Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 29

This entry is part 29 of 35 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

“Through the law” means through the righteousness of the law, for
the person who does not keep the law perfectly receives nothing
through the law but punishment. “They that are of the law” means
they that are righteous by law. If such are heirs, faith as a basis for
righteousness is void. If the promise was made to those who would
keep the law, the promise would have been of no effect, for
no one kept the law; there would have been no one to whom the
promise applied. All would have been subject to penalty for
violating law, instead of receiving a reward for keeping it. 

Part 29

“Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is
no transgression” (Romans 4:15). This cannot mean that the law
stirs up wrath in man toward him who gave the law. The law brings
wrath upon man, because he violates it. If it were kept perfectly, it
would bring the rewards of righteousness; but it brings punishment,
for no one keeps it perfectly. Because men of violate law, it works
wrath. Paul’s statement that there is no transgression where there
is no law does not mean that there ever were a people that had no
law, for he had already shown that both Jews and Gentiles were all
under sin. The moral law is always in force and applies to all. What,
then, does Paul mean? No one transgresses a law that has not
been given. Abraham did not transgress the law of Moses, for it had
not been given in his day. Neither did he transgress the law of
baptism or the Lord’s supper. There were no such requirements in
his day. Even the law of Moses was binding only on those to whom
it was given. “Now we know that what things so ever the law saith,
it speaketh to them that are under the law” (Romans 3:19). The
gentiles were never under the law, and, therefore, never did
transgress it. The Gentile Christians were, therefore, not guilty of
any transgression in failing to be circumcised, or in failing to keep
the law of Moses. For then there was no such law. Thus, in a few
words, Paul refutes the contention of the Judaizing teachers, who
demanded that the Gentile Christians be circumcised and keep the
law of Moses.
“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” (Romans 4:16). The promised inheritance, in
which Christians share, is of faith, instead of through the
righteousness of the law, that it may be according to grace. If the

promise had been made on the condition that people keep the law,
it would not have been sure to anyone, for no one kept the law.
And, had anyone kept the law perfectly and thereby come into the
inheritance, it would not have been by grace, but by merit. But as it
is, the promise extends to all who are of the faith of Abraham,
whether they be Jews or gentiles.
“(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,)
before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead,
and calleth those things which be not as though they were”
(Romans 4:17). To see the force of the past tense of this quotation,
it is necessary to go back and consider the events narrated in
Genesis 17:1-14. Jehovah appeared to Abraham when Abraham
was 99 years old and said to him: “I am God Almighty; walk before
me, and be thou perfect.

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