Corner Stone of Justification by Faith: Romans 4:1-3
“1) What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 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 CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”” Romans‬ ‭4:1-3‬ ‭
Most good study Bibles have what are called “chapter titles” at the beginning of each chapter. It is a short summary of the main points of the chapter. My study Bible starts Romans 4 with the title; “Justification by Faith Evidenced in Old Testament.” That pretty much nails Romans chapter four.
(By the way, if you want a great personal Bible study tool, write your own chapter titles for each chapter in your Bible. Some are really creative and make an acrostic for the whole book and then use the appropriate letter to start each chapter title. Others limit the chapter title to four words or make them all rhyme. It can be a fun and rewarding while forcing you to dig deep into each chapter of the Bible for the meaning.)
Paul spends a lot of time looking at Abraham in chapter four. He basically starts by asking if Abraham was justified by works or by faith? Did he earn his acceptance by God or did God bestow it on him as a result of his simple faith in believing God? That is a fantastic question!
Notice, Paul goes back to the Word of God to build his doctrine and does a Bible study in search of answers. What an example of handling the Bible properly. Please build your theology on the Bible and not your own emotions or opinions.
In the process, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 and notes that “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” This is significant, because Abraham had his share of sin and character flaws. When it came down to it, faith in God became the basis of his righteousness and not his own good life. In fact, Abraham had some big life blunders after Genesis 15, but he came back to his foundation of faith in God as the means of gaining His promises.
Notice that Genesis 15:6 is also sited by Romans 4:9, 22; Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23 as the basis of justification by faith. Small biblical statements can carry significant meaning in understanding biblical truth. Paul is by no means done making observations about Abraham, but he uses Genesis 15:6 as a significant corner stone of truth.
The implications of this insight are far reaching. It means that people were justified by faith in Old Testament times in a very similar way as under the Gospel. Granted, Abraham didn’t have all the details of the gospel, but he ended up putting many pieces of the puzzle together.
In no uncertain terms, the book of Genesis makes it clear that Abraham was justified by faith and not by keeping religious rituals or the details of the Law. More about that as the chapter unfolds. At this point simply notice how Paul is unpacking the doctrine of justification by faith from the book of Genesis. He was demonstrating what it means to be a Bible Scholar and how to build a biblical doctrine. Be diligent and follow his example.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global