Saturday, September 19, 2009

Romans 4:16-17
"The Promise Comes by Faith"

[Crossposted to Street Prophets. The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

(NET) Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace,25 with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants – not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham,26 who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”).27 He is our father28 in the presence of God whom he believed – the God who29 makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do.30

25 tn Grk “that it might be according to grace.”
26 tn Grk “those who are of the faith of Abraham.”

27 tn Verses 16–17 comprise one sentence in Greek, but this has been divided into two sentences due to English requirements.

sn A quotation from
Gen 17:5. The quotation forms a parenthesis in Paul’s argument.

28 tn The words “He is our father” are not in the Greek text but are supplied to show that they resume Paul’s argument from 16b. (It is also possible to supply “Abraham had faith” here [so REB], taking the relative clause [“who is the father of us all“] as part of the parenthesis, and making the connection back to “the faith of Abraham,” but such an option is not as likely [C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:243].)

29 tn “The God” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity.

30 tn Or “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” The translation of ὡς ὄντα (hōs onta) allows for two different interpretations. If it has the force of result, then creatio ex nihilo is in view and the variant rendering is to be accepted (so C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:244). A problem with this view is the scarcity of ὡς plus participle to indicate result (though for the telic idea with ὡς plus participle, cf.
Rom 15:15; 1 Thess 2:4). If it has a comparative force, then the translation given in the text is to be accepted: “this interpretation fits the immediate context better than a reference to God’s creative power, for it explains the assurance with which God can speak of the ‘many nations’ that will be descended from Abraham” (D. Moo, Romans [NICNT], 282; so also W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, Romans [ICC], 113). Further, this view is in line with a Pauline idiom, viz., verb followed by ὡς plus participle (of the same verb or, in certain contexts, its antonym) to compare present reality with what is not a present reality (cf. 1 Cor 4:7; 5:3; 7:29, 30(three times), 31; Col 2:20 [similarly, 2 Cor 6:9-10]).

Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

My Comments: Carl talks about "slowing down" now, because he says that Paul is going to get very practical about how we actually live by faith - by looking at how Abraham succeeded in doing this. Certainly, this will be important for those trying to have faith in God - and many of these lessons may also be useful in other areas we need to exhibit faith in.

Paul presents here that even if we have no semetic blood - are not a blood descendant of Abraham - we are still a child of Abraham if we have the faith of Abraham. This is not what we do - this is in the sight of God who declares we are children of Abraham if we share his faith.
Matthew 3:9 and don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones!
In verse 17, Paul is talking about Abraham's faith that Sarah's "dead" womb could be summoned back to life; and that God could talk about a not-yet-concieved Issac as if Issac already existed.
Hebrews 11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
and, later down
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He had received the promises, yet he was ready to offer up his only son. 18 God had told him, “Through Isaac descendants will carry on your name,” 19 and he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there.
Again, accepting that Issac would carry on Abraham's name, Abraham - in faith - reasoned that God would simply raise Issac from the dead just as God had raised Sarah's womb from the dead; and as God will raise us - who are dead in our sin - to life in God. All by faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 2 For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible
It is interesting to me that the current scientific view of the origins of the universe does not clash with this at all - yet just a hundred years ago it would have been considered to be pure supernaturalism. That small, incredibly dense, ball of matter that God called the universe out of would not have been visible. Notice the verse does not say it was non-existent: just not visible.

However, Carl's point is that we know God's promises to us and yet many of those promises are yet invisible to us - and in faith we wait for them to be made visible. Again, the promises exist - we just have to wait for them to become visible to us; and some commentaries say that Abraham waited 25 years for the promise of Issac to become visible.

Going Deeper into the Word:
  1. Why is the way of “faith” the only way that “fits” grace? (4:16) — Just as the way of “works” fits “obligation”? (Romans 4:4-5)
  2. What is the significance of saying Abraham “is the father of us all”?
  3. When we strive to have faith in God — why is it crucial to know what He has promised?
  4. What are the circumstances and obstacles we face that make it difficult to have faith in God?
  5. What did Abraham do to grow stronger in faith? (Romans 4:18-20) How can we do the same?

Next: 4:18-25 -- "Abraham's Faith - and Ours"

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly