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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 4:4

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.


Adam Clarke Commentary

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt - Therefore, if Abraham had been justified by works, the blessings he received would have been given to him as a reward for those works, and consequently his believing could have had no part in his justification, and his faith would have been useless.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Now to him that worketh … - This passage is not to be understood as affirming that any actually have worked out their salvation by conformity to the Law so as to be saved by their own merits; but it expresses a general truth in regard to works. On that plan, if a man were justified by his works, it would be a matter due to him. It is a general principle in regard to contracts and obligations, that where a man fulfils them he is entitled to the reward as what is due to him, and which he can claim. This is well understood in all the transactions among people. Where a man has fulfilled the terms of a contract, to pay him is not a matter of favor; he has earned it; and we are bound to pay him. So says the apostle, it would be, if a man were justified by his works. He would have a claim on God. It would be wrong not to justify him. And this is an additional reason why the doctrine cannot be true; compare Romans 11:6.

The reward - The pay, or wages. The word is commonly applied to the pay of soldiers, day-laborers, etc.; Matthew 20:8; Luke 10:7; 1 Timothy 5:18; James 5:4. It has a similar meaning here.

Reckoned - Greek, Imputed. The same word which, in Romans 4:3, is rendered “counted,” and in Romans 4:22, imputed. It is used here in its strict and proper sense, to reckon that as belonging to a man which is his own, or which is due to him; see the note at Romans 4:3.

Of grace - Of favor; as a gift.

Of debt - As due; as a claim; as a fair compensation according to the contract.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-4.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt.

This verse is a simple statement of the truth that if one's hope of salvation is based upon his having kept the law of Moses perfectly, then such a person could claim that God owed him salvation; and it would not be by virtue of God's grace at all in such an event. To be sure, no person could possibly achieve such a thing as perfect fulfillment of the law. No objection can be raised to what Paul here stated. It is what people declare that Paul meant which outrages every careful student of God's word. Some of the false deductions that people have thought they derived from this verse are:

That salvation does not depend upon any human effort.

That there is nothing anyone can do to be saved.

That faith and works are opposites.

That obeying the gospel makes man his own Saviour. Etc.SIZE>

We shall note each of these.

That salvation does not depend upon any human effort. If this were true, all people would be saved; and, if human effort as a precondition of salvation is not involved, why did Jesus teach that many people will be lost (Matthew 7:13,14)? It is a fact that no amount of human effort can earn salvation; but no person with even a casual knowledge of the Bible could possibly have the impression that salvation is unconditionally bestowed upon the entire human race. If so bestowed, it would be universal; but Christ spoke of the narrow gate and the broad way leading to the destruction of many.

That there is nothing anyone can do to be saved. If such is true, what did Peter mean by "Save yourselves from this crooked generation" (Acts 2:40). A multitude of people heard Peter preach the first sermon of the gospel age; and at the end of it, having believed all that Peter preached, and thus having believed in Christ, they cried out, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Wouldn't it have been a wonderful opportunity for Peter to have said, "There is nothing you can do to be saved"? But he said no such thing, but this: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you" (Acts 2:38).

That faith and works are opposites. On the other hand, they are intimates; and James declared that faith cannot even exist apart from works, except in a barren and dead condition, insufficient to save (James 2:14-26). Faith without works is dead, useless for anything, much less for salvation.

Upon the basis of such considerations, people ought not therefore to impute any teaching to Paul in this place that would make his words say that God will impute righteousness to any person who will not obey him, to the persons who simply do nothing except believe.

That obeying the gospel makes man his own Saviour. This confuses two truths: (1) that when one has done everything that he can, it does not merit salvation, and he is still an unprofitable servant (Luke 17:10); and (2) that obeying the gospel is a condition div4nely imposed and made prerequisite to salvation; all who do not fulfill this condition will be lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9); therefore, in a sense, but only in a sense, people will save themselves when they obey the gospel. It is scriptural to speak thus, for Peter did it on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:40). In the more exalted sense of actually procuring the discharge of man's sins, Christ alone saves.

We have already seen that Abraham's justification is in no way parallel to the alien sinner's justification; therefore, to the degree that this verse applies in any way to Christians, the thing in view is their continuing justification as members of Christ's body, all Christians standing in continual need of forgiveness, due to the universal inability to live the perfect life. If there is any application of these words to children of God, it must pertain to their status as Christians in covenant relationship .with God (as Abraham the prototype was), their "faith in Christ" being the basis of their continual justification, and not their success, or, as more likely, their failure in keeping all the holy commandments. In no sense whatever can these words of Paul refer to the alien sinner's becoming a Christian; but, of course, that is precisely the application so often made.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/romans-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Now to him that worketh,.... The apostle illustrates the former case by two sorts of persons in this and the next verse, who have different things accounted to them, and in a different manner. The one is represented as working, the other not. By the worker is meant, not one that works from, and upon principles of grace. The regenerate man is disposed to work for God; the man that has the Spirit of God is capable of working; he that has the grace of Christ, and strength from him, can work well; he that believes in Christ, works in a right way; he that loves Christ, works freely, and from a right principle; and he that has Christ's glory in view, works to a right end: but the worker here, is one that works upon nature's principles, and with selfish views; one that works in the strength of nature, trusting to, and glorying in what he does; seeking righteousness by his work, and working for eternal life and salvation. Now let it be supposed, that such a worker not only thinks he does, but if it could be, really does all the works of the law, yields a perfect obedience to it; what

is the reward that is, and will be

reckoned to him? There is no reward due to the creature's work, though ever so perfect, arising front any desert or dignity in itself: there may be a reward by promise and compact; God may promise a reward to encourage to obedience, as he does in the law, which is not eternal life; for that is the free gift of God, and is only brought to light in the Gospel; and though heaven is called a reward, yet not of man's obedience, but Christ's; but admitting heaven itself to be the reward promised to the worker, in what manner must that be reckoned to him?

not of grace: for grace and works can never agree together; for if the reward is reckoned for the man's works, then it is not of grace, "otherwise work is no more work", Romans 11:6; and if it is of grace, then not for his works, "otherwise grace is no more grace", Romans 11:6; it remains therefore, that if it is reckoned for his works, it must be

of debt: it must be his due, as wages are to an hireling. Now this was not Abraham's case, which must have been, had he been justified by works; he had a reward reckoned to him, and accounted his, which was God himself, "I am thy shield, and exceeding, great reward", Genesis 15:1; which must be reckoned to him, not of debt, but of grace; wherefore it follows, that he was justified, not by works, but by the grace of God imputed to him; that which his faith believed in for righteousness. The distinction of a reward of grace, and of debt, was known to the Jews; a the one they called פרס, the other שכר: the formerF4Maimon. Bartenora & Yom Tob in Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 3. they say is הגמול, "a benefit", which is freely of grace bestowed on an undeserving person, or one he is not obliged to; the other is what is given, בדין, "of debt", in strict justice.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/romans-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

4 Now to him that b worketh is the reward not c reckoned of grace, but of debt.

(4) The first proof of the confirmation, taken from opposites: to him who deserves anything by his labour, the wages are not counted as favour, but as debt: but to him that has done nothing but believe in him who freely promises, faith is imputed.

(b) To him that has deserved anything from his work.

(c) Is not reckoned or given to him.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/romans-4.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

But as of debt (αλλα κατα οπειλημαalla kata opheilēma). An illustration of the workman (εργαζομενωιergazomenōi) who gets his wages due him, “not as of grace” (ου κατα χαρινou kata charin).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/romans-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

The reward ( ὁ μισθὸς )

See on 2 Peter 2:13.

Not of grace but of debt ( οὐ κατὰ χάριν ἀλλὰ κατὰ ὀφείλημα )

Lit., according to grace, etc. Not grace but debt is the regulative standard according to which his compensation is awarded. The workman for hire represents the legal method of salvation; he who does not work for hire, the gospel method; wages cannot be tendered as a gift. Grace is out of the question when wages is in question.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/romans-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Now to him that worketh — All that the law requires, the reward is no favour, but an absolute debt. These two examples are selected and applied with the utmost judgment and propriety. Abraham was the most illustrious pattern of piety among the Jewish patriarchs. David was the most eminent of their kings. If then neither of these was justified by his own obedience, if they both obtained acceptance with God, not as upright beings who might claim it, but as sinful creatures who must implore it, the consequence is glaring It is such as must strike every attentive understanding, and must affect every individual person.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/romans-4.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Of grace; of favor.--But of debt; that is, as justly due.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/romans-4.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.To him indeed who works, etc. It is not he, whom he calls a worker, who is given to good works, to which all the children of God ought to attend, but the person who seeks to merit something by his works: and in a similar way he calls him no worker who depends not on the merit of what he does. He would not, indeed, have the faithful to be idle; but he only forbids them to be mercenaries, so as to demand any thing from God, as though it were justly their due.

We have before reminded you, that the question is not here how we are to regulate our life, but how we are to be saved: and he argues from what is contrary, — that God confers not righteousness on us because it is due, but bestows it as a gift. And indeed I agree with Bucer, who proves that the argument is not made to depend on one expression, but on the whole passage, and formed in this manner, “If one merits any thing by his work, what is merited is not freely imputed to him, but rendered to him as his due. Faith is counted for righteousness, not that it procures any merit for us, but because it lays hold on the goodness of God: hence righteousness is not due to us, but freely bestowed.” For as Christ of his own good-will justifies us through faith, Paul always regards this as an evidence of our emptiness; for what do we believe, except that Christ is an expiation to reconcile us to God? The same truth is found in other words in Galatians 3:11, where it is said, “That no man is justified by the law, it is evident, for the just shall by faith live: but the law is not by faith; but he who doeth these things shall live in them.” Inasmuch, then, as the law promises reward to works, he hence concludes, that the righteousness of faith, which is free, accords not with that which is operative: this could not be were faith to justify by means of works. — We ought carefully to observe these comparisons, by which every merit is entirely done away.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/romans-4.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Ver. 4. Now to him that worketh] Yet it is an act of mercy in God to render to a man according to his works, Psalms 62:12; Exodus 20:6. God’s kingdom is not partum, but paratum, Matthew 25:34, not acquired, but prepared.

But of debt] Not so indeed, Romans 11:31, but according to the opinion of the merit monger, who saith as Vega, Caelum gratis non accipiam. I may not receive heaven by grace.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/romans-4.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Romans 4:4. Of grace Of favour. Raphelius has shewn that the Greek word ΄ισθος does not only mean a reward of debt, but also a gift of favour; and that the phrase

μισθον δωρεην, occurs in Herodotus: so that a reward of grace or favour is a classical as well as theological expression.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/romans-4.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4. τῷ ἐργαζομ.] (q. d. τῷ ἐργάτῃ, but the part. is used because of the negative τῷ μὴ ἐργαζ. following)—to the workman (him that works for hire, that earns wages, compare προσηργάσατο, Luke 19:16) his wages are not reckoned according to (as a matter of) grace (favour), but according to (as a matter of) debt. The stress is on κατὰ χάριν, not on λογίζεται, which in this first member of the sentence, is used hardly in the strict sense, of imputing or reckoning, but of allotting or apportioning:—its use being occasioned by the stricter λογίζεται below. And the sentence is a general one, not with any peculiar reference to Abraham,—except that after κατὰ χάριν we may supply ὡς τῷ ἀβραάμ, if we will; for this is evidently assumed.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/romans-4.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 4:4. δὲ) but [now]. Paul takes what is contrary [the case of him that worketh] out of the way, so as to enable him, in the following verse, to draw his conclusion regarding the man who does not trust to works, and to evince that Abraham was not such a one as he describes, by the words him that worketh.— ἐργαζομένῳ, to him that worketh) if there were, indeed, any such [which there is not]. We must take both expressions, him that worketh and him that worketh not, in a reduplicative sense: to work, and wages, are conjugates in the Heb. פעל . [The man that worketh, in this passage, applies to him who, by his works, performs (makes good) all that the law requires.—V. g.].— μισθὸς, reward), the antithesis to faith.— ὀφείλημα, a debt, by virtue of a contract between the parties. Merit in its strictest sense so called, and debt, are correlatives.


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/romans-4.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He proceeds to prove, that Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith, and free grace, and so had no cause of boasting. This he illustrates by a comparison betwixt one that worketh, and one that worketh not, but believeth. To him that worketh; i.e. to him that worketh with a design or intent to obtain or merit justification by his works, for else he that believeth also worketh; only he is said not to work, secundum quid, after a sort, to the end or intent that he might merit by it.

Is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; he speaks this by way of supposition, in case he should have fulfilled the condition of perfect obedience: and yet, to speak properly, there is no reward, as a due debt from God to him that worketh, Romans 11:35; only he speaks after the manner of men, and useth a civil maxim, taken from human affairs.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 4:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/romans-4.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

That worketh; so as to be saved on the ground of his own merit.

The reward; his salvation.

Not of grace, but of debt; if, in obedience to law, a person is justified, his salvation is merited, not bestowed as a gratuitous favor.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/romans-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

4. τῷ δὲ κ.τ.λ. S. Paul argues from the precise words of scripture: it was an act of faith that was met by the act of GOD. No works are mentioned, therefore no works were included in the consideration; if there had been works, the language would have expressed the act of GOD as conferring a due reward; but there is no such suggestion in the words; they clearly imply a free favour on the part of GOD.

ἐργαζομένῳ has frequently the idea of working for hire, for a living, etc.; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:9, alibi


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Bibliography
"Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-4.html. 1896.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

4. “But to him that worketh the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to indebtedness;


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Bibliography
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-4.html.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Now to him that worketh in the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Some understand this as implying working perfectly — doing all that a man is bound to do. But this is contrary to the meaning: it applies to work of any kind, and excludes all working of every kind or degree. No reward can be said to be of grace that is given for work of any description. Abraham did not obtain righteousness by faith as a good disposition, or by counting that disposition above its value. Had Abraham been justified by faith as an act or disposition worthy of approbation, or by anything whatsoever that he had done, he would have been justified by works, and might have boasted.


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Bibliography
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/romans-4.html. 1835.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4. Worketh—As a hired man, for pay. This exclusion of works as a condition means an exclusion of all merit or compensation to God. (See note on Romans 3:27.)

The reward—The wages.

Grace—No thanks are due from the employe for his pay. But it is not necessary to its being grace that God’s grace should be irresistible, or so conferred as to secure through exact force and measure of motives that it be not resisted. Irresistible grace is a forced grace, an iron grace, which it is not pleasant to attribute to God. “The quality of mercy is not strained.” (See note on Romans 3:24-27.)

Merit of a moral nature must be distinguished from mere excellence. A clock may possess great excellence as a perfect clock, but it is no merit in the clock that it is an excellent machine. So if man with his faculties and will is equally a spiritual machine, putting forth choice, as a clock-hammer strikes, precisely according to force applied, there is no merit in his choosing right. So, also, if a man be like a false clock, a bad machine, there is no moral demerit or desert of punishment for such a badness. If he be bound by God’s decree, or the force of motives on his will so as to nullify all power of will to choose right, (unless he has brought the incapacity on himself,) he cannot be rightly punished for wrong. He may deserve no special reward, but he does deserve exemption from penalty for his wrong.

Debt—When it is debt the employer is bound to pay, and when payment is made the parties are even.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/romans-4.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 4:4. Now to him that worketh. Romans 4:4-5 illustrate Romans 4:3, by a general contrast of the two ways by which we can be accounted righteous. A workman whose business it is to labor for hire represents the legal method, the plan of making one’s own moral character and doings the basis of acceptance with God.

The reward; his reward, for which he works.

Not reckoned; this takes up the verb from Romans 4:3. but without emphasizing it.

Of grace, but of debt; not according to, as a matter of favor, but of debt. That Abraham’s case was ‘of grace’ is so heavily implied, that it was not necessary to express it, especially as the thought is now quite general.


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Bibliography
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-4.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 4:4 f. The faith of Abraham, in whatever way it may be more precisely determined by relation to its object, agrees with Christian faith in the essential characteristic, that it is not a work. To him who works—der mit Werken umgehet: Luther—the reward is reckoned, not by way of grace (as in Abraham’s case), but by way of debt. But to him who does not work, i.e., who does not make works his ground of hope toward God—but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. Romans 4:5 describes the category under which Abraham falls, but is not a generalisation from his case. The ἀσεβὴς (Genesis 18:23, Proverbs 11:31, chap. Romans 5:6) is a person who has no claim to justification: if he is justified, it must be not on the ground of works, but freely, by God’s grace, on which he relies through faith. Of course to believe in this grace of God is to do something; in that sense it is a work; but it is to do something which involves a complete renunciation of hope in anything we can do without God. It excludes merit, boasting, justification ἐξ ἔργων. Cf. Philo, i., 486 (quoted in Mayor on James 1:21): δίκαιον γὰρ οὕτως οὐδὲν ὡς ἀκράτῳ καὶ ἀμιγεῖ τῇ πρὸς θεὸν μόνον πίστει κεχρῆσθαιτὸ ἐπὶ μόνῳ τῷ ὄντι βεβαίως καὶ ἀκλινῶς ὁρμεῖνδικαιοσύνης μόνον ἔργον. The whole Pauline gospel could be summed up in this one word—God who justifies the ungodly. Under that device, what room is there for any pretensions or claims of man? It is sometimes argued (on the ground that all God’s actions must be “ethical”) that God can only pronounce just, or treat as just, those who actually are just; but if this were so, what Gospel would there be for sinful men? This “ethical” gospel is identical with the Pharisaism in which Paul lived before he knew what Christ and faith were, and it led him to despair. It leads all men either to despair or to a temper which is that of the Pharisee rather than the publican of Luke 18. What it can never beget is the temper of the Gospel. The paradoxical phrase, Him that justifieth the ungodly, does not suggest that justification is a fiction, whether legal or of any other sort, but that it is a miracle. It is a thing that only God can achieve, and that calls into act and manifestation all the resources of the Divine nature. It is achieved through an unparalleled revelation of the judgment and the mercy of God. The miracle of the Gospel is that God comes to the ungodly, with a mercy which is righteous altogether, and enables them through faith, in spite of what they are, to enter into a new relation to Himself, in which goodness becomes possible for them. There can be no spiritual life at all for a sinful man unless he can get an initial assurance of an unchanging love of God deeper than sin, and he gets this at the Cross. He gets it by believing in Jesus, and it is justification by faith. The whole secret of New Testament Christianity, and of every revival of religion and reformation of the Church is in that laetum et ingens paradoxon, θεὸς δικαιῶν τὸν ἀσεβῆ.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/romans-4.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Now to him that worketh, &c. a reward may be looked upon as due for his works, and not bestowed upon him as a free gift; but when it is said he believed and was justified, (this belief or faith was always a liberal gift of God) and when no mention is made of his works, it appears that such a justification and sanctification are not from the works of the written law, nor from any works he could do of himself, but that they are according to the purpose, or decree of grace. (Witham) --- Such a man, says the apostle, challenges his reward as a debt, due to his own performance; whereas he who worketh not, that is, who presumeth not upon any works done by his own strength; but seeketh justice through faith and grace, is freely justified by God's grace. (Challoner)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/romans-4.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt.

"Worketh"-in these verses (4-8), the "worker" is put in contrast to the "one who..believes" (5), "the forgiven man" (7-8). ***NOTE: The worker is not JUST an obedient man but the SINLESSLY obedient man. To what other man does God "owe" acquittal? In such a case, a man that had flawlessly kept God"s law, there is no need of grace, God simply "owes" this man his reward.

"the reward is not reckoned as of grace"-"his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due" (NASV)


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-4.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

reckoned. Same as "counted", Romans 4:3.

grace. App-184.

debt. Greek. opheilema. Only here and Matthew 6:12.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/romans-4.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Now to him that worketh (as a servant for wages) is the reward not reckoned of grace - as a matter of favour,

But of debt - as a thing of right.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/romans-4.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

4. A man who works is paid. Lipscomb says: "If one relies on his own works to merit salvation, the reward is reckoned not as a favor [grace] from God, but as payment of debt for works. This is contrary to the whole principle of justification by grace. Man is a lost and helpless sinner, saved by the grace of God; but he must accept [seize it and make himself part of it] that favor by complying with the conditions God has enjoined [decreed] for his enjoying [receiving] it."


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/romans-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) This, then (the righteousness attributed to Abraham), was an act of grace on the part of God, and not of merit on the part of man. It therefore carries with it no ground of boasting.

The proposition is put in a general form. Those who base their claim on works have a right to their reward. It is not conceded to them by any sort of imputation, but is their desert. On the other hand (Romans 4:5), those who rely only upon faith, even though ungodly themselves, have righteousness imputed to them. This latter was Abraham’s case, and not the former. (The specific application to Abraham is not expressed, but implied.)

The reward.—Literally, his wages. The relation between what he receives and what he does is that of wages for work done. He can claim it, if need be, in a court of law. There is in it no element of grace, or favour, or concession.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/romans-4.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
9:32; 11:6,35; Matthew 20:1-16

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/romans-4.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not, etc. These verses are designed, in the first place, to vindicate the pertinency of the quotation from Scripture, made in Romans 4:3, by showing that the declaration ‘faith was imputed for righteousness,' is a denial that works were the ground of Abraham's acceptance; and, secondly, that to justify by faith, is to justify gratuitously, and therefore all passages which speak of gratuitous acceptance are in favor of the doctrine of justification by faith.

Now to him that worketh, that is, either emphatically ‘to him who does all that is required of him;' or ‘to him who seeks to be accepted on account of his works.' The former explanation is the better. The words then state a general proposition, ‘To him that is obedient, or who performs a stipulated work, the recompense is not regarded as a gratuity, but as a debt.' The reward, ὁ μισθός the appropriate and merited compensation. Is not imputed, κατὰ χάριν, ἀλλὰ ὁφείλημα, not grace, but debt, which implies that a claim founded in justice is the ground and measure of remuneration. Paul's argument is founded on the principle, which is so often denied, as by Olshausen, (p. 172,) that man may have merit before God; or that God may stand in the relation of debtor to man. The apostle says expressly, that τῷ ἐργαζομένῳ, to him that works, the reward is a matter of debt. If Adam had remained faithful and rendered perfect obedience, the promised reward would have been due to him as a matter of justice; the withholding it would have been an act of injustice. When, therefore, the apostle speaks of Abraham as having a ground of boasting, if his works made him righteous, it is not to be understood simply of boasting before men. He would have had a ground of boasting in that case before God. The reward would have been to him a matter of debt.

But to him that worketh not, τῷ δὲ μὴ ἐργαζομένῳ. That is, to him who has no works to plead as the ground of reward; πιστεύοντι δὲ ἐπὶ κ. τ. λ., but believeth upon, i.e. putting his trust upon. The faith which justifies is not mere assent, it is an act of trust. The believer confides upon God for justification. He believes that God will justify him, although ungodly; for the object of the faith or confidence here expressed is ὁ δικαιῶν τὸν ἀσεβῆ, he who justifies the ungodly. Faith therefore is appropriating; it is an act of confidence in reference to our own acceptance with God. To him who thus believes, faith is counted for righteousness, i.e. it is imputed in order to his becoming righteous. It lies in the nature of the faith of which Paul speaks, that he who exercises it should feel and acknowledge that he is ungodly, and consequently undeserving of the favor of God. He, of course, in relying on the mercy of God, must acknowledge that his acceptance is a matter of grace, and not of debt. The meaning of the apostle is plainly this: ‘To him that worketh, the reward is a matter of debt, but to him who worketh not, but believeth simply, the reward is a matter of grace.' Instead, however, of saying ‘it is a matter of grace,' he uses, as an equivalent expression, "to him faith is counted for righteousness." That is, he is justified by faith. To be justified by faith, therefore, is to be justified gratuitously, and not by works. It is thus he proves that the passage cited in Romans 4:3, respecting Abraham, is pertinent to his purpose as an argument against justification by works. It at the same time shows that all passages which speak of gratuitous acceptance, may be cited in proof of his doctrine of justification by faith. The way is thus opened for his second argument, which is derived from the testimony of David.

It is to be remarked, that Paul speaks of God as justifying the ungodly. The word is in the singular, τὸν ἀσεβῆ, the ungodly man, not with any special reference to Abraham, as though he was the ungodly person whom God justified, but because the singular, ἐργαζομένῳ, (to him that worketh,) pisteu&onti, (to him that believeth,) is used in the context, and because every man must believe for himself. God does not justify communities. If every man and all men are ungodly, it follows that they are regarded and treated as righteous, not on the ground of their personal character; and it is further apparent that justification does not consist in making one inherently just or holy; for it is as ungodly that those who believe are freely justified for Christ's sake. It never was, as shown above, the doctrine of the Reformation, or of the Lutheran and Reformed divines, that the imputation of righteousness affects the moral character of those concerned. It is true, whom God justifies he also sanctifies; but justification is not sanctification, and the imputation of righteousness is not the infusion of righteousness. These are the first principles of the doctrine of the Reformers. "The fourth grand error of the Papists in the article of justification," says an old divine, "is concerning that which we call the form thereof. For they, denying and deriding the imputation of Christ's righteousness, (without which, notwithstanding, no man can be saved,) do hold that men are justified by infusion, and not by imputation of righteousness; we, on the contrary, do hold, according to the Scriptures, that we are justified before God, only by the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and not by infusion. And our meaning, when we say that God imputeth Christ's righteousness unto us, is nothing else but this: that he graciously accepteth for us, and in our behalf, the righteousness of Christ, that is, both as to his obedience, which, in the days of his flesh, he performed for us; and passive, that is, his sufferings, which he sustained for us, as if we had in our own persons both performed and suffered the same ourselves. Howbeit, we confess that the Lord doth infuse righteousness into the faithful; yet not as he justifieth, but as he sanctifieth them," etc. Bishop Downame on Justification, p. 261. Tuckney, one of the leading members of the Westminster Assembly, and principal author of the Shorter Catechism, in his Praelectiones, p. 213, says, "Although God justifies the ungodly,, Romans 4:5, i.e., him who was antecedently ungodly, and who in a measure remains, as to his inherent character, unjust after justification, yet it has its proper ground in the satisfaction of Christ," etc. On page 220, he says, "The Papists understand by justification, the infusion of inherent righteousness, and thus confound justification with sanctification; which, if it was the true nature and definition of justification, they might well deny that the imputation of Christ's righteousness is the cause or formal reason of this justification, i.e., of sanctification. For we are not so foolish or blasphemous as to say, or even think, that the righteousness of Christ imputed to us renders us formally or inherently righteous, so that we should be formally or inherently righteous with the righteousness of Christ. Since the righteousness of Christ is proper to himself, and is as inseparable from him, and as incommunicable to others, as any other attribute of a thing, or its essence itself."


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Bibliography
Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/romans-4.html.

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Friday, October 30th, 2020
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