So also, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
I. ABRAHAM WAS A MAN OF FAITH. He knew nothing of the Levitical Law. He walked by faith. His faith was not assent to a creed. Nor was it an intelligent conviction of any "plan of salvation" obtained by means of a miraculous foresight of the atonement to be accomplished many centuries later in the sacrifice of Christ. It was a grand, simple trust in God. It was shown in his forsaking the idols of his forefathers and worshipping the one spiritual God, in his leaving his home and going he knew not whither in obedience to a Divine voice, in his willingness to sacrifice his son, in his hope of a future inheritance. Such a faith is personal reliance, leading to active obedience and encouraged by confident anticipation. Abraham's faith is the model faith for us. For us faith is to rely upon Christ, to be loyal to Christ, to hope in Christ, and also to accept the fuller revelations of truth which Christ opens up to us as Abraham accepted the Divine voices vouchsafed to him. For the contents of faith will vary according to our light, The spirit of it, however, must be always the same.
II. ABRAHAM'S FAITH WAS RECKONED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. The special point in Abraham's character was not his holiness, but his faith. God's favour flowed to him through this channel. It was the way through which he, though imperfect and sinful, as are all the sons of Adam, was called to the privileged place of a righteous man. This is recorded of him in the sacred history (Genesis 15:6), and therefore should be admitted by all Jews. So much for St. Paul's special argument. For us the important lesson is that, if so famous a saint, living even under the older religion, was accepted through faith, how much more apparent is it that faith is necessary for us! The reasons for relying on faith are
(1) historical - faith justified Abraham, therefore it will justify us;
(2) theological - faith brings us into living fellowship with God, and so opens our hearts to receive the forgiveness that puts us in the position of righteous men; and
(3) moral - faith is the security for the future growth of righteousness, with the first effort of faith the first seed-grace of righteousness is sown.
III. PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S FAITH IS THE CONDITION OF PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S BLESSING. Jews claimed the blessing by birthright. Jewish Christians offered it to the Gentiles on condition of their becoming as Jews. Both were wrong. Abraham received his blessing through his faith. It was necessarily conditioned by faith. Only men of faith could have it. Therefore Jews who lost faith lost the blessing. But all men of faith are spiritual sons of Abraham. Therefore all nations are blessed in Abraham just in proportion as they have a similar faith. Indeed, the finest legacy left by the patriarch was his faith. Canaan came and went. Spiritual blessings such as faith includes are eternal. - W.F.A.
Even as Abraham believed God.I. A simple, CHILD-LIKE DEPENDENCE ON THE NAKED WORD OF GOD.
II. An acceptance of and TRUST IN GOD'S PROMISED SAVIOUR.
III. A RENOUNCING OF HIS OWN WORKS as meritorious.
IV. A faith that WROUGHT BY LOVE, making him the friend of God.
V. One that OVERCAME THE WORLD, leading him to seek a better country.
VI. One that EVINCED ITS REALITY BY A SELF-DENYING OBEDIENCE.
I. Its OBJECT.
1. The promise of a seed, and consequently of a Saviour.
2. The faith of the gospel not simply Divine promise of salvation, but the specific offer of a Saviour.
II. Its GROUND.
1. Neither reason nor sense.
2. But the solemnly given, clearly stated, perfectly sufficient, wholly unsupported Word of God.
3. So the Christian rests on the offer of Christ (John 3:36).
III. Its ACTING.
2. Full-hearted (Romans 4:21).
IV. Its EFFECT. It was counted to him for righteousness.
1. The nature of justification. Possessing no righteous. ness of his own, Abraham had the righteousness of another (not yet revealed) set to his account.
2. The time. The instant a soul believes, whether he is cognisant of it or not.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
I. It was FAITH IN THE PERSONAL revealed, covenant Jehovah; not merely in a word or sign, or in a prospect.
II. The BOND OF COVENANT. Faith on the one side, God dealing with a sinful creature as righteous on the other. The elements of that bond are —
1. Gracious acceptance.
2. Gracious revelation
3. Gracious reward of obedience.
(W. Roberts, M. A.)In Abraham the attitude of trustfulness was most marked. By faith he left home and kindred, and settled in a strange land; by faith he acted upon God's promise of a race and an inheritance, although it seemed at variance with all human experience; by faith he offered up his only son, in whom alone that promise could be fulfilled (Acts 7:2-5; Romans 4:16-22; Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19). Thus this one word "faith" sums up the lesson of his whole life.
(Dean Stanley.)He was justified by faith when his faith was mighty in effect, when he trusted in God, when he believed the promises, when he expected a resurrection of the dead, when he was strong in faith, when he gave glory to God, when, against hope, lie believed in hope; and when all this passed into an act of a most glorious obedience, even denying his greatest desires, contradicting his most passionate affections, offering to God the best thing he had, and exposing to death his beloved Isaac at the command of God. "By this faith he was justified," saith St. Paul; "by these works," saith St. James, i.e., by this faith working this obedience.
(E. W. Shalders, M. A.)I. THE TEXT SPEAKS OF A GRACIOUS BLESSING. The blessing Abraham received was that his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. This is another term for justification. For the amplification of this part of the subject see Romans 4:1-8. Justification is a gracious blessing, for it includes —
1. The forgiveness of sins.
2. "The being brought into the right relationship with Divine law. When a man has broken the Divine law, he is not justified — he feels himself condemned and excluded from the Divine favour. Could he be but once restored, and brought into harmony with that Divine law, he would be justified."
3. "The being brought into a state of potential righteousness. While justification is not to be confounded with sanctification, it implies that sanctification will take place in the processes of spiritual recovery through which we shall pass. We are justified among other reasons because we shall be sanctified." How precious, then. is this blessing!
II. THE TEXT STATES BY WHOM THIS BLESSING IS ENJOYED. "They which are of faith." This means —
1. Those who for salvation put no trust in any human work. They have no confidence in the flesh, in hereditary privileges, or national distinctions. (The Jews trusted in the fact that they were the natural descendants of Abraham.)
2. Those who through faith alone seek to obtain and retain spiritual life. "Those who are not working that they may obtain the favour of God as a meritorious reward, but who are believing that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; and that the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ."
III. THE APOSTLE INTRODUCES A WITNESS TO THESE TRUTHS. To those who boasted that Abraham was their father, and who yet clung to the law for justification, the apostle declares that Abraham obtained the favour of God not as a worker but as a believer.
1. The object of Abraham's faith. "He believed God." Bearing in mind the incidents of his life, this is abundantly clear that the Being in whom he trusted was the Almighty.
2. The subject of Abraham's faith.
3. The result of his faith.Lessons:
1. There is no righteousness possible to us but through faith.
2. The inheritance of the gospel is a spiritual inheritance.
3. The Divine promise is the support of faith.
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