VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
Hath found. Westcott and Hort omit. Then the reading would be "what shall we say of Abraham," etc. Found signifies, attained by his own efforts apart from grace.
As pertaining to the flesh (kata sarka). Construe with found. The question is, Was Abraham justified by anything which pertained to the flesh? Some construe with Abraham: our father humanly speaking.
By works (ex ergwn). Lit., out of works. In speaking of the relation of works to justification, Paul never uses dia by or through, but ejk out of; works being regarded by the Jew as the meritorious source of salvation.
It was counted for righteousness (elogisqh eiv dikaiosunhn). For the phrase logizesqai eijv to reckon unto, compare ch. ii. 26; ix. 8, where eijv is rendered for. The verb is also used with wJv as. So ch. viii. 36; 1 Corinthians iv. 1. So in Sept., eijv, Psalm lvi. 31; Isa. xxix. 17; xxxii. 15; xl. 17; wJv. Gen. xxxi. 15; Job xli. 20; Psalm xliii. 22; Isa. v. 28; xxix. 16. The phrases ejlogisqh eijv and ejl. wJv are thus shown to be substantially equivalent. See further on ver. 5.
Not of grace but of debt (ou kata carin alla kata ofeilhma). Lit., according to grace, etc. Not grace but debt is the regulative standard according to which his compensation is awarded. The workman for hire represents the legal method of salvation; he who does not work for hire, the gospel method; wages cannot be tendered as a gift. Grace is out of the question when wages is in question.
Is counted for righteousness (logizetai eiv dikaiosunhn). Rev., is reckoned. See on ver. 3. The preposition eijv has the force of as, not the telic meaning with a view to, or in order that he may be (righteous); nor strictly, in the place of righteousness. Faith is not a substitute for righteousness, since righteousness is involved in faith. When a man is reckoned righteous through faith, it is not a legal fiction. He is not indeed a perfect man, but God does not reckon something which has no real existence. Faith is the germ of righteousness, of life in God. God recognizes no true life apart from holiness, and "he that believeth on the Son hath life." He is not merely regarded in the law's eye as living. God accepts the germ, not in place of the fruit, but as containing the fruit. "Abraham believed God.... No soul comes into such a relation of trust without having God's investment upon it; and whatever there may be in God's righteousness - love, truth, sacrifice - will be rightfully imputed or counted to be in it, because, being united to Him, it will have them coming over derivatively from Him" (Bushnell). The idea of logical sequence is inherent in logizetai is reckoned - the sequence of character upon faith. Where there is faith there is, logically, righteousness, and the righteousness is from faith unto faith (ch. i. 17). Nevertheless, in the highest development of the righteousness of faith, it will remain true that the man is justified, not by the works of righteousness, which are the fruit of faith, but by the faith which, in making him a partaker of the life and righteousness of God, generates and inspires the works.
Observe that the believer's own faith is reckoned as righteousness. "In no passage in Paul's writings or in other parts of the New Testament, where the phrase to reckon for or the verb to reckon alone is used, is there a declaration that anything belonging to one person is imputed, accounted, or reckoned to another, or a formal statement that Christ's righteousness is imputed to believers" (President Dwight, "Notes on Meyer").
Are forgiven (afeqhsan). Lit., were forgiven. See on Matt. vi. 12; Jas. v. 15; 1 John i. 9. Also on remission, Luke iii. 3.
That he might be (eiv to einai auton). Not so that he became, but expressing the divinely appointed aim of his receiving the sign.
Who not only are - but who also walk. Apparently Paul speaks of two classes, but really of but one, designated by two different attributes. The awkwardness arises from the article toiv, erroneously repeated with stoicousin walk, which latter word expresses an added characteristic, not another class. Paul means that Abraham received a seal, etc., that he might be the father of circumcision to those who not only are circumcised, but who add to this outward sign the faith which Abraham exhibited.
Walk (stoicousin). See on elements, 2 Pet. iii. 10.
Have I made (teqeika). Appointed or constituted. For a similar sense see Matt. xxiv. 51; John xv. 16, and note; Acts xiii. 47; 1 Tim. ii. 7. The verb shows that the paternity was the result of a special arrangement. It would not be used to denote the mere physical connection between father and son.
Who quickeneth the dead. This attribute of God is selected with special reference to the circumstances of Abraham as described in vers. 18, 21. As a formal attribute of God it occurs 1 Sam. ii. 6; John v. 21; 2 Corinthians i. 9; 1 Tim. vi. 13.
Calleth (kalountov). The verb is used in the following senses:
In this last sense some explain the word here; but it can scarcely be said that God creates things that are not as actually existing. Others explain, God's disposing decree. He disposes of things that are not as though existing. 31 The simplest explanation appears to be to give kalein the sense of nameth, speaketh of. Compare ch. ix. 7; Acts vii. 5. The seed of Abraham "which were at present in the category of things which were not, and the nations which should spring physically or spiritually from him, God spoke of as having an existence, which word Abraham believed" (Alford). In this case there may properly be added the idea of the summons to the high destiny ordained for Abraham's seed.
Dead (nenekrwmenon). The participle is passive, slain. Used here hyperbolically. Hence, Rev., as good as dead.
Promise (epaggelian). See on Acts i. 4.
Was strong (enedunamwqh). Passive voice. Lit., was strengthened, or endued with strength. Rev., waxed strong.
Able (dunatov). The sense is stronger: mighty; compare Luke i. 49; xxiv. 19; Acts xviii. 24; 2 Cor. x. 4; Apoc. vi. 15.
Who believe. Since we are those who believe.
Raised again for our justification. "But if the whole matter of the justification depends on what He has suffered for our offenses, we shall as certainly be justified or have our account made even, if He does not rise, as if He does. Doubtless the rising has an immense significance, when the justification is conceived to be the renewing of our moral nature in righteousness; for it is only by the rising that His incarnate life and glory are fully discovered, and the righteousness of God declared in His person in its true moral power. But in the other view of justification there is plainly enough nothing depending, as far as that is concerned, on His resurrection" (Bushnell). Compare ch. vi. 4-13.