|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 9, 10. - Cometh this blessedness then (properly, is then this blessing) upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How (i.e., as the context shows, under what circumstances) was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. Faith, and not works, having been shown to be the principle of Abraham's justification, and those who were under the Mosaic Law, represented by David, having been seen to have shared the blessing of being so justified, the question still remains, whether it may not be confined to them only, or to Abraham's circumcised descendants only. That this cannot be is shown in two ways: firstly (vers. 10-13), from the fact that Abraham was himself uncircumcised when he was spoken of as being thus justified, so that neither the capability nor the inheritance of such justification can be viewed as dependent on circumcision; and, secondly (vers. 13-16), it is argued that the Law could not appropriate the privilege to his carnal descendants, the very principle of law being the opposite of that on which Abraham is said to have been justified. Thus the seed, innumerable as the stars, to be understood as inheritors of the promise made to him, and sharers in his blessing, are not his circumcised descendants, but a spiritual seed - they which are of faith being the true children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only?.... That is, upon the circumcised Jews; are they the only persons that partake of this happiness? the word "only" is rightly supplied, and is in the Claromontane exemplar used by Beza, and in the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions:
or upon the uncircumcision also? upon the uncircumcised Gentiles; do not they likewise share in this blessedness?
for we say, that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. The design of these words with the following, is to prove that the blessing of justification belongs to Gentiles as well as Jews, and that it is by faith, and not by circumcision; which is done by observing the state and condition Abraham was in when justified.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
4:9 This happiness - Mentioned by Abraham and David. On the circumcision - Those that are circumcised only. Faith was imputed to Abraham for righteousness - This is fully consistent with our being justified, that is, pardoned and accepted by God upon our believing, for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered. For though this, and this alone, be the meritorious cause of our acceptance with God, yet faith may be said to be imputed to us for righteousness, as it is the sole condition of our acceptance. We may observe here, forgiveness, not imputing sin, and imputing righteousness, are all one.
Romans 4:9 Parallel Commentaries
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