Romans 4

Abraham believed God

1 Abraham was the ancestor of all of us who are Jews. Think about what he discovered. 2 God did not accept Abraham as right with him because Abraham had done good things. If God had done that, then Abraham would have been able to boast about himself. But he could not boast to God. 3 Remember what the Bible tells us. It says: ‘Abraham believed God. As a result, God accepted Abraham as right with him.’

4:3See Genesis 15:6. Genesis 12-22 tell us about how Abraham believed God.

4 When a person works to get money, it is right for him to receive his money. That money is not a gift. It is what that person ought to receive as a result of his work. 5 But someone may believe in God. He does not work to cause God to accept him. God accepts that person because of their faith. God says that people who have turned away from him are right with him, if they trust him. That is God's gift to them. 6 David also wrote about the same thing. He describes those people that God has accepted as right with himself. God has not accepted them because they have done good things, but as his gift to them. David tells us how happy people like that are. 7 David says:

‘The people that God has forgiven are really happy.

They have done wrong things, but he has forgiven them.

8 A person is really happy when the Lord accepts him.

The Lord does not think about that person's sin any more.’

4:8See Psalm 32:1-2.

9 God does this for all people, both Jews and Gentiles. All people can be really happy like this, when God accepts them. As we have said, Abraham believed God. As a result, God accepted Abraham as right with him. 10 They circumcised Abraham to show that he was a Jew. Think about the time when God accepted Abraham. Did it happen before they circumcised him, or after that? We know that it was before they circumcised him! 11 Some time after that, God told Abraham that someone should circumcise him. That would be a mark on his body to show that God had accepted him. God had already accepted Abraham because Abraham believed in him. God did not accept Abraham because they had circumcised him as a Jewish man. This shows that Abraham is like a father to everyone that God has accepted. Like Abraham, God has accepted them because they have believed in him. It is not important that nobody has circumcised them. 12 But Abraham is also like the father of all Jews who believe in God. Someone has circumcised those Jews, but they have copied Abraham's example. They have believed in God, as Abraham believed before anyone had circumcised him.

13 God promised to Abraham, and to his descendants, that the world would belong to them one day. God did not promise that because Abraham obeyed any rules. God promised it because Abraham believed in him. That is why God accepted Abraham as right with him. 14 People cannot get what God promised because they obey rules. If they could get it like that, then faith in God would be worth nothing. And what God promised would be worth nothing. 15 The rules in Moses' Law say that God will punish people who do not obey those rules. But without any rules, there is nothing for people to obey.

4:13Genesis 22:17-18 shows us what God promised to Abraham.

16 So God gives us his promise as a gift, because he is very kind. We receive it when we trust him. If we believe in God like Abraham did, then God accepts us. That is God's promise to all of Abraham's family. If we believe in God, we can call Abraham our ancestor. We can all receive what God has promised. It is not only for those who have Moses' Law to obey. 17 In the Bible, God said to Abraham, ‘I have chosen you to become the ancestor of many different people.’ That is what God himself promises, because Abraham believed in him. God is the one who causes dead people to become alive again. He speaks about things that are not yet there as if they were already there.

4:17See Genesis 17:5.

18 Abraham continued to trust God. He hoped to receive what God had promised. He continued to hope even when he had no good reason to hope. That is why he became the ancestor of many different people. It happened just like God had said: ‘You will have very many descendants.’

4:18See Genesis 17:7.

19 Abraham was about 100 years old. His body was already so old that it was nearly dead. His wife, Sarah, was unable to have children. Abraham understood all that, but he did not stop trusting God. 20 He never stopped believing what God had promised. Instead, he believed in God more strongly. He trusted God's great power. 21 Abraham was sure that God was able to do what he had promised to do. 22 So we see that it is true: Because Abraham believed God, God accepted Abraham as right with him.

4:22See Genesis 18:14.

23 Think about those words, ‘God accepted him as right.’ They are not only speaking about Abraham. 24 They are written in the Bible to help us too. If we believe in God, he will accept us as right with him. God raised our Lord Jesus, so that he became alive again after his death. 25 God let people kill Jesus on the cross because of the wrong things that we have done. Then God raised Jesus from death, to show that he would accept us as right with him.