Vol.XII No.XI Pg.7
January 1976

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Please discuss how Abrahams faith took the place of righteousness. Reference is to Rom. 4.


Then, for truths sake please look at Rom. 4. It nowhere says his faith took the place of righteousness. It says his faith was reckoned (put to his account) for (eis, into, in order to, unto) righteousness. His faith was set down on the credit side of the ledger for righteousness. So says Robertson. Both Alford and Expositors Greek Testament accept as righteousness, although all three reason that Abraham got something not really his. They do so because they conclude Paul is saying nothing man does could be called righteousness. But is this the case??

Paul has reasoned that man can not be justified by law because he sins. To be free of guilt on a basis of law alone, one must do all (Gal. 3:) i.e., render perfect obedience. This perfect works is the only meriting service for justification and works must be so understood in this context. Abrahams perfect life was not his righteousness, for he had no perfect life. But his faith was reckoned to him for or as righteousness — and that implies mercy on Gods part, and forgiveness, for the faithful. This is the point Paul is making — about Abraham, and about children of God today.

Now, what kind of faith was put to Abrahams account? There is no reference here to some moment of time when he experienced faith and was changed from alien to saint. Far from it. Rom. 4:3 cites Gen. 15:6, so look at the record. Long before the event here recorded Abram had been called and by faith.. .he went (Heb. 11:8-f). By faith he sojourned — built altars, called on the name of the Lord, and was blessed by Melchizedek, priest of God Most High who said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High (Gen. 14:19). Abraham was acceptable in Gods sight long before the statement of 15:6 is made. The faith of Abraham was his faithful life, and his acceptance of Gods statement concerning his seed was but one of many evidences of that faith. Paul himself calls attention to that faith in Abrahams latter life (3:17-22, compare Heb. 11:17-19), and makes all this a part of his argument. (See also Jas. 2:21-23).

In Rom. 4:10-f. Paul shows Abraham was faithful, hence acceptable before circumcision, but this was to show the Jew that Abrams acceptance was not dependent upon legalistic Jewish status — that Gentiles (uncircumcised ones today) could be justified in Christ, as well as Jews (Cf. 3:30).

There is no room for boasting in our endeavor to live faithful obedient lives. Such a life is imperfect at the very best, and we are taught to continually confess our sins, and continually look to the blood of Jesus Christ for forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:f). But he that submits to Gods plan for making man righteous (Rom. 10:3) doeth righteousness, and that one is righteous (1 Jn. 3:7).

Commentaries on the Roman letter are a stacked deck for Calvinism, but Gods word will not be overcome.