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13 For the promise[a] 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. 14 For if they become heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nullified.[b] 15 For the law brings wrath, because where there is no law there is no transgression[c] either. 16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace,[d] 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,[e] who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”).[f] He is our father[g] in the presence of God whom he believed—the God who[h] makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do.[i] 18 Against hope Abraham[j] believed[k] in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations[l] according to the pronouncement,[m]so will your descendants be.”[n] 19 Without being weak in faith, he considered[o] his own body as dead[p] (because he was about 100 years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He[q] did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 21 He was[r] fully convinced that what God[s] promised he was also able to do. 22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham[t] as righteousness.

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  1. Romans 4:13 sn Although a singular noun, the promise is collective and does not refer only to Gen 12:7, but as D. Moo (Romans 1-8 [WEC], 279) points out, refers to multiple aspects of the promise to Abraham: multiplied descendants (Gen 12:2), possession of the land (Gen 13:15-17), and his becoming the vehicle of blessing to all people (Gen 12:3).
  2. Romans 4:14 tn Grk “rendered inoperative.”
  3. Romans 4:15 tn Or “violation.”
  4. Romans 4:16 tn Grk “that it might be according to grace.”
  5. Romans 4:16 tn Grk “those who are of the faith of Abraham.”
  6. Romans 4:17 tn Verses 16-17 comprise one sentence in Greek, but this has been divided into two sentences due to English A quotation from Gen 17:5. The quotation forms a parenthesis in Paul’s argument.
  7. Romans 4:17 tn The words “He is our father” are not in the Greek text but are supplied to show that they resume Paul’s argument from 16b. (It is also possible to supply “Abraham had faith” here [so REB], taking the relative clause [“who is the father of us all”] as part of the parenthesis, and making the connection back to “the faith of Abraham,” but such an option is not as likely [C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:243].)
  8. Romans 4:17 tn “The God” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity.
  9. Romans 4:17 tn Or “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” The translation of ὡς ὄντα (hōs onta) allows for two different interpretations. If it has the force of result, then creatio ex nihilo (“creation out of nothing,” a technical theological phrase) is in view and the variant rendering is to be accepted (so C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:244). A problem with this view is the scarcity of ὡς plus participle to indicate result (though for the telic idea with ὡς plus participle, cf. Rom 15:15; 1 Thess 2:4). If it has a comparative force, then the translation given in the text is to be accepted: “this interpretation fits the immediate context better than a reference to God’s creative power, for it explains the assurance with which God can speak of the ‘many nations’ that will be descended from Abraham” (D. Moo, Romans [NICNT], 282; so also W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, Romans [ICC], 113). Further, this view is in line with a Pauline idiom, viz., verb followed by ὡς plus participle (of the same verb or, in certain contexts, its antonym) to compare present reality with what is not a present reality (cf. 1 Cor 4:7; 5:3; 7:29, 30 (three times), 31; Col 2:20 [similarly, 2 Cor 6:9, 10]).
  10. Romans 4:18 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  11. Romans 4:18 tn Grk “who against hope believed,” referring to Abraham. The relative pronoun was converted to a personal pronoun and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  12. Romans 4:18 sn A quotation from Gen 17:5.
  13. Romans 4:18 tn Grk “according to that which had been spoken.”
  14. Romans 4:18 sn A quotation from Gen 15:5.
  15. Romans 4:19 tc Most mss (D F G Ψ 33 1881 M it) read “he did not consider” by including the negative particle (οὐ, ou), but others (א A B C 6 81 365 1506 1739 co) lack οὐ. The reading which includes the negative particle probably represents a scribal attempt to exalt the faith of Abraham by making it appear that his faith was so strong that he did not even consider the physical facts. But “here Paul does not wish to imply that faith means closing one’s eyes to reality, but that Abraham was so strong in faith as to be undaunted by every consideration” (TCGNT 451). Both on external and internal grounds, the reading without the negative particle is preferred.
  16. Romans 4:19 tc ‡ Most witnesses (א A C D Ψ 33 M bo) have ἤδη (ēdē, “already”) at this point in v. 19. But B F G 630 1739 1881 lat sa lack it. Since it appears to heighten the style of the narrative and since there is no easy accounting for an accidental omission, it is best to regard the shorter text as autographic. NA28 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.
  17. Romans 4:20 tn Grk “And he.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, δέ (de) has not been translated here.
  18. Romans 4:21 tn Grk “and being.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  19. Romans 4:21 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  20. Romans 4:22 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.