Where do you figure he was talking to unbaptized Jews? I always got the impression when he specifically addressed Jews he was talking to Judaizers (Baptized Jewish Christians who demanded circumcision and the law be followed).
I’m still wondering why he taught justification by faith so strongly if justification really happens in baptism, assuming he was talking about the “faith of belief”, putting one’s faith in Christ before baptism, not the faith that is given in baptism since he never really says that.
First of all in places like rom 4 Paul is talking about justification in general which is APART from your own works (ie apart from grace) done in a humble spirit (If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-4:2). He was NOT talking about a IMPUTED justification that took place once and for all as we already know Abraham and David were in a relationship YEARS before the verses Paul quotes.
Second of all, faith is INCREASED through Baptism, not first received at baptism. (eg Acts 2:38 - Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)
You need to keep in mind that faith is something that you live by, it is not simply a profession of faith, it must “work through love” (Gal 5:6; cf Heb 11:6). Paul constantly refutes the Jewish idea that Gods favor was automatically and forever upon the Jews simply because of their “fleshy” heritage to Abraham. Romans 4 is very clear circumcision apart from faith in the Gospel means nothing.
So… are we to explain Romans 3-5 away by saying that even though paul says we’re justified by faith, he really means faith is the result of prevenient grace leading us to baptism which really then justifies us…I’m sure Calvinists would be happy to read this and shout at our face CAN’T U SEE how wrong you are just accept the biblical doctrine of J by F … but well I live in a Lutheran country and they’re the only biblical ones too in their opinion but they still have the same problem with baptism&justification by faith… well…
I recall many famous passages where those accepting the Gospel were Baptized immediately (Acts 2:38; 8:36f; 9:18; 10:47f; 16:14f; 16:32f).
It is ESSENTIAL you realize that places like Rom 4 are not talking about the Protestant notion of justification -imputed, one time only- RATHER Paul was clear justification is obeying God apart from your own works. Abraham was justified because his faith revealed his righteous soul (explicitly stated in 4:18-22), this could only be the result of infused grace. Further Abraham was already a believer long before Gen (see my sig!!) 15:6, as was David before he wrote Ps 32.
Paul is very clear in places like Rom 6:3f (and others like 1 Cor 6:9-11) that Baptism plays an indispensable role in salvation.
As for your Calvinist friends, they ALSO believe in prevenient grace except they call it “regeneration”…one SLIGHT problem, the only time St Paul uses the term “regeneration” is in Titus 3:5 (a beautiful passage on justification 3:4-7) and this is in reference to Baptism (and supports the Catholic interpretation of salvation). If a Protestant says ‘no way’ pull out Luther’s Large (and small) Catechism (accepted by all Lutherans) and he explicitly cites Titus 3:5 for Baptism. (Even Calvin said this verse was about Baptism!!).
For those who REJECT any concept of “prevenient grace” tell them to read Acts chapter 10 from start to finish. Cornelius had faith, it led him to Peter but he was not a true Christian until he was Baptized after accepting the Gospel message.
James Akin once said nicely that on the level of virtue we’re justified by faith, on the level of sacrament by baptism, on the level of behavior by repentance of sins. Sounds good, but the problem is those 3 don’t occur simultaneously but initial justification occurs just once…so which is it?
Hopefully I have shown you above that the Protestant interpretation is unworkable and disregards many of the facts as well as degrades things like Baptism to mere symbols.