Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 4

How Abraham received a right relationship with God

Romans 4:3

The life of Abraham interests us greatly. For several centuries, everyone or almost everyone had served false gods, and many people were very evil. However, then Abraham discovered how to have a relationship with the real God; and he taught it to other people. Even today, our beliefs as Christians depend on what Abraham discovered.

Righteousness means goodness. In Romans 3:9-20, Paul has explained that people are not good; in many ways, everyone offends against Godís law. Now, however, Paul tells us from Genesis 15:6 that Abraham had righteousness. Abraham certainly did not learn to be good from the society in which he lived. Clearly, he received that quality in some other way. We want, of course, to understand how.

God made a series of promises to Abraham; and Abraham obeyed God. We might think that Abraham was righteous (good) because of that. However, something happened before Abraham obeyed; he believed God. Abraham obeyed only because he believed. So, God declared Abraham righteous because Abraham believed.

We do not mean that Abraham merely believed in God. (To believe in God means to believe that he exists). Of course that is essential in order to receive anything from God (Hebrews 11:6). However, even the devil believes in God (James 2:19). Abraham believed that God would carry out his promises. He trusted God to do these things even when they seemed impossible (4:19-21). That attitude is called faith. That faith was the reason why God considered Abraham righteous. Therefore Abrahamís righteousness did not come from Abraham himself, but from God. It was Godís gift to Abraham when Abraham acted in faith.

Next part: How to receive Godís kindness (Romans 4:4)


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