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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Romans: Chapter 4)

4:1 {What then shall we say?} (\ti oun eroumen?\). Paul is fond
of this rhetorical question (4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 8:31; 9:14,30).
{Forefather} (\propatora\). Old word, only here in N.T.
Accusative case in apposition with \Abraam\ (accusative of
general reference with the infinitive)
. {Hath found}
(\heurēkenai\). Westcott and Hort put \heurēkenai\ in the margin
because B omits it, a needless precaution. It is the perfect
active infinitive of \heuriskō\ in indirect discourse after
\eroumen\. The MSS. differ in the position of \kata sarka\.

4:2 {The Scripture} (\hē graphē\). Ge 15:6. {Was justified by
(\ex ergōn edikaiōthē\). Condition of first class, assumed
as true for the sake of argument, though untrue in fact. The
rabbis had a doctrine of the merits of Abraham who had a
superfluity of credits to pass on to the Jews (Lu 3:8). {But
not towards God}
(\all' ou pros theon\). Abraham deserved all the
respect from men that came to him, but his relation to God was a
different matter. He had _there_ no ground of boasting at all.

4:3 {It was reckoned unto him for righteousness} (\elogisthē eis
. First aorist passive indicative of \logizomai\,
old and common verb to set down accounts (literally or
. It was set down on the credit side of the ledger
"for" (\eis\ as often) righteousness. What was set down? His
believing God (\episteusen tōi theōi\).

4:4 {But as of debt} (\alla kata opheilēma\). An illustration of
the workman (\ergazomenōi\) who gets his wages due him, "not as
of grace" (\ou kata charin\).

4:5 {That justifieth the ungodly} (\ton dikaiounta ton asebē\).
The impious, irreverent man. See 1:25. A forensic figure
(Shedd). The man is taken as he is and pardoned. "The whole
Pauline gospel could be summed up in this one word-- God who
justifies the ungodly" (Denney).

4:6 {Pronounceth blessing} (\legei ton makarismon\). old word
from \makarizō\, to pronounce blessed (Lu 1:48), felicitation,
congratulation, in N.T. only here, verse 9; Ac 4:15.

4:7 {Blessed} (\makarioi\). See on Mt 5:3. {Are forgiven}
(\aphethēsan\). First aorist passive indicative of \aphiēmi\,
without augment (\apheithēsan\, regular form). Paul quotes Ps
32:1f. and as from David. Paul thus confirms his interpretation
of Ge 15:6. {Iniquities} (\anomiai\). Violations of law whereas
\hamartiai\ (sins) include all kinds. {Are covered}
(\epekaluphthēsan\). First aorist passive of \epikaluptō\, old
verb, to cover over (upon, \epi\) as a shroud. Only here in N.T.

4:8 {To whom} (\hōi\). But the best MSS. read \hou\ like the LXX
and so Westcott and Hort, "whose sin." {Will not reckon} (\ou mē
. Strong negation by double negative and aorist middle

4:9 {Is this blessing then pronounced?} (\ho makarismos oun
. "Is this felicitation then?" There is no verb in the
Greek. Paul now proceeds to show that Abraham was said in Ge
15:6 to be set right with God by faith _before_ he was

4:10 {When he was in circumcision} (\en peritomēi onti\). Dative
masculine singular of the present active participle of \eimi\;
"to him being in a state of circumcision or in a state of
uncircumcision?" A pertinent point that the average Jew had not

4:11 {The sign of circumcision} (\sēmeion peritomēs\). It is the
genitive of apposition, circumcision being the sign. {A seal of
the righteousness of the faith}
(\sphragida tēs dikaiosunēs tēs
. \Sphragis\ is old word for the seal placed on books
(Re 5:1), for a signet-ring (Re 7:2), the stamp made by the
seal (2Ti 2:19), that by which anything is confirmed (1Co
as here. The circumcision did not convey the righteousness,
but only gave outward confirmation. It came by faith and "the
faith which he had while in uncircumcision" (\tēs en tēi
, "the in the state of uncircumcision faith."
Whatever parallel exists between baptism and circumcision as here
stated by Paul argues for faith before baptism and for baptism as
the sign and seal of the faith already had before baptism. {That
he might be}
(\eis to einai auton\). This idiom may be God's
purpose (contemplated result) as in \eis to logisthēnai\ below,
or even actual result (so that he was) as in 1:20. {Though they
be in uncircumcision}
(\di' akrobustias\). Simply, "of those who
believe while in the condition of uncircumcision."

4:12 {The father of circumcision} (\patera peritomēs\). The
accusative with \eis to einai\ to be repeated from verse 11.
Lightfoot takes it to mean, not "a father of a circumcised
progeny," but "a father belonging to circumcision," a less
natural interpretation. {But who also walk} (\alla kai tois
. The use of \tois\ here is hard to explain, for \ou
monon\ and \alla kai\ both come after the preceding \tois\. All
the MSS. have it thus. A primitive error in a copyist is
suggested by Hort who would omit the second \tois\. Lightfoot
regards it less seriously and would repeat the second \tois\ in
the English: "To those who are, I do not say of circumcision
only, but also to those who walk." {In the steps} (\tois
. Locative case. See on ¯2Co 12:18. \Stoicheō\ is
military term, to walk in file as in Ga 5:25; Php 3:16.

4:13 {That he should be the heir of the world} (\to klēronomon
auton einai kosmou\)
. The articular infinitive (\to einai\) with
the accusative of general reference in loose apposition with \hē
epaggelia\ (the promise). But where is that promise? Not just Ge
12:7, but the whole chain of promises about his son, his
descendants like the stars in heaven, the Messiah and the
blessing to the world through him. In these verses (13-17) Paul
employs (Sanday and Headlam) the keywords of his gospel (faith,
promise, grace)
and arrays them against the current Jewish
theology (law, works, merit).

4:14 {Be heirs} (\klēronomoi\). No predicate in the Greek
(\eisin\). See on ¯Ga 4:1. If legalists are heirs of the
Messianic promise to Abraham (condition of first class, assumed
as true for argument's sake)
, the faith is emptied of all meaning
(\kekenōtai\, perfect passive indicative of \kenoō\) and the
promise to Abraham is made permanently idle (\katērgētai\).

4:15 {Worketh wrath} (\orgēn katergazetai\). Because of
disobedience to it. {Neither is there transgression} (\oude
. There is no responsibility for the violation of a
non-existent law.

4:16 {Of faith} (\ek pisteōs\). As the source. {According to
(\kata charin\). As the pattern. {To the end that} (\eis
to einai\)
. Purpose again as in 11. {Sure} (\bebaian\). Stable,
fast, firm. Old adjective from \bainō\, to walk. {Not to that
only which is of the law}
(\ou tōi ek tou nomou monon\). Another
instance where \monon\ (see verse 12) seems in the wrong place.
Normally the order would be, \ou monon tōi ek tou nomou, alla kai

4:17 {A father of many nations} (\patera pollōn ethnōn\).
Quotation from Ge 17:5. Only true in the sense of spiritual
children as already explained, father of believers in God.
{Before him whom he believed even God} (\katenanti hou episteusen
. Incorporation of antecedent into the relative clause and
attraction of the relative \hōi\ into \hou\. See Mr 11:2 for
\katenanti\, "right in front of." {Calleth the things that are
not as though they were}
(\kalountos ta mē onta hōs onta\).
"Summons the non-existing as existing." Abraham's body was old
and decrepit. God rejuvenated him and Sarah (Heb 11:19).

4:18 {In hope believed against hope} (\par' elpida ep' elpidi
. "Past hope in (upon) hope he trusted." Graphic
picture. {To the end that he might become} (\eis to genesthai
. Purpose clause again with \eis\ to and the infinitive as
in verses 11-16.

4:19 {Without being weakened in faith} (\mē asthenēsas tēi
. "Not becoming weak in faith." Ingressive first aorist
active participle with negative \mē\. {Now as good as dead} (\ēdē
. Perfect passive participle of \nekroō\, "now
already dead." B omits \ēdē\. He was, he knew, too old to become
father of a child. {About} (\pou\). The addition of \pou\
(somewhere, about) "qualifies the exactness of the preceding
numeral" (Vaughan). The first promise of a son to Abraham and
Sarah came (Ge 15:3f.) before the birth of Ishmael (86 when
Ishmael was born)
. The second promise came when Abraham was 99
years old (Ge 17:1), calling himself 100 (Ge 17:17).

4:20 {He wavered not through unbelief} (\ou diekrithē tēi
. First aorist passive indicative of old and common
verb \diakrinō\, to separate, to distinguish between, to decide
between, to desert, to dispute, to be divided in one's own mind.
This last sense occurs here as in Mt 21:22; Mr 11:23; Ro 14:23;
Jas 1:6. "He was not divided in his mind by unbelief"
(instrumental case). {Waxed strong through faith} (\enedunamōthē
tēi pistei\)
. First aorist passive again of \endunamoō\, late
word to empower, to put power in, in LXX and Paul and Ac 9:22.

4:21 {Being fully assured} (\plērophorētheis\). First aorist
passive participle of \plērophoreō\, from \plērophoros\ and this
from \plērēs\ and \pherō\, to bear or bring full (full measure),
to settle fully. Late word, first in LXX but frequent in papyri
in sense of finishing off or paying off. See on ¯Lu 1:1; Ro
14:5. {What he had promised} (\ho epēggeltai\). Perfect middle
indicative of \epaggellomai\, to promise, retained in indirect
discourse according to usual Greek idiom. {He was able} (\dunatos
. Present active indicative retained in indirect
discourse. The verbal adjective \dunatos\ with \estin\ is here
used in sense of the verb \dunatai\ (Lu 14:31; Ac 11:17).

4:23 {That} (\hoti\). Either recitative or declarative \hoti\. It
makes sense either way.

4:24 {Him that raised up Jesus} (\ton egeiranta Iēsoun\). First
aorist active articular participle of \egeirō\, to raise up. The
fact of the Resurrection of Jesus is central in Paul's gospel
(1Co 15:4ff.).

4:25 {For our justification} (\dia tēn dikaiōsin hēmōn\). The
first clause (\paredothē dia ta paraptōmata\) is from Isa
53:12. The first \dia\ with \paraptōmata\ is probably
retrospective, though it will make sense as prospective (to make
atonement for our transgressions)
. The second \dia\ is quite
clearly prospective with a view to our justification. Paul does
not mean to separate the resurrection from the death of Christ in
the work of atonement, but simply to show that the resurrection
is at one with the death on the Cross in proof of Christ's

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Romans: Chapter 4)