Romans 4 and "Imputed to him as righteousness"


Romans 4 has the famous description of Abraham and his justification. As I am working through a list of cross references between the new testament and the deuterocanonical works I find this quote in 1 Maccabees 2:52

Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness? 1 Maccabees 2:52 KJV

And I find that pretty fascinating. The ideas presented by Paul here in Chapter represent an already existing way of understanding in Judaism prior to the time of Christ.

To me thats fascinating.


That way of understanding goes all the way back to Genesis 15:6
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.


You are certainly correct in that observation. The parallels between 1 Maccabees 2 and Hebrews 11 are deeper. Particularly in the form. The writer of Hebrews recounts a progression of famous/important personages and their actions that they engaged in. Likewise in 1 Maccabees. In both cases in order to encourage others toward salvation.

I’m using the King James version of 1 Maccabees and the rest of scripture as I do my comparisons.

[51] Call to remembrance what acts our fathers did in their time; so shall ye receive great honour and an everlasting name. [52] Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness? [53] Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment and was made lord of Egypt. [54] Phinees our father in being zealous and fervent obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. [55] Jesus for fulfilling the word was made a judge in Israel. [56] Caleb for bearing witness before the congregation received the heritage of the land. [57] David for being merciful possessed the throne of an everlasting kingdom. [58] Elias for being zealous and fervent for the law was taken up into heaven. [59] Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing were saved out of the flame. [60] Daniel for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions. [61] And thus consider ye throughout all ages, that none that put their trust in him shall be overcome. [62] Fear not then the words of a sinful man: for his glory shall be dung and worms. [63] To day he shall be lifted up and to morrow he shall not be found, because he is returned into his dust, and his thought is come to nothing. – 1 Maccabees 2:51-63 KJV


There are many Protestants that will hold this verse up as proof positive that faith is not the substance of doing but rather the substance of believing only (sola fide) I even had one teacher walk right up to the edge of sayings that James erred in his teaching or had not perhaps read Paul when he wrote his letter or that James’ letter was an earlier more Judaistic Christianity which was then later refined by Paul…

that is until I pointed out to him that by his own confession both men were inspired and inerrant and thus could not be divergent in their meaning and so it was his understanding that had to be defective.

Ya I was Catholic back then too I just couldn’t admit it.

In fact it is Abraham who has walked with the Lord many years and shown his faith by his works again and again that The Lord then counts his believing of the promise of a son as righteousness. Our faith is the sine qua non of salvation but it is the beginning of our life in Christ not the end. It is not as though we are baptized and receive one confession and then are told to white knuckle it until death, that would be a strange faith indeed. Rather our actual righteousness is created in us by the faith in Christ which is ours by grace and grows in us all our lives and so we believe more and more as we grow in and cooperate with grace.

And that is of course exactly what we see with Abraham. He is old and Sarah is old and there is no good reason for him to believe this promise, but Abraham has come to know this God very well and he trusts him completely and so when God promises him a son and a progeny as the stars and that kings will come from him Abraham laughs for joy and believes God.

And of course. God counts that as righteousness.

Because it is.

God Bless


God’s word has creative power; he speaks, and creation comes into being. If God declares you righteous, you become righteous. You are transformed. It’s not merely an external declaration.

Works for baptism, absolution in confession, and the consecration of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord in the Eucharist. Etc.


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