S2E8 — What Really Made Abraham Righteous?

David Anderson
22 min readNov 16, 2020

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y18NdyIiHpU

Welcome to another episode of Almost Ordained. I am your host David, the guy who graduated seminary but never got ordained.

This is actually a continuation of a short episode, “My Number One Tip about Faith.” I believe the best way to think about faith is trust before belief. What does that mean? We’ll look at Abraham as an example. Even though God doesn’t appear to you in as dramatic a fashion as Abraham, I think you’ll see there are some good and surprising lessons we can take from his example. The story is found in Genesis 15, and in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he quotes this verse.

And he [Abraham] believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:6 NRSV)

This is a very important verse for Paul. Abraham, Paul says elsewhere, was the first person in the Bible that God counted “righteous” because of his faith. Because of this, he became the spiritual ancestor of those who would be made righteous through faith, not by works of the Law. “Faith” describes Abraham’s response to God’s promise that he would have a son of his own issue, and from that small beginning his descendants would become more numerous than the stars in heaven.

But what kind of faith did Abraham show here, belief or trust? We’ll look at what Paul said first, then compare it with Abraham’s encounter with God that gave us this crucial verse. In Romans 4:19–22, this is how Paul interprets Abraham’s faith in response to the promise of a son.

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:19–22 NRSV)

That is where he quotes Genesis 15:6. And again, I’m asking when it says his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness, does “faith” here mean belief or trust? Most people seem to think it means belief. If you believe all the right things, you’re good with God, i.e., righteous. That was how Abraham was made righteous to God. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body … or the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No doubt, no unbelief…

David Anderson

David Anderson is a blogger, award-winning author, bible geek, and novice crypto investor. Doubting Thomas is my patron saint.