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Romans 4:16-18

Context
4:16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, 1  with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants – not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, 2  who is the father of us all 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”). 3  He is our father 4  in the presence of God whom he believed – the God who 5  makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do. 6  4:18 Against hope Abraham 7  believed 8  in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations 9  according to the pronouncement, 10 so will your descendants be.” 11 

1 tn Grk “that it might be according to grace.”

2 tn Grk “those who are of the faith of Abraham.”

3 tn Verses 16-17 comprise one sentence in Greek, but this has been divided into two sentences due to English requirements.

sn A quotation from Gen 17:5. The quotation forms a parenthesis in Paul’s argument.

4 tn The words “He is our father” are not in the Greek text but are supplied to show that they resume Paul’s argument from 16b. (It is also possible to supply “Abraham had faith” here [so REB], taking the relative clause [“who is the father of us all”] as part of the parenthesis, and making the connection back to “the faith of Abraham,” but such an option is not as likely [C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:243].)

5 tn “The God” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity.

6 tn Or “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” The translation of ὡς ὄντα (Jw" onta) allows for two different interpretations. If it has the force of result, then creatio ex nihilo is in view and the variant rendering is to be accepted (so C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:244). A problem with this view is the scarcity of ὡς plus participle to indicate result (though for the telic idea with ὡς plus participle, cf. Rom 15:15; 1 Thess 2:4). If it has a comparative force, then the translation given in the text is to be accepted: “this interpretation fits the immediate context better than a reference to God’s creative power, for it explains the assurance with which God can speak of the ‘many nations’ that will be descended from Abraham” (D. Moo, Romans [NICNT], 282; so also W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, Romans [ICC], 113). Further, this view is in line with a Pauline idiom, viz., verb followed by ὡς plus participle (of the same verb or, in certain contexts, its antonym) to compare present reality with what is not a present reality (cf. 1 Cor 4:7; 5:3; 7:29, 30 (three times), 31; Col 2:20 [similarly, 2 Cor 6:9, 10]).

7 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn Grk “who against hope believed,” referring to Abraham. The relative pronoun was converted to a personal pronoun and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

9 sn A quotation from Gen 17:5.

10 tn Grk “according to that which had been spoken.”

11 sn A quotation from Gen 15:5.



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