Skip to main content

Romans 4

Chapter Four

"The Righteousness of Faith"


What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? v.1


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. v.13

Verse two is in response to the question found in chapter 3 verse 27, "Where is boasting then?" If Abraham was justified by works, his keeping of the law, then he would have grounds to boast. For, he could rightly glory in the fact that his good works had saved him. Did Abraham have grounds to boast in himself of his salvation?

"What saith the Scripture?" (Also used in Galatians 4:30.) This is not merely a question, but is and should be the answer to all questions individuals might have. Truth is not open to debate, or to be compromised to meet the fancy of some group, but is absolute and permanent in its independence of man's preferences. Simply, Truth is "stand alone." Truth belongs to no particular denomination, club, or assembly. Truth is fixed and the precious treasure for which we sell all to possess. Man affixes himself to truth, and does not mold truth to him. Also, the Word of God is that by which all will be judged (Deut. 31:26; Rev. 20:15). Therefore, as the unchanging, unerring, and eternal standard by which all is weighed every answer may be wisely and properly found in asking the question, "What saith the Scripture?"

The Scripture declares concerning Abraham and his justification:

Genesis 15:6 "And he believed in the LORD and He counted it to him for righteousness. "

2 Chronicles 20:7 "Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?"

Isaiah 41:8 "But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend."

Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

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.

What saith the Scripture? "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness."

Verse 4. A man cannot be justified by grace and by his works simultaneously. If a man were to attempt to earn justification by his works then he could find no justification, which is by FAITH.

Verses 5. To him that does not work to earn his justification, but who believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, is granted the blessedness of imputed righteousness.

Verses 6-8. Paul quotes Psalm 32:1,2, which describes the BLESSEDNESS of the man unto who God imputeth righteousness WITHOUT works.

  1. Imputed Righteousness

Impute to take inventory; estimate; reckon; the attributing of any action or word as belonging to a person. For example: Adam's sin was imputed to all his descendants. In other words, Adam's sin is considered the sin of every one born after him and is attributed to each individual as his own.

In his sinful state, man is devoid of righteousness. He is without any proper standing with God and incapable of dealing with God in any measure. Therefore, Christ, who was perfectly righteous and knew no sin, took upon himself our sin, put our sin to his account, and paid our debt. By the imputing of our sin on Him, we may receive the imputing of His righteousness to our account. Good works will never justify, therefore, man in his own right was and is incapable of ever having peace with God. Jesus in His mercy and love took our place, paid our debt, that he may in turn impute to the account of whosover that believes on His name righteousness for He satisfied the law by His death.

  1. Acquired Righteousness

Paul does not include this facet of truth, in this context, but for the sake of balance in our study we must include the Bible doctrine of "acquired righteousness, at least in passing.

There at least two kinds of righteousness taught in the Scripture:

1. dikaiosune (Strong's 1343) from 1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification:--righteousness. (Matthew 5:6; 5:20; 6:33; Luke 1:75; Acts 10:35; Romans 9:30.) This righteousness is that which is to apprehended, received, imputed, and not earned

2. dikaioma (Strong's 1345) from 1344; an equitable deed; by implication, a statute or decision:--judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness. (Luke 1:6; Romans 1:32; 2:26; 5:18; 8:4; Revelation 19:8.) This righteousness is that acquired or earned by action. This implies righteous ACTS, righteousness that is PERFORMED.

Our responsibility to God in response to the imputation of His righteousness to our account is that we continue on walking holily before him.1 Having RECEIVED righteousness, we are commanded to DO righteousness, or righteously. 2 We do not earn justification in this way, but we continue on as good stewards of that which He has given us by trading and building upon it by walking in righteousness. 3 We are absolutely saved solely by grace through faith, but our experience of peace with God and justification is maintained only by our faithful obedience to his commands. 4 (1Ephesians 2:10; 2Hebrews 5:9; 3I Peter 4:10; Matthew 25:27-30; 4 Matthew 7:21; John 9:31; 15:10; I John 2:17,29; 3:7; 3 John 11)

Verses 9-17a. Abraham received the sign of circumcision while he was yet uncircumcised. Abraham believed God and to him was imputed righteousness before he ever kept the law. The blessedness of imputed righteous was upon Abraham by faith. Abraham became the father of all them that believe, though they as well not having been circumcised may have the same blessedness. He is the father not just of the circumcision, or of the Jew, but also of the uncircumcision that walk in the same steps of faith of Abraham. If only they that are of the law, having been circumcised, be heirs then is faith made void for then justification would be by works and not faith. The promise would have been made of none effect as well for Abraham was yet uncircumcised. The promise was not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith, imputed righteousness making Abraham the father of MANY nations and making justification available to WHOSOEVER, JEW AND GENTILE.

Verses 17b-21 These are the STEPS OF THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM.

  1. Believed God Who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

  2. Against hope believed in hope of that which was spoken, "So SHALL they seed be."


  4. Considered not his own body now dead.

  5. Staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.

  6. Was strong in faith, giving glory to God.

  7. Was FULLY PERSUADED that which God had promised He was able also to perform.

Verses 22-25 This is the summary and conclusion of the chapter:

A. Therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. Justification is by the righteousness of Faith and not the Law.

B. It was not written for Abraham's sake alone, but for us also. The provision of Justification (making Abraham the father of many nations) is available to the Gentile as well as the Jew because it is by faith. The law excluded the Gentile, but justification by grace through faith is all-inclusive.