Romans 4:16-18 Commentary

 

 

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Romans 4:16-18 Commentary

Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: dia touto ek pisteos, hina kata charin eis to einai (PAN) bebaian ten epaggelian panti to spermati, ou to ek tou nomou monon alla kai to ek pisteos Abraam os estin (3SPAI) pater panton hemon, 
Amplified: Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all.
(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT:  So that's why faith is the key! God's promise is given to us as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it, whether or not we follow Jewish customs, if we have faith like Abraham's. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: The whole thing, then, is a matter of faith on man's part and generosity on God's. He gives the security of his own promise to all men who can be called "children of Abraham", i.e. both those who have lived in faith by the Law, and those who have exhibited a faith like that of Abraham. To whichever group we belong, Abraham is in a real sense our father,  (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: On account of this it is by faith, in order that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be something realized by all the offspring, not by that which is of the law only, but also by that which is of the faith of Abraham who is father of all of us;  (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal:  For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

REFERENCES ROMANS

Paul Apple
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Albert Barnes
Brian Bell
Brian Brill
Brian Brill
Brian Brill
John Calvin
Alan Carr
Alan Carr
Alan Carr
Alan Carr
B H Carroll
Rich Cathers
Adam Clarke
Thomas Constable
Bob Deffinbaugh
Bob Deffinbaugh
Explore the Bible
Frederic Godet
Bruce Goettsche
Scott Grant
Dave Guzik
Robert Haldane
Richard Halverson
Matthew Henry
Gregg Herrick
Gregg Herrick
Gregg Herrick
Daniel Hill
Charles Hodge
F B Hole
Jamieson, F, B
William Kelly
S Lewis Johnson
S Lewis Johnson
S Lewis Johnson
Hampton Keathley
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
J Vernon McGee
Middletown Bible
Robert Morgan
H C G Moule
William Newell
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
A T Robertson
Rob Salvato
Rob Salvato
Rob Salvato
Rob Salvato
C H Spurgeon
C H Spurgeon
C H Spurgeon
Ray Stedman
Ray Stedman
Ray Stedman
Drew Worthen
Drew Worthen
Drew Worthen
Marvin Vincent
Precept Ministries
Romans Notes in Outline Form -
Romans 3:31-4:12: Detail of God's Good News-3
Romans 3:31-4:12 Detail of God's Good News-3

Romans 4:12-17 Detail of God's Good News-4
Romans 4:18 Detail of God's Good News Pt 5
Romans 4:18-25 Detail of God's Good News-6

Romans 4 Commentary
Romans 4 Sermon Notes
Romans 4:1-12 Improving Your Credit Report
Romans 4:13-17 Receiving Rewards Not Wrath
Romans 4:18-25 Finding Hope in a Hopeless World

Romans 4 Commentary
Romans 4:1-8 The Faith Of Abraham
Romans 4:9-12 How Righteousness Is Obtained
Romans 4:13-17 Where The Law Fails, Faith Prevails
Romans 4:18-25 Geritol, Diapers and The Word Of God
Romans: Studies in Romans
Romans 3:27-4:3  Ro 4:4-12  Ro 4:13-25
Romans 4 Commentary

Romans Expository Notes
Romans 4 OT Illustration of Justification by Faith
Romans 3:27–4:25 Abraham: Faith of Our Father
Romans 4: Are You Saved?
Romans Commentary
Romans 4:1-25 Grace Consistently
Romans 4 God's Worldwide Family
Romans 4 Commentary
Romans 4 Commentary
Romans: Prologue to Prison
Romans 4 Commentary
Romans 4:1-12 Exposition
Romans 4:13-22 Exposition
Romans 4:23-25 Exposition
Romans Notes - Verse by Verse Notes
Romans Commentary
Romans Commentary
Romans 4 Commentary
Romans Commentary
Romans 4:1-8

Romans 4:9-17

Romans 4:18-25

Romans 4:1-8: Justification by Faith
Romans 4:1-3 Abraham-Justified by Faith, Part 1
Romans 4:1-3 Abraham-Justified by Faith, Part 2
Romans 4:4-8 Abraham-Justified by Faith, Part 3  
Romans 4:9-12 Abraham-Justified by Grace, Part 1
Romans 4:13-17 Abraham-Justified by Grace, Part 2
Romans 4:18-25 Salvation by Divine Power-Not Human Effort

Romans Mp3's by chapter/verse
Romans 4
Romans 4:1-8 Plunging into the Promises
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans
Romans 4 Commentary
Romans 4:1-3 Abraham: An Example of Justification by Faith

Romans 4:4-8 David: An Example of Justification by Faith

Romans 4:9-12 Faith Credited as Righteousness

Romans 4:13-15 Law-Wrath / Faith-Righteousness

Romans 4:16-17 Faith that Accords with Grace

Romans 4:18-25 Faith and God's Promise

Romans 4:1-5 God Credits Faith As Righteousness
Romans 3:27-4:5 Does James Contradict Paul?
Romans 4:6-8 When the Lord Does Not Take Account of Sin
Romans 4:9-12 ...Which Came First: Circumcision or Justification?
Romans 4:9-12  How Do Circumcision and Baptism Correspond?
Romans 4:13-15  Inheriting the World Depends on Faith, Not Law
Romans 4:13-15  The Children of Abraham Are Heirs of the World
Romans 4:16-21 The Faith - Grace - Certainty Connection
Romans 4:16-21  Faith: In Hope, Against Hope, for the Glory of God
Romans 4:20 Battling Unbelief At Bethlehem
Romans 4:22-25 Why Was Jesus Put to Death and Raised Again?
Romans 4:22-25 The Purpose and Perseverance of Faith
Romans 4:5 The Great Exchange    

Romans 4:9-12 Righteousness is a Five Letter Word

Romans 4:13-17 Faith--Yes! The Law--No!

Romans 4:18-25 The Oldest Dad in the Nursery

Romans 4 Greek Word Studies
Romans 4:3 Abraham: Living Faith
Romans 4:1-12 Justification By Faith
Romans 4:19-22 The Faith Of Abraham
Romans 4:11-5:3 God's Perspective

Romans 4 Exposition
Romans 4:16 How is Salvation Received?
Romans 4:16,17 The Hold-fasts of Faith

Romans 3:27-4:25: Exhibit A
Romans 4:1-12 The Father Of Faith
Romans 4:13-25 The Faith Of Our Father
Romans 4:1-12 Blessed Whose Sin The Lord Will Never Count
Romans 4:13-21 Do Not Waver In The Promises Of God
Romans 4:22-5:2 We Wait For The Glorious Appearing

Romans 4: Greek Word Studies
Romans Pt 1: Download lesson 1 of 14

ROMANS ROAD
to RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans
1
:18-3:20
Romans
3:21-5:21
Romans
6:1-8:39
Romans
9:1-11:36
Romans
12:1-16:27
SIN SALVATION SANCTIFICATION SOVEREIGNTY SERVICE
NEED
FOR
SALVATION
WAY
OF
SALVATION
LIFE
OF
SALVATION
SCOPE
OF
SALVATION
SERVICE
OF
SALVATION
God's Holiness
In
Condemning
Sin
God's Grace
In
Justifying
Sinners
God's Power
In
Sanctifying
Believers
God's Sovereignty
In
Saving
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
The
Object of
Service
Deadliness
of Sin
Design
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Righteousness
Needed
Righteousness
Credited
Righteousness
Demonstrated
Righteousness
Restored to Israel
Righteousness
Applied
God's Righteousness
IN LAW
God's Righteousness
IMPUTED
God's Righteousness
OBEYED
God's Righteousness
IN ELECTION
God's Righteousness
DISPLAYED
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
Life by Faith Service by Faith

Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"

FOR THIS REASON IT IS BY FAITH THAT IT MIGHT BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH GRACE: dia touto ek pisteos hina kata charin: (Ro 3:24, 25, 26; 5:1; Gal 3:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,22; Eph 2:5,8; Titus 3:7)

Listen to Dr J Vernon McGee on Mp3 - Romans 4:9-25

By faith - Literally "out of faith" (pistis - word study)

Justification is through faith alone. That is to say, that the fulfillment of the promise may not be according to man’s merit, but to God’s unmerited favor. The mention of grace indicates that there is no intrinsic merit in faith. The promise, faith and grace, are set in direct contrast to law, works and merit.

Wuest adds that of faith is

ablative of source, “out of faith as a source.” That is, the terms laid down by God as to how the inheritance, eternal life, is dispensed by God and appropriated by the sinner, are that the latter exercise faith rather than perform works. The channel through which eternal life is given is that of faith, and in that sense the channel becomes the source of the transaction whereby God gives eternal life. And salvation is channeled to the sinner thus in order that it can be by grace. If the sinner earned salvation by his works, salvation would not be by grace, would not be an unmerited gift given out of the spontaneous generosity of the heart of God. But since faith is the supplicant’s hand outstretched for salvation, the latter can be a gift given in pure grace. And this is so adjusted also that salvation is available to both Jew and Gentile. The law was only given to the Jew, and if salvation could have been given on the basis of works, only the Jew could be saved, for the Gentile was never given the law. Abraham, Paul has shown, was saved before the ordinance of circumcision was given and thus before the Mosaic law was instituted. Thus, he becomes the spiritual father of both Jew and Gentile in that both are saved exactly like he by pure faith without the necessity of works as a preliminary requirement to salvation. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos) (Bolding added)

In accordance with grace - "As the pattern" (Robertson)

Grace (5485) (charis [word study]) emphasizes that this is a free gift given and is not based on merit (cp Ro 3:24-
note, Ep 2:5-note, Ep 2:8-note, Titus 3:7-note). The power of justification is God’s great grace, not man’s faith.

John Piper asks

What is it that really, at bottom, guarantees the promise that you will be an heir? The answer is: God's grace. Your faith is essential, but the reason it's essential is that it is the only condition of the heart that accords with grace. And God's grace is the deepest foundation of our guarantee." (Click full sermon The Faith - Grace - Certainty Connection) (Bolding and color added for emphasis)

Pastor Ray Stedman notes that in Romans 4:16, 17 we see faith in action...

If law cannot achieve righteousness, what does faith do? First, the promise comes by it. You actually obtain what you are desiring, this sense of being approved and loved and wanted and accepted before God himself. You are a part of his family and you are forgiven of all the past. All that is achieved by faith, not by seeking to earn it. The promise comes by faith. What works could not do, faith does. That is a fantastic promise.

As we have already seen in Ro 4:13, the promise includes not only this personal self-worth before God, which Abraham achieved, but it also makes you the heir of all the world. In 1Corinthians 3:23, the Apostle Paul says, "All things are yours... and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's," {cf, 1Cor 3:22, 23 RSV}. The promise also says you will be indwelt, as Abraham was, with the Holy Spirit of God. Galatians 3 makes clear that Abraham received that promise by faith, and we receive it the same way Abraham did (Ed: Ga 3:7, 8, 9, 29). So faith obtains the promise.

The second thing that faith does is to introduce the principle of grace. Law and grace are opposed to one another in certain ways. They do not cancel each other out, they simply do two different things. We need both; we need law and we need grace. Do not ever say, "I am under grace, therefore I have no need for law." The Bible never takes that position. It is Law that helps you come to grace (Gal 3:24, 25), and without it you never would come. But law and grace do not have the same functions. It is grace that lays hold of the promise.

Now what is grace? There are many ways to define it. I love the one that says it is enrichment that you don't deserve: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. It is all the richness of life -- love, joy, peace, and the fulfillment of the heart's longing -- all that enriches your life and that you do not deserve. It is given to you, therefore it is a gift. There is an old hymn that puts it well:

"Do this and live!" the Law demands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word is
"Grace doth bring."
It bids me fly, but gives me wings.

The Law condemns; grace enables. When grace comes in, it guarantees the promise. If you and I had to earn the standing that we have before God -- not only at the beginning of our Christian life but every day through it -- we would certainly fail somewhere along the line. If it depended upon us, somewhere we would blow it and lose the whole thing. But if it comes by grace, if it is purely a gift and it does not depend upon us at all but upon God alone, then it is guaranteed to us -- because He is not going to fail (Ed: cp He 6:16, 17-note, He 6:18-note, He 6:19-note). That is why Paul says, "Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring -- not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham." There are offspring of Abraham to whom this guarantee is made. We will see more of that in just a moment. (The Faith of our Father) (Bolding added)

IN ORDER THAT THE PROMISE MAY BE CERTAIN TO ALL THE DESCENDANTS NOT ONLY TO THOSE WHO ARE OF THE LAW BUT ALSO TO THOSE WHO ARE OF THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM WHO IS THE FATHER OF US ALL: eis to einai (PAN) bebaian ten epaggelian  to spermati, ou to ek tou nomou monon alla kai to ek pisteos Abraam os estin (3SPAI) pater panton hemon: (2Pet 1:10-note) (Ro 9:8; Isa 51:2)

Read the parallel passage in He 6:13, 14, 15-note, He 6:16, 17-note, He 6:18-note, He 6:19-note

Promise (1860) (epaggelia form epí  = intensifier or upon + aggéllo = tell, declare) means an announcement upon and was primarily legal term denoting summons or a promise to do or give something. It is used only of the promises of God (except Acts 23:21) and refers to a thing promised, a gift graciously given and is not a pledge secured by negotiation.

Faith was made a condition of the promise, that its fulfillment, apart from human merit, might be secured for the recipients. Had its fulfillment depended upon human works or merit, it could not have been assured or certain, because it could not have been attainable in this manner.

Certain (949) (bebaios [word study] from baino = to walk) describes the promise which is (see below) like an legal guarantee and thus is a (stable) promise we can rely on even when our (unstable) feelings might cause us to do otherwise (see related snippet from Spurgeon's sermon below). Furthermore, the original Greek text places certain before the promise which adds emphasis to the assurance that this  promise can be relied upon. No bank failures here, beloved!

Vincent adds that bebaios means "Stable, valid, something realized, the opposite of made of none effect, Romans 4:14."

 In secular Greek bebaios meant fit to tread on (having a firm foundation). In classical Greek from the 5th cent. B.C. bebaios acquired the meaning of firm, durable, unshakeable, sure, reliable, certain; and in the legal sphere, valid, legal. bebaios conveys the idea of being certain on basis of being well established. The idea is of something that is firm, stable and thus something that can be relied upon or trusted in.

Strachan says that bebaios

has a legal sense. It is the legal guarantee, obtained by the buyer from the seller, to be gone back upon should a third party claim the thing.

In Greek commerce bebaios refers to what is legally guaranteed. In the Greek papyri it was used in a technical sense for a legal guarantee of the settlement of a business transaction.

Descendants...of the Law - Believing Jews.

Of the faith of Abraham - Believing Gentiles. (cp Ro 4:11 -
note)

Abraham is the father not only of the Jews, physically speaking, but of all who are justified by faith, spiritually speaking.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. (Gal 3:7).

...For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (At conversion/regeneration we were "immersed into" the spiritual body of Christ, and He becomes our new spiritual identity as well as our new supernatural life - Col 3:4-note, cp Jn 14:6; 2Co 4:10,11; 1Jn 4:9, 5:11,12, 2Ti 1:1-note) 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:26-29)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon has a sermon on this passage entitled The Hold-Fasts of Faith which he introduces with these comments...

Abraham had received an assurance from the Lord that he was to be the father of many nations. His faith in this promise underwent great trials. Where there is the sweet honey of promise, there the wasps of doubt will be gathered together. A promise calls for faith; but through our natural depravity, it awakens unbelief; and there is a struggle around the sacred promise, such as that represented in the prayer, “Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief.”

Satan, with slimy Battery, decoys men into a belief of his lie; but the God of truth gives us his bare promise, and bids us believe it; and when questions suggest themselves, he does not relax his claim, but bids us still believe. True faith, as the work of God, is not a thing to be put down: it is a conquering grace, and makes a brave fight against wicked unbelief.

While doing so, faith has her eyes open, and she, in due season, spies out grounds of confidence. She looks at God himself; she considers the days of old; she remembers her own experience of the right hand of the Host High; and thus she lifts her eyes to the hills, whence cometh her help. When faith has discovered a helpful truth she makes immediate use of it as a holdfast, even as Abraham did in the case now before us.

The great difficulty with Abraham was death. Death was around him on every side. God had promised him life, and life more abundantly; for he was to be the father of many nations, and have a seed as many as the stars of heaven for multitude; but as to all possibility of his being a father, his body was now dead. He was a hundred years old, and withered with age: how could he become a father of nations? Sarah, also, as to being a mother, was practically dead, for she was ninety years old. How should she bear sons unto Abraham? Further on the Lord bade him, when Isaac was miraculously born, to offer him as a sacrifice, and Abraham was willing to do even that at God’s command. He believed that in Isaac should his seed be called, and therefore he looked that God should “raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” The patriarch’s faith settled down upon God’s power to quicken the dead, and he found in that unquestioned truth a foundation for the firmest confidence. The truth of God’s power to quicken the dead met all the difficulties of Abraham’s position. He argued: What if my body be dead? God can quicken it. What if my wife be, in this matter, as one dead? By God’s power she can receive strength. What if my son, when growing up, should be dead on the altar? He that made me the promise can raise him up from the dead; for what he has promised he is able to perform. Abraham’s faith was a nail fastened in a sure place. He knew Jehovah as “God, who quickeneth the dead”; and that resurrection word was, to his faith, a shout of victory. (Read the full message - The Hold-Fasts of Faith)

 

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, Who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kathos gegraptai (3SRPI) hoti Patera pollon ethnon tetheika (1SRAI) se} katenanti ou episteusen (3SAAI) Theou tou zoopoiountos (PAPMSG) tous nekrous kai kalountos (PAPMSG) ta me onta (PAPNPA) os onta; (PAPNPA
Amplified: That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, "I have made you the father of many nations." This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what didn't exist before.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, "I have made you the father of many nations." This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what didn't exist before. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: as the scripture says: 'I have made you a father of many nations'. This faith is valid because of the existence of God himself, who can make the dead live, and speak his Word to those who are yet unborn. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: even as it stands written, A father of many nations I have established you permanently, before Him whom he believed, before God who makes alive those who are dead and calls the things that are not in existence as being in existence;  (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal: (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

AS IT IS WRITTEN A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU: kathos gegraptai (3SRPI) hoti patera pollon ethnon tetheika (1SRAI): (Ge 17:4,5,16,20; 25:1-34; 28:3; Heb 11:12)

Written (1125) (grapho [word study]) is in the perfect tense indicating that it was written in the past and stands in effect, speaking of the permanence (and trustworthiness) of God's holy word (cp Jesus' affirmation in Mt 24:35, Mk 13:31, Lk 21:33)

A Father of many nations - See God's written promise in Ge 17:4, 5 (cp Ge 12:1, 2, 3, 13:16, 15:5)

I have made you - The perfect tense indicates Abraham had at a specific point in time been made the father of many nations and that this attribute was permanent.

Made (5087) (tithemi) literally means to place or put but here conveys the sense of to appoint as in Luke 10:1 (cp Ac 10:42, 13:48, Jn 15:16). Abraham was assigned to a particular role and still has that assigned role (father of many nations).

IN THE SIGHT OF HIM WHOM HE BELIEVED EVEN GOD, WHO GIVES LIFE TO THE DEAD AND CALLS INTO BEING THAT WHICH DOES NOT EXIST: katenanti ou episteusen (3SAAI) theou tou zoopoiountos (PAPMSG) tous nekrous kai kalountos (PAPMSG) ta me onta (PAPNPA) os onta (PAPNPA): (Ro 4:2; 8:11; Mt 3:9; Jn 5:21,25; 6:63; 1Cor 15:45; Eph 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 1Ti 6:13) (Ro 8:29,30; 9:26; Isa 43:6; 44:7; 49:12; 55:12; Acts 15:18; 1Cor 1:28; Heb 11:7; 1Pet 2:10; 2Pet 3:8)

Him who believedFaith as defined in Abraham’s experience (Ro 4:18, 19, 21) is not an intellectual exercise nor is it a passive assent to what God says but it is a total reliance and dependence on God’s Word of promise, on which one can stake their eternal life and can live accordingly in this present short life.

The key is the object of faith. Don't miss that truth here. Next, he shows us the obstacles to faith. And then he tells us the objectives of faith -- where faith will bring us. God is the object. The quality of your faith depends upon the object in which that faith has placed its trust. The amount of faith you have has nothing to do with it. That is why Jesus told us that even if we have a little tiny faith, like a grain of mustard seed, it will work. The object of your faith is the important thing.

Ray Stedman gives this illustration of faith & the object of one's faith:

"You may leave this service this morning and go out to the parking lot with the utmost faith that when you get into your car and drive down the driveway and into the street your car is going to work just as it was working when you parked it there this morning. But maybe, while we were sitting here this morning, someone took off the hubcaps and removed the lug bolts from the front wheels of your car, and then put the hubcaps back on so you cannot see any difference. That may have happened. And though you have the utmost confidence that you car is going to work properly, when you get onto the street and turn the corner, sooner of later the front wheels are going to fall off. You might end up dead -- killed by faith! On the other hand, some of you who have been worried a bit by what I have just said may go out to your car after this service and take off the hubcaps and examine the lug bolts to make sure they are there. And even then, not too confidently, you may start your car and drive it rather timidly down the driveway, still thinking that something might go wrong and it may fall apart. But if no one has tampered with it, you are perfectly safe -- even though you have little faith -- because the object of your faith is strong. That is why you should not talk about your faith; talk instead about the God in whom your faith is fixed!" (Read the full sermon The Faith of our Father)

Abraham looked at the One Who made the promise, at God Himself. It is not a question of how little or how big one's faith is; it is a question of how big one's God is! What kind of a God is He? There are two things about this God that helped Abraham tremendously: (1) He is the God who gives life to the dead -- the God Who makes dead things live, Who takes things that once were alive, vibrant, and full of life, but have died and become hopeless, and brings them to life again. (2) He is the God Who "calls things that are not, as though they were." He calls into existence the things that do not exist. He is a creative God.

Abraham had experienced this firsthand (Heb 11:11, 12 cf Ro 4:19) God alone can make the dead to live (Dt 32:39 1Sa 2:6 2Ki 5:7 Ps 68:20) Faith in God as the One who exercises this prerogative, enabled Abraham to look forward with assurance to an innumerable seed.

This is another reference to the forensic nature of justification. God can declare believing sinners to be righteous even though they are not, by imputing His righteousness to them, just as God made or declared Jesus “sin” and punished Him, though He was not a sinner. Those whom He justifies, He will conform to the image of His Son (Ro 8:29, 30).

 

Romans 4:18  In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: os par' elpida ep' elpidi episteusen (3SAAI) eis to genesthai (AMN) auton patera pollon ethnon kata to eiremenon, (RPPNSA) houtos estai (3SFMI) to sperma sou; 
Amplified: When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him. God had also said, "Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars," even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT:   When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him. God had also said, "Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars," even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Abraham, when hope was dead within him, went on hoping in faith, believing that he would become "the father of many nations". He relied on the word of God which definitely referred to 'your descendants'. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: who, being beyond hope, upon the basis of hope believed, in order that he might become father of many nations, according to that which has been spoken with finality, In this manner will your offspring be.  (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal: In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE."

IN HOPE AGAINST HOPE HE BELIEVED: hos par elpida ep elpidi episteusen (3SAAI): (Ro 4:19; 5:5; 8:24; Ru 1:11, 12, 13; Pr 13:12; Ezek 37:11; Mk 5:35,36; Lu 1:18; Acts 27:25)

From the human perspective, it seemed impossible (Ro 4:19, Ge 17:5). Having shown that justification is through faith not works (Ro 4:1-8), and that it is by grace, not the keeping of law (Ro 4:9-17), Paul now concludes by showing that it results from divine power, not human effort (Ro 4:18-25).

Some Biblical examples of "hope against hope" (Ezek 37:11 Mk 5:35,36, Lu 1 :18)

Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.' (Ezekiel 37:11)

While He was still speaking, they came^ from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?" 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe." (Mark 5:35-36)

And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." (Luke 1:18)

Webster actually has a separate entry for "hope against hope" which it defines as "to hope without any basis for expecting fulfillment", not exactly how the Bible would define it!

A STORY ABOUT HOPE from Our Daily Bread - Her eyes saw the leafless trees in winter, but because her mind was clouded by Alzheimer's disease she thought the trees were dead. "Someone should cut down those trees," she would repeat day after day. "They aren't coming back." How often we see our "leafless" circumstances with a mind clouded by past experience and disappointment. We may look at a friendship, a marriage, a family feud, and say to ourselves, "Cut it down. Sever the tie. Make the break. It's hopeless!" But God wants us to see with hope because of His presence and power. We can't bring life to these seemingly impossible situations, but He can. What leafless, lifeless situation do you see today? Don't believe everything your mind tells you about it. Instead, ask God for eyes of faith that see with hope.  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Our physical eyes do not always see
The work God is doing today,
But hope in God's Word will surely bear fruit,
Though often there is a delay. --Hess

Hope, like an anchor, is fixed on the unseen.

IN ORDER THAT HE MIGHT BECOME A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS ACCORDING TO THAT WHICH HAD BEEN SPOKEN SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE: eis to genesthai (AMN) auton patera pollon ethnon kata to eiremenon houtos estai (3SFMI) to sperma sou: (v17 Ge 17:5)

Paul quotes the Septuagint (LXX) (rather than Hebrew) from (Ge 15:5). Whenever you have faith or are called to exercise faith, there are obstacles. Abraham teaches us this. There are horrendous obstacles. Abraham faced hopeless circumstances (v19, 20) That is, the promise itself was the second obstacle to faith because it had such staggering possibilities. It was too good to be true! It was beyond belief that God would make him heir of all the world and give him a standing before God that he didn't deserve. It was too good to be true, so it was an obstacle to faith. Isn't that interesting? There are two obstacles to faith: hopeless circumstances and staggering possibilities. Let us see what Abraham did with them:

What were the hopeless circumstances Abraham faced? Paul tells us there were two: Abraham's body and Sarah's womb. Abraham's body was a 100 years old and was sexually dead. The promise of God hung on the fact that there must be a child born to Abraham and Sarah. Through that child would come all the descendants from the nations of the world that would be blessed by Abraham. And, more important yet, through that child would come the Seed, which was Jesus Christ, whom Abraham saw and rejoiced in, and who would make possible the gift of righteousness. Everything hung on the birth of a baby.

Abraham looked at the circumstances and saw his hundred-year-old body and the barrenness of Sarah's womb. She was ninety years old and had never had a baby. They had been trying for years and years, and no baby had come. These were the hopeless circumstances. Now, here is the beauty of Abraham's faith. Paul says that he faced the facts. In this translation it says that "without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact..." Many of us think that faith is evading the facts -- escapism, some kind of dreamy idealism that never looks at facts, a kind of unrealistic adventuring in which you hope everything is going to work out. It is never that!

Abraham looked at the facts. He faced them head-on. He considered his dead body and the barrenness of Sarah's womb. He sat and thought about it, and he saw how hopeless the situation was. There was no chance at all! His body was a hundred years old and Sarah's womb was ninety years old and had never borne children. She was far past the age of childbearing. It was hopeless.

There was no hope, yet Abraham believed in hope. How? Because when he looked at his dead body he remembered that he had a God who raises the dead. And when he thought about Sarah's barren womb, he remembered that he had a God who calls into existence the things that do not exist. That would take care of everything, wouldn't it? And so, against all hope, he believed in hope, because of the God in whom his faith was fixed. Then he did one other thing. It is not mentioned here. He told Sarah what God said. He came in and she said, "Well, dear, your eggs are ready. What have you been doing?" He said, "Oh, I've been having devotions, and what a wonderful time I had! God told me something." She said, "Well, what was it?" Abraham said, "Well, I don't really know how to put this." "What do you mean?" Sarah asked. "Well," he said, "you'd better sit down. God told me something very startling that is going to happen to us." "That's interesting!" she said. "What is it?" Then, like a man, he just blurted it out. "You're going to have a baby!" And Sarah said, "What?" Abraham said, "That's what God said. You're going to have a baby." "What, me?" "Yes, you!" "Why, how can it be? Abraham, did you stop at the wine shop on your way home this morning?" And Sarah laughed. It says so in Genesis. Sarah laughed, "Ha! God said that I'm going to have a baby?" {cf, Ge 18:12}.But then Sarah did something else. God had said something to Abraham that applied to Sarah and Abraham must have told her. He said: "Is there anything too hard for God?" {cf, Ge18:14}. When God says that he will do something, is there anything too hard for God? And you know, when Sarah began to feel pregnant, her faith laid hold of that promise again. And when the baby came, Sarah was a woman of faith, because she had been thinking of the God for whom nothing is too hard. There is the faith of Abraham. How did he deal with these staggering possibilities? It is unbelievable that all nations should be blessed through them. He would be heir of the world, he would be called the friend of God. Could it be? But Abraham remembered that he had a God who gives life to the dead and a God who calls into existence things that do not exist. And so he believed.

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