ISSL Reflections July 18, 2021, Romans 4:1-12 Post 2

IV.
Let’s look again at our focus passage for this week.

As you read it think about his intended audience, the community of Christians in Rome, and consider how they might hear this.

Romans 4:1-12

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say?

“Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”

Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?
We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.

V.
Who will hear this the clearest, the most deeply, the most personally in the community of Christians in Rome?

The Jewish followers of Jesus or the Gentile followers of Jesus?

“What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?” (Romans 4:1)

“Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?” (Romans 4:9)

“The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:11-12)

VI.
Is Paul attempting to put the Jewish followers of Jesus and the Gentile followers of Jesus on equal footing before God?

How do folk react when they find out they are not as unique, as special, as “blessed” as they thought they were?

How do folk react when they find out their standing before God is not based on their heritage, their family roots, their ancestors, their nationality, maybe even their religion?

Maybe the community of Christians in Rome was an ethnically and religiously mixed group.

Can they see beyond that and see themselves as a community of people created by their following Jesus? Can they see what they share with one another? What makes them the same before God?

Can we?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}


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