Comparing Abrahams Righteousness to Ours Rom. 4:16-25 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the last portion of Rom 4, Paul establishes that righteousness is imputed to us by faith by comparing Abrahams righteousness to ours. A comparison between the imputed righteousness of Abraham and the imputed righteousness of a New Testament saint [see Rom 4:22-24] reveals many similarities. In comparing Abrahams righteousness to ours we will examine their similarities and disparities.
They both require faith – Rom 4:16 – “of faith;” Abraham believed in the Lord [Gen 15:6] and we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 16:31].
They are both by grace – Rom 4:16 – “by grace;” Abraham did nothing to earn the righteousness imputed to him [Rom 4:3-5] and we, likewise, are saved by grace [Eph 2:8-9].
They both include a promised inheritance – Rom 4:16 – ‘the promise;” Abraham was promised that he would be “a father of many nations,” [Gen 17:4] and that he would be given “all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession,” [Gen 17:8]. Likewise we are promised an everlasting inheritance with the Lord [Eph 1:11-14].
They both entail a seed – Rom 4:16 – “to all the seed;” the promise to Abraham was to his seed in an everlasting covenant [Gen 15:5-6, 17:7] and the promise in the New Testament is to the “sons of God,” [Jn 1:12-13].
They both result in a common ancestry – Rom 4:16-17 – “I have made thee a father of many nations;” Abraham is the “father of us all,” of the Old Testament saints who were “of the law,” [Rom 4:12] and the New Testament saints who are “of the faith of Abraham,” [Gal 3:28-29].
They both begin with God – Rom 4:17 – “him whom he believed, even God;” God gave Abraham the promised seed and the Promised Land [Gen 13:14-17] and God gave us his Son and everlasting life [Jn 3:16].
They both necessitate quickening the dead – Rom 4:17 – “who quickeneth the dead;” Abraham and Sara were dead, in essence, because they were together beyond child bearing days [Rom 4:19; Gen 7:17]. They had to be “quickened.” Likewise, we were dead in trespasses and sins before our salvation and we needed to be quickened [Eph 2:1].
They are both prophetic – Rom 4:17 – “those things which be not as though they were;” God said, “I HAVE made thee a father,” [Rom 4:17, Gen 17:5] before he had even had the son who was the promised seed. Likewise, one example of the many prophecies concerning New Testament saints which are written as if they have already happened is Rev 19:14.
They are both based upon hope – Rom 4:18 – “who against hope believed in hope;” Abraham had no hope of having a child by Sara and yet he believed in hope. And we are saved by hope [Rom 8:24]. Jesus Christ is our blessed hope [Titus 2:13].
They are both fulfilled in Christ – Rom 4:18 – “so shall thy seed be;” Isaac was the promised seed [Gen 17:19]. But Paul tells us that Christ was the promised seed [Gal 3:16] for without him, the promise to Abraham could not have been ultimately fulfilled.
They are both impossible for men – Rom 4:19 – “his own body now dead… the deadness of Sara’s womb;” – Sara’s conception was impossible [Gen 18:14] and our salvation is impossible without Christ [Matt 19:26].
They both result in glory to God – Rom 4:20 – “giving glory to God;” – in Gen 17:3, 17, Abraham fell on his face before God and in 1 Cor 6:20 we are to give glory to God.
They both require a resurrection – Rom 4:24 – “him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” – this is one of the most interesting comparisons between the two. In Gen 17:8, the Lord told Abraham, “I will give unto thee… the land.” In order for Abraham to get the land after his death and burial [Gen 15:13-21; Heb 11:8-13], he knew he would have to rise from the dead. His willingness to offer Isaac in Gen 22 was bolstered by his faith in the resurrection [Heb 11:17-19]. Likewise, our salvation required the resurrection of Jesus [1 Cor 15:3-20].
The righteousness imputed to Abraham was his righteousness; the righteousness imputed to us is Christ’s – Rom 4:25 – Christ “was delivered for our offences;” and likewise, we are made the righteousness of God in him [2 Cor 5:21].
Abraham’s justification came in Gen 22; our justification is simultaneous with the imputation of Christ’s righteousness at our salvation – Rom 4:25 “raised again for our justification;” righteousness was imputed to Abraham in Gen 15:6 but he was not justified until Gen 22:1-12 [Jas 2:21-24]. We, on the other hand, are justified the moment we are saved [Rom 5:1, 9].
Conclusion: by comparing Abrahams righteousness to ours, we see that, apart from Christ’s finished work on Calvary and the timing of our justification, Abraham gives us a perfect picture of imputed righteousness to a New Testament Christian.