The Family Likeness


Heavenly Father, in the midst of the ambiguities of life, enable me to discern Your truth and will. Above all else, may I live them out wisely and well.

READ: Romans 4:13-25

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 4:13-25


God’s intention was always to create a diverse people for his name on the basis of faith (Romans 4:16-18).

Paul finishes his section on the experience of Abraham, coming full circle to bring disparate groups together. God’s intention in blessing the nation of Israel was the beginning of an act of salvation that was to bless the whole world (v 17).

We have been considering the hopelessness that comes from being enslaved to our wrongdoing, unable to rescue ourselves. This is the limitation of the Old Testament Law (v 15). This only reveals how in need we are of God.

This letter has moved from hopelessness to hope because there is a way through, and that is by faith (v 16). Despite his great age, God provided Abraham with a son, and against all seeming possibilities, Abraham trusted that God is able to achieve his purposes. Abraham trusted God to be God: a God of grace.

This world-changing good news also makes one people who are united in hope (v 18). All believers are now Abraham’s offspring through the death and resurrection of Jesus (vs 16,22–25). ‘… all were enemies, all are alike beloved’ (Gordon Fee).* *Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, Hendrickson Publishers, 1994, p 498


Think over what you have learned in this series. Pray that the ‘God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:13).


God of the impossible, I submit myself anew to You. Thank You for the hope You give me. *Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, Hendrickson Publishers, 1994, p 498


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