4:1 What 1 shall we then say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the a flesh, hath found?
(1) A new argument of great weight, taken from
the example of Abraham the father of all believers: and this is the
proposition: if Abraham is considered in himself by his works, he has deserved
nothing with which to rejoice with God.
(a) By works, as is evident from the next verse.
4:2 2 For if
Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God.
(2) A preventing of an objection. Abraham may
well rejoice and extol himself among men, but not with God.
4:3 3 For
what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for
(3) A confirmation of the proposition: Abraham
was justified by imputation of faith, and therefore freely, without any regard
being give to his works.
4:4 4 Now to
him that b worketh is the reward not c
reckoned of grace, but of debt.
(4) The first proof of the confirmation, taken
from opposites: to him who deserves anything by his labour, the wages are not
counted as favour, but as debt: but to him that has done nothing but believe
in him who freely promises, faith is imputed.
(b) To him that has deserved anything from his
(c) Is not reckoned or given to him.
4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him
that d justifieth the ungodly, his faith
is counted for righteousness.
(d) That makes him who is wicked in himself to be
just in Christ.
4:6 5 Even as
David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth
righteousness without works,
(5) Another proof of the same confirmation: David
puts blessedness as a part of the free pardon of sins, and therefore
[Cometh] this e blessedness then upon
the circumcision [only], or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith
was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
(6) A new proposition: that this manner of
justification belongs both to uncircumcised and also to the circumcised, as is
declared in the person of Abraham.
(e) This saying of David, in which he pronounces
them as blessed.
4:10 7 How
was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in
circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
(7) He proves that it belongs to the
uncircumcised (for there was no doubt of the circumcised) in this way: Abraham
was justified in uncircumcision, therefore this justification belongs also to
the uncircumcised. Nay, it does not belong to the circumcised, in respect of
the circumcision, much less are the uncircumcised shut out from it because of
4:11 8 And
he received the f sign of circumcision,
a g seal of the righteousness of the
faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: 9
that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not
circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
(8) A preventing of an objection: why then was
Abraham circumcised, if he was already justified? That the gift of
righteousness (he says) might be confirmed in him.
(f) Circumcision, which is a sign: as we say the
"ordinance of baptism", for "baptism", which is a
(g) Circumcision was previously called a sign,
with respect to the outward ceremony. Now Paul shows the force and substance
of that sign. That is, to what end it is used, that is, not only to signify,
but also to seal up the righteousness of faith. By this we come to possess
Christ himself: for the Holy Spirit works that inwardly indeed, which the
ordinances being joined with the word, represent. (9)
An applying of the example of Abraham to the uncircumcised believers, whose
father he also makes Abraham.
4:12 10 And
the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who
also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which [he had] being
(10) An applying of the same example to the
circumcised believers, whose father is Abraham, but yet by faith.
4:13 11 For
the promise, that he should be the h
heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the i
law, but through the righteousness of faith.
(11) A reason why the seed of Abraham is to be
considered to be by faith, because Abraham himself through faith was made
partaker of the promise by which he was made the father of all nations.
(h) That all the nations of the world should be
his children: or by the "world" may be understood the land of
(i) For works that he had done, or upon this
condition, that he should fulfil the Law.
4:14 12 For
if they which are of the k law [be]
heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
(12) A double confirmation of that reason: the
one is that the promise cannot be apprehended by the law, and that if it could
it would be made of no effect: the other, that the condition of faith would be
joined in vain to the promise if it could be apprehended by works.
(k) If they are heirs who have fulfilled the law.
Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, [there is] no transgression.
(13) A reason of the first confirmation, why the
promise cannot be apprehended by the law: because the law does not reconcile
God and us, but rather proclaims his anger against us, because no man can
fully keep it.
Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise
might be sure to all the l seed; 15
not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of
Abraham; who is the father of us all,
(14) The conclusion of this argument: the
salvation and justification of the posterity of Abraham (that is, of the
Church which is composed of all believers) proceeds from faith which lays hold
on the promise made to Abraham, and which promise Abraham himself first of all
laid hold on.
(l) To all the believers.
(15) That is to say, not only of those who
believe and are also circumcised according to the law, but of those also who
without circumcision and with respect of faith only, are counted among the
children of Abraham.
4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a 16
father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] m
God, who n quickeneth the dead, and o
calleth those things which be not as though they were.
(16) This fatherhood is spiritual, depending only
upon the power of God, who made the promise.
(m) Before God, that is by membership in his
spiritual family, which has a place before God, and makes us acceptable to
(n) Who restores to life.
(o) With whom those things are already, which as
yet are not indeed, as he can with a word make what he wishes out of nothing.
4:18 17 Who
against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations,
according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
(17) A description of true faith wholly resting
in the power of God, and his good will, set forth in the example of Abraham.
4:19 And being p
not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now q
dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of
(p) Very strong and steadfast.
(q) Void of strength, and unfit to have children.
4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through
unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving r
glory to God;
(r) Acknowledged and praised God, as most
gracious and true.
4:21 And being s
fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
(s) A description of true faith.
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
(18) The rule of justification is always the
same, both in Abraham, and in all the faithful: that is to say, faith in God,
who after there was made a full satisfaction for our sins in Christ our
mediator, raised him from the dead, that we also being justified, might be
saved in him.
4:25 Who was delivered for our t
offences, and was raised again for our justification.
(t) To pay the ransom for our sins.