The Illustration of Justification
4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh,1 has discovered regarding this matter?2 4:2 For if Abraham was declared righteous3 by the works of the law, he has something to boast about – but not before God. 4:3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited4 to him as righteousness.”5 4:4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation.6 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous,7 his faith is credited as righteousness.
4:6 So even David himself speaks regarding the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
4:7 “Blessed8 are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
4:8 blessed is the one9against whom the Lord will never count10 sin.”11
4:9 Is this blessedness12 then for13 the circumcision14 or also for15 the uncircumcision? For we say, “faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.”16 4:10 How then was it credited to him? Was he circumcised at the time, or not? No, he was not circumcised but uncircumcised! 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised,17 so that he would become18 the father of all those who believe but have never been circumcised,19 that they too could have righteousness credited to them. 4:12 And he is also the father of the circumcised,20 who are not only circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham possessed when he was still uncircumcised.21
4:13 For the promise22 to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not fulfilled through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 4:14 For if they become heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nullified.23 4:15 For the law brings wrath, because where there is no law there is no transgression24 either. 4:16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace,25 with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants – not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham,26 who is the father of us all 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”).27 He is our father28 in the presence of God whom he believed – the God who29 makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do.30 4:18 Against hope Abraham31 believed32 in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations33 according to the pronouncement,34 “so will your descendants be.”35 4:19 Without being weak in faith, he considered36 his own body as dead37 (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 4:20 He38 did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 4:21 He was39 fully convinced that what God40 promised he was also able to do. 4:22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham41 as righteousness.
4:23 But the statement it was credited to him42 was not written only for Abraham’s43 sake, 4:24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 4:25 He44 was given over45 because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of46 our justification.47