelites. One must not only be a descendant in the flesh but must also be saved and a child of the promise to be a true Jew and an Israelite (Rom. 2:28-29; 9:4-11). If they (the Jews) were really the spiritual seed of Abraham they would imitate him in faith, obedience, and righteousness; but they seek to kill Jesus merely because He told them the truth; Abraham never did anything like this.

The only place Jesus calls Himself a “man” (v 40) He generally refers to Himself as the ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of Man’ (John 1:49, 51). He was truly man and truly God in nature, being born of God and a virgin (Matt. 1:18).

There were ten reasons why the Jews killed Jesus: His Kingship (Matt. 2:2-3, 16; John 18:33-40; 19:12-22); for telling the truth (Luke 4:21-29; John 8:40); for healing on the sabbath (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; John 5:16; 9:16); for claiming Sonship (John 5:18; 10:24-39; 19:7); and for claiming to be God (John 8:53-59; 10:33); they were jealous of Him (Matt. 26:3-4; 27:18; Mark 14:1; 15:10; Luke 22:2; John 11:48); they were ignorant (Matt. 26:64-66; Mark 14:62-64; John 12:40; Acts 3:17); for fear of losing their authority (John 11:46-53; 12:10-11, 19); for their unbelief (John 5:38-47; 6:36; 9:40-41; 12:36-38); they killed Him to fulfill prophecy (Luke 13:33-35; John 12:38-40; 18:31-32; 19:11, 28, 36-37; Acts 2:22-36; 3:18).

Judge Righteous Judgment

John 7:19-24 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keep the law? Why go you about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who go about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and you on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are you angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. 

Moses gave the nation of Israel the Law as he received it from God, and the whole summary of the Law (Matt. 22:37-40) was to love God, serve AND obey Him (Deut. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1, 13).  Jesus accused the Pharisees of violating the very law they professed to respect and obey, they only kept up the Law for outward appearance that would produce the praise of men and produce followers for their religion (Matt. 23).

Many strangers (people) at the feast were ignorant of the plots of the Pharisees to killed Jesus, so they were astonished at His announcement that they seek Him to kill Him.

This ‘one work’ from verse 21 was the healing of the man on the sabbath (John 7:23; 5:1-16). The Pharisees accused Him of breaking the law and, in the interest of religion, thought He should be killed. He replied that they did more work on the sabbath in circumcising a boy than He did in healing a man, so who was the greater sinner?

The law concerning circumcision was given to Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14); Moses only mentioned the law in Exodus 12:44, 48 and Leviticus 12:3.

‘Judge not according to the appearance’ – Jesus answered those who tried to kill Him for obeying His Father that the covenant of healing (Ex. 15:26) should be obeyed as much as the covenant of circumcision (Gen. 17:9-14); that sickness in their midst proved that they had broken God’s covenant.

True Saving Faith

James 2:19-20, 24, 26  Thou believe that there is one God; thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

Believing in God is no proof that you are justified by faith alone, for even devils believe without justification. Abraham is used as an example in verse 21 to 23 of someone justified by works when he had gone to offer Isaac his son upon the altar. See then how his faith shaped with his works and by works was faith made perfect. It was faith that led him to this act of obedience. Had he refused to obey, it would have demonstrated that he had no faith in God or His Word. Verse 25 speaks of Rahab the harlot who was also justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way.

Are you willing to be instructed as to the nature of true saving faith?

The body without the spirit is dead: Only the body dies at the time of physical death. This is caused by the soul and spirit leaving the body. The body returns to dust and the soul and spirit of the righteous go to heaven to await the resurrection (2Cor. 5:8; Php. 1:21-24). The soul and spirit of the wicked go to hell to await the resurrection (Lk. 16:19-31; Isa.14:9; Rev. 20:11-15). The soul and spirit are spiritual and immortal. They cannot go back to dust. Just as surely as the inner man leaves the body at physical death and is no longer with the body, so faith without works is dead (separated) and is powerless.