Peter Forbes comments:
4:3 ‘Abraham believed God …‘ the quotation is from Gen. 15:6. Righteousness is imputed by God on the basis of faith, not works of the law. Gen. 15 predates the giving of the law. This is the thrust of the argument in verses 4:4,5 and circumcision – the implications of this are developed in Rom.4:9-13.
4:6-8 The appeal to Psalm 32:1-2 which is a Psalm that David wrote after Nathan had spoken of God’s forgiveness for David’s adultery [2 Sam.12:13] continues the theme of forgiveness from ch. 3:4 We should take great comfort from the fact that God was willing to forgive the repentant David.
4:7 Notice the subtle but important difference between the language of Psa 32:1 – and Paul’s words here. Whilst the Psalm has ‘he’ whereas Paul here says ‘they’. Paul generalises from the Psalm. The Psalm has specific relevance to David’s situation. Paul says that specific application of forgiveness actually extends to all who follow David’s example of repentance.
4:11 Whilst Israel seemed to see circumcision as the ultimate test of Jewishness Paul clearly says here that it is a sign of what has already been seen in Abraham – that is his faith in God which was counted for righteousness.
4:23 The implication from ‘now it was not written for his sake alone …‘ is that Abraham had a written copy of the promise.
Cliff York comments
Romans 4 – To meet the views of the Jews, the apostle first refers to the example of Abraham, in whom the Jews gloried as their most renowned forefather. However exalted in various respects, he had nothing to boast in the presence of God, for he too was saved by grace, through faith, even as others. Without noticing the years which passed before his call, and the failures at times in his obedience, and even in his faith, it was expressly stated in the Scripture that “he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,” Genesis 15:6. From this example it is observed, that if any man could work the full measure required by the law, the reward must then be reckoned as a debt, which evidently was not the case even of Abraham, seeing faith was reckoned to him for righteousness.
It is clear from the Scripture, that Abraham was justified several years before his circumcision. This then is Paul’s point to those who prided themselves on their pedigree and/or on the very private mark they received in their flesh whilst they were too young to effectively protest otherwise. It is, therefore, plain that this circumcision was not necessary in order to that justification which is by faith.
It is truly fascinating to reflect on the great wisdom of the Father as one reads the 3 portions of Scripture each day, and often there runs a “Golden Thread” through them all. For example, one of the Golden Threads evident today, is the concept, that we can only be Justified by the Grace of God. Paul deals in great detail with the subject, of course, in Romans, Joseph in his life revealed how great a force faith in God is the life of each of His saints – Genesis 47:12, and the Psalmist captured the same beautifully in the closing verse of Psalm 50 – “Whoso offers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conversation aright, will I show the salvation of God.”
John Wilson comments
Rom 4:7 As we read from Psa 32 the other day, and as we read from Psa 51 tomorrow, we can clearly see, and appreciate that the confession of sin is not seeking forgiveness, it acknowledges the righteousness of our Heavenly Father. We must also be aware of the fact, that our failings can not be forgiven unless we are prepared to acknowledge them.
Rom 4:17 “I have made thee a father of many nations.” Paul is quoting from Gen 17:5 Sarah was still barren at this time, but we see that this is written in the past tense. This was foreordained. There is a difference between pre-existence and being foreordained. The seed of Abraham, both Isaac and Christ were foreordained.
4:21 All promises that have been made by God, he is able to perform, certainly different from promises made by man. God never forgets a promise, while man frequently forgets, God’s promises are priceless, while promises of man are often times useless, God’s promises are always right, while mans are often wrong.
Michael Parry comments
Paul; the writer to the Hebrews; James; and Peter all talk about Abraham. He was the patriarch of the physical Jewish nation and also father of the faithful (4:16).
He was given the promises before the Law (Gen 17:5-8) – even before his circumcision (Gen 17:24). The particular seed of his promise was Christ who fulfilled the Law (Matt 5:17, Gal 3:16). However, God still has a covenant with the Jewish nation and the land of Israel even though they have not (yet) accepted Christ. It is a mistake to believe, as some groups do, that any prophetical reference or future application concerning the Land and people of Israel is purely spiritual and not physical.
Rob de Jongh comments
For many of us the intricate arguments of scripture are too much to grasp. That’s why we’re given Abraham as an example. All we need to do is read about his life, emulate what we see, and we will obtain the same promises as him. Rom 4:3, 11-12, 16, 20-25.
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- A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
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- Experience the change in status from “Children of the flesh,” and of the world : to “Children by promise,” and in the World -Guy#2:03
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