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The Illustration of Justification

What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh,[a] has discovered regarding this matter?[b] For if Abraham was declared righteous[c] by works, he has something to boast about—but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited[d] to him as righteousness.”[e] Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation.[f] But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous,[g] his faith is credited as righteousness.

So even David himself speaks regarding the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed[h] are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one[i] against whom the Lord will never count[j] sin.”[k]

Is this blessedness[l] then for[m] the circumcision[n] or also for[o] the uncircumcision? For we say, “faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.”[p] 10 How then was it credited to him? Was he circumcised at the time, or not? No, he was not circumcised but uncircumcised! 11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised,[q] so that he would become[r] the father of all those who believe but have never been circumcised,[s] that they too could have righteousness credited to them. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised,[t] who are not only circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham possessed when he was still uncircumcised.[u]

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Footnotes

  1. Romans 4:1 tn Or “according to natural descent” (BDAG 916 s.v. σάρξ 4).
  2. Romans 4:1 tn Grk “has found?”
  3. Romans 4:2 tn Or “was justified.”
  4. Romans 4:3 tn The term λογίζομαι (logizomai) occurs 11 times in this chapter (vv. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24). In secular usage it could (a) refer to deliberations of some sort, or (b) in commercial dealings (as virtually a technical term) to “reckoning” or “charging up a debt.” See H. W. Heidland, TDNT 4:284, 290-92.
  5. Romans 4:3 sn A quotation from Gen 15:6.
  6. Romans 4:4 tn Grk “not according to grace but according to obligation.”
  7. Romans 4:5 tn Or “who justifies the ungodly.”
  8. Romans 4:7 tn Or “Happy.”
  9. Romans 4:8 tn The word for “man” or “individual” here is ἀνήρ (anēr), which often means “male” or “man (as opposed to woman).” However, as BDAG 79 s.v. 2 says, here it is “equivalent to τὶς someone, a person.”
  10. Romans 4:8 tn The verb translated “count” here is λογίζομαι (logizomai). It occurs eight times in Rom 4:1-12, including here, each time with the sense of “place on someone’s account.” By itself the word is neutral, but in particular contexts it can take on a positive or negative connotation. The other occurrences of the verb have been translated using a form of the English verb “credit” because they refer to a positive event: the application of righteousness to the individual believer. The use here in v. 8 is negative: the application of sin. A form of the verb “credit” was not used here because of the positive connotations associated with that English word, but it is important to recognize that the same concept is used here as in the other occurrences.
  11. Romans 4:8 sn A quotation from Ps 32:1-2.
  12. Romans 4:9 tn Or “happiness.”
  13. Romans 4:9 tn Grk “upon.”
  14. Romans 4:9 sn See the note on “circumcision” in 2:25.
  15. Romans 4:9 tn Grk “upon.”
  16. Romans 4:9 sn A quotation from Gen 15:6.
  17. Romans 4:11 tn Grk “of the faith, the one [existing] in uncircumcision.”
  18. Romans 4:11 tn Grk “that he might be,” giving the purpose of v. 11a.
  19. Romans 4:11 tn Grk “through uncircumcision.”
  20. Romans 4:12 tn Grk “the father of circumcision.”
  21. Romans 4:12 tn Grk “the ‘in-uncircumcision faith’ of our father Abraham.”

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