3:6-9–Justification by Faith

The Case Of Abraham

“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

         “Abraham believed God”
         Literally:  “Abraham believed God.”

         This is a quote from Gen. 15:6.  It is also quoted by Paul in Rom. 4:3.  It cannot be said that Abraham was justified by the Law, because the giving of the Mosaic Law was still over 600 years in the future.  Neither can it be said that he was justified by circumcision, because the was justified before God gave him the commandment of circumcision.  Circumcision was the badge and evidence of Abraham’s faith, just as baptism is the badge and evidence of a believer’s faith today.  Neither circumcision, nor baptism can make any contribution to salvation.    They are simply outward evidences of an inward work.


          By faith Abraham started; by faith Abraham sojourned; by faith Abraham sought a city which has foundations whose Builder and maker is God; by faith Abraham sacrificed Issac (Heb. 11:8-10, 17) and by faith “he staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and able also to perform” (Rom. 4:20-21).
          In the Hebrew this reads, “Abraham believed Jehovah.” The sense is substantially the same, as the argument turns on the act of believing. The faith which Abraham exercised was that his posterity should be like the stars of heaven in number. This promise was made to him when he had no child, and of course when he had no prospect of such a posterity. See the strength and nature of this faith further illustrated in Rom. 4:16-21. The reason why it was counted to him for righteousness was that it was such a strong, direct, and unwavering act of confidence in the promise of God
The passage is introduced here by Paul to show that the most eminent of the patriarchs was not saved by the deeds of the Law; in fact, Abraham lived some 600 years before the Law had even been given. He was saved by faith, and this fact showed that it was possible to be saved in that way, and that it has always been the plan of God to save men in this manner. Abraham believed God, and was justified, before the Law of Moses was given. Therefore, it could not, even by any stretch of the imagination, be pretended that the Law was necessary to justification; for if it had been, Abraham could not have been saved.  But if it were not necessary in his case, it was not necessary in any other case; and this instance demonstrated that the false teachers among the Galatians were wrong even according to the Old Testament; even according to the Law.

         and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
         Literally:  “It was counted to him as righteousness.”

         Faith was the ground of his acceptance with God. His faith was a trusting faith, which contained in it the element of obedience. Faith was not what the Law required; on the contrary; it demanded complete and perfect obedience.   Therefore,  if a man was justified by faith, it was in some other way than by the Law. No other faith justifies (see James 2:23).
         Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, for justification. His faith was counted to him; not any of his actions; nor was his adherence to any set of rules or laws. It was his faith that was counted to him!  His faith, and only his faith, was the ground of his acceptance with God. His faith was a trusting faith, which contained in it the element of obedience. It is remarkable that the Jews themselves maintained that Abraham was saved by faith.

“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”

         “Know ye therefore”
          Literally:  “Know then.” 

Learn from this case. It is an inference which follows, that all they who believe are the children of Abraham.

         “they that are of faith”
          Literally:  “That those of faith.” 

Those who believe, and who are just died in this manner.  As the source and starting-point of their spiritual life.  The same phrase is in the Greek of Rom. 3:26–“To declare, {I say} at this time His righteousness, that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”

         “the same are the children of Abraham.”
        Literally:  “These are sons of Abraham.”

         These, and these alone, to the exclusion of all the other descendants of Abraham. Not the trusters in works and boasters in circumcision; these, even among the Jews, are but his children by the power of nature, to whom no more belongs than to Ishmael.  Abraham was the father of the faithful, or believing.  In his grandest aspect he is not the sire of a rebellious nation, but of the believing seed.
         This is Paul's astounding doctrine to Jews that the real sons of Abraham are those who believe as he did, “they which be of faith.” a common idiom with Paul for this idea (verse 9; Rom. 3:26; 4:16; 14:23), those whose spiritual sonship springs out of faith, not out of blood. John the Baptist denounced the Pharisees and Sadducees as vipers, though they were descendants of Abraham (Matt. 3:7; Luke 3:7), and in John 8:37-44 Jesus termed the Pharisees to be children of the devil and not spiritual children of Abraham (not children of God).

Literally in the Greek, “sons” of Abraham; that is, like him in spirit, and justified in the same way; not by works, but by faith.

         Abraham was the “father of the faithful.”  The most remarkable trait in his character was his unwavering confidence in God.  They who evinced the same trait, therefore, were worthy to be called his children. They would be justified in the same way as Abraham, and in the same manner, meet the approval of God. It is implied here, that it was sufficient for salvation to have a character which would render it proper to say that we are the children of Abraham. If we are like him, if we display the same spirit and character, we may be sure of salvation.
         Since the Judaizers had boasted their Abrahamic descent, Paul now will show them what true Abraham descent really is.  No Jew is a true son of Abraham merely because he is descended by blood generation, but he only who believes God the same way that Abraham did.  If you come to God, you must come to Him by faith; and that is the only way you can come to Him. When you trust Christ as Savior, you are saved the same way that Abraham was—by faith.

“And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed.’”

         “And the Scripture”

         The Greek word here rendered as “Scripture,” refers to the O.T.   Here Paul uses it in a personified sense, or speaks of as foreseeing. The idea is that He by whom the Scriptures were inspired foresaw that. The meaning is agreeable to the account on the subject in the Old Testament. The Syriac text renders this as, “Since God foreknew that the Gentiles would be justified by faith, he before announced to Abraham, as the Scripture saith, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed.’”

                Literally: “Moreover.”


That is, this doctrine is contained in the Old Testament. It was foreseen and predicted that the heathen (the nations/gentiles) would be Justified by Faith, and not by the works of the Law. One great fact of Scripture is that in it all points liable ever to be challenged, are, with foreseen wisdom, decided in the most appropriate language. The Holy Spirit foreseeing, and in the Scriptures foretelling, that God would justify Gentiles just the same as he did Abraham.

         that God would justify the heathen through faith”
         Literally:  “That God would justify the nations through faith.”

        THE HEATHEN:
        Literally in the Greek, “the nations,” i.e., the Gentiles.
         The fact that the heathen, or the Gentiles, would be admitted to the privileges of the true faith, and be interested in the benefits of the coming of the Messiah, is a fact which is everywhere abundantly predicted in the Old Testament.

As an instance, see Isa 40:1-31; 49:6,22-23. Paul says that the Scriptures, that is, He who inspired the Scriptures (the Holy Spirit), foresaw that fact, and that the Scriptures were written as if with the knowledge of that fact; but it is not directly affirmed. The entire structure and frame of the Old Testament, however, proceeds on the supposition that it would be so; and this is all that the declaration of the apostle requires us to understand.

                 THROUGH FAITH:
                 Literally:  “By means of faith.”

 If faith without works was sufficient for Abraham, why should we desire something different?  And as the blessing was not for Abraham’s Law works, but for his faith, why should we turn from faith to Law-works.  Paul expounds on this this phrase, "through faith" in Eph. 2:8-9.

         “preached before the gospel unto Abraham”
         Literally:  “preached the gospel before to Abraham.”

         This KJV translation does not convey quite the idea to us which the language which Paul, in the original, would use the people to whom he addressed it.   It is applied to the formal and public annunciation of the truths of religion, especially the “good news” of a Savior's birth, and of redemption by his blood. But we are not required by the language used here to suppose that this was done to Abraham, or that “the gospel” was actually preached to him in the sense in which we all now use that phrase.
         The tidings were announced to Abraham that God would bless and save the Gentiles through such faith as he exercised. The promises of God to Abraham and his seed were of spiritual blessings, justification by faith, and eternal life through Jesus Christ; not to believing Jews only, but to all who should believe, of all nations, in all ages.  As God intended to justify the heathen through faith, He preached the Gospel that contains the grand display of the doctrine of salvation by faith, before, to Abraham, while he was in his heathen state; and thus he is called the father of believers: therefore it must refer to them who shall believe the same Gospel among the Gentiles; and, as the door of faith was open to all the Gentiles, consequently the promise was fulfilled: In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
        The passage to which Paul refers is Gen. 22:15-18.  God had preached the gospel because the offering of Issac is one of the clearest pictures of the offering of Christ.  Although God did spare Abraham’s son, He did not spare His own Son, but delivered him up for us all.

“So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

          “So then they which be of faith”
           Literally:  “So than those of faith.”

 Literally:“So as.”

 Then this promise embraces Gentile believers. They are blessed as believing Abraham was blessed (see v. 6).

Literally:  “Those of faith” i.e., all who believe, as Abraham has believed, are made partakers of Abraham's blessings. 
They whose leading characteristic it is that they believe. This was the leading trait in the character of Abraham; and this is the leading thing required of those who embrace the gospel, and in the character of a true Christian.

         “are blessed with faithful Abraham”
         Literally:  “are blessed with the faithful Abraham”

         In the same manner they are interested in the promises made to him, and they will be treated as he was. They are justified in the same manner, and admitted to the same privileges on earth and in heaven.  Implying what it is in which they are “blessed together with him,” namely, faith, the prominent feature of his character, and of which the result to all who like him have it, is justification.
         The word translated as “faithful” in this verse is really, “believing,” i.e., believing Abraham.  God saves the sinner today on the same basis that he saved Abraham.  God asks faith of the sinner.  God asked Abraham to believe that he would do certain things for him.  Likewise, God asks us to believe that He already has done certain things for us in giving His son, Christ Jesus, to die for us.  Faith is the modus operandi by which man is saved today. Faith is the modus operandi by which man has always been saved.

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