Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 4

A lesson from the life of Abraham

Romans 4:1-2

God brings people into a right relationship with himself when they have faith (trust) in Christ. Paul has said that the evidence for this is in the law and the prophets (3:21). By ‘the law and the prophets’, Paul meant the Old Testament (the books of the Bible that already existed before the time of the first Christians). The ‘law’ means the first 5 books. The ‘prophets’ means the other books which prophets (holy men of God) wrote.

So now Paul brings us a lesson from the part of the Bible called ‘the law’ (the first 5 books). It is from Genesis 15:6, which Paul repeats in verse 3. This particular passage does not contain any rules or commands; but it does give an important principle for our lives. Before Paul explains that principle, he first reminds us about the importance of Abraham. Abraham is one of the greatest men in the Bible. From his family came God’s special nation, called Israel or the Jewish people. God made wonderful promises to Abraham. God even promised to show his kindness to people of every nation by means of Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3).

The Bible calls Abraham a friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23). It is clear that he had a right relationship with God. We ask how he received that relationship. We, today, can only receive a right relationship with God by the same method. Many people would guess that Abraham had earned it by his good deeds. That idea, however, is wrong. Our good actions may impress other people (Job 35:5-8), but God’s standards are much higher than ours (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 55:8-9). The truth is that Abraham did not earn his relationship with God; it was God’s free gift to him. Abraham received it when he believed God; in other words, he trusted God to carry out his promises.

Next part: How Abraham received a right relationship with God (Romans 4:3)


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