Paraphrase of Romans 4

One way of studying and meditating on the Word of God is to attempt to write it out in your own words, making a personal paraphrase of the text. The following is just that, a personal paraphrase, sometimes amplified and illustrated by other quotations. My paraphrase is on the left, and the text of the King James Version on the right. I am sharing this to encourage others to also study God’s Word, possibly by attempting their own paraphrase. I also hope my paraphrase may help some to better understand what God has said.

Outline of Romans 4
1-3 Abraham Justified by Faith
4-8 Forgiveness and Righteousness are not by Works
9-12 A Sign, by Faith
13-25A Promise, by Faith

Abraham Justified by Faith -- 4:1-3

1-3 What shall we say about Abraham, the great ancestor of our race? How was he made right with God? If he was made right with God by working, then he would have something to brag about among men. But the Scripture says that Abraham believed God, and God looked on his faith as righteousness. (The work he did and the life he lived were a result of his faith, and a testimony of his faith to men.) 1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Forgiveness and Righteousness are not by Works -- 4:4-8

4-8 When a man works for someone, he expects to be paid. The wages he receives are earned, and he does not consider them to be a gift. But God’s approval cannot be earned. If a man will stop working for God’s approval, and place all his trust and confidence in Him who died for sinners, who gave his life a ransom for many, this man will be put in right standing with God. This man’s faith in God’s provision and utter dependence on it, recognizing his own inability to approach God or gain God’s approval is considered by God to make him righteous. For God is the one who judges, and He pays the penalty Himself, so that those who were formerly opposed to Him may be reconciled and united to Him. David described the happy condition of the person to whom God in his grace has imputed righteousness without regard to his accomplishments. He said, “Happy, full of joy, to be envied are those whose rebellious works have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Happy is the man whose sin has been blotted out in God’s book of accounts.” (Psalm 32:1-2, Colossians 2:14) 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

A Sign, by Faith -- 4:9-12

9-12 Is this happy condition reserved for those who have been circumcised (that is, the Jewish people), or is it available to all men of all time in every race and place? We are saying, “God considered Abraham’s faith, and called him righteous.” When this happened, had Abraham been circumcised yet? No, he was not. In fact, he was circumcised later, as a sign, demonstrating in his flesh the faith in his heart, and it was a badge of the righteousness he had received from God, a token of Abraham’s allegiance to God. So he is the father of all who believe though not circumcised, receiving God’s perfect holiness, as well as the father of those who not only are circumcised but also believe just as Abraham did. 9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

A Promise, by Faith -- 4:13-25

13-15 When God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, it was not by means of the Law, which had not yet been given, but by means of the righteousness which is received by faith. For if those who achieve righteousness by keeping the law are heirs to this promise, then faith is empty and meaningless, and the promise cannot be kept. No one can keep the Law, therefore no one can achieve righteousness, for the Law condemns us, pointing out our transgressions and their inevitable result: separation from God, and the wrath of God. The only way we could keep from breaking the law is by doing away with the law. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16-17 So righteousness is received by faith, and faith alone. It is offered freely to those who do not deserve it, so that God’s promise will be kept in full. And it applies to all of Abraham’s descendants: both those who were born into his family in the flesh, and those who share his faith without being part of his physical family. That is why God said, “I have made you a father of many nations.” God is still watching carefully to see that all His promises are fulfilled, the same God who revived Sarah’s womb and rejuvenated Abraham, and talks as though things have already happened which are still in our future. (He knows the end from the beginning, all things are made by Him, and He gives eternal life to all who trust Jesus Christ.) 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 ¶ (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18-22 Even when all the external evidence and past experience indicated it was completely impossible, Abraham believed. Therefore he did indeed receive God’s promise and became a great father of many peoples, too many to be counted. Without losing his faith, or even doubting God’s power a little bit, he was able to face the facts which God would have to overcome. For example, his own body was just about dead, since he was nearly 100 years old; furthermore, Sarah had never been able to conceive, and now she was well past menopause. While these conditions made him wonder HOW God could do it, he never doubted at all that God COULD and WOULD do it. On the contrary, his faith increased and he praised God for the great work He had promised. Abraham was absolutely sure that God would do exactly what He had said. That is the kind of faith Abraham had, and this faith made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23-25 Certainly, it is wonderful to know that God accepted Abraham; but this is not recorded in God’s Word merely as a biographical fact, to make Abraham look good to us. It is written there for our benefit, so that we can understand the principle of receiving the righteousness of God by believing in and relying upon the God of the resurrection, and in Jesus Christ whom He raised from the dead. Jesus Christ was put to death because of our sin and restored to life to prove we have been reconciled to God. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

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