Thematic Bible




Thematic Bible




What should we say then [about what] our forefather Abraham discovered? For if Abraham had been made right with God by doing good deeds he would have had something to boast about, but not in God's presence. For what does the Scripture say? [Gen. 15:6 says], "And Abraham believed God, so God considered him righteous." read more.
Now wages are not considered a gift if the person has to work for them, but [rather] an obligation [of his employer]. But to the person who believes in God, who makes ungodly people right with Himself apart from doing good deeds, that person's faith is considered by God [as the basis] for being righteous. Even King David also spoke of the blessing experienced by the person who was considered righteous by God apart from doing good deeds. He said [Psa. 32:1ff], "Those people whose ungodly deeds are forgiven [by God] and whose sins are covered over, are [truly] blessed. That person whose sin will not be held against him by the Lord is [truly] blessed." Is this blessing experienced by the circumcised ones [i.e., the Jews only] or by the uncircumcised ones [i.e., the Gentiles] also? We are saying, "Abraham's faith was credited to him for righteousness." [But] when was he given credit [i.e., for being righteous]? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was before he was circumcised, not afterward. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal [confirming] that he had been [considered] righteous because of the faith he had before being circumcised. Thus, he became the [spiritual] father of all people who believe [in God], even though they have not been circumcised, so that they could be considered righteous [by their faith]. And he also became the father of circumcised people [i.e., the Jews], who are not only circumcised, but who also follow the [same] example of faith [in God] which our forefather Abraham had before he was circumcised. For it was not through [obedience to] law [See 3:31] that the promise to Abraham or his descendants of inheriting [the best of] the world [was made], but through their being considered righteous because of faith [in God]. For if [only] those who are obedient to the law deserve an inheritance, [then their] faith [in God] is for nothing, and God's promise is nullified. For the law brings [God's] wrath [i.e., because of man's failure to obey it perfectly], but where there is no law, there is no [responsibility for] sin. For this reason, the promise [i.e., of being made right with God] comes through faith [in God], according to His unearned favor, so that it may be [given] with certainty to all of Abraham's descendants. The promise is given not only to those [who live] under the law [i.e., the Jews], but also to [all] those [who live] by faith, like Abraham. Abraham is the [spiritual] father of all of us [believers], just as it is written [Gen. 17:5], "I [i.e., God] have made you [i.e., Abraham] forefather of many nations." He received this promise in the presence of God, in whom he believed, and who gives life [back] to dead people and who refers to things [promised] as though they were [already] fulfilled. Abraham hoped for what he believed [God had promised], even when there seemed little hope [of it happening], so this made him forefather of many nations, according to the words spoken to him [Gen. 15:5], "Your descendants will be many." Abraham's faith did not become weak [even though] he was about one hundred years old and considered his body almost dead and Sarah's womb incapable of conceiving a child. Yet he looked for the promise of God [to be fulfilled] and did not waver, doubting [that it would happen], but his faith strengthened him. He honored God and was fully convinced that what He had promised, He was able to carry out. So therefore, God considered him righteous [i.e., because of such faith].

[An example of this is] Abraham, who believed God's [promise] and [because of such faith] he was considered right with God. You should know, then, that people who have faith are [truly] God's children. And, predicting that God would consider the Gentiles right with Him by [their] faith, the Scriptures previously recorded [this promise of] the Gospel to Abraham by saying [Gen. 12:3], "All nations will receive a blessing through your descendant [i.e., Jesus]." read more.
So then, all those who have faith [in Jesus] receive a blessing along with Abraham, a man of faith.

By [having] faith, when Abraham was called [by God] to leave [his homeland] and go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance [i.e., Palestine], he obeyed God and went out, not knowing where he was going. By [having] faith, he became an alien in the foreign country that had been promised to him. He lived in tents, along with Isaac [his son] and Jacob [his grandson], who [also] were to receive the same inheritance he had been promised. For he was looking forward to [living in] a city with [lasting] foundations, designed and built by God. [Note: This undoubtedly refers to heaven].

By [having] faith, when Abraham was tested [by God], he offered Isaac [as a sacrifice]. [Even though] he had received the promises [of having many descendants], he was ready to offer his only conceived [and eventually born] son, [even though] he had been told [by God, Gen. 21:12], "Your descendants will be traced through Isaac." [So], he reasoned that God was able to raise up [Isaac] from the dead, which, in a sense, he did receive him back [from the dead].

Was not our forefather Abraham made right with God by deeds [of obedience] when he offered his son Isaac [as a sacrifice] on the Altar? [Do you not] see that faith cooperated together with his deeds, and faith was made complete by [his] deeds? So, the Scripture was fulfilled, which says [Gen. 15:6], "Abraham believed God and [so] God considered him righteous," and he was called God's friend. read more.
[So], you see, it is by deeds that a person is made right with God, and not by faith alone.


What advantage then does the Jew have [i.e., over the Gentile]? Or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the messages of God [i.e., their prophets received divine revelations]. But what if some [of the Jews] were unfaithful? Does their lack of faith nullify the faithfulness of God? Certainly not! read more.
But let God be truthful, [even if] everyone [else] is a liar. For it is written [Psa. 51:4], "[God], you should be proven right when you speak, and win [your case] when put on trial." Now if our wrongdoing serves to emphasize more clearly that God does what is right, what should we say about that? Is God being unjust for sending [His] wrath [on the world]? (I am raising a human objection). Certainly not, for then how could He judge the world? But if my "lie" [i.e., as you Jews call it] would result in God's truthfulness [about you Jews] increasing the honor He receives, why am I also still judged to be a sinner [by you]? And why should we not say, "Let us do what is wrong so something good will come from it," as some people slanderously claim that we are saying? These people deserve to be condemned. What then? Are we [Jews] any better off [than those Gentiles]? No, not at all, for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks [i.e., Gentiles] alike are under [the power of] sin, as it is written [Psa. 14:1ff; 53:1ff], "No one [always] does what is right; not even one person. No one understands [everything]. No one looks to God [all the time]. Everyone has turned away [from God]. All of them have become worthless. No one is [always] kind; no, not even one person." [Psa. 5:9 says], "Their throats are like open graves [i.e., they are foul-mouthed]. They have spoken deceitfully." [Psa. 90:3 says], "There is snake venom under their lips [i.e., their words are deadly]." [Psa. 10:7 says], "Their speech is full of cursing and bitterness." [Isa. 59:7ff says], "Their feet [take them where they] are quick to commit murder. Their pathways are strewn with ruin and misery [i.e., caused by them]. They have not known [how to walk on] a peaceful pathway." [Psa. 36:1 says], "They do not view God with reverence." Now we [all] know that everything the law says applies to those who are under [obligation to obey] that law, [Note: Here "the law" appears to refer to the Old Testament Scriptures generally, since Psalms and Isaiah are quoted. See verses 10-18]. This is so that the mouth of every objector may be stopped [i.e., from making excuses for his sin], and thereby bring the entire world under God's judgment [i.e., both Jews and Gentiles]. This is because no human being can be considered right with God by [obeying] the requirements of a law. [Note: It is difficult to determine the exact sense in which "law" is used in these verses. It may be law generally, or the law of Moses specifically. See Bruce, pages 52-58]. For the knowledge of what sin is comes from the law of Moses. But now [i.e., under the Gospel age], a way of being considered right with God apart from [any] law has been made known. [The writings of] the law [i.e., the Pentateuch] and the prophets bear witness to this. Being considered right with God is [obtained] through faith in Jesus Christ by every person who believes [in Him], for there is no favoritism [with God], for everyone has sinned and falls short of God's glory [i.e., His approval, or His perfect character].

What should we say then [about what] our forefather Abraham discovered? For if Abraham had been made right with God by doing good deeds he would have had something to boast about, but not in God's presence. For what does the Scripture say? [Gen. 15:6 says], "And Abraham believed God, so God considered him righteous." read more.
Now wages are not considered a gift if the person has to work for them, but [rather] an obligation [of his employer]. But to the person who believes in God, who makes ungodly people right with Himself apart from doing good deeds, that person's faith is considered by God [as the basis] for being righteous. Even King David also spoke of the blessing experienced by the person who was considered righteous by God apart from doing good deeds. He said [Psa. 32:1ff], "Those people whose ungodly deeds are forgiven [by God] and whose sins are covered over, are [truly] blessed. That person whose sin will not be held against him by the Lord is [truly] blessed." Is this blessing experienced by the circumcised ones [i.e., the Jews only] or by the uncircumcised ones [i.e., the Gentiles] also? We are saying, "Abraham's faith was credited to him for righteousness." [But] when was he given credit [i.e., for being righteous]? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was before he was circumcised, not afterward. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal [confirming] that he had been [considered] righteous because of the faith he had before being circumcised. Thus, he became the [spiritual] father of all people who believe [in God], even though they have not been circumcised, so that they could be considered righteous [by their faith]. And he also became the father of circumcised people [i.e., the Jews], who are not only circumcised, but who also follow the [same] example of faith [in God] which our forefather Abraham had before he was circumcised. For it was not through [obedience to] law [See 3:31] that the promise to Abraham or his descendants of inheriting [the best of] the world [was made], but through their being considered righteous because of faith [in God]. For if [only] those who are obedient to the law deserve an inheritance, [then their] faith [in God] is for nothing, and God's promise is nullified. For the law brings [God's] wrath [i.e., because of man's failure to obey it perfectly], but where there is no law, there is no [responsibility for] sin. For this reason, the promise [i.e., of being made right with God] comes through faith [in God], according to His unearned favor, so that it may be [given] with certainty to all of Abraham's descendants. The promise is given not only to those [who live] under the law [i.e., the Jews], but also to [all] those [who live] by faith, like Abraham. Abraham is the [spiritual] father of all of us [believers],

Now the words "considered righteous [by God]" were not written for his sake only, but they were written for our sake also, who will be considered righteous by God for believing in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. [This] Jesus was delivered up [to die] for our sins and was raised [from the dead] to make us right with God.