Romans 4

This devotional is written by Lisa Titchener.

Romans 4

Abraham justified by faith
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about – but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’

4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 ‘Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.’

9 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.


In Romans, Paul is writing to a church divided along ethnic lines. Jewish followers of Jesus have returned to Rome, 5 years after being expelled, and are shocked that gentile Christians have not been observing Jewish law, including that of circumcision. It has created division in the church and Paul is writing to them, preaching the gospel, in the hope of restoring unity.

In the previous chapter Paul has been arguing for an inclusive church by leveling the playing field - verse 23 ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’

Paul’s argument here is that we are ALL hot messes who do not compare in the slightest to the holiness, goodness and righteousness of God.

Therefore, observing the law, acts of service, good works or proper behaviour can save neither Jew nor gentile. People are saved by faith in Jesus alone.

In this chapter, Paul continues his argument using a whopper of an example; Abraham – the original Jewish patriarch, the founding father of the Jewish nation.

In verse 3 he quotes Genesis 15:6 ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’ reminding his readers, especially the law abiding ones, that Abraham was right with God because of his faith not because of his actions.

Abraham’s faith and subsequent right relationship with God came long before the ritual of circumcision (by a couple of decades in fact). Right relationship with God, was a gift given to Abraham in response to his faith, his trust in God’s promises. Thus Abraham is a father to all who share his faith (verse 16).

Paul makes it clear; through the story of Abraham that God’s saving plan was always designed for everyone.

It is our shared faith in Jesus, and what he did on the cross, that saves us and unites us.

If we are to have true unity within the church and welcome all people into the family of God, we must hold onto this central truth of the gospel; that we are saved by the undeserved, unearned grace of God.

God, we thank you that we can put our faith, hope and trust in you because you are the one who saves and the one who is always faithful.

We recognise, once again, our constant need for your grace; for ourselves, in our relationships with other Christians and for those who have been prevented, for whatever reason, from being a part of your family.

God, in your mercy meet with us now, by your Holy Spirit. Fill us with your grace so that we would love one another in such an extraordinary, unifying way that it would bring others to know and put their faith in you.


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