The Epistle of ROMANS
To set the stage for this section in Romans, God is telling about His relationship with Abraham which is in reference to a passage back in Genesis.
Genesis 15: 6 -- And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
1. What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Literal: What then shall we say that Abraham our father (forefather/ancestor) in the Word, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Literal: For if Abraham, by works was justified, he has grounds for boasting, but not towards or in reference to God.
3. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Literal: For what says the scripture? (This is in reference to Genesis 15: 6) And Abraham believed God, and it was counted or reckoned to him for righteousness.
'It' is Abraham's believing. There are three verses that should be studied here that are all in reference to and relating to Romans 4: 3. The first, already mentioned, is early on in Genesis.
Genesis 15: 6 -- And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it (the believing) to him (Abraham) for righteousness.
Galatians 3: 6 -- Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted (or imputed) to him for righteousness.
The word 'impute' means to attribute to another.
James 2: 23 -- And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
These scripture references assist us in getting a better understanding of God's Word. God will repeat a subject time and time again because this is one of the ways in which we learn -- by repetition. God really nails this point about Abraham believing God and it being counted to him for righteousness. It's so simple -- all we need to do is to believe the Word and God must honor it.
The next part of Romans shows the difference between receiving righteousness by works and righteousness by grace.
4. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Literal: Now to him that worketh (he that does good works) is the reward not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt.
If we work for something, our reward is not the result of grace (divine favor) because we have earned what we receive, so it is of debt and not of grace. Abraham did not work for righteousness. He believed God and God counted it (his believing) unto him or reckoned it unto him for righteousness.
5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith [believing] is counted for righteousness.
Literal: But to him that worketh not (does not try to achieve righteousness by good works), but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith (believing) is counted or reckoned for righteousness.
The word 'ungodly' here means one who has no reverence for sacred things and actually practices the opposite of what God demands.
6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Literal: Even as also David declares or relates the blessedness (happiness) of the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
7. Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Literal: Saying, Blessed (or happy) are they whose iniquities (sins) are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
For the first time, you may be able to understand this verse but first let's look at I John.
I John 1: 9 -- If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In contrast to the Age of Grace, Abraham was not cleansed. His sins were covered. The cleansing was not made available until Jesus Christ. So by their believing God, God counted or reckoned unto them righteousness. However, their sins were simply covered and not cleansed. This is a major difference between the Old Testament and the Age of Grace. What God wrought in Christ Jesus was so great that sin was all washed away, not simply covered. The covering of sin was like putting a lid over it as compared to God's spiritual detergent -- completely washing it away. A previous reference to this verse is made in Psalms.
Psalms 32: 1 -- Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Now you can finally understand the distinction made as to whose sins are forgiven and those that are simply covered. God will always bless us with the minute accuracy of His Word as we continue to rightly divide, study, and search out the treasures that appear to be hidden in God's Word. God will only share those hidden treasures that lie deep beneath the surface of His Word with believers who keep Him first and foremost in their lives and in their actions.
8. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Literal: Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
'Impute' means to put to his account, either in his favor or what he must be answerable for.
9. Cometh this blesssedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
Literal: Is this blessedness on the circumcision, or also on the uncircumcision? For we say that faith (believing) was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
This section of the Word will help to open up your understanding regarding the subject of 'circumcision'. This subject can result in some difficulty if not studied in some detail.
10. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
Literal: How then was it reckoned? (unto Abraham) when he was in circumcision (after he was circumcised), or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
Righteousness was not reckoned unto Abraham after he was circumcised, but while he was still uncircumcised. Again, to Genesis.
Genesis 15: 6 -- And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
This record was before the circumcision of Abraham recorded in Genesis 17.
11. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith [believing] which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
Literal (first part): And he (Abraham) received (lambano -- into manifestation) the sign of circumcision (after he was righteous), a seal of the righteousness of the faith (believing) which he had yet being uncircumcised:
Abraham was circumcised as a seal or symbol of his receiving righteousness from God. A seal is anything fastened up or marked. Remember, Abraham was reckoned righteousness before he was circumcised.
Literal (second part): . . . . that he (Abraham) might be the father of all them that believe, though they do not believe in circumcision; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.
Whether people believe in circumcision or not does not matter to God. What does matter is that they believe in and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. In the Old Testament, God required that they believe Him and act accordingly. The circumcision was a seal or sign or symbol of being justified and receiving the righteousness of God. But even if people do not believe in the circumcision, they could still have righteousness imputed unto them as a result of their believing. The whole point here is that we are saved by grace, "...not of works lest any man should boast."
Literal (complete verse): And he (Abraham) received (lambano -- into manifestation) the sign of circumcision (after he was righteous), a seal of the righteousness of the faith (believing) which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he (Abraham) might be the father of all them that believe, though they do not believe in circumcision; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.
12. And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith [believing] of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
Literal: And the father of circumcision to those who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith (believing) of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
Abraham was not yet circumcised when he was reckoned righteousness. It is not a result of man's works, such as circumcision, that he is made righteous, it is of grace. It is not a result of your first Holy Communion or Confirmation -- this is all the result of man's works, tradition, and religion all stemming from the wrongly dividing of the Word of God. All that stuff was man's works. It never did you any good.
13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith [pistis - believing].
Literal: For the promise, that he (Abraham) should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed as a result of, or through the law (works), but through the righteousness of faith (believing).
It is most important that you believe. Learn to put aside all distractions so that you can be at peace to believe. You cannot stay your mind and focus when you are anxious or distracted. Remember what God is teaching you and make an effort to renew your mind in these most important areas. When you renew your mind, then God is able to reveal other areas where you need work. Don't lose sight of your renewed mind goals -- remember to be clear and concerned.
14. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith [believing] is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
Literal: For if they which are of the law be heirs (of righteousness), faith (believing) is made void or in vain, and the promise made of none effect (useless, void, abolished).
Remember from the previous verse that we being Abraham's seed were made heirs to the promise that we would receive righteousness through believing. The law did not bring righteousness. Believing did.
15. Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Literal: Because the law worketh (effect, achieve) wrath: for where there is no law, there is no transgression.
You can't have a transgression until you have a law. Without a stop sign, you can't go through one and break the law. There must be a law before it can be broken. Some center references will also help our overall understanding of the last three verses.
Genesis 17: 4 -- As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations (or a multitude of nations).
Galatians 3: 18 -- For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Concerning the law working wrath, this is covered in more detail later in Romans in Chapter 7: 5, 10.
You should never be sin-conscious because you are under grace and not under the law. You will only break fellowship when you knowingly disobey the Word that you know. Otherwise, you should be carefree and at ease at all times, full of the peace of God. The Word of God will show you how to achieve and maintain this peace if you continue to stand and renew the mind putting aside the old man and putting on the new man -- becoming more and more Christ-like every day.
16. Therefore it is of faith [believing], that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith [believing] of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
Literal: Therefore, or on account of this, it (righteousness) is of faith (believing), that according to grace, it might be, to the end (fulfillment, completion) that the promise might be sure to all the seed (the believers), not to that of the law only, but also to that of the faith (believing) of Abraham, who is the father of us all (who believe).
This word 'end' is not the ending of a departed state, but the arrival of a complete or perfect one. Abraham believed God and became the father of all who would believe, both of the circumcision and the uncircumcision. Did one man's believing make a difference?!! Our righteousness was not just reckoned to us as with Abraham, but it is born within - the righteousness of God in Christ, and we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.
II Corinthians 5: 21 -- For He (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Christ).
Colossians 1: 27 -- To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Christ was of the seed of Abraham, both according to his flesh and by his believing. Now God has created Christ in us on account of our believing. Therefore, it is by believing that we are of the seed of Abraham. (The reference to 'grace' in verse 16 was covered previously in the teaching on Romans Chapter Three.)
Romans 3: 24 -- Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
17. (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Literal: (According as it has been written, I have made thee (Abraham) a father of many nations,) before God whom he believed, who quickens the dead (gives eternal life to), and calls the things not being as being.
A verse in I Corinthians sheds some light on the latter part of verse 17.
I Corinthians 1: 28 -- And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea , and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
'Bring to nought' means to render inactive or useless. The last part of this verse 17 appears to be difficult and may need more research and study to completely and clearly understand its full meaning. If there is any lesson to be learned here, it is that we are never to guess at or privately interpret God's Word. If we don't know or understand completely the meaning of the verse, we simply move on until the day comes when God will open up our understanding to that particular verse. Remember, it is never a shame to simply say "I don't know". It is a shame and offensive to God to act like you know the meaning of a verse when in reality you do not! This happens countless times in the world. There are so many so-called preachers of God's Word that are in reality, GUESSERS of the Word. They do more harm than good. You don't ever want to fall into this category and if I have anything to say about it, you never will. The integrity and accuracy of God's Word is at stake.
18. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
Literal: Who (Abraham) against hope believed in hope (Abraham believed in the hope that it would come to pass), that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken (by God to Abraham), So shall thy seed (the believers) be.
This verse will now open up to you an understanding of why the word 'hope' is used. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, but he never saw it come to pass in his lifetime. Abraham kept that hope that what God told him was true. We have the hope that Jesus Christ will return the second time. We always hope for something that is in the future. Even though Abraham never saw God's promise come to pass, he steadfastly believed God. Abraham tried to help out God by trying to have a son by Hagar which is typically human, but finally when he was 99, he trusted in God concerning this matter of physical fatherhood. Some very important background material about Abraham and these subjects are covered in the 15th chapter of Genesis, verses 1 - 6, especially verse 5 where God showed Abraham, by revelation, a beautiful picture/representation of God's promise to him.
Genesis 15: 5 -- And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
19. And being not weak in faith [believing], he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
Literal: And being not weak in faith (believing), he (Abraham) considered not his own body now become dead, when he was about an hundred years old (99), and the deadness of Sara's womb (she was 90).
The word 'deadness' here needs to be understood. It is expressive of the action as incomplete and in progress. God told Abraham that He was going to give him seed and Abraham said, "Sara is not doing so well." For many years, he used sense-knowledge to figure out how he could help fulfill God's promise. Finally, he got around to simply believing what God said and believing that God meant it. That's where you must get in your life -- to where you just believe what God teaches you and tells you regardless of any circumstances or regardless of what your five senses are telling you. What matters is that you believe God and then you will see results just like Abraham did. Keep it simple and stay calm and at peace and relaxed at all times. Do whatever you must do to relax even if it means to stand on your head in a corner!! Just do whatever you need to do to stay relaxed and don't let the world take your peace from you. You have a legal right to peace as a result of what Jesus Christ accomplished when he died and God raised him from the dead. So tell your personal adversary to back off. He does not own you anymore and has no legal rights over you. You belong to the God and Father of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. You are not a part of this world. You are set apart -- you are sanctified -- you are simply passing through. Dare to believe it beyond a shadow of a doubt and see what happens.
20. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith [believing], giving glory to God;
Literal: He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith (believing), giving glory to God.
Remember Genesis 15: 5 where God told Abraham that his seed would be like the stars in the sky. When he was 99 and Sara was about 90, a son by the name of Isaac came along.
The word 'staggered' needs to be more fully understood. It means "to be in strife with one's self -- to doubt, hesitate, waver." Abraham simply praised God and said, God, I just thank you for bringing this promise to pass.
21. And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Literal: And being fully persuaded (fully assured) that what He (God) had promised, He (God) was able also to perform.
THIS IS THE KEY TO BELIEVING -- it is complete PERSUASION. If you are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, it will have to come to pass sometime, even if it is not in your lifetime. He, Abraham, was fully persuaded that what God promised, God was able to perform. This verse illustrates to us that God's ability equals His willingness. God is not only able to help us but willing to help us also. The following verses help to solidify this extremely important renewed mind principle.
Genesis 18: 14 -- Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Jeremiah 32: 17 -- Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Matthew 19: 26 -- But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Luke 1: 37 -- For with God nothing shall be impossible.
You must be fully persuaded that God will bring your prayers to pass so just wait on God. He must honor His Word and you must line up your requests/prayers with His word. All miraculous things that happen to you are a result of renewing your mind to God's Word -- it is the result of your studying. We are not able to fully comprehend this with our senses. We are to simply remain steadfast and unmovable regarding the work of the Lord and enjoy the blessings that will follow. We should be more than familiar with the following scripture by now and the importance of it:
II Timothy 2: 15 -- Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.
The application of this scripture can drastically change your life. Remember that the hidden treasures are just that - hidden deep in the Word. Search for them and dig them out. God will place the shovel in the right spot. There could be nothing greater than seeking out God's treasures in His Word.
22. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Literal: And therefore it was imputed (reckoned) unto him for righteousness.
'It' is Abraham's believing. Remember that if you impute something to a person, you put it to his account.
23. Now it was not written for his [Abraham's] sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
Literal: But it was not written on account of him, or for his sake alone, that it was imputed (reckoned) to him,
All of the above pronouns are referring to Abraham. By not clearly understanding which pronoun is referring to whom, it may appear that the Bible is full of contradictions. When in reality, it is man who is full of private interpretation -- guesswork. The original God-breathed Word was perfect, like God. We work for God and a very important part of our job is to rightly divide His Word.
24. But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Literal: But also on account of us, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.
25. Who was delivered [to die] for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Literal: Who (Jesus) was delivered (to the cross, was delivered to death) for our offences and was raised for our justification (when we were justified).
The word offences here is interesting in that it refers to sin rashly committed, as by one who is unwilling to do it. If you think about it, in our hearts, we really don't want to sin. It makes no sense at all since we know we are going to face consequences for those offenses/sins. So often, we are tricked into sinning by the god of this world. If this happens, just make sure you confess your sin to God and get back in fellowship as soon as possible. I found this point to be rather interesting. We need to also learn how to deal with the adversary and some upcoming teachings will focus on this point. Right now, let's get back to this final verse in Romans Chapter 4.
WHEN JESUS CHRIST DIED, OUR SINS, OFFENSES, INIQUITIES, AND ENMITY AGAINST GOD DIED WITH JESUS CHRIST. He took it upon himself. When our justification was accomplished, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and the whole law was fulfilled because Christ was the end of the law. You are not to carry your own sins. God wants us to forget sins and thoughts of the past. God, through Jesus Christ, took care of it all once and for all. You have been born again unto righteousness by YOUR believing [Romans 10: 9, 10] and you are justified. You are redeemed from the curse of the law - you have been bought back. You have the ministry of reconciliation and you are set apart - sanctified - from the rest of the world. You may live in this world but you are not a part of it. You are just passing through. You are a child and heir of God. This world is presently under the control of the devil -- you walk belonging to and by the grace of God.