Romans 4:13-19

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 2, 1998


Paul has been establishing the fact that our salvation is not based on good works or upon our obedience of the Law. Instead, we are saved through God’s unmerited gift towards us, by sending Jesus to pay our penalty of death. As we put our trust in Jesus to pay for our sins, we are made righteous.

He has been showing how this righteousness through trusting God is demonstrated in the life of Abraham, the one the Jews proudly pointed to as their "father". He quotes:

(Gen 15:6 KJV) And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

He then went on to point out that God gave Abraham this standing of "righteousness" before Abraham was even circumcised, showing that righteousness doesn’t come from being circumcised, but through believing.

Instead, Abraham’s circumcision was only a "proof" or "seal" that God had already made him righteous. It’s that way for us and baptism. We aren’t made right with God through baptism, it only was meant to be an outward demonstration to others of what God had done to us on the inside, washing us.

:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

(Gen 12:7 KJV) And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

(Gen 17:4-8 KJV) As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. {5} Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. {6} And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. {7} And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. {8} And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Being an "heir of the world" referred to the promise to Abraham of receiving the Promised Land.

The promise didn’t come attached to the Law of Moses, it came attached to Abraham’s faith.

:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

made voidkenoo – to empty, make empty; deprive of force, render vain, useless, of no effect

made of none effectkatargeo – to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative; to deprive of force, influence, power

If the promises are only good to those who obey the Law, then you’ll have to throw out the promises to Abraham because they didn’t come through law, but through faith. Abraham lived 600 years before the Law of Moses.

:15 Because the law worketh wrath

workethkatergazomai – to perform, accomplish, achieve; to work out i.e. to do that from which something results

The Law doesn’t result in people being declared righteous, it only results in people being declared sinful and deserving of wrath.

:15 for where no law is, there is no transgression.

transgressionparabasis – a going over; metaph. a disregarding, violating

If there are no rules, how can you break them?

:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

The promise was that Abraham would be the father of "many nations", not just the nation of Israel. The Law was given only to the nation of Israel. So how can all those "other nations" receive the blessings promised to Abraham? By following in Abraham’s footsteps, which were steps of faith.

surebebaios – stable, fast, firm; metaph. sure, trusty


Your salvation is solid.

Because your salvation is based on grace, upon what God has done for you, and not upon your works, it’s solid.

It’s not "up" one day and "down" the next.

(1 John 5:11-13 KJV) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. {12} He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. {13} These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Our salvation is based upon whether or not we have Jesus, and we only have Jesus when we believe in Him.


Believe me, the life of grace is no dead level; it is not a marsh country, a vast flat. There are mountains, and there are valleys. There are tribes of Christians who live in the lowlands, like the poor Swiss of Valais, who live between the lofty ranges of mountains in the midst of the miasma, where the air is stagnant and fever has its lair and the human frame grows languid and enfeebled. Such dwellers in the lowlands of unbelief are forever doubting, fearing, troubled about their interest in Christ, and tossed to and fro; but there are other believers, who, by God's grace, have climbed the mountain of full assurance and near communion. Their place is with the eagle in his eyrie, high aloft; they are like the strong mountaineer who has trodden the virgin snow, who has breathed the fresh, free air of the Alpine regions, and therefore his sinews are braced, and his limbs are vigorous. These are they who do great exploits, being mighty men, men of renown.

-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,)

(Gen 17:5 KJV) Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Originally his name was Abram, exalted father; afterward Abraham, father of a multitude.

madetithemi – to set, put, place; to make; to set, fix establish

nationsethnos – a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together; a tribe, nation, people group; in the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles

You could translate it "a father of many Gentiles".

He wasn’t just the father of a single nation, but was to be the father of many nations. We could look at the "many nations" as being the descendants of Ishmael, Isaac, etc. But maybe it goes beyond that to include all who follow after Abraham’s faith.

:17 before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead

beforekatenanti – over against, opposite before; "right in front of"

Referring to qualities that Abraham believed to be true about God.

quickenethzoopoieo – to produce alive, begat or bear living young; to cause to live, make alive, give life

We can see this in Abraham’s life in both his belief that God would make a child come from old people like Abraham and Sarah, as well as his trust in God while taking Isaac to Mount Moriah.

:17 and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Even before Isaac was born, God talked to Abraham about him.

Even though Abraham didn’t know Isaac yet, God knew him. God is outside of time.

Chuck Smith: If we go to Pasadena on New Years Day, and standing at the corner there on Colorado Blvd., and the Long Beach float coming down the street now in sight and we see the band coming in front of it and marching and we see the float go by and we are ooh-ing. Isn't that beautiful and the float moves on down the street and here comes the Sierra Madre float and we are now in a trance by the beauty of the float which a few minutes ago the people on up the street were in a trance by its beauty. But now it is past them and it has come to us. But it also passes by and four o'clock down there ooh-ing over the Sierra Madre float and we are watching another float come into view. At this point where I am standing and watching the parade go by the Sierra Madre float went by four minutes ago. It has now moved on down in the parade concession down Colorado Blvd. I am now watching a new float come by where this float now is in four minutes will be where the Sierra float now is. Where this float will be the Long Beach float now is. Where the Long Beach float was this float now is. Because I am standing at one time frame of reference and watching it all go by in a procession, it is constantly moving in a procession as does time constantly move in a procession and I stand and look at it as it passes by. If I could get into the Goodyear blimp and fly above Pasadena and look down from that observation cabin I could see the entire parade from the beginning to end all at one time. Thus I could see the Long beach float and I could see Sierra Madre float and I could see the Mexico Float and all at the same time now I am looking down and I see the entire procession at once. I am no longer limited to this one corner and watching it in time frames passing by. God looking down on the procession of history can see the entire scene at once in one view. He can see Adam sinning in the garden and where Adam was 6000 years ago, I am tonight. I am moving in the procession but God can still see the whole procession at once. He can see the glorious coming again of Jesus Christ and He can see the Millennium reign and He can see the whole thing because He is outside of time looking down and is not limited to time frames. Thus God says, "Oh that Long Beach float is beautiful I haven't seen it yet it hasn't come by here yet. Oh it is a beauty I have to wait for it to pass by." But God has already seen it and He speaks of it as existing though in my time reference it hasn't existed yet. It hasn't come by me yet. Time hasn't come this far to me yet, but God living in the eternal outside of time sees the entire picture with one view, thus God speaks of things as existing though in my time frame they have not yet existed for God sees them He knows they are going to exist because He is outside of the time frame and thus He speaks and that is where prophecy comes in. God just speaks of what He is looking at what He can see. He is not bound by time.


:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Robertson: "Past hope in (upon) hope he trusted.

Even though in one sense he was way past hope, he still trusted in the hope that God had given to him.

(Rom 4:18 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!

How could he do this? How could he hope even when he was hopeless? Read on …

:19 And being not weak in faith

being weakastheneo – to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless

His body was weak, his faith was not.

:19 he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

deadnekroo – to make dead, to put to death, slay; worn out. The verb is a "perfect" tense, meaning that the action has happened in the past (dying), and the results continue on into the present (still dead).

consideredkatanoeo – to perceive, remark, observe, understand; to consider attentively, fix one's eyes or mind upon

The "not" is not in some Greek manuscripts, that’s why some translations read that Abraham "considered" his own body …

Whether it’s there or not, the point is still the same,


What’s a problem to you isn’t a problem to God.

Sometimes we can get so fixated on our problems that we get to thinking that they’re too big!

Mat 14:25-33 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. {26} And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. {27} But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. {28} And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. {29} And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. {30} But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. {31} And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? {32} And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. {33} Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

When Peter began to focus on the problems around him rather than Jesus, he began to sink.

It’s not that it’s necessarily wrong to be aware of the problems around us – I’m not sure God wants us going through life with a blindfold on – the problem is when we’ve gotten a twisted perspective, and the problem now seems bigger than God.

When the Israelites came close to the Promised Land, it was God’s idea to send in the spies. He wanted them knowing what they were getting into. But when they found out about the giants in the land, they became so obsessed with the giants that they no longer trusted that God could take care of them.

Keep a healthy perspective.

Isa 40:11-31 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. {12} Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? {13} Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? {14} With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? {15} Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. {16} And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. {17} All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. {18} To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? {19} The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. {20} He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. {21} Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? {22} It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: {23} That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. {24} Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. {25} To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. {26} Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. {27} Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? {28} Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. {29} He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. {30} Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: {31} But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

It’s when we get to thinking that God has forgotten us, it’s when we forget just how big God is, that we get discouraged and lose hope.