Romans 4:16-25

“By Faith”

  • To keep faith from being considered a work or man we can consider it like one of the senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling.
  • Jesus did this in John 3 when he compared faith to looking at the snake on pole.
  • Faith makes real to us in our lives, in our world, what God has said (promised) in the spiritual world.  By faith we can see, hear, taste, touch, smell the spiritual reality.

Hebrews 11:1

Rotherhams: But faith is, of things hoped for, a confidence, of facts, a conviction, when they are not seen;


NASB: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.


King James: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Weymouth: Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.


Young: And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction,


Darby: Now faith is [the] substantiating of things hoped for, [the] conviction of things not seen.


“By Grace” because works will never be good enough for any one.



  • The believer can be sure of his salvation
  • If a believer is doubting his “guaranteed” salvation or is not sure of it then he does not fully understand we are justified by faith.


“Abraham’s offsprings” include two groups:

  • The natural seed of Abraham or Israel
  • The spiritual seed of Abraham or those who have faith in the same God and the promises he has made.  This can be Gentile or Jew.


Romans 4:17-22 Explains the Principle of Faith

1)      Abraham received God’s word in verses 17-18.

2)      Abraham believed God’s word in verses 19-20.

3)      Abraham received the benefit of his faith in verses 21-22.


Romans 4:23-25 Applies the Principle of Faith to Us Today

1)      God’s reason for working with Abraham is the same reason he will work with us: to Credit Righteousness (verses 4:23-24)

2)      God’s method with Abraham is the same method he will use for us.  Abraham believed God could bring to life that which was dead (4:19)  We must believe that God brought Jesus back from the dead (verse 4:24)

a.       Some intellectuals in Athens could not believe this in Acts 17:32

b.      Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

3)      God’s principle for being able to justify us and credit us with righteousness is found in 4:25:

a.       Christ was delivered for our sins

b.      Christ was raised for our justification


“Father of many nations” connects Abraham as the spiritual father of many people in many nations


“Calls things that are not as though they were”

  • In the OT this verb “call” refers to God’s creative acts
    • Isaiah 41:4
    • Isaiah 48:13
  • It is the process of bringing something into existence that did not exist before
  • This refers to “creation ex nihilo” ( creating out of nothing)
  • This can clearly be seen when applied to the context of creating a righteous person out of the ungodly as in 4:5:                                                                                      “God who justifies the wicked.”
  • But, there is a problem when applied to the verse because in the act of creating when God speaks they exist.  In our example in Genesis referring to the “many nations” and in Romans referring to the “ungodly” both are things that God speaks of but they do not yet exist.  This is why Paul does not say that God “calls things into being” but instead says “calls things that are not as though they were.”
    • In Genesis the nations will be descendents of Abraham’s faith.  Everyone member of the nations in all eternity will be descendents of Abraham.
    • Concerning the “ungodly” they are credited with righteousness, but will one day be righteous.


4:18 – deals with Abraham believing the promise of the spiritual seed from all nations

“against hope” could be translated “beyond hope”

Abraham went beyond the five senses & went with the 6th senses of God’s word.


4:19 – Concerns the birth of Isaac

Abraham did not loose faith when he saw his body as old because he also saw the promise of God by faith.

This is easy to understand how this is possible when you consider faith as one of the senses.

If you are in your yard eating an apple that you can see, touch and taste but you smell mowed grass you do not think you are eating grass.  The three senses over rule the fourth. Faith is a sense that overrules the first five.  They are still true but there is something else to consider.