|New International Version (©2011)|
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter?
New Living Translation (©2007)
Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God?
English Standard Version (©2001)
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
What then can we say that Abraham, our physical ancestor, has found?
International Standard Version (©2012)
What, then, are we to say about Abraham, our human ancestor?
NET Bible (©2006)
What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has discovered regarding this matter?
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
What therefore do we say about Abraham, the chief of our forefathers, that he found in the flesh?
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
What can we say that we have discovered about our ancestor Abraham?
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?
American King James Version
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?
American Standard Version
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, hath found according to the flesh?
WHAT shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh.
Darby Bible Translation
What shall we say then that Abraham our father according to flesh has found?
English Revised Version
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, hath found?
Webster's Bible Translation
What shall we then say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Weymouth New Testament
What then shall we say that Abraham, our earthly forefather, has gained?
World English Bible
What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh?
Young's Literal Translation
What, then, shall we say Abraham our father, to have found, according to flesh?
|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-12 To meet the views of the Jews, the apostle first refers to the example of Abraham, in whom the Jews gloried as their most renowned forefather. However exalted in various respects, he had nothing to boast in the presence of God, being saved by grace, through faith, even as others. Without noticing the years which passed before his call, and the failures at times in his obedience, and even in his faith, it was expressly stated in Scripture that he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, Ge 15:6. From this example it is observed, that if any man could work the full measure required by the law, the reward must be reckoned as a debt, which evidently was not the case even of Abraham, seeing faith was reckoned to him for righteousness. When believers are justified by faith, their faith being counted for righteousness, their faith does not justify them as a part, small or great, of their righteousness; but as the appointed means of uniting them to Him who has chosen as the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness. Pardoned people are the only blessed people. It clearly appears from the Scripture, that Abraham was justified several years before his circumcision. It is, therefore, plain that this rite was not necessary in order to justification. It was a sign of the original corruption of human nature. And it was such a sign as was also an outward seal, appointed not only to confirm God's promises to him and to his seed, and their obligation to be the Lord's, but likewise to assure him of his being already a real partaker of the righteousness of faith. Thus Abraham was the spiritual forefather of all believers, who walked after the example of his obedient faith. The seal of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification, making us new creatures, is the inward evidence of the righteousness of faith.
Verses 1-25. - (5) Abraham himself shown to have been justified by faith, and not by works, believers being his true heirs. The main points of the argument may be summarized thus: When Abraham obtained a blessing to himself and to his seed for ever, it was by faith, and not by works, that he is declared to have been justified so as to obtain it. Thus the promise to his seed, as well as to himself, rested on the principle of justification by faith only. The Law, of which the principle was essentially different, could not, and did not, in itself fulfil that promise; and that its fulfilment was not dependent on circumcision, or confined to the circumcised, is further shown by the fact that it was before his own circumcision that he received the blessing and the promise, Hence the seed intended in the promise was his spiritual seed, who are of faith such as his was; and in Christ, offering justification through faith to all, the promise is now fulfilled. Verse 1. - What then shall we say that Abraham our father according to the flesh hath found? The connection, denoted by οῦν, with the preceding argument is rather with vers. 27, 28 of ch. 3, than with its concluding words, νόμον ἱστάνομεν. This appears, not only from the drift of ch. 4, but also from the word καύχημα in ver. 2, connecting the thought with ποῦ οῦν ἡ καύχησις; in Romans 3:27. The line of thought is, in the first place, this: We have said that all human glorying is shut out, and that no man can be justified except by faith: how, then (it is important to inquire), was it with Abraham our great progenitor? Did not he at least earn the blessing to his seed by the merit of his works? Had not he, on that ground, whereof to glory? No, not even he. Scripture, in what it says of him, distinctly asserts the contrary. There is uncertainty in this verse as to whether "according to the flesh" (κατὰ σάρκα) is to be connected with "our father" or with "hath found." Readings vary in their arrangement of the words. The Textus Receptus has Τί οῦν ἐροῦμεν Αβραὰμ τὸν πατέρα ἡμῶν εὐρηκέναι κατὰ σάρκα. But the great preponderance of authority is in favour of εὐρηκέναι Ἀβραὰμ τὸν προπάτορα ἡμῶν κατὰ σάρκα. The first of these readings requires the connection of κατὰ σάρκα with εὐρηκέναι; the second allows it, but suggests the other connection. Theodoret, among the ancients, connecting with εὐρηκέναι, explains κατὰ σάρκα thus: "What righteousness, of Abraham's, wrought before he believed God, did we ever hear of?" Calvin suggests, as the meaning of the phrase (though himself inclining to the connection with προπάτορα)," naturaliter vel ex seipso." Bull, similarly ('Harmonic Apostolica,' 'Disputatio Posterior,' c. 12:14-17), "by his natural powers, without the grace of God." Alford, following Meyer, says that κατὰ σάρκα is in contrast to κατὰ πνεύμα, and that it "refers to that department of our being from which spring works, in contrast with that in which is the exercise of faith." Difficulty is avoided if (as is the most natural inference from the best authenticated reading) we take κατὰ σάρκα in connection with πάτερα or προπάτορα, in the sense of our forefather in the way of natural descent, the question being put from the Jewish standpoint; and this in distinction from the other conception of descent from Abraham, according to which all the faithful are called his children (cl. Romans 1:3; Romans 9:3, 5, 8:1 Corinthians 10:18). Among the ancients Chrysostom and Theophylact take this view. For the import of εὐρηκέναι, cf. Luke 1:30 (εϋρες χάριν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ) and Hebrews 9:12 (αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὑράμενος᾿.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
What shall we say then,.... The apostle having proved that there is no justification by the works of the law; to make this appear more clear and evident to the Jews, he instances in the greatest person of their nation, and for whom they had the greatest value and esteem,
Abraham, our father; who was not a righteous and good man, but the head of the Jewish nation; and, as the Syriac version here styles him, , "the head", or "chief of the fathers"; and so the Alexandrian copy, "our forefather": and was the first of the circumcision, and is described here by his relation to the Jews, "our father"; that is,
as pertaining to the flesh; or according to carnal descent, or natural generation and relation; for in a spiritual sense, or with respect to faith and grace, he was the father of others, even of all that believe, whether Jews or Gentiles: now the question put concerning him is, "what he, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?" for the phrase, "as pertaining to the flesh", may be connected with the word
found; and to find anything is by seeking to obtain, and enjoy it: and the sense of the whole is, did he find out the way of life, righteousness, and salvation by the mere hint of carnal reason? and did he obtain these things by his own strength? or were these acquired by his circumcision in the flesh, or by any other fleshly privilege he enjoyed? or was he justified before God by any services and performances of his, of whatsoever kind? There is indeed no express answer returned; but it is evident from what follows, that the meaning of the apostle is, that it should be understood in the negative.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ro 4:1-25. The Foregoing Doctrine of Justification by Faith Illustrated from the Old Testament.
First: Abraham was justified by faith.
1-3. What shall we say then that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?—that is, (as the order in the original shows), "hath found, as pertaining to ('according to,' or 'through') the flesh"; meaning, "by all his natural efforts or legal obedience."
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