“For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) –in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:13 – 17)
“For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.” . . . as a child of human parents & as a parent of human children, I do not understand how Paul can think that having no law (that is, rules & order) can be a good thing. If I think in human terms, I cannot follow Paul’s logic and theology. But . . . . if wrath is to be avoided, then suspending and dismissing law would be a good thing. It does strange, however, that Paul seems to be saying that the “wrath” that the Old Testament says is from the Divine should not be applied to the audience that he is writing to. I think this is part of the disconnect between the Old and New Testament, and the change we see/read about in the description of the “new” nature of the Divine.
“Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Verses 18 – 22)
“Reckoned to him as righteousness” . . . is righteousness a substitute for obedience to the Divine’s instruction and guidance? Paul may have in mind the “law” which was the myriad of rules that the Jews placed themselves under and sought to obey; and despairing of ever being on the correct side of that, Paul seems to say it is better to “hope against hope” and faith in opposition to what good human sense would tell you.
“Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” (Verses 23 – 25)
Is it just as foolish and against conventional human wisdom to be believe that Jesus our Lord was able to conquer death and return to life? And to believe that we can be saved, and not have to live under the “law” but still be found worthy of salvation, forgiveness, mercy, and redemption?
It occurs to me, beloved reader, Abraham did not live “under the law”. He was not the “inheritor” of the Ten Commandments and the codicils that sprung up. As I said yesterday, he and his household just lived day to day surviving where they were and making a life from themselves. How did we, beloved reader get so bogged down in “laws”? You know, this Paul person may be on to something!! Shalom & Selah!