…I know what you mean; sometimes it seems that the wording lends to confusion…
Here’s a different version of those passages:
17 For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.
30 For it is one God, that justifieth circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
It is both. Here’s why:
2 Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, (Hebrews 12:2a)
Since it is God Who Inspires our Faith, we move in Faith towards Him and in Him:
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)
13 I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)
God Calls us to Him (Gives Faith)
Man responds to God through the Faith Given (our deposit of Faith on God)
Man Becomes a child of God (we live, through Faith, in God)
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
The word “reckoned” seems to be a monster in English. When I read other translations, I wonder if it could be translated as “paid.”
In other words, his faith is “given/paid” and then the person that believes is righteous.
4:3: Abraham believed God–this automatically demonstrate that Abraham placed God above all else, even above himself (no ego trip); hence, in God’s eyes Abraham was righteous, not of himself but as Given by God: Grace.
4:4: Yet, those who work/labor, it is no longer Grace but a debt…
This is one of the greatest issues with non-Catholics, they have formulated the thought that the Catholic Church Teaches that we can be saved by/through works (that is, things that we may do to gain Grace/Salvation).
Scriptures tell us that there’s nothing that we can do to gain Salvation or God’s Grace–as the Catholic Church Teaches:
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8–see Romans 10:4-11)
So verse 4:4 is telling us that God can only incur a debt to us if we were to work for it–yet, how can we? What can we do for God that would make Him indebted to us?
4:5 Here, I think, both the Believers and the ignorant (lacking understanding/awareness) come to receive Grace/Salvation not because of works, but because they believed that God can give Grace and Salvation.
…this is expanded by St. Paul’s in Romans 8 through 11; with particular resonance in Romans 9:30-33:
30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 9:30-33–KJV)
…the term “reckoned” in the usage above could mean: termed as/viewed as/held as/inferred as–I’m not a linguist, though!
And, if you want, you can ask yourself why he distinguishes – that is, why does he say “from faith to faith”?
As I’m reading it right now, I’m struck by the previous sentence: “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.” In a sense, I’m thinking to myself, is 1:17 a continuation of the allusion? That is, “from [the] faith [as the Jews have in the OT] to [the] faith [that the Gentiles have in the Gospel]”…?
As far as 4:3 goes, the word ya’ll are translating as ‘reckoned’ is ἐλογίσθη (‘elogisthej’). Its root is ‘logos’, but look at the word carefully: it’s the same word that gives rise to our word ‘logic’. This same word (in varying inflections) is used in v3, and again in v4 and v5. In the passive (as it appears here), it means simply that it was credited to him (Abraham). God looked at Abraham’s faith, and His logical conclusion is the gift of righteousness imputed to Abraham. As Paul explains, this isn’t payment for work done, it was the grace of God in response to Abraham’s faith.
Jim, faith isn’t ‘paid’. Faith merely exists or it doesn’t. And, when it exists, God recognizes it as such, and freely gives His grace to the believer.
As you stated:
“As I’m reading it right now, I’m struck by the previous sentence: “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.” In a sense, I’m thinking to myself, is 1:17 a continuation of the allusion? That is, “from [the] faith [as the Jews have in the OT] to [the] faith [that the Gentiles have in the Gospel]”…?”
Faith to faith has flummoxed me. Your idea of a continuation is really helpful. I have read, studied Romans for at least eighteen month. Your explanation is as good as any of the commentaries======thanks!