Romans 4:9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
Abraham Justified before Circumcision
• Religious rites cannot save you
Ro 4:9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.
Paul is anticipating the Jews response to everything said so far. They would ask if Abraham was justified by faith alone, then why did God command him and his descendants to be circumcised?
His response answers not only the question about circumcision, but all other questions about clinging to some other kind of religious ceremony or activity as a basis for righteousness
Uncircumcised... the Gentiles or any one other than the Jews
Ro 4:10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.
The order of events in Genesis prove that Abraham was circumcised at least 14 years after God declared him to be righteous
Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Gen 16:16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
Gen 17:10 "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised;
Gen 17:24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
The argument of vv. 9-10 is that since Abraham was justified before he was circumcised (at least 14 years earlier, 29 years by rabbinic calculations), circumcision and being a biological descendant of Abraham (or any manner of inclusion in the nation of Israel) is not the issue as far as receiving the blessing of justification is concerned. What is at issue is expressed in vv. 11-12
Ro 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, Ro 4:12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
Addresses the Gentiles first(uncircumcised) so as to let the Jews know faith is the priority
Circumcision was a sign of righteousness, not the cause
His circumcision was a sign (certificate of authenticiy) of what he already possessed. This point would have encouraged Paul's Jewish readers, who made so much of circumcision, to keep it in its proper place as secondary to faith.
As a sign, it was evidence that he belonged to God and believed His promise. As a seal, it was a reminder to him that God had given the promise and would keep it.
sign of the covenant... a sign that one was of line of Abraham, but the symbolism had to do with the need to cut away sin and be cleansed. It symbolized the need for cleansing which would reverse the wickedness of man. Every time a baby is conceived, we have just produced another sinner.
Sign of the covenant... a sign that one was of line of Abraham, a health benefit, but the symbolism had to do with the need to cut away sin and be cleansed. It was the male organ that which most clearly demonstrated the depth of our wickedness because it carries the seed which produces wicked sinners. So it symbolized the need for cleansing which would reverse the wickedness of man
It was a sign just as Baptism is today. It is the OT equivalent of the NT Baptism. A sign to others that we have trusted in the cleansing of sin by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross to get us into Heaven and nothing else.
Seal... an outward demonstration of the righteousness credited to him by faith
A seal is the guarantee, it shows the authenticity of something like on a college degree.
a seal on a legal document means it is a finished contract,
It also means security.. We are secure in Christ
Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
Authenticity… It’ real
Ownership…He owns us
Authority and power
Abraham did not receive circumcision as a result of his obedience to the Torah, nor is genuine membership in the people of God based on works, religious rites, or inclusion in the nation of Israel. This is what John 1:12 says
Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
1Co 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Gal 3:7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
In verse 12 Paul has only one group in mind—Jews who believe. His argument is that Abraham is not the spiritual father of any Jew who is circumcised, and yet has no faith. Rather, he is the spiritual father of every Jew who has faith—the kind of faith, that is, that Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised.
This final comment about “the faith our father Abraham possessed when he was still uncircumcised” emphasizes a faith that has no desire to rest on the rite of circumcision or any other foundation (e.g., works) other than God’s grace and mercy.
What are you believing in to be saved? Your works, keeping the law, I am a good person or some other ceremony such as Baptism, confirmation, communion, ... What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Idea: Accept God’s Gift of Righteousness by Faith Alone
I. Don’t Trust Your Works (4:1-8)
A. God Doesn’t Justify People by Works (4:1-3)
B. God Justifies the Ungodly by Faith (4:4-8)
II. Don’t Trust Religious Rites (4:9-12)
1. First, the use of Genesis 15:6 to demonstrate an essential NT doctrine, i.e., justification by faith apart from works, demonstrates the essential, salvational unity between the testaments. Thus the OT can be read with profit by any Christian—a fact Paul appeals to later in Romans 15:4.
2. Second, and in keeping with the overarching theme of promise, is that justification is by grace through faith involving no merit of our own. This passage affirms that we are unable to save ourselves and that grace is our only hope. This being the case, the observance of religious rites, such as circumcision, communion, confirmation, or baptism, for that matter is of no value in securing a relationship with God.
3. Third, this passage, through the use of Abrahamic traditions, affirms the offer of salvation beyond the confines of Israel. Those who become Christians by faith participate in the Abrahamic promise and are children of Abraham.
4. Fourth, this passage teaches that an essential element of justification involves the forgiveness of sins.