Justification by Faith Alone
Romans 4:1-5
What role, if any, do works play in being made right with God?
Published January 28th, 2020
Share / Groups / About Author
Main point summary
Romans 4:1-5
Main point summary
James 2:20-24
Main point summary
Abraham has no reason to boast before God because he was counted righteous due to his faith, not his works.
Romans 4:1-5
Romans 4:1-5
What then shall we say was gained by 1 Abraham, t our forefather according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified by works,
he has something to boast about,
but u not before God.
For what does the Scripture say?
v “Abraham believed God,
and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Now w to the one who works,
his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work
but x believes in 1 him who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is counted as righteousness,
Main point summary
Faith, accompanied by faith-filled works, proves itself to be true faith, as the example of Abraham shows.
James 2:20-24
James 2:20-24
Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
v Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
You see that w faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed x by his works;
and the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
y “Abraham believed God,
and it was counted to him as righteousness”—
and he was called a z friend of God.
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Brent Karding
In your second bracket, I think you've correctly divided up the text into three pieces, and that the whole has a Bilateral structure.

But 23a and following seem to be part of a Series of results (or Progression) that come from 21. So I would connect 23a more closely to 22a-b, rather than seeing 23a and following as the Result of all of 21-22.

I do like how you made 23d the Result of earlier action - I just think that the action would start in 22 rather than 21.
Ben Fetterolf
Yes, the Series/Progression makes sense. This AND this AND this. And as a result, this (friend of God). Thanks for your feedback on this!
Brent Karding
You're welcome!
Brent Karding
I like your relating verse 3 to all of 1-2 as a Ground, and I agree with everything in 1-2.

I'm not sure that 4-5 works as being an Inference of 3, though. 4 especially seems to be an Explanation of the "gift" idea in 3c.

As I go through it, though, I think Inference would work (and thus Bilateral would work as a whole) if you made 4 the Negative to 5's Positive. Alternative does work, but I like seeing 5 as being emphasized. That definitely seems like an Inference of 3, although 4 does not.

Does all that make sense?
Ben Fetterolf
Yes. Your explanation in your final paragraph is generally what I was thinking. 3 seems to be the Ground of 1-2 with regards to Abraham specifically. And then 4-5 seems to flow out of 3 in the sense that it's saying it's the same for us as it was for Abraham. If I work, then I too have something to boast about (4 parallel in some sense to 2). But if I believe, then my faith is counted as righteousness too (based on the example of Abraham in 3). 

Your comment about emphasizing 5 makes sense.
Brent Karding
Sounds good. I think that 4-5 is one of the rare occasions where either Alternative or Neg-Pos would work (taking 4-5 by itself). But 4-5 isn't saying, "There are two options: you can try to work for salvation or believe." It is saying, "Since verse 3 is true, you should not work but believe."
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.