Romans 4:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter?

New Living Translation
Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God?

English Standard Version
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Berean Study Bible
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, has discovered?

Berean Literal Bible
What then shall we say Abraham our father discovered according to the flesh?

New American Standard Bible
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?

King James Bible
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
What then can we say that Abraham, our physical ancestor, has found?

International Standard Version
What, then, are we to say about Abraham, our human ancestor?

NET Bible
What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has discovered regarding this matter?

New Heart English Bible
What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
What therefore do we say about Abraham, the chief of our forefathers, that he found in the flesh?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
What can we say that we have discovered about our ancestor Abraham?

New American Standard 1977
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?

Jubilee Bible 2000
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?

King James 2000 Bible
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?

Douay-Rheims Bible
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?
Study Bible
Abraham Justified by Faith
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, has discovered? 2If Abraham was indeed justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God.…
Cross References
Matthew 3:9
And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

Romans 1:3
regarding His Son, who was a descendant of David according to flesh,

Romans 3:5
But if our unrighteousness highlights the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust to inflict His wrath on us? I am speaking in human terms.

Romans 8:31
What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Treasury of Scripture

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?

what.

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not …

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Abraham.

Isaiah 51:2 Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah that bore you: for I called …

Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: …

Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not …

Luke 16:24,25,29-31 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send …

John 8:33,37-41,53,56 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage …

Acts 13:26 Men and brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among …

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they …

as pertaining.

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the …

Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, …

IV.

(1-25) The subject of the chapter is an application of the foregoing to the special (and crucial) case of Abraham, with particular reference to two ideas that are continually recurring throughout the last chapter: (1) the supposed superiority of Jew to Gentile (and, fortiori, of the great progenitor of the Jews); (2) the idea of boasting or glorying based upon this superiority. Following out this the Apostle shows how even Abraham's case tells, not against, but for the doctrine of justification by faith. Indeed, Abraham himself came under it. And not only so, but those who act upon this doctrine are spiritually descendants of Abraham. It is entirely a mistake to suppose that they of the circumcision only are Abraham's seed. The true seed of Abraham are those who follow his example of faith. He put faith in the promise, they must put their faith in the fulfilment of the promise.

(1) To come back to the question of Romans 3:1, repeated in Romans 3:9, in what did the superiority of Abraham, the great representative of the Jewish race, really consist?

As pertaining to the flesh.--The construction of these words appears to be determined by their position in the sentence. According to the best MSS. they are distinctly separated from "hath found" and joined with "our father." They would therefore mean simply "our father according to the flesh," i.e., by natural descent, as in Romans 1:3.

Hath found.--Hath got, or gained, by way of advantage.

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᾿. 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. CHAPTER 4

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."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.
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