Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 30

This entry is part 30 of 35 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

And I will make a covenant between me and thee. Here was a covenant about to be made, and the sequel shows that it was the land covenant, with circumcision as the sign of the covenant. Be it remembered that God had in Genesis 12:1-3 promised Abraham that in his seed all the families of the Earth should be blessed, and also in Acts 3:25 “that this promise HE calls a covenant”. The law of Moses, which the Judaizing teachers were so zealously seeking to fasten on the Gentile Christians, had nothing to do with the promise, or covenant, to make Abraham the father of the multitude of nations. Abraham is the father of all who walk in the steps of his faith.  

Part 30

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be (Romans 4:18). How was it that he “believed in hope against hope?” It was against man’s hope, in hope which is of God. (Paul leaves no room for disbelieving what is said.) Things which are contrary to one another, yet faith blends them together. If, however, he was speaking about things associated with Ishmael, this language would be unnecessary: for it was not by faith but by nature that they were begotten. When speaking of Isaac he does not refer to nature, but concerning him who was to be from his barren wife. If it was considered a reward to be father of many nations, it would be so of those nations of whom he believed. And speaking of them, listen to what follows.

And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb (v. 19). Do you see how he gives the obstacles, as well as the high spirit of the righteous man which overcomes all? “Against hope,” he says, was that which was promised: this is the first obstacle. Abraham had no other person who had received a son in this way to look to. They that were after him looked to him, but he looked to no one, except to God only. And this is why he said, “against hope.” Then, “his body now dead.” This is a second obstacle. And, “the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” This is a third, and a fourth obstacle.

“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (v. 20). God neither gave any proof nor made any sign, but there were only plain words promising things that nature did not hold out any hopes of. Yet still he says, “he staggered not.” He does not say, “He did not disbelieve,” but, “He staggered not,” that is, he neither doubted nor hesitated though the hindrances were so great. From this we learn, that if God promises even countless impossibilities, and he that hears doth not receive them, it is not the nature of things that is to blame, but the unreasonableness of him who receives them not. “But was strong in faith.” See the stubbornness of Paul. Since this discourse was about them that work and them that believe, he shows that the believer works more than the other, and requires more power, and great strength, and sustains no common degree of labor. For they counted faith worthless, as having no labor in it. Insisting then upon this, he shows that it is not only he that succeeds in temperance, or any other virtue of this sort, but he that displays faith also who requires even greater power. As the one has need of strength to beat off the reasonings of greed.

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