Romans 4:12
And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
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(12) And on the other hand, the mere performance of the rite was no guarantee for justification, unless it was attended with a faith like Abraham’s. Of the two things, faith itself, and circumcision the sign of faith, the first only was essential, and the second was useless without it.

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.And the father of circumcision - The father, that is, the ancestor, exemplar, or model of those who are circumcised, and who possess the same faith that he did. Not only the father of all believers Romans 4:11, but in a special sense the father of the Jewish people. In this, the apostle intimates that though all who believed would be saved as he was, yet the Jews had a special proprietorship in Abraham; they had special favors and privileges from the fact that he was their ancestor.

Not of the circumcision only - Who are not merely circumcised, but who possess his spirit and his faith. Mere circumcision would not avail; but circumcision connected with faith like his, showed that they were especially his descendants; see the note at Romans 2:25.

Who walk in the steps ... - Who imitate his example; who imbibe his spirit; who have his faith.

Being yet uncircumcised - Before he was circumcised. Compare Genesis 15:6, with Genesis 17.

9-12. Cometh this blessedness then, &c.—that is, "Say not, All this is spoken of the circumcised, and is therefore no evidence of God's general way of justifying men; for Abraham's justification took place long before he was circumcised, and so could have no dependence upon that rite: nay, 'the sign of circumcision' was given to Abraham as 'a seal' (or token) of the (justifying) righteousness which he had before he was circumcised; in order that he might stand forth to every age as the parent believer—the model man of justification by faith—after whose type, as the first public example of it, all were to be moulded, whether Jew or Gentile, who should thereafter believe to life everlasting." The former verse tells you he was the father of the believing Gentiles, for the covenant was made with him, for all his believing seed, when he was uncircumcised, which shows, that righteousness is and may be imputed to them also without any outward circumcision: and then he is the father of the believing Jews; especially of as many of them as unto circumcision do add the imitation of his faith; who, besides circumcision, which they derived from him, do also transcribe his divine copy, and follow his example of faith and obedience; who leave their sins, as he did his country; who believe all God’s promises, and adhere to him against all temptations to the contrary. And the father of circumcision,.... So the Jews call Abraham (l), "the head of those that are circumcised"; and (m), "the head to them that are circumcised"; but the apostle here says, he is a father

to them who are not of the circumcision only; not to the Jews only, in a spiritual sense, and not to all of them, since some were "of Israel", who were not Israel, not Israelites indeed, or true believers;

but to such also who walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised; that is, who have the same faith he had; imitate and follow him in the exercise of faith; walk by faith, as he did when he was uncircumcised, as they are; and so the Jews say (n),

"Abraham is the father of all, , "that go after him in his faith".''

(l) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 18. 3.((m) Juchasin, fol. 5. 2. Midrash Esther, fol. 85. 3.((n) R. Sol. Hammelech Michlol. Jophi in Mal. ii. 15.

{10} And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

(10) An applying of the same example to the circumcised believers, whose father is Abraham, but yet by faith.

Romans 4:12. The construction carries onward the foregoing πατέρα πάντων κ.τ.λ[1010]: and father of circumcision, i.e. father of circumcised persons (not of all circumcised, hence without the article). And in order to express to what circumcised persons this spiritual fatherhood of Abraham belongs, Paul adds, by way of more precise definition: for those (dativus commodi, comp Revelation 21:7; Luke 7:12) who are not merely circumcised (comp Romans 2:8), but also walk in the footsteps, etc. With this rendering (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Ambrosiaster, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Estius and others; including Ammon, Böhme, Tholuck, Klee, Rückert, Benecke, Reiche, Glöckler, Köllner, de Wette, Philippi, and Winer) it must be admitted (against Reiche and Köllner, whose observations do not justify the article) that τοῖς is erroneously repeated before στοιχοῦσι. Paul unsuitably continues with ἀλλὰ καί, just as if he had previously written an Οὐ ΜΌΝΟΝ ΤΟῖς. As any other rendering is wholly inadmissible, and as ΚΑῚ ΤΟῖς cannot be an inversion for ΤΟῖς ΚΑΊ (Mehring), we are driven to the assumption of that erroneous insertion of the article, as a negligence of expression. The expression in Php 1:29 (in opposition to Fritzsche) would be of the same nature only in the event of Paul having written ΤΟῖς.… Οὐ ΜΌΝΟΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΚ ΠΕΡΙΤΟΜῆς, ἈΛΛᾺ ΚΑῚ.… ΤΟῖς ΣΤΟΙΧΟῦΣΙ Κ.Τ.Λ[1013] Others take τοῖς οὐκ for οὐ τοῖς (as 37, 80, Syr[1014] Arr. Vulg. Slav. and several Fathers read as an emendation), thus making a distinction to be drawn here not between merely circumcised and unbelieving Jews, but between Jews and Gentiles (ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς κ.τ.λ[1015]). So Theodoret, Luther, Castalio, Koppe, Storr, Flatt, Schrader (Grotius is doubtful). But such an inversion is as unnatural (comp Romans 4:16) as it is unprecedented (it is an error to refer to Romans 2:27; 1 Thessalonians 1:8); and how strange it would be, if Paul should have once more brought forward the fatherhood as to the believing Gentiles, but should have left that relating to the Jews altogether without conditioning definition! Hofmann (comp also his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 82) understands περιτομῆς, after the analogy of Ὁ ΘΕῸς Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς Κ.Τ.Λ[1018], as the genitive of quality (“a father, whose fatherhood is to be designated according to circumcisedness;” as a circumcised person he has begotten Isaac, etc.); then assumes in the case of τοῖς οὐκ ἐκ περιτομῆς μόνον the suppressed antithesis to complete it, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκ πίστεως; and finally explains ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς στοιχ. as a supplementary addition, while he takes ἀλλὰ καὶ to mean not but also, but also however. A hopeless misinterpretation! For, as genitive of quality, περιτομῆς must have had the article (comp Acts 7:2; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:17 al[1020]), and every reader must have understood περιτομῆς in conformity with πάντων κ.τ.λ[1021], Romans 4:11, as a specification whose father Abraham further is. The reader could all the less mentally supply after τοῖς οὐκ ἐκ περιτ. a suppressed contrast, since the expressed contrast follows immediately with ἀλλὰ καί; and for that reason, again, it could occur to no one to understand this ἀλλὰ καί in any other sense than elsewhere after negations, namely, but also, not also however. (How inappropriate is Hofmann’s citation of Luke 24:22, where no negation at all precedes!) Wieseler’s attempt (in Herzog’s Encyklop. XX. p. 592) is also untenable, since he imports into τοῖς οὐκ ἐκ περιτ. μόνον the sense: “who do not make circumcision the exclusive condition of salvation,” and likewise renders ἀλλὰ καί also however; thus making Paul indicate (1) the Jewish Christians who were not rigid partisans of the law (such as were to be found in Palestine especially), and (2) the Pauline Jewish Christians.

τοῖς ἴχνεσι Κ.Τ.Λ[1022]] who so walk (see on Galatians 5:25) that they follow the footsteps which Abraham has left behind through his faith manifested in his uncircumcised condition, i.e. who are believers after the type of the uncircumcised Abraham. The dative, commonly taken as local, is more correctly, in keeping with the other passages in which Paul uses the dative with στοιχεῖν (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:25; Galatians 6:16; Php 3:16), interpreted in the sense of the norm.

[1010] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1013] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1014] yr. Peschito Syriac

[1015] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1018] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1020] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1021] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1022] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.12. of circumcision] Practically = of the circumcision; (see last note on Romans 1:4). Abraham is here said to be the (spiritual) Father of the circumcision; i.e. of the circumcised; and then at once this is limited to the believing circumcised.

to them who] i.e. “to the benefit of those who, &c.” They inherit the eternal promise made to their great Father.

but who also walk] There is a grammatical difficulty in the Gr.; but it leaves the sense exactly as in E. V.

in the steps] Better, by the steps, as rule and model. Cp. Php 3:16. In the Gr. the verse closes with the words “of our father Abraham;” thus with an emphasis on the fact and nature of the fatherhood.Romans 4:12. Περιτομῆς, of circumcision) The Abstract for the concrete, of the circumcised nation.—το͂ις) Heb. ל: see Nold. on this particle, n. 30, 10, 15, 19, 22. Generally, it implies as to [as regards, in relation to]; so το͂ις, 1 John 5:16; Luke 1:50; Luke 1:55. LXX. 1 Chronicles 13:1 : μετὰ τῶν ἀρχόντων κτλ. παντὶ ἡγουμένῳ, add to these passages 2 Chronicles 31:2; 2 Chronicles 31:16; Numbers 29:4.—οὐκμόνον) Abraham, therefore, is not the father of circumcision to such as are merely of the circumcision, and do not also follow the faith of Abraham.—ἐκ περιτομῆς, of the circumcision) ἐκ, of, means something more weighty than ἐν, in. Circumcision was at least a sign, uncircumcision was not even a sign.[46]—ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς) so in Romans 4:16.—ἴχνεσι, in the traces [steps]) The traces of faith are opposed to the traces of outward circumcision; the path is not trodden by many, but there are foot-traces found in it; it is, however, an open way.

[46] Therefore ἐκ is used with περιτομῆς, ἐν with ἀχροβυστία.—ED.Father of circumcision

Of circumcised persons. The abstract term is used for the concrete. See on Romans 11:7.

Who not only are - but who also walk

Apparently Paul speaks of two classes, but really of but one, designated by two different attributes. The awkwardness arises from the article τοῖς, erroneously repeated with στοιχοῦσιν walk, which latter word expresses an added characteristic, not another class. Paul means that Abraham received a seal, etc., that he might be the father of circumcision to those who not only are circumcised, but who add to this outward sign the faith which Abraham exhibited.

Walk (στοιχοῦσιν)

See on elements, 2 Peter 3:10.

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