Monday, March 22, 2021

Adult Bible Study on Romans 4

Romans 4

(New International Version)



What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”


Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:


“Blessed are those
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”


Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.


13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.


16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.


18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.



1. In chapter 3, Paul showed us we can’t earn our salvation by obeying the commands of God. Rather, we are accepted as righteous by our faith in God’s sacrifice of Jesus. Now, Paul is going to give us an example of what faith looks like from the beginning of Israel’s history.


Why is it important for Paul’s readers to go all the way back to Abraham?


Abraham was the founder of the Jewish nation. If Paul can show his Jewish readers that Abraham was counted as righteous rather than by his obedience to certain commands, it will go a long way toward convincing his Jewish readers that faith is more important than obeying the Law.



2. The next person Paul cites is King David. Besides being another of the great figures in Israel’s history, what do we know about David’s “transgressions”? Could he have been counted righteous for his obedience?


David committed two notable sins: he slept with a married woman and had her husband killed, and he took a census of the Israelite army out of pride.


He knows what it means to have his transgressions forgiven and his sins covered. Paul is showing the grace that comes when we have faith. Even if we don’t measure up to God’s holy standards, He forgives us if we repent and have faith in Him. He even “justifies the ungodly”! (verse 5)



3. How would Paul’s Gentile readers, including most of us, react to this message of gaining righteousness by following Abraham’s faith rather than the later Law?


At this time in Christianity, many Jewish believers were pressuring the Gentiles to follow the Jewish Law and customs in order to be Christian. It must have been a relief to the Gentiles knowing they can still tie their faith to the patriarch of their Savior’s family without having to obey all the rites and commands of the Old Testament.


We are still continuing on in and are part of the historic faith that preceded the Law.



4. In verse 11, Paul says Abraham received circumcision as a sign and seal of righteousness. It was a confirmation of his faith. How does God confirm our faith and the righteousness He has given us?


2 Corinthians 1:21-22 - And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.


Ephesians 1:13 - In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…


1 John 3:24 - Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.


God wouldn’t have told Abraham to be circumcised if Abraham didn’t have faith in God’s promises. And He wouldn’t give us His Holy Spirit if we didn’t have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. If you have the Holy Spirit, you can be sure God approves of your faith and counts you as righteous.



5. In verse 17, Paul describes God by saying He is “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” Paul relates this Abraham’s body and son. Abraham’s body gave life to a son who was not even though it would have been impossible for such an old man to father a child.


But how can we relate to this spiritually?


We are as good as dead spiritually without Christ. We would be on our way to death and Hell. But when we place our faith in God, He gives new life to our spirits and calls us His children – we who had no relation to Him before!  



What to DO after reading this passage

Verse 18 says “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” Spend a moment thinking about the promises God has made to you. Do they seem impossible? Against all hope? Ask God to strengthen your faith and to count your faith as righteousness.




Do you have another insight into this passage? Please share below!



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