Romans Chapter 4

by Mike Hussey

Opening video

Closing video

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Romans 4 Bible Study

  • Opening Video
  • Read Romans 4:1-12 (really you could read the whole chapter, I would suggest that you do. The rest of Romans 4 supports everything Paul has to say in those first 12 verses.  That being said, all the questions will come from verses 1-12)
  • Don’t forget to open up in a word of prayer


  1. In this passage we have some church words, before we move forward let’s unpack them a bit.
    1. What does Righteousness mean?
      • The word that gets translated righteousness is the Greek word, δικαιοσύνη “Dikaiosune” (Dik-ai-o-sue-nay). When it is used of a person it means that they are innocent.  They could stand in a court of law and would not be convicted of any crime.  There is another side to this word which also speaks to moral uprightness, so not only is a righteous and innocent person, but a person who is also morally good and right.
      • The beauty of being declared righteous by God is that we are not innocent and righteous, we are sinners who deserve to be found guilty. Not only are we not innocent, we are not morally upright and good either.
    2. What does Justified mean?
      • The word that gets translated Justified is the Greek word, δικαιόω “dikaioo” (Dik-ai-ah-o). This word is a legal term used to render a favorable verdict or to vindicate, it is for the judge to declare you innocent. 
      • Once again, the real beauty of being Justified, is that we should be found guilty, but in Christ, God declares us innocent anyway.
  2. Who was this guy Abraham?
    1. Let the kids answer whatever they remember, but make sure they hit or you say these important things.  
      • From the Land of Ur, a Pagan nation, God called him out from it (Gen 12)
      • Abraham was not a perfect person, in Egypt he lied and said his wife was his sister and she married the Pharaoh (Gen 12:10-20) He did this again with Abimelek (Gen 20)
      • God promised to him that he would become a great nation, that he would have descendants like the stars and sand. God promised to give his descendants the land of Canaan (Israel), God promised that anyone who blessed Abraham would be blessed, and whoever cursed Abraham would be Cursed, and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him (that last line is ultimately a promise of the Messiah, the promise of Jesus). Genesis 15, 16:10, 17:3-8, 22:15-18, etc.
      • God gave circumcision to Abraham as a sign of the covenant he made with Him and His descendants. (This will be important near the end of the study) Genesis 17
      • Abraham was the physical forefather of all the Jewish people. He was held in very high regard and even considered to be a hero.  Jewish people made pilgrimages to Abraham’s grave at Hebron.  He was seen by the Jewish people as a “man of the Law” and it was said that Abraham had kept all of the Law of God[1]. (He was not nearly so perfect and heroic as people thought, but a 1st Century Jewish person would have seen Abraham in this way)
  3. Did Abraham have anything to boast about?
    1. Sure He did, before men. He had been so faithful that he was willing to offer to sacrifice his one and only son to God on the altar. (Genesis 22)
    2. But, ”in regard to God he had no cause for being elated but cause only for being most humble and thankful since only by God’s grace had he been able to do these works. Why, it was God who in the very first place kindled faith in his heart, the faith that by God’s further grace moved him to do these works[2].”
    3. His good works were good before men and maybe even worth boasting about, but they were not enough to earn for him the favor of God. They were not enough to make Him worthy of God’s good and gracious gifts.  They weren’t enough to justify Abraham before God, they weren’t enough to make him Righteous before God.
  4. Paul mentions that Abraham, “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” What was it that Abraham believed?
    1. This is a quote from Genesis 15:6. God had just promised that Abraham (Abram at the time) would have a descendant that was his own flesh and blood. That God would provide him a child of his own, even though his wife Sarah (Sarai at the time) was barren and advanced in years.
    2. Abraham believed the promise of God, which ultimately was a promise of Jesus “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 22:18) It may not seem like it, but the answer here is actually Jesus.
  5. If Abraham had received what his works had earned him what would Abraham received?
    1. No matter how highly regarded Abraham was to the Jewish people, He was still a sinner. Just like King David he was brought forth in sin and conceived in inequity (Psalm 51:5).  He, just like all others sinners, deserved the wages that He had earned of death and eternal Hell separated from God (Romans 6:23). 
    2. The same is true for anyone who believes their salvation will be based on their works, they will be found guilty and condemned on the last day.
  6. How is it that Righteousness and Justification come to human beings?
    1. Paul quotes King David in Romans 4:7-8, from Psalm 32, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven…” Everything David talks about in those verses is GIFT.  It isn’t something earned.  It isn’t something you have to make yourself worthy for or could make yourself worthy of.  It is all gift.
    2. Gift, the grace of God, is the only way that a sinner might be justified and declared righteous.
      1. Ephesians 2:8, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…”
      2. Romans 4:5, “… his faith is counted as righteousness”
  7. Who is this promise of Justification by grace and through faith for?
    1. Not just the physical descendants of Abraham (the circumcised of vs 9-12) but instead for all people who believe.
    2. Paul tells us in the book of Galatians, by faith we actually become the true children of Abraham (Gal 3:7-9)
  • Closing Video
  • You may want to close in prayer once it is complete

[1] Franzman, Martin H., Concordia Commentary – Romans, CPH – 1968, 75.
[2] Lenski, R.C.H., The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Augsburg – 1936, 287.