An Exegesis of Romans 4:1-25
Rev. Peter Gutierrez
Faith and Works
With this exegetical report, I will relate my interpretation of the
meaning of the fourth chapter in Paul's letter to the Romans.
I believe that the central theme of this chapter is the importance of
having faith in God. Paul makes it very clear that by faith in God and not by
one's works (deeds) will one become right with God (4:5).
Paul uses the example of Abraham to get his ideas across to the Romans.
"Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous"
(4:3 and Genesis 15:6). Paul continues by saying that this is the happiness
David spoke of when God accepts a person as righteous for his faith.
Starting in the ninth verse, Paul writes that the promise that God offers
is not exclusive to Jews, but that it is for all people who believe. Again
Paul uses Abraham as an example. Paul wrote, "Does this happiness that David
spoke of belong only to those that are circumcised (Jews)? No indeed! It
belongs also to those who are not circumcised..." (4:9). By this Paul meant
that both Jews (who are the circumcised) and Gentiles (who are not) are able
to receive the promise of God. Paul continues to make his point by stating
the fact that Abraham was considered righteous by God for his beliefs before
he was circumcised.
Starting in verse thirteen, Paul says that God promised Abraham that the
earth would belong to him and his people. This was promised to Abraham not
because he obeyed the Law (work), but because he believed in God
(faith)(4:16). Again Paul expresses the importance of faith. Work must be
performed to earn pay; however, faith is all that is required to receive God's
free gift (4:16).
The rest of the chapter repeats the central theme: faith - especially
Abraham's. Paul writes, "Abraham believed and hoped, even when there was no
reason hoping..." (4:18). By this Paul is telling the Romans that they
should never lose faith in what they believe. He also writes, "He was then
almost one hundred years old; but his faith did not weaken when he thought of
his body..." (4:19). I believe Paul was saying that the body is not one's
strength - it is one's faith. Paul continues to use Abraham's example of
faith through the entire chapter.
The chapter closes by repeating another claim, that the gift promised to
Abraham is available to all. "The words 'he was accepted as righteous' were
not written for him alone. They were written also for us who are to be
accepted as righteous, who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from
In this chapter, it is certain to me that Paul aimed to show that Abraham
was considered righteous by God, not because of his works, but because of his
faith in God. And that if all men, Jews and Gentiles, followed the example of
Abraham, they too would be considered righteous by God.
PDG 1988 Rel 1005-N.T. Louisiana State University
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