The Letter to the Romans



14. The father of us all


Romans 4:9-15

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 the sign of circumcision, 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 also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

13 It was not through 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 live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless,

15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.


Key Words

Faith of Abraham

Seal of righteousness

Abraham's inheritance




A Seal of Righteousness

Paul has introduced the idea that "wages" and "credit" are not the same thing. "Wages" are earned; "credit" to one's account is granted apart from one's work. Paul uses Abraham as his model for his discussion regarding faith (credit) vs. law-keeping (wages) because Abraham received God's credit of righteousness while he was still uncircumcised-still a Gentile.

1. Paul makes the point that Abraham received a credit of righteousness from God before he bore the mark of God's chosen people: circumcision. Is there any evidence that Abraham knew God before his call to leave his home? (see Genesis 11:26-12:5; Joshua 24:2-4)


2. What does God's call of Abraham illustrate to us about his sovereignty over us all? (see Isaiah 41:8-9; Matthew 22:13; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12; John 15:16, 19; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 17:8)


3. Paul states that Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a "seal" of the righteousness that he had by faith before he was circumcised. What new covenant reality did circumcision foreshadow? (see Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5;)


4. How exactly was circumcision a symbol of the Holy Spirit's sealing of believers? (see Deuteronomy 10:16; Romans 2:29; Philippians 3:2-3; Colossians 2:11-12; Hebrews 8:6-13)


Abraham's Faith

5. Did Abraham have faith in God consistently? (see Genesis 12:11-10; Genesis 17:17-18; 20: 1-13)


6. If Abraham's faith was undependable, what exactly was his faith that was counted as righteousness? (see Habakkuk 2:4; Acts 3;16; Romans 4:20; 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:7-9; Ephesians 6:23; Hebrews 12:2; 2 Peter 1:1)


7. The account of Abraham does not directly say God promised "that he would be heir of the world." (verse 13) What are God's promises that imply such ultimate inheritance? (see Genesis 13:16; 14-15; 12:7-8; 15:7, 18-21; 17:8; 12:3; 18:18; 22:17-18; Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34; Matthew 5:5)


8. This passage in Romans clarifies that Abraham's descendants are all who believe in Jesus and have the faith of Abraham-the faith God gives. God attached promises of inheritance and prosperity to keeping the law, and he attached curses to disobedience of the law. If, however, Abraham's descendants do not inherit the land/world because they keep the law but rather because they have faith, what exactly did the law mean, and why was it given? (see Romans 3:21; Galatians 3:15-25; 2:17-21; Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 3:5-6; 4:1-11; 8:3-6)


9. The Bible is clear that sin entered the world through Adam. Verse 15, however, states that where there is no law, there is no transgression. What is the difference between sin and transgression? (see Romans 1:18-20; 3:20; 5:12-13; 7:7-11)



10. About what issues in your life are you having trouble trusting God and acting in faith?


11. What destructive behavior or negative reactions or responses do you habitually indulge that God is asking you to surrender to him, allowing him to replace them with his own Spirit of love and healing?


12. Ask God to reveal to you what you need to surrender to him. Ask him to give you faith to let go of your self-protective defenses and to allow his Spirit to make you vulnerable to the truth He wants you to experience. Ask God to grant you the faith of Abraham so you can grow in your trust of Him, not only for your salvation but also for your continuing growth and obedience.

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