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Romans 4 English Standard Version (ESV)


Abraham Justified by Faith

1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.



  1. Paul explained here that even people like Abraham were counted as righteous because of his faith in God and not his good works, not his circumcision, i.e. obeying the law. It is purely God’s grace.
  2. In verse 3, the term “counted to him as righteousness” literally means “to make an entry in the account book.” It’s like the person who has a huge credit card debt. One day he receives a notice from the credit card company saying that all his debts have been cleared. He no longer needs to worry about his debts.
  3. We, as sinners, have no righteousness that would be acceptable to God. But God has given His promise that when we believe in His Son; against our name in His account book, He makes an entry that says in effect, “This person is righteous in My sight!” Our faith has been credited to us as righteousness. What relief! What joy!
  4. It’s easy to feel that God accepts us only when we are good. Reread the examples of Abraham and David in this passage, how do they give us hope?