The Contextual meaning of "father" with regard to Abraham in Rom. 4:11

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Jul 18, 2016.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Nov 13, 2011
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    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: - Rom. 4:11

    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, - Rom. 4:16

    Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. - Gal. 3:7

    Whether you like it or not, agree with it or not, the fact of Scripture is that if you are a believer in the gospel you are a child of Abraham and he is your "father" in the contextual defined sense of this passage.

    The term "father" translates the Greek term "patros" and its root idea and usage is "source" and/or "likeness." How is the term "father" used in this context.

    Paul has introduced the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ in Romans 3:24-26 as the provision he set forth in the Old Testament before the cross and when the cross arrived it justified God for justifying those that believed in Christ, and he justified them based purely upon his promise instead upon waiting for the cross event.

    24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
    25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
    26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

    What follows is that Paul provides one of two alternative for justification (v. 27) in connection with which gives glory to God versus glory to man and he presents his own conclusion (v. 28). One alternative is "of works" while the contrasting only other alternative is "of faith."

    27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
    28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    He then immediately sets forth to defend his conclusion in verse 28 by a series of arguments (vv. 29-31). In Romans 4:1 he introduces his first illustration to prove that justification by faith does not provide glorying or boasting "before God" in the case of Abraham.

    So Abraham is set forth as the model for justification "of faith" that denies boasting by man, thus denying it was "of works" and therefore "without works." It is the LIKENESS whereby Abraham was justified "of faith" that is the contextual meaning of "father" with regard to all true believers in the gospel or all who are justified "before God."

    This model likeness or pattern is carefully crafted by Paul to completely destroy the "of works" model altogether and prevent any boasting on the part of man.

    He attacks it like a trained boxer who goes forth to counter every argument possible by those who would claim being justified is based upon Abrahams faith plus works, plus beliefs, and plus participation in justification. In Romans 4:1-3 he presents the illustration of Abraham. In verses 4-5 he provides abstract teaching. In verse 6-8 he brings David into the argument thus showing that those born under the law (David) are justified without works as much as those not born under the law (Abraham). He then returns to the Abraham illustration to prevent anyone from arguing that justification is a progressive action that is inclusive to beliefs and obedience to divine ordinances (vv. 9-12). He shows that Abraham could not have been justified by keeping the Law of Moses (vv. 13-15). He concludes his argument by denying his opponents the opportunity to define "faith" to be inclusive of works or faithfulness (vv. 16-21) and then applies the doctrine (vv. 22-25) just as he introduced it (Rom. 3:24-26).

    So, the Abrahamic LIKENESS "of faith" with regard to the doctrine of justification is:

    1. It denies all boasting before God - v.v. 1-3

    2. It is of grace and Works are not of grace - v. 4

    3. It is void of all works by the believer as the believer is "ungodly" with regard to his own person or ability to be righteous - v. 5 (see 3:9-20, 23).

    4. It is inclusive of both imputed rigtheousness and remission of sins as the "blessed" state - vv. 6-8

    5. It is a completed action void of obedience to divine ordinances - vv. 9-12

    6. It is void of keeping Mosaic Law or the Old Covenant - vv. 13-15

    7. It is defined by a "faith" that cannot be defined as faithfulness or obedience or participation on the act of the one being justified but it is the kind of faith that merely rests on the promise and power of God to fulfill what he has promised - vv. 16-21

    8. It is a faith that has for its object the Christ gospel - vv. 22-25.

    9. It is a finished completed act at the point of faith in the gospel that remains completed - 5:1-2.

    This is the "father" image of Abrahamic justification by faith whereas the "works" image is the opposite for each characteristic listed by Paul. All who are "of faith" were justified according to this PATTERN of Justification or they do not have God as their spiritual "father."
  2. Smyth

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    There's a large segment of Christians who scream "replacement theology" (a meaningless term, like "racist") when you believe the Bible when it says Christians are the children of Abraham.
  3. Darrell C

    Darrell C
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    Jan 30, 2010
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    Christians are the children of God, not the sons of Abraham. Abraham is a model of faith, not a concrete doctrine we establish from Paul's teaching which makes Abraham a bestower of the spiritual things of God..

    Both Jew and Gentile are made one man in Christ, but this does not nullify the Promises of God to the Model of the sons of God seen in Israel. That day in which her blindness shall be removed is coming, and so shall all Israel be saved, when they see the Deliverer coming.

    God bless.
  4. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    Dec 18, 2010
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    An excellent summary of the doctrine of Romans 4, Biblicist. Thank you.
    We become the children of Abraham when we trust in Christ the same way that he did (John 8:56), the only difference being that he looked forward and we looked back.
    • Agree Agree x 1

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