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Reformation Study Bible – Rom 4:13–15
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Rom 4:13–15

4:13–15 The argument is now taken a stage further. The promise given to Abraham was that he would be the father of a multitude who would possess the land of Canaan, and he would also be the fountain of blessing for all nations (Gen. 12:2, 3, 7). Christ is the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16) and has already begun to inherit the earth (Ps. 2:8; cf. Matt. 28:18, 19). This promise was received by Abraham through faith, “not . . . through the law” (v. 13). Paul assumes the truth of what he demonstrates in Gal. 3:17, that since the law came 430 years after the promise, the promises cannot be dependent on the law. If the inheritance were dependent on obedience to the law, faith would have no place in the divine scheme of things, and the promise would be void, since the law cannot bring about the obedience it requires for its fulfillment. Only “where there is no law” is there “no transgression”; where there is law, it “brings wrath” (v. 15). Given the established truth of the sinfulness of all people, it is impossible that the promise could be received on the basis of law-keeping.