Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man whom God reckons righteousness apart from works. Paul now uses David as an example of a very
esteemed Jew to prove once again that righteousness comes by faith and not by works. Interestingly, Paul uses the word “works” not “the Law” in this verse, which brings all mankind under condemnation (keeping the Law is also works).
In the next two verses is the quotation from Psalm 32:1-2. This documentation from Psalm 32:1-2 emphasizes the blessings which come from the justice of God through salvation adjustment. These blessings are equivalent to the advantages which come from the advantage (the righteousness and justice of God). Without the advantage there are no advantages (blessings from the integrity of God). In this case, the advantage is attained by personal faith in Jesus Christ; for faith in Christ is the grace mechanics of salvation adjustment to the justice of God. One of the salvation advantages is the imputation of divine righteousness and justification. Since God personally loves His own righteousness with an eternal and perfect love, this personal love comes to us at the moment His righteousness is imputed.
Is the blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? The question emphasizes two points. The first: Is the ritual of circumcision necessary for salvation? Secondly: Was salvation a Jewish monopoly in Old Testament times? The Judaizers had distorted circumcision from a ritual into a system of salvation by works. If circumcision had anything to do with salvation, then salvation was by works instead of grace. Circumcision had significance to Israel as a part of their spiritual heritage, but spiritual heritage is useless in any given generation apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness. The Greek word for faith is “pistis,” which has three general connotations. First, it has the connotation of confidence, then an active connotation of believing, and then a passive connotation of doctrine or what is believed. Here it is the active connotation of believing, the human mechanics of salvation adjustment to the justice of God. There is no merit in faith; all of the merit lays in the object of faith, Jesus Christ.
Abraham’s faith in Christ was the means of his salvation adjustment to the justice of God resulting in the imputation of divine righteousness. The imputation of divine righteousness is necessary for divine blessing. Divine blessing always comes from the justice of God. The justice of God cannot bless sinful man; the justice of God can only curse sinful man. The justice of God can bless only perfect righteousness. This divine righteousness is credited to the account of any person who believes in Christ. The principle on which blessing comes from the justice of God is grace.
How then was it reckoned? Abraham was not circumcised until he was 99 years of age. However, Abraham believed in Jesus Christ at least a quarter of a century before his circumcision. He was 75 when he left Ur. He was saved sometime before then. Abraham was a Gentile living in the third dynasty of Ur when his salvation adjustment to the justice of God occurred. Therefore, there was a minimum of 25 years elapsed between his salvation and his maturity adjustment to the justice of God, which brought on circumcision. Abraham was saved as a Gentile and did not become a Jew until circumcision, at least 25 years later. Salvation adjustment to the justice of God occurred in the case of Abraham when he was a Gentile living in circumstances which had nothing to do with Israel. Therefore, Abraham believed in Christ as a Gentile. When righteousness was imputed to Abraham he was a Gentile.
While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised but while uncircumcised. The question faces the issue of the Jewish monopoly of salvation in the Old Testament. It also answers the question about the advantages of being a Jew, mentioned first in Romans 3:1. We have noted that there are no advantages in being a Jew apart from relationship with the integrity of God. Abraham’s circumcision was not related to his salvation. Circumcision was related to his maturity adjustment to the justice of God and that point of maturity when God was ready to give him genetic prosperity. The Jewish race was started not at Abraham’s salvation but Abraham’s maximum adjustment to the justice of God. Therefore, it is obvious historically and doctrinally, that circumcision had nothing whatever to do with salvation. Therefore salvation by ritual is completely ruled out. Abraham was justified by faith in Christ, not by any ritual, including circumcision. Circumcision was a ritual to commemorate Abraham’s maximum relationship with the integrity of God, his genetic prosperity and the point at which the new race began. The ritual was related to maximum doctrine resident in the soul at a time when Abraham could no longer have children and therefore totally helpless as far as doing anything about fulfilling the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant. This verse teaches that imputed righteousness from the justice of God must precede any direct blessing from the justice of God.
And he received the sign of circumcision begins with the Greek verb “lambano,” which means to receive something without earning it, deserving it or doing anything for it. The Greek word for sign is “semeion,” which means a token, a distinguishing mark or a ritual mark. Circumcision as a ritual mark is a memorial guarantee that the integrity of God never goes back on an obligation. Circumcision was a ritual mark in Abraham, a memorial guarantee that the integrity of God will keep the promise. God promised Abraham an heir and the justice of God provided the blessing of the birth of Isaac. Therefore it is obvious in the case of Abraham that there is a right time and a wrong time for the justice of God to provide blessing. Only the integrity of God knows the right time. God’s blessing is perfect; God’s timing is perfect. God’s blessing was provided from divine justice on the basis of the fact that Abraham possessed God’s righteousness and justification. And further, that Abraham through maximum doctrine resident in the soul had the capacity to receive and enjoy the blessing. The provision of this special blessing was memorialized by the ritual of circumcision. Thereafter, every male Jew was circumcised on the eighth day.
A seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised begins with the Greek word “sphragis” referring to a seal which confirms or authenticates, hence validates that to which it is attached. A seal has to be attached to something of importance. Abraham understood circumcision immediately as a seal, which means when God says do it, Abraham understood that you attach a seal only to something important. A seal is no good without the substance or the reality. In other words, you don’t put a seal on air, on something of no value. God could not put the seal on Abraham unless he had righteousness and unless he had doctrine. He had to have the potential and the capacity. The reality is found in the fact that Abraham had righteousness, he had doctrine. So, circumcision was a ritual which commemorated the beginning of the Jewish race in Abraham. At the same time, it brought into focus the principle that there is no such thing as direct blessing from God unless you have His righteousness. In other words, the justice of God provides direct blessing for the righteousness of God. (Blessing by association would be indirect blessing).
That he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised that righteousness might be reckoned to them. The Greek noun “pater” for father means father in the sense of a pattern. All members of the human race who believe in Christ produce the same action, and that is why Abraham is the pattern. All of us follow identically what Abraham did in order to have the potential of divine blessing. Abraham was saved as an uncircumcised Gentile. He is the pattern for salvation adjustment to the justice of God. When he believed in Christ Abraham received God’s righteousness.
Divine righteousness is absolutely necessary for immediate justification, but it is also a prerequisite for future blessing from the justice of God. The future blessings from the justice of God were commemorated by a ritual, a seal (circumcision). But a seal or ritual has no merit either for salvation or subsequent divine blessing.
And the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, which he had while uncircumcised. The Greek word for follow is “stoicheo,” which means to advance in ranks or to march. It is to our advantage to keep learning doctrine, to keep advancing in ranks. Advancing in ranks means you are under authority. All doctrine is learned under authority (pastor-teacher). Believers who are consistently positive toward doctrine continue to advance. Not only did Abraham set the pattern for salvation adjustment to the justice of God as an uncircumcised Gentile, he set the pattern for maturity adjustment to the justice of God as an uncircumised Gentile. Abraham’s faith in Christ is the pattern for salvation adjustment to the justice of God for everyone.
Abraham’s doctrine resident in his soul is the pattern of maturity adjustment to the justice of God. (Genesis 17) Abraham is the pattern for adjustment to the justice of God, then, prior to the existence of the Canon of Scripture. Abraham, a Gentile, became a Jew after maximum adjustment to the justice of God. Therefore, Abraham becomes the pattern for Jews and Gentiles in the adjustments to the justice of God. This emphasizes the fact that all divine blessings from the justice of God must have a foundation. The foundation for all direct blessing from the justice of God is the imputation of divine righteousness at the point of salvation. The perpetuation of divine blessing, then, is related to the intake of doctrine in the soul. Divine justice can only bless divine righteousness.
Continuous and persistent learning of doctrine under one’s right pastor is the means of maturity adjustment to the justice of God. Remember that God’s integrity includes two divine attributes: righteousness, the principle of integrity; justice, the function of integrity. The justice of God administers what the righteousness of God demands. Therefore the justice of God cannot bless unless the recipient has a righteousness equivalent to His perfect righteousness.
The basis for divine blessing to mankind is the imputation of divine righteousness to the believer at salvation. The possession of divine righteousness through grace imputation at salvation is the prerequisite to all other divine blessings which come directly from the justice of God.