Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.”
In verse 10, Paul asked the question, “Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before?” to which he answered with an emphatic “It was not after, but before!”
Paul grasped onto a historical fact that most would never have noticed. He pointed out that Abraham was justified (Gen. 15:6) before he was ever circumcised (17:24). Abraham was made righteous by faith over thirteen years before he was circumcised (some Jewish interpreters made this even longer—twenty-nine years). This fact challenged the great significance Judaism gave to circumcision, although Jewish teachers were correct that the Old Testament had used it as the mark of the covenant.
Paul’s point in bringing this up: If the father of the nation of Israel could be justified while he was still uncircumcised, then “Why can’t other uncircumcised people be justified?” In a very real sense, Abraham was justified while still on Gentile ground, and this left the door wide open for other Gentiles to be justified entirely apart from circumcision.
As I think about this passage, I’m reminded of a question I had while in seminary. Why two different testaments? Was it because the old one didn’t work and God needed a new plan? One was Law and the other grace? Not at all, God is the same. This passage and the passages in Genesis reveal the unity of both testaments. You see God’s plan has always been about faith—belief and trust in Him. Abraham’s faith in God reveals this truth.
The Old Testament laid the foundation for the coming of Jesus who would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world. The New Testament recorded the ministry of Jesus Christ and then looks back on what He did and how we are to respond. And here’s the key: both testaments reveal the same holy, merciful, and righteous God who condemns sin but desires to save sinners through an atoning sacrifice. In both testaments, God reveals Himself to us and shows us how we are to come to Him through faith.
Consider the following two verses, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament:
“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible.