Romans 4:9-12 Which Came First Circumcision or Faith?

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Which Came First, Circumcision or Faith?

Paul is arguing that God’s blessing is for all.  The Jewish people in Rome would think that because they had followed the rites of Judaism they were to receive God’s blessings.  those who did not follow the rites, especially circumcision, could not be blessed with God’s plan of salvation.  Paul argues that the blessing was given before the rites were issued.  Abraham was blessed by God and then, as an symbol of God’s blessing, the Jewish people have adopted circumcision.

It is Paul’s point that Abraham had faith and exercised it before he had the rituals which showed his faith. The faith enabled him to follow God.

In today’s world we may think that Bible-study, prayer, and serving others make us faithful.  However, it is a core of faith, given freely by God, that works itself out in those actions.  If we do not know God, our Bible-study, prayer, and acts of service are empty.  If there is a lifelessness to our acts, we need to reconnect to the source of life.  Paul is showing that a life of religious service has to serve a higher power.  God, as the ultimate one in the universe, wishes for us to serve him faithfully.

Do you need to take time to connect with the source of life?  Are you resting on your behaviors to prove something to yourself, God, and others?  What is the quality of your relationship with God?  Do you have a dynamic faith?

Prayer 

Dear God, I often feel like I am not able to serve you well.  In those times I realize that I am serving you in my own strength.  Let me have faith that depends upon you.  Let my life reflect a vibrant faith which flows from a heart which is in the Spirit.

Questions

  1. Who is used as an example?
  2. What is Paul trying to prove through this example?
  3. How do you think Jews in Rome might respond?
  4. How do some people think that their acts of obedience to God will save them?
  5. How can you know if you have the faith Paul is advocating?
Advertisements

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Romans 4:9-12 Which Came First Circumcision or Faith?

  1. Olyn says:

    God, so often I feel like I am doing nothing right. Please remind me that You are the one who gives me strength, and that I can rest in the fact that my relationship with You is what matters, not what others or I think of my performance.

  2. Michael McCardle says:

    Who is used as an example?
    Abraham and circumcision
    What is Paul trying to prove through this example?
    That Abraham had proved his faith before the rituals of faith were established
    How do you think Jews in Rome might respond?
    Upset
    How do some people think that their acts of obedience to God will save them?
    Legalism
    How can you know if you have the faith Paul is advocating?
    That I display and conduct my faith like Abraham before circumcision. I obey God, believe him for who He is, and I follow through with my actions.

  3. Emmy R says:

    This is something that I resonate with very closely, and something that I am truly working on. It is so easy to change my time with God into something I do to either please Him, or to make me a “better” Christian. However, I’ve realized that no matter how much effort I put into it, I will get nothing out of my time spent with Him unless I hand the reigns over to Him. My relationship with Christ is not dependent on how good of a Christian I am, He has saved me and now I get the privilege of remaining in His love.

  4. Christa says:

    1. Who is used as an example? Abraham
    2. What is Paul trying to prove through this example? He is trying to prove that Abraham’s faith came prior to his practice of circumcision
    3. How do you think Jews in Rome might respond? This kind of message would be difficult for them to accept since they believed circumcision was one of the ways to receive God’s blessings
    4. How do some people think that their acts of obedience to God will save them? People try to make promises to God about service to him in exchange for his blessings or salvation; they do not realize that their attempt at obedience falls utterly short of gaining them salvation.
    5. How can you know if you have the faith Paul is advocating? You will experience a relationship with Christ, believing what He says, and bear spiritual fruit

  5. 1. Abraham is used in this example.
    2. Paul is trying to show that Abraham had faith before the rituals were in place.
    3. I think Jews might respond with disbelief because they so strongly believe in the rituals and works to gain God’s approval.
    4. People try to please God by obeying His rules, but God says that, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Faith in the only obedient one (Jesus Christ) is the only source of salvation and only way to please God.
    5. You can know that have faith if you have a relationship with the Lord and are continually becoming more like Him. His love is transformational and you cannot leave His presence unchanged.

  6. Kimberly W. says:

    God, forgive my foolish heart. I seek after the opinions of the people of this world more than I seek after You. Revive my heart. Draw me back to Yourself. I am prone to wander, dear God. Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

  7. Maria T. says:

    Abraham is used as an example because he was counted as righteous because of faith before the outward symbol was placed upon him. Therefore, his circumcision could not be what justified him. Praise the Lord – there is hope for us Gentiles! I hope the Jewish Christians in Rome would have responded joyously, recognizing that they were free to embrace their Gentile brothers and sisters without any cause for distance. My guess is that the first response would probably be closer to discomfort and possibly frustration because this truth shows that we are completely dependent on God to save us. In our pride, we don’t want to admit that. But God always teaches us this.

  8. Andrew Moore says:

    1. Abraham is used as an example.
    2. Paul was trying to prove that circumcision is the the cause of Abraham’s righteousness.
    3. At the time, many Jewish people would have been horrified at Paul’s claims against circumcision.

  9. 1. Abraham
    2. That Abraham is both the father of Jews and Gentiles as two distinct peoples. Abraham’s faith was what was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
    3. This would have been a shocker I think.
    4. People like acts because it attempts to place the power to save in their own weak hands rather than God’s capable hands. They think it will work because they have a impure idea of what holiness is. The standard is their own and they have no idea of the beginning of God’s perfectly pure holiness.
    5. If we are walking in our faith as Abraham was then that is an indicator.

  10. Christina W. says:

    “Are you resting on your behaviors to prove something to yourself, God, and others?” This is a really good reminder for me and a great question for me to ask myself because I feel like I often am trying to prove something in my behavior. I really need to rest in the Lord, knowing that my faith does not rest on me and my strength but on a God who loves me regardless of how I may act.

  11. Jung Kim says:

    If we do not know God, our Bible-study, prayer, and acts of service are empty. Yes, God… I have a dynamic faith. I tend to allow my emotion to affect my faith. I want unshakable faith… Lord, you are right. I can’t even breathe or serve on my own…I am yours. My life is all yours. You are my everything, Lord. Remind me again. Teach me with new things. Give me mercy like you do now.
    Thank you for being my everything and the one and only perfect Teacher.

  12. Maelynn says:

    Here Paul is reestablishing his point that our righteousness comes by faith. He uses the common tradition of circumcision to make his point. I am definitely guilty of trying to serve God in my own strength. It is my prayer that I place all my trust in Him today and realize that I can do nothing to save myself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s