We read a short portion: Romans 4:9-12
v9: Blessedness: This is the fourth time that Paul has emphasised this word. Blessing comes as an outcome of what G-d has done (bringing us into His family by means of a covenant).
- The circumcised or … the uncircumcised: Is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also available for the Gentiles?
- For we say: Paul is, with authority, making a declarative statement.
- Faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness: Abraham was blessed because of faith.
- Was accounted: Written in the passive. Abraham could not do it for himself. It had to be done for him. Faith was the key that caused Abraham to be seen in G-d’s eyes as righteous.
- Righteousness: This is the key outcome or reward of faith.
v10: How… was it accounted (reckoned): In what condition was Abraham in? Was he circumcised or uncircumcised when this righteousness was credited to him?
- Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised: Abraham was not circumcised when G-d credited righteousness to him (Gen 15:6). Abraham was declared righteous while he was uncircumcised. It was many years after this declaration that Abraham actually became circumcised (Genesis 17).
v11: Sign of circumcision: Circumcision (like baptism) is a sign that conveys to the wider community the death of our flesh. This is what we want to experience. When we believe, by faith, it is followed by the death of the flesh, the death of our carnal nature. This means that we no longer want to walk in obedience to our bodies (what our bodies desire – that sinful nature within us, free from pain and suffering etc) but we want to walk in obedience to the Spirit. We want to see our sinful natures rendered powerless. We want those sinful natures to die. It is only through faith that our sinful nature can die. It is only after we have believed, through faith, that our works or our behaviours are altered.
v12: Abraham is the father of the uncircumcised who live by faith, as well as the father of the circumcised who live by faith. Before Abraham was circumcised, he lived by faith. After Abraham was circumcised, he continued to walk by faith. The common thread here is not circumcision or uncircumcision. The common thread binding these two groups together is walking in faith, being obedient to the call of G-d – to be a blessing and a light to the nations.