The Letter to the Romans



15. The father of us all


Romans 4:16-25


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 are of 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 things that are not as though they were.

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. (NIV)


Paul is concluding his explanation of how Abraham is the father of all God's children, whether they are Jew or Gentile. He has shown that Abraham was counted righteous before he was circumcised and before God gave the law. Therefore, he argues, Abraham is not only the father of the Jews by virtue of his divine calling, his miracle son Isaac, and his bearing the physical seal of God's covenant-circumcision, but he is also the father of believing Gentiles because God accepted him before the written law or the son of promise existed.


Key Words/Phrases

Against all hope

Calls things that are not as though they were

Gives life to the dead

Raised for our justification


Something from Nothing

1.By way of review, what is the promise that comes by faith? (see Genesis 12:3, 7; 13:14-16; 15:7, 18-21; 17:8; 18:18; Acts 13:32-34; Romans 1:2-5; Galatians 3:16, 29)


2.In v. 17 Paul is referring primarily to the birth of Isaac to the barren Sarah and the elderly Abraham when he says God "gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." In what other ways has God given life to the dead? (see John 20:9-16; Luke 1:5-7, 11-13; 24:6-7, 45-47; John 5:21; 11:38-44; Ephesians 2:3-5; 1 John 3;14; 1 Corinthians 15:50-56)


3.What are some other examples of God's calling "things that are not as though they were"? (see Genesis 15:4-6; Psalm 139:13, 15; Isaiah 48:13; John 1:3-4; Luke 1:26-35; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13; 9:15; 13:20-21; Romans 8:10-11; 15-17; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Ephesians 2:14-18; 3:8-11; Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 21:1, 2; 9-10)


Faith and Praise

4.What distinguishes true faith in God from denial of reality and presumption? (verse 19-20; Job 13:15; Hebrews 11:6; 11-13; 23;24-27; 29; 31; 39-40; 12:1-3; Matthew 8:1-3; 5-13; 23-27; 9:18-22; 12:46-49; 19:23-26; 26:38, 42; 52-54; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Galatians 5:4; 22-26)


5.While Abraham was waiting for God to fulfill His promise of a son, he "did not waver through unbelief but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God" because he believed God would do what he said he would do. What is the relationship between true faith and giving glory to God? (see 1 Samuel 30:6; Psalm 33:20-22; 34:1-3; 71:5-8; Habakkuk 3:17-19; Matthew 5:12; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 5:15-20; Philippians 3:1; 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Hebrews 12:28)


6.Based on the analysis of true faith above, explain why God credits this kind of faith as righteousness to a person who exercises it.


7.Explain the relationship of Jesus' resurrection (v. 25) to our justification. (see Isaiah 53:11-12; Romans 5:9, 16-18; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Hebrews 7:24-25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1-2)


Application and Commitment

8.What in your heart or life feels empty and hopeless-dead like Sarah's womb-and needs to be healed and quickened by the Holy Spirit?


9.What in your life continually causes you stress yet remains unmanageable?


10.What deep identity do you need to surrender to Jesus, allowing his life and will to define you instead of cherishing the label behind which you hide?


11.Write a declaration of your faith including praising God for his specific mercies and grace in your life right now.


12.Ask God to make you willing to let him give you a new identity. Ask him to teach you to trust him enough to give to him the things you most value, allowing him to heal your heart so you don't need those external defenses and accomplishments to be your identity. Ask him to bring the hidden places in your heart into light and life, and praise Jesus for his sacrifice that has given you the right to become a child of God.

Copyright (c) 2003 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted December 17, 2003.
Send comments and questions to