Please read Romans 4 and answer the following questions:
1. Whose justification is discussed in chap. 4? Why would Paul discuss this man’s case?
2. To prepare for the discussion of chap. 4, summarize the events from Abraham’s life as described in the following verses:
Genesis 12:1-8 (cf. Hebrews. 11:8-10) –
Genesis 13:3,4 –
Genesis 14:18-20 –
Genesis 15:1-6 –
Genesis 22:15-18 –
3. What would be true if Abraham was justified by works – 4:2? What have we already learned about justification, boasting, and works? (Think: What is the significance of “according to the flesh” in v1?)
4. Define “account” (or “impute”) – 4:3. How was Abraham made righteous?
5. What book/chapter/verse is quoted in v3? Based on our study of Abraham’s life, had he obeyed God before this statement was made? Proof?
6. Review our study of kinds of works (see 3:21-28). By what kind of works was Abraham not justified? But did he have to obey God to be counted righteous?
7. Special Assignment: List other New Testament passages regarding Abraham’s faith, works, and justification. Explain how they harmonize with Romans 4.
8. If one is saved on the basis of works, what does that mean about grace and debt – 4:4? What kind of works must this refer to? Explain.
9. How is a man justified – 4:5? By a sinless life? In what sense does he “not work”?
10. In light of verses already studied, explain how “grace” is opposed to “debt.”
11. What passage is quoted in 4:6-8 (book/chapter/verse)? Who spoke it, and what dies it add regarding the doctrine of righteousness apart from works?
12. What must happen for one to be counted righteous apart from works? Note: These verses make a major contribution to understanding justification by works vs. justification apart from works. Explain how they help our understanding.
13. What subject is raised in 4:9,10? Why is this important in the discussion?
14. Was Abraham justified when he became circumcised or before? Proof?
15. What should we conclude regarding the necessity of circumcision to salvation?
16. Was Abraham circumcised in order to be justified, or was he already justified before he was circumcised – 4:11,12? What was the purpose of his circumcision?
17. If Abraham was justified by faith while uncircumcised, what does that prove regarding who can be justified by faith?
18. To whom is Abraham the spiritual father – 4:11? What is required in order to be Abraham’s spiritual offspring? Circumcision?
19. What is the significance of walking in the steps of faith – 4:12. List other passages that show the significance of such terms as “walk” and “steps.”
20. Was Abraham justified by faith without obedience or by obedient faith? Proof?
21. Did Abraham receive God’s promise under the Law of Moses or before – 4:13? Proof?
22. What does this prove regarding the law – 4:14,15?
23. What conclusion, previously studied, does this confirm?
24. If Abraham demonstrates justification by faith, what does this prove regarding grace and the law – 4:16?
25. What conclusion follows regarding who can be spiritual descendants of Abraham – 4:16,17?
26. What did Abraham believe that was contrary to hope – 4:18,19? Explain why the promise seemed impossible. Give book/chapter/verse.
27. How does this illustrate true faith?
28. In what sense did this give glory to God – 4:20,21?
29. What verse is quoted in 4:22? Did the events of vv 19-21 occur before or after the event in the verse Paul quotes? (Think: What does this illustrate regarding faith?)
30. For whose benefit was this history recorded – 4:23? Abraham’s? Explain.
31. What lessons should we learn?
32. What does all this mean regarding Jesus – 4:24,25?
33. What did Jesus do to make our justification possible?
Isaiah is widely regarded as one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. His name means “the Lord is salvation.” He lived in Jerusalem and the prophecies God gave him were directed toward Israel, Judah and other nations. Jewish tradition says he was of royal descent, and he may have been a cousin to king Uzziah. This may have given him path to the kings of Judah in Jerusalem.
The biblical account in chapter 1, verse 1 says he received visions from God during the reigns of four kings of Judah – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The time covered is from the end of king Uzziah’s reign (Isaiah 6:1) to the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem, it was at least 40 year ministry.
Isaiah was married to a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3). They had two sons whose names had prophetic meanings. They were Shear-Jashub (Isaiah 7:3), meaning “a remnant shall return”, and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1-4), meaning “speed the spoil, hasten the booty.” Isaiah and his family would be for “signs and wonders in Israel” (Isaiah 8:18). Jewish tradition says he was killed by being sawn in two by king Manasseh, the son of king Hezekiah. This seems to be suggested to in Hebrews 11:37. Isaiah’s style of writing reveals a well educated background.
Many of the prophecies in Isaiah begin with the historical conditions and prophecies for his day and then move forward to a far greater fulfillment prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This is the dualism seen in many of the prophecies of the Bible. The first, historical, fulfillment is lesser in outlook and is followed by the greater future fulfillment at the end of this present time. The dualism is Isaiah usually pertains to the prophecies about Jesus Christ, Israel, Judah or other nations. Two exceptions would be the prophecies of the coming Day of the Lord and the Kingdom of God. These prophecies are singular and point to only one fulfillment.
There are four major themes of prophecy found in the book of Isaiah.
1. Jesus Christ, the most important theme.
Almost one-third of the chapters of the book of Isaiah contain prophecies about Jesus Christ, addressing bot His first and second comings. Isaiah provides more prophecy of the second coming of Christ than any other Old Testament prophet. The following are just some of the prophecies about Christ in both His first and second comings:
“He shall judge between the nations” – Isaiah 2:4
He was to be the “Branch of the Lord” – Isaiah 4:2; 11: 1
He would be born of a virgin and be called “Immanuel” – Isaiah 7:14; 8:8,10
He would be a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” – Isaiah 8: 14
An eternal “government will be upon His shoulders “and He would be called the Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9: 6-7
The Holy Spirit would “rest upon Him” – Isaiah 11:2
He would be “a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” – Isaiah 28:16
Christ is directly spoken of in more than half of the chapters between Isaiah 40 and 61. Undoubtedly, the most important chapter referring to mankind’s salvation is Isaiah 53. This prophecy explains how much He would suffer during His sacrifice for man’s sins. Also in this section a description of His first coming begins in Isaiah 52:14, which says, “His visage [appearance] was marred more than any man”. Isaiah 53: 2-5 explains that His earthly physical appearance would not stand out, He was “despised and rejected,” and “by His stripes [wounds] we are healed” of our sicknesses.
This important chapter tells us that He would come to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. The Passover lamb symbolized this merciful act (Isaiah 53:7; Exodus 12: 5; 1 Corinthians 5:7). Statements of his death are then repeated: “For He was cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53: 8). “And they made His grave with the wicked” (verse 9). He was an “offering for sin” (verse 10) and He “poured out his soul unto death” (verse 12).
Through the book of Isaiah, God revealed that Jesus would come to earth first as a human to deal with sin and then again in His glorified state after being resurrected from the grave to establish the Kingdom of God (also see Hebrews 9: 28). Not understanding the dualism of Christ’s coming, many Jews rejected Him during His first coming as a human because He did not fulfill the prophecies of ruling over the earth and establishing an eternal government that are to happen during His second coming (Isaiah 9:6-7; 40:10).
God also revealed through Isaiah how Christ would be able to come back to life after being crucified. The prophet wrote, “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise” (Isaiah 26:19). Also, prior to Isaiah’s time, King David had prophesied of Christ’s death and resurrection (Psalm 16:10).
2. Warnings and assurances to Israel and Judah
In terms of content, the largest single subject in the book of Isaiah is warnings to Israel and Judah both for Isaiah’s age and for us today. The first 11 chapters describe many social, moral and religious sins that are similar ti the sins that the modern descendants of Israel and Judah are presently committing. The dualism of the historical setting as a prophecy for the end of the age is apparent in chapter 11, which says, “The Lord shall set His hand again the second time” to bring them back from captivity (verse 11). The timing of this restoration is during and after Christ’s second coming (verses 4-10).
The warnings to Israel and Judah of their national sins continue throughout chapters 41 to 49. The difference is that in these chapters God gives them encouragement that He will eventually redeem them. Here are some examples:
“You are My servant, I have chosen you” – 41:8-9; 49:3.
“I will not remember your sins” – 43:25.
“Even I will carry, and will deliver you” – 46:4.
The Lord is “the Redeemer of Israel” – 49:7; 44:22.
In chapters 56 to 59 God continues to give correction and warning to Israel and Judah for their sins. In these chapters Israel and Judah are chastised for their hypocrisy in how they worship God. There are two chapters in particular that touch on this religious hypocrisy. They are Isaiah 56, which focuses on keeping the Sabbath, and Isaiah 58, which deals with fasting for the wrong reasons and, again, keeping God’s Sabbath.
The prophecies to Israel and Judah in the book of Isaiah end on a future encouraging note with God’s eventual deliverance and mercy in the coming Kingdom of God (61:3-9; 63:7-9, 14).
Paul says Law has only one effect: to bring about wrath, but when there is no Law – no rules to meet – then there is no longer a violation possible. When God decided to bring righteousness on the basis of faith and not works. We no longer had to fear that we wouldn’t perform sufficient to receive the blessing. Instead, we can now live confidently that we are receiving what was promised because it is solely a gift and not dependent on keeping rules or Law. And then Paul says God wanted it this way because He promised to grant His mercy to Abraham’s many descendants – many nations. So God instituted salvation through faith and not by works so that it could be delivered to many people who never knew or followed the Jewish Law.
Romans 4: 18-25
18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’
19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
22 Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’
23 Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone,
24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Paul takes an another look at what faith meant to Abraham. This became a model for all believers – this is what faith means. In hope against hope, he believed, he contemplated his own body as dead. Secondly, he had a strong, unwavering confidence in God’s power to deliver what He promised. How do we explain Abraham’s decision to create a son through Hagar? In light of Paul’s statements and elsewhere in the New Testament, we can see that Abraham was trying to arrive at the promised outcome in his own way. Not to doubt in God’s promise, but a mistaken understanding for how it would be brought to fulfillment.
Now Paul makes it clear that Abraham’s life experiences were recorded precisely for our benefit. God wanted His children to be clear on this point: our righteousness is credited on the same basis, on our belief in Him who raised the Lord from the dead. Once God delivered His Son to death, our penalty had been paid. But God has promised that we are even now justified. Therefore, the final aspect of saving faith is a trust in the claim that Jesus died for our sin and was raised from the dead.
May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You
Paul has opened chapter 4 by establishing that Abraham was made righteous in the same way we are today. He now backs it up with a reference from a second great man of Jewish stature – David.
6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness irrespective of works:
7 ‘Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.’
Remember when Paul said that the law and prophets testified that the righteousness of God would be delivered apart from law? Well Abraham was an example of the Law, in that his story is contained in the Torah. And now Paul uses David as an example of the Prophets, the part of the Old Testament that follows the Torah. David lived in a time following the giving of the Mosaic Law. Yet Paul says it was just as with David – no different, “Blessed” are those who God forgives – indeed. Then in verse 8, David suggests that there is a way that God will not take into account our sin, and again, the Law and prophets both taught the same way to salvation – grace.
Now Paul spends the rest of chapter 4 exhausting all the implications from Abraham’s life.
Romans 4: 9-13
9 Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’
10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them,
12 and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Paul asks is God’s blessing for Jew or Gentile also? Some Jews might think that God has two systems for salvation. For the Gentile, God intended a system of faith, but for the Jew the system was to be works through the Law. Well, Paul says, let’s consider when Abraham received his affirmation of righteousness, was it before or after circumcision? Abraham was not the first Jew born, that was Isaac. Abraham was a gentile when God called him and granted him the promise of a nation, and that promise led to his circumcision, which marked his entry into the new designation of Hebrews. So clearly, God’s plan for salvation by grace can’t be limited to Jews through the law, Abraham received that designation while still a Gentile and before the Law. So Abraham becomes a symbol for both the uncircumcised to come to faith and the circumcised who imitate his faith.
Looking at Abraham’s faith even deeper.
Romans 4: 14-17
14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us,
17 as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
So if God had ever planned to make a set of laws – rules – that we were to keep so that we could please Him, then any promise of salvation would have been void.
so if I promise my daughter 50 dollars for her birthday, then later I came back and said that she can have the 50 if she clean her room. The birthday money is no longer in effect only obeying my rules became the only way to receive that money, it’s no longer a gift but a wage.
That’s the difference between works and grace.
Romans 4: 1-3
1 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’
Paul’s opening lines could be read in this way: what did Abraham, our patriarch, discover on this topic? Well, if Abraham had been justified by works, then he would have been famous for that achievement. He would have no doubt boasted over such a great accomplishment. But Abraham never boasted like that before God. In fact, the scriptures tell us exactly how Abraham received his declaration of righteousness from God. Abraham believed God and it, his faith, was credited to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15: 1-6
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’
2 But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’
3 And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’
4 But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’
5 He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’
6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Abraham is childless, he and his wife are in their 70’s and are past child bearing years. I do believe they hope for a child, but in reality they couldn’t see how this was a possibility. Then God appeared to Abraham and made a promise, He said you will have descendants so numerous they will be like the stars in the sky. And based solely on the promise of God’s word Abraham believed God and God constituted Abraham righteous. So Abraham was declared righteous the same way that we are today – by faith in God’s promise.
Romans 4: 4-5
4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due.
5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
Paul tells his readers that God reckoned faith as righteousness and that He didn’t credit righteousness on the basis of work. If He had pointed to Abraham’s work, then righteousness is something men can earn, like wages for our work. But God said that the righteousness was credited, not earned and given as a wage. Notice that the content of the promise was different for Abraham, but the object of faith is always the same. The content of the promise he received was a promise that he would have descendants. By comparison, the content of the promise that Noah received centuries earlier was a promise that God was preparing to destroy the world with a flood. God was prepared to spare Noah and his family if he obeyed his directions to build an ark. Noah believed God’s promise and acted accordingly, Noah found favor or grace, because of his faith in God’s word.
Genesis 6: 6-8; 17-18; 22
6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
7 So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’
8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.
17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.
18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
Today, the content of the promise for those who would be saved by faith was that the man Jesus was our Messiah who died for our salvation. But in all these situations, the object of our faith is the same. We have faith in God’s promise.
11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised.
Faith is defined in scripture not by the content of a promise but by our confidence in the One Who is faithful to keep His promise.
As we’ve learned already, God can be just to credit us with righteousness through faith because a ransom has been paid for our sins. Christ death on the cross grants God to credit us with righteousness that is not our own, but remember faith is the passage through which God delivers righteousness to men. And though earlier men didn’t really know all the details for how God planned to save them, they knew enough that by trusting in God’s promises, they would receive His mercy. Today, God’s Revelation is complete regarding salvation, so in our age, we are called to trust in the Messiah.