Bible Discussion — Romans 4

September 19, 2007, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Bible, Chloe, Connie, David, Josh J, Steve  | No Comments

This week, Bweinh.com looks at the next chapter in the book of Romans, Romans 4.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50

Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40

And the book of Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3

 
INTRODUCTION:
David:
The last chapter ends with a question about the law being “made void” by faith, and an assertion by Paul that justification by faith for both Jews and Gentiles does not void the law, but establishes it. The Jews just needed to understand that the law was intermediate, not pre-eminent. It was a step toward redemption, but not the bearer of that redemption. It was like a mirror that could show us our need of a bath, but contained no power to clean us up.

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Steve:
The law brings about wrath, because without the law, there would be no transgression. But would the end result have been any different?

Chloe:
Paul portrays Abraham’s faith as acknowledging his shortcomings and believing God would overcome them. A crucial part of faith is humility. Why don’t preachers talk about that more often? “You can’t do it! Give up! . . . Let God do it.”

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
Josh: Against All Hope
Chloe: Heir of the World
Connie: Seed of the Law
Steve: All The Seed

 
STORY IT REMINDS YOU OF::
David:
The old saying that it’s better to be lucky than to be good. Having your sins wiped out by the grace of God is way better than working as hard as you possibly can and still falling short.

Josh:
The old Sunday School/camp song about Father Abraham having many sons, that one where you have to swing your arms and legs and head and spin around. I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

 
DEEP THEOLOGICAL MEANING:
Chloe:
In a society that worships selfishness and self-sufficiency, the idea of embracing one’s inability to do something sounds absurd. However, Paul shows us that in handing over the reins to God and accepting our ineptitude, we can do more than what we’re told we can’t do. We can do what we really can’t do, like part the Red Sea or cast out demons.

Steve:
When we read this section, we have to remember the importance and ubiquity of Abraham to the Jews in Paul’s audience. He was, after all, first in the line of the three men with which God was identified, and held a place of honor and importance comparable to a modern mixture of Washington, Lincoln, Rosa Parks and the inventor of the TiVo. And here, Paul interprets history in a bit of a revisionist way at the time, proving through a most unexpected source that life according to the Law is not the fulfillment of humanity.

David:
Paul has proved the Jews are guilty before God, while acknowledging their pre-eminent position in receiving the Law and circumcision. In this chapter, though, he explains that real salvation lies in “the promise” made to Abraham based on his declaration of faith, not the circumcision which came 13 years later, or the Law that followed 430 years later.

The promise holds precedence and shows that God’s work through the Jews was transitory, not permanent, and designed to eventually include all of mankind. It is an important step in Paul’s development of Christianity as a work that superseded the Jewish religion, as opposed to just advancing or reforming it.

Connie:
The justification and salvation of sinners, and taking to himself the Gentiles who had not been His people, were a gracious calling of things which were not, as though they were. Giving a being to things that “were not” proves the almighty power of God.

 
RANDOM THOUGHT:
Chloe:
I’ve been told that Greek is a language with difficult sentence structures and long, long sentences. Paul’s awkwardness with the language is particularly highlighted in this book. Unnecessarily repeated nouns crowd the sentences and pronouns don’t refer to anything that makes sense. It’s a difficult read. It made my brain hurt.

Steve:
I’m not sure I entirely follow the Abraham aspects of Paul’s argument. How exactly did Abraham receive righteousness before he was circumcised? When did his faith become imputed as righteousness? What, if any, was the impact of his occasional doubts?

 
WHERE IS JESUS IN THIS PASSAGE:
Connie:
The promise was made to Abraham long before the law. It points to Christ, and refers to the promise “In Thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

David:
As always, “The Seed” (Romans 4:13, Galatians 3:16-17), to whom the promise was made, and through whom the only real redemption was possible. Jesus Himself said, “Salvation is of the Jews” to the woman at the well, but it is based on a promise to Him, and through Him, to all the world.

Steve:
Redeeming humanity and this chapter in verse 25, providing the link between the so-far theoretical example of faith represented by Abraham and the all-important actual work of justification to righteousness.

 
VERSE TO REMEMBER:
David:
4:8 — “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”

Steve, Josh:
4:24-25 — “It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

 
PORTION YOU WOULD MOST LIKE EXPLAINED IN HEAVEN:
Chloe:
Why did Paul have to make such a simple idea so incredibly complicated and round-about?? Even the Message is loopy!

Steve:
I’m not sure I understand what Paul means in verse 4. Does he mean that the person who works will feel as though he’s owed something, even though his work still wouldn’t suffice to make him righteous?

 
LESSON TO TAKE AWAY:
Josh:
My favorite line may well be the end of verse 17, where it says of God that He “calls things that are not as though they were,” because I know that I am one of those things. Ultimately I am nothing, and yet God has called me His own.

Connie:
Unbelief is at the bottom of all our struggles with God’s promises. But God honors faith; and great faith honors God.

Steve:
I don’t know quite how far to extend this, but the lesson of verses 20 and 21 is that Abraham’s faith was undoubting and steadfast, unwavering and convinced. And therefore, it was accounted to him for righteousness. Something to keep in mind, at least.

David:
Romans 4:15 sets up the next chapter. In chapter 5, Paul deals with how the Law was used by God during this transitory period, and how people needed to be convinced of their ungodliness by a standard they could not possibly attain.

 
GENERAL RESPONSE TO THE PASSAGE:
David:
It is a very important chapter in the establishment of Christianity as surpassing and supplanting, rather than supplementing, the Jewish religion — something Peter and the other Apostles never arrived at in their doctrine.

Steve:
Reverence for the faith of Abraham is one thing that unites three major religions. You can keep Genghis Khan; no one better deserves the title “father of many nations” than this wealthy farmer who left his home in Haran to obey God and change the course of human history — who, contrary to hope, in hope believed.

Josh:
Passages like this are an important reminder to Christians who lean heavily on the New Testament to the exclusion of the Old, wherein lies the very foundation of our faith, words written “not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

 
CONCLUSION:
Steve:
Now we’re getting to two of my very favorite chapters in the entire Bible!

David:
On to the Law and its purpose.


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