The Gospel to Abraham: Romans 4:13-15 and Galatians 3:8
“13) For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14) For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. 15) For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” Romans‬ ‭4:13-16‬
We are gong to take a very small bite today in order to capture the essence of these verses. Paul makes the point that the promise to Abraham that he would be heir of the world was through faith and not through the Law.
Let’s step back and ascertain from the text why that was the case for Abraham. Notice that Paul points out that the purpose of the law is to bring wrath and punishment to those who violate the law. Look at Romans 4:15. By contrast, we could inject that the purpose of faith and grace in these verses is forgiveness and life.
A few days ago, I pointed out that Abraham had his share of character flaws. He lied twice about Sarah being his wife, had a child with Hagar and then tried to get God to condone his fleshly ways and make Ishmael his only heir.
Now let me ask a crucial question; “What Law had Abraham broken?” You quickly respond by saying, “He broke the Ten Commandments.” I agree in theory, but there is a huge problem with that answer; the Ten Commandments had not yet been given. They were given 430 years latter through Moses. Again, let me remind you that Romans 4:15 says, “where there is no law, neither is there violation.” You cannot break a law that does not exist!
The implication is that Abraham was not justified by keeping the Law, but neither was he condemned by breaking the Law. According to Romans 4:16, Abraham had a very simple relationship with God based on faith and grace. He was justified by faith. He believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
But this was not an excuse for reckless or sinful living. Unlike the surrounding nations, Abraham had faith in a moral and holy God. He purposed to obey and please Him. You could conclude that faith in God changed Abraham into a new man.
Galatians 3:8 goes so far as to say; “And the Scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, All nations shall be blessed in you.” Isn’t it interesting that the word “gospel” suddenly shows up related to Abraham?
We now need to ask, “What exactly was Abraham believing?” The answer according to Romans 4:13 is “the promise.” Technically, it was the promise of the coming Messiah who would redeem all of mankind from the curse of the fall and the curse of the Law. Abraham most likely came to believe that he was in the linage of the Messiah and was saved by simple faith in God’s plan to redeem mankind.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global