For the promise to Abraham,inherit a whole world of humankind3 [Genesis 17:6] – was not by means of [the] Law 4 but by means of the righteousness of belief. 51 or his seed 2 – that he would
|1||The promise to Abraham: The “promise” is found in Genesis 17:5, 6, “… because I will make you a father of a multitude of nations. Also, I will make you extremely fruitful – you will produce nations, and royalty will be your descendants.”|
|2||Or his seed: Genesis 17:7 continues: “… and after you your offspring by their generations for a perpetual covenant.”|
|3||He would inherit a whole world of humankind: Or, KJV: heir of the world; CON: inherit the world; NOR: possess the earth. Paul makes an interpretative paraphrase of Genesis 17:6 to mean “a world.”|
|4||Was not by means of [the] Law: Paul could state as part of his argument that the Law did not yet exist as he does later in another letter. However, this is obvious to a Jew familiar with Abraham. The Law would not come into exist for more than another 400 years.|
|5||By means of the righteousness of belief: Or, KJV: through the righteousness of faith; GDS: the uprightness that resulted from his faith; MON: through faith-righteousness.|
Dear Friends of the Nazarene,
We choose Romans 4:13 as the theme verse of chapter four – Abrahamic Promise. The idea that a world would come out of Abraham’s dead thighs, let alone that a world could be saved by him, was laughable. Paul uses two arguments from Abraham and David that a person may be justified by faith without works. He asks a trick question which would give a Jewish rabbi a headache. In what state was Abraham when he was declared righteous? The answer is uncircumcised. It was after Abraham showed his faith in leaving Ur for Canaan that he was justified and then later circumcised. At this time Abrams name was changed to Abraham, “Father of a Multitude,” or a father of a crowd of uncircumcised non-Jews. It is a masterful stroke: Abraham is the father of both the circumcised and the uncircumcised believers. All should walk in his footsteps by faith.
A promise is without legal attachments. God promised Abraham a world-encircling, global inheritance on the basis of his deep conviction in Him. If law was involved both to promise and the conviction in it are rendered useless. Law means punishment but without law there is no sin. He discusses Abraham’s faith in God’s ability to do the impossible. The state of the ancient couple, Abraham and Sarah, does not give Abraham any pause in lack of faith. He believes God may raise the dead (an early allusion to the resurrection) as well as bring into existence something that does not exist. The Bible verses discussed early are referenced again.
Paul argues that the statement “it was credited to him,” was not written just for Abraham’s sake, but also or all his seed who would also have righteousness credited to them. Conviction that God raised Jesus from the dead is a necessity to benefit from this pronouncement of not guilty. Paul quotes Isaiah 53:6 as proof of his affirmation.
Abba our Father bless those with the faith of Abraham.
[23 December 2002]