Romans 4:23
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
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(23-25) Application of the foregoing. The history of Abraham is a type of the dispensation of grace; his faith, the imputation of righteousness to him, and his reward, each severally a type of the same things in the Christian. Even in details the resemblance holds. Abraham put faith in a God “who quickeneth the dead,” and in like manner the Christian must put faith in God as the Author of a scheme of salvation attested by the resurrection of Christ. The death of Christ was the ground of that scheme, the resurrection of Christ its proof, without which it would not have been brought home to man.

Romans 4:23-25. Now it was not written — In the sacred records, which are to reach the remotest ages; for his sake alone — Merely or chiefly to do a personal honour to that illustrious patriarch; but for us also — For our sakes likewise; namely, to direct, encourage, and establish us in seeking justification by faith, and not by works: and to afford a full answer to those who say, that “to be justified by works means only, by Judaism: to be judged by faith, means by embracing Christianity, that is, the system of doctrines so called.” Sure it is that Abraham could not, in this sense, be justified either by faith or works: and equally sure, that David (taking the word thus) was justified by works, and not by faith. To whom it — The like faith; shall be imputed — Namely, for righteousness, if we steadily believe on him — In the power, and love, and faithfulness of him, who not only brought Isaac from the dead womb of Sarah, but, in the most literal sense, raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead — When he lay among them, slain and mangled by his cruel enemies. Here God the Father is represented as the proper object of justifying faith, in whose power, and love, and faithfulness to his promises, the penitent sinner, that would be justified, must confide for the pardon of his sins, acceptance with God, and the whole salvation of the gospel. For as Abraham’s faith, which was counted to him for righteousness, consisted in his being fully persuaded that what God had promised concerning the number of his seed, &c, he was able and willing to perform; so the faith which is counted for righteousness to believers in all ages must be so far of the same nature, as to imply a full persuasion that what God hath declared and promised, namely, in the revelation which he hath made us of his will, he is able and willing to perform, and actually will perform. This persuasion, however, must be in and through the mediation, that is, the sacrifice and intercession, of Christ. Who was delivered — To ignominy, torture, and death; for our offences —

Namely, to make an atonement for them. See note on Romans 3:25-26. And raised for our justification — That is, for the perfecting of our justification; and that in three respects: 1st, To show us that the sacrifice which he offered for the expiation of our sins was accepted by the Father. Having, as our surety, engaged to pay our debt, he was arrested for it by divine justice, and thrown into the prison of death and the grave. If he had been detained in that prison, it would have been a proof that he had not paid it: but his release from that prison was the greatest assurance possible that God’s justice was satisfied, and our debt discharged. 2d, He was raised that he might ascend and appear in the presence of God, as our advocate and intercessor, and obtain from the Father our acquittance. And, 3d, That he might receive for us the Holy Spirit, to inspire us with the faith whereby alone we can be justified, to seal a pardon on the consciences of believers, and sanctify their nature; and thus to entitle them to, and prepare them for, a resurrection, like his, to immortal life and felicity. Accordingly, the apostle puts an especial emphasis on Christ’s resurrection, ascension, and intercession, with regard to our justification, Romans 8:34, saying, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. We may add here, with Bishop Sherlock, that Christ may also be said to be raised for our justification, because his resurrection demonstrated him to be the true Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world; and so laid a firm foundation for that faith in him, by which we are justified.

4:23-25 The history of Abraham, and of his justification, was recorded to teach men of after-ages; those especially to whom the gospel was then made known. It is plain, that we are not justified by the merit of our own works, but by faith in Jesus Christ and his righteousness; which is the truth urged in this and the foregoing chapter, as the great spring and foundation of all comfort. Christ did meritoriously work our justification and salvation by his death and passion, but the power and perfection thereof, with respect to us, depend on his resurrection. By his death he paid our debt, in his resurrection he received our acquittance, Isa 53:8. When he was discharged, we, in Him and together with Him, received the discharge from the guilt and punishment of all our sins. This last verse is an abridgement or summary of the whole gospel.Now it was not written - The record of this extraordinary faith was not made on his account only; but it was made to show the way in which men may be regarded and treated as righteous by God. If Abraham was so regarded and treated, then, on the same principle, all others may be. God has but one mode of justifying people.

Imputed - Reckoned; accounted. He was regarded and treated as the friend of God.

23-25. Now, &c.—Here is the application of this whole argument about Abraham: These things were not recorded as mere historical facts, but as illustrations for all time of God's method of justification by faith.Ver. 23,24. Here it may be inquired, If Abraham’s faith did justify him, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, what doth this concern us? The apostle answers, it was recorded of him for our sakes; see Romans 15:4; and to us there shall be the like imputation, if we believe in God, that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. This a greater act of faith than Abraham’s was. And the nature of justifying faith lies rather in affiance, or in putttag trust in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, than in assent, or in giving credit, to the truth of his promise.

Question. Why doth the apostle single out this act of raising Christ from the dead to describe the Father by?

Answer. To maintain the proportion betwixt the faith or Abraham and the faith of his seed; that as his respected the power of God, in raising, as it were, the dead, so in like sort should ours. So some. But the apostle speaks as if there were some special reason and ground for confidence in God for justification in this act of raising Christ from the dead; and indeed nothing is more fit to establish our faith in persuasion of our justification than this; for when God raised up our Lord Jesus Christ, having loosed the pains of death, he gave full assurance that his justice is fully satisfied for our sins. Had not Christ Jesus, our surety, paid the utmost farthing that was due for our sins, he had still continued in prison, and under the power of death. Hence it is that the apostle Peter tells us, 1 Peter 1:3, that God hath begotten us to a lively hope of the heavenly inheritance by the resurrection of Christ from the dead; there being no more effectual means to persuade us of the pardon of sin, of reconciliation with God, and of acceptance to eternal life, than that Jesus Christ, our surety and sponsor, is risen from the dead.

Now it was not written for his sake alone,.... This was not left on the sacred records, Genesis 15:6,

that it was imputed to him; purely on his account, merely for his sake, as an encomium of his faith, and an honourable testimony to it, and for the encouragement of it; though this was doing him a very great honour, and was one design of it.

{18} Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

(18) The rule of justification is always the same, both in Abraham, and in all the faithful: that is to say, faith in God, who after there was made a full satisfaction for our sins in Christ our mediator, raised him from the dead, that we also being justified, might be saved in him.

Romans 4:23-25. Relation of the Scripture testimony as to Abraham’s justification to the justification of Christians by faith; with which the proof for the νόμον ἱστῶμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως (Romans 3:31) is completed.

διʼ αὐτόν] on his account, in order to set forth the mode of his justification. Then, corresponding thereto: διʼ ἡμᾶς. Comp Beresch R. 40, 8 : “Quicquid scriptum est de Abrahamo, scriptum est de filiis ejus.” On the idea generally comp Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 9:10; 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 3:8.

μέλλει λογίζεσθαι] namely the πιστεύειν, which, in accordance with the divine ordination, is to be reckoned to us Christians (μέλλει),—to us, as those who believe on Him that raised up Jesus. μέλλει (comp on Romans 8:13) is therefore not to be taken for ἔμελλε (Böhme, comp Olshausen), but contains what God has willed, which shall accomplish itself continuously as to each concrete case (not for the first time at the judgment, as Fritzsche thinks) where Christ is believed on. The ἡμεῖς, i.e. the community of believers (not however conceived as becoming such, as Hofmann supposes), are the constant recipients of the fulfilment of that which was once written not merely for Abraham’s sake but also for theirs.

τοῖς πιστεύουσιν] not: who from time to time become believing (Hofmann), which is not consistent with ἡμᾶς, but: quippe qui credunt. The ἐπὶ τὸν ἑγείραντα κ.τ.λ[1106] that is added then points out the specific contents, which is implied in the μέλλει λογίζεσθαι, for the ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙΝ that has not yet been more precisely defined. In and with this faith we have constantly the blessing of the ΛΟΓΊΖΕΣΘΑΙ divinely annexed to it. Comp Romans 8:1. And the ἘΠῚ ΤῸΝ ἘΓΕΊΡΑΝΤΑ Κ.Τ.Λ[1108] (comp Romans 10:9) is purposely chosen to express the character of the faith, partly on account of the necessary analogy with Romans 4:17,[1110] and partly because the divine omnipotence, which raised up Jesus, was at the same time the strongest proof of divine grace (Romans 4:25). Regarding ἐπί, comp on Romans 4:5παρεδόθη] standing designation for the divine surrender of Christ, surrender unto death (Romans 8:32), perhaps after Isaiah 53:12. It is at the same time self-surrender (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2), since Christ was obedient to his Father.

διὰ τὰ παραπτ. ἡμῶν] on account of our sins, namely, that they might be atoned for by the ἱλαστήριον of Jesus, Romans 3:24 f., Romans 5:8 f.

διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν] on account of our justification, in order to accomplish on us the judicial act of transference into the relation of δικαιοσύνη. Comp Romans 5:18. For this object God raised Jesus from the dead;[1113] for the resurrection of the sacrificed One was required to produce in men the faith, through which alone the objective fact of the atoning offering of Jesus could have the effect of δικαίωσις subjectively, because Christ is the ἱλαστήριον διὰ τῆς πίστεως, Romans 3:25. Without His resurrection therefore the atoning work of His death would have remained without subjective appropriation; His surrender διὰ τὰ παραπτ. ἡμῶν would not have attained its end, our justification. Comp especially 1 Corinthians 15:17; 2 Corinthians 5:20 f., 15; 1 Peter 1:21. Moreover the two definitions by ΔΙΆ are not two different things, but only the two aspects of the same exhibition of grace, the negative and the positive; of which, however, the former by means of the parallelism, in which both are put in juxtaposition, is aptly attributed to the death as the objective ἱλαστήριον, and the latter to the resurrection, as the divine act that is the means of its appropriation.[1115] Melancthon has well said: “Quanquam enim praecessit meritum, tamen ita ordinatum fuit ab initio, ut tunc singulis applicaretur, cum fide acciperent.” The latter was to be effected by the resurrection of Jesus; the meritum lay in His death, but the raising Him up took place for the δικαίωσις, in which His meritum was to be realised in the faithful. Comp Romans 8:34. Against the Catholic theologians, who referred ΔΙΚ. to sanctification (as Maier, Bisping, Döllinger and Reithmayr still do), see Calovius. Nor is intercession even (Romans 8:34) to be introduced into διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν (Calvin and others; also Tholuck and Philippi), since that does not take place to produce the ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗ, but has reference to those who are already justified, with a view to preserve them in the state of salvation; consequently the δικαίωσις of the subjects concerned precedes it.

[1106] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1108] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1110] But in point of fact to “believe on Christ” and to “believe on God who raised Christ,” are identical, because in both cases Christ is the specific object.

[1113] Compare Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 329. For the view which the older Reformed theologians (comp. also Gerhard in Calovius) took of the state of the case as an acquittal from our sins, which was accorded to Christ and to us with Him through His resurrection, see Ritschl, Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, I. p. 283 f. According to Beza, Christ could not have furnished the atonement of our sins, if He had not, as the risen victor, vanquished death. But the case is rather conceived as the converse: Christ could not have risen, if His death had not expiated our sins. In this way Christ has not merely died ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, but has also been raised again (2 Corinthians 5:15); without His saving power, however, having been in itself conditioned only by the resurrection (to which, in the main, the views of Öttinger and Menken ultimately come).

[1115] The reference to the fellowship with the death of Christ, whereby believers have died to their former life, and with His resurrection as an entrance into a new state of life no longer conditioned by the flesh (see Rich. Schmidt, Paulin. Christol. p. 74), is inadmissible; because it does not correspond to the prototype of Abraham, which determines the entire representation of justification in this chapter.

Romans 4:23-25. Conclusion of the argument. Οὐκ ἐγράφη δὲ διʼ αὐτὸν μόνον: cf. Romans 14:4, 1 Corinthians 9:10; 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:11, Galatians 3:8. The formula for quoting Scripture is not ἐγράφη but γέγραπται: i.e., Scripture conveys not a historical truth, relating to one person (as here, to Abraham), but a present eternal truth, with some universal application. διʼ ἡμᾶς: to show the mode of our justification. οἷς μέλλει λογίζεσθαι: to whom it (the act of believing) is to be imputed as righteousness. μέλλει conveys the idea of a Divine order under which things proceed so. τοῖς πιστεύουσιν is in apposition to οἷς: “believing as we do”. (Weiss.) The object of the Christian’s faith is the same as that of Abraham’s, God that giveth life to the dead. Only in this case it is Specifically God as He who raised Jesus our Lord. Cf. 1 Peter 1:21, where Christians are described as those who through Christ believe in God who raised Him from the dead. In Abraham’s case, “God that quickeneth the dead” is merely a synonym for God Omnipotent, who can do what man cannot. In Paul, on the other hand, while omnipotence is included in the description of God—for in Ephesians 1:19, in order to give an idea of the greatest conceivable power, the Apostle can do no more than say that it is according to that working of the strength of God’s might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead—omnipotence is not sole object of the Christian’s faith. His spiritual attitude toward God is the same as Abraham’s, but God is revealed to him, and offered to his faith, in a character in which Abraham did not yet know Him. This is conveyed in the description of the Person in relation to whom the Omnipotence of God has been displayed to Christians. That Person is “Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our offences, and raised for our justification”. The Resurrection of Jesus our Lord entitles us to conceive of God’s Omnipotence not as mere unqualified power, but as power no less than infinite engaged in the work of man’s salvation from sin. In the Resurrection of Jesus, omnipotence is exhibited as redeeming power: and in this omnipotence we, like Abraham, believe. παρεδόθη is used in LXX, Isaiah 53:12, and its N.T. use, whether God or Christ be the subject of the παραδιδόναι (Romans 8:32 : Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 5:2), may be derived thence. There is considerable difficulty with the parallel clauses διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν, and διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν. It is safe to assert that Paul did not make an abstract separation between Christ’s Death and His Resurrection, as if the Death and the Resurrection either had different motives, or served ends separable from each other. There is a sort of mannerism in the expression here, as there is in Romans 14:9, which puts us on our guard against over-precision. This granted, it seems simplest and best to adopt such an interpretation as maintains the same meaning for διὰ in both clauses. This has been done in two ways. (1) The διὰ has been taken retrospectively. “He was delivered up because we had sinned, and raised because we were justified”—sc. by His death. But though Paul writes in Romans 5:9, δικαιωθέντες νῦν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ, it is impossible to believe that he would have written—as this interpretation requires him to do—that we were justified by Christ’s death, and that Christ was therefore raised from the dead by God. Justification is not only an act of God, but a spiritual experience; it is dependent upon faith (Romans 3:25); and it is realised in men as one by one, in the time determined by Providence, they receive the Gospel. Hence διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν at least must be prospective. (2) The διὰ has been taken in both clauses prospectively. “He was delivered up on account of our offences—to make atonement for them; and he was raised on account of our justification—that it might become an accomplished fact.” That this interpretation is legitimate, so far as the language goes, cannot be questioned; and if we avoid unreal separations between things that really form one whole, it is thoroughly Pauline. Paul does ascribe expiatory value to the death or the blood of Christ; in that sense it is true the work of Christ was finished on the Cross. But Paul never A thought of that by itself; he knew Christ, only as the Risen One who had died, and, who had the virtue of His atoning death ever in Him; this Christ was One, in all that He did and suffered—the Christ who had evoked in him the faith by which he was justified, the only Christ through faith in whom sinful men ever could be justified; and it is natural, therefore, that he should conceive Him as raised with a view to our justification. But it would have been equally legitimate to say that He died for our justification. It is only another way of expressing what every Christian understands—that we believe in a living Saviour, and that it is faith in Him which justifies. But then it is faith in Him as One who not only lives, but was delivered up to death to atone for our offences. He both died and was raised for our justification; the work is one and its end is one. And it is a mistake to argue, as Beyschlag does (Neutest. Theologie, ii., 164), that this reference of faith to the Risen Christ who died is inconsistent with the vicarious nature of His expiatory sufferings. That His sufferings had this character is established on independent grounds; and to believe in the Risen Christ is to believe in One in whom the power of that propitiatory vicarious suffering abides for ever. It is indeed solely because the virtue of that suffering is in Him that faith in the Risen Lord does justify. For an exposition of the passage, in which the retrospective force is given to διὰ, see Candlish in Expositor, Dec., 1893. See also Bruce, St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity, p. 160 ff. The identity in principle of Abrahamic and Christian faith is seen in this, that both are faith in God. But Abraham’s is faith in a Divine promise, which only omnipotence could make good; the Christian’s is faith in the character of God as revealed in the work of redemption wrought by Christ. That, too, however, involves omnipotence. It was the greatest display of power ever made to man when God raised Christ from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places; and the Christ so raised was one who had been delivered to death for our offences. That is only another way of saying that the ultimate power in the world—the omnipotence of God—is in the service of a love which provides at infinite cost for the expiation of sin. The only right attitude for any human being in presence of this power is utter self-renunciation, utter abandonment of self to God. This is faith, and it is this which is imputed to men in all ages and under all dispensations for righteousness.

23. Now, &c.] In this ver. and 24, 25, St Paul sums up this part of his argument;—the proof from Abraham’s case. He shews its full applicability to those who now likewise “give glory” to the same God by like absolute trust in respect of His explicit Promise of Justification, a Promise finally sealed by the Resurrection of His Son.

for his sake] Lit. because of him; i.e. “because Abraham was justified by faith; merely to tell us that.”

Romans 4:23. Δἰ ἀυτὸν, for his sake) who was dead long before.—ὃτι, that.

Δἰ ἡμας, for us) who ought to be stirred up by the example of Abraham.—V. g.

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