The Example of Abraham
4 So what can we say about Abraham, the father of our people? What did he learn about faith? 2 If Abraham was made right by the things he did, he had a reason to boast about himself. But God knew different. 3 That’s why the Scriptures say, “Abraham believed God, and because of this he was accepted as one who is right with God.”[a]
4 When people work, their pay is not given to them as a gift. They earn the pay they get. 5 But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him. Then he accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. He is the one who makes even evil people right. 6 David said the same thing when he was talking about the blessing people have when God accepts them as good without looking at what they have done:
7 “It is a great blessing
when people are forgiven for the wrongs they have done,
when their sins are erased!
8 It is a great blessing when the Lord accepts people
as if they are without sin!” (A)
9 Is this blessing only for those who are circumcised? Or is it also for those who are not circumcised? We have already said that it was because of Abraham’s faith that he was accepted as one who is right with God. 10 So how did this happen? Did God accept Abraham before or after he was circumcised? God accepted him before his circumcision. 11 Abraham was circumcised later to show that God accepted him. His circumcision was proof that he was right with God through faith before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the father of all those who believe but are not circumcised. They believe and are accepted as people who are right with God. 12 And Abraham is also the father of those who have been circumcised. But it is not their circumcision that makes him their father. He is their father only if they live following the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
God’s Promise Received Through Faith
13 Abraham and his descendants received the promise that they would get the whole world. But Abraham did not receive that promise because he followed the law. He received that promise because he was right with God through his faith. 14 If people could get God’s promise by following the law, then faith is worthless. And God’s promise to Abraham is worthless, 15 because the law can only bring God’s anger on those who disobey it. But if there is no law, then there is nothing to disobey.
16 So people get what God promised by having faith. This happens so that the promise can be a free gift. And if the promise is a free gift, then all of Abraham’s people will get that promise. The promise is not just for those who live under the Law of Moses. It is for all who live with faith as Abraham did. He is the father of us all. 17 As the Scriptures say, “I have made you a father of many nations.”[b] This is true before God, the one Abraham believed—the God who gives life to the dead and speaks of things that don’t yet exist as if they are real.
18 There was no hope that Abraham would have children, but Abraham believed God and continued to hope. And that is why he became the father of many nations. As God told him, “You will have many descendants.”[c] 19 Abraham was almost a hundred years old, so he was past the age for having children. Also, Sarah could not have children. Abraham was well aware of this, but his faith in God never became weak. 20 He never doubted that God would do what he promised. He never stopped believing. In fact, he grew stronger in his faith and just praised God. 21 Abraham felt sure that God was able to do what he promised. 22 So that’s why “he was accepted as one who is right with God.”[d] 23 These words (“he was accepted”) were written not only for Abraham. 24 They were also written for us. God will also accept us because we believe. We believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from death. 25 Jesus was handed over to die for our sins, and he was raised from death to make us right with God.