4 1-2 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What were his experiences concerning this question of being saved by faith? Was it because of his good deeds that God accepted him? If so, then he would have something to boast about. But from God’s point of view Abraham had no basis at all for pride. 3 For the Scriptures tell us Abraham believed God, and that is why God canceled his sins and declared him “not guilty.”
4-5 But didn’t he earn his right to heaven by all the good things he did? No, for being saved is a gift; if a person could earn it by being good, then it wouldn’t be free—but it is! It is given to those who do not work for it. For God declares sinners to be good in his sight if they have faith in Christ to save them from God’s wrath.[a]
6 King David spoke of this, describing the happiness of an undeserving sinner who is declared “not guilty”[b] by God. 7 “Blessed and to be envied,” he said, “are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. 8 Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.”[c]
9 Now then, the question: Is this blessing given only to those who have faith in Christ but also keep the Jewish laws, or is the blessing also given to those who do not keep the Jewish rules but only trust in Christ? Well, what about Abraham? We say that he received these blessings through his faith. Was it by faith alone, or because he also kept the Jewish rules?
10 For the answer to that question, answer this one: When did God give this blessing to Abraham? It was before he became a Jew—before he went through the Jewish initiation ceremony of circumcision.
11 It wasn’t until later on, after God had promised to bless him because of his faith, that he was circumcised. The circumcision ceremony was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him just and good in his sight—before the ceremony took place. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who believe and are saved without obeying Jewish laws. We see, then, that those who do not keep these rules are justified by God through faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those Jews who have been circumcised. They can see from his example that it is not this ceremony that saves them, for Abraham found favor with God by faith alone before he was circumcised.
13 It is clear, then, that God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not because Abraham obeyed God’s laws but because he trusted God to keep his promise. 14 So if you still claim that God’s blessings go to those who are “good enough,” then you are saying that God’s promises to those who have faith are meaningless, and faith is foolish. 15 But the fact of the matter is this: when we try to gain God’s blessing and salvation by keeping his laws we always end up under his anger, for we always fail to keep them. The only way we can keep from breaking laws is not to have any to break!
16 So God’s blessings are given to us by faith, as a free gift; we are certain to get them whether or not we follow Jewish customs if we have faith like Abraham’s, for Abraham is the father of us all when it comes to these matters of faith. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say that God made Abraham the father of many nations. God will accept all people in every nation who trust God as Abraham did. And this promise is from God himself, who makes the dead live again and speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past.
18 So, when God told Abraham that he would give him a son who would have many descendants and become a great nation, Abraham believed God even though such a promise just couldn’t come to pass! 19 And because his faith was strong, he didn’t worry about the fact that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred, and that Sarah his wife, at ninety,[d] was also much too old to have a baby.
20 But Abraham never doubted. He believed God, for his faith and trust grew ever stronger, and he praised God for this blessing even before it happened. 21 He was completely sure that God was well able to do anything he promised. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith God forgave his sins and declared him “not guilty.”
23 Now this wonderful statement—that he was accepted and approved through his faith—wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. 24 It was for us, too, assuring us that God will accept us in the same way he accepted Abraham—when we believe the promises of God who brought back Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He died for our sins and rose again to make us right with God,[e] filling us with God’s goodness.
- Romans 4:4 if they have faith in Christ to save them from God’s wrath, literally, “faith is reckoned for righteousness.”
- Romans 4:6 “not guilty,” literally “righteous.”
- Romans 4:8 See Psalm 32:1-2.
- Romans 4:19 See Genesis 17:17.
- Romans 4:25 rose again to make us right with God, literally, “was raised for our justification.”
New International Version
Abraham Justified by Faith
4 What then shall we say(A) that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh,(B) discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.(C) 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a](D)
4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift(E) but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.(F) 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?(H) We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.(I) 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.(J) So then, he is the father(K) of all who believe(L) but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise(M) that he would be heir of the world,(N) but through the righteousness that comes by faith.(O) 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless,(P) 15 because the law brings wrath.(Q) And where there is no law there is no transgression.(R)
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace(S) and may be guaranteed(T) to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.(U) 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[c](V) He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life(W) to the dead and calls(X) into being things that were not.(Y)
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,(Z) just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d](AA) 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead(AB)—since he was about a hundred years old(AC)—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.(AD) 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened(AE) in his faith and gave glory to God,(AF) 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.(AG) 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”(AH) 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us,(AI) to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him(AJ) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.(AK) 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins(AL) and was raised to life for our justification.(AM)