Parallel Bible VersionsGreek Bible Study Tools

Romans 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, hath found according to the flesh?
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— What shall we then say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— What shall we say then that Abraham our father according to flesh has found?
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— What then shall we say—as touching Abraham our forefather?
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— What, then, shall we say Abraham our father, to have found, according to flesh?
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— What shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh?
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— What shall we say then, that Abraham our father, as perteining to the flesh, hath found?
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— What then say we of Abraham, the chief of the fathers, that he found in the flesh?
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— What then shall we say concerning Abraham the patriarch, that by the flesh he obtained?

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
What 5101
{5101} Prime
Probably emphatic of G5100; an interrogitive pronoun, who, which or what (in direct or indirect questions).
shall we say 2046
{2046} Prime
Probably a fuller form of G4483; an alternate for G2036 in certain tenses; to utter, that is, speak or say.
<5692> Grammar
Tense - Future (See G5776)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 814
then 3767
{3767} Prime
Apparently a primary word; (adverbially) certainly, or (conjugationally) accordingly.
that Abraham 11
{0011} Prime
Of Hebrew origin [H0085]; Abraham, the Hebrew patriarch. In Acts 7:16 the text should probably read Jacob.
our 2257
{2257} Prime
Genitive plural of G1473; of (or from) us.
father, 3962
{3962} Prime
Apparently a primary word; a 'father' (literally or figuratively, near or more remote).
as pertaining 2596
{2596} Prime
A primary particle; (preposition) down (in place or time), in varied relations (according to the case [genitive, dative or accusative] with which it is joined).
to the flesh, 4561
{4561} Prime
Probably from the base of G4563; flesh (as stripped of the skin), that is, (strictly) the meat of an animal (as food), or (by extension) the body (as opposed to the soul (or spirit), or as the symbol of what is external, or as the means of kindred, or (by implication) human nature (with its frailties (physically or morally) and passions), or (specifically) a human being (as such).
hath found? 2147
{2147} Prime
A prolonged form of a primary word εὕρω [[heuro]], {hyoo'-ro}; which (together with another cognate form, εὑρέω [[heureo]], {hyoo-reh'-o}) is used for it in all the tenses except the present and imperfect; to find (literally or figuratively).
<5760> Grammar
Tense - Perfect (See G5778)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 30
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Romans 4:1-3

_ _ Romans 4:1-25. The foregoing doctrine of justification by faith illustrated from the Old Testament.

_ _ First: Abraham was justified by faith.

_ _ What shall we say then that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? — that is, (as the order in the original shows), “hath found, as pertaining to (‘according to,’ or ‘through’) the flesh”; meaning, “by all his natural efforts or legal obedience.”

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Romans 4:1-8

_ _ Here the apostle proves that Abraham was justified not by works, but by faith. Those that of all men contended most vigorously for a share in righteousness by the privileges they enjoyed, and the works they performed, were the Jews, and therefore he appeals to the case of Abraham their father, and puts his own name to the relation, being a Hebrew of the Hebrews: Abraham our father. Now surely his prerogative must needs be as great as theirs who claim it as his seed according to the flesh. Now what has he found? All the world is seeking; but, while the most are wearying themselves for very vanity, none can be truly reckoned to have found, but those who are justified before God; and thus Abraham, like a wise merchant, seeking goodly pearls, found this one pearl of great price. What has he found, kata sarkaas pertaining to the flesh, that is, by circumcision and his external privileges and performances? These the apostle calls flesh, Philippians 3:3. Now what did he get by these? Was he justified by them? Was it the merit of his works that recommended him to God's acceptance? No, by no means, which he proves by several arguments.

_ _ I. If he had been justified by works, room would have been left for boasting, which must for ever be excluded. If so, he hath whereof to glory (Romans 4:2), which is not to be allowed. “But,” might the Jews say, “was not his name made great (Genesis 12:2), and then might not he glory?” Yes, but not before God; he might deserve well of men, but he could never merit of God. Paul himself had whereof to glory before men, and we have him sometimes glorying in it, yet with humility; but nothing to glory in before God, 1 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 3:8, Philippians 3:9. So Abraham. Observe, He takes it for granted that man must not pretend to glory in any thing before God; no, not Abraham, as great and as good a man as he was; and therefore he fetches an argument from it: it would be absurd for him that glorieth to glory in any but the Lord.

_ _ II. It is expressly said that Abraham's faith was counted to him for righteousness. What saith the scripture? Romans 4:3. In all controversies in religion this must be our question, What saith the scripture? It is not what this great man, and the other good man, say, but What saith the scripture? Ask counsel at this Abel, and so end the matter, 2 Samuel 2:18. To the law, and to the testimony (Isaiah 8:20), thither is the last appeal. Now the scripture saith that Abraham believed, and this was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6); therefore he had not whereof to glory before God, it being purely of free grace that it was so imputed, and having not in itself any of the formal nature of a righteousness, further than as God himself was graciously pleased so to count it to him. It is mentioned in Genesis, upon occasion of a very signal and remarkable act of faith concerning the promised seed, and is the more observable in that it followed upon a grievous conflict he had had with unbelief; his faith was now a victorious faith, newly returned from the battle. It is not the perfect faith that is required to justification (there may be acceptable faith where there are remainders of unbelief), but the prevailing faith, the faith that has the upper hand of unbelief.

_ _ III. If he had been justified by faith, the reward would have been of debt, and not of grace, which is not to be imagined. This is his argument (Romans 4:4, Romans 4:5): Abraham's reward was God himself; so he had told him but just before (Genesis 15:1), I am thy exceeding great reward. Now, if Abraham had merited this by the perfection of his obedience, it had not been an act of grace in God, but Abraham might have demanded it with as much confidence as ever any labourer in the vineyard demanded the penny he had earned. But this cannot be; it is impossible for man, much more guilty man, to make God a debtor to him, Romans 11:35. No, God will have free grace to have all the glory, grace for grace's sake, John 1:16. And therefore to him that worketh not — that can pretend to no such merit, nor show any worth or value in his work, which may answer such a reward, but disclaiming any such pretension casts himself wholly upon the free grace of God in Christ, by a lively, active, obedient faith — to such a one faith is counted for righteousness, is accepted of God as the qualification required in all those that shall be pardoned and saved. Him that justifieth the ungodly, that is, him that was before ungodly. His former ungodliness was no bar to his justification upon his believing: ton asebthat ungodly one, that is, Abraham, who, before his conversion, it should seem, was carried down the stream of the Chaldean idolatry, Joshua 24:2. No room therefore is left for despair; though God clears not the impenitent guilty, yet through Christ he justifies the ungodly.

_ _ IV. He further illustrates this by a passage out of the Psalms, where David speaks of the remission of sins, the prime branch of justification, as constituting the happiness and blessedness of a man, pronouncing blessed, not the man who has no sin, or none which deserved death (for then, while man is so sinful, and God so righteous, where would be the blessed man?) but the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin, who though he cannot plead, Not guilty, pleads the act of indemnity, and his plea is allowed. It is quoted from Psalms 32:1, Psalms 32:2, where observe, 1. The nature of forgiveness. It is the remission of a debt or a crime; it is the covering of sin, as a filthy thing, as the nakedness and shame of the soul. God is said to cast sin behind his back, to hide his face from it, which, and the like expressions, imply that the ground of our blessedness is not our innocency, or our not having sinned (a thing is, and is filthy, though covered; justification does not make the sin not to have been, or not to have been sin), but God's not laying it to our charge, as it follows here: it is God's not imputing sin (Romans 4:8), which makes it wholly a gracious act of God, not dealing with us in strict justice as we have deserved, not entering into judgment, not marking iniquities, all which being purely acts of grace, the acceptance and the reward cannot be expected as debts; and therefore Paul infers (Romans 4:6) that it is the imputing of righteousness without works. 2. The blessedness of it: Blessed are they. When it is said, Blessed are the undefiled in the way, blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, etc., the design is to show the characters of those that are blessed; but when it is said, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, the design is to show what that blessedness is, and what the ground and foundation of it. Pardoned people are the only blessed people. The sentiments of the world are, Those are happy that have a clear estate, and are out of debt to man; but the sentence of the word is, Those are happy that have their debts to God discharged. O how much therefore is it our interest to make it sure to ourselves that our sins are pardoned! For this is the foundation of all other benefits. So and so I will do for them; for I will be merciful, Hebrews 8:12.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Romans 4:1

That our father Abraham hath found — Acceptance with God. According to the flesh — That is, by works.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Romans 4:1

What (1) shall we then say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the (a) flesh, hath found?

(1) A new argument of great weight, taken from the example of Abraham the father of all believers: and this is the proposition: if Abraham is considered in himself by his works, he has deserved nothing with which to rejoice with God.

(a) By works, as is evident from the next verse.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?


Isaiah 51:2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Luke 16:24-25 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. ... But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Luke 16:29-31 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. ... And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
John 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
John 8:37-41 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. ... Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, [even] God.
John 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad.
Acts 13:26 Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so [am] I. Are they Israelites? so [am] I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so [am] I.

as pertaining:

Romans 4:16 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,
Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Random Bible VersesNew Quotes

Chain-Reference Bible Search

Is 51:2. Mt 3:9. Lk 3:8; 16:24, 29. Jn 8:33, 37, 53, 56. Ac 13:26. Ro 4:16; 6:1; 7:7; 8:31. 2Co 11:22. He 12:9.

Newest Chat Bible Comment
Comment HereComplete Biblical ResearchComplete Chat Bible Commentary
Please post your comment on Romans 4:1.

WWW Chat Bible Commentary

User-Posted Comments on Romans 4:1

Recent Chat Bible Comments