Romans on Righteousness (Part Two)

In Part One, we investigated the first three chapters of Romans and saw the introduction of the truth that righteousness comes by faith (pistis, belief: in this case, the correct belief regarding Jesus Christ) not by the Old Testament law. Chapter four gives Abraham as the precedent for righteousness coming by faith without the law.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified [made righteous] by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

“Counted” in verses 3 and 5 are translated from the Greek, “logizomai.”  This is Strong’s information on this word:

3049 logizomai {log-id’-zom-ahee}

Meaning: 1) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over 1a) to take into account, to make an account of 1a1) metaph. to pass to one’s account, to impute 1a2) a thing is reckoned as or to be something, i.e.  as availing for or equivalent to something, as having the like force and weight 1b) to number among, reckon with 1c) to reckon or account 2) to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate 3) by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer 3a) to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on 3b) to  suppose, deem, judge 3c) to determine, purpose, decide

This word deals with reality. When used in a literal sense rather than metaphorically, it refers to numerical counting.  If you logizomai that your bank account has $25 in it, then it has $25 in it. Whether used literally or metaphorically, it refers to what is actually true, not to how one should think of something even though it isn’t really true.When God’s Word states that Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness, it means that in consideration of Abraham’s believing, God deemed Abraham to be righteous. Abraham was thus actually righteous, not just thought of that way even though he wasn’t. This is an important distinction. Verses 4 and 5 above state the principle for the general case, not just pertaining to Abraham. When one believes “on him that justifieth the ungodly,” his faith is counted for righteousness. When we believe, we are deemed by God to be righteous before Him, not just treated by God as though we are righteous even though we are not.

The record goes on to give David as another source of the truth that God reckons righteousness without works.

Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [logizomai] righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute [logizomai] sin.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin? I should say so!! Now THAT would be quite the deal to get in on would it not? Who is it that gets to have this amazing grace? The record continues on to show through Abraham that “this blessedness” has come to the Gentiles (uncircumcision) as well as to “the circumcision.” It shows that they who walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham receive the righteousness of faith whether they are of the circumcision or uncircumcision. The promise was not to Abraham, or to his seed, by the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?  for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed [logizomai] unto them also:
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.
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Abraham “believed in hope.” He expected God’s promise to come to pass. He did this “against hope,” against all normal human expectation. He expected something for which there was no hope apart from God’s promise, but he latched on to God’s promise and believed in that hope.

Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Many other versions translate these verses in a manner indicating that Abraham considered the deadness of his own body and the deadness of Sara’s womb but that he none-the-less staggered not in belief of God’s promise. (These versions are reflective of what seems to be the best textual evidence.) It is an interesting point. Just because a person takes a look at and considers the odds against him, does not mean he has stopped trusting God. He has stopped believing God when he decides to choose the odds rather than the promise.

Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it [Abraham's faith in God and His promise] was imputed [logizomai] to him for righteousness.

Well good for Abraham! But what about me? I thought this section was going to show how WE receive righteousness, how we receive “this blessedness” of being one to whom the Lord (God) will not reckon sin. If the record ended here, it would be a nice history lesson, but there is so much more to it than that. The point of this whole discussion is coming up next.

Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed [logizomai] to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it [righteousness] shall be imputed [logizomai], if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification [righteousness].

So righteousness comes to us by faith [pistis, belief] even as it came to Abraham by faith, but exactly what is it we must believe? We are to follow “in the steps” of Abraham’s faith (verse 12), but what we believe is not the same. Abraham believed the Word of God to him. We don’t have the same promise that was given to Abraham. I am not expecting to become the father of many nations. Verse 24 says righteousness being reckoned to us is dependent on believing “on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” A part of believing on Him Who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead is believing that Jesus our Lord was indeed raised from the dead.

Earlier, the Apostle Paul had said that the righteousness of God was by belief pertaining to Christ, unto all who believe.

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith [pistis, belief] of [pertaining to] Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

The statement in Romans 4:24 is more specific regarding what belief pertaining to Christ is required. Later, the Apostle will be even more specific.

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

So there we have it. Righteousness before God, which includes being one to whom God will not reckon sin, is dependent on one thing only: belief regarding Jesus Christ. What is it exactly we must believe? There is no more specific statement about this than the one given in Romans 10:9 and 10 (and this is plenty specific enough).

The next section will show, among other things, that righteousness is now bestowed on many through the righteousness and obedience of one. I’ll give you a hint. That “one” is not you. Your righteousness before God is not dependent on your obedience or anything else about you except that you choose to accept, to believe on, the one who did it for you.

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