Tonight we will be reading through Romans 4. Paul’s argument in this section begins with the statement from Genesis 15:6 that “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” For tonight, think through what this phrase means. When the Scriptures speak of “Abraham believing God” what exactly is Abraham placing his faith in? Is there a difference between “believing God” and “believing in God?” Attached is the excerpt from Witherington’s book (pp.12-25) exploring what is meant by “believe” and “faith.”
Also, when the Scriptures speak of “righteousness,” what does that word mean? What does it mean to be righteous? Is there a difference between our righteousness and God’s? There are 187 uses of the word in the Old Testament alone. I would encourage you to read Deuteronomy 9:1-12 where God tells the Israelites that he is handing over the Promised Land to them, not because of their righteousness but because of God’s righteousness. And read Amos 5 which concludes with the phrase “But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” I have attached an excerpt from Wright’s Justification (pp.64-71) where he seeks to fully define the word in light of the Old Testament.
Further, think about the temporal aspect of the statement of Genesis 15:6. Abraham’s belief does not make him righteous in the future or in the world to come. Rather, Abraham’s belief makes him righteous immediately. How does Paul work in this immediacy of righteousness into his argument?
Finally, if you want a slightly different perspective on our reading for tonight, I have attached the excerpt on Romans 4 from D. A. Carson’s book Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament (pp.622-27). Carson’s commentary looks at Paul’s use of Genesis 15:6 within the complete story of Abraham and of the Old Testament in general.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is shrimp boil. You don’t have to have read anything to join us. Discussion at 6:45. Amy is in charge (unless it rains).
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous; *Psalm 33:1-5
it is good for the just to sing praises.
Praise the Lord with the harp; *
play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.
Sing for him a new song; *
sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.
For the word of the Lord is right, *
and all his works are sure.
He loves righteousness and justice; *
the loving-kindness of the Lord fills the whole earth.