The Letter to the Romans



13. The faith of Abraham


Romans 4:1-8

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, 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 the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.

5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are they whose transgression are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."


Key Words






Paul follows his introduction of righteousness by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus by using Abraham, the Jews' revered patriarch, as an example of a man whose faith was counted as righteousness. The Jews boasted of their lineage from Abraham and of his perfection.


Abraham's Belief Credited As Righteousness

1. Even if Abraham had done perfectly good works, why would he still not have been able to boast about his obedience before God? (see 1 Corinthians 1:31, Jeremiah 9:23-24)


2. What were the circumstances that resulted in the Bible saying Abraham's belief in God was credited to him as righteousness? (see Genesis 15:1-6)


3. At the time Abraham was declared to be righteous because of his belief in God, what works had he done, if any, that might have been considered righteous? Why do you think Paul used Abraham as an example of true righteousness instead of Moses, David, or any other prophet or king from Israel? (see also verse. 18-24; Galatians 3:6-9; James 2:21-23)


Gifts vs. Wages

4. Paul repeatedly distinguishes between the gift of grace and the obligation of wages for works. Ultimately, what do the obligation of wages and the gift of grace represent? (see Romans 6:23)


5. What implications does the comparison between the wages we earn and the gift of grace have for the way we live? (see Isaiah 64:6; 46:12; Romans 11:5-6; 9:30-32; 10:4, 8-9; Galatians 2:15-16, 21; 3:10-13; 4:8-11; 5:1-6)


6. If our efforts to do and be good originate from our sin and do not earn us credit with God, what is the relationship between God's gift of righteousness and our intractable sin? (see John 3:16, 18-21; Romans 5:8-10; 6:11, 14, 22; 8:10-11; 15-17; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-10; 6:10-13)


7. Paul quotes David to emphasize his point that God is the only one who can grant righteousness to a person. What essential component is necessary for true faith and must be present before God can credit righteousness to a person? (see Psalm 32:3-5; Proverbs 28:13; Ezekiel 18:23, 27-28; 32; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 1:9)


8. What evidence do we have that Abraham, whose faith God credited as righteousness, had a heart that was willing to repent, or turn away from his selfish interests and sin, and trust God? (see Genesis 12:1-5; 10-20; 17:9-100, 15-19; 23-27; 20:8-14; 22:1-19)


9. Based on the references to Abraham and David in this passage in Romans 4, what conclusions can we draw about God and his interactions with us?



10. What trials or demands do you have in your life for which you find yourself feeling you deserve some reward from God?


11. What sense of "noble suffering" or even martyrdom is God asking you to release to him, accepting instead the role of obedient servant of Jesus even in unfair or difficult situations?


12. Ask God to take away your compulsion to "be right" and to "do good." Ask him to put love for him in your heart in the place where your compulsions used to be. Surrender to Jesus, and ask him to make all you do and think to flow from His Spirit and to glorify him. Thank him for doing everything necessary for your salvation, and praise him for putting Sabbath rest in your heart.

Copyright (c) 2003 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted October 19, 2003.
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